Monthly Archive for: ‘November, 2015’

Give Thanks

thank-you

As I was preparing to write this blog, I came across the usual array of articles about holiday weight gain, including one about how much exercise is required to burn off your Thanksgiving dinner. Rather than add to the litany of advice about holiday eating (and guilt) I have decided this year to focus on what Thanksgiving is all about: giving thanks. 

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday where we celebrate with friends & family, coming together for a meal of traditional favorites. Many of us have foods we prepare each year that bring us a great deal of comfort & memories. For me personally, my favorite Thanksgiving dish is Corn Bread, Wild Mushroom & Pecan Stuffing. This dish is filled with lots of hearty goodness. I add extra veggies & skip the heavy cream lending to a decent nutritional profile. 

So this Thanksgiving rather than obsessing about the calories you put in your mouth, enjoy time with friends & family, go for a walk (or turkey trot), be mindful of the quantity of food your consume (no “thanksgiving full” this year) & quite simply, give thanks.

Elementary Wisdom

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As we get ready for Thanksgiving and the meaning we attach to our meal…the gathering and togetherness and gratitude…we also can find ourselves marking time. Maybe we only eat a certain food on this day…or see certain people…or use certain china…or visit a certain home. Just this one day. And so from childhood to adulthood we go through variations of Thanksgiving rituals from simple to elaborate, while marking time, year to year. 

Recently, when Rie Godsey and I were visiting one of our partners (a day school in Northern Virginia), I saw a handmade poster that was titled at the top, “Traits we are working to grow in the Lower School.” It had colorful sticky notes calling out the traits and examples. Optimism. Perseverance. Flexibility. Resilience. Self-Awareness. Empathy. 

And I thought…wow…these are traits I (and grown-ups, everywhere) can work to grow, too. 

There is a lot of wisdom in what we learned and experienced as children. From traits to work on, to how Thanksgiving started.

The “first Thanksgiving” was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the loss of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance. 

So enjoy the family, the football, the day off, or the china you only use once a year, while remembering what you learned about this holiday (and traits you can work to grow) so long ago…the beauty of each human life, the gift of food and the hands that grow it, and the spirit of reconciliation.

A look at our a-maize-ing cafeteria staff

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Article from The Guilfordian

This article is part of a series highlighting the often overlooked amount of work that goes into keeping our campus fed.

Founders Dining Hall. The Cafeteria. The Caf. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this place is a staple of the Guilford experience.

At some point or another, we have all enjoyed a meal there, shared a smile with the staff or ate way too much ice-cream from the ice-cream bar — guilty.

How many of us, however, have actually thought about the work that goes into it all?

“There are a lot of things that I think the community doesn’t see,” said Long Nghiem, district manager of Meriwether Godsey, the company that caters Guilford’s dining halls.

“All the hard work that (the dining staff) does is fantastic. They’re committed, and it really is a true partnership with the students. They love the community and they’re here to serve it.”

From planning menus and purchasing ingredients to preparing and serving three meals a day, a lot of work goes into running the dining halls here on campus.

“When you have to produce, for example, mashed potatoes for 1,000 people, that’s a big deal,” said Nghiem. “Think about when you’re at Thanksgiving and you have a family of about 20 people over, multiply that by 50 — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Planning for each semester begins immediately following graduation, which allows dining services to operate more smoothly throughout the year.

“The operation is smooth and it is efficient, and becomes effective because there is a lot of planning and a lot of organization that goes into it,” said Snehal Deshmukh, director of dining services. “It simply becomes a matter of executing an operation”

The cafeteria’s menus prioritize balance and variety, things that, as a company, Meriwether Godsey strives to provide.

“The misconception we often hear is that we don’t want to (serve something), or that we can’t do it or don’t know how to, but that’s not the case,” said Nghiem. “We’re constantly trying to bring balance and to please the entire community. It’s our due diligence to prepare healthy made-from-scratch food.”

On top of all of this, dining services has also dedicated itself to promoting sustainability here on campus. Deshmukh’s team has even collaborated with the on-campus farm as a supplier for fresh produce.

“This partnership serves as an example of how local food can be incorporated into institutional kitchen settings,” said Nicholas Mangili, farmer and employee of the Sustainability Department. “If a farmer can meet the demand, institutions serve as great markets for local food expansion.

“For myself and the students that work and volunteer on the farm, it’s great to walk in for lunch and see the hard work of the farm and the cafeteria come together for a great meal.”

Dining services and its staff are clearly dedicated to the students here at our school.

“Food service is a very passionate job,” said Desmukh. “You have to have great passion for it. It is, however, a very gratifying (experience). Students on campus really come to know us and we really come to know the students. We become a family.”

As a community, we should try to be more mindful of the work they all do for us every day. They are, after all, a part of the family.

 

Mentager

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(ment-ah-jer)

A manager, supervisor, leader who believes in the power of mentorship.

New word. Old idea.

Want to retain your best employees? Want to increase satisfaction for yourself and those around you? Studies show that active mentorship raises retention rates among those being mentored and those providing the mentoring. It’s a classic win-win. Why? Not surprisingly, human beings like to perform well…and…they like to help others do the same. Mentorship is a relationship and its purpose is to build a support system where ideas are exchanged, constructive advice is given, and opportunity to grow are fostered.

8 Qualities of Strong Mentors:

1. Skilled and knowledgeable

2. Trust builder (not “zapper”)

3. Active listener (with your whole body)

4. Strong analyst

5. Honest, clear communicator (what’s expected, what they’re seeing, using measurable criteria)

6. Committed and reliable

7. Role model (“be the mentor you wish you had”)

8. Cheerleader (guidance + encouragement)

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

- Benjamin Franklin

 

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

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Serves 16

1 whole wheat pizza dough ball

6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped

1 shallot, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb brussels stemmed, thinly sliced

1/4t s&p

8 oz mixed provolone & fontina,

2 T grated finely grated parmesan

1. Preheat broiler

2. Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towel, reserve 2T bacon fat

3. Sauté shallots, garlic & brussels in bacon fat, s&p, 6-8 mins.

4. On stove top, heat 10-12″ cast iron skillet, high heat, 10 mins

5. On floured pizza peel, roll-out dough to skillet diameter

6. Slide dough into very hot cast iron skillet

7. Cook dough 2-3 mins, until browned, turn over

8. Top dough with brussels, bacon, cheeses

9. Slide into broiler. Cook 1 min, rotate 180 ̊, cook 1 min more

Note: cast iron skillet handle gets VERY HOT! Touch only with thick pot holder!