Natural

The other day my wife was asked to pick up some chicken breasts for a dinner at our church from a membership warehouse, as the local supermarkets did not run any specials that week.

The conversation I overheard came to the added water contend of the chicken. I wrote an article about this in a previous post and would just like to add that the word “NATURAL” on a package nowadays can include also any “natural” ingredient like water and other “natural” flavorings. This will again give you a good chance to pay a relatively high price for water. Check your packages it has to be stated on it somewhere if it is more than minimal processed.

The lady my wife talked to was actually surprised that “natural” on the packages she checked does not mean that there is no water added.

Here is the link to my previous article.

Buying Meat

The way we buy meat for our house.

I am not and never was a believer in buying whole Sides of Beef, Beef Quarters, Freezer Bundles and whole Hogs for my home use. I always tried to analyze a customers needs for larger quantities meat buys to actually give them the most for their money with the least amount of waste.

So after we sold our store we had to start implementing our meat shopping to fit our lifestyle.

We are meat eaters and a dinner without meat very seldom happens at our house. (I really mean very, very, very seldom)

The first thing we did was to analyzed how we eat and what we need for three month. How many roasts, steaks, pork chops, ground beef etc. we should have on hand. For this we actually made a list of dishes we cook and how often we want to eat it in that period. (Very helpful is our monthly menu calendar, which gives us variety and menu ideas, which we loosely follow as left-overs or social events often screw up the best intentions to stick with this list. Our way of setting up our menu will be in the next post.)

So let us say we have Steaks twice a month, Hamburger dishes once a week, Schnitzel type dishes once a week, Chicken dishes once a week, Fish once week and some kind of roast once a week, one day is for left overs and I have to take my wife out about once a week to keep the peace at home.

So let us start with the Chicken first.

Chicken breast, we usually buy in 5 pound packages boneless if possible on sale and always check that they are not pumped. (see my post from 12/13/2011). If we can, we buy boneless chicken thighs (which are usually cheaper) for our dishes cooked with sauce(s), such as Hungarian or Italian style. Occasionally we buy a fresh whole chicken for use the next day, our Cajun Chicken recipe is one of our favorites for this.

Fish we buy fresh or frozen as needed.

Now where is the Beef!

For Roasts we buy, in the colder season, chuck pot roasts and English cuts (now called a boneless shoulder pot roast) on sale, usually when they offer buy one get one free and the price per pound is not out of line. As this type of roast is usually braised, a firm to the touch piece of meat with not too many big chunks of fat in it is sufficient, it could actually be a piece of USDA Select graded meat.

For Roast Beef, we buy either a whole Sirloin Tip and cut it up to what we need (roast, thin cut steaks, stew and pieces for shish-kebob. I also use this for homemade Beef Jerky. For all this a “Jaccarder” is the most handy gadget to own!!) or we buy bottom rounds. We either buy whole pieces from the membership club or again when they are on sale. In my opinion a top quality USDA Choice graded piece is a must here!!! These roasts if they are done right are excellent for the rotisserie.

Steaks:
We usually buy a whole Beef tenderloin and process it to our needs or as I am fond of Rib Steak, be it bone in or as Ribeye/Delmonico steak we splurge once in awhile on them. As these are a treat, they have to be of the best quality (again at least USDA Choice and if Black Angus they have to be Certified Black Angus, as most other advertised Angus meats just do not come up to my quality standards.)

Hamburger or Ground Beef:
Bought from a reliable source or if I can I buy chuck roasts and grind my own. As I believe that parts of the chuck have a fuller taste than pieces from the hind I prefer Chuck, but when it is ground, do you really know which part it comes from? Fat contents, we go for about 15%, as you need some fat to add to the taste.

As I grew up with more pork in our diet than beef or any of the other meats, I have to say I am very fond of it. Forget the high priced Veal most of the time as it can be very easily substituted with Pork. Osso Bucco (Italian style Veal shanks) – try making the dish with boneless pork chops (follow our recipe), all our friends love it and it does not break the bank. Schnitzel, why buy Veal Scallopini ($15.00 per pound) if Pork Sirloin Pieces ($ 2.50 per pound) do the same and most of the people will not even notice the difference. I usually buy whole bags (5 lbs) of pork sirloin for about $ 2.00 per pound ( Talk to the meat manager for a special price on whole packages, should be cheaper as he has less work, less spoilage and you will loose some weight from the meat juice in the package.)

Whole boneless pork loins, again watch that they are not pumped, will give you chops and roasts, see the pork roast recipes on our Inge’s Kitchen website.

I mentioned pumped a few times here and refer you again to my post from 12/30/2011.

Even if it is called all natural, if they add any type of broth or solution you are paying for water, which you have to consider in your product cost.

 I have a few links here to recipes at Inge’s Kitchen. This is one of the other websites we publish and maintain.

 

Freezer orders

During my lectures and some conversations it seems that buying larger amounts of meat(s) is coming back in fashion.

So let us break down the purchasing of a Side of Beef or Hindquarter:
If you have a large family and use all of it up in under 6 month you might want to look into it.
But let me point out the positives and negatives of this concept.

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The pluses are:

  • You will have a freezer full of meat and, if you plan a day ahead, you can have meat dishes without running to the store, ergo savings in gas.
  • The price per pound “is” cheaper.
  • It is wrapped for you in airtight packages to go right into the freezer.
  • It is already frozen, using less of your home energy for the initial freeze.
  • All packages are marked.
  • You will usually receive an inventory list.

Makes life easy, right!

Now let’s look at the negative:

  • The savings in comparison over regular counter prices are only there if you have your order straight cut through. If your change the cuts, as an example if you do not like Top Sirloin Steaks and have them ground up into Hamburger, you change a higher price cut into a cheaper one, you might just have lost all your savings from the whole Side of Beef.
  • The Steaks and Primal Roasts will be long gone and you will have all the secondary (cheaper) cuts left over in your freezer, you had better get used to soups and stews.
  • When you buy a whole Side or Hind you also buy all the fat and the bones, which you cannot use and can amount, depending on the yield, to half of your purchase price!
  • You will have to run an extra freezer, this matters only if you don’t use one already.

The next argument I often heard was: “Oh, I buy direct from the farmer.”

Let’s break this one down.

Not many farmers I know of still kill their own beef. Yes, one of my butcher friends, with his business out in the Boonies, used to be hired by the farmer(s) in his area for that reason, but the last time he did it was quite a few years ago and he then was more often hired to butcher hogs.

The small local slaughter houses (if they didn’t close the doors yet, like many, that I know of) are government inspected, so there should not be any safety concerns about your meat. But not many have a Government Grader on hand to give your cow (it is actually a steer or heifer) the, in my opinion, desired USDA Choice rating. So you are in the end, buying “ungraded” beef. (See my post on Inspection and Grading)

To sum this up, if you have a larger family, use all the cuts as they are straight cut and run a freezer no matter what, this might be a way for you to save.

My suggestion is, if you had a freezer order like this before, take your inventory sheet (we always supplied one for our customers), which should include the weights of the different cuts, go to your supermarket or meat department and mark down the prices in the counter. Multiply these with the weight, add it all together and actually see how much money you saved. (If you don’t have any of these lists and want to check into it write me a comment and I will post one of my old cutting tests for you.)

freezerbundles1Another way to buy are those Freezer Bundles. Before you buy any of these do the same as I suggested in the previous paragraph.

Now to the next step: Check your newspaper, flyers in the mail or online meat department advertisements and do the same as above. You might see that buying specials saves you more money than freezer orders or bundles. (Always figure in the time and price of wrapping your meat for the freezer.)

 

In the next post I will go into sensible ways to buy and save, (IMHO)

 

 

Are we making ourselves sick?

This post is a little off the normal Eat’s and Meat’s subjects, but I think it might confirm what I believe for many years.

We are making ourselves sick?

  • A segment on Fox news the other day had two doctors talking about the increase of nut allergies in our young people over the years.
  • We have problems with drinking the local water when we go abroad and Montezuma’s revenge is the best known example/proof of this statement.
  • From what I can see the severity of the food based illnesses is also on the rise. It seems like a case of Salmonella poisoning, which has been around forever, went from a couple of days of diarrhea to a necessary visit to the emergency room.

Are these the results of our strive towards extreme sanitation?

Many “experts” already stated, that using these antibacterial hand soaps are of no beneficial value, even no good for you as they also destroy all the good bacteria we need for our overall health. But after many of these studies you now see antibacterial wipes at many public places and mothers running after their kids with these wipes at the playgrounds.

Now the question is do those wipes actually destroy the bad guys: “The Viruses”?

According to my research the answer is “NO”. See article at ConsumerReports.org if you don’t want to take my word for it.

My opinion is that we have to keep our immune system in tact and fighting.

To give you an example from my experience. Two little neighbor girls, one played in dirt and ate grass, the other one did not like to get dirty and ran home quite often to clean up. Guess what, the girl playing in the dirt and eating grass never got sick and the cleanliness obsessed girl caught every cold coming around.

That brings me to my meat market story.

How things changed over the years.

When I first started working in a meat store we had saw dust on the floors, which made evening clean up very easy. We gave skinless hot dogs to all our customers kid(s) and it quite often happened that these doggies dropped right into the sawdust. Mom took the dog wiped it on their coat and it went right into the kids mouth. By the time we opened our own store, the government (inspectors) outlawed the use of saw dust. The hot dog fell and mom’s request was if we could rinse it. A short water rinse and the hot dog made it back to the kids.

By the time we sold our business the common response to the hot dog drop was: “Don’t you touch it, it is contaminated!!!”. I still wonder how our generation and all the generations before us ever survived long enough to keep the human line alive.
I believe, becoming wimpy all the way we cut down on our chances.

So live your life and hope to survive!

 

The Best Smoked Trout ever

Looking at old photos, made today a day which brought back memories from the time I was just married to my beautiful wife forty years ago and welcomed into her family.

There was a family friend who started and ran the Milford Bay Trout Farm in Ontario, Canada.

Ralf Uhde passed on a few years ago but the family trout farm still exists and is run by his son and daughter in law.

I remember on visits there the exquisite smoked Trout Pate he made from scratch, even growing the garlic for it in his garden and the in-house smoked trout, which always was good to the last bite. This time has gone by and with the hustle and bustle of life, we only saw them on a few special occasions like weddings, where he always happened to have a few samples along to enjoy.

Links

Remembering the smoked trout and the pate even after all this time makes my mouth water and as I am retired now, I believe I will make it a point to revisit there sometimes this summer and enjoy besides the trout, the beauty and serenity of the place.

Making X-mas Sausage

Bratwurst 016a

We started the Boomers as a subgroup in our church and, as we have a couple of “Meatmen” in our group, decided to host an evening of Christmas sausage making as a social event and fundraiser for the church. Our guess was that in our small congregation we would probably end up making about 50 to 60 pounds of sausage and would call that a success. What a surprise on the order cut off day we had close to 200 pounds on order.

We made three different types of fresh sausage, a fine and a coarse ground Fresh Polish and a recipe we got from the local Transylvanian Saxon organization. The recipes for the Coarse Polish and the Saxon sausage can be found on our Inge’s Kitchen recipe page in the Sausage and Lunch-meat section. If I can get the other guy’s recipe for the fine ground Polish we will post it there.

As we ran that as a social event we had quite a few members show up to help and have a good time.

A few beers, some snacks and samples of the sausage we made rounded of the evening. The extra pounds we had leftover after we weight up all the order were gobbled up by the participants by the people present within no time.

The support of Butcher and Packer Supply Company and Ilowski Sausage made this a very successful fundraiser for our church.

With all the help we had, the sausage was made in under 2½ hours.

Serving Sizes

Almost all the nutrition labels nowadays include as a measure the “serving size”.

This is okay with nuts and potato chips and if I compare the Nouveau Cuisine recipes some people will actually pay large sums of money for these amounts on a plate.

From personal experience at our meat store, catering and also serving food at dinners at our house, these serving sizes are a joke and any normally physically active person probably could not even survive on these servings.

When I was young, working in the meat business, a two pound Sirloin Steak with two nice sized baked potatoes, a bowl of salad and one quart of full fat milk was a serving size for me and at that point in my life I did not gain an ounce of weight!

On the other hand, one of my more affluent customers who I knew from my involvement in an organization came to me for advise on quantities for an Oktoberfest: 20 people (mixed couples). I suggested 1 Knockwurst (about 4 oz each, which is a serving size) per person and to figure 2 for the men. So a total of 30 Knockwursts, 1/4 pound of potato salad per and 1/4 pound of our precooked Bavarian Sauerkraut, so a total of 30 sausages, 5# potato salad and 5# of Sauerkraut.

She finally decided on 15 sausages and 3# each of the potato salad and sauerkraut as the only food served. I actually said to her that it was only good that I was not invited to that party.

Now the variable here is male and female eating habits, with women usually eating smaller portions than men, with that in mind the amounts served should be enough that none of your guests will leave your dinner table hungry. I would feel embarrassed if we would ever run out of food during any party at our house which includes a meal.

Here I have to quote an old German saying:

Das Schönste am Feste sind nicht die Gäste, sondern die Reste” (The most beautiful thing about a festival are not the guests, but the leftovers!)

Now to the actual serving sizes.

Meat:

In the industry we always considered half a pound of meat per person in cuts without a bone and one pound on bone-in cuts (spareribs would be actually higher as we figured a whole three pound slab as enough for two people). These are pre-cooked weights.

Potatoes:

We always figured at least one nice size potato per person and if you mash them you would have to increase the amount as we noticed that our guests always ate more of them.

Rice:

We consider one cup of raw rice to give you 4 servings

Noodles:

About 2 to 3 ounces of dry pasta per serving

Vegetables:

We suggest about a 1/4 pound per person.

and now for

Desserts:

Eat all what you can stuff in, you can always go on a diet tomorrow. LoL

Now these amounts should be sufficient so that you do not run out of food when entertaining guests.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has some pretty comprehensive webpages on the subject  “Nutrition Facts Label Programs and Materials” (click on title to go there).

They also have a 2¾ minute video about it.

Is Red Meat bad for you?

There seems to be a bit of confusion about this subject. Let me clarify it for you:

It is not Red Meat that is bad for you.

It is the Fuzzy Green Meat that is bad for you!