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Cooking for 50 Senior Citizens


CaliPoutine
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salad

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Main dish. I got these bacon wrapped pork medallions cheap. I cooked them in the oven in some apple juice and chix. broth. I strained it and made gravy. I also cut up 4lbs of empire apples and baked them in the oven w/ some apple juice.

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Pie.

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I've made the pie before, back in April 07. Here is a picture of the cut pie from back then. I used the pillsbury just unroll crusts this time and they loved them.

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I got a lot of compliments from this meal. As an aside, the woman who was hired for the position in my town, filled in for me 2 weeks ago. She made that infamous dish of chicken breasts, cranberry sauce, lipton onion soup mix and french dressing. She made rice along with it. My coordinator told me they loved it. ( the more processed, the better!!!)

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Last Thursday's meal.

spinach salad with warm tomato dressing

beef stroganoff w/ egg noodles

green beans

rhubarb custard cake.

I bought about 4lbs of tenderloin a few months back. They had excellent coupons attatched to the packages for 5.00 off, but I still managed to spend 36.00 on the beef. I added about 5lbs of sirloin to that to round it out. I found a stroganoff recipe on All Recipes and basically followed that except I added fresh thyme and parsely from my garden. I put it over the noodles so make it stretch a bit more. They loved it!!

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The salad was a recipe from Kraft food and family. I modified it by using organic grape tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes, and by using a sun dried tomato dressing instead of a lite balsamic. I also donated a package of pecan pie pecans bought at Big Lots in MI. The original recipe called for making your own candied pecans. In addition to those ingredients, there is a bar of cream cheese cut into cubes on a bed of baby spinach. The tomatoes, onions and dressing are heated in the microwave and poured over the top. They loved this too, lots of compliments.

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I made 2 rhubarb custard cakes( repeat recipe) that they also loved. I'm proud that I managed to stay in budget while serving them beef tenderloin. I served 30ppl with 3 takeouts.

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I'm kind of amazed that no one complained about there not being any potatoes in the meal! 

I'm sure they were thinking it!! ( I havent served noodles or rice since last November ) The one major complainer lady wasnt there so that might have had something to do with it.

As an aside, I heard two of the seniors whispering about me( and looking at me while doing it). I felt very uncomfortable, but I dont know what I should do( if anything). It is so rude!!

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Flip them the bird?

Sorry, I'm channeling the devil on your shoulder. I'll stop..

That said, I think I'm gonna make that salad tonight, it looks really good, maybe with feta in place of the cream cheese, since I mostly hate cream cheese.

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I have to chime in here.

I just turned 70, and my mother is 97, and has been in assisted living for the last six months. Prior to that she would drive, or more recently take her scooter to the main dining room, jacket and tie required, nice menu. (This is a retirement center for primarily Air Force personnel, mostly retired officers.)

She can't stand the meals she gets now, because they are not prepared fresh, but instead are over-cooked and then brought over in insulated wagons. I tried one, and I couldn't stand it either -- too bland, no spice, mushy flavor mostly, and of course no salt -- it might take years off her life, don't you know! She's healthier than I am, unless you count her eyesight, hearing, and tendency to fall down.

Now, you may not expect this suggestion from an old "geezer" like me, but my very strong recommendation would be to check out sous vide techniques.

You can very safely cook meat at 131F/55.5C for an extended time, and get great flavor, and great tenderness at the same time. For a friends birthday party, I served nearly 85 people sampler-size slices of meat from a single brisket that might have cost me $16 at a high-end grocery store. I quartered it (for convenience) and cooked them for 48 hours at 131F/55C. And a small rice cooker with mushroom risotto provided plenty of high-quality, excellent tasting starch. Everything was hot and fresh, and very tasty.

With sous vide, you can cook a $1.99 chuck roast for 24 hours and have it as tender as a filet.

Pork shoulder is another cut that is inexpensive, and also cooks for 24 hours. I served it to my meat-and-potatoes brother and sister-in-law from St. Louis, along with small potatoes and carrots that I simmered for an hour in a pint of pork stock and two bottles of Guinness. They loved it. And my niece loved the salmon I did sous vide, as well.

And you can even serve chicken breasts that aren't all dried out.

If you or your kitchen can afford a couple of 10 liter rice cookers, you could cook various meats to different tastes in advance -- medium rare, medium, and throw-it-to-the-dogs well-done.

For even larger quantities, you could use some hotel pans on an electric griddle, controlled by a Sous Vide Magic controller sold by Fresh Meals Solutions in Toronto. And by using cook-hold or cook-chill, you can prepare meals in advance, and then warm them up just before serving.

If I were doing any catering, that is certainly the route I would choose.

I see now that you didn't get the job, and that you suffered a death in the family. I'm sorry to hear that. But maybe this will be a time for you to do some experimenting.

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Hi Robert.

Thanks for the feedback. I guess you really need to understand the area I live in to understand the clientele. This is a total farming area. If I mentioned the word sous vide, I might as well be talking about ailens. I asked for a braising pot awhile back and they didnt know what that was( and I wasnt allowed to buy a new one).

I've done pork shoulder in a slow cooker, they liked that well enough, but didnt understand the fact that its served on a bun.

I had a meeting today( my request) to discuss why I didnt get the position in my town. I still dont understand their answer, but basically my personality wasnt a fit with the volunteers at that position. The person they hired has also been a volunteer( at a different program) with the agency for 10yrs, seems as though they were rewarding her for being unpaid all these years.

There was a lot more said( mostly on my part). I didnt walk out of there feeling great!!

Btw, I've been baking for the coffee hours at the agency. This is something separate from the dining programs. I'm allowed to do this at home and I'm paid at a different rate( per dozen items). They're very pleased with my baking( everyhing is from scratch and uses butter). I guess thats my consolation prize.

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Randi, I'm glad you received some compliments for that meal - it looks wonderful. I am going to have to check out that salad myself - it looks like a great way to use cherry tomatoes (which I'm probably going to be inundated with in a month or so!).

And I wanted to say that I always look forward to reading your postings. I just wish I could make the people you're working for appreciate you as much!

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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I really enjoy reading your posts. I find it refreshing to be reminded that there are people out there who think of factory-made box mix foods as superior to made from scratch slow foods. Not that I agree with them, but it's good to realize that they exist and aren't changing their minds.

I also find it interesting that as rural people, these seniors grew up with farm-fresh produce, fresh milk, and grass-fed meats. And, they somehow came to be of the opinion that frozen/dehydrated boxed dinner is somehow superior, and, in their opinion tastier.

Reminds me of the cake mix fanatic (middle-aged woman) in my group in pastry school. She hated almost everything we made -it was all from scratch with ingredients like real butter and chocolate.

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I really enjoy reading your posts. I find it refreshing to be reminded that there are people out there who think of factory-made box mix foods as superior to made from scratch slow foods. Not that I agree with them, but it's good to realize that they exist and aren't changing their minds.

I also find it interesting that as rural people, these seniors grew up with farm-fresh produce, fresh milk, and grass-fed meats. And, they somehow came to be of the opinion that frozen/dehydrated boxed dinner is somehow superior, and, in their opinion tastier.

Reminds me of the cake mix fanatic (middle-aged woman) in my group in pastry school. She hated almost everything we made -it was all from scratch with ingredients like real butter and chocolate.

Because boxed/processed means less work.

Somehow they've got it in their minds that convenience = superior quality (not to mention all the chemicals helps them win their argument in their eye). They're not really reacting to the taste difference between fresh and processed. There are other factors in the mix. That's my theory anyway.

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Thanks for all your support. On an unrelated note, we went to a party on Saturday and everyone was supposed to bring either an appetizer or dessert. Robin wanted me to make summer rolls, which I thought about for about 2 seconds and then decided " no, they wouldnt be appreciated". I'd say about 95% of the food that was there were, shrimp rings, packaged dips, ready made veggie/fruit trays, frozen chicken wings and the like. I saw one taco salad from scratch. I dont understand why the majority of people in this area can't make anything from scratch anymore. ( assuming they ever did).

Thursday's meal was

Mixed green salad w/ Olive Garden's copy cat dressing

Chicken, mushroom, pepper, onion pie

buns

ice cream with raspberry coulis and fresh fruit( and packaged belgium cookies)

I used 2 heads of iceburg, 2 romaine hearts, 2 cucumbers, 1 package of organic cherry tomatoes, 1 can of extra large black olives, 1 red onion and 1 red pepper. I used a bag of croutons and some parmesean cheese.

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I've made this chicken pie before at another program. I used the Pillsbury Just unroll crusts. The filling is ground chicken( I got it for 99cents a lb), onions, mushrooms, peppers, spices, eggs and sour cream. It went over well, but one of our ovens wasnt working so they came out of the oven with only a few minutes to spare. They really needed to set up longer before I cut them. Some of them didnt stay together so not too nice of a presentation.

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I wanted a no-bake dessert( thankfully, I must have had some foreshadowing about the oven breaking) as it was hot as hell in the kitchen. I got a bunch of nice fruit on sale. Local strawberries( 2.49qrt), blueberries( 2.99pint), 1 pineapple ( 1.99), organic nectarines( 1.99lb). I served bowls of fruit on the table, along with vanilla ice cream and rasberry coulis( I had frozen rasberries left over from another meal so I just pureed them with some sugar)

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No complaints!!

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Because boxed/processed means less work.

Yep. All of my life, my grandmother did everything from scratch. Refused to cook any other way. After my grandfather passed away and when she was quite a bit older she decided it was just too much trouble to cook that way for herself only and had a complete reversal in the way she cooks. Almost everything in her house became quick convenience items.

At first it was strictly a convenience thing but over time she actually started preferring the convenience stuff. It becomes the familiar. I can see how that happens. I used to hate diet sodas but now, after years of drinking them, they're the only type I drink even though I'm not "dieting". Everything else tastes too syrupy.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

I cook again tomorrow. I got Bone-In Skinless chicken breasts on sale for 1.99lb. That is INCREDIBLY cheap for this area. I could have boned them, but didnt want to give myself extra work. I'm going to dip them in mayo and then coat them with a mixture cornflake crumbs/seasoning/parmesean cheese. Do you think I need to flour them before I use the mayo?

So, the menu is

Parmesean oven baked chicken

mashed( of course)

cucumber onion salad( using the recipe in the latest Penzey's catalog)

not sure of the veg

purchased choc. angel food cakes with fresh berries and real whipped cream.

A 3 pack of English cuckes is 2.69. ( I'll use 6 in total) I bought 2 Honey Sweet onions for .98lb. I got the angel cakes on the reduced rack for 1.49 each. I threw them in the freezer the day I got them. Raspberries( US), Blackberries( Mexico) and Blueberries( NJ) are on sale for 1.67 each. I ordered 3 of each kind. I also ordered 2 pints of whipping cream also on sale for 1.99 each. I dont have much help tomorrow which is why I went with a premade dessert.

I'll post the pics tomorrow.

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I'd flour them first if I was doing it. Pretty much eliminates the worry of moisture causing your coating to slip.

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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I've never floured before mayo-coating anything, and never had a problem.

This would be too foreign for your seniors, I'm sure, but the world's best eggplant parm is made by mayo-coating/breadcrumbing the eggplant slabs before assembling (i.e., don't fry the eggplant first, just bake it on high heat with the mayo/bread crumbs until golden brown). Egglplant parm that actually tastes like eggplant! Who knew?

PS Thanks for continuing this thread. It is certainly my all-time favorite on EG.

PPS Family is going to be gone for the next 30 days, so I get to cook whatever I want, whenever I want! Garlic fried rice for breakfast, tempeh reubens for lunch, popcorn for dinner. No limits and no one to complain. Yee haw!

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This was a great meal( if I do say so myself). No complaints, well, I take that back. The one lady who always complains called me over to show me the chicken bone that was dark( from the blood). I explained to her that when the butcher cuts the chickens up, sometimes the bones bleed. Its cooked, and it doesnt effect the actual chicken meat. Mind you, her entire bone was picked clean!!

I cooked the chicken perfectly. It turned the oven off when the chicken reached 165 and it was great. I had people asking for more.

The salad was good too. I used( loosely) the recipe in the latest penzey's catalog. Cider vinegar,brown sugar, granulated garlic( my addition), celery seed( my addition), pepper, salt and a no-salt seasoning blend( similar to Mrs. Dash's but its the store brand).

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I did NOT use flour before coating the breasts. It worked fine, the mayo ( I used light) really clung to the chicken. The coating is a box of cornflakes, parmesean cheese, fines herbs( penzey's) and that salt free seasoning mix, salt and pepper.

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I didnt have that much help, so those were the only pics I got. I served mashed potatoes( I made them ahead and kept them warm in a crock pot). I added a container of sour cream and 1 bar of cream cheese to them.

The veg was frozen :unsure: I've somewhat given up on making fresh( except asparagus). It takes too much out of my budget and they like them cooked till they're mush anyway.

I had one lady( another known complainer) ask if the angel food cakes were from scratch. Sure lady, I just happened to have 4 dozen egg whites laying around and I own 4 tube pans to make them from scratch!! She is diabetic anyway so she wouldnt be eating them.

All in all, I'm pleased with the way the meal turned out.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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I had one lady( another known complainer) ask if the angel food cakes were from scratch.  Sure lady, I just happened to have 4 dozen egg whites laying around and I own 4 tube pans to make them from scratch!!  She is diabetic anyway so she wouldnt be eating them. 

I'd have said something like, "Unfortunately, unless people are willing to pay more for the meals, we don't have enough in the budget for that." Ha ha.

I'm glad things have been going well lately! I want to make that chicken, too!

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The result speaks for itself and I stand corrected. I've never coated anything in mayo before, it just seemed like a fatty coating on a moist surface would equal slippery. Apparently not! :biggrin:

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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  • 4 weeks later...
How did the homemade cherry pies go over? I would be asking for seconds if I were there!  :wub:

I just made them( just got home). They're for my meal at the end of August( cold plate). Wow, this was a lot of work. Dont think I'll do that again. I did take some pics and will post after I relax for a bit.

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So yesterday I went into the office to start some really nice back ribs I got for 1.99. I had 25lbs of ribs so I thought I'd do them in the giant crock pot overnight. I made a sauce with dijon mustard, bbq sauce and sour cherry jam( this recipe was in the latest TOH magazine).

I went in this morning to check on them. I knew as soon as I walked in the office it was not going to be pretty. I could smell the burnt smell a mile away.

Thank gawd I went to check on them at 10am and didnt wait until right before I was to leave for the location.

They're completely burnt and I can't serve them. Over 50 bucks down the drain. I just ran to the store and thankfully they had pork chops on sale for 1.49. I just spent another 25.00. I'm going to dig thru my stash of condiments to see what kind of sauce I can make. They'll complain that there is no gravy, but I''m making potato salad so there will NOT be gravy. I boiled and peeled the spuds yesterday so they would be cold for the salad today.

Oy, this is not going to be a good day!!

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