When I read older cookbooks about various cuisines, the author will say that the way to eat the best food is in someone’s home, where the really good food is cooked, not a restaurant. Now, restaurants are celebrated in many cookbooks.
If I never ate in a restaurant again, that would be fine with me. I get much healthier food at home, and it tastes much better.
This is a somewhat shocking statement in a nation where most adults do not know how to cook, and where more people are eating out than ever before. A nation where cookery is treated as a mystery understood only by celebrity chefs, and where the convenience of eating out and buying heat and serve meals has become a way of life.
It was not always that way.
It used to be that most families had at least one good cook, sometimes several, and people preferred to eat the good real food they had at home. Restaurants were for special occasions, and their food had to be really good or no one would go there. Unfortunately, that is no longer true.
The best real food is cooked at home.
The Trouble with Restaurants
I have a number of problems with most of today’s restaurants.
First: Food quality, or rather the lack of it. Most restaurants use cheap, factory ingredients. Many chain restaurants and fast food places do no cooking other than heating prepackaged food in a microwave. The food is prepared in a central kitchen, frozen, and then shipped to the various locations where it is actually served. When cooking actually occurs in a restaurant, the worst factory oils such as soy and canola are commonly used. GMOs, CAFO meat, and factory produce are the standard, because they are much cheaper than real food. In the rare place where quality ingredients are actually used, the prices are extremely high, and the actual quality is often not as good as advertised.
Second: Many people get sick after eating at restaurants, ranging from feeling stuffed and bloated to something serious. While poor quality food is a factor, often a lack of basic sanitation is the real culprit. If you want to see how bad it can get, just watch a couple of episodes of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Third: Many restaurants, especially those who claim to have higher quality food, serve tiny portions of the choice ingredients, combined with larger portions of something cheap. The current practice of “plating,” where food is arranged to be “artistic,” is usually just an ingenious way to serve less food to the customers, saving costs. Quite frankly, I see nothing attractive about spots and swirls of sauce, and vast expanses of emptiness on a plate.
Fourth: In most cases, wherever you go, the food is just not that tasty. Usually it is mediocre at best.
The emphasis on profit and speed is not consistent with good meals. And most restaurants just cost too much, always more than you would think, once you add in the tax, tips, and drinks.
Now, there are exceptions, restaurants that serve clean quality food, skillfully prepared, with decent portions. Most of these exceptions are extremely expensive, but there are a few that are reasonable.
Good luck in finding them.
Home Cooked Meals Are Best
When you learn to cook, you set yourself free. You are no longer dependent on restaurants or packaged meals, but can select grassfed meat and real food, and be certain that you and your family are eating high quality food, which our bodies so desperately need.
You can keep a clean kitchen, and know that no one who eats your food will feel stuffed or sick from your cooking.
You will also find that it is much less expensive to do your own cooking, especially if you shop wisely for quality ingredients.
And here is another secret—most cooking is easy, once you have a little experience. In fact, quality ingredients such as grassfed meat and organic produce do not require much seasoning or skill to be absolutely delicious. My cookbooks, Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue, teach how to cook absolutely delicious grassfed meat—the easy way.
Grassfed meat and real food are more expensive, and much harder to get than factory food. Why should we pay the higher cost? Why go to the considerable trouble of finding real food and quality grassfed meat?
The answer is simple, yet profound.
- Because it makes me feel so much better.
- Because it enables the natural functions of my body to function better, keeping me healthy, with every part working well, from mind to toes.
- Because it tastes so good, and makes me feel so satisfied.
- Because eating properly prepared grassfed meat and real food makes me happy and content.
In a world that sells convenience above all else, it is important to remember that easy is not always best. Quality really matters, especially when it comes to food.
Our bodies were not designed or evolved to live on pills and supplements, or on food raised with chemicals that did not even exist until they were invented in a lab. Humanity has eaten grassfed meat and real food for most of our history, and our bodies have adapted to use this wonderful fuel.
It is not just the individual nutrient that matters, it is the combination of nutrients, many of which have yet to be discovered. When we eat a balanced traditional diet of real food and grassfed meat, we need not worry about whether we are getting good nutrition that our bodies can easily absorb and use—because we are.
Factory foods raised with chemicals, GMOs, foods that have been irradiated, foods with chemical additives, are all new to humanity, and are different from the foods that have nourished us since the beginning.
How do we know if we are well nourished? We feel good, clear, with lots of energy. We experience a great deal of satisfaction and contentment. There is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction that comes after eating a good meal of real food, that can never come from eating factory food.
The chemicals they add to factory food can make it taste good, and can make us crave it, but it does not satisfy. In fact, one of the telltale signs of factory food is that you can eat a great deal of it and never be satisfied, always craving more. That is why people will eat whole quarts of factory ice cream, drink a gallon or more of factory soft drinks in a day, eat huge quantities of candy, and still be hungry.
With real food and grassfed meat, you eat, and your body knows when you have had enough. Then the desire to eat ends, and you enjoy the wonderful satisfaction that only real food can bring.
Real food and grassfed meat, properly cooked with traditional ingredients and methods, tastes so good it is hard to describe. The smell and taste of a grassfed beef roast cooked over smoldering charcoal is good beyond belief, as are countless other traditional dishes.
And it is not hard to cook this kind of food to the point where it is wonderful. It is not complicated. If you have great ingredients, you can enjoy wonderful, tender grassfed meat, and utterly delicious real food, with just a few ingredients and simple cooking methods.
Two days ago, we had a grassfed beef roast cooked in front of a hardwood charcoal fire, seasoned with no more than three ingredients. Cooking it was simplicity itself, being just a matter of a very simple marinade, timing, and adjusting the temperature of the fire by adjusting the vents once. Yet this beef was so good, so delicious, absolutely mouth-watering as it came off the grill with that heavenly aroma that only barbecued meat can have.
Yesterday, we had a pastured pork roast, marinated with a traditional combination of four ingredients, then roasted in the oven with one change of temperature. We sliced it thin, and enjoyed the incredible flavor and tenderness of the meat, enhanced by the traditional spicing. This meat was so good it was hard to imagine anything better, and most of the dinner conversation involved praising the goodness of the pork.
Yet, when we had enough, in both of those meals, the desire to eat ended, and we experienced the wonderful sensation of satisfaction.
Barbecue season began for me yesterday. I opened Tender Grassfed Barbecue to the recipe for Roast Pork with Mediterranean Myrtle, in the Style of Sardinia. I marinated a pastured pork loin with traditional ingredients. I took the barbecue out of the garage, set it up, arranged the coals, lit the fire. I watched the first coals catch, and spread the fire to the others. I watched the flames as the hardwood charcoal burned down, filling the air with the fragrance of wood smoke.
When the coals were ready, I placed the pork loin in front of the fire, added some Mediterranean myrtle leaves to the coals, put the cover on, and inhaled the fragrant smell, feeling great satisfaction.
I adjusted the vents to control the temperature, added coals when called for, and enjoyed my mastery of the fire. The smell of the burning coals, fragrant leaves, and roasting meat made me so hungry.
I was enjoying one of humankind’s oldest experiences, cooking real meat in front of a real fire.
It got even better when the meat was finally ready, and I cut thin slices of fragrant pork, and tasted the flavors of the meat, the herbs, and the wood. So good. So satisfying. So old, yet so new. And utterly delicious.
The Goodness of Barbecue
Barbecuing meat has been associated with health risks, based on various studies. Yet our ancestors, and the peoples studied by Dr. Weston A. Price, cooked most of their meat in front of a fire, without developing the diseases indicated by the studies.
A review of the studies on the subject led me to realize something important. The risk factors were always associated with cooking the meat over direct high heat. While most Americans associate barbecue with cooking directly over a hot fire, whether charcoal or gas, our ancestors rarely did this.
By cooking their meat in front of, but never directly over, the fire, they avoided scorching their meat, and avoided the risk factors identified by various studies.
Concern has also been expressed about some chemicals that are released from burning wood, such as creosote. Our ancestors had this one covered as well, as they invariably burned their wood down to coals before placing the meat in front of it. By the time the wood burned down to coals, the chemicals had burned off. Our ancestors often cooked with natural charcoal, which was and is made by partly burning wood. This process also burns off the toxic chemicals.
It is just about certain that most of our ancestors cooked their meat in front of the fire, and that this is the oldest human way of cooking meat. Our bodies have no doubt adapted to the combination of meat cooked with wood coals. I cook grassfed meat in many delicious ways, and enjoy all of them, but real barbecue has always been my favorite. Grassfed meat is humankind’s oldest food, and wood coal fires are humankind’s oldest way to cook it. The meat and the method go together in delicious perfection.
The Taste of Barbecue
Cooking with fire gives grassfed meat a flavor, texture, and tenderness that cannot be matched in any other way. I usually cook with charcoal, as it is much easier than burning wood logs down coals, and is the oldest cooking fuel after wood itself. I only use lump charcoal, or briquettes made from 100 percent hardwood charcoal with a starch binder. This helps recreate the traditional flavors, and makes for a fire that is very easy to control.
I barbecue grassfed beef, grassfed lamb, grassfed bison, pastured pork, and sometimes chicken or even wild fish. No matter what I make, I love it.
Barbecuing can be very difficult, or very easy. I prefer easy, and have perfected a simple method to cook meat in front of the fire, not over, control the temperature, and produce absolutely delicious barbecue meats. This method is detailed in Tender Grassfed Barbecue, along with more than a hundred delicious traditional recipes for many kinds of barbecued meats. I am getting hungry now.
Our ancestors did not reach for drugs or doctors when they had an injury. Instead, they tried to get the food that would enable their bodies to repair themselves.
Only the most serious injuries would require a doctor, and many traditional doctors would prescribe a particular food. The most famous and successful of ancient doctors, Hippocrates of Cos, said:
“Let thy food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be thy food.”
This seems primitive, in our modern age, which celebrates the wonders of medical science. Yet many of us have noticed that medical science is not always the best choice, due to its using drastic methods such as drugs, surgery, and radiation for even minor ailments. And most drugs only manage to relieve symptoms, while interfering with the natural processes of our body.
I had a minor but annoying injury a few weeks ago. I had a choice, and I chose food. And it healed me.
While fooling around, I got a split lip. It was not that bad, but it would not fully heal. There remained a split in the lip. If the lip got dry, especially at night, it would get quite painful. At other times, it was annoying. After two months, there was no change.
I thought of going to a doctor, but the only thing they could do was give me stitches, or a drug. Having a needle going in and out of my lip had no appeal. Drugs scare the heck out of me, since they interfere with the natural functions or our bodies, and I would consider one only under serious circumstances.
I began to look for natural remedies for a split lip that will not fully heal, and I found none.
I saw some full-fat Greek yogurt in a store, made by my favorite dairy. This dairy has organic milk products, is extremely careful to make sure that its cows get no GMOs in their feed, pasteurizes their milk at the lowest temperature the law allows, does not vaccinate or drug their milk cows, and gives these cows wonderful treatment. In other words, it was my kind of dairy, and I have enjoyed their products for years.
I had never had this kind of yogurt before. It was tangy, very thick and rich with good animal fat. Without understanding why, I placed some of this yogurt against the split in my lip, and held it there. It felt cooling and wonderful. Within seconds, the irritating sensation in the split went away. I did this for a few days, several times a day. I noticed that the split was smaller after the first day. After about three days, the split was gone, and the lip was healed. After several weeks, it has remained healed.
I should say that I had never heard of this before. I think that the good fat and probiotics in this very special yogurt caused the healing, but I cannot prove it. And I do not know why I did it.
Chris Kerston, of Chaffin Family Orchards, a chemical-free organic farm and ranch I admire, told me how his grassfed cattle would treat themselves by eating certain plants, which fixed them up. The cattle would select the plants themselves.
I am just guessing, based on this experience, but I think our bodies have a wisdom and knowing that can often help us. I listened to my instincts when I held the yogurt against my split lip, and it healed.
This story is anecdotal, unsupported by studies, is not a recommendation, is no substitute for the services of a medical professional, has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA, and is intended solely as a sharing of my experience.