One recent evening, as I was making some popcorn for my kids, Akiva asked, “Why do you make popcorn when you can just buy it from the store?” Akiva is almost four years old, and has a very inquisitive mind. I love it. In this instance, he gave me a golden opportunity to start teaching him about the benefits of creating things yourself versus ready made items, when you have the ability to do so.
To be clear: Homemade food doesn’t always taste better, but it almost always is better. This is true for a few reasons, some more obvious than others. Cooking, when done properly, is a labor of love. When you cook for others, you are, in one of the most direct ways, nourishing them with your hard work. Perhaps this connecting effect of food is to what the Talmud was referring by telling us “gedolah l’gimah shemikareves es hab’rios“–literally, “Eating is great, for it brings people together.” True, a large amount of that camaraderie can be accomplished when dining out, but I think that it’s even greater when the food has been prepared specifically for that purpose.
In my opinion, there is nothing more comforting at the end of a hard day, than coming home to a house where there is a delicious aroma wafting through the front door, and a warm meal waiting for you at the table. When that meal has been crafted specifically for you, and not just defrosted and reheated, the love shines through. If you can be in the position to make others feel this appreciated, appreciate it yourself, and pass the value of it onto the next generation.
Of the more obvious reasons why homemade food is preferable over processed and store-bought, is the quality control issue. I like knowing what goes into my food. Yes, over the last year or so I have become much more familiar with odd sounding ingredients and their purposes (I’m talkin’ about you, N-Zorbit M,) but that doesn’t guarantee quality. Sometimes the only guarantee you can get is the one you give yourself.
Nowhere is this more true, than in the case of store-bought ground beef. Even if we’re talking about a butcher that you know and trust, and have no reason to fear that anything but edible meat (and fat, more on that later) is going through that grinder, there’s still the freshness issue. Meat, as we all know, can make us sick if it’s not handled properly. What many people are not aware of, is the fact that microbes and bacteria cannot travel very deep beyond the surface of a slab of meat (that doesn’t mean that meat cannot spoil on its own!) So, no, properly handled, fresh raw meat WILL NOT MAKE YOU SICK! But what happens once all that muscle tissue is run through a grinder? That’s right! Its surface area has just expanded exponentially, meaning it now has a much shorter shelf-life. I defy anyone to disagree with me at this point; grinding your meat at home is a better choice. If I freak out at least one person enough to buy the grinder attachment to the KitchenAid stand mixer, (you can also just use a food processor) I’ll consider this blog a success.
I don’t think there could be a better sendoff for some fresh ground than sandwiched between two halves of a bun, with some lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, banana pepper rings, pickle and of course, HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE! Helman’s, as good as it is, really, really doesn’t compare. Oh, and if you put mustard on your burger, consider yourself officially on my done-zo list. That’s right. Done-zo.
On the right, a chuck roast whose excess silverskin and tendons were removed soon after that picture. On the left? Yup. That’s a slab of extra fat. A good burger (may I take your order?) according to Ruhlman, should be between 20-30% fat. That chuck roast was far too lean for my liking, so I fattened it up, posthumously.
Notice how lean it looks now?
How about now?
What is the point of paying extra for a “Kobe” beef burger when you can make these yourself?
For the “fixin’s”–
And the finished product–
I really wish that picture came out as good as the burger itself.
At least Akiva got the message.