by Gray Graham
Let’s get this out of the way in the beginning. This is not a tipping vs not tipping vs paying a living wage discussion although I probably will be touching on some of those points. I have written about that before in the past and will add it to the new website when I can. No my friends this is going to be a new discussion about tipping the cashier whenever you purchase food to-go or pick-up.
It seems many people are upset that thanks to new point of sale technology when you purchase food of any kind be it fast food restaurants, pick up orders, or even your local coffee shop, you are being given the option to tip the cashier just like you have been at full-service restaurants in the past. This is leaving a lot of people feeling a certain way because they don’t know what to do. Should you tip and if you should tip how much should you tip?
To say some people are in shock might be an understatement. I have seen many people upset because they say the cashier doesn’t actually do anything that warrants getting a tip. It is funny how quickly food service cashiers went from essential workers helping save the world to; you not doing anything that deserves a tip isn’t it?
Okay now this is where I have to mention the history and culture of tipping in America without starting an argument. To this day most Americans would be shocked that tipping is mostly an American thing. Even in countries that allow tipping it is no where close to the amount you pay in America. In a large part of the world tipping is an insult especially some of the large amounts Americans throw around. Even Americans that travel abroad frequently have trouble with tipping in other countries. Tipping is far from a standard practice across the world. So please keep this in mind when you think about tipping in America.
Now back to your cashier that is waiting on you to pay your ticket so she can help the customers piling up behind you. To put it short there really are no rules to tipping. Tipping is and has always been a personal choice. Sure there are societal norms that certain people follow but that is definitely not everyone and it’s probably not even most people.
To be honest most people are terrible at math. Telling someone they should tip 20-25% is pretty meaningless to them which is why many payment screens just ask you the percentage you want to tip instead of giving you a dollar amount. Many customers wouldn’t be able to figure out what percentage they were tipping based on the dollar amount.
People are waiting on you to decide if you are going to tip so I am going to help you out. This should be your rule to tipping in food service. If you tip then tip everywhere that accepts tips. Apply the same rules to everyone that provides a service to you. It doesn’t matter if they are a cashier, chef, waitress, or delivery driver. Do not try to devalue the service provided to you because you don’t think it is that hard. I know you don’t think driving a pizza around the corner and bringing it to your front door is more difficult than getting your food order together, making sure it is correct, helping you figure out how to use the payment system, helping out in the store wherever someone needs help, answering the phone, while all the time having a big smile.
So the next time you are picking up that pick-up order make sure to tip your cashier if that is your thing. The store has made it easy for you by giving you the options of 20%, 25%, and 30%. If there is anyone in our economy that needs a tip it is a cashier because they are probably the lowest paid people in our country with most being women trying to improve their lives and/or take care of their families.
If you can tip your hair stylist and barber after paying them a few hundred dollars you can tip your cashier.
Also some of you have a few phone calls to make. You need to apologize to some of your friends and associates that you have called cheap over the years because they didn’t believe in tipping because I know you don’t want to be a hypocrite and now you know their struggle.
You take. God bless and I love you all.
by Teal Graham
If there is one thing that has to be on the table with every Tex-Mex meal, that is arroz a la mexicana. This side dish can be perfect for anytime you need a side dish to spice up your meal as a go to winner. It is quick to make and takes absolutely no time to add something delicious that your family will love. Here’s how I do it.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
¼ cup peppers finely diced
2 ½ cups white rice
¼ teaspoon butter
16 oz chicken stock
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 oz water
8 oz tomato sauce
Using a dutch oven pot with a lid that holds about four to six quarts you will need to add your oil over medium heat. I like to use a large deep cast iron dutch oven because it disturbs heat evenly throughout the cooking process. You don't have to go out to purchase a cast iron dutch oven for this recipe if you don't have one, just use what you have available to you. However, for the best results, nothing is quite like cooking with well seasoned cast iron cookware. I want you to use what's available to you until you can invest in cast iron cookware because cast iron cookware can handle any type of cooking you can throw at it. Cast iron cookware is cookware that is built to last that can be passed down for generations. So invest and start those family traditions.
Okay back to the recipe. Cook rice until it is opaque. (opaque is an almost a whitish/ yellowish color). It's important not to overcook the rice so stir constantly so as to not burn your rice. Once the rice is cooked add your prepared vegetables of chopped onions, peppers and your butter.
To save time in cooking it is important to do some prep work in the kitchen. So have all your essentials ready before cooking. If vegetables need to be chopped do this in the beginning and set aside this way everything's prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Trying to start prepping vegetables while the oil is heating is dangerous and can result in an accident.
You can use any type of green peppers you like. I'm using jalapeño peppers because they are mostly for color; however, jalapenos add a bit of heat. Now if you like peppers but jalapeños are too hot for you, then you can use bell peppers. They are a much milder type of pepper and it will still give you that green color.
Now sauté your onions and peppers until they start to soften and the onions look translucent. Once they are at that stage you are going to add the seasonings, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from over browning. Next add your tomato sauce, chicken stock and water. Stir once and cover with the lid. Allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes on a medium heat.
The most important part of this recipe is to allow your rice to cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. Do not take the lid off, don’t stir rice, don’t touch it. Just cover it and let it cook. After 15 minutes you are going to look at the rice. You are looking at evaporation levels and testing to see if it is tender and fluffy. Rice should mostly puff and most of the liquid has evaporated at this point. If the rice is not done to your liking then add ¼ to ½ cup of water to the pot. Allow to cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
If you are cooking in cast iron you can turn the heat off and just let it set because the cast iron cookware will still be plenty hot. If you are using something else that doesn’t hold heat then you can just turn your heat down to low or warm to finish cooking.
When you are finished you can use a cooking fork to fluff the rice before serving. Add this rice to a plate of refried beans with some chips, enchiladas, fajitas, grilled steak, or basically anything and you are going to eat well.
My family and folks have loved this recipe for years and I know your family will too. It’s easy and quick and takes no time at all. It’s so simple you can even make it in a Texas summer. We are always here to help make your life easier.
You take care now and God bless you and your family.
by Teal Graham
I love an easy recipe with easy clean-up that gives me a chance to use leftover rice in the fridge. This is an easy recipe that will only take you minutes. This dish is full of flavor and simple to make with ingredients that are easily found in your kitchen.
Easy Shrimp Fried Rice
large cooked shrimp thawed
1 lb bag of frozen vegetables
1 medium onion diced
red bell pepper diced
green bell pepper diced
red pepper flakes (if desired)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground garlic
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup water
Heat oil in a large non-stick pan on med-high. Once oil is hot, add diced peppers and onions. Cook until fragrant.
Add cooked rice. No cooked rice, no problem. Just add 1½ cups of uncooked rice to the pan and stir fry until it turns white or opaque.
Next add spices, soy sauce and stir.
Now toss the vegetables into the pan and cover the rice with water. The rice needs to be tender to the tooth so be sure to add more water to the rice that was stir fried. Rice prepared this way requires a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. Cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Lastly add the cooked shrimp and a tablespoon or so more water to prevent the rice from sticking at the bottom and stir the shrimp into the mix. Cover again and allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and now you are done.
So in about 20 minutes you have an easy shrimp fried rice that you and your family will enjoy. This recipe is great because the flavor will change based on the vegetables that you use and the amount of seasonings that you can use so it will never get old
by Teal Graham
People love good food. You can go online or turn on the TV to see people eating, cooking, or talking about food. Food is a part of everyday life in every way. Some of you will probably even try some new dish tonight off of a social media platform because you want to try something different for dinner.
People just love food. The way it looks, smells, and tastes just draws folks in. I bet mouths are watering just from me writing f-o-o-d. People will go and try all kinds of food that spans across the ethnic spectrum, looking for authentic dishes that are packed full of culture and history, yet they never follow the recipe to the letter.
Now I know some people are wondering why is that so important? Who cares if I change the recipe a little? The truth is most people in your prospective corners would not. You and maybe even close family members would not care if you decided to omit or substitute an ingredient or two. A dish like that would still be great and may even become a family favorite, however you could never say that you got the recipe from someone because once modified it's yours.
As we begin to start going back to life as we knew it, there are going to be more people getting together for long awaited events, like getting together with family for Sunday dinner. People are going to bring foods that commiserate the occasion with dishes that have significance to the occasion. Dishes that have a history of family gatherings that have become a tradition for every family event.
You know that the dish has to be respected because you can hear people inquiring who made what dish. That is why if you are supposed to make that one of a kind cake at a family gathering just like Grandma did when she was alive and well, please understand that a modified version of that is not likely what people are looking for.
It is this way with all dishes. They all have a history that is rich in culture and this should be respected by everyone. Don't bring a heavily modified cultural dish to someone of that culture and think it will not be a sign of disrespect.
It may be considered an insult that you did not intend towards a group of people during a time when emotions are high. When you make a dish that has a history and omit a key ingredient it is like saying that you recognize that a cultural group exists but the struggle of that group of people is not so important.
Food just like people needs to be respected. So do yourself and your loved ones a favor and don't veer off the recipe too much. It’s okay if you don’t like a certain dish. We don’t all like the same flavors. Maybe this ones not for you. Instead of trying to bend the recipe to fit your taste, why not take the opportunity to make a dish that is your creation using flavors that you love. Inspiration can come from anywhere and this is how the best dishes got created. Your newly created dish could be the next testimony of your culture which would be a great thing.
by Teal Graham
Since the start of Quarantine 2020 bread making has taken off across much of food social media. People are making all sorts of breads from biscuits to dinner rolls. Our local stores have been sold out of yeast for months so it seems like bread making might be a new trend for a lot of people.
The most complicated one for me is sandwich bread which has a tender crumb and soft fluffy texture. I lack the technique for making anything but a nice hearty bread that's rich in flavor that is wonderful for toast or with soups. As great as my breads are, sandwich bread is a no go.
Instead of stressing over the fact I have not mastered a touch for making the infamous sandwich bread, I decided to alter my approach to sandwiches. I have a wonderful roll recipe that I love and use for sandwiches. That's right sandwiches. Whoever said that sandwich bread is the only way for sandwiches was wrongly mistaken. Home made buns are great and can easily convert the ordinary sandwich into a family favorite.
The cool thing about making your own breads at home you know what is in them. You can take comfort in knowing that you can identify all the ingredients within the breads that you have provided for your family's consumption. With health being a major concern these days you definitely want to be as healthy as you can be.
Now I know that making bread can be kind of intimidating. You search the internet for an easy bread making recipe and find some guy on Youtube taking a week to make a simple loaf of bread. Who has time to wait a week when you just want bread now.
There really are some easy quick recipes that we will share with you later but expand your thinking when it comes to breads. Tortillas are great and they are very easy and quick to make. You can use them for a lot more than tacos and burritos. Wraps and hummus taste great with flour tortillas too. And let’s not forget my husband’s favorite from the South, cornbread. For them cornbread is the only bread there is and it goes great with everything.
Bread has always been a part of people and families. It’s how we get to know each other. I mean who doesn’t love bread. I know I love breads of all kinds and my children do too. They even love my sandwich bread because it is made with a lot of love.
If you can’t master making bread from scratch then grab one of those boxes or ready to make tubes from the grocery store. You will get the same warm feeling making bread by yourself or with your family. It is all about enjoying the process and not just eating the results.
So whether it is homemade white sandwich bread that you have mastered, tortillas, cornbread, rolls, or that tube of ready to bake pizza dough enjoy making bread. It is so relaxing and meditative and we definitely need that today with everything that is going on.