Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why I love(d) Veggie Prep

Even though I'm now in the bakery, I still have a very soft spot in my heart for my old job of Veggie Prep, and here's why:

Veggie Prep is a listmaker's dream job:

I'm a fairly obsessive listmaker and cross-er off-er (to the point where, if I've done something that wasn't on my list, I'll write it on just so I can cross it off).

Working in veggie prep is like working on giant list. You start out the day with a board full of labels, and every time you finish a job, you get the satisfaction of sticking a label on your container, and by the end of the day, you're left with a clean board. My brain LOVES this.

Another thing my brain likes to do (almost as much as making lists and crossing stuff off), is to learn a job really throughly and then try to think of ways to do it better and more efficiently. Not only were there lots of opportunities for this in VP, but it was highly praised as well (double hurray!). So basically I was really good at my job, which always feels nice.

Also, I love working with food, and having the opportunity to put my love into the food that goes out to everyone at Kripalu has been really rewarding.

So my brain was happy in all sorts of ways.

But the other big reason I loved it is that we just had lots of fun:

Giant Daikon



Be still, my beeting heart...

We also liked to add punctuation to the labels:

potatoes? Sweet!

Spinach, baby!

...but of course, what makes or breaks any job is the group of people you work with, and veggie prep has some of the best.

On my last day in there before I went to the bakery, they gave me a going away card and we all toasted with leftover sparkling cider from New Year's.

A few messages from the card:

"Ali, I want cookies all the time so I can eat my feeling of betrayal and loss. I'll miss you"

"Ali! You're leaving! Your loyalty's a fakery! I can't believe you're going to the bakery!"

the funny thing is, the bakery is about 10 feet away from the prep kitchen, so I still see them all the time :)

Next time, I'll tell you about my new job in the Bakery

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Kripalu Volunteer

Just like in the "real world", your day is very different depending whether you're working, or you have off.

We'll start with a workday.

There are several different "sevas" or "jobs of selfless service to the community" or "karma yoga" (which is traditionally doing service without the expectation of anything in return, whereas we get room and board and programs, but we'll let that slide for now).

The sevas that volunteers do include: housekeeping, dishwashing, veggie prepping, grounds keeping, maintenace, production support for events, and a few office jobs.

Let me tell you about Veggie Prep, the seva with which I am best acquainted:

We go in at 8 am, and there is a magnet board filled with labels for the day that need to be fulfilled.

These labels are spit out by a computer and are for the recipes the chefs will be cooking the next day (we prep one day ahead). They're based on some (I'm sure fabulously complicated) math taking into account projected guest & staff headcount.

The labels tell us what to prep, how to cut it, how much, and what it's for.

When you're done a job, you stick the label on the container and put it on a cart that goes upstairs to the hot kitchen.

We work in a large room with tables that are giant cutting boards, chopping and slicing not just veggies, but cheese, tofu, tempeh, and some meats. We also measure out and soak the beans, and crack the eggs. So basically, we see just about everything before it goes upstairs to the hot kitchen.

There is a gigantic walk-in fridge where thousands of dollars of produce are kept, as well as a walk-in freezer and "39 degree room" where we keep proteins (meat, fake meat, cheese, eggs, milk and nuts).

There are all sorts of cool machines that help us do our work. We have a giant carrot/beet/potato peeler/scrubber:

as well as a few chopping/dicing/slicing/crumbling machines.

It's actually a really fun job, and I loved doing it.

Next time: Why I love VP

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

30 New Friends

Alright, so obviously I've been busy (and/or avoiding blogging for various creative block reasons). But here's a quick update, which I will begin expanding on in posts to come.

1. I'm still in Massachusetts living and volunteering at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and loving every minute of it. I might stay. Like, for a long time...

2. In January, we started a new "term" (we commit to volunteer for 4 months at a time), and so about 30 volunteers left and 30 new ones came (all in the same day - what a crazy emotional transition).

3. I left my beloved job (and friends) of Veggie Prep and am now working in the Bakery, which I absolutely love.

4. The holidays were a dietary disaster, but with the new moon (new moons are good for setting intentions) last week, I'm back off sugar and this time gluten as well (more experiments, hurray!)

5. This past weekend I did a 4-day workshop with Dharma Mittra (pretty well-known yoga teacher who posed for the book 608 Yoga Poses - that's a lot of postures!) and it was really wonderful. It kicked my butt, but I loved it. I also started learning Capoeira, took people contra dancing, and led a partner yoga class. New Year, new energy.

#2 Expanded:

In a lot of ways, the Kripalu volunteer program reminds me of TRiP (the outdoor adventure program I led trips for in college).

One way for sure is that whenever a new group comes in, it's like automatically getting 30 new friends. Simply by virtue of the situation you are in (leading trips or living and volunteering together), you will become friends with a lot of these people.

I'm really excited about this new group, there are a lot of really wonderful and talented people who are enthusiastic about Kripalu and the karma yoga program. I have been re-inspired by their fresh energy and look forward to this semester.