Thursday, July 22, 2010

Well, we have come to the end of quite an interesting journey. This will be my last post. I know, I know, what will you all do without your Vovchachow? Hopefully get back to the real world!!
Some have wondered if I will continue this blog. Sorry gang, but I've gotta end it while the going is good. This has been one of the best things I have ever done. Lame, no? But knowing that you all loved reading what I had to say- I'm still having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. If I was able to be the link between you and your kids, or between you and your memories of this place, than I am honored and humbled to be that link. Some have also asked if I am going to return to the kitchen next year. There are several extenuating circumstances, the most important one being that I am currently, ahem, unemployed and will need to find a job asap. If that job is in teaching, with the summer off, then I will have to do some serious thinking. Until that day, please know that your embracing of this blog will never be forgotten. Dyakuyu, and CHOW!
And now, for your enjoyment, presenting the First Annual Best and Worst of Vovchachow!!!!!

Best job- serving kids
Worst job-wiping trays
Best food related job-(tie) scooping ice cream, cutting brownies
Worst food related job- making mashed potatoes
Most unpleasant food related job- (tie) removing fat from ham, carrying trays of raw chicken to prep for cooking
Most tedious job- buttering bread
Best at opening giant cans with giant can opener- Pani Ira
Worst mistake- (tie) leaving breakfast remnants in cooler overnight, miscounting those cookies
Event which resulted in quickest increase in heart rate-opening tomato paste and not ketchup
Phrase of tabir- "Itchy Back"
Up and coming sous chef- Pani Marusia
Longest time spent in freezer-1min. 34 seconds
Hottest task- making pasta
Best Pudding scooper- Pani Olia
Earliest wake up time- 5:02 am
Most commented on blog entry- "Runs with tongs"
Best Laugh- Big George
Best Inspiration for a smachnoho/dyakuyemo song- (tie) I Dream Of Genie, Macarena
Personal favorite smachnoho-Apache
Most misinterpreted word- Rozbyratys'
Funniest looking word- FARTYX
Total time spent making mashed potatoes (approx)- 11 hours
Total time spent making pasta (approx)- 7 hours
Best Bakery- Formisano (Thanks for those 3am deliveries!)
Fanciest dish- waffles with strawberry sauce, whipped cream and syrup
Longest time to fill baniak-5 min, 10 seconds
Best non-dinner dinner-raisin bran

And now, presenting the TOP 10 FOODS at Vovcha Tropa:
1. Mashed potatoes
2. Chicken patty sandwiches
3. Varenyky
4. Waffles
5. Pizza
6. Goulash
7. Bagels w/cream cheese
8. Fruit Loops
9. Mac and Cheese
10. Frosted Flakes

Remember: If it was sliced, diced, chopped, poured, squirted, served, mixed, boiled, fried, scooped, counted out, packed up, "shmeared", spooned, drained, cooked, heated, thawed, stirred, stacked, or restocked, it was done by a "Pani v kyxni."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Luau Night!! And what a hurricane of a dinner it was. All of the camps are back so I needed to make sure everything got out OK as well. So how's this for a luau menu- varenyky, italian sausage, and kobasa. Plus of course the accoutrements: sour cream, peppers and onions, mustard, rolls and ice cream for dessert. The novaky and novachky wanted to luau together so we ended up serving them with not much of a lag time AND the pidhotovchij camp came in between them. Everyone was going crazy for the varenyky and it was tough being able to only give out 2 so that everyone could have some. Once all the kids, vyxovnyky and workers went through, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Everything got cleaned up quickly and we were set free for the night.
Could I get a verification, please, on the following---On Top Chef or The Next Food Network Star, do those contestants wear gloves in the kitchen?? I am a devotee, and was just wondering about that as I was cutting my 27th green pepper this morning. I can't remember!! God, I miss TV!!
For this entry I would like to give a heartfelt shout out to the bratchyky of the novatsky tabir.
These are some of the most well-behaved, polite, and pleasant young men I've ever seen. (I used to teach in a high school and often had to deal with surly, entitled kids for whom I was doing a favor by teaching them. ) Now, not only are they well mannered, I am still stunned at the fact that each and every one sings the smachnoho and dyakuyemo songs with all their claps and snaps and chachachawhooshes without a hint of self-consciousness!! Or if they are self conscious, I don't see it. I try to picture other 18, 19 year old guys in this context and I really can't. I hope they all know that I deeply value their commitment to our boys. This in no way diminishes what the girls' bulava is doing. They are all also delightful young women and I know that alot of time and effort was put into this year's theme, which I totally LOVE!! Today was bratchyk and sestrychka switch day and they all swapped odno stroyi. One bratchyk said to me- "Please don't think less of us!" and I said-"Don't you worry, my opinion of you all could not be higher!" I thank them for having more of an impact than they realize.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This afternoon something happened that is a true rarity. Only once in a blue moon will you see this "Na oseli" (on the campgrounds). I was in my "spasta" zone, starting to boil water for the spaghetti when I heard it. Then I saw it. Breathtaking. Literally. The garbage truck came!!
See, it's not like we put out the trash every Tuesday and Friday. The company needs to be called to come out and it costs an arm and a leg. So when the dumpsters are overflowing, and perhaps even the racoons have feasted on our detrius, it's time to call the garbage man! And I watched it all unfold out the kitchen window. And when I say detrius, there is tons of it as we use all styrofoam or plastic stuff-plates, cups, napkins, forks, knives, spoons, bowls. In my day, I remember eating on china and using real silverware. You guys remember that, right? I guess you either throw stuff out and make garbage or have to use hot water to wash it all. It's bad enough dealing with the dirty leftovers of the tabory. I'd hate to have to go through 160 sets of dinnerware.

I thought I'd share this photo with you. These are all the notes I accumulated for the stuff that has to go out to the older kids.
You write the caption!!
I would like to extend a special belated greeting to our little campers, the Pidhotovchij Tabir!!
They started here on Sunday and have already had a big impact with their innovative and creative renditions of "Dyakuyemo!" So instead of hearing "dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, smachne bulo!" or "Dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, azh pidskakuyemo, whooooo!" we hear "dyakuyem, dyakuyem, dyakuyem paniam v kyxni, dyakuyem, dyakuyem, dyakuyem paniam v kuxni, dyakuyem, dyakuyem, dyakuyem paniam v kuxni, zaaaaah makarony!" AWESOME!! To the tune of Macarena, no less!! OLE!

We have to wear gloves, as I've said. We have latex ones, vinyl ones and these kind of crinkly plastic ones. I usually just grab whatever's there. So lately, the gloves seem kind of tight and I'm thinking, "Oh, great, now my hands are getting fat? What the--?" Then I look and the box says "Small". Duh... I thought one size fits all, no?

Every day there is a "cherhovij rij", a group that has to help clean up the dining room after the meals. Now, clean up is a relative term. We have buckets with handi-wipes and water, and they need to wipe the tables, pick up and throw away the garbage, and maybe sweep if necessary. What these kids do with those handi -wipes is a sheer joy to watch. They'll take them out of the (watery) bucket, WRING THEM OUT ONTO THE FLOOR, and then wipe the tables. Or, they'll take them out of the bucket and start swinging them around their head. Or, they'll take them out of the bucket and, sopping wet, start SLAPPING THE TABLES WITH THEM! Ah, my heart sings with pride! We all LOVE having to clean up after the clean up.

Lunch today was chicken cutlets/chicken patties/ hamburgers on a bun with french fries. I get to have another Spasta as I have to make spaghetti later. All the older kids are gone on a prohulka, so we are just feeding the young ones. Got up at 5:00 to make those 160 sandwiches. That was fun. I also counted apples, sliced tomatoes, tore lettuce, and prepared coffee-crumb cake for pidvechirok (snack). Now I need to go clean my room.

Monday, July 19, 2010

So I have coined the term "SPASTA" to explain the combination of pasta and a spa treatment.
Get it? Spa + pasta= spasta!! And I had some major spasta today. About 90 minutes of cooking elbows for the famous Mac-n-Cheese. Alot of the kids are on trips today, so we had fewer pots to cook. Kids really love this dinner. I had Raisin Bran because if I had to put one more friggin' piece of klyuska in my mouth I knew I would gag.
First one to get this translation wins a gift certificate for a spasta: (Sorry non-ukes, but I didn't even understand what Pani Olia was saying to me) "Chym zakryty salat? Plivkoyu abo poslidkoyu?"
The older camp kids are really sloppy. When they return their foodstuffs, it's totally gross. The pudding scoop is in the Italian dressing, there is jelly in the butter, the saran wrap is all twisted and caked with crud, the syrup drips into the milk crate, bleh.
How is this for a choice? Stay late tonite and make 80 sandwiches for tomorrow, or come in tomorrow at 5:00 AM and make 240 of them. GAH! We voted and unanimously decided to stay and make them now. We cranked those babies out!!
Today is the third day in a row I have woken up with a headache. Not cool. Hopefully tomorrow I won't get one.
So I've mentioned that food gets sent out to the older kids and we have to wait for it all to come back and put stuff away, put dishes and utensils in the sink, and condense the food. So breakfast went out without any problems. We have a new driver this week- Andrij- and Pan Myron the General Maintenance man was helping him. At around 9:45 stuff starts to come back. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, cereal, bread, jam, butter, coffee, cocoa, juice, the regular fare. So we're all quickly getting rid of everything and I look over at Pani Olia. She has a big container in her hand. I ask her where she's going with it, and she says to the refrigerator. I instantly knew that the fridge was not the place for this thing. Here is what it was:

I ask her if she knew what she was holding. She said "Moloko!! (milk!!) and I said, um, actually, that's not milk, that's "Kley" (glue) and she asks, "What's 'kley'?" and I say "you know, for crafts, to make things stick together!!" and she looks at me like I have 3 heads and I start fumbling-"uh-samolipka, perelipka, sebelipka, dohlipka, kleylipka, " and all the while I'm rubbing my hands together like I'm playing patty cake and she still doesn't get it. So then Pan Myron, her husband comes back in and she's all "Where did you get this??? Why did you bring it here?? Lesia kazhe toh ne moloko!!" (Lesia says that's not milk!) And then he's all "Nu, ta toh tam stoyalo, ya til'ky beru to shcho stoyit'! Yak ya mayu znaty shcho to ne maye tut ity!!" And meanwhile, the rest of us are all giggling. Then we were all like, "I hope they didn't put it on their cereal!!! That would make it gluey!! Ho-ho-ho!! I hope they didn't pour it in their coffee! That would make their coffee all gluey!!! Har-dee-har-har!!! " Good times...

Then before lunch Pani Olia (she of the glue-milk) comes up to me with this cute expression and says "Pani Lesiu- Ya navchylas' nove slovo. Ale ne smiytes'! ("I learned a new word, but don't laugh!") And I go- "Yake?" (What?) and, bless her little heart, she says- "SHUT UP!" but it comes out more like "SHAHRRAHP!" with a rolled R. I lost it. She said she learned it from Big George! And then when she was helping serve he came up to her and said something and she said to him "Sharrap!" I gave her this huge hug. Very funny moment.

We had ham and rosemary roasted potatoes for lunch. The water has been wonky today. First there wasn't any, then it came on, then it was dirty, then ok, then the pressure was off. So you know that gigantic baniak I have to fill? It took like 4 times as long to get ready for lunch. I have to cook elbow macaroni for Mac-n-cheese. Yay.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome back all! Well, at 4:00 today we all reported for dinner duty. It was going to be sandwiches, which really is a pretty easy dinner. All of a sudden, some VIPs come in and start whispering with the head lady. People come in, go out, walkie talkies in hand. Something is up. Someone is coming to the oselia. Now, unless it's George Michael, I really don't care who it could possibly be. I know, I know, he's gay and he's been arrested however many times for drugs and for whatever that thing in the bathroom was, but "Careless Whisper" is STILL my favorite song I don't care what anyone says. But back to the intrigue. Who could it be?? Singer? Dancer? Singers? Dancers? Board of Health? I'll tell you in a minute. More importantly, we would end up serving EVERYONE at the oselia in the Dining Hall basically one camp after another. So, we quickly placed out all the assorted condiments, meats, breads, rolls and people and got ready.
At 5:45 the yunachky came, at 6:00 the Novaky came, at 6:10 the newest little campers from the pidhotovchij camp came, at 6:25 the Yunaky came, and at 6:45 the Novachky came. So in essence, we fed around 300 people in an hour and ten minutes. TAH-DAH!!
So who is the mystery guest? Straight from Soyuzivka, Haydamaky!!! I probably spelled that wrong. As I write this they are giving a concert to all the kids in the Pavillion. Everyone is going NUTS!!!! Kids are dancing, people are taking photos, filming, now there's a repeat-after-me-thing going on, everyone is cheering, screaming, doing the Hopak, clapping, polka-ing, it's insane.
Very cool way to finish the weekend.
A message to my friends PK and LK- your little one is totally fine!!!!
To my friends LV and NV-the cake was a hit and I must say very tasty! I was filming the mnohaya lita and serving bread at the same time. How's that for dedication!
A special, heartfelt thank you to all who spoke with me this weekend about this blog. I can't believe that this is the first thing some of you log on to when you get to work. That completely blows my mind. I am humbled by your attention and kind words.
Now I'm off to do a kolomyjka....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well, most of you are either packing, on the way, coming tomorrow or already here. I can't wait to see you guys!! Your support of this blog has been phenomenal. For a nerdy girl who was never popular and people rarely remembered me from summer to summer, this has been a blast. I will post again Sunday night. Chow!!
So, those of you who are not related to me- guess the decade, the location, and who's who!!
Ah, I remember when I was at tabir here and it was the Friday before Den' Plastuna. That's Parent's weekend for you non-ukes. It seemed like the day had this energy, and I hate to use that term. I guess it was the excitement, the anticipation of finally, FINALLY getting to see your folks and getting the chance to leave the oselia. On Saturday morning, I would think, "OK- my mom (and dad if he wasn't playing with his band) must be leaving the house by now. " At breakfast I'd think-"They've got to be close!!!" And then catching a glimpse of her/him/them while we were standing in our uniforms/get ups/costumes on the big field. I guess all the hassles, the homesickness, the missing them would all be forgotten. And then the weekend would be very fun. Now I too am anticipating this weekend sooo much! I am really, really tired. We had to report in at 5:30. I am starting to get up ONE MINUTE before my alarm goes off. How's that for not wanting to oversleep?? The health inspector stopped by today and I think all went well. I had to make mashed potaoes A-G-A-I-N... This was the quickest batch yet. We had fishsticks for lunch and are having pizza for dinner. YUM.
Thank you for all your kind words and support. They are priceless.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So my friend, my cohort, my partner in crime had a heckuvan afternoon. We all did, but she really got it. We had hamburgers, fries and assorted condiments for dinner. There were so many trays of food going in and out of the ovens, it was crazy! The burgers went in first, then they got condensed and then Pani Marusia and I had to wash and dry the trays for the fries. We went through like 5 or 6 boxes of them!! When the supply ran low, my friend was asked to get another box out of the walk-in freezer. I was on the side awating the Domino's van to ship food out, so I only caught parts of this. She walks into the freezer and can only see chicken thighs and cranberry juice. Remember, it's like 18 degrees in there. She's starting to shiver, so she steps out. The second time she goes in she sees rainbow sherbet and hash browns and is starting to lose feeling in her extremities. She steps out. The third time, she's sliding on the slippery floor,

blood is leaving her extremities to protect her vital organs, and she still can't find the fries. She walks out, no fries, and it turns out they were on the floor on the left just as you walk in. Is it sabotage? Or just refrigerator/freezer blindness?? The older boys didn't get their food back until almost 9:00 pm so we all had a late night. Tomorrow we report at 5:30 because the novaky are having a field trip and are eating breakfast at 7:15.

Quote of the day: "Don't stand over the meat!!" hmmm--It sounded better in Ukie...

Earlier today we had a milk delivery. This very nice African-American man carts everything in, puts it by the refrigerator, back and forth, and then right before he leaves he says "Have a nice day!!" One of the older ladies says-"Chy vin skazav 'dobrij den'?" They were convinced that he speaks Ukrainian. I taught Big George and another lady to say "Gross!" (regarding the greasy tryas that we all had to wash) and I taught another lady "chocoholic. Like alcoholic, but for chocolate!" She got a kick out of that.

Pasta, anyone?
Hello all. Sorry for not posting yesterday. We had a horrible morning, and there was just nothing for me to say. Thankfully, the day ended much nicer. Some of us went out for dinner in town (and I use that term "town" loosely) last night and we were able to vent and relax. So listen to this story. As we all were cleaning up yesterday after dinner, Big George was there washing dishes and chatting with Pani Marusia. She is from Ukraine and is very sweet. He said something using the word "rozbyratys'" and they were kind of laughing, and then he turns to ME and says- "Pani Lesiu, budem rozbyratys'??" Now, for you non-ukes out there, rozbyratys' means (at least I thought...) to get undressed. So he basically asked me- "hey, let's get undressed!" I looked at him, made a face, and said something like- "Uh, no thanks, but if you want to get undressed, that's none of my business, Big Guy!" So this morning, he found out that we went out last night. And he asked again about "rozbyratys'" and Pani Marusia had to explain how I understood that word. Well, he just about exploded with laughter. They use the word to mean to discuss a problem. Yoy.
While I like ketchup on my burgers and fries, I hate it on my hands. Having to transfer it from big jar to bowl back to big jar drives me crazy.
How much milk is enough? These kids drink gallons of it a day. The delivery guy has been here like three times with these massive amounts of crates filled with 4 gallons of milk.
We had stuffed shells for lunch today. They were very good. The novachky-little girls- are on a field trip so we had to get in earlier to make sandwiches for them.
I cannot wait for Saturday. It seems like most of us kitchen ladies have hit a wall. We walk around like zombies, waiting for orders. Not alot of conversation, heads are down chopping, counting, sorting, slicing and dicing.

The weather today is pretty good. There are enough clouds that it's not too hot.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guess which one's the woman...
OK- the fifth and final xreshchennia has just taken place and I must say it was quite an event. Let's say there was fire and great singing. Our little ditty was ok. Glad we don't have to do anymore skits. So, I really blew it this afternoon. I needed to prepare the afternoon snack for the camps which involved counting out cookies and getting cups and napkins ready so that all they have to do is pick it up. I could swear I counted out and labeled properly, but of course, when that walkie-talkie crackled, I knew something was up. One of the camps did not get the proper amount of cookies. Some scrambling went on to make it up to them and get someone to get the food to them. Again, I felt like an ass, and was not really told- it's ok- we'll figure something out. So I was fuming with myself, and my whole mood was killed for the rest of the evening.
So here was tonite's menu: hot dogs, rolls, soup, potato chips, ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, pickles, relish, onions, cheese sauce, lemonade and creamsicles. SODIUM CITY!! I ate potato chips with the cheese sauce. Great balanced meal. Sorry for this downer post. I am tired, grubby and miss being able to hold my kids. So close, and yet, so far away.
So this morning I pack up the older kids' breakfast buffet and realize that after the food went out to the girls, I forgot to pack the tongs to serve the waffles. I broke out in a cold sweat. Oh, the thoughts that went through my head- What do I do? Do I wait for the driver to come back? Do I get in my own car and drive them up? The last thing I need is for that walkie talkie to crackle (the camps and administration communicate with each other using walkie talkies-so convenient and uber cool...) and have some disembodied girl's voice say- "Can we please get some tongs for the waffles?" So do you know what I did? I grabbed the tongs, looked both ways, and began to run towards the camp. Run Forrest, RUN!!! I figured I would meet the driver on his way down. So picture me, wearing my fartyx (O sweet Jesus that word looks hysterical!!!! I'm gonna type it again- FARTYX!!!!), it's blowing in the wind, I have my "batongs" in my hand, and I am running through the oselia. I made it up to the white building before the Dominos Van came down the hill. The driver (Frank for this week) thought I was nuts. He turned around and went back up the hill and I ran back. Popped back into the kitchen and no one even noticed I was gone!!
Had to make mashed potatoes AGAIN. They came with roast beef for lunch. One more xreshchennia tonite. My co-worker and I are going to sing a silly song.

Monday, July 12, 2010

As I was saying, it's not enough that we have an 8 hour day before 2:00 filled with pots, water, tongs, coolers, coffee, butter, tension, "itchy back", eggs, cocoa, lemonade, bread, cups, napkins, kids, grown ups, workers, milk crates, latex gloves, mashed potatoes, knives, lettuce, pasta, "smachnoho!", jelly, oranges, outgoing, incoming, sugar, Splenda, forks, spoons, cereal, syrup, milk, ladles, iced tea, plastic bags, ziploc bags, oven mitts, spatulas, "dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuemo, dyakuyemo, dyakuyemo, smachne bulo!", leftovers, seconds, masking tape, sharpie markers, aluminum foil, saran wrap, xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle? xochesh waffle?......
we have to prepare, rehearse, and memorize a funny, memorable, thematically appropriate skit.

Thanks. Yeah, I've got time for that....

Glossary of terms: smachnoho- bon apetit// dyakuyemo- we thank you/ /smachne bulo- it was tasty// xochesh waffle?- you better eat this thing or I'll....
Holy shmoley- I just had to prepare 6 huge pots of water for the spaghetti we're having for dinner. One of those pots is massive. It takes, no joke, 5 minutes to fill it. I water my lawn in less time. And I'm talking to Big George and it turns out I taught his granddaughter at my Uki School job! Malij svit!! But let's start at the beginning. Today we had to report earlier to make sandwiches for the U2 camp. 5:15 am wake up call!!! Then we began preparing for breakfast- scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns. This breakfast resulted in 29 huge metal trays in the sink. Big George was not amused. And I apparently forgot how to read English. In the pantry we keep huge 6 lb. 14 oz. cans of food like fruit cocktail, instant potato powder, grape jelly, chick peas, pudding, and the like. I was supposed to get the Tomato Ketchup (is it me or is there any other kind of ketchup- banana ketchup? chocolate ketchup? ) and instead I got the tomato PASTE. And opened it. And then was filled with dread- what would the consequences feel like such an ass when you do something like that here!
Those pots that I was filling? Well, there are 2 hoses attached to the sink for washing and filling pots. The GREEN one is for hot, and the RED one is for cold. Got it? And by hot, I mean boiling hot.
We have to wear gloves when we prepare or serve food, obviously, but I am so sick of changing them 2,000 times a day.
I think I suffer from refrigerator blindness too. I'll go in to look for, let's say, Soy Milk, and I don't see it and announce "There's no soy milk" and then someone will go in and say, "uh, no- it's right there! " And sure enough it is! We try to do things in pairs so that one can always cover for the other. Lunch was chicken patty sandwiches with nacho chips. Very popular here.
There is another xreshchennia tonite for the yunachky. I have no more creativity left and we are all so exhausted. But you get this special invitation and you have to prepare this little answer thingy and on top of that do a skit. Somehow I don't think that the previous pani (z ykrainy) v kyxni prepared tochky. Ugh, the pressure to come up with something!!! It's hard to do. And it has to do with that camp's theme, so that's even trickier.
That's all for now. I am really tired. I'll talk to you guys later...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hey everyone! Sorry, it's been awhile. Yesterday did not end well, but today was much better. We had a double dose of Xreshchennia- Novaky and U2. My cohort and I dressed up in kitchen armor and presented the tabir with a new type of weapon to protect from enemies, and by the time it was U2's turn we were out of ideas so we sang a 4 line song and presented them with cookies. God- I can't believe I just sang a duet in front of like 300 people!!! Thru a bullhorn, no less!!!
Deedle-dit-dit...deedle-dit-dit....TURKEY UPDATE!!!! Some of you have been wondering what happened to those 25 turkeys that went in, then out, then back in the ovens. Well, they finished cooking and became a delicious lunch accompanied by mashed potatoes (grrrrr), gravy, green beans and cranberry sauce. Dinner was the kobasy that I had to cut. That came with kapusta, (hey- did any of you out there catch some Iphone commercial with the guy's name on the address thingy- it was Ted Kapusta. I kid you not!!) and rye bread. Yum. Good Uki meal.
Fridge smell of the day today- Pickles!! Today's lunch (am I confusing you?) was Goulash!!!
And Egg noodles!!! And Pickles!!! It was very good.
Um, I do not have degrees in comedy. That was a joke that obviously fell flat. Hey- it can't all work.
So I guess this blog has taken off somewhat. People are asking me "Who's the blogger?" And I point to the 72 year old babtsia who works with me. That gets a chuckle. It wasn't my intention to be anonymous. I was just doing this for fun. Please keep reading, feel free to ask questions, and I will certainly take ideas for posts. Thank you for all your positive support!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where do I start??? This was one of the most hectic mornings yet. In the immortal words of disco legends "Le Chic"---AAAAHHHH...FREAK OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!! It started to rain as I got up at 5:30. Yes, you read that right! 5:30 to get to the kyxnia at 6:00. Yeah- sleep tight all of you...So we are prepping for breakfast and the power goes out. For like 5 seconds. Then it comes back on. And then 10 minutes later again for like 8 seconds and comes back on. This happens 4 more times, and then it was out for good at 8:15. This is no electricity for all of the oselia. Luckily, coffee and cocoa were already made and the gas burners were still working. Breakfast actually managed to go well. The kids were drippy and wet and confused in the dark, but we made it through. The bad part was that like 25 turkeys had been put into the ELECTRIC ovens and had to be taken out. So we had to go to plan B. I was asked to cut 10 onions, then was told to wait for the Kobasa Directive. Oooh- sounds like a Polish war movie starring Janusz Czemczynski as the spy in the cafe and Katarzyna Pzemcz as the double agent. But I digress...I had to wait to find out how to cut about 50 kobasy. See, here, you can't just DO something because inevitably, 99.9% of the time you will make the wrong call. "Cut these onions!" And you dice them and they're supposed to be sliced. "Put this jam in that container." "Not THAT ONE, THAT ONE!!" I get that things work a certain way, and that's fine. It's just you gotta be on your toes. So the directive comes- cut these 32 kobasy into fourths and these 26 into fifths. Got it. Now, remember, the electricity is still out. The bratchyky came in the yidal'nia to rehearse something. Just after they left, the power came back on at about 10:30. Crisis averted. There is something like $10,000 worth of food in the freezer and fridge. Back to Plan A- Turkeys back in the ovens and then, the dreaded task- mashed potatoes. GAH!!!!!!!!! Lunches were delayed only slightly, and we finished doing those friggin' potatoes at 1:00. Yes, another 2 and one half hours of instant mashed potatoes. I was ready to go running down Sayre Hill Road, onto that overpass and throw myself onto the Mass. Pike.
So I understand that some of you are shocked, SHOCKED!! to find out that I'm "funny", whatever that may mean. You have to understand that I am trained in literary comedy. I have a Bachelor's in internet theatrics and a Master's in occupational humor Or maybe it's the fact that I stayed in on the weekends all through high school and college and watched Saturday Night Live with my brother. Whatever. I hope you all are enjoying my take on things. If you can't wait for the next post, then maybe I'm doing something right.

Friday, July 9, 2010

So, the xreshchennia this afternoon was great. The novachky have a theme of "Yak vyrostem velyki" so it all had to do with their dreams, their futures, and that they can be whatever they want. Two kitchen ladies and I did a 2 minute skit with an enchanted baniak. When you put in something small, it grows big. One piece of bread grew into a loaf, a piece of celery became a bunch and one onion grew to a 10 pound bag. (I should put my bank account into that baniak... or my love life...) The intent was to tell the girls to eat the great food we prepare so that they can grow to be big and strong. At the rate that I am eating all this food, I will be big and round.
So I wanted to introduce someone to all of you. We 6 ladies plus head lady work with a guy from
"the outside" named Mike. He has worked here for something like 20 years. He helps head lady with orders, deliveries, he's a pro on the deli meat slicer, and let me tell you, for the first hour that he's around, we don't even know he's there. He's a "low talker" (Seinfeld!), so that's why we call him Crazy Mike!!! Yesterday while we ate lunch, he and I were chatting. He said that the average age of the kyxnia ladies was lowered by about 30 years with this new crew. He has never heard so much English being spoken here, and funniest of all, he thinks that in the past people would pay Plast to have their mothers-in-law work in the kitchen. Oh, that Crazy Mike...Did I mention that I shredded 138 eggs yesterday for that egg salad? Yup. And what's sadder is that I actually counted them. Oh, and pidvechirok today was David's Double Chocolate BROWNIES!! My memories of pidvechirok from 35 years ago are actually pretty good- those coconut buns, lemon buns, and even brownies with nuts. But these brownies today- not one was returned from any of the tabory. Big George wears NO GLOVES when he washes dishes. My tolerance of hot water is pretty high, but this guy is made of iron. Itchy back!!
Oh, the weather is so much better today. And it's Friday! Hard to believe one week ago it was craziness getting myself and the kids ready to come here. So for breakfast today we had waffles with syrup, whipped cream and strawberry sauce. Everyone was flipping out!! But you know how people are- "syrup on top, strawberries on the side, this one plain, that one with whipped cream, syrup on the side, nothing thank you," YOY! But the happy faces were worth it. (I remember having not much beyond hard boiled eggs, bread with butter, peanut butter or jelly and hot chocolate every day. ) And lunch today was fish squares with french fries. Dinner is going to be pizza, so that makes it a 3 "square" meal day!! Ha- I was so proud of myself for coming up with that one. I gotta run- the novachky are having their taborovi xpectyny and we were invited. Three of us are coming up with a tochka. More on that later...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

You know how sandwiches are often the default dinner for us families "on-the-go"? God I hate that term... Like if one child has swimming and the other has hockey and you have 20 minutes to eat? So you make like turkey sandwiches, throw out some chips and maybe carrot sticks and a drink. Well let me describe Sandwich Night here: Whole wheat wraps, pita bread, bread, turkey, cheese, ham, egg salad, mustard, mayo, pickles, jalapeno peppers, (jalapeno peppers!!) lettuce, tomatoes, and vegetarian vegetable soup. And pudding for dessert. Don't get me wrong- everybody loved the selection...BECAUSE THERE WAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!!!!!! So many much saran room in the fridge...

Oh, and we have to wait for the food stuff to come back from yunatstvo, and then clean it up and condense all the leftovers. And tonite, we had to wait a particularly long time. The driver we currently have, whom I don't want to mention by name but his name rhymes with

Shandrij Glyzyk, was just dawdling and making excuses. "oh, I had to go there, I had to go back, they weren't ready, blah, blah, blah...."Ha! Just kidding, "Shandrij", but not really. ;)

Gee, is it still ok to use those sideways smiley faces?

You know what I miss? Ice. Like the kind that makes beverages cold. Now, we have very minimal space in the freezer and I know that bags of ice are way too expensive. But having to drink room temperature iced tea/lemonade/water is kind of getting old. It reminds me of our babtsi who would say- "Oh- don't drink cold drinks!! You'll have gynecological issues..." Whaa?

On that note, all of you out there ENJOY AND APPRECIATE YOUR AIR CONDITIONERS!!!
The swimming last night was divine!!!!! Until the bats came out. Oh sure- they leave you alone, yeah, until they get tangled in your hair....But it was still great!!! I slept well, but I think that swim may have thrown me off because I'm really dragging today. From the start, my feet feel like lead and my hands and arms, because they are in latex gloves and or oven mitts almost all day, are sweaty and slimy. It is very humid today. So get this breakfast buffet-rolls with bread, cold cereal, hot oatmeal, bread, butter, jam, juices, milk, yogurt, cocoa, coffee and tea. Times 5!!
The morning is absolutely insane!! Oh- our next "english-ism" this morning was "like buttah" for the ladies from Ykraina. That was hilarious!!! And then Pan Yuri the diswasher, or as I like to call him "Big George" was learning how to say "watch your back" as we all often carry pots of hot water, trays of hot meatloaf/ziti/pork loin etc. So I was washing plums for lunch and he walked behind me with two carriers of hot cocoa. I said- "Hey- how about a 'watch your back?'" And he laughs and says "oh, ya, itchy back!" I was dying. He's a good sport.
Kids are all doing well. The boys are cute when they come in their odno stroyi with their xyctky INSIDE their collars. If I have a second, which I really don't, I try to fix them up.
I'm noticing that the posting times are wonky. I usually post between 2-4 and then after about 8:30 at night. Please don't think I'm posting at 5:30 like it says. We are in the throes of dinner prep at that time.
The word may be out that this blog exists. Let's wait for a reaction......

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Before I begin with my musings, I want to thank all of you who are reading this, sharing it, or adding comments. They mean more than you know!!
So, I just spent almost 45 minutes looking for an OUTLET!!!!!!!! I am in the shpytalyk anteroom as I write this. It is so friggin hot everywhere here. Today the kitchen was miserable. Do you think that maybe the 4 double ovens working at full blast cooking BAKED ZITI had something to do with it??? I was cutting celery and sweat was pouring down my face. Thankfully we had cookie dough ice cream for dessert. I ate alot. I haven't had ice cream in a while. I also stepped into the freezer perhaps one time too many just to cool off. I think it's 18 degrees in there. Nice..
So I'm trying to teach the pani v kyxni from Ykraina some "english-isms." They were putting cream cheese on the bagels this morning and I told them that's called a "shmear". They laughed, repeated it, and then said that SHMIR po-ukrainsky is axle grease. That got an even bigger laugh. Hey- a group of us old people is getting together for a swim. A swim!!! I'm so excited I could cry. Not too thrilled about putting on my bathing suit. At least it will be dark out.
Whenever I make rice at home, I get anxious. Either it's watery, or crunchy, or burned. So guess what I had to get started today? Rice. 4 gigantic pots. Surprisingly, it turned out ok.
Proir to that for breakfast we had bagels. Bagels!! And some of the best oatmeal I've ever eaten. Lunch was roasted chicken with said rice and veggies. Gotta go- running out of power. I'm outside on a bench because ther's a meeting where I usually blog from.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Did I say Taco night sucked? Chef Salad Night SUCKS EVEN WORSE!!!!!!! Here is a list of what went into this meal: salad, tomatoes, shredded cheese, kidney beans, chick peas, turkey breast, ham, bologna, shredded eggs, little rolls, butter, dressing, and ice cream for dessert. Now you may be thinking- yeah, that's chef salad for ya. But each thing needs to be either cut, shredded, poured, dice or sifted, and then it needs just the right utensil for serving, and then it's all prepared for the 5 tabory. Once stuff gets sent out to the yunatstvo it's tough to fix it if you forget something, like forks. Oh- and in the middle of packing this dinner for the yunaky, I open a giant cooler case (that transports the hot or cold food) and I find yesterday's breakfast STILL INSIDE. That's my job- clean and put away all stuff that gets brought back z lisu. Major bleh- scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon. The blood drained from my head as head pani saw it all unfold. I got reprimanded, but it worked out ok. Smelled like a dumpster, though.

One interesting thing I've noticed about myself- We were told not to ever pop something in our mouths as we are preparing it. It's one thing to taste something like a sauce, or the mashed potatoes from this morning, but I'm finding it a challenge to not sneak a piece of lettuce, or a cuke, or a strawberry or grape in my mouth.

It's Ivana Kupala tonite. I totally forgot what the hell that was. Still don't know...

I have sweat in every corner of my body. Not that my body has corners. Folds and rolls, rather. But let's start at the beginning...Pancakes today for breakfast along with the same assorted stuff. Right after breakfast at 9:30 another lady and I began making instant mashed potatoes for lunch. It took TWO AND A HALF HOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much for instant! But lemme tell you- they were awesome! Along with them we had pork loin (pork loin!!!) with a super gravy and carrots. Kids love the potatoes- some had 5 scoops with repetky.
Kids are doubling up on swimming times today with the heat. I'm reminding them about sunscreen and water.
Gotta run. Chef Salad for dinner. More components!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Well, Taco Night sucks! Aren't tacos usually the fun and easy do-it-yourself dinner??? HA! We fried about 60 pounds of ground beef, added the spices, and then began with the add ons-lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, wraps, taco shells, refried beans, cheese and red beans. Times 5.
So outrageously labor-intensive. Oh, and there was chicken noodle soup and pudding for dessert. Post clean up I was done at 9:00. And we had our first casualty in the kitchen. One of the ladies passed out and I and a bratchyk had to carry her to the shpytalyk. She's ok now.
Lemme tell you- those kids LOVE those tacos!! We never had tacos, right?
Ugh. It's hot today. I thought that it would be the heat in the kitchen that would give me trouble. I don't even FEEL any heat. Its the constant work. Today was scrambled eggs-real eggs. 3 ladies cracked about 200 of them. Bacon, hash browns, bread, etc. Kids love the hash browns. Right after breakfast was lunch prep. Mac and cheese and garlic bread. Now- this garlic bread was begun YESTERDAY morning. Pani Olia and Pani Ira buttered both sides of about 20 loaves of bread and posypaly with garlic powder. Kids LOVE it though! I was on macaroni duty. We cooked about 6 gigantic pots of pasta, drained it and Head Lady made the cheese concoction herself. Bread crumbs on top and into the ovens. We also had plain elbows for those who don't like the mac-n-cheese. That would be my two kids, of course.
Pool opened today and all the kids took their swim tests. I think Maya will do ok... oh- I forgot to mention...major faux pas this morning. I forgot to give the yunatstvo coffee. I don't remember having coffee as a yunachka, but I guess its for the vyxovnyky. (shrug)
I thought this blog would be funnier. I am so tired that it's hard to be comical. Perhaps when I get the hang of things, I can make it more fun for you all to read.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Holy Crap- this is the hardest job I've ever had IN MY LIFE!!!! Reported for work at 3:45 and went non-stop until 8:45. Meatball subs and chips for dinner. Meatball subs and chips and that took forever!! And then the head lady says "be ready, tomorrow is a hard day!" We all looked at each other and were speechless. The work is non-stop, literally. I am so tired, so wiped out, but thankfully we just had a fireworks display for all the tabory.
I am about to attempt my first shower here. Last night there was no water in the buffet or the kramnytsia building, so I had to brush my teeth using my precious water bottle. Outside on the grass. In the dark.
All of our kids are doing fine. I am making sure they are eating well.
Soon it's time for breakfast. Nich vzhe ide....
Happy Independence Day!! Well, it is now 2:10 pm. We all got up at 5:30am and reported for duty at 6:00. This is our first break. Actually, our only break until after dinner. I don't even know where to start! Breakfast today was french toast sticks, bread with jelly or butter, hard boiled eggs, hot chocolate, cold cereal. As soon as breakfast was over, we started on lunch.
That was ham, rosemary potatoes, corn, salad and fruit salad. I am totally wiped.
There's kind of an interesting silence among us workers. Nobody is conversing, the mood is very somber, no joking around, no laughing. By the time it is our turn to eat, we are so exhausted that we eat in silence. At least while serving the kids I feel like I can chat with them and ask how their day is going. We are not allowed to leave the kitchen to talk to our kids. They don't want any of the other children to feel bad that their mom isn't here. I got reprimanded twice today.
Once for cutting too much off the top of strawberries ( I did that to save time) and the second time for leaving the knife and board from said strawberries unattended and dirty. Lesson learned. One other thing- my "duty" is to prepare the crates of supplies for the yunatski tabory.
They get sent out not by the tractor that we all remember, but in an old mini van with a Dominos Pizza sign on the roof!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

OK- I'm up and running! Or rather, exhausted and grubby. What a first day! There are 6 of us working in the kitchen under the guidance of Pani Emilia. She knows what she is doing!! The rest of us don't!! We were all kind of running into each other, waiting for our orders. Pidvechirok went well and I confess that I did have a jelly donut. Shhh... After a short break, we got ready for dinner. Tonight it was chicken patties on a bun with fries and assorted condiments. Dessert was ice cream sandwiches. When the novachky came, Pani Emilia brought out a HUGE birthday cake for one of the girls and they all sang Mnohaya Lita (version #12) for her. I was eyeing that cake, hoping I could snag me a slice. Now, I confess, sometimes I go to WalMart and buy a cake just because I LOVE CAKE!!! And, I was able to get me a slice. Yay!
The chicken patty was good too. It's now dark and quiet here. Tomorrow is the first full day.
Well, I made it here and unloaded the kids to their respective camps. Reported for duty at 2:30. My first meal here was jelly donuts and milk. Not MY first meal, but the first meal for the camp. Found out where there is a connection, and it seems like we're good to go for this blog. YAY! I don't have much time so this was more of a test. I will post later.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Hello all! I am going to be working in the kyxnia at Vovcha Tropa for the three weeks in July.
I decided to write this blog so that you could see what goes on behind the scenes in the
famed kitchen. Check me out to see what meals we are serving, how the camps are going and
for a fun perspective on tabir life. Vitayu vas!