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Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Pizza Delivery

I realize this blog is "ramblings on cast iron" and not "ramblings on pizza delivery".

In fact, I've written about making your own pizza instead of delivery-- it's so much better!

But I was a pizza delivery driver myself, for two years, so I often find myself in heated discussions with people who have absolutely no clue about the realities of the job.

First, let me say that I try not to order delivery if I can help it. Only if I'm in a hotel in a strange town, and that's the only way I can get dinner.

If I don't have time to make my own, I pick it up.  It's cheaper, it's faster, and the pizza is hotter that way.  But also, based on principle.

The most important thing I can stress to you people is, TIP THE DRIVER.  

Regardless of whatever reason you think you shouldn't, and I've heard them all; I don't want to hear your excuses.  Just, take it from me:  Tip the driver.  Why?

If for no other reason, we always remember who tips and who doesn't.  

And while I had more class than to tamper with anybody's food, it DOES happen.  

Some drivers are even more unethical than that; They do, after all, know where you live.  So, tip the driver.

Even though I never went to those extremes, I often worked a 12 hour shift without a lunch break.  So if I knew I wasn't getting a tip, I took a lunch break.  I'd stop for lunch, stop for gas, and THEN deliver the pizza.

They ALL do that.  If they have multiple deliveries-- tippers get theirs first, non tippers get theirs last.  It's a fact.

So, why else should you tip the driver?  

Because it's simply the right thing to do.  

Let me clarify some common misconceptions:

That "delivery charge" tacked on by the company, does NOT go to the driver at all.  The company charges you for the delivery, and pockets the money.  

Pizza drivers are NOT paid minimum wage anymore.  Companies now pay them "tipped employee" wage, as low as $2.13 an hour.

Pizza drivers do NOT drive company cars.  They drive their own cars, and they are NOT reimbursed for mileage.  

They get a small "per delivery" stipend, usually less than a dollar, regardless of how far they had to drive. That doesn't even cover gas, let alone the oil change they have to get every month, the brakes, tires, etc.

Pizza drivers are NOT insured by the company; They have to buy their own commercial auto insurance, which is very expensive.  Personal auto insurance does NOT cover anything, if the car is being used for company business.

Pizza drivers do NOT just deliver pizzas.  They also answer the phones, make the pizzas, package the pizzas, and wash dishes. 

Pizza drivers do NOT "just take the pizza out of the bag and hand it do you."  They fight traffic and bad weather, risk getting mugged and attacked by dogs, to bring you your food.

And to address the most pathetic excuse of all:  "If they don't like it, they can go find them another job!"  

Have you ever called for a pizza delivery, only to be told that they could not deliver that night because they had no drivers?  I have.  That's because they took your advice!  

If you don't want to tip the driver, then go pick it up yourself.

If you can't afford to tip, then you can't afford to order pizza. Make it yourself.

One time, I was told that I was getting no tip because it was her child buying it with her allowance money, "sorry".  

I was also sorry, that she was not teaching her child to do the right thing.

Tipping the driver is simply the right thing to do.  There is absolutely no excuse for not tipping.

I decided to stop ordering delivery unless it's a last resort, because I object to the companies' exploitation of their drivers.  

They charge a delivery fee that does NOT go to the driver; They refuse to properly reimburse for the cost of using their own vehicles; They refuse to properly insure their drivers; And now they refuse to pay the federal minimum wage!

But when I do order delivery, I tip the driver.  

Not only is it the right thing to do, but believe me, you're better off if you do.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My first german dish

When I was a kid, I tried some German food, and said "If I lived in Germany, I'd starve to death!"

Tonight I made my first German dish-- unless bratwurst and sauerkraut counts as a German dish; I've made that before.

It was very easy, and probably "Americanized".

It consisted of sliced smoked bratwurst, canned German potato salad, and BBQ sauce.

In fact, the recipe was on the can of German potato salad.

Make sure the bratwurst is precooked.  Don't use raw bratwurst.

Just slice up the smoked bratwurst, mix it with the canned German potato salad, and BBQ sauce.

Into the oven at 350 for 45 minutes.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was franks and beans, except it was potatoes instead of beans.

It was pretty darn good!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

the new Lodge mini cocotte set

This is the new Lodge enameled mini cocotte set.

They are both the same size, even though the picture makes one look bigger than the other.

They are very small pots, at 10 ounces each.  

They're meant for single serving hot desserts or soups.

Personally, I would use them for french onion soup, if it were bigger.  

I like larger portions, myself.  These pots are just over 1 cup in volume.

They come in black or red, and in round or oval.

They're cute and I'm sure they're useful, just more expensive than I'd want to pay, at $49.95 a set.

The Lodge enameled roaster - discontinued

This was the Lodge enameled rectangular roasting pan.  It was part of the Lodge Color series.

It was discontinued due to lack of sales.

I personally would love to see Lodge make a regular cast iron rectangular pan, but I don't think it's going to happen.

In fact, they used to have one, but it was a lot bigger, about 13 quarts.

However, a 12 inch skillet has a similar volume to a 13 x 9 rectangular cake pan.

So you can still make cakes in a skillet.  You can also make lasagna in a skillet.

I never got an enameled roasting pan, because the price was higher than I wanted to pay.

I guess that's why they didn't sell.  Enameled is more expensive.

Lodge temporarily suspended the signature series and L series cookware

So I read today that Lodge has temporarily suspended production of it's signature series and L series cookware.

I didn't have any pieces from either series; They were their most expensive product lines.

They aren't permanently discontinued; Just for 2013.

The reason given, is that sales have been booming for their other products, such as the regular pre-seasoned cast iron, and the Lodge Color series. 

So, they want to focus on production of those products this year.

I never imagined the L series and signature series sold very well.  They were targeted for a different kind of people.

Cast iron is so much more than just cookware; It's a culture, a way of life.

Most people who enjoy cast iron cooking, aren't interested in  the "foo foo", elegant lifestyle... and the people who ARE into that lifestyle, aren't into rugged cast iron cooking!

But in any case, they're not discontinued forever.  Some pieces are still being sold while supplies last.  Otherwise, you'll have to wait until next year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My "wonderful enchiladas" that aren't really enchiladas

Before I started really cooking, there were a select few things I knew how to make.  

One was what I called "wonderful enchiladas".

Except there was only one problem:  They weren't enchiladas, because they were made with flour tortillas instead of corn, and with salsa instead of enchilada sauce.

I didn't care though; They were good.  

Well, over the years since I've started really cooking, I've improved on the recipe, so now they're even better!

The first recipe was very simple:  Flour tortillas, refried beans, velveeta cheese, and salsa.  Into the oven at 300.

And the first recipe was indeed good.

But you want to make THIS recipe, because it's even better:

First you make what I call a "mexican base."  

You brown some ground round, chopped onions, and minced garlic, in a cast iron skillet, until they are cooked.

Add some onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, and coriander.  You can also add chili powder if you want to make it spicy.

Then add some pinto beans*, drained, and a can of diced tomatoes, drained.

*Canned or cooked dry beans, doesn't matter.

Cook a little while longer until it's blended.

Then you take another cast iron pan, and lay out the flour tortillas.

Spoon the mixture in each tortilla.  Add some cheese; I use half white american cheese*, and half monterey jack.

*I now use white american cheese instead of velveeta; It tastes fresher and less "processed".  Some might prefer cheddar, but I don't like the way cheddar melts.

Then pour on some red enchilada sauce.  Or homemade salsa, if I have some.

Top with shredded Mexican cheese blend.

Into the oven at 300.  Or 325, if you want the tortillas more crisp.

Serve with sour cream.

They.  are.  awesome!