Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A meaty (and cheap) spaghetti sauce!


With a pound of hamburger costing close to $4, a good spaghetti sauce is a flavorful way to spread it around!

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef, browned
2 28 oz cans of spaghetti sauce
1 tsp each dried oregano and basil

I generally like to brown up the meat and then toss it into a slow cooker with the other ingredients. I leave this on low for a few hours and then apportion out seven ounce servings which I keep in small containers in the freezer. Then, when I’m ready for a nice plate of spaghetti, I just boil some pasta and I’m all set to go.

You’ll get about eight seven ounce servings that will cost under a buck each!

Random thoughts going into December...

I want my park back!

OK you OWS people thingy's. We get it! We're the ninety nine percenters. Most of us are poor and a tiny fraction are not. You made your point and now I'm bored with the lot of you. Just more talk like those guys in Washington when what we really need are men and women with solutions Now, go pack your things and get out of my park you losers!.

Look in the mirror...

What do you see America? Maybe a little too much flab here and there? Men, is it getting harder and harder to see your penis? Actually, many of us Americans personify our government to a tee. Way too many are overweight to the point of being obese. The solution for both is to stop consuming, burn off the excess fat and start embracing the term frugality. The thing is, this will require we get off our butts and get down to some real work. Are you up to it America? Or, should I just order us up another box of Zingers and Twinkies?

What neighbor?

How many times have you dropped over to a neighbor's house recently? None! OK then, how many of your neighbors can you name by their name? Wow! Well then, perhaps that's a hint. Put down the smart phone, close the laptop and turn off the TV. There's something waiting outside for you right now! It's called a community. You know, people talking directly to people. Something that's been missing in Washington for years. Or, am I wrong? When was the last time you talked face to face with your representative in Congress? Well, what about over the phone, then? Have they even sent you an Email for chrisakes? I rest my case.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The last domino!


As a society, we can’t say we never saw this coming. And, please don’t crank up the blame machine. It wasn’t the Democrats or the Republicans that brought down the Republic, it was us. We the People. It was greedy, crooked men and women who all took a turn at the helm of the Good Ship America and who each in their turn, made sure she was headed towards the rocks. I can’t see any other way of looking at this. Both sides ended up spending 300 million into the poor house and as of this writing in late 2011, they are still hard at it.

Now, when there is little left to be done, the People are beginning to stir. Perhaps it was the loss of a job or getting kicked out of their home or even being unable to afford food that has captured their attention. I don’t know. What I do know is that for all extents and purposes, it’s all over but the shouting. America is destined to fail and when she does, so will much of the civilized world. What will be left will be something similar to the Dark Ages where life will once more become brutal and brief. Where strength and not intellect will rule and where just a few will continue to live in grand style on the backs of billions.

Slow Cooker Bean Soup with Cubed Ham!



Make what fun you will of beans, those magical fruit! They still deliver a hearty taste along with good basic nutrition at cheap cost every time. This slow cooker version is one I’ve made for a number of years now. I happen to like it and hope you will too.


Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. Great Northern beans, soak over night
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce or one 16 oz. can
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 med. Russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or sub garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp basil or parsley
  • 1 dash of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste (hold off til the end)

Directions:

Soak the beans overnight as per package instructions. Drain off old water and place in a 3 quart pot. Add 6-8 cups of fresh water and bring to a brief boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain once again and move to the slow cooker. Test the beans at this time. Note: They should feel somewhat soft.

Combine the beans with three cups of fresh water along with the rest of the ingredients. (Note: do not add salt until the beans are done as this will only toughen them)! Cook on low for about 4 hours. Test for doneness and add salt towards the end of the cooking cycle. Serves 6-8.


Cooks Log:

Following is a real time log of the cooking process for this recipe;

11/25/11 - Soaked beans overnight.
11/26/11 – 9:00 AM - drained & rinsed beans. Added fresh water and brought to a brief boil, then reduced heat.
9:15 AM - Simmered for 45 minutes!
9:50 AM - Rinsed the beans again and added them to the slow cooker. Added warm water and tomato sauce. Beans were beginning to feel somewhat soft. Also nuked the veggies & ham for 20 seconds to warm them after taking from the fridge. Left the slow cooker on the high setting to bring the contents up to speed quicker.
10:45 AM - I turned heat to low setting. Smells pretty good at this point.
12:15 PM – Checked slow cooker – everything on track to finish about 2 PM.
1:48 PM – Checked and beans still a little undone!
3:30 PM – Checked and potato still a little al dente. Total time is now 5 ½ hours in slow cooker.
4:00 PM – It was done to a tee!

Summary:

This is a great dish to make anytime of the year! I also like the fact of how inexpensive it is especially if you grow your own vegetables. Sure, the cost of smoked ham has skyrocketed as of late and that’s why I only use a small amount in this recipe.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Critique: Hormel Compleats Turkey & Dressing


Somewhere in the dark recess of my addled brain, I can remember eating something from this line of products called Hormel Compleats; but what the word ‘compleats’ means I’m not sure. (Possibly a word taken from the Greek compleare meaning dire intestinal distress).  It’s also not a frozen entrée, so I have to guess that whatever meat (turkey??) is in there must be swimming in a sea of preservatives. Perhaps Hormel has discovered how to preserve stuff in the same manner that the Egyptians learned to preserve their mummies (sic).

According to the directions, it can be ready in just ’90 seconds!’ Wow, the last time I saw something ready to go that fast, I was hormone filled teenager….but, that’s a story for another time. Ninety seconds huh? Ah, yes, I can see now that the microwave will be involved. You have to slit it and then nuke it. (Optionally, you can also place the entire plastic container (un-slited?) into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 8-9 minutes). So, let me see now, that’s 90 seconds versus 9 minutes. Think I’ll just go ahead and nuke this bastard into submission!

Ranking:

How does this entrée stack up? All categories here are on a scale of 1= disgusting to 10 = multiple orgasms.

Pkg art:      7    Nifty package design. Gosh, this does look inviting!                    
Reality:      4    Reminds me of my college biology dissection class! And this is the bile gland...
Cost:          3    @ $2.95 in Nov 2011 – very high for an entrée!     
Smell:        3   MRE’s smell better than this sh**! Or, at least they smell...               
Texture:     2    Very little that was pleasant…rather like gruel with meat chunks!
Taste:        3    Gag me! I think I’ve been assaulted here!         
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Avg:           3.7 Words fail me! Someone please call a toxicologist!

Nutrition:

Looking at the nutritional label is a telling experience. The serving size is 283 grams for a caloric content of 290 calories. (Warning: Anytime I see a packaged food that delivers a calorie per gram, I’m a little cautious). The cholesterol is also high at 45 mg. (remembering folks that this is an entrée and not a full meal). Likewise, you are being asked to ingest 960 milligrams of sodium or about 40% of the recommended daily intake!

Bottom Line:

Nuke it, inspect the remains for yourself, then chuck it into the garbage can uneaten! That is the last of anything from this company I plan to purchase. Wait I take that all back! I will keep a couple of these on hand for those occasions when relatives come to visit! 'More stuffing Aunt Edna?'

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vegetable Beef Soup

 [click to enlarge]

One of my favorite recipes is a good basic vegetable beef soup that combines a few very basic ingredients added to a simple tomato and beef based broth! This recipe was designed especially for anyone who is on a strict monetary budget (that would be me). If you shop around, you shouldn’t be paying much over three or four dollars for enough soup to make six good sized servings! Note: If you have a garden, you can grow most everything and the cost will be that much less! 2nd note: if you are missing an ingredient, then substitute another or merely forge right on. You might come up with something even better as a result! The pot I'm using BTW is a 2 quart Le Crueset.

Ingredients:                                                                            Comments

7 oz. beef stew meat or similar                    I hope to be making this recipe with deer meat soon! Whatever, I try and keep the meat limited to a small amount! Which =’s lower LDL (bad) cholesterol as a result!               
15 oz. can of diced tomatoes                       Use a generic, the cheaper the better!
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 med. Russet potato, peeled & cubed        Make sure you’re using a baker or similar potato that can stand prolonged cooking!
¼ white onion, chopped                              Yellow onions work too!
1/4 c. peas, rinsed
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 small wedge of green cabbage                  I’ve done this with red cabbage too! As an alternative, I’ve thrown in a peeled and chopped turnip! Don’t listen to me! Get creative! You are the chef here, aren’t you?
15 oz. can green beans                                 Use canned here, but rinse first!

2 tbsp chives, chopped                                 Use em if you got em! I grow some all year long in my garden!

1 tbsp dried oregano                                    This herb sharpens the taste up just a bit!         
1 tsp dried basil                                            Basil and tomatoes are a great match!
1 tsp dried garlic

1 tsp beef powder                                        Optional. But, it does make up the small amount of real beef used here!

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Fake salt to taste                                          Use the real stuff is your heart can take it!
Cayenne pepper, just a dash                        Adds just a spark of heat, which I like!
Black pepper to taste
Garlic powder, use as much as you dare      1 to three cloves, mashed.


Directions:

Getting that broth going!

Note: if you have a hard time with proportions, just remember that most all the ingredients to make 2 quarts of soup are about 1/4 cup! I'll begin this dish with a small amount of oil at the bottom of a 2 quart pot over medium heat. Add the (room temperature) cubed beef and sauté for a few minutes until brown and then dump into the pot. Next, add a can of diced tomatoes along with 2 cans of water. Stir, bring to a brief boil, then reduce heat and allow everything to come to a slow simmer while you prepare the veggies.

The Vegetables

Prep anything on the counter that looks like a vegetable, making sure to cut them all into fairly equal sizes as this will help to ensure even cooking. Everything goes in with the exception of the cabbage, peas and green beans. I'll hold those back for inclusion in the last thirty minutes of cooking!

Houston we have a problem!

OK! Anyone can make a mistake! My pot only has a few of the ingredients and it already looks almost full! What's going on here? Ah, it turns out this is a 1 1/2 quart pot not a 2 quart one. My bad! No real biggie. I can elect to just move everything to a larger pot OR I could throw it into a SLOW COOKER. Think I'll just go ahead and do that! Slow cookers are cool because you don't have to watch them. Since it's a holiday today, that means I'll have that much more time to watch parades and football!

The Herbs

Now, here is where things can get tricky, depending on what kind of sly culinary fox you are. Herbs contain volatile oils which means that the earlier they are introduced to heat, the more likely their flavor (and smell) will be lost. So, use your judgment as to when they get introduced into the mix. I like to wait until the last thirty minutes of cooking before adding the garlic, oregano and basil. The other guys (pepper and salt) can swim pretty much on their own! Watch out for that cayenne powder! A very little bit of this stuff will affect the overall heat of the finished soup!

That’s it! If you're using a pot on the stove, simmer the soup covered (mostly) for about an hour and a half over low heat, sampling the result anytime after the first hour to judge for doneness. If you're using a slow cooker, leave it at low and cook for 6 to 7 hours. I like to fish out a carrot slice as a good indicator of just how close to the finish it is….

A word on nutrition

Any basic homemade vegetable beef soup is an immune system strengthener to the ninth degree! Not to disparage the ‘chicken soup mindset crowd’; a good vegetable based offering like this will blow the ‘chicken lick’n homeies’ completely out of the water, nutrition-wise. So, if you find yourself in the ‘stressed out holiday season, make sure to keep a batch in the fridge for frequent therapeutic use. And OK yes, a batch of chicken soup wouldn’t hurt to have around either!

A final word about making this recipe. It's a whole lot simpler to do  than I think I portrayed it here.  If you find you're in a hurry with limited time to mess around, just throw everything all at one into a slow cooker, turn it onto low and get out! Shouldn't take much over ten minutes that way!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What makes an eatery special.

Let's face it, some businesses are better (more successful) than others and that goes double for restaurants. Whereas other business entities may sell you only a product or service, the food trade is where it gets really personal. And, that can be really really good or not so good! Eat a bad meal at one burger joint and you'll know to avoid that place in the future. (Eat something really toxic and you'll end up in a pine box with only your Aunt Edna coming to visit your plot every other Easter). So trust becomes a big deal, which you exercise, each and every time you elect to try that fish special swimming in warm tartar sauce.

Now, having said that, and assuming that your meals are safe to eat, what differentiates one venue from the other are a host of visuals and 'smellables' that may or may not appeal to you personally. For instance, the word ambiance has been mentioned by me on a number of occasions, but what does it really mean?

In my latest book 'Eating Below the Belt', I talk at length about ambiance and why it plays such a big role for frequent diners. For me personally, the term includes not only the visual layout of the place, but also the smells wafting in from the kitchen and even the appearance of the patrons that are present at the time. Let's look at two examples, shall we?


Now, how would you feel about going there to eat as opposed to....


So, yes! The visual ambiance is VERY important, as (it would seem) is the establishments name!

Also, of major import, is how the place smells. What hits your nose should be wholesome and enticing to the senses; a veritable potpourri of delicate flavors that ratchet up your desire to eat there. Compare walking into Desserie's where you immediately smell the light and savory touch of a vegetable soup slowly simmering on the stove, along with just a hint of pasta sauce; against that of Betty's Organ Meat Emporium which literally wallops one across the head with the strong smell of liver and onions masking a not so subtle undercurrent of overcooked sauerkraut! I ask you now, which place would stir up your noodles?

As a final note, even the people that frequent a place where you go will have an impact on how you feel about your dining experience. Carefully inspect these side by side photo's and make your own decision. For myself, I happen to like going to Betty's and ripping my teeth into a mammoth juicy liver sandwich. Oh, and yes, that's a picture of me (on the left) getting ready for yet another organ meat repast! Bon apetite!
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Everyone, please be sure and pick up a copy of Mr. Dingo's latest book entitled 'Eating Below the Belt', now on sale in book stores near you and on the net! DanO's book will carry you on a spell binding tour of the dark underside of the restaurant trade where he will also disclose some of the most disgusting and filthy secrets kept by restaurant owners everywhere! Once you start reading Eating Below the Belt, you'll only put it down so you can throw up! Inside his novelette, you'll find chapters on topics few people are willing to discuss with anyone other than their doctors:

Why is my food moving and should I go ahead and eat it anyway? (Chapter 8)
How to tell if the cook urinated on your food and what you can do about it! (Chapter 3)
Where did this steak tartar REALLY come from? (Chapter 5)
Why women find men with large stomachs extremely sexy! (Chapter 7)
What to do in case you split your pants! (Chapter 4)
Five ways to handle your 'front porch' in tight spots. (Chapter 12)

Yes, DanO (practically) guarantees you will be spell bound when you read Eating Below the Belt! A must read for every fatty and a real steal at only $24.95!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts for this Thanksgiving!


I’m going to venture a guess that for a many families all across the United States, this could well be one of the first times when just getting a bird on the table might prove a challenge; never mind the trimmings and fixings. Widespread lack of employment, an uncertain [more]

Fast food chains from the germaphobes viewpoint!



Fast food emporiums are as common as street lights. They exist on most every corner of large cities and even small towns like mine generally support one or two. From my standpoint and speaking as a germaphobe, they are also to be treated as weapons of mass destruction. Actually, any place that combines food with high numbers of patrons qualifies as a potential site of germ warfare entanglement. And, that’s even more true if you add the child factor to the equation. To me, the term ‘mobile petri dish’ pretty much defines any kid under the age of 5.  If they’re not busy crawling around on the floor, they’re sticking their fingers on and into every surface they possibly can! With each tactile exploration, new germs are picked up for a free ride. Hey! Is that ankle biter heading for MY table!?! Did he just sneeze? You can see, then, why I’m so paranoid when going to an eatery where children are allowed!

The thing is though; I hate the drive-through, preferring instead a nice sit down meal experience. Also, I will admit a certain fatal addiction to eating a Big Mac now and then. So much so, that I’m willing to brave the dangers of rampant infection to have one. But, just because I go to these places does not mean I have to act stupid as well. I take due precautions to insure my visit will be a germ free one.

My entry protocol at off hours only, please

Whenever I go to a place like McDonald’s I try to do so at an off time. That would be really, really early for breakfast and shortly after 11 AM for lunch. I absolutely never go to a fast food joint any later than 1PM as they tend to really get ‘junked up’ prior to the next morning cleaning efforts.

When approaching the order counter, I make it a point to check anyone who is already there. Was that guy sneezing? Does that lady have red puffy eyes? This candid inspection also includes the staff who are preparing my food. Sometimes I’ve had to lean way over the counter to see them in the back of the food prep area. (I know I’m beginning to sound like the actor that played Monk on TV). But, if I have even the slightest concern, I’m out of the place in a flash. “Hey! Where’d he go?”

Acquiring your order in a safe manner

Whenever you pay for something with currency, you're inviting all sorts of nasty germs as paper and coins are exchanged. So, I make it a point to know what I’m going to spend and to carry enough singles and change to exactly cover the cost. That way I can pay an exact amount and not have to get anything back! Also, when I’m at the counter, I make sure to never actually touch the surface. I first go, instead, over to the condiment section and grab a few napkins first before even getting in line. Then, when my tray is ready, I can use a napkin to grasp and carry it to my table. Who da man now?

The evil condiment counter

Invariably, I will order something that requires filling at the condiment center (a coke) or a tiny basket of ketchup (a subject of a future blog). The coke is really no big deal because no one ever touches the spigots (do they?). However, the ketchup dispenser is the focus of all sorts of hands (both young and old) all day long. (I can just imagine what sorts of germs are on that thing)! So, taking a clean napkin, I use it over my fingers to prevent me from of actually touching the pump handle. See, problem solved.

Once at the table never drop your guard

Now that I had all my food together at the table, I try and make darn sure not to touch the table itself. I’m sure that the staff must wipe them down, it’s just that in twenty years of eating at places like that, I’ve never observed it actually happen. One time, I went as far as to bring a can of Lysol with me, but after spraying down the table, I was visited by the management. “Hey you got a problem, Bud?” OK, so no more cans of Lysol. But, it would be nice if they had those wipe stations like they do at the grocery store.

I hope you find these pointers useful and if not that, at least a little entertaining!

Monday, November 21, 2011

In some future time even our robots will have problems!

In the movie Wall-E, a trashy used up garbage compactor falls for a sleek beauty of futuristic design. Yet, even among machines, things can go wrong as this clip shows!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade bread is what’s good for ya!


There’s nothing quite like the smell of bread baking on a Sunday afternoon. While waiting for the football games to start, I rummaged around my garage for my West Bend Automatic Bread and Dough Maker; finally finding it at the bottom of a pile of camping equipment.

After getting it cleaned up and situated on the kitchen counter, I decided I wanted to make some old fashioned white bread. The ingredients are simple and easy to throw together involving flour, yeast, sugar salt and milk! I mixed up the required ingredients and set the bread maker to fire itself up; a five minute job at most. Three hours later, I had myself a loaf of bread that I calculated as costing $1.30! Woo Woo! One thing to remember, however, is the fact that homemade bread contains no preservatives and as such will last only about a week. Shouldn't be a problem where I live!  Now, if I could just find a bottle of wine and thou,  I’d be all set!

Trust works only for the young!


It’s been a long time since I was in my twenties and looked at the world with copious amounts of trust. Back then, I had trust in both people and in institutions. Even the US government did not escape my altruistic vision of a better tomorrow. A world in which my generation would surely step forward to grasp the reigns of leadership, and in doing so, thrust this world towards and beyond a better 21st Century.

[How’s that working out for me these days? Perhaps more to the point, what’s working out for me these days…]

The trust thing is pretty much dried up now, not unlike a tumbleweed. It was blown across the political desert, over dry barren ground, never to be seen again. In its place stands a cactus of a man. An individual all covered with thorns that are meant to keep others away and whose skin is now become so hardened and tough that he no longer feels the touch of true emotion. And like a cactus, his future has become one of bleak survival as he tries unsuccessfully to conserve precious resources in a world where times of drought have become the norm. All is darkness even as he stands in the glaring light of a hot desert sun.

Uses for the adjective clandestine….

According to my dictionary the word clandestine is an adjective and means ‘kept secret or done secretively, because often the activity is illicit. As an example they give this. ‘She deserved what she got for these clandestine meetings.’ What? What the hell has this woman been up to? Call me curious….

Now for anyone out there who is unsure of what an ‘adjective’ is I’ll be happy to elucidate. An adjective is a word that describes a noun. So if I were to say ‘that was a sweet apple’, the adj would be the word sweet. So, a word like clandestine is always used to modify some type of noun. In the original example, the noun modified was ‘meeting’.

This brings me right back to that hussy who I'll just bet was out meeting someone's husband in 'secreto flagrato'. I’ll also bet you a dollar-to-a-donut that this sort of crap had been going on for quite some time. The clandestine bitch! No one likes or respects any women who sneaks around, although I understand that’s pretty much in the nature of the female beasties! She would have been better off sitting at home with her husband (who I can imagine is shattered over this) and minding her own business. No, this man-loving, sex-starved sociopath has no doubt wrecked a ton of families with her insatiable appetite for forbidden fruit! She aught to be hung from... Huh! What'd ya mean it's time for lights out??

The author of this post is currently residing in a rest home where he is said to be under sedation. The staff have also secretly removed his Ipad and have replaced it with an etch-a-sketch. A fact he seems to have missed entirely.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shadows of Knight with Shake!

Forgive the bad size of this video! Please hit the expand button for a better view! Anyway, back in the 1960's this group provided a lot of good times for a young man in his teens. I can recall that the first song they sang at the 'All Knight Dance' at Prospect High was Sugar Shack! That was magic! If you remember the 'Cellar' in Arlington Heights back then, you would remember the Shadows of Knight!

I again apologize for the terrible quality of this video, but you have no idea how hard it was to resurrect it to this point! The powers that be (I think their initials are WacoMoneyGropers), who for whatever reason, do not want this video to be aired. Perhaps they are just another 'CF' corporation who has forgotten who pays for their products. Or perhaps, they never cared in the first place!

Chicken Noodle Soup on the fly!


One afternoon recently, I looked in the freezer for something to defrost and eat when I spied one lone chicken breast hiding in a frosted baggie. God only knows when I put that guy in there. Time for it to come out and join me for dinner. Invitation sent and accepted. The fool!

The thing was, I had no idea of how to work a single breast into a meal. So, I went to the net to Goggle myself out of this quandary. Quickly I found an interesting recipe that also looked rather good, it being a little cool outside and all. Chicken noodle soup was the ticket for today!

This recipe could not be easier to make (something that certainly befits a lazy man such as myself). All you need is one chicken breast (had that), a couple of carrots, a can of chicken broth, a couple of stalks of celery, a wedge of onion and a few herbs to cure what was ailing me at this particular time; hunger!

While this recipe calls for a slow cooker, I’m sure it would also work in a regular pot. All you have to do is chop up the veggies, add the can of broth along with a can or so of water and you have this meal deal pretty much licked. Oh, about that chicken breast!  It just gets thrown right on in there too! As far as herbs go, you might want to consider adding a clove of minced garlic, a dash or two of thyme, some salt and pepper and you’d be bout done. The only other ingredient required is some pasta. All I had was some thin spaghetti which I broke into little pieces and held on the side.

I cooked this on low for six hours, then fished the chicken breast out while adding the spaghetti (about 1/4 cup of broken noodles) at the same time. At the last minute, I decided to run out to my garden where I got some chives to be chopped and tossed in also. That old chicken breast should be allowed to cool and then shredded with a fork. Re-introduced this to the slow cooker which can now be set to high and allowed to go for another forty minutes to an hour. Remember that this is one dish where the noodles can be allowed to get a bit mushy. If they’re too al dente, it just doesn’t taste right!

At the end of this time, you will have yourself a great bowl of soup that is guaranteed to cure just about anything that ails you.

What makes an eatery succeed in a community?


When talking about restaurants (one of my favorite topics), I sometimes have wondered why some do so well while others close their doors after only a short time in business. That seems to happen quite a bit where I live in southwest Missouri. The tough times going on right now don’t seem to help very much either! So, what differentiates a successful establishment from one that is not so successful?

First, I wanted to set aside those obvious attributes that can kill any business. My list of these would include:

Unsanitary conditions
Poor service
Uncooked or over cooked fare
High prices

I think those four represent reasons all by themselves to cause a food business to falter. Nobody wants to eat in a dirty establishment, manned by surly waiters who bring overpriced and overcooked food to your table. I’ve actually had that happen to me once in Chicago and surprising to me at the time, it was at a very posh French restaurant. Well, posh or not, I knew a bad thing when it say it! So, right off the bat, I think if a business exhibits any one of these four they will be in trouble sooner or later.

Next on my list of attributes that a business should be concerned about are;

Advertising
Menu depth
Ambiance
Management

Of these four, I think perhaps the most important is the management. Good managers are highly reactive individuals whose heads are on a swivel at all times. They know their clientele, what they like and don’t like and how to take care of them. Paradoxically, they also know how to nurture and massage the servers and cooking staff to a tee. Sometimes the two can be at odds, especially if you have a large number of demanding clientele. (If you ever want to see fireworks, send back a meal to the cook with a message that you refuse to eat the slop he made)! A guaranteed good time will ensue, I promise. No, really good managers know how to work a business so that everyone goes home happy. And owners, if you find someone like that, hold onto them – they’re gold!

Next up for consideration is ambiance and menu depth – both of which are tricky and changing for many locations. When a customer walks in to a venue for the first time, believe me impressions will make all the difference! Bad feelings or impressions on the part of the customer will pretty much guarantee you’ll never see them again. Also too, the menu must reflect an assortment that your average customer is happy with. Serving a haute cuisine like ‘Caille en sarcophage’ (quail in a puffy pastry) would probably not be ordered very often if your crowd is more a beer and hamburger consumer. Also, the successful restaurateur wants to keep an eye out for trends that may be taking shape right under their noses. For example, today’s older set are increasingly concerned about overeating, excessive salt intake and greasy items on their plates. An aggressive owner will see such trends and then modify what is offered to suit changing needs. For instance, many people over a certain age have been told by their doctor to avoid salt as it tends to increase hypertension. Yet, how many places out there offer a salt substitute on the table? Then too, they might want to consider special discounted ‘senior meals’ that look more like kids meals in that they offer smaller portions at more petite pricing. So, there! A well structured menu in comfortable surroundings! I’d eat at a place like that!

The last item in this group is the advertising aspect. Now when I talk about advertising, I most assuredly do not mean in just the newspaper or radio! While you may get a few returns for the money spent, these pale when you look at far less expensive ways to attract and keep customers. I’ll go over just a few I think might work.
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WiFi Hot Spots
'Bring a friend' deals

Right this minute, there is a revolution going on all around us. More and more individual are dropping out of listening to the local radio or even watching conventional TV in favor of broadband streams. Even many older folks are coming on line and shopping via the internet. So then is it true that when they want to know about a particular restaurant, they will increasingly turn to web pages that feature the location and to blogs that provide a much more candid disclosure of what they can expect when actually eating there.

In a similar vein, the younger generation who cut their baby teeth on computer technology wouldn’t dream of going somewhere where they could not access the net via a hot spot. (Now, if you’re an owner and you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about then you are already in deep trouble). The solution is to make sure you have an attractive web location and that you provide network access to you customer base!

The ‘bring a friend’ deal is something I just threw in at the last minute. It’s based on the concept that for each customer that goes to a particular venue, they more than likely have some friends they could either tell about your place or bring with them next time they come in. Short inexpensive ad campaigns designed around this concept can reap large rewards if properly managed….and that brings me to the last concept of this post. Smart Owners!

Smart owners of eateries which not only survive but even prosper usually have a few key traits in common.They understand the concept of profitability and instill that concept in each of their managers. They encourage server staff loyalty by making them active participants in the business through structured profit sharing programs. Menus are scrutinized on a daily basis with specials offered that help to maximize profits. Serving staff share in this by helping customers order in the directions of more profitable menu items and are recompensed for that effort as a result. A feeling of co-ownership instills pride and the desire to see the establishment succeed by everyone working there. Cooking staff can also be rewarded in similar ways and should never be left out. Some owners make sure to offer their employees perks in the form of free beverages and meals. In short they foster working conditions that are conducive to spontaneity and creativity. Smart owners never think in terms of my business, but in terms of our business. Smart owners are generally around when most other enterprises have long since closed.

Disclaimer: All information posted here are the sole property and opinions of the author of Forsythkid.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kristiina Brask with Kuivilla Susta - I'm so over you!



The refrain is Dam! It's August and I'm so over you!

I’m tuning out Washington DC until next fall!

I have officially had it with the men and women who currently run this country in Washington. I have decided to drop out of following the news until election time rolls around this coming fall 2012. At that time, I will be voting for fresh faces only (no Democrats and only new Republican or Tea Party candidates) and will write in Ron Paul for president even if he is dead! My level of absolute disgust has risen so far, I really can’t deal with these idiots anymore on a day to day basis!

My take on things is that the end of the Republic is now fully assured. It’s only a question of time as to when it falls. Perhaps with the injection of some hardworking fresh faces in the House and Senate, we might be able to forestall the end for another year or two, but certainly no further than that. Make no mistake, the United States is going to fall, and when it does, much of the western world will go with it. 

Was this the ‘Big Plan’ all along? I’m honestly don’t know, but the horse has left the barn so there is little point in trying to close the door any more. For my part, I plan to hoard some food and to look for places I could go when the death of America happens. I would suggest every able-bodied American do the same.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Europa may harbor life! But, that won't matter!


It's too bad that our world would rather fund wars, hatred and strife. There will now be no mission to check out to see if there is life there, thanks to Obama and his left wing advisers. And yet, maybe that's a good thing, for any life that may may exist on this small moon that circles Jupiter.

Duck and Cover – Duck and Cover!!


[click on Burt to start the movie]

Ahem...With the world veering ever closer to global nuclear conflict. With Iranian scientists producing atomic bombs like there is no tomorrow and with world economies teetering on the brink. Our Presidente Supremo (may he live long and prosper), has asked that everyone view this vintage 'how-to film' from the Defense Department. Featured is ‘Burt the Turtle’, a character that 'says it all' when it comes to protecting you and yours!

So, please take a moment to watch, take notes and then be prepared to:

DUCK and COVER!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Critique: McDonald's McRib


 "Dieting is a strict regime of self-denial that suffers periodic sweet rebellion."

It occurred to me shortly after posting a humor-slanted post on ‘McDonald’s Big Breakfast’ that I have been negligent in this area. After all, the banner for my post does refer to ‘reviews on fast food’! Well, it’s time to make amends and what better place to go to than the ubiquitous King of Junk Food – our friend McDonald’s! Yes, little bobby, it's time for another dietary rebellion!

After perusing the menu over the top of the order counter, I elected to go for the McRib, a meal I haven’t enjoyed for many years. I can still remember, though, like it was yesterday just how great this sandwich tasted. And, in the world of nutrition, you can most always equate ‘good taste’ with ‘bad got you’! The McRib fulfills this prophecy to a tee; its chocked full of calories that will bitch slap your metabolism, even while loading you up with enough salt to make Morton jealous. A McRib with a small fry and a diet coke comes to a diet busting 730 calories and 1,140 milligrams of sodium. (Almost a whole days worth of both). My eating this baby meant I better make friends with salads for the next few meals, less it be time to much up a full size in clothing, again!


But, what about the taste of the McRib? I’ve never discovered what component or combo thereof make this offering so darn good. I suspect the tangy sauce may have something to do with it. (Maybe they secretly add a dash of opium to the recipe, I’m not sure). All I know is I could eat one of these every day for years and not get tired of the experience! Adding to the envelope of culinary sensations are the warm French fries which I like to dab in ketchup. Smellicious! The only downside with fries; a small serving is like eating just one Lay’s potato chip. Very hard to do! The only saving grace to my culinary extravagance on this day of gluttony was the diet coke!

So, how do I score the McRib meal? Easy, it gets a solid 10 on taste every time! Just watch out for all those calories my friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Big Breakfast adventure at McDonald's!


Perhaps the only thing that can be said for my becoming morbidly obese is that there are no more rungs on that ladder to climb!”


That was a passing thought I had in my head just before sitting down to eat a Big Breakfast at the local McDonald's where I live. Seven hundred and forty calories of heart-clogging goodness was sitting right there in front of me just waiting to be eaten. Had I completely lost my mind? Was this some kind of momentary insanity happening to a man whose past dieting history is legendary? Well no. Actually, my visit today was premeditated. (I had even thought to bring a bottle of A1 Sauce with me as I like a little on my hash browns). And yes, the eating of this meal will require some contrition on my part for the next few days, but that was a small price to pay as today I was actually here on a secret mission! You know, as in Secret Agent Man stuff. 'Hey! Where's the butter! Someone forgot my butter!'

My real purpose, on this overcast mid November day, was to candidly observe my local McDonald's Play Area after having just read an article about how filthy and dirty some of these 'repositories for tots' have been reported to be in other cities. I wondered, was my eatery in the same shape as those visited by Dr. Carr-Jordon in Chicago? I was determined to find out. (And before you tell me, yes I know, I have way too much time on my hands).

Now, I'll admit there were some obstacles in my way considering my gender and all. A single man sitting alone in the children's play area looks a bit odd to say the least; especially a man wielding a camera. (The word pervert comes quickly to mind). But, I did have a cover story just in case I was approached by someone in authority - I'd just look up at them with my watery myopic eyes and profess I was confused. (Now this only works if you're past a certain age, which I am). “Sir, you mean this isn't the restroom?”

It's really too sad that at the last moment, I totally chickened out. The problem was I am also germaphobic and could not bear the thought of eating in an area where ankle-biters in soggy diapers were on the rampage! (I had visions of fecal coliform hanging in the air like some kind of an evil miasmic fog). And, while you may think of me as a chicken, I am also a live healthy chicken, thank you very much!

Thankfully, this particular McDonald's is divided from it's play area by a sturdy set of double glass doors, so I contented myself by choosing a table on the 'safe' side, making sure it was also in a location where I could covertly observe the play equipment. As I watched through the glass partition, eating my meal, I had pause to wonder why my pants were feeling so tight as of late. Interestingly, the same thing was also happening to my pullover shirts as they now just barely cover my 'love handles'. (Truly a sad sight for a man whose desire to lose weight has only been outweighed by his love affair with food). But, I digress.

Hey! Why is that glass so blurry? As I sat there eating my meal, looking like some demented cow chewing his cud, I realized I had forgotten to bring my eyeglasses. There were by my bed-stand at home. Sighing inwardly, I sat there eating my meal now looking like a demented cow that was also blind as a bat. I thought about going out to my car to get a set of binoculars, but quickly dismissed the idea. Somehow the thought of an old man peering at kids through a glass with binoculars didn't seem quite right. I'd just have to squint and so, squint I did.

Now if you're wondering whether I ever observed any dirty playground equipment, the answer is WHO KNOWS! Without actually swabbing the equipment and then having it sent to a lab to be tested for pathogens, there is no way to really say. I can tell you that while I was there, I saw at least one kid climbing around in the tubes. (God's way of thinning the herd)? His mom took turns watching him and then watching the old man watch them. I finished my breakfast as quickly as I could and left.

On a serious note: I do feel that McDonald's (and in fact all eateries that have play areas) need to pay particular attention to maintain them in a hygienic manner. Otherwise, they should consider trying something else.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What you can do about troublemaker and jerks and jerks in Second Life!


Having been a resident of Second Life for a couple of years now, I have seen most everything there is to see there. I’ve rented building, done some construction, bought land and basically had a good time. That’s been true most of the time but there have been a few avatars that just don’t want to play nice.

What’s even more problematic are the one who haven’t bothered to read the terms of service from Linden Labs, nor actually care about the other avatars they share a sim with. It doesn’t seem to get through to them that behind each avatar is an actual person! You see this much more often the new arrivals than you do the more seasoned players, but no matter what their ‘age’, jerks and troublemakers can really spoil what could be a good time for all.

My most recent encounter with the aforementioned was an avatar I’ll call Rbawlbabey for the purposes of this post. One day I was out check my immediate area for small pieces of land for sale when I happened onto a sky-home that was pretty neat. I checked it out and left when I realized that there was an avatar (Rbawlbaby) at ‘home’. I left and then shortly after I gat a message asking me ‘wtf is your problem dude’?  I wrote back explaining my interest in the house and Rbawlbaby did send me a link. I thought that was that. Then the next day…

Hey MF’er, you better stop hanging around my properti (sic)!’ Wow, an IM from out of the blue! This was followed by some more cussing, at which point I simply ‘muted’ the individual. Once you mute someone (or thing), you can’t see them, hear them or receive Instant Messages from them. How very nice. I did get a communiqué from the owner of that land later on, however. Turns out old Rbawl was only 50 something days old. A newbie and a renter! The owner was pretty nice and after a few messages back and forth the problem was resolved. Or, is it? With one of my properties adjoining Rbawl the Renter, maybe they are just beginning!!

For anyone interested in joining Second Life the link is here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Russian scientists disclose that Phobos is artificial!


Imagine the hysteria that would result worldwide if the little explorer mission to a Martian moon dubbed Phobos-Grunt was to discover that the moon known as Phobos was actually artificial! In what I think would be very similar to the movie ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad World’, everyone and his uncle would be racing to space to be the first to claim an extraterrestrial prize of stupendous import.

President Obama would quickly ascertain on national TV that he has always supported the NASA Space program and would be heard saying ‘let me be clear on this’ numerous times. Suddenly the national debt would be all but forgotten as America quickly geared up for a manned trip to that far away planet.

Other nations including Russia, China and even the Arabs (remember the movie?) would endeavor to ‘get out there’ with all possible haste. Praise Allah! In secret meetings, nations would plot on how to disable other country’s crafts while on the way. Yes, it would be Stars Wars in the flesh! Well, a watered down version anyway!

Months later, after spending trillions of dollars, up would go the rockets in a mad dash for the alien prize. Some would life off in graceful splendor while others would not liftoff at all. CNN and the rest of the media would have a field day with ratings going through the roof. People from all walks of life would be glued to their TV sets watching the seven month drama unfold. Hell, this would be even better than Desert Storm!

In my world, America would get there first, (of course). But, only barely. Other nations craft could be seen landing helter skelter all over the rock strewn ground. Tiny figures in spacesuits would emerge and dash all over the surface. Then, sometime later on a static filled screen, a man would appear on TV's across the planet. Shrugging apologetically, he would be heard to mumble  'oops - our bad'!



Reality Check: Due to an engine failure, the Russian probe is headed in the wrong direction. It's now thought to be headed for Alpha Centuri. And these are the guys we expect to ride to the International Space Station with?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Problems with Second Life!


I was originally going to title this post ‘The Problem with Second Life’, but then thought a moment and realized that there are a number of problems going on with this server based virtual reality.

1)      Lag – baseless out of control lag has got to be driving traffic away by the tens of thousands. Linden Labs for whatever reason has been totally unable to do anything about this major problem with their sim. Either fix this problem or face eventual extinction!

2)      Crap all over the place. With few exceptions, land management in this sim is a complete and utter disaster! Many of the regions looks like a house that’s been trashed by a bunch of teenagers who threw a drunken party because mom and dad were out of town. Come on Linden, quite fucking around and come up with ideas to get your world cleaned up!

3)      No innovation to speak of since this site went up a hundred years ago. Linden should consider firing their current staff and bringing in fresh blood. Here’s thought. How about developing add-on hardware that could be connected to a system that would buffer incoming and outgoing traffic. That would speed the game up tremendously at modest cost to the consumer. Duh!

4)      Land costs are unrealistic and shut out too many consumers.

5)      How about offering an upgraded area or world where the entrance requirements are more stringent. A smaller and more defined world with more restrictions to help make the experience more real world. A place with enhanced server speed that would not suffer the lag problems experience elsewhere in the sim generally.

That’s just a few ideas. I really enjoy SL and like millions of others want to see the experience continue to evolve and improve for everyone!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wish you were here!

Man arrested in SL!


AP - Rockcliffe University, SL - A perp going by the name of Danomanno Redyard has been arrested in connection with a series of break-ins in and around Rockcliffe University. Seen here in a just released AP photo, Mr. Redyard had few words for reporters other than his assertion that the doors to the businesses he invaded were all unlocked. Sergeant Bill Bob Dumbles of the Rockcliffe police who assisted in the assist was quoted as stating that Mr. Redyard was a ‘pretty big fella’ who resisted arrest by ‘flying’ from the spot where he was later apprehended. This reported assumes the Officer Dumbles meant to say ‘fleeing’ and not ‘flying’. Mr. Redyard's wrap sheet indicated that he has been arrested on numerous occassions for offenses including; pandering, man acts, homus infildelius and building code violations too numerous to mention.

Mr. Redyard is scheduled to appear in the Rockcliffe Circuit Court sometime in December for arraignment. Meanwhile he is cooling his heels in the local jail. Our reporter on the scene, Jessie Kwet, was lucky to get a picture of Mr. Redyard as he languished in a jail cell.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

When neighbors are rude it doesn't matter what reality you're in!


I have a small property (512 square meters) in Second Life which I visit from time to time. SL is a great virtual reality site where you can make friends, create and have a lot of fun. You can also have a lot of grief there too! Just as in real life, the avatars that exist there, exist in RL too. As such you might well find yourself with a neighbor that doesn’t seem to care much about common decency.

Here is a picture of my property (see my home). You’ll note it is hemmed in on all four sides by some type of construction. No big deal as I put up a hundred foot tower where my little avatar lives at the top of. But, all is not well. It seems the two houses (labeled 1 and 2) have erected ‘no pass barriers’ that my avatar cannot penetrate. I have to fly up pretty high to get over them is I want to visit a neighboring property. How Rude!

No I can’t do much about house 1 as there is never anyone there. The avatar’s name is AnitaK Larimore.  At some point, I’m hoping she will either abandon or sell the property. House 2, on the other hand is owned by a group called H2 Properties and judging from the member list (see pic) they are more than likely a group of brainless twenty year olds who don’t realize that they still have this place. Duh! Someone in this group decided to plant two trees that infringe on my property. Double rude! So, I decided that until such time as I can reach them to place two leaking toxic barrels that smoke right next to their house. Every once in a while the ‘winds’ blow the smoke right into their ‘love nest’. What fun!

Waiting on the last turn of the dial for planet Earth!


Somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth, there stands a man who is reaching for a dial that unlocks the safe of global disaster. Only he doesn’t know that. He thinks that ‘change’ is actually good for his planet. So, without further thought, he turns the dial to the first number:

2 – The amount representing the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere in 2005 when drought conditions in the Amazon Rain Forest caused the world’s largest carbon sink to reverse itself and release 2 billion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. KLUNK – the first tumbler falls into place.

1361 – The new solar constant which is reduced from it former strength. The sun is going towards a thirty year long solar minimum. KLUNK – the second tumbler falls.

388.92 – The number in parts per million of CO2 that are in earths atmosphere. A number higher than at any time in the last half million years. KLUNK – The third tumbler locks solidly into position.

20 – The number of feet the oceans would rise if the ice on Greenland melts, which it is. An event that could disrupt the deep thermohaline layer in the ocean and trigger another ice age. KLUNK – The fourth tumbler is in place.

Now, there is but one more number to be turned. No one knows what that number is…yet!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Pink Floyd Massage

The weather gets a bit nasty!




As this sort movie clip shows, we had a day that looked more like a scene you'd expect to see in December. What had been a regime of seventy degree cloudless days rapidly turned into a more wintery scenario. Just goes t show how fast things can change in the month of November!