I made a few comments earlier this week about what's available to eat here in town. It was frustrating a little to me because most was true. It's not only our town, it's across America somewhat. There are so many food shortcuts in our restaurants and grocery stores sometimes you feel like you're paying for nothing more than colored water and fancy flour. The prices are outrageous for what you get. Lower amounts, smaller packages in grocery stores, or just plain robbery through the convenience of eating out in a restaurant can be disheartening.
Maybe I'm just griping, whining and complaining. But, I'm seriously tired of eating zero nutrition food and paying for it or as I had said in those comments, paying $2.29 everywhere now to order a drink in a restaurant. Is it only me that thinks that is stealing?
I can see, that making money in the food service industry gets harder with Uncle Sam in the pockets of every little thing, before any profits are made. It took eleven different permits for me to put a hood venting system in the last café kitchen I built in Florida. It seemed everyone had their hand out from codes to fire, city, county, state, and even the quote "Safety Board", had a hand in it.That didn't include the permits for testing the system, or all the codes. The fire and Safety Board had me double permitted for putting the vent through and out the roof of the buildings, they hit you up twice for the same project.
What I can't seem to get past, is the price for that glass of tea or what we pay for prefab, processed, junk we are consuming through food manufacturers. The art of serving that stuff in all the restaurants we eat at should be a sin. Not to mention charging for it, as if it was straight from the cow, cut to order, or served from a "Golden Tea Chalice", so to speak.
The art of butchering meat or even ordering a whole loin and cutting it to order has totally disappeared, including the butcher themselves, unless you're eating at the "Ritz" prepared by a trained "Certified Chef" and their team. In fact it's so easy to prep fresh foods for food service the "USDA" has provided easy guidelines to serving whole fresh foods and making a profit. But instead of doing that, establishments opt for single serve packages of sodium preserved meats portioned in a case, so anyone can open the package and place it on the plate. "Commissary Kitchens" and storage facilities are now used to provide the foods to national chains. The smaller operations have the convenience of ordering through food purveyors, anything and everything; right down to the total meal, from "Chicken Cordon Bleu" to "Lasagna" so the person on the cook line just microwaves and sometimes ladles sauce over it and sends it out.
Have you noticed the same clover looking "Black Angus Burger" you can buy in a six pack for $10.99 at our local grocer looking similar to the same patty you get when you order a $10 burger at some of our local eateries, it's like no one knows how to pat out a burger anymore must less a fresh one. The additives and preservatives alone are enough to give you a medical condition and then we all wonder why our legs are full of water retention or our blood pressures up. It's what we are all eating, and what we see as purchasers in the grocery stores are almost the same. The grocery chain brings in weighed out pounds of frozen, proportioned, preserved, processed ground chuck and we think they packaged it in the back when all that was actually done was it was skidded into the cooler the night before to thaw so it can be placed by the package in the meat cases. However there are a few exceptions, any scraps cut in the trimming, to "say" make a steak look pretty and eye appealing, are ground and labeled "In House Ground". That's why you see more and more labels reading water added or not a water product on whole chickens these days for either added weight to the pound or deceptive marketing to the consumer. The Agriculture Guidelines allow so much of a percent of foods to be labeled "Fat Free" or "No Trans-Fat" when in fact, for example it can have 5 or 8 percent and can still be labeled like it has none.
"You Are What You Eat", we have heard all our lives and that's scary in this day and time. Unless you are growing your own foods, right down to the cow, now wonder our lives are full of medical conditions from the diabetes ridden morbidly obese problems to heart conditions and cancers. I'm screaming in my head at food these days and those that provide it at times, because it's so easy to provide fresh food for a moderate price.
If someone would open a local restaurant around here and refuse to serve prepackaged foods it might make history as the first one ever here in town. However I'm sure that would be difficult these days, all we can get are hot house grown, tasteless vegetables and unless you can butcher those meats, you'll have to adapt. It can be done to almost the full extent though thru careful menu planning and the right people in the right places. I would even help as far as I could with the full gambit of opening an individual, non-chain, fresh food, establishment of any kind of eatery that one would take on, the ideas are endless in my head, in self conversation alone. It would be great to have something around here that's healthy to consume, nutritionally sound, and simply made to order.
I drove to Huntsville yesterday just to eat a deli sandwich, well and to get out of the house on such a beautiful day. But I have to say "I enjoyed every bite of that sandwich". It was made on fresh rye bread they baked that morning, the cold cuts were cured in-house and the fries that came with it were an actual Idaho potato that had been fresh cut. It cost two of us to eat $16.38 with the drinks. All of it was fresh, large portions, and great service, all with a smile and attention to detail to boot. It was so worth the trip to get out of the house and eat a decent meal by the time I got home I was still grinning. I felt like I had consumed a meal from long ago and once upon a time.
This could be an extensive subject matter for a short blog, but seriously folks, $2.29 for a glass of iced tea. I could buy a whole 12-pack of soda at 4 for $11.00 (less than $1.00 each) on sale. $2.29, that's a 200 percent mark up. Food cost should be less than 33 percent; you know that, so make it fair. The last thing I or anyone for that matter would want, is to tell someone how to operate, but does anyone one else blatantly feel robbed; no wonder we order water nowadays! Do yourself a favor food people, sell your beverage inventory. Sell me a glass of tea for a buck or charge me 50-cents for a soda refill but don't charge an arm and a leg for the pleasure of eating out or you'll find we all are just as satisfied with fresh foods at home with no wait, crowds or processed foods. Just saying! It is so easy to serve fresh food for a fair price the standards have not changed for a good profit margin much, but apparently the greed has. Maybe if we all get involved, we can have honesty, my restaurant would or I could not live with myself! Can you tell it's already under my skin and bothering me? This will be continued...
Here are a few recipes that might tweak your at home appetite a bit. Made with the freshest ingredients you can find will make them divine!
Grilled Hot Pastrami on Rye
This is my favorite sandwich, if you have ever been to a "Jewish Deli" you can relate. The secret for me is the pickle, in New York and other areas of the states you can get what they call a "Half Sour Pickle", they are fairly easy to get from a food purveyor. Crunchy, crisp, and only half sour is the only way to describe them. If you can't manage all fresh ingredients, "Pepperidge Farms Seedless Rye" and prepackaged pastrami will do, however "Boars Head Brand Pastrami" is great, there are no preservatives or additives in it and the flavor profile is excellent.
fresh slices semi-thick cut pastrami, 1/8 inch slice, (about 8oz.)
1 tablespoon of water, for moisture content
2 slices semi-thick cut havarti cheese, (with dill is okay, but not preferred)
2 slices of fresh baked within a day of rye bread, (or Pepperidge Farm Seedless Rye)
1 tablespoon creamed horseradish sauce, or spicy brown mustard (like "French's Bold and Spicy")
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 dill pickle spears, I like 2, but I'm a pickle hog. (or a whole half sour if you can find them)
Butter both slices of the rye on one side, set aside.
In a small frying pan add pastrami and water on medium heat until heated through and water is evaporated.
Wipe pan clean with a paper towel, pat pastrami dry of any excess water and reduce heat to lowest setting.
Place a first slice of rye, butter side down in pan, pile pastrami on top of rye, add the havarti cheese on top the pastrami, add a squirt of sauce and cover all with remaining slice of rye, butter side up.
When browning occurs with the bottom slice, use a spatula and your hand to flip entire sandwich over for continued browning of other side. (Like making a grilled cheese sandwich)
Transfer to a cutting board or serving plate, cut in half, and slap that pickle beside it all, Enjoy.
Fresh Roasted Autumn Root Veggies
1-2 parsnips, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces.
1-2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces.
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes.
1/2 pound fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes.
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in half inch slices
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and cut up in chunks.
1 smaller fennel bulb, about 1/2 pound, cut in half, then sliced in 1/4 size slices.
1/2 a celeriac root, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces.
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place all prepared vegetables in a Dutch oven; add garlic, thyme, oil, butter, salt and pepper. Stir to thoroughly coat all ingredients. Cover with lid and bake for one hour stirring on occasion to prevent bottom burning. Continue cooking uncovered until some browning occurs and a fork is easily inserted into your largest piece of vegetable.
Note: To supplement for not having a Dutch oven, a good roasting pan and aluminum foil works well.