Food and Thoughts
The Things I miss...
I can't hide that I love eating. But, then again, I grew up with a lot of home-grown, quality food! We still had butchers in Germany. And a lot of them weren't like the horrible factories and trucks you see going down the road.
Maybe because of the 'Schrebergaerten', maybe because money wasn't growing on all those trees you can see everywhere, a lot of people were growing their own food in their little garden paradises.
I don't know if you value it more, if you have to work for it. I think I do. The first time one of my children didn't want to eat the crust of the bread, I was a bit angry. I hate wasting things!
One thing I never did understand is why the selection of food is so limited over here! When I came to the U.S. I saw a lot of obese people. But my first visit to a store was rather disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I love my adopted Country. But if you ever have the chance to go into a German supermarket... you understand!
In Germany... you don't have to pay Gourmet prices or go to Gourmet stores to find a gigantic selection! You just go to your neighborhood Bakery, Butcher or similar!
I remember standing in that store and looking at... no more than 10 types of cheese, ...8-10 types of lunch-meat (3 of them different types of ham), ..."White or Wheat"?
Money was always tight when I grew up! This was at the time when a Dollar was roughly 1.5 Deutsche Mark. A T-Bone was around DM 28 per Kilogram (or 2.2 lbs). I let you do the math!
People ate more lunch-meat and breakfast items. Meat itself was often very expensive, unless you drove to Poland and bought two giant geese for less than $10.
People valued their food more and were looking for affordable quality!
I used to tell people about the 30-40 types of bread I remember... 50-60 kind of lunch-meat or cheese...
Why can people get so obese with such a poor selection? ...And often not so great quality?!
When I saw this picture, I was blown away and my stomach started growling! And, having always thought that my estimate was close to the actual number, I was surprised to see that there are actually over 300 types of bread!
Why am I eating what we children used to call 'Toast'?
Or why do I have to pay more just to get a little more 'bird-food' in my bread!?
I took a look around and saw the differences!
The Germany I remember still had a lot of 'Mom & Pops' store. Here in America it is different. When I looked around where I lived, there weren't that many small stores anymore. Everything seemed to be changing to the big department stores!
I always valued small stores! Everybody knows you and the Customer Service is ...Customer Service! People care and the 'How are you?' is an actual question, not a phrase!
It was one thing that bordered me! People would ask me "How are you?" and keep walking. Why ask me when you are surprised that I answer or don't want to hear the answer?
It was part of a picture!
It seems we are losing our values!
- Family meals are often replaced by work, soccer practice, college classes ...and junk food!
- Our Old are dumped into ...institutions, rather than being cared for by their family!
- We go to a 'Superstore' for all of our shopping needs; and buy often poor quality items!
-- I still have all those old-fashioned solid wood furniture pieces, but the new/pressed wood stuff has long been gone and replaced.
-- If you think Te-Fal here is like the high-quality stuff you remember from Germany... wrong! It's the same aluminium stuff you can buy with an American name on it... or is it China?
- Do you know the names of the people that helped you at the 'Superstore' and have you ever asked them "How are you?" and actually heard and responded to their answer?
-- The Lady at the register at the 'Superstore' has a husband that usually works there too. But right now he is fighting cancer! They are trying to get disability, but needed to get a lawyer. She gave me some great tips! Their car broke down and needed several thousands in repairs. So instead of making a house payment, she fixed the car! She needs it to get her husband to the hospital when he gets worse!
--- If my children ever act up at the store, she gives them one stern look! She raised EIGHT and knows everything there is to know about how to raise a child! A wonderful source of knowledge!
It is all about money!
So why is it that we replaced the values of our history with the 'Superstore' mentality?
I remember getting into the Air Force and being drilled in history, pride in my service and uniform, duties and values. Not always openly, but by example!
Back then you were a good soldier or Airman, because you worked hard, displayed yourself and your uniform with standards and pride, and were a good soldier or Airman!
When I got out, one of the reasons I got out was because quality of work doesn't matter anymore! As long as you can pass the PT test and deploy for most of the year, you can be the biggest dirtbag on Earth!
It took me a while to understand why the people I respected got out!
I loved my time in the service! I worked with a lot of great people I came to respect! I miss working for Tracy Harris and Brent Sarver! I miss working for Colonel Lopez and Colonel Clayborne! I definitely miss working for Colonel Maxwell, who valued team work and the old values and standards; and promoted the old qualities that just don't seem to be there anymore! I miss working for him a lot when I look at a company I had to deal with that is non-profit and supposedly looking out for people; ...just not their own employees!
There is this tiny church in West Virginia! Its called Kadesh Chapel! Its up on 49 Hill going towards Apple Pie Ridge. There were roughly 16 people going when we lived there.
The offerings went to the poor and needy people! If the church needed fixed, we fixed it!
We would meet, have a potluck lunch, work together!
Where is God?
I am not a very religious person and that has a reason!
The last time I went to church, after trying many different ones, the sermon was all about how much we should give and how it would pretty much buy our way into heaven! It was about Original Sin, a concept I don't believe in, and how we needed to 'pay' for our sins!
But, I do believe in God and my 'relationship' with 'him' is just fine without going to church and paying for 3 $150 flower arrangements that are changed weekly!
We lost our values within religion too!
God was in the oath I took when I joined the service! He was there with the soldiers that would stop their cars in the afternoon, get out, stand beside them in attention or with their hands on their heart, respect the flag; every day! He was there when I would load the 'boxes' on planes; rather than be in it!
I remember my first football game when we all got up together and respected the flag; said a prayer! It was an amazing sight!
So why is it that we take God out of our schools, court-houses, government? Doesn't especially the government need ...a little help right now?!
Why are we not teaching our children values and respect anymore, when the World they grow up in apparently lacks that much in the standards department?
Making things better...
When my Mother in Law bought me a bread machine I was first a bit taken back. Making bread in a machine? Where does the manual labor fit in?
But, being the lousy 'Chef' I am, I took advantage!
After the first few times of making the simple recipes out of that little booklet, I got a little more creative. I remembered the great breads of my youth and all the 'bird food' in them!
So I took a simple recipe for white bread and added all kinds of stuff to it.
- Raisin bread is just to die for! Add a bit more sugar and a ton of raisins or any other dried fruit and you have a great bread!
- Nuts are just a killer! There are so many different nuts out there that you can add to a loaf of bread and make it ten times better!
- Grains! The booklet or the Internet can give you some ideas on how to add or substitute grains/grains with flower.
- Seasoning! I have used different herbs and seasonings to make some awesome breads.
- Stuff it! You can either mix cooked/drained meats into the dough (make sure to reduce the oil you add to the recipe) or take your dough (after it is done mixing), stuff it with meats and such, and bake it in the oven. I did everything from wrapped hot dogs to ground turkey stuffed breads or even pizzas.
But what does that have to do with values? ...You are creating them!
It is rare that we have the time and the peace to be together at home and do things together. And when my children have to work for certain things like cooking a meal, making 'Fleischsalat' or baking a bread, it seems to bring us together. And having to work hard to make it taste right, they learn that only hard work will get them good results.
Teamwork is a great thing and if you haven't experienced it, you really don't know how much you will miss it. We have created a society where Darwin is deeply involved. Capitalism has gotten us to where we are mainly out to help ourselves; ...and forgot how satisfying it is to help others! The survival of the Fittest is no longer a rule applying to Nature, but to humanity itself too!
I want my children to grow up and value the things they have; family, a home, friends, the things they worked for. I want them to look out for each other. And I want them to value the hard work 'Mom & Pops' put into whatever they sell; produced with hard work and bought with hard work! I think it will make it more worth to my children when they had to work for something!
Look around you...
Especially if you live in an area that still has agriculture, look around you. You may be able to find the small to medium producers of local goodies. I know I have a small company in town that makes hams. Been told you can go there and buy them as a Jo Schmo.
Their quality is at least as good or even better than what you can buy at the 'Superstore' and the Customer Service is ten times better. They don't get paid for helping you, they are helping you because they care.
Show your children how it works! Show them that cheese doesn't necessarily come out of one end of a machine after dumping milk into the other. I wish I could take mine to the many places that produce their own chocolate, cheese, lunch meats, beer, wine, jams and baked goods.
Look at what you buy! We all bitch about the economy and how there aren't enough jobs. But we go to the 'Superstore' and buy things made cheaply and sometimes poorly in China, Taiwan, Korea and elsewhere.
A special assignment in my Environmental Science class had us go to a store of our choice to write down what was sold (agriculture) and where it came from. I do have to say that the certain 'Superstore' sold 90% of fruits and vegetables that were made in the U.S.! I was surprised and impressed.
Take your family into the kitchen and create meals together. If you have the chance, plant a small garden together. It can be as simple as planting some herbs or tomatoes in a few small pots in your kitchen window. Let your Grandma and Grandpa tell them stories from how they used to live and all the things they had or didn't have. Listen to your Elders sometimes and you may find some wisdom you can use. I was taught to respect my Elders, Policemen, Teachers and other people of legal authority.
Buy a yogurt maker and create your own flavors of yogurts with all kinds of berries, nuts and other goodies in them. Buy a ice cream maker and let your children create their own flavors with chocolate, candy, berries, fruit, nuts and more.
Let them experience how it feels to create something, rather than destroy something!
Teach them how to say Sir or Ma'am, hold a door open and get up in the bus when somebody needs a seat. Teach them how to respect the flag and our National Anthem; and be grateful for what they have!
Teach them how to respect those around them, no matter what Nationality, Color or Religion!
And lead by example!