OK, so I should not have taken a photo while driving, but I wanted to remember that light trailing over my left shoulder over Treasure Island. Still light out after 9pm. The extra daylight makes me think I should do a whole lot more, you know...take advantage of all that extra time. After a few weeks of running myself ragged, I realize that it's just extra daylight, and it's not extra time.
Bear with me. I know this is a baking and cooking blog. We'll get there.
We cannot manufacture more time or energy, we only have so much attention, and it may seem impossible to do those things we have always meant to do. For years, I wanted to find a place to volunteer, not just contribute some cash, but actually show up on a regular basis and serve someone else. I wanted it to do with food. I was operating for so long as if I did not have time to help others, but when I found the right program, time was no longer an issue. Thanks to the Baker's Dozen, I found CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service, part of Episcopal Community Services), a "12-month [culinary] program that includes classroom instruction, hands-on kitchen training in institutional and restaurant settings, job counseling, and placement with coaching and follow-up". I was honored to be asked to teach a a chocolate class during their session, and volunteering for this wonderful program has been a pleasure, and has given me more than I could have imagined. When they had their big fundraiser last week, Summertini 2010, I decided to get gussied up, buy a ticket and go.
Here we are taking the temperature of some chocolate during tempering (we temper chocolate, make chocolate-dipped macaroons, and lemon curd). CHEFS students, despite whatever rough circumstances brought them to the program, are hardworking and cooperative; usually as soon as I have dirtied a dish it's out of my hands and being washed. The students, Bill Taylor (Chef Instructor) and ECS staff appreciate the guest instructors so much. I am so glad that Nancy Kux of Baker's Dozen asked BD members to contribute sweets for Summertini last year so I could learn about CHEFS. Speaking of BD, members contributed this delicious spread.
I bobbed around, happy as a clam because the event was hopping, and even got ambitious and bid on several silent auction items (my wallet is kinda glad I didn't win anything), tasting the bites put out the myriad sponsors. My two favorites were A16's burrata appetizer, and Chef Dane Boryta (of the fabulous Sens) blew me away with his Grilled Spanish Octopus, served in butter lettuce cups and harissa aioli, mint and cilantro. The food was great, but it was worth the ticket price to see the generosity of those who pledged directly to the CHEFs program (the final lot in the live auction) including lucky #293 here.
It was a great evening. Driving home over the Bay Bridge that night, with the sun sinking into the Pacific behind me, I was so happy I ended the week by supporting CHEFS, instead of the perfectly reasonable alternative of not spending the time or money.
One cannot measure the return of volunteering in minutes or cents. It is beyond measurement. (And as a baker, that is not something I often say!)
If you feel guilty that you do not have a way to give of yourself that feels right to you, don't fret. You will find it. Mine is CHEFS, but yours could be a soup kitchen, community garden, tutoring program, museum, church, or something else.
You have time to figure it out. After all, it's still light out.