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Take hosting tips from Gander

Take hosting tips from Gander
Take hosting tips from Gander
Suetta Tingler

If a good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help up another, then the small Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland, takes first place in cardio fitness.

Imagine what the talk must have been in the Canadian town when the sudden request went out asking the townspeople to assist in providing shelter, meals and hospitality to more than 6,500 strangers soon to arrive and having no definite departure date.

That plea was reality on Sept. 11, 2001, when the largest foreign attack on U.S. soil occurred. American airspace was quickly closed to all aircraft headed to the U.S., leaving 38 planes that were in flight from Europe at the time in need of finding an alternate place to land. The call for “anything you can do?” went out and Gander, being a logical landing point, took on the task. Gander, a town of less than 12,000 people, comparable to the size of Madison, offered to serve as the safe harbor for 6,122 passengers and 473 crew members.

Gander International Airport opened in 1938, the place where Amelia Earhart kicked off many of her pioneering voyages and where the Beatles first touched down, not New York City, on North American soil. At one time, Gander was the world’s most significant aviation destination, serving as the refueling spot for transatlantic flights. But once modern jet engines came to be, Gander’s prominence dwindled mostly to cargo planes, military flights, private jets and emergency landings.

Thirty-eight commercial jets filled with passengers landed in Gander on 9/11. Due to safety measures, passengers remained on aircraft for more than 24 hours before being allowed to disembark. During that time, the people of Gander hustled to make ready their homes in order to provide beds, showers, toothbrushes and meals for the “plane people” as they came to be called.

Community centers and gymnasiums set up cots and air mattresses while aircraft crew members filled hotels. Townspeople took on the jobs of tracking down Kosher foods, helping to refill prescriptions, loaning their autos and tending to animals on the grounded planes.

Security fears ran high; all baggage had to remain on planes. Eventually, the animals and pets in cargo were released and they, too, required food and care.
The plane people remained for five days in Gander. With thousands of mouths to feed, Gander supermarket shelves became bare as townspeople cooked for their stranded guests. The single most food item to represent the generosity of the residents came to be their tea buns. These were made by various groups to serve the unexpected guests.

TEA BUNS — THE GANDER WAY
(Christian Science Monitor)
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons custard powder (instant vanilla pudding mix can be used)
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup mixed dried fruit
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
Put the first six ingredients in a bowl. Crumble together and add apricots and mixed fruit. Make a well then add the eggs and milk; mix lightly. Spread on floured board; the dough will be very sticky. Cut and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. I use a 2/3-inch round biscuit cutter to make 12 round buns.

This recipe can easily be increased as necessary.

EASY BEEF STEW
(“Lakeside Reflections Cookbook,” Pultneyville, N.Y.)
1 can cream mushroom soup
1 package dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed of fat
2 bay leaves
Carrots, potatoes, onions (optional)
In a 3- to 4- quart roasting pan, whisk together mushroom soup, onion soup mix, water, wine and Kitchen Bouquet. Add chunks of beef and bay leaves. Bake covered at 325 degrees for 3-1/2 hours. Carrots, potatoes, onion can be added last 90 minutes.

AUTUMN IN-THE-AIR SALAD
8 cups romaine lettuce, rinsed and torn
1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and cut up
2 ripe Bartlett pears, sliced
4 ounces blue cheese
2/3 cup pecan halves, toasted
Mix all but the pecans and chill. Before serving, toss mixed greens with Citrus Vinaigrette dressing (recipe below) and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

CITRUS VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
1/2 cup prepared Italian dressing
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
Pour into container with tight-fitting lid, shake and mix well before adding to mixed greens.

CROCK-POT ITALIAN BEEF
(“Fruit of the Spirit” cookbook)
3 to 4 pounds boneless beef roast (top round, sirloin tip)
2 cubes beef bouillon
2 cups warm water
12 ounces beer
1 package Good Season’s Italian dry dressing mix
1/2 (11.5-ounce) jar pepperoncini peppers, drained
Rolls/French bread, optional
Red/green bell peppers, sliced, optional
Trim fat from beef and cut into chunks. Dissolve bouillon cubes in water and pour in a Crock-Pot. Stir in beer, dressing mix and peppers. Add meat and enough water to cover. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 to 9 hours or until meat is tender. Remove meat, strain broth and skim fat. Slice or shred meat with two forks. Note: Shred meat and serve au jus on deli buns with red and green peppers sauteed in olive oil. Serves 8 to 10.

OVEN ROASTED VEGETABLES
Select a mix of hardy vegetables to roast (eggplant, zucchini, brussels sprouts, fresh garlic bulbs, yellow squash, onions, red peppers, sweet potatoes, mushrooms); cut veggies into large chunks; salt and pepper to taste. Whether or not to peel the vegetables is personal preference. Spread vegetables in a single layer in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh herbs: thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano and/or parsley. Roast at 450 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Turn vegetables about every 15 minutes to ensure even browning. Before serving, toss lightly with Balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Hints & Tips when planning to serve several guests:

•With hors d’oeuvres, the wider variety of tastes offered, the more guests will consume.

•The first rule of buffet menu planning is to make individual portions smaller than standard serving sizes.

•When using more than one dining table in a room, allow two to four feet between chair backs when spacing tables and chairs. If space allows you to move the buffet away from a wall to allow guests to approach from all sides, do so.

•Make sure there is a serving utensil with each dish and a bowl to discard toothpicks, shrimp tails or other refuse.

Food for thought:
The Tony Award winning Broadway musical “Come from Away” is the story about the people of Gander during 9/11. In late February 2022, this musical played the stage at the Kentucky Center in Louisville.

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