The Envelope Please…

Well I am just speechless, and honored. I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! And I was just thinking the other day just how versatile I am.

My most gracious appreciation goes to Panz over at http://ice-cream-magazine.com/¬†First I must say her site is just wonderful! If you haven’t visited her you simply must! Her desserts are decadent.

Now what she doesn’t know is some random, yet fascinating, facts about myself. I figure since she has graciously nominated me she should know many more details! 7 to be precise.

1. I love cold Chinese food.
2. I love reality TV shows. Please don’t tell me they’re not real. Not sure I could take the disappointment.
3. My favorite movie is an oldie – The Dirty Dozen
4. I love my veggies. I would rather eat a bowl of broccoli than a bowl of ice cream.
5. I sing out loud while working out. Much to the dismay of the other patrons at the gym I am sure.
6. I speak numerous languages, in my mind.
7. I believe my husband can do anything ūüôā

So being as I am just thrilled with being nominated and awarded, it is my pleasure to nominate some others. The blogs below make me think, laugh, inspire and be in awe at times. I thank each of them for their contributions to blogging! I hope to read you all for many years to come.

versatileblogger11

http://chefjanetrorschach.com/
http://theverybesttop10.com/
http://myfrenchheaven.com
http://gourmandistan.com/
http://growinganerd.wordpress.com/
http://mikemcmurray.wordpress.com/
http://5degreesofinspiration.wordpress.com/
http://cottagegrovehouse.com/
http://stowell.wordpress.com/
http://aopinionatedman.com/
http://www.goodreads.com/blog/index
http://risashome.blogspot.com/
http://paperandsalt.org/
http://ladyofthecakes.wordpress.com/
http://hovercraftdoggy.com/

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Blackberry Part…oh heck it’s Festival Time!

The weekend of August 16th-18th marks the start of the 25th annual Sutherlin Blackberry Festival. I am so happy to experience this event. Last year we had moved up here one week after the festival. While I did not compete this year, just you wait till next year!

This is a wonderful event. There are numerous booths where you can browse and shop for all sorts of fun things. But before we can get started on that, let’s bring in our flag honor guard.

Representing all Branches

Representing all Branches

I am constantly amazed at how seeing our flag fly makes me feel so proud.

Respecting the Flag

Respecting the Flag

Yep, very proud to be an American. A young lady, Alexandra,  sang the National Anthem and just nailed it. She was 11 years old. So wish I could have gotten her picture.

Come on! Let’s go to the festival.

There are booths set up all over offering food items, clothing, makeup, jewelery, hand crafted items, pet items you name it. One thing I bought that I now love are bowl pot holders for your microwave. I often times heat up soup or a bowl of oatmeal and have to reach in and grab that darn bowl that is hotter than lava hot freshly spewed from a volcano. Well now all I do is put my bowl on my holder and the put it in the micro.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.Bowl holder with a bowl.Bowl holder with a bowl.

One of the neatest things is the raffle for a car and another for a motorcycle.

2006 Harley Sportster

2006 Harley Sportster

The winner of the motorcycle was Frank Harper of Texas (long time Sutherlin Resident).

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The winner of the car was Harold Wells of Oakland.

I’m going to do the next set of pictures a bit bigger since they are in a collage form. I didn’t want to make you have to scroll though for days.

Face Painting

Face Painting

These kids were so proud of the art done on their faces. It was just a joy to take their pictures!

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

I just love the fact that the gym here in town, The Body Shop Total Fitness, gets so involved in promoting kids to get up and exercise! Well done Terry and Dianna Brock.

A ride for everyone

A ride for everyone

Yes that is a gun holster in the middle picture. Some really nice rides were on display.

Old is always better

Old is always better

There were nicer “old cars” here than I ever saw at Route 66! Just gorgeous vehicles!

Let's Eat!

Let’s Eat!

And of course there’s the food! If you were hungry and couldn’t find something to eat here I would have been shocked. Bad thing is to walk by these taking pictures realizing you forgot to eat lunch. Let’s just say I got to taste a lot of different things. Folks are pretty friendly around here.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

For the cooking contest which included (but not limited to) – cookies, pies, cobblers, candies, jams/jellies, sauces and savory dishes. Rhonda Seekins of Sutherlin who took home 5 ribbons – three 1st place and two 2nd place! Wow nice job!

There was also a chili cook off. Now the only thing that I thought was ‘different’ were the categories – Men, Women and Texas Style. I didn’t know men cook chili different than women do. I think I would have done men and women together, made a category for junior division (15 and under), kept Texas style (no beans) and had another category for say white chili’s, chili verde etc.

2 winners from each category

2 winners from each category

What a great event this is! If you are ever planning to come up to Sutherlin, do make sure to time during the festival. At night there are bands, dancing and more food. Also you can tour some the best wineries Oregon has to offer!

 

Burger Project – Get the passport!

Ok tried a new burger tonight. Let me just say – Winner Winner Chicken..er..Burger Dinner.

This was a fun burger to work on. It’s called the 3 Continent Burger because we have meats from 2 continents and the condiment is from Asia. Let’s begin. Of course we started with a pound of grass fed Oregon Beef. But to that we added 6 ounces of¬†Lingui√ßa which is a Portuguese sausage.

A wonderful sausage - Linguiça

A wonderful sausage РLinguiça

This sausage comes in typical sausage form. I buy them two to a pack and freeze them individually. So when thawed simply remove the skin and cut into 2″ pieces. Put these into your food processor and let that wonderful appliance do all the work. If you don’t have one, shred it on the larger side holes of your grater.

Mix this in with your hamburger, salt/pepper and half a grated onion. That’s it! Leave it alone. Do not be tempted by the garlic or swayed by the fresh herbs. Cover your ears, steal your urges and make the patties. I made five 4.4 ounce patties. Now I know what some of you might be thinking, why not just 4 really good and thick burgers? Well because, burgers should be thin. The ratio of bun, veggies and condiments must be balanced. Anyone who tells you they love a big thick burger is in denial. What they are really saying is – “Man I wish I had a thick steak right now, but all I got was this burger” and so they are over compensating.

Time to make the sauce while the burgers come to room temp. (Why? well because this way when they hit the grill they won’t seize up on you and become those hard hockey pucks with the big bubble arch in the middle) The sauce is our 3rd continent – Asia. This is a combination of ketchup (ok so not from Asia), sweet red chili sauce and hot chili paste with garlic. I needed something sweet, with a slight tang to go with the spice of the sausage.

Not so secret ingredients.

Not so secret ingredients.

The second flavor, which is more subtle, but I think of as a pantry staple is garlic oil. You simply must make a batch of this. It takes all of 10 minutes to make and is great for any recipe when you reach for olive oil. Instead reach for this! The small batch is 1 cup of olive oil, 6 cloves of garlic skins removed. Put the cloves in the olive oil and put on the stove over medium heat. Let this simmer till the garlic is a golden brown but don’t let it burn. You may have to turn the heat down once the olive oil comes up to temp. ¬†Then remove from the heat and let cool completely. The garlic is great on baguettes or a bagel with Prosciutto. Remove the garlic, when oil is cool, and store the oil in a container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Take a pastry brush and oil the hamburger buns and grill them while the burgers are resting for a nice toast.

Pantry Staple

Pantry Staple

Who doesn't love toasted buns?

Who doesn’t love toasted buns?

And once assembled you have a burger that makes perfect sense. The reason why the grill was invented.

3 Continents - loads of flavor!

3 Continents – loads of flavor!

3 Continent Burger

1 lb hamburger
6 oz Linguiça ground
1/2 half medium size onion shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Sauce

1/4 c ketchup
3 Tbs sweet chili sauce
1 tsp hot chili sauce with garlic

Mix all the burger ingredients together and form 5 patties. Let rest while you make the sauce.  Grill burgers over Med-Low heat for about 10-12 minutes. Pull and let rest while you grill the buns.

Assemble and get your passport ready.

Happy Anniversary!

I cannot believe it has been one full year since we left the big city and moved to the Great Northwest. So much has changed in the last year. We’ve learned so much of what it means to live in the country, and I think our lives have changed pretty drastically, but for the better not worse.

Let’s see…

1. Blackberries – harbor many critters. Always look before you pick. As you may remember it was while trimming these tenacious vines that I freaked out over a bug and broke my foot. You will often be investigated by bees and wasps as your fingers become stained while picking.
2. Foliage -Do be sure to trim blackberry vines back and other overgrown foliage because you never know what you will find. Case in point I have found the following – I have a pear tree I didn’t know I have, along with an apple and 5 cherry trees. Also found – an old VW Bug with no engine. A bumper to another car, a family of nutria, a pheasant nest, a skunk den (kept well away from that!) an old metal trash can and assorted bottles. Man that must have been one hell of a party!
3. Trash – you really must recycle everything you can. We don’t have trash pickup so we have to go to the dump. And everything must be sorted, glass – green, brown and clear. Cardboard – corrugated and non. Aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic bottles over here, and plastic containers over there. Newspapers, metal scraps, wood scrapes on the top side. Batteries in the shed and last but not least garbage. ¬†But that is a lot of stuff to haul to the dump. So come October thru May we burn everything we can, which is a lot. Below are the steps to a bon fire. Which can be a big shindig for some. People will actually ASK you to bring them your clippings so they can burn them. They stand around, drink beer, tell stories and burn stuff. Seriously it’s an event! I’m actually looking forward to hosting one. And I can’t believe I just said that haha.

Must be safe first.

Must be safe first.

Must have emergency equipment available. There is also a hose attached to the well house.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

And whoosh!

And whoosh!

You can really feel the heat from just this small of a fire.

Time for me to get to work and  bank it in.

Time for me to get to work and bank it in.

Time to feed the second pile to the first pile and bank it. ¬†Now it may seem this takes a while, but if you start piling all the stuff up over a period of time it dries up. So these piles go up like balsa wood. Takes about 3 minutes to burn it all down and if you’re not careful you might be painting your eyebrows on for a week or so. But once banked the bigger pieces on the bottom will smolder for 24 hours or more.

4. Rain. It’s going to rain in Oregon. Not near as much as I thought it would, but much more than down in California. This brings you to proper clothing and an understanding that water will get into things you don’t want it to and thus you have to deal with it. Proper rain attire in Oregon, a light jacket or vest, boots and hat (heavier coat if it’s a cold winter day). If you pull out an umbrella you’re not from around here. There will be large puddles so make sure you boots cover your ankles.

If there is a space for a molecule rain will get in, like a car in places you never thought of.

Innards removed

Innards removed

This is what happens when you hear a sloshing noise as you’re driving. And for a week you’re trying to figure out what is wrong. You go out one day and come home to take your groceries out of the trunk to find them soaked. Seems water had been leaking into a small hole under hood near the windshield wipers. This small stream (not drip) of water has been slowly filling every crevice under the under the carpet panel. When it got to full it spilled over into the trunk, but again under the carpet. It wasn’t until it reached maximum capacity that it started to soak the carpet. We are talking gallons of water. So much so that –

Starting to jack it up on its side

Starting to jack it up on its side

We had to start jacking the car up and tilt it on its side as much as we could to spill the water out. This was as we started the tilt.  So water can be a real problem.

5. Wildlife! And no I don’t mean the cows that live next door. Although, being from CA when we first moved up here they were fun to watch and I did consider them sort of like wild life. Then I learned what a pain in the butt they are. Did I ever tell you about the one that ‘crawled’ under the fence and ran amok in our yard? Well I had to wrangle that POS by myself down to the end of the property, through a large gate and back into his own yard. Boy do their feet cause a lot of damage. Anyway, back to wild life. So far it’s been just amazing to see all the different animals that come to visit us. We’ve had deer, geese, a skunk, a family of nutria, turkeys, a fox, ducks, osprey, a hawk that lives in our giant pine during the spring, a wild cat (that we do not have) and a bee colony of all things. Why it’s like wild country safari around here.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings - Oh My.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings – Oh My.

The Bee Keepers

The Bee Keepers

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

The Turkey Ladies

The Turkey Ladies

Run little Fox

Run little Fox

Stay back from ol' Stinky

Stay back from ol’ Stinky

Nutria Family

Nutria Family

6. And I think this is the most important. Friends. I have been so fortunate to meet new friends and start enjoying their company. We have Kish Doyle and Anne Wickersham, Rick and Velda, Terry and Dianna and some wonderful neighbors Phil and Kimberly.

Life is pretty good up here in the Great NorthWest. Including the views. This is sitting in my chair looking out my living room window. My window is much bigger, just focused on the middle and those gorgeous clouds.

Gorgeous Clouds

Gorgeous Clouds

So often after rain storms I can go out to my back patio and find a rainbow, and in this case two!

Fantastic Rainbow

Fantastic Rainbow

I have finally started to feel like I really live here and not just staying over for a long visit. I no longer catch myself driving to the grocery store ‘remembering’ how I used to go to the store or how I used to shop. Now I think about my day in Oregon distance, uncrowded freeways, no graffiti and friendly folks. I ponder the weather more here than down South and the old phrase “..if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes…” has become a familiar saying.

We have been so fortunate to retire here. Here’s to many, many years!

Cheers!

Cheers!

The Old brings life to the New

Often when I post here about recipes, talk to friends or share pictures many ask me “You must have the most amazing kitchen with all the bells and whistles!” In my old kitchen I did have top of the line appliances. But I always dreamed of an old ranch kitchen where pots of stews and soups would warm the air with spices, and aromas of a hearty feast and an abundance of homegrown crops would be canned and preserved to last through the season. Or fresh baked bread would make ones mouth water with anticipation. But that was just a dream…

Then the year 2007 came to be. I had just graduated from culinary school, the glimmers of retiring were upon the horizon as a faint dream. ¬†It was then that I got my first glimmer of the stove of my dreams. Oh it was a beauty, but not within my grasp. It sat within another’s kitchen. Oh how I coveted the magnificence of such a stove. To have something such as this to create, to have it inspire with it’s history and stories. And Lo! The opportunity arrived and the coveted stove became mine to own. ¬†

I present to you my 1934 Magic Chef Stove –

1934 Magic Chef Stove

1934 Magic Chef Stove

Yep I cook on a stove that is 79 years old. It is so basic and just wonderful. I must point out her lovely legs. We set them on the bricks to bring the stove to counter level. I don’t know of a stove more sexy than this. There is a robin’s egg blue stencil over a buttercream yellow porcelain finish.¬†Let me share with you some of the features and then the nuances.

It has 4 small burners so large pots you have to get creative.

It has 4 small burners so with large pots you have to get creative.

The burners are very small and the ones in the back are restricted due to the lid of the stove having sidewalls. This means you can’t put tall or wide pots on these back burners.

How cool are these 'knobs'!?

How cool are these ‘knobs’!?

These are the knobs that control the burners and the far right one feeds gas to the oven.

Storage under the burners.

Storage under the burners.

Under the burners (the 2 doors you see in the first picture) is some wonderful storage. I keep all my cast iron pans here because it’s dry and the warmth from the oven keeps any/all moisture from reaching them. You see there is also a drawer above for utensils. How cool is that?

The handles are so beautiful.

The handles are so beautiful.

My stove is not only so incredibly practical but beautiful with it’s details. These are the handles. They are on each of the doors below the burners and on the oven and broiler and begs you to peek inside while something is baking or simmering.

Yes this is a pilot light.

Yes this is a pilot light.

I want you to all to go open up your broiler or a drawer that is on the bottom. Do you see an open flame? Well these are called pilot lights. They are ignited 24/7 waiting for you to turn the gas valve to open and bring the oven to temperature. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having an open flame 24/7, but now I’m totally used to it…I think..ok ok so when we go away for a few days I make hubby turn the gas off just in case.

While I have a vent over the stove this is where the heat vents from the oven. Makes a great house heater in a pinch.

While I have a vent over the stove this is where the heat vents from the oven. Makes a great house heater in a pinch.

Once the oven is heated up the excess heat escapes from a vent right above the stove. And let me tell you it’s not subtle. There’s a lot of heat coming out of these little hole. It’s great in winter as it really helps warm the front of the house. In the summer, not so much which is why I grill a lot.

Side Bar – Ok I see you’ve noticed the the RCA dog salt and pepper shakers. Are they not adorable?! My dear father in law used to repair TV’s back in 1945. He obtained these cute little things and I thought they just fit perfectly with the old stove.

This dial is how to control the oven temp.

This dial is how to control the oven temp.

This dial is located on the right side of the stove. It controls the temperature of the oven. It starts at 100 degrees. Although with just the pilot light the heat is a constant 90 degrees. The first number on the dial is 250 then the word Slow (275) and 300. After 300 is Mode Rate which I equate to 325. After 350 is the word HOT. This is about 375. Funny how in 1934 they thought a hot temperature was 375. ¬†Right after 400 is QUICK. Not sure what this means but the temp is about 425. After that is 450 and after that is VERY HOT. It then goes to 500-550 and after than is Broil. This dial gets hot…so hot that it will, and I quote, “Burn the sh*t out of you!”

Inside the stove. It has 1 rack that is full size and 2 half racks.

Inside the stove. It has 1 rack that is full size and 2 half racks.

The inside of the oven has one full rack the width and length of the oven and 2 half racks. (If you look closely at the top rack you can see it’s actually 2) It’s really nice to have a full rack for a large pot and then I can pull one of the half racks out and use one for rolls or biscuits.

The under broiler.

The under broiler.

Under the main oven is my broiler. To be honest I have yet to use my broiler. I never have used a broiler much. Before school, during or after. I don’t know why, but haven’t found a use for it. I don’t toast much bread or sear meat. Huh..maybe I should.

I have so fallen in love with this old stove! Of course I have to prop the oven door open with a lid to a canning jar on the right side to keep the heat at 275 or another lid I have specially marked to keep it at 300 degrees. If I want it at 250 the broiler door must be open about an inch and the 300 degree lid utilized on the oven. ¬†While it sounds like work it is truly an act of love. It was first made to work on natural gas. However the American Stove Company, who made this beauty, also knew that folks on the East Coast who utilized LPG, aka Propane, would also be ordering these stoves. Current stoves today need to have special gas to propane (and vice versa) conversion kits. ¬†But not the old work horses of the 1930’s. They had special valves that could be turned to a lower rate with a few simple adjustments. (By simple I mean my hubby playing with a propane tank and a wrench for a year prior to moving to Oregon where we have no natural gas and propane only. I really must give this wonderful man an incredible shout out! He worked 50 hours a week and every weekend he had off he made copious adjustment and notes to make sure this would work when we arrived. There are pages and pages of notes. I so love this man!)

I have even found the original print ad for my stove!

Original Print Ad

Original Print Ad

So now every meal is prepared on this cast iron stove that will outlast most every modern stove out there. It will even outlast me…I sure hope my daughter wants an old stove because this gorgeous appliance will not go to auction!

Peach and Ginger Jam – Spoon licking good!

Was so excited to find a “You Pick” peach and nectarine orchard not too far from where we live. The nectarines weren’t quite ripe, but the farmer just happened to pull up and told me “Well ya falla this here yellow ribbon to the peaches. I’ve got some real dandies up there!” Getting a tip like that how can I refuse?! Then the song started, in my head, follow the big yellow ribbon, follow the big yellow ribbon…follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the big yellow ribbon. Sorry it’s catchy isn’t it?

The peaches were amazing. Large, plump and incredibly fragrant.

Fresh Peaches

Fresh Peaches

With their fuzzy skins all gleaming after a bath I just stared at them for a while. ¬†Then I snapped out of a pre-sugar rush and began the Peach and Ginger jam. You have to peel the peaches. Wait stop! Don’t go running for the peeler or your favorite paring knife. That will take far too long. Get your canning pot and fill it with hot water and bring it to a boil. In the mean time wash your jars and lids and get all the ingredients for the jam together. Once the water starts to boil cut cross slits on the bottom of each peach, you’re making a zipper to slip the skin off.

Making a zipper

Making a zipper

I hope you can see this. Once cut¬†slip the peaches, about 7 at a time into the water. This is what is known as a Peach Spa. Let them sit in there about 2-3 minutes. It doesn’t matter if the water boils or not. It probably won’t, but do bring it back to a boil before you slip the next batch in. You don’t the second batch of peaches to be jealous of the first batch and thus not release their sweet goodness.

Peach Spa

Peach Spa

Fill your sink with cold water, add some ice to make it real cold so when the peaches come out of the boiling water they go directly into the ice bath. Once all the peaches are done put the lid back on your water bath and keep it hot to can the jars.

After about a minute pull the peaches out and you’ll see they are ready to be peeled.

Easy Peel

Easy Peel

Now the next step it was hard to get a picture as my hands were completely covered with peaches and juice. Suffice it to say slice the peach down the side, pull it apart, remove the pit and dice em up. They will be slippery! If you grip them too hard you’re likely to launch one across the kitchen. Use care.

There are several secret and magical ingredients to make this luscious jam. Oh don’t worry I’ll share them all at the bottom.

The secret ingredients.

The secret ingredients.

All these things get cooked together at various stages. Do not rush this process or your jam will not set up. That being said – some jams can take up to a week or more to set once canned. When cooking all the ingredients on the final step it will take a long time for it all to come to boil but you must keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.

It’s hot, and tedious. But the reward – worth the arm cramp.

Finished Product waiting for a spoon.

Finished Product waiting for a spoon.

Prep Time Р30 Min             Yield Р10 1/2 pints or 6 full pints

8 cups of pitted, chopped and mash them a bit to release juices
4 Tbs fresh lemon juice
6 Tbs powdered fruit pectin (I use the Ball brand)
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbl finely chopped candied ginger (crystallized)
1/4 tsp of freshly ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground alspice
zest of 1/2 a lemon (zest it before you squeeze it for the 4 Tbs of juice you need)
1/4 tsp butter (optional but does keep the mixture from foaming)

Sterilize the jars and lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions and keep hot.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the peaches and lemon juice to boil
Add the pectin and return the mixture to a boil
Stirring constantly, slowly add the sugar.
Once sugar is incorporated slowly add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. (This is where it can take some time. Don’t crank the heat up to make it go faster, you want the juices to come out of the peaches and the spices to become thoroughly infused) Once it returns to a boil let it boil one minute. Remember to stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rim and place lid and screw cap. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath.

Now get out there and find some peaches before the season is over. You do not want to miss out on making this jam.

Burger Project a New Appreciation

So I always thought that a great burger had to be grilled over hot coals to have the savory and juicy goodness when we think of an awesome hamburger.

Oh lordy was I wrong! Folks please never put limits on yourself as I did. But allow me to back up about 30 years.

Mom, Dad…if you are reading this, please go play solitaire or check your Facebook page for the next 10 minutes. Thanks…
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Ok….so when I was a kid growing up we had burgers on the grill now and then, but mainly they were fried in a stainless steel pan until..well…they were D O N E. Seasoning, funny enough, was mainly salt and pepper. My folks didn’t get fancy with the garlic powder and onion powder till much later. And when when I say cooked till done, I mean they were done in the pan for at least 5 minutes, which means as they sat for 10 minutes while we all got our buns ready and, yes you know what that means…way over done. Of course I never realized this until much later. Resting times were never addressed in the 60’s and 70’s. (No my age is not up for discussion)
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So while my folks didn’t know it, but when frying burgers salt and pepper are the only seasonings you should use. I had no idea my folks were so avant garde.

Let’s get to the awesomeness of the burger for the night. First off we have so many fresh, out of the garden ingredients going on here. The hamburger itself is from the side of beef we bought. Next up we have 3 cucumbers I cut up and pickled for the night in cider vinegar, pickling spice, salt and fresh dill I grew along with homegrown lettuce for our burgers. Next to our dinner is fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a ball squash.

I started by making my pickles so they’d be ready for dinner.

1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water, plus more, if needed
2 teaspoons each: kosher salt, pickling spice
1 large pickling cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices

1 Combine cider vinegar with 1/2-cup of water, salt and pickling spice in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil.

2 Place cucumber in a clean, dry glass container just large enough to hold all the slices. Pour boiling brine over cucumber slices to cover completely. If all cucumbers are not submerged, add cold water to cover. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Pickles will keep for about 10 days.

I chilled these for 2 hours before we put them on the burgers. They  had an ever so slight sweetness to them but the crunch and pickle flavor was such a superior flavor than any store bought pickle.

For our dish you will need one ball squash, about 1/2 cup of small cherry tomatoes and 2 cloves of garlic. Take a ball squash (they look a lot like a zucchini but they are round and about 5-6″) Slice into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Take about a tsp of kosher salt and salt one side. Let these sit for 10 minutes. You will see a lot of moisture build up. This is a good thing as it’s drawing the moisture out so they will crisp up. After the 10 minutes, use a paper towel and wipe them off to remove the moisture. Let sit again until the burgers are done. Wash and dry tomatoes and slice the garlic in thin slices.

The hamburgers were the most basic of burgers. But the offered an enormous amount of flavor.

1 lb of hamburger (15% fat)
1-2 tsp Salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Sorry no more ingredients are needed. Put the meat in a bowl, add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands. Then simply form 4 patties no more than 4 ounces each. The patties should be pretty thin, they will be about 6″ diameter but will shrink to 4″ when cooked.

Get your iron skillet heated up to just below the smoking point. Add your patties and cook on high for about a minute. They will get nice and brown. Now flip those tasty meat patties over and cook them for another 5 minutes on med-high heat. Pull them and cover them for the next 8 minutes while you make the squash/tomato side dish.

In the same pan as the hamburgers were cooked, use a paper towel and absorb all but about a tablespoon of the pan drippings. Add your squash and brown for about 2 minutes. Turn squash over, put the garlic and tomatoes in and add some fresh cracked pepper and about 1/4 cup water. (keep your stove fan on at least medium as there will  smoke and steam). Let the tomatoes cook for about 2 minutes or until they just start to burst. Turn the heat off.

So for our burgers I believe simple buns are the best. If you need fancy buns your meat is not the star. I toasted ours for about a minute and then added a mayo mixture of – 1/2 cup Mayo, 2 Tbs worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp mustard, salt and pepper. A bit of ketchup, homegrown lettuce, red onion and homemade pickles.

Wow what a meal! The squash dish was so magnificently seasoned from the pan drippings the hamburger meat provided and the tomatoes brought such a nice sweetness to the dish.

Another incredible dish for  Burger Project 2013

Another incredible dish for Burger Project 2013

Folks I must challenge you. Summer is not over! Get your burger project started post haste!  You will not be disappointed.