We started setting things up at about 3:30 AM and got the smoker going at about 5:00 AM. There was a constant threat of high wind gusts and sporadic torrential rains. but Grace prevailed and the timing worked out despite having to literally hold the canopies down with our hands until we could get them tied to the fence. Things did subside and warm up near the middle of the day, which is when the main crowd of RVers or “caravana” showed up, but not before I could collect a hoodie full of rain!
Volunteer Frank Friedrich manned the deep fryer and supplied the snow goose breast, which we grilled and served as h’orderves or small side-dish elements. Hands-down, the goose breast was the unexpected hit of the day in my opinion. Most of the people had never had goose before and the simple field seasonings that were applied, along with the wood smoked flavoring, made for an outstanding wild game experience.
Volunteer Henry Alexander provided curb-side service for guests that were physically unable to stand for extended periods of time; we just had them pull their vehicles up a-la drive through style, fixed their plates and brought it to their windows. Next time I think we may try to talk Henry into trying on a pair of roller skates. Henry was also our quality control person on the smoker that day. He kept an eye on the temperature, and fed the fire to insure our birds and ham came out just right. Elijah, Henry's son, was also a key part of the food prep. He helped set up the serving table, mixed the green beans (my special combination), and served guests once the cooking was done.
All together we served approximately 60 people. About eight family groups of various sizes were represented. Several caravana were parked/camped along the street where we set up that day. Another four families drove up to the serving site between down-pours. Even as we were cleaning up to go people were still driving up, returning to the area to park and stay over-night. We also sent one of the smoked turkeys to our local police department to express our gratitude for their support and so that they could also share in the celebration while working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Everything was absolutely delicious. There was enough so that everyone could eat their fill and then have a plate to take back with them for Christmas Day.
We must give a huge thank you to the following individuals and organizations for their administrative and material support of this event:
- On-site event volunteers:
- Elijah Alexander
- Henry Alexander
- Frank Friedrich (Special note: Mrs. Friedrich performed the challenging task of picking up Christmas gifts for all the children and seniors in the families that were there).
- La Rue V. Ragan
- Elijah Alexander
- Elder, Archelle Funie of "Abundant Life Christian Fellowship", for supplying his professional chef’s gas grill to keep things warmed.
- Ms. Diane Nikfar, of "Raven Works Field Sports Ministry", for supplying one of the much needed rain canopies.
- Our local Social Services and food pantry- "The Ecumenical Hunger Program" an NGO in East Palo Alto, California for the Pies, cookies, turkeys, and ham.
- Mi Pueblo, our local community super market, supplied an assortment of tamales, re-fried beans, bottled water and soft-drinks.
- Our local East Palo Alto Public Works Department, Ms. Gloria Galindo, for supplying the trash cans, pre and post event trash collection support.
- East Palo Alto and Menlo Park Fire Departments for providing safety oversight and encouraging community support.
- An extra special thank you to Orchard Supply Hardware of Mountain View California, store managers and employees, for supplying the most excellent smoker, which took care of business old-school country style on all the meats.
Above all, we give thanks to God for the awareness, drive, favor, and material resources to conduct this FHFH event. It was truly a way of to express care and concern for our neighbors as He would expect us to.