Disaster averted with help of a little Valentine's Day magic

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By: Rachel Shenk

Rachel Shenk/Flavor 574

Do you believe in magic? I do, in a strange and glorious way. Some call it a higher power or fate. I call it magic.

As you locals know, the week of Valentine’s Day was mostly gray and ominous. The weather people were making predictions for a winter storm.

Meanwhile, at the bakery, we were running around getting ready for our Valentine’s Day supper. A five-course meal with the trimmings takes a little time to put together, especially when the food is fresh and made from scratch.

I purchased roses for every group. We made delicious desserts. It was a fun week, making plans and doing extra cooking and baking.

Saturday rolled around. We had our usual busy Saturday morning — until about 11 a.m., when we looked out the window and saw … nothing. The snow was swirling so much that it blocked the world outside.

Customers stopped coming in. We did not really know how bad it was until 4:30 p.m. when the first customer called to report an emergency travel ban and a cancellation!

What could have been a disaster, both financially and materially, turned into a beautiful thing.

For the next hour, our warm kitchen turned into emergency planning headquarters. All four of us used phones and iPads and tried to touch base with every customer who had made a reservation. Facebook messages and emails, calls in and out, master list write-ins and cross-outs took over our baking space.

By the end of the hour, we had reached everyone except one couple. The meal was canceled for Saturday and rescheduled for Sunday. Miraculously, almost everyone changed their plans seamlessly.

As we locked the doors, we cheered for how everything fell together and already started planning for Sunday night’s gathering.

The next evening, as the people started to come in, we marveled at how the food worked out perfectly, how everyone seemed to be happy, how cozy the seating room felt.

The couple we had not been able to get in touch with showed up, assuming the meal had been rescheduled. Two women who thought they couldn’t make it arrived with time to spare.

What could have been a disaster, financially and materially, turned into a beautiful thing. Our customers became active participants in the true Valentine’s spirit, by being flexible and supportive.

The five-course meal, from the nojitos to the key lime pie and chocolate flan cake, worked out superbly. And the spirit of the evening could not have been warmer.

For us, it was a miracle. Once again, we felt the true meaning of community. And with food as its base, it could not have been sweeter.

Here is a recipe for the cornbread we served with our meal. It goes well with a hot bowl of chili or fresh corn chowder.

Rachel’s cornbread
Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cups butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2¼ cups milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup mild green chiles, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs and beat well.
  2. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture.
  3. Finally, add green chiles. Pour into a well-greased 9×13 pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick poked into center comes out clean.

 

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