The country life always amazes me… When reading stories like the one below often I find myself thinking what it would be like to grow your own produce, raise livestock for meat, and etc. or maybe just to have everything fresh and not have to travel to Timbuktu and back… WARNING: if you have not eaten do so before reading this article as after you read it you will find yourself salivating for some good food. Here is another report form Jim Fiedler hope you all enjoy!
Farmers know how to eat but Derek has taken it to a whole new level. Mom’s meals during haying time were memorable when Dad would hire 4 or 5 local boys for $4 a day to help put up the square bales. Fried chicken, fried potatoes, navy beans, coleslaw, corn on the cob, corn bread, milk gravy and a couple home made pies. Us boys would eat and lay down in the grass in the front yard until Dad would tell it was time to get back to work. Purdue’s Farmhouse Fraternity was well known for having the best food on campus when I was there in the mid-60s but it was only for Ag majors and I was in Chemical Engineering and learned to eat the chemicals we call food today.
Kyle is Derek’s cousin and told me, “I know this guy who has an identical tractor and baler as you do so you wouldn’t have to train him. And he loves to bale hay. You just have to feed him.” Kyle’s mom is Marlene and she called to warn me as soon as she heard I hired him to help, “Jim, Derek likes to eat and he likes lots of food. Feed him well and you will keep him.”
The first day Derek came to work, he came into the kitchen, walked over to the table and picked up a peach, took a bite and said, “Hi, I’m Derek. What are you eating?” Then he walked to the counter to pick up a tomato, looked it over, put it down and pick up another one and looked it over and ate both of them. He does know our tractor and mower conditioner and baler and is a hard worker. At first I fed him bologna and cheese sandwiches. Two of them with two slices of our pork bologna and two slices of cheese on each. Mayo and maybe a slice of fresh tomato topped it off if I was in a good mood. I usually didn’t include chips since he have already emptied the bag when he walked in the kitchen to say hello. He prefers diet Mountain Dew to watch his weight since he is a single father and dating.
Soon we upgraded to 1/3 pound hamburger patties with one slice of cheese on the bottom and another on the top. Ketchup over and mayo under with a slice of tomato and maybe a couple whole tomatoes on the side. Two burgers for Derek and one for me. I gave him three 1/3 pound burgers once and he said that was bit much after he ate all three. But he never complained when I upgraded to two ½ pound burgers a couple of times. I was making the burgers on the grill which took too long and then tried frying them in a cast iron skillet which was faster but I still wasn’t satisfied.
That brings me to the miracle appliance in today’s kitchen. It is not the microwave, the blender, the food processor and no not the garbage disposal nor the dishwasher. It is the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine. Over 80 million have been sold since Hulk Hogan turned down the contract and instead opted for the Hulk Hogan Blender in 1994. George Foreman has purportedly made over $150 million selling these grills which is way more than he made boxing. This miracle machine heats up in less than 3 minutes and cooks a frozen 1” thick grassfed ribeye in 11 minutes, a hamburger in 4 minutes, a sausage patty in 2-3 minutes and piggy links in a couple of minutes. It even toasts bread.
I bought the smallest one they make for $18 two weeks ago after hearing how wonderful they were for 15 years. Tommy and Maisie think I am a short order cook anyway. They notoriously look at the food on the table they requested earlier and immediately send it back requesting two different things. So the George Foreman is the cat’s meow for both them and for Derek. I can cook burgers at the same rate Derek eats them.
But this is only half the story. Derek is not one of those omnivores who eat only meat. Potatoes, cheese, cold slaw, tomatoes, corn on the cob, pears, apples, peaches, pies, healthy food, snack food, bad food all disappear down the gullet. Only a Price’s pimento cheese sandwich was turned away. Seldom do any leftovers remain on the table. And like a great ball player, he raises the level of eating of those who dine with him. Plus he knows the game and constantly compliments the cook and the food.
So I tried some roasts. First I tried a pork shoulder roast cooked for 6-7 hours in the crock pot, torn into shreds and covered with BBQ sauce. It melted in our mouths and enough was left for several sandwiches the next day. Derek had come not come in until all most noon so I knew he had eaten before getting here. Derek eats on time. So I thought of that BBQ all the way home from town and grabbed it from the frig as I walked in the door. I put the pan on the counter and pulled out a bun and opened it as I picked up a spoon and removed the lid. I did a double take at a little dab that was less that a teaspoon full left in the pan. I looked up to see Derek wave as he drove the tractor pass the window with a big Cheshire Cat smile on his face as he blew me a kiss.
Next was a Sirloin Tip roast with onions, garlic, potatoes and peperoncini peppers made into great sandwiches that were woofed down. Our pork cutlets were made into pork tenderloin sandwiches topped with mayo, tomatoes and lettuce that brought oohs and aahs from Derek and have become a regular menu item. We have pork breakfast sausage patties that I have always fried too long in a skillet. Two minutes in the George Foreman leaves them perfectly cooked time after time. Add a slice of cheese and a fried egg with a bun and make two of them and Derek is asking for breakfast at noon.
Derek is impatient and will not tolerate waiting for food.. A half hour late and I get a call reminding me what time it is. An hour late and here comes Derek pulling the baler behind the tractor for 2 miles to get something to eat. It doesn’t matter if I am not here. He then creates a whole meal out of the frig. BLTs fit the bill, hamburgers are a regular but it is always something cooked, hot and plentiful. The whole crew that day joins in the feast.
Derek’s only failure was two days ago when I was gone and left nothing out to cook. I had found an old box of bulk hamburgers in the back of the freezer. I knew they were old since we haven’t made any like this for years. I tried one anyway to test how long meat can really last in the freezer. They were dog food. Nothing that would make a person sick but the freezer burn taste remained long after one was gone. So I thawed them and fed a few to the dogs and put the rest in the refrigerator for the dogs the next day.
I walked in as Derek and James were leaving. “What did you fix today?” I asked. “Hamburgers.” said Derek to which I responded, “Did have any trouble finding them in the freezer?” “No” Derek replied, “There was box open in the refrigerator, but they weren’t as good as usual.”
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