We try to cook and/or eat Mexican-inspired meals every Thursday. This Taco Thursday tradition started early in our relationship when I first made Sean my trademark cruncheweesey tacos and he begged for a repeat the next week. We by no means mean to be authentic in our cooking (it is truly more of a Southwestern/Moe’s/Chipotle vibe than actual Mexican food) but we have a blast and enjoy celebrating the almost-weekend every week. We will chronicle some of our finer moments for you here on Thursdays.
One of my New Years resolutions, as it often is, was to do more philanthropy work for the Charleston community. With it being August, I figured I should get on that already. There are so many fantastic philanthropies, but I was looking for somewhere I could use my love of cooking to benefit others. One of my co-workers frequently cooks meals at the Ronald McDonald House, and I thought that would be a nice, after-work way to make a difference to someone who really deserves it.
In case you live under a rock, Ronald McDonald House charities provide an extremely low-cost homestyle housing option to families of children going through major medical procedures at hospitals. The Charleston house is located right across the street from the Medical University of South Carolina and Roper St. Francis Hospital. Neither Sean nor I had ever visited, but we were eager to provide a homecooked meal to people in such stressful life situations.
We decided that since we have mastered the art of Taco Thursdays, we would share our specialty with the wonderful people at the Ronald McDonald House. We didn’t know what exactly to expect, but we were told to prepare the meal for 40 people. That seemed like a rather large undertaking for two people, so we went to Costco and stocked up on the necessities. It turned out, we went overboard and were sent home with some of our ingredients, but at least we weren’t short.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the house by several enthusiastic volunteers. One of them was very eager to help us prepare the meal and we welcomed the help. We were surprised by the size of the kitchen (two stoves, two ovens, two refrigerators, etc.) and immediately began by turning on the stoves. We tossed on a pot of water to start boiling for the 15 pound bag of rice we brought (WAY more than we needed) and through on half of the ground beef into three pans.
While our first wave of food was cooking, I began sorting out the items that didn’t need to be cooked. I put the shredded cheese, sour cream, and nacho chips into bowls. Our Ronald McDonald assistant shredded our lettuce for us, which was a big help. I then opened all the cans of beans and emptied them into a pot to warm up while the rice and meat finished cooking.
After our first round of meat was done, our assistant had a great idea of putting it in a casserole dish and putting it in the oven on warm to keep it at temperature while we finished getting ready.
After Sean seasoned the second round of meat, we were ready to go! We laid out all the taco fixin’s in a family-style buffet for the house tenants to choose from. We washed up the few pots and pans that we used and were surprised when our assistant said, “You’re done.” We both thought that the whole experience was too easy. We had helped 40 people eat dinner for a night and felt great about it, but it was so easy! This was truly something that anyone could do. The tenants were so overjoyed by what we had done for them and it was so simple. I encourage all of you to find something you can do around your community because it makes you feel great helping other people out.
Thanks to everyone at the Ronald McDonald House for helping us out and showing us the facility. They do a great job there. What do you do to volunteer in your community? Have you ever cooked a meal for someone in need? We’d love to hear about it!