I have a job that is at once challenging beyond all belief and rewarding beyond all belief. When I'm not developing recipes or writing about food, I have a day (well, night) job at a local group home caring for two women with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Every need of theirs is met with the help of the women who work at the house and every moment of their lives is spent under the care and supervision of others. Downtime is rare for us, but I know that none of us would have it any other way.
Once you've been with these women for any length of time you begin to care for them on a level that you didn't think was possible, and though we are told we're not their friends, but workers hired to care for them, you can't reign in your heart and feelings sometimes.
Days spent caring for another's personal hygiene isn't glamorous or even something most would choose to do, but we do it nonetheless because eventually we all genuinely care for them as family. And, when you spend so much time with other workers in a setting like that you also begin to care for them like family.
We've witnessed everything from deaths to births to divorce to marriage to broken down cars to losses of homes to illnesses and beyond and we're all there for one another in a way I've never seen in any other job I've ever had. For as difficult as my job can be, I'm very grateful and fortunate to be where I'm at.
So, once in a while we hand over care of the girls to another and we party in the best way we know how; We eat!
The house I work in is filled with women from all walks of life and all areas of this world. Each one has their own food history, as well and we all love to share that on potluck days. Sometimes we have a worker who will make pastelillos, or one who loves sweets and will bake any cake you want. We have feisty Italians who love food and, of course, there's me.
This week we were celebrating the birthday of one worker and the moving on of another. Sometimes we have no reason to eat and celebrate, but we do it anyway because we love to eat!
This time I was in charge of the cake and it turned out to be the cake that failed - twice. I couldn't get it out of the pans properly no matter how I tried, so I gave in and made cupcakes. I also threw together a bowl of Black Bean and Corn Salsa. The other girls brought in various goodies and we all went away full and happy, as usual.