A Day in the Life of the Cook

By now this semester’s group of students have settled into the general routine of making the Old Convent their home. They’ve been on a weekend break, been on a week-long field trip to Wellington, and completed the class called Sustainable Community Development. You’ll get to read insights from several of those students soon, but for now you’ll have to settle for hearing from me, the Kitchen Manager. I was a student at CCSP exactly a year ago and am thrilled to have the chance to be back as a staff member and live the Convent life for a while longer.

In case you were wondering, (I’m sure you weren’t) I am a recent graduate of Houghton College and CCSP alum Fall 2015 (NGA!).

So, my morning starts with some sort of half-groggy form of exercise. Today I biked down the road to the Kowhai (pronounced co-fy) river and jogged part of the mountain bike trail. It was a chilly, foggy morning but turned out to be a beautiful day.

Every weekday I cook lunch and dinner for all the students and staff. It’s a colossal job but thankfully one I enjoy. Not that there aren’t moments I consider regretting my life choice, like when struggling to cut open a huge butternut squash, but when the meal turns out well in the end it is always worth it.

After jogging comes breakfast. As soon as I walked into the kitchen, my mind scattered to the thousand and one tasks I had to do to for the day. Lately our chickens, called “chooks” in NZ, have been laying a lot of eggs and I decided it was time to make some quiche to use the four dozen eggs that had accumulated over the week. Along with the quiche I made cabbage au gratin and a salad. A typical healthy, local, sustainable meal, no big deal.

After lunch, there was a staff meeting. I usually start making dinner around 2:00 or 3:00pm  but today I took a chance and decided I would carpool with two other staff members on their trip into town so that I could get my grocery shopping done for the week. I got back to the Convent at the late hour of 4:00pm and rushed to throw together the Mexican casserole for the evening meal. Dinner, I’m proud to say, was still on time.

Here’s an interesting and useless side note. In New Zealand they call dinner “tea.” It hasn’t really been explained to me how that came into practice; something for further research I guess.

After “tea” the students went to their evening class session and I retired to the staff house for some much needed relaxation. Before dark, I visited with the horses across the street. The stars here are stunning at night and I always look for the southern cross constellation when I walk the short distance from the Convent to the staff house. Now it’s time to rest before another full day in this beautiful place!

~Essie F.

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