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Cooking for 50 Senior Citizens


CaliPoutine
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I've been following this thread for a long time ... I think my overall impression is why are you still cooking for this group that you hate? You've had huge challenges right from the beginning, budget, supervision, etc. - so why are you still doing it?

On another note, why is it ok to eat pork but not ham if you're Jewish - sorry I just don't understand.

Here's the other thing - Did the group know about your dietary restrictions and preferences before you signed on? I've got to tell you that I wouldn't want you cooking for me. I certainly understand that people have allergies, dislikes and "food issues", but, notwithstanding that I respect yours, I don't want them on my dining table.

While everyone is busy lambasting Tri2Cook who had valid opinions, I find myself wondering why you're not willing to see that when you cook for others (how ever difficult that target group might be) you have to cook for them - not you!

Cal Poutine is a cook and probably a talented one - but perhaps this is not the group she should be cooking for - she hates it, gets no satisfaction from it and they don't appreciate her.

So, don't do it.

Rover

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I think my overall impression is why are you still cooking for this group that you hate? You've had huge challenges right from the beginning, budget, supervision, etc. - so why are you still doing it?

Did I ever use the word HATE? I dont think so. I come here to vent!! I don't hate it, I just wish they wouldnt complain so much and appreciate the effort I put into it.

On another note, why is it ok to eat pork but not ham if you're Jewish - sorry I just don't understand.

I dont like HAM. I eat a very small amount of pork. I wish you and Tri2cook would stop focusing on my eating habits. That wasnt the point of this thread.

Here's the other thing - Did the group know about your dietary restrictions and preferences before you signed on? I've got to tell you that I wouldn't want you cooking for me. I certainly understand that people have allergies, dislikes and "food issues", but, notwithstanding that I respect yours, I don't want them on my dining table.

Well, its too bad that you wouldnt want me cooking for you. I'm an excellent cook :biggrin: and yes, I did tell them I dont eat beef. Its no big deal. I oversee 3-5 volunteers so I always have someone available who can taste something for me.

While everyone is busy lambasting Tri2Cook who had valid opinions, I find myself wondering why you're not willing to see that when you cook for others (how ever difficult that target group might be) you have to cook for them - not you!

Why do you think I'm not cooking for them? Hello, if I was only cooking for myself, I wouldnt serve beef at all. I'd make more exotic things( stir fries, etc and yes a stir fry is exotic for these folks) Btw, I made scalloped potoates the first dining program of the month. I'm sorry, but I refuse to make mashed potatoes each time I cook. I scour Taste of Home magazine( ya know the magazine of 1,000 country cooks) for recipes I think they'd like. I search out the best deals ( often shopping at 3 different stores) so I can get them fresh veg or make them a cheesecake occasionally( cream cheese is expensive) I feel like I need to defend myself here, but I shouldnt have to. Prior to me cooking for them, the previous cook NEVER made a fresh vegetable. I ALWAYS do. Should I just make them frozen because thats what they're used to? Should I give them bottled salad dressing because thats what they like? Or, should I introduce them to homeade dressing and oven roasted asparagus( which they love).

Cal Poutine is a cook and probably a talented one - but perhaps this is not the group she should be cooking for - she hates it, gets no satisfaction from it and they don't appreciate her.

So, don't do it.

Well, until I can practice law here in Ontario, I'm not giving this job up!!

So there!!

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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I have never had the impression that CaliP "hated" cooking for the seniors. On the contrary, it's my impression that she enjoys the challenge of serving them food that they will like, that is reasonably good for them, and comes in on budget. That's quite the trifecta of goals to meet, and I think she does very well and I really like reading about it.

Given how much thought and effort she puts into the job, it isn't at all unreasonable to me that she would occasionally be frustrated by the seniors' lack of appreciation. It's hard to try to help people and have them reject your efforts.

As far as the tasting or not tasting of food -- I don't think it matters in this case. The things the seniors object to are not badly seasoned food, or off meat or anything that can be detected by the palate, it's more a childish "I don't LIKE that" or a "stuffing -- with CORN in it??". Tasting it will never fix that.

So tell us, what's up next? Find any good deals lately? How are the rising food prices affecting you and your shopping and menu plans?

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So tell us, what's up next? Find any good deals lately? How are the rising food prices affecting you and your shopping and menu plans?

Thanks for asking and thanks for your comments.

I think I'm going to make sloppy Joes next week( ground beef is on for 1.79lb). I found a recipe from TAH that uses BBQ sauce and grape Jelly and it doesnt appear to be too spicy.

As an aside, if I was cooking for "myself", I'd make the sloppy joes using a different recipe( a little more spicy) and I'd use ground turkey!!!

I havent decided if I'll make mashed or baked potatoes, depends on how much Russets are. The salad and dessert are still undecided.

Yeah, prices are going sky high. Its kinda freaking me out. I paid 6.09 for a Litre ( 1 quart) of heavy cream last month. I guess I just have to deal with it, as I already try to get the best deals that I can. I'm waiting for a farm in town to have rhubarb because I have a nice( inexpensive) dessert planned with that.

What has been bugging me more lately is that people arent calling to cancel. We have a standing list of the same diners everytime so I'm told the number of people to buy for. I don't come in at budget when 15 of those people dont show up!!

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That said, there's really no need for you to "keep my opinions in my own kitchen." However, instead of making excuses for a deficiency of tact, might you take an extra few minutes before you post to consider how you can get your point across without it being perceived as an attack? Pet peeves are normal, certainly, and you raised an intriguing question. Perhaps it would have been more effective, though, to ask Randi something like, "How do you know that something tastes right without tasting it yourself?"

Fair enough. I will admit to approaching it badly. I should have followed my instincts and not posted at all or left out the disclaimers and warm 'n' fuzzies and just stated my opinion and left it at that. The disclaimers were not an attempt to make up for my opinion, they were to try to convey the fact that it was nothing personal against CaliPoutine. That it was just my viewpoint on the subject. I didn't intend to question her abilities or offend her and I wasn't trying to make her defend herself, I was just curious as to how you create something (which is different than cooking something from a recipe) without tasting it and just "know" that it's right. No matter how many people tell me I'm wrong and that they cook the best this or the most awesome that and they never taste it and never have, I won't agree. If I had known that it had been tasted by someone (or several someones in this case) I would never have posted anything at all.

I sincerely apologize to CaliPoutine for this entire debate, not because I think I'm wrong or even wrong for saying it but because I honestly didn't intend it to be seen as a personal attack.

JimmyWu - I'm not an "official" pastry chef but I do a lot of pastry/desserts for the restaurant where I work and for the catering business I'm part owner of and I can tell you honestly that there hasn't been anything served yet that I have to say "I don't know" if I'm asked what it tastes like. I taste the components as I'm making them and I take one from the run and taste it as well as having one or two others taste it so I can get their feedback too.

Sincerely,

your friendly neighborhood charlatan.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Someone asked why cook for someone who doesn't like it, and I deal with that increasingly every day as I sell more and more of my creations. What I've learned in a short time is that there are days when I want to work the crowd, get my kudos, and head back to the kitchen. On other days when the praise isn't coming, I am thankful for the money they paid, and remember that its a job. I have more former than latter, but its all about keeping perspective.

What bothers me more is when I make a super fancy shmancy dessert like paulraphael's browned butter muscovado cookies, and the customers says, "nice cookie." Damn it - its not just a cookie!!!!! I just want to take the cookie out of their mouth and walk back in the kitchen :angry::biggrin:

Anyway, I think you're doing a great job and really enjoy seeing the updates.

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Dear Randi, Your situation reminds me of when I worked as a nurse in an ICU for a few years, a long time ago. Do something for people and most of them (especially old people) just want more. And they want it faster. And you better be doing it their way. You are not even a person as far as most of them are concerned. In the five years I worked ICU I think had exactly two people thank me for basically saving their lives. This, along with the low pay, are the main reasons there is a nursing shortage. And there is also a degree of sexism involved that I don’t think I need to explain to you – if you were a guy, those old ladies would probably be fawning all over you. I quit, changed fields, never looked back. So yeah, you might think about moving on to a more rewarding job. Then the oldsters can eat what they want – Hamburger Helper or whatever. And you will probably be happier too, because you will not be taking shit from them and waiting for thanks you are not going to get. Sad but true. As someone above thread said, you can just take notes and hope you don't act like that when you get old.

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Dear Randi, Your situation reminds me of when I worked as a nurse in an ICU for a few years, a long time ago. Do something for people and most of them (especially old people) just want more. And they want it faster. And you better be doing it their way. You are not even a person as far as most of them are concerned. In the five years I worked ICU I think had exactly two people thank me for basically saving their lives. This, along with the low pay, are the main reasons there is a nursing shortage. And there is also a degree of sexism involved that I don’t think I need to explain to you – if you were a guy, those old ladies would probably be fawning all over you. I quit, changed fields, never looked back. So yeah, you might think about moving on to a more rewarding job. Then the oldsters can eat what they want – Hamburger Helper or whatever. And you will probably be happier too, because you will not be taking shit from them and waiting for thanks you are not going to get. Sad but true. As someone above thread said, you can just take notes and hope you don't act like that when you get old.

Ha! Whenever I read Randi's posts in this thread, I'm reminded that if I ever should be so unfortunate as to wind up in an extended care facility, I'd probably be just the opposite -- cranky and complaining about the lack of garlic, good wine, and local organic produce and meats. Maybe I'll start a forum topic about this...

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Whenever people are not committed to PAYING for the service, they will not be committed to showing up. It's a fact of life.

What I've wondered about is how the "supervisors" can possibly hold you responsible for being over budget! I suggest you institute a policy of taking credit card numbers and notifying members that they will be charged (full price or a certain fee) unless they cancel within a reasonable time, say 24 or 36 hours in advance. Or collect in advance the previous week. Or bill them, or impose some other penalty which will cure their lackadaisical attitude toward honoring committments.

When I was catering I used to have party customers who would tell me they were planning to collect the money on the spot, and I would tell them that they needed to collect the money in advance.

The person responsible would usually argue with me over this, saying, "they'll show up'. (One of the favorite reasons for saying so is that the group was a church group. Hah! Sometimes they are the worst at not showing.) When I explained to them that if they gave me a total of 20 people and only 10 showed up the 10 would be responsible for the entire bill and therefore, be paying double.

They always saw the logic of this, and it's a good thing they did, because I would not take the job otherwise. If they had had to pass the hat again, it would have made them mad at ME instead of than the people who didn't show up.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Good one....I think that my point/joke/sarcasm was missed.

You can't really taste a croissant,cheesecake and the like till they're finished.

Rock-on Randi

-Jimmy

Typos are Copyrighted @

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I suggest you institute a policy of taking credit card numbers and notifying members that they will be charged (full price or a certain fee) unless they cancel within a reasonable time, say 24 or 36 hours in advance. Or collect in advance the previous week. Or bill them, or impose some other penalty which will cure their lackadaisical attitude toward honoring committments.

I've suggested selling "tickets", but I'm just a low woman on the totem pole and thus far they havent listened to me.

I'm not held responsible for going over budget, but it still bugs me when I do ( when it actually has nothing to do with me)

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I'm not held responsible for going over budget, but it still bugs me when I do        ( when it actually has nothing to do with me)

Our program has a food budget of $3 per person. Which, in Vancouver, is just fine. We have Food Rescue organizations, who pick up left over produce, canned goods, et al, and sell to not-for-profits at about 30% of retail. This helps my budget a lot.

I'm going to guess, CaliPoutine, that overall, you are right on target, budget-wise. So, sometimes you are a bit over, but other times, you will be a bit under. Two or three times a year, I like to check with our Administrator as to where we are with budget. Also, I keep track of what the week's food cost is, including paper consumables (napkins, foil, etc), and staples.

Out of 100 guests each week, I can count on at least 3 to complain, and at least 5 to say something complimentary. But almost all of the guests will say "thank you". So, that is fine.

Do you have the same group of volunteers each time? I have a core group, but new people every week. Keeps things "interesting". :wink:

Karen Dar Woon

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today's meal.

Sloppy Joes

greek salad

mashed potatoes

corn( frozen)

rhubarb custard cake.

Greek salad.

gallery_25969_665_114465.jpg

They liked the salad a lot. I forgot to buy olives, but oh well. They didnt complain about that. I made a simple dressing. Evoo, red wine vinegar and oregano.

I made way too much meat. I ended up cooking some of the meat and just freezing it plain.

This is a taste of home recipe. It has bbq sauce( I used diana's), onion, tomato soup, and grape jelly. I left out the onion powder and chili powder. I did use granulated garlic.

gallery_25969_665_569059.jpg

I also bought way too many buns. Each person only used one of of the bun( they were big gourmet type hamburger buns that I got for half price).

The cake was a hit as I knew it would be. Rhubarb is a big thing around here!!

Here ya have your basic vanilla cake mix( I used betty crocker) made according to package directions. Sprinkle with 4 cups chopped, sugared rhubarb and then pour over 1 cup of heavy cream.

gallery_25969_665_770395.jpg

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Here it is plated. The store had whipping cream that was going to expire May 11th reduced to 2.00( a pint or 500ml). I had 1 cup leftover( I bought 2 pints) so I whipped it and gave everyone a tsp.

I'd like to make this cake for my family but use a homeade one instead of a mix. It was dead simple and the rhubarb and cream formed a nice custard on the bottom. Too bad it didnt keep its pretty pink color.

gallery_25969_665_79191.jpg

The majority of the folks liked the meal. One person said " its not my type of food, but it wasnt bad".

I guess thats the better than " I hated it".

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"it wasn't bad" is the picky person's way of saying it was d*** good! They just don't want to admit they liked it, because then it would ruin their reputations as picky people (some people revel in not liking anyting).

Question about the cake--so the cream was poured on before baking? It sounds like something I'd like, except for the rhubarb part. But I could probably substitute something like peaches or maybe strawberries (too watery?).

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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"it wasn't bad" is the picky person's way of saying it was d*** good!  They just don't want to admit they liked it, because then it would ruin their reputations as picky people (some people revel in not liking anyting).

Question about the cake--so the cream was poured on before baking?  It sounds like something I'd like, except for the rhubarb part.  But I could probably substitute something like peaches or maybe strawberries (too watery?).

Yep, the cream was poured on before baking. It would probably work well with strawberries, since Rhubarb also has a high percentage of water.

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that looks wonderful!!! I loved your idea of the cake on the bottom and did not have the stuff I needed for cake so used biscuit dough the cream dumped on top was to die for!

I love this senior thread it is a wonderful job you do for sure

my son cooked in an assisted living for quite a while and adored his job...they had very little money to work with so he garnished everything (he has a knack for that) ... everyone just loved it... ...he really was bummed when the budget was cut and he was low man ...he still talks about the folks there

thanks for the cake idea

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Here it is plated.  The store had whipping cream that was going to expire May 11th reduced to 2.00( a pint or 500ml).  I had 1 cup leftover( I bought 2 pints) so I whipped it and gave everyone a tsp. 

I'd like to make this cake for my family but use a homeade one instead of a mix.  It was dead simple and the rhubarb and cream formed a nice custard on the bottom.  Too bad it didnt keep its pretty pink color.

gallery_25969_665_79191.jpg

The majority of the folks liked the meal.  One person said " its not my type of food, but it wasnt bad". 

I guess thats the better than " I hated it".

Holy Cow! That looks great. Do you actually make a batter first and put the rhubarb on top or do you just sprinkle the dry cake mix in the pan and then put rhubarb and cream on top of the dry mix? (Sorry for the dumb question - but I couldn't tell from the photo). :blink: It really looks good and I'm looking for something easy to make for mother's day. (I finally found a lcoal store that sells frozen rhubarb - our grocery stores never have fresh rhubarb, even in season. I guess it's not too popular this far South).

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Here it is plated.  The store had whipping cream that was going to expire May 11th reduced to 2.00( a pint or 500ml).  I had 1 cup leftover( I bought 2 pints) so I whipped it and gave everyone a tsp. 

I'd like to make this cake for my family but use a homeade one instead of a mix.  It was dead simple and the rhubarb and cream formed a nice custard on the bottom.  Too bad it didnt keep its pretty pink color.

gallery_25969_665_79191.jpg

The majority of the folks liked the meal.  One person said " its not my type of food, but it wasnt bad". 

I guess thats the better than " I hated it".

Holy Cow! That looks great. Do you actually make a batter first and put the rhubarb on top or do you just sprinkle the dry cake mix in the pan and then put rhubarb and cream on top of the dry mix? (Sorry for the dumb question - but I couldn't tell from the photo). :blink: It really looks good and I'm looking for something easy to make for mother's day. (I finally found a lcoal store that sells frozen rhubarb - our grocery stores never have fresh rhubarb, even in season. I guess it's not too popular this far South).

Just make a plain cake( wtih eggs, water, oil, etc) and then sprinkle the chopped rhubarb and sugar over the raw batter. Then pour the 1 c. of whipping cream over the entire thing. Ya know I dont think I ever saw rhubarb( in Cali or FL) until I moved here.

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Wanted to share that I scored a major hit with my own resident picky-eater senior citizen just last night, and it too was something so dead simple I felt like a culinary fraud. Yer basic chicken/rice casserole: raw rice goes in the bottom of a (very lightly greased) casserole; chicken thighs (skin-on/bone-in) go right on top of the rice; canned chicken broth and canned whole tomatoes with their juice go in on top of that; season up with a commercial seasoning blend and a bit of salt; then cover and into a preheated medium oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the chicken and rice are fully cooked. The rice wound up very very soft, what I would consider a bit too mushy--but E. raved about it. Asked for seconds. Declared it one of the best dishes I'd ever made for him. And you know what? On reflection, I found I liked the mushy chicken-infused rice too. We're talking seriously unsophisticated comfort food here, and there's no point my rolling my eyes about it. I guess I'll just think of it as lowbrow risotto. Whatever works ... :laugh:

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Miz Quack:

You are so right! Chix and rice casserole can be tweaked any old way you wanna, from dead simple, to pushed towards "French" with some mushrooms and asparagus, to "Italian" with some crushed tomatoes, olives and Parm, to "Chinese" with water chestnuts and a smidgen of soy, to "Mexican" with corn and peppers. It accommodates whatever cut of chicken is on sale this week. If the Goldsters don't eat it, it it heats up beautifully for the cook the next day.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today's meal.

cucumber, onion, tomato salad( with fresh basil and mozzarella)

Pork paprikash over butter noodles

oatmeal muffins

asparagus

cherry peach cobbler w/ ice cream.

Today's meal was a huge success. I don't think I've ever had as many people tell me how good it was. It was really, really labor intensive.

I bought a case of pork tenderloins a few months ago. I got the whole case for 24.00. There are 24 packages. Each package has 2. I used 5 packages for this meal and had tons leftover.

The recipe I used is called Pork Paprika and its from Light and Tasty magazine( a taste of home publication). The dessert is from Simple and Delicious( another TOH publication). Can you see a theme here?

The salad was english cukes(.99 each), grape tomatoes( .99 a container), sweet onions( .69lb) and a 400gram bag of shredded mozzarella(3.97). I used a new Kraft Balsamic dressing. I also used some fresh basil.(1.69)

gallery_25969_665_12170.jpg

I had to brown off the meat in batches and then transfer it to a big stock pot. I still dont have the braiser I requested last year. Onions, green peppers, garlic, canned tomatoes, chicken stock and a few spices are added( caraway, majoram and paprika). I stired in two 500ml containers of sour cream. The original recipes says " put a dollop on top instead". Its supposed to be a lowfat recipe.

gallery_25969_665_248819.jpg

I put the noodles in a bowl with the stew on top because I know if I served it separate, they would eat the noodles plain and the stew by itself.

Dessert was a really simple recipe. The cobbler is canned peach slices, canned cherry pie filling, lemon juice and cinnamon. The topping is bisquick, butter, milk and sugar.

gallery_25969_665_659922.jpg

Last but not least, here is an action shot of the seniors.

gallery_25969_665_206849.jpg

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Congrats! You sure scored on that tenderloin purchase. Thanks also for the picture of the dining room. I like how they are all dressed up- despite all their "old person negativity" they obviously consider this a special deal.

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Dessert was a really simple recipe.  The cobbler is canned peach slices, canned cherry pie filling, lemon juice and cinnamon.  The topping is bisquick, butter, milk and sugar. 

gallery_25969_665_659922.jpg

Even before reading your description I looked at that cobbler and thought "That's GOT to be the Bisquick recipe!" That's the one my Mom always uses, and frankly, it still what I think of when I think of cobbler.

I'm glad to hear they really liked this meal! It does look very good.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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