Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Okay, I realize I sounded like I was whining for comments - I really wasn't! I was just thinking out loud about what other people would think......onward!

A few months ago I decided that our family needed to do some charitable work - we are usually pretty involved and like to volunteer, but I just felt like we needed something new for our plate. Something we could do as a family. So I signed us up to cook dinner for the Ronald McDonald House.

I chose some specific dates that would work, or that had meaning for us, but nothing was working out for the volunteer schedule. I ended up taking a random date that meant nothing to me, but according to my calendar I was available. February 7. I am a horrible football wife.

Many of you know that Feb. 7 was Super Bowl Sunday - and I didn't even know it. Better yet, I signed up our family for a 4-5 hour commitment between 4-9pm, which is smack in the heart of Super Bowl kickoff, pre game, etc. GO ME!

Fortunately, Hunk decided that he would DVR and catch up when we got home - even though I gave him full liberty to stay home and I would handle the dinner with just my girls. THANK GOD! I had no idea what I had gotten myself into and having him there was quite a relief!!

I did a lot of pre-cooking for the meal to try to make it easier on myself, but my goal was to serve a well thought out, no corners cut meal. After all, these folks could get cafeteria food at the hospital - what they needed was well prepared comfort food.

Our evening started out very stressful - I had incorrect directions and I was on edge about my portions, constantly second guessing myself on whether or not we had enough food. We got lost on the way there and were then 30 minutes behind the "start time" that I had planted in my head as the only road to success. I was freaking out that the food would not get done in time and the world would end. Hunk was on edge because, well, we were lost and he was driving (though not his fault, I had the directions). And he's a man. We finally made it, though behind schedule and found ourselves in the biggest kitchen I've ever seen in my life!

If you don't know what the Ronald McDonald House is, it is a place for families of children in the hospital - a place to stay, two meals a day and it is located right near the Children's hospital. It alleviates stress on families who don't live near the hospital, plus saves all the money that a hotel would cost. It's like a small home away from home, with lots of support to help them through a time when their focus should be on their child's medical health. It is a dream come true for families in medical stress. Thankfully we have never had to use their services, but both of my kids have had their fair share of medical needs and had we needed Ronald McDonald House, they would've been there for us. There are TWO Ronald McDonald Houses in Atlanta, obviously since we were lost, this is the location I had never been to before!

Our meal consisted of Pot Roast - mostly because it is my number one comfort food, and secondly because I knew that I could start it in the crock pots (I borrowed crocks from everyone I knew!) a day early and let it cook over the 24 hours leading up to the dinner. We also made twice baked potatoes, broccoli casserole (vegetarian option), green beans w/almonds and garlic cheese bread. Since it was Super Bowl Sunday I also decided a good appetizer would be a 5 layer mexican dip - and by the looks of the licked out pan I made a good choice!! We made cookies for dessert so that we could fill the house with the fresh baked smell. It turned out great - one woman commented that my cooking reminded her of her mother, another man was a chef (for a very famous TV personality) and gave my Pot Roast rave reviews and came back for seconds!

I left the dinner feeling great - we had done something wonderful for families who aren't as fortunate as we are at the moment and I left feeling like the greatest cook on earth from all the compliments I received. I didn't do it for my own satisfaction, but I certainly got a lot from the experience.

We are now on a volunteer schedule and I plan to cook for them as often as I can - it's time consuming and expensive (meal for 80+ people), but I think we've found a great outlet for our family to work together helping others - something that we are all equally a part of and all interested in.