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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

From my Front Porch

Thursday, August 8, 2002

Suffering from Kitchen Deficit Disorder

This past week I had the opportunity to serve kitchen duty with 19 other cooks and bottle washers during a nine-day adventure with Global Encounter Ministries, a Houston, Texas, based ministry to inner-city kids. The kitchen crew I was a member of was responsible for feeding approximately 300 church leaders and youth who had come from across the country to teach vacation Bible schools at various inner-city churches in the East St. Louis Area.

I was not familiar with this particular ministry organization until a few weeks ago when my older daughter came home from a church youth group meeting and asked me if I would like to accompany her and be a part of a mission trip to St. Louis. To be quite frank, at first I wasn't too thrilled about the proposition. For one thing, I was told the job would require long hours with little sleep, which is bad enough under normal circumstances. But I was determined to be a part of this mission trip. After all, it isn't every day that a teen-age girl actually wants her mama to be in the same general vicinity.

Also, I suffer from a condition known as KDD or Kitchen Deficit Disorder. This condition doesn't seem to be hereditary because my mama is known for her wonderful culinary abilities, as is my gourmet cook of a sister. I am not sure what the problem is, but over the years, I have tried to make the best of things.

Due to the popularity of convenience foods, I know I am not the only one who suffers from this malady. Any homemaker who has the local pizza parlor's phone number on speed dial or considers Mrs. Stouffers one of their best friends probably is equally afflicted. For many of us it is just a fact of life that if we lost our can opener our family could very well starve to death.

When I arrived in St. Louis, I informed Rosemary, the chief cook and bottle washer, that I was not a very good cook. Thank goodness, she didn't blink an eye.

There was enough work for each of us to do and any sort of help would be appreciated. Besides, if they were that worried about my cooking ability, the FBI-type background check I had to undergo would have been more inclined toward finger sandwiches rather than fingerprints.

By the end of the trip, the kitchen crew had prepared about 6,300 individual meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not to mention the late night snacks we put together each evening.

Generally, the lunches were brown bag, but breakfast and supper were usually full-blown country style home cooking. The breakfast menus included homemade biscuits and gravy, sausage casserole and pancakes. The supper menus featured meat loaf with all the trimmings, baked chicken and ham, Kraft-less macaroni and cheese, and from-scratch lasagna. Not once during the entire time did any one feel compelled to call on Lil' Debbie, Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben, though there were a couple of mornings that I felt like tossing pop tarts to the crowd of early risers.

It has been said that too many cooks can spoil the broth and some might consider 20 cooks in a kitchen to be way too many, but I can say with all honesty that even after several days of intensely hard work surrounded by all of these folks I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Among other things, I learned that cooking from scratch for 300 isn't such an insurmountable task, so surely I can handle it for my family of six.

There is no doubt that, as Martha would say, it is a good thing. I just hope my dear friend, Mrs. Stouffers, agrees and that my can-opener doesn't get too rusty.