October 30, 2020 · 3:19 pm
Let’s think about the stuff we trim off and often toss this Foodie Friday. You know what I mean – the ends of carrots and celery and other veggies you cut away. Often I’ll trim off some excess fat from a roast or a chicken before I cook it. If you’ve ever watched your local butcher in action, he or she trims off quite a bit from the primal cuts as they’re prepping them for sale as smaller packages.
One thing you’ll learn if you speak with older cooks, especially those who lived through hard times, is that you throw nothing away. Trimmings can be used for stock. What do you think goes into commercial sausages or hot dogs? Trimmings! Heck, even the availability of the much-in-demand McRib sandwich is partially based on the availability of pork trimmings which are used to make the pork patties (you didn’t honestly think those were deboned ribs, did you?).
One product I eat from time to time is marinated chicken thighs. Well, at least they look like boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I think they’re really chicken trimmings held together by meat glue of some sort. They’re tasty and inexpensive and a good use by a food processor of trimmings. You can call it frankenmeat; I call it delicious.
You eat more trimmings than you probably have thought about. The surimi in your California Roll is fish trimmings. Ever had a chicken nugget? The point isn’t to gross you out. I want you to remember that trimmings have a valuable role to play in the food world. It turns out they do in the business world as well.
You might have been in a business situation where someone decides to “trim the fat.” I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve worked in organizations where, over time, there was bloat. Situations and markets change but organizations often lag behind, especially when trimming is going to involve cutting people or budgets or both. We’re also in a time where automation and virtualization have dramatically changed things. This issue isn’t whether to trim. The question is what to do with the trimmings?
I’m a fan of making stock out of them. No, I don’t mean to boil the people. Instead, set them up as outside consultants. Free them to get other work while allowing them to support you with the knowledge they’ve accumulated while working for you. If a stock is the essence of something, using former employees is too, especially when they’re improved by working for others and bringing that knowledge to bear for you.
Maybe trim back offices. Not people, just the people you house every day. As we’ve all found out over the last six months, working remotely can be every bit as productive as working in an office and the organization’s expenses are reduced when it gives up the office space.
Trim technology. Does anyone have their own servers anymore? I used to be a tech executive and the pace that tech moves these days makes it impossible for any fairly large organization to keep up. I’m a fan of working with outsourced organizations that can focus on doing on tech and keeping the mothership – their clients – current and on track.
Trimming is a necessary part of food preparation. It is in business too. In either case, the trimming can and should be put to good use.
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October 14, 2020 · 3:48 pm
We lost power last night. There is a curve in the road near our neighborhood that apparently is difficult to negotiate although I’ve never found it to be so. At the apex of the curve, there is a utility pole that the folks who can’t manage to keep their rubber on the road hit with some regularity. That, in turn, kills power to several neighborhoods, mine being among them.
The real darkness and quiet (no ambient light, no fan) woke me up. After spending a minute worrying that the power would be out long enough to defrost all the contents of the freezer, I heard the unmistakable chirp of a smoke alarm. Not the shriek of a problem, but the chirp of an alarm whose battery had died. Our system is hard-wired into the house’s electrical system so the battery’s life is rarely an issue. It was last night.
I tried to ignore it. It wasn’t the unit in my room but the one about as far from me as could be. The chirp that came each minute disturbed the dogs, who are terrified by the alarms. You’ve never seen three “fearless” beasts shake like Jello when a little smoke from the oven sets off the system (all the alarms go off when one goes off). Still, I tried to go back to sleep despite the chirping from the alarm and the whining from the dogs. I figured if I ignored the problem, the power would come back on shortly and all would be well.
Eventually, I was right. The power did come back on. Not before I got out of bed and found that one alarm was glowing red (they normally glow green) and reset it which didn’t solve the problem. Not before I got out of bed a second time and found a step stool to reset the chirping alarm in the hope that the chirping would cease. Not before I removed the battery from the singing siren despite the fact that I didn’t have a fresh battery to put in. But several hours later, the power came back on.
Did that solve the problem? Nope. The alarm kept on letting me know that the battery I’d reinserted was no good. It wasn’t until I remembered that one of my tools had a 9-volt battery I could swap in that the chirping ended. In other words, it wasn’t until I addressed the problem head-on and with a solution I know was required but was reluctant or unable to provide.
It was a good reminder. We often ignore potential problems until they happen. We’ve lived in this house for 18 months but haven’t changed the smoke alarm batteries since the system doesn’t run on batteries. We often attempt to minimize the problems (but the power DIDN’T come right back on). A small problem can lead to bigger problems. No battery leads to frightened dogs which leads to no sleep. We try to force solutions that we know won’t work but are easier for us instead of doing what we know is required.
Take the time to do routine maintenance. Look for potential problems and anticipate the solutions. Don’t wait for the alarm to chirp about anything in your business. Make sense?
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October 9, 2020 · 4:44 pm
This Foodie Friday, let us contemplate the differences between mayonnaise and aioli. I’d argue for most people, there isn’t a difference. I mean, they’re both creamy condiments, right? It seems that any flavored mayo is presented as aioli and true aioli has morphed into something more like mayo with the addition of egg yolks or lemon juice.
There is a difference, of course. Mayo is an emulsification of egg yolks and a neutral oil such as canola while aioli is emulsified garlic and olive oil. Mayo is usually spread on sandwiches or mixed in with potato or macaroni salad while aioli is a traditional dip for veggies or a sauce for shellfish.
So is olive oil-based mayo an aioli? No, because there is no garlic. Is Garlic-flavored mayo aioli? No, because there’s no olive oil. And of course, simply adding egg yolks to aioli doesn’t make it mayo.
All of that said, to the public at large (you know, your customers!), labeling something as mayo or aioli is a distinction without a difference. Maybe aioli sounds fancier but does the average person realize the difference? The terms have become interchangeable, and it raises a business point for any of us.
What we call things – products or services – does matter. Think about pre-owned vs. used, whether it’s a car or golf clubs. “Used” sounds like they’re dirty while pre-owned sounds like someone’s broken it in for you. I mean, aren’t your jeans better after you’ve worn them a few times? A pre-owned car has had the bugs worked out and fixed while a used car probably came in on a hook.
Calling a sales rep a client happiness manager doesn’t change their job but it might just change their mindset. It puts the emphasis on the correct party. These are distinctions without differences too, except even though they define the same concept, they are perceived very differently. That’s something you need to consider as you sit down and put the aioli or mayo on your burger!
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