Posted tagged ‘Hamburger’

“My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.”

October 23, 2017

My back is a bit better. I can walk without holding on to anything. Yesterday was a sit on the couch day, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, the back aside. I have to go out today so I hope for the best.

I think I’ve used every adjective perfect to describe our weather of late. Think warm, sunny, deep blue sky and nearly breezeless. My house is again cooler than outside. In here it is sweatshirt weather. Outside is short sleeve weather.

My mother used to make fried dough for supper on Fridays, the no meat day. We’d all hang around the kitchen counter making sure we got our dough turn. My mother’s frying pan held three small or two big pieces of fried dough. She used to buy the dough at the supermarket. I remember it came in a blue and white box. We slathered butter and sprinkle salt on it. Fried dough was one of our favorite suppers.

We ate a lot of hamburger growing up, but my mother was a whiz at cooking hamburger so many different ways we never got tired of eating it. I still love meatloaf and American chop suey. She made spaghetti sauce with ground beef, another fake oriental dish of hamburger with water chestnuts and crispy chow mein on top,. The fall back was always  burgers. I love cheeseburgers.

My food in Ghana didn’t really vary a whole lot. We were lucky to live in the only area of the country which bred beef so we could always buy meat in the market. There was even a meat factory where we could buy some sort of tubular meat masquerading as a hot dog. The meat from the market was always tough. Only old cows were slaughtered. The meat was cooked in a broth like sauce with tomatoes and onions which tenderized the meat. I think we had that most nights though we also ate chicken, free range chickens because the chickens wandered all over the place all day but did came home to roost at night. We mostly ate mashed yams  but also had rice on occasion. Breaking teeth was a PC volunteer problem as the rice always had a few rocks. You needed to spend time cleaning it, but it was easier not to. When volunteers got together, food was always a topic of conversation.

Living alone means I don’t always make dinner. I improvise with whatever is in the fridge. I’m content with cheese and crackers or hummus and pita bread. I’m even happy with cereal. I do have meat in the freezer, heavy on the chicken, but I usually forget to take it out. Last night, though, I took out some Chinese sausage to defrost and I have some rice I can cook. That’s like a gourmet meal for me.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

August 15, 2016

My doors and windows are open. I have rejoined the world if only for a while. There is a breeze coming from the north, the window behind me, keeping the den cool, and the sun is still working its way around so it’s also dark. The weather report is for heat but less humidity so I’m taking advantage and giving the house some fresh air before the onslaught of the heat.

My life of late has been boring. Staying inside the house doesn’t make for adventure, for stories. I do have to go to the dump, but that’s not a plot line for a good story. It’s just trash.

My neighborhood is quiet. I have no idea where the kids are. There are 9 of them on this street. I’m thinking it’s difficult to hide them all. Perhaps their parents are using gags and tricking the kids into thinking it’s a game. When you’re little you believe everything your parents tell you. That’s why I didn’t eat Chinese food until I was around ten or eleven.

I’ve tried salmon a couple of times but I still don’t like it. It’s the only fish I haven’t liked. No respectable fish is pink and why don’t you pronounce the l?

I make a great chili. It is a recipe from my brother-in-law. In his recipe, Rod has beans listed. For my copy, he also has a footnote: if making chili for me, don’t add the beans. I have never made chili with beans. My defense is that real chili has no beans.

I eat a lot of chicken. It’s not all that expensive and chicken recipes number in the millions. I like chicken thighs and think they are the tastiest part of the chicken.When I go out for a casual dinner, I usually order a cheeseburger.

When I go out for a casual dinner, I usually order a cheeseburger with onion rings on the side, but one pub where I eat doesn’t make onion rings at night, only during lunch, so I order French fries. I don’t eat my fries with ketchup; instead, I dip them in mayonnaise. I seldom use salt, but I do salt my fries. They seem to taste better that way.

My mother told us stories about World War II and rationing. She said they seldom got butter so they used oleo instead. It was white but it came with packets of yellow to make it butter-like. When I was a kid, my mother never bought oleo. Having it in the war was enough for her; instead, she always bought butter. My sisters and I still do.

I remember a lunch at a friend’s house.  She made sandwiches with salmon and dessert with peaches. I ate both of them out of courtesy. It rates as the worse lunch in my memory drawers.

I still love making hamburgers on the grill. I guess whenever I eat them childhood memories come up for me.”

May 12, 2015

Last night was hot and muggy. Poor Gracie was panting so I turned the AC on in my bedroom. It was a delight feeling the chill, and we both slept deeply. Today is sunny but cool and tonight will be back to the 40’s. It rained sometime earlier this morning. I know only because the street was still wet when I woke up.

My mother cooked hamburger more than any other kind of meat. It was the cheapest and the most versatile. My favorite was always her meatloaf. From meal to meal it never really tasted the same. I know it had eggs and breadcrumbs but I have no idea what else she threw in for flavor. In those days herbs came from a bottle. My mother always had onion and garlic powder on hand as well as oregano and parsley. Sometimes her meatloaf had ketchup spread across the top with bacon strips covering the ketchup. We always wanted a piece with the crusty bacon. Sometimes she frosted the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and then would brown the tips in the oven. Every now and then we’d get a round meatloaf hand-formed and placed in a pie pan to cook.

We always thought ourselves quite the gourmands when my mother cooked her Chinese food. We had a chop suey sort of dish with hamburger, bean sprouts and water chestnuts. My mother always put crunchy chow mein noodles on the top. Then there was American chop suey, a name which still perplexes me today. It has nothing to do with chop suey; instead, it’s elbow macaroni, hamburger, tomato sauce and onions and peppers. My mother would sprinkle parmesan cheese from the green container on top.

Hamburgers were a summer staple grilled to perfection by my dad. I always wanted a cheeseburger, and my father would open the cellophane covering each piece of yellow cheese and crown the meat with the cheese. He’d put the top on the grill so the cheese would melt. My mother usually made potato salad. It didn’t matter how often we had hamburgers and hot dogs in the summer. I would have eaten them every night without complaint.

I think my mother was a bit of a magician in the kitchen. We never thought of how often we ate hamburger. All of those dishes tasted different to us and a couple were even exotic.

“He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food”

August 4, 2014

The sun is back after a three-day hiatus. I was on the deck earlier to fill the feeders and noticed how wet all the wood still is. I hope the sun stays warm enough to dry everything. Usually this time of year the fields near the marshes have turned brown, but this year has been so cool even those grasses are still green. August is generally the hottest month but not yet.

Yesterday Peapod came so the larder is full again and that got me to thinking about food, Glorious Food. I eat a lot of different foods that I never even knew existed until I was an adult. My mother fed us what we’d eat and seldom experimented with our taste buds. We were kids and kids didn’t taste. Kids looked. I know what our reactions to hummus and guacamole would have been. They look like baby food, ejected baby food, and we would have made disgusting noises and pushed the dishes aside. They happen to be two of my favorites now. We only ate white bread. I never buy it now. I buy grainy breads, naan or pita breads. We would have rejected naan and pita. They’re round. Bread wasn’t round. It was sliced. Vegetables were unknown territory aside from potatoes, carrots and green beans. We liked meat. Hamburger was common in so many different dishes. We never cared. They all looked and tasted good. If you had told me I’d eat goat, eel and bushmeat when I was older, I would have been horrified. Even as a teenager I never expanded my palate. There was little opportunity for that. Chinese was the exotic food in town. The start of my food journey was Ghana.

It was at my live-in where we each stayed with a Ghanaian family as part of our training that I became an adventurous eater out of necessity and cultural sensitivity. On the porch outside my room was a table and on the first night dinner was put on that table. It was some sort of meat, a soup and something gelatinous. No one was there to explain what I was eating. I figured I had to use my hand as there were no utensils so I broke off a gelatinous piece, dipped it in the soup and cautiously put it in my mouth. No chewing was necessary. It slid right down my throat. The meat tasted okay but it was fatty and bony. The soup was pepper hot but not too pepper hot. I ate most of the meal because I didn’t want to offend my host family.

We got comfortable with each other and family members started to sit and eat with me sharing the common soup bowl. I found out the gelatinous blob was T-Zed, the northern Ghanaian staple food, and the meat was goat. I wasn’t bothered at all by the goat or the blob. By then I had spent three or more weeks in Ghana and I just ate what was put in front of me. I did have favorites and I did have foods I didn’t like, never liked the whole time I was there, but I tried everything. My palate expanded exponentially. I even liked grasscutter aka bushmeat and scientifically known as the greater cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus). It is considered a delicacy. I ate it with bread.

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

May 3, 2014

Yesterday it was a joy to be out and about doing errands. I think I smiled the whole time. The day was brilliant with a bright sun and a temperature in the high 60’s. Poor Gracie had to be left home as I had too many long stop errands and didn’t want her stuck in the car in the heat. This time of year she comes when I go to the dump or take a ride. She was out in the yard most of the afternoon and spent part of it stretched on the deck enjoying the sun.

For breakfast when I was a kid, I had cocoa, oatmeal or eggs and toast during the winter, and in the summer I had cereal or toast with juice or milk. For lunch it was mostly a bologna sandwich. I was never good at slicing the bologna so my sandwich was always misshapen. Some of the bologna pieces had thick edges on one side and thin on the other. I added hot peppers from a jar and yellow mustard. Dinner was my mother’s choice. She knew what we’d tolerate and served it. Mashed potatoes were almost always part of the meal, and there was at least one vegetable. Hamburger in a variety of dishes was the most common meat. I didn’t realize why until I was older. Hamburger was inexpensive. My mother was creative. She made terrific meatloaves. She also cooked American chop suey without the onions and a Chinese dish with bean sprouts, water chestnuts, hamburger and crispy chow mein sticks on the top. Salisbury steak in gravy was another meal. Just plain hamburgers were mostly summer fare with hotdogs cooked on the grill. Sunday was the big dinner and we never had hamburger. Mostly it was a baked chicken or now and then roast beef. The last Sunday dinner I had before I went into the Peace Corps was roast beef, mashed potatoes and peas.

In Ghana I was still a creature of habit when it came to food. I had two eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast, fruit for lunch and beef and yam for dinner. I’d also have chicken now and then. Sunday was food from a chop bar, a hole in the wall eatery at the lorry park. Mostly it was fufu and soup. After the Christmas package came, Sunday was eat something from home day. Macaroni and cheese was a dish fit for the Gods.

I hadn’t good at making meals. I’m far too lazy. I’d have brie and crackers for dinner or eggs and toast. Lately, though, I’ve been using meat from the freezer and have had real meals: chicken thighs, mashed potatoes and a vegetable. Last night it was my old stand-by, peas, and a baked potato for variety. Dinner was delicious, and I felt accomplished.

“A clever cook can make good meat of a whetstone.”

September 30, 2012

The rain continues. It stopped yesterday for most of the day, but the sky never cleared and the dampness never went away. I don’t know when the rain started up again last night, but it was steady when I woke up. I could hear it falling on the roof. I thought my bed perfectly cozy, but I reluctantly got up, dragged myself downstairs, made coffee and went outside to get the papers.

Yesterday I went to pick up a few things at the store, and that was my singular accomplishment for the entire day. I didn’t even make my bed. The animals got fed, and I had hummus for lunch and an egg sandwich for dinner so none of us starved.

When I was growing up, Sunday dinner was always the highlight of the week as it was the one meal when roast beef might just be the main course. The rest of the week was chicken or hamburger and the hot dogs I mentioned yesterday. My mother was a whiz at hamburger. She cooked it so many different ways. Her American chop suey was a favorite as was her hamburger with bean sprouts and soy sauce served over chow mein noodles. I don’t think that dish has a name. We always thought it was Chinese food. My mother made the best meat loaf, and we loved it frosted with mashed potatoes which were then browned in the oven. Other times she’d put ketchup and then bacon on the top. She had to make sure there was enough bacon for all of us or a fight would ensue, one of yelling not punching. We ate a lot of hamburger, a cheap way to feed 4 kids, but we never realized how often. All the meals seemed different and they were our favorites.

No meal, according to my father, was complete without potatoes, usually mashed potatoes, though once in a while my mother would bake them, but because we didn’t like the skins, we only dug a little so most times we left a lot of potato behind. My favorite was the mashed potatoes with peas as the vegetable. I tolerated wax and yellow beans, French green beans and carrots.

When I was leaving for Peace Corps training, my mother asked me what I’d like for our last meal together for a long while. I asked for roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes and peas, a Sunday dinner, a family dinner.

Hamburger Hop: Johnny Hicks

July 3, 2011