Posted tagged ‘hamburgers’

“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”

July 26, 2016

I’m close to screaming in frustration. Today will be hot yet again. That the humidity will be less is small consolation. I have the AC off for a while, but the temperature in the house has risen three degrees already so soon enough I’ll be stuck behind closed doors and windows. I did finish one of my errands yesterday, but that still leaves one more for today.

The kitchen in the house where I lived the longest was tiny. When the oven was lit, the kitchen quickly got hot and stayed that way long after dinner was finished. My mother, during the summer, cooked on the stove top. She made stuff like pasta, hamburgers, fried dough and even hot dogs. She never grilled. Her dinner sides were sometimes potato salad or pasta salad. She never made a green salad. Dessert was always a maybe dependent on what was in the house. It could have been cookies, Oreos of course, or ice cream or a popsicle. My favorite popsicle was root beer followed by a close second, cherry. If neither was available, an orange would do just fine. 

Some people I know don’t ever eat leftovers. I don’t get that. Some food tastes better the next day. My chili is always best the day after I make it so I usually make it the day before I need it. That way any fat gets skimmed. I like leftover pasta. Add fresh garlic bread, some cheese and you have a perfect meal. 

Winter has comfort food. It keeps us warm and brings back memories. Summer has hot dogs and hamburgers best cooked on a grill. You have to toast the buns. 

My mother used to make piccalilli every fall when there were green tomatoes. She made New England style piccalilli with those green tomatoes, red peppers, onions, brown sugar, cider vinegar and some spices like mustard powder and a few others I don’t remember. She’d give us all a couple of jars. I’d use it sparingly so it would last longer. I swear a hot dog with my mother’s piccalilli was perfection in a bun. 

“Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.”

July 23, 2016

The doors and windows are open just to change the air. It is already hot, and the house is up to 73˚. When it hits 74˚, the air conditioner will be back on to keep the house cool. Nothing is stirring not even a leaf. It is a quiet Saturday morning. I do hear bird calls but no cars and no kids.

In a bit I have to start getting ready for movie night. I have to bring up the projector, the table and the screen. They are in the cellar but will be stored under the dining room table for the season. Already, on the counter, are some ingredients I need for dinner. I’m using my lazy Susan for the condiments. I’ll cook the peppers and onions ahead of time then reheat them for dinner. There are three different kinds of sausages. There’s also cole slaw as a side. I do have to go out for a single errand. I need blue curacao for tonight’s signature drink. It’s a new one. I was drawn by the glasses rimmed in coconut.

The barbecues we had as kids were always hot dogs and hamburgers or cheeseburgers. There was always a bowl of potato chips. My father, like every other man in the neighborhood, was the cook. He always had a charcoal grill. He always used the fluid to start the coals. We used to hear the whoosh of the fire from the lit fuel. We also sometimes heard my dad putting out the flame on his shoes or the cuffs of his pants. Mishaps aside, my dad always cooked the food perfectly. When we were older, the menu took a decided turn. The meat changed. My mother bought chicken, sausages, steak tips, ribs or pork. The potato chips disappeared and were replaced by my mother’s potato salad. My father still cooked, but he used a hibachi because his grill had bitten the dust, had rotted away, but it didn’t matter. He still cooked dinner to perfection.

“There is no real need for decorations when throwing a barbecue party – let the summer garden, in all its vibrant and luscious splendour, speak for itself. “

June 5, 2015

This morning is warmer than yesterday morning but still in the 50’s. We have sun and blue skies and a bit of a breeze. It’s a pretty morning. Lots for me to do today including laundry, sweeping the deck, doing some errands and painting a part of the fence.

Last night my friends came for dinner. Other than the mixed grill, everything I served was new to me. That’s taking a chance, but usually my dishes are successes so I head confidently into the unknown. Every dish from appetizers to dessert drew compliments. I was asked to share two recipes, both simple to make, and I was pleased to oblige.

Last night I used the grill for the first time this summer. There should have been fireworks and majorettes and weather warm enough for dining al fresco, but that will come soon enough.

The first barbecues I remember were hot dogs and hamburgers on a small charcoal grill. My father always did the grilling. It is a strange phenomenon that men who never touch a stove do all the outside cooking. I think it harkens back to cavemen hauling home a piece of meat to be cooked over the fire. Tending the fire was men’s work which translated over time into cooking on a grill. My father cooked the meat perfectly no matter what it was. The menu changed as I got older, and my father cooked sausages of all sorts, steak tips, pork tenderloin, chicken and one of my personal favorites, ribs. My mother made all the side dishes: potato salad was the family favorite.

My father always cooked with charcoal, but his was the light a match and toss it on the briquets type which smelled a little like chemicals when it was first lit. He waited and watched and knew exactly when to start the cooking by reading the coals. He kept a spray bottle near him in case of flares ups. He’d sit out there, have a drink or two and cook, usually by himself. His attention was all for the food, not conversation.

He’d pile the meat on a serving platter, come inside and announce dinner was served. We were ready. The salads were made, the table set, and we were hungry for that food we had smelled cooking through the opened windows. It was always kudos for the chef.

“A hamburger by any other name costs twice as much.”

September 30, 2010

Yesterday was summer, hot and humid summer. It was a back to the deck day which started with morning coffee and papers and ended with me sitting in the dark enjoying the night air and listening to all of its sounds. Today is a bit cooler and far breezier but still warm enough for lazing on the deck. The paper said cold Canadian air is on its way. The nights will drop to 40°, perfect sleeping weather.

I took a ride yesterday. First I went to the garden center and bought bulbs. I bought hyacinths, dafs, crocus, though I am tempted to call them croci, and a few tulips then I headed to the shore road. As I drove over the bridges, the air was clear on each side of me, but further out, fog sat over the water. It was beautiful.

Every day my mailbox is bulging with catalogs. Some of them go into the discard pile without a glance. Others get a look through, but if I find nothing interesting, they too are discarded. The ones I save have dog-eared pages where there is something I might just order. Yesterday, one item took me aback. It was a plastic form for making hot dog shaped hamburgers. It’s just wrong. Hamburgers are round.

I know ground beef can take many shapes. If it’s square, it’s meatloaf. If it’s squat and round and you add gravy, it’s Salisbury steak. If it’s in a small ball shape, you’ve got meatballs. If you dress it up a bit and add noodles, you’ve got ground beef Stroganoff.

Ground beef is versatile, but the one thing it can never be is a hot dog. We’re talking apples to oranges, (though Christer might say äpplen och päron). Some things are just sacrosanct and never to be messed with. Hamburgers are one of them.