Minestrone and Corn Bread

Tomorrow is the Wikimedia yearly business meeting, so we had our Stammtisch tonight so the guests could have a party. And I volunteered for kitchen duty. We had some 35 people on the registration list, and expected a good many more, so we were looking at some major food-making.

We met at 3 pm and went shopping at a nearby Turkish market - they have great fresh produce. Then we wanted canned tomatoes - minestrone was on the menu. There were six different brands that had tomato pictures on them, and all were tomato paste, none canned tomatoes. We asked around (on account of not being really fluent in Turkish) and after some effort we found a can - the industrial sized can with 1.5 kilos of tomatoes in it. Whatever.

I was also planning on making cornbread and needed milk, but there was none to be found. There was lots of Ayran, though, a salted youghurt drink. So I figured I would just leave off the salt and use this.

Then we started chopping. We chopped an ENORMOUS amout of veggies for 40-50 portions of soup. We also had 3 kilos of ground meat that I rolled into about 200 little meatballs for the soup. The kitchen was small, but we managed to get it pretty much done in time, despite the slow stove. My corn bread needed an hour and 15 minutes, the soup needed hours to boil.

We took some soup out before the meat went in as our veggie special, and also had some Turkish mixed pickles, some cucumber and some bread to go along with it. One member went around and assessed 5 Euros per eater, calling it a flat-rate party: eat as much soup as you want.

And indeed, it was enough for everyone, and they just so *raved* about the corn bread, that I have to give the recipe here, adapted from my good old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Per batch (I made a triple batch for 40 people) you take 1 cup of white flour, 1 cup of polenta, 1/2 cup of sugar, and an envelope of baking powder (4 teaspoons) and mix well. In another bowl you beat 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of oil, and 1 cup of ayran (if you are using normal milk, add a teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients). Grease a casserole, mix the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until just moist enough, pour into the casserole and bake for 25 minutes at 210° C, or more, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. This is really good with fresh butter.

I am now exhausted, my back hurts and I'm off to bed.

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