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  1. Rethinking tipping culture

    Ok, today I experienced the customer side of what not to do as a restaurant manager. I stopped into a local place to grab a quick sandwich for lunch, and was startled by the price. When I questioned the charge, which seemed out of line with the menu prices, the cashier responded with a reference to taxes. I accepted her response, figuring that the city must have caught this particular joint (located in an unusual location where I would not be astonished by multiple taxes applying) with several tax codes. So I commented, "Wow. 20%. They really hit you, huh?" as I payed the check. It was as she ran my credit card that she admitted that tax was only 9%. The management of the restaurant had applied a 10% surcharge to every check "instead of raising prices." There was a full sheet explanation taped to the counter, which I had not yet noticed (this being the only notice of the charge) saying that they felt their food was worth the charge, and asking people to please still tip the staff. I took a picture of the notice, to read in more detail later, but needless to say, I do not plan to return any time soon. I have worked in restaurants similar to the one I was dining at today. I know what it is to run a small business, and frankly, this place offers a type of quickcasual local cooking not easily available where I live. But this felt deceptive. If you need to raise the prices, then raise the prices. If you want to do a service surcharge, then do so. But DO NOT try to do a surcharge without explaining the policy prominently and then ask me to tip on top of it! I cannot imagine a practice more damaging to the waitstaff, both in terms of undermining the tips they receive, and in having to deal with pissed off customers like myself. I passed on my feedback directly. I should have asked to talk to a manager to give them my feedback, but I cannot say that I am deeply enough invested in their success to bother going back to talk to them. Anyhow, I typically tip 20-30%, but I will simply cease to patronize any place that feels like they are trying to slip something past me.
  2. Drinking raw milk from a farm you do not know... That's a bad idea. I grew up drinking raw milk from our own cows. The first time brucelosis hit our herd, Dad stopped bringing milk from the tank home with him. Its not worth the risk. I have purchased raw milk from a local farm for cheesemaking, but my first step was to check their history and reputation. In a small, close-knit community, they had done a good job of making certain they were reliable in taking care of the animals and people around them. There was another certified raw milk dairy nearby. Their reputation was nowhere near as good, and I would never have bought milk from them. Sure enough, they had a similar recall a couple of years after we moved to the area.
  3. All Things Mushroom

    Isn't there a last meal thread around here somewhere?
  4. Jim Beam Apple

    I tried a sample... Maybe look to see what other people have done with green Jolly Ranchers?
  5. Urban honey

    Urban beekeeping is not that new. I started keeping bees about 10 years ago, and it was a topic of conversation among beekeepers then. Famously (among beekeepers) the White House had some hives installed at that time, and our local Bee Club hosted the White House Beekeeper for a presentation. So far as what the bees source their honey from, it is true that they can make use of anything sugary. But they can also be quite picky. When we had some display hives at the local fair, I noted yellow-jackets swarming over every half-empty soda can in sight. But the honeybees, they stuck to the organic lemonade stand! Cities, with their parks, and abundance fo flowers and flowering bushes and trees can often be a more concentrated source of real nectar than some rural areas, where wildflowers have been wiped out in favor of acres and acres of monoculture corn.
  6. Cannot say I am a huge fan, but I do know one youtube channel that focuses in this direction: https://www.youtube.com/user/jastownsendandson
  7. Advice: Braising in Smoker?

    300-325 in a smoker? I suppose it is possible, depending on your equipment, but that is way above what I would consider "smoking" temperatures. There may be some adjustment/adaptation necessary to make this happen.
  8. Lay Off My Food

    I suspect family-style dining is becoming an increasing rarity in the US. I have been to a number of places that serve this way. It is even more common (though still rare) for sides to be served this way. I cannot remember any family-style service that did not include refills. Most of the family-style services I have experienced have been connected in some way to Pennsylvania Dutch culture (ie Amish, Mennonite, etc.). Maybe this is a relic that they have held on to? Or maybe it has to do with their own cultural preferences and emphasis on sharing in community.
  9. I wish I could remember how I originally found Egullet. I do recall that some shift in the software provoked me to finally register, after I had been lurking anonymousy for quite a while. My profile says that I joined in January 2003. I have not been the most prolific poster, but for almost all of my adult life, Egullet has been my go-to for any question on food. It has perhaps not been as transformative for me as it has been, for say gfron1, but it has still been one of the greatest influences on my experience of food. When I first joined, I knew little, but thought I knew plenty. I was still welcomed warmly by many signatures that I would love to see again. But I still enjoy reading new voices, and gaining from the experiences of new participants in the forum. Thank you to all of you for your sharing!
  10. Is this where the tradition of sardines on pizza began?
  11. Ran across this today. Since Egullet seems to be my best source on cast iron information, I am curious about your thoughts. The first thing that I think when I hear someone bragging about thin cast iron is "What's the point of that?" My understanding is that cast iron conducts heat poorly, and that its primary advantage is its thermal mass. At least that is how I use it. Is this something that would interest you? Is there something that I am missing here?
  12. Kitchenaid Stand Mixers

    If you ever wanted to see a new KitchenAid given a thorough going through of its innards, check out this video. This guy is as full of malapropisms as he is of experience in teardowns, and manufacturing knowledge. He also is not always g-rated in the language, but never in a way that I personally have found offensive. But if you are easily offended, warned. Anyway, the video is about 45 minutes, and I am not all the way through yet, but I suspect many others here will appreciate some deeper knowledge about the what is inside these machines.
  13. Roasting a free-range chicken

    I cannot testify to how roasting these birds would do, but there was a time when I had some young (6-8 month) free range roosters that proved to me why too many roosters in a flock can be a problem. Presented with a coq, I decided it was time to give coq au vin a try. I can testify that these birds worked beautifully for this dish. So while I cannot definitively say that your free ranging birds cannot be roasted, I bet they would work braised, even as young as they are. I deeply hope that you do find a way to satisfactorily roast them. If you do, I will note it carefully, and make use of it on unruly coq's in the future.
  14. Techniques for Roasting Potatoes

    I have not roasted many potatoes until recently when they began showing up in my CSA box. About this time I stumbled across this video. All I will say is that it worked for me!
  15. Could be variable results from variable ingredients. Apples are a natural product and include natural variation. Chances are the water percentage change from one fruit to the next would not be huge, but it could contribute. Size of the apples used, now, that could be interesting. I have three apples in my kitchen right now that could be termed medium sized. Respective weights: 184 , 188 and 237 grams. Now lets say Norm likes big apples and he uses 4 large apples (Why buy anything else?!?). But lets say I am cheap, so I took 4 apples from my bag of small apples from the discount bin. Suddenly Norm is adding 800 grams of apple to his cake, while I end up only adding 400. This may not be what is going on. But to answer the question "Is something wrong with this recipe?", this is the first thing I think about.