My first job was through a program at the Buckeye Valley High School Vocational Agriculture Department.
My teacher, Mr. Robert Fuller, was very good, and he taught us a lot about the agricultural industry, one part of which was meat production. Looking back, I am amazed at how much I learned that helped me over the years.
My first real job was as a meat cutter at the U.S. Store, 19 N. Sandusky St., in Delaware.
It was the best job I ever had! The owner, Jim Kern, was great to me. He showed me so much about the job and treated me like a son.
I have always liked the downtown area of Delaware. The owners of the businesses seemed like they could always be found at their place of business. I still think of them with a lot of fondness.
While working at the U.S. Store, I learned a lot of life lessons, while having a few funny things happen as well. As a meat
cutter, I was really good at picking out meat and telling people what was good to buy. Then one day, a young lady asked me how to cook the meat she had just purchased. What? I was only 16 years old!
The only thing I had ever cooked was a TV dinner.
One afternoon, I told Mr. Kern what had happened with this one young lady customer. That’s when he gave me my first lesson in cooking meat. He said to tell anyone who asked about show cooking to set the oven at 285 degrees and cook the boneless meat for 45 minutes per pound.
And if the bone was still in the meat, cook it at that same temperature for 1 hour per pound.
Well, the very next day, a lady put me to the test. So, I told her what Mr. Kern had just told me.
To my surprise, a few days later she came in and told me how good the roast was. OK! I had never cooked anything in my life, and now I am telling young ladies how to cook for their families.
This went on for awhile, and it seemed I was getting more and more ladies asking me how to cook.
While I was working at stocking the shelves, I started reading the ingredients of various canned goods.
I used this information to pass on to my following of young housewives. I also asked my mother how she cooked a roast. She told me that she would put the meat in a pot the night before, with some pepper and meat tenderizer, and add the potatoes and carrots. Then put it in the refrigerator to set overnight. She would put it in the 350-degree oven for about 3 hours. My mom did a good job, but sometimes she would burn the meat.
So, I figured she should reduce the heat to 285 degrees, and then cook it a little longer. That worked better.
Then I started to figure out seasonings. To my surprise, the word was getting around about by cooking ability.
Don’t forget, I had still never cooked anything!
At this time, frozen food was starting to expand with more items besides just vegetables. They had those frozen dinner roll balls of dough. If you like calzone, use 2 rolls of dough and roll them together, add some pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and spaghetti sauce. Then fold over the dough, kneed the ends together, cut some holes in the top , and put them in the oven at 350 for about 35 minutes.
When I made them, they turned out great! So, I passed this recipe on to my food-cooking followers.
Thursday nights was when I ran the meat department by myself. With all the good reports coming back to me, I cooked my very first roast, and it turned out very well. Wow!! I just took off from there. I have been cooking ever since and still coming up with new ideas.
I still miss Jim Kern. He was the best person I ever worked for. He helped train me. All in all, he turned me into a very good business man.
Loren Pool is a retired Delaware County deputy sheriff.