Today is my Dad’s birthday.
I know exactly what you’re thinking. Thank goodness he wasn’t born one day later, because having a birthday on February 29th opens up a whole can of leap year birthday related worms. Trust me-I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of nearly every leap day birthday scenario under the sun. It’s what I do.
We celebrated my Dad’s birthday on Saturday night, and I cooked dinner. Despite the fact that it was suggested from a source that shall remain nameless that perhaps I should wait until after the actual day of my dad’s birthday to ensure that my food preparation doesn’t prohibit him from seeing another year, the dinner was a delicious success and we all lived to tell about it. Speaking of food, we were at Sam’s Club yesterday and my dad spotted a “yard-o-beef” for the bargain price of $7.98. Even though nothing says happy birthday quite like three pounds of summer sausage, he made the decision to leave the poor, salty yard-o-beef on the shelf.
Given the opportunity I would have made the same choice because I have always been somewhat skeptical of room temperature meat. I prefer any meat I eat to go right from roaming in the pasture/chicken coop straight to the freezer. Part of this may have to do with the training I received prior to beginning my career in food services in college. And by “my career in food services” I mean I stood in the middle of the sandwich assembly line at the commons sporting a very flattering baseball cap and matching apron and said “cheese?” no less than 427 times per shift.
However, the requirements for the coveted “cheese” position at the commons consisted of detailed knowledge of what we in the biz call “critical temperatures.” And I don’t care how much salt the particular meat product is soaked in, I know from my extensive, rigorous training at the commons that nothing good happens in the danger zone between 41 and 165 degrees, or what I like to call bacteria central. In fact, I kept a portable thermometer in my handy apron pocket at all times during my career at the dining hall to ensure that all food stayed out of the danger zone. I was the most popular girl in the sandwich assembly line.
Despite the fact that my dad does enjoy room temperature summer sausage, he also recognizes the value of critical temperatures, as evidenced by the fact that when I announced dinner was ready the other night he encouraged me to take out our trusty cooking thermometer and make sure the temperature of our dinner was not in the danger zone, or on the highway to it. Coincidentally, my dad worked at the same exact dining commons that I did when he was in college, so I am choosing to view his suggestion to double check the temp of my dinner as a result of his rigorous college dining commons training, and not as a commentary on my cooking skillz.
Although, I wouldn’t blame him for the latter.
Happy Birthday Dad!