Well, Folks, it’s here again; the weekly update for the Cook-Inn food project, operating in East Lothian and (mostly) in the East of Edinburgh. Today contained both sun and clouds, but for the most part the weather was awesome!
George had said that he’d be away in London today, so it was a nice surprise to find him and Fred both awaiting us in the doorway of our favourite store. Gillian the Community Champion was not available just now, so we bought teas while Duncan shouted up for Tam the Vegetables manager. An unsung hero of our story, who cordons off the food nearing its sell-by date so other workers don’t just throw it away before we come for it. This week there were nearly six crates – not a lot to feed thirty households, but we had an ace up our sleeve. The Musselburgh Lidl has agreed to donate sell-by vegetables to the Hollies two nights a week, and – returning Cook-Inn’s generosity in the past – the Hollies are allowing us to take what veg we might need to top up our runs and hot food ingredients! Many thanks to Lidl, and also to God, who must have heard that sometimes the food bags risk falling a little short. We sorted the veg and fruit in the Morrison’s car park again while the sun largely beamed out at us from a clearing, blue sky. People and cars gave us funny looks as we appeared to be stealing a pile of green crates right out of the front door on a wheely trolley!
Clive in the Hollies’ kitchen had already begun making good use of a pile of Lidl tatties, helped by Susan who had come in early knowing that the weather would lose us volunteers. Porty beach gets a lot more attention of a weekend than a food project, once the summer appears to be showing its charming face. As the other, main ingredient was leek ( for leek and potato soup) a smaller pot was heating up beside the first; this was to become my special soup, free of the onion family and all dairy. George muttered that he’d liked his last taste of my ‘freefrom’ hot food, and might help me finish the pot a little later when everybody is enjoying their lunch. To avoid the smell of all that leek cooking, I nipped home to feed the cats their own lunch before coming back for mine!
Today I am profiling Susan, our stalwart cook and occasional delivery extra. Susan is over 21yrs old, lives in Musselburgh, and has an extensive network of family and friends of all ages living not too far away. She comes to church, and volunteers for Cook-Inn on a mostly regular basis. Sometimes her family needs her on a Sunday, and Susan is never lax in her care of the people she loves. Also the animals. Her son Jamie has a little kitten whom Susan has been known to babysit, and Susan herself currently shares her life with a cute wee ball of fur; Bobby, the fruit-mad hamster! Upon meeting my two rescue cats, Reive and Romes, Susan quickly became the lap of choice for my plump little nutter, Reiver. He flattened her, and had to be lifted off at the end of the evening so she could go home! Photos of the Cook-Inn regulars appear on the Cook-Inn website and Facebook page, and on my own page as well.
The potato soup was lovely, herbs and spices filling the Hollies with a great smell. As predicted there was too much in the little pot just for me, so George helped me finish it. He had a job to go to that afternoon, so he volunteered to take the Restalrig run, and drop Fred off with his goods for the Pilton run on his way to work. They had to leave sharpish. This meant that today there was only one car to finish all the other runs! I hared off to find Adele, loyal to the end but devoid of helpers herself. Adele had been gardening while the sun shines. Together we chugged through the big Musselburgh run, stopping to stroke the cute, black-and-tabby cat who lived with our celiac recipient, Anne. Anne is probably in her eighties, and is always pleased to be given gluten-free supplies to supplement her pension. She sends her regards to the readers everywhere.
Clive and Susan, finishing the kitchen cleanup in record time, were eager to get some sunshine themselves. Susan took a bag of veg and a hot soup, and went to deliver to the nearest recipient on foot. Clive wanted to do some delivering himself for a change, so he went with Duncan to do the Wallyford and Prestonpans run. With no room in the back of the car, I was left out! Time to sit by the river and watch the birds feeding on the food people throw them! Another form of charity, feeding the wildlife. I pulled out my latest mystery novel; It’s 1353. Bartholomew is in trouble again. While visiting Suffolk on University business, he has seen a huge, white dog in a village left empty years ago by the plague. Local legends tell a tale that anyone seeing this dog is doomed to die within the week! His monk friend, Michael, believes this is nonsense. God is more powerful than any superstition. But Bartholomew, having seen many crimes during his time in Cambridge, is of the belief that a legend like this might be useful to a band of smugglers hiding out away from prying eyes, and that the ‘curse’ might be the criminals silencing nosy villagers…
The sharp beeping of my phone thrust me back into 2018. Susan had delivered the food, and we sat together to await the return of the remaining Cook-Inn vehicle. Seagulls ducked and weaved, and I recalled the time I had been feeding them when my ‘Ipod’ shuffle had fallen into the river. Duncan had rolled his trousers up and waded into the current, removing the headphones from a bird who had thought they might be tasty and handing the device back to me. By some miracle, it had all worked again after drying it on the radiator(!) Susan, never having been so daft as to feed seagulls while listening to an Ipod, thought this was hilarious.
Susan’s run followed, and now there was room for everyone in the car because so many bags had been delivered. Upon finding everyone out – presumably enjoying the weather as well – we dropped the final few with Susan, to give to neighbours when they came back home. Now to drop the crates back at Morrison’s, and Clive back home to Craigmillar. Clive finally visited the Store, and met the intrepid Gillian! Kindly, she agreed to pose with him for a photo. The result is on Facebook. We veered off home at last, and my evening was spent with cats and neighbours in the garden, catching the last of the sun.
To volunteer, refer or just for more information, here is the Cook-Inn helpline number; 07531 436 389. Free chef-made grub and optional petrol expenses for drivers! Or visit our website; www.cook-inn.co.uk