Dinner – Caveman Style

ribsJust finished dinner.

Barbecued ribs and french fries.

As I finished, I looked at my plate and the pile of bones that were left over.

I thought, “This is as primal as it gets.”

No matter that I used a fork and knife to pull the meat off of the bone, there was no getting around the fact that I was eating the flesh from the ribs of another mammal.

I don’t know why I never made this connection before with ham or chicken. But I think that maybe this is why people take up the vegan lifestyle.

I tried not to think too much about it as I pulled away a hunk of meat from the bone.

It was delicious.

The Humble Hamburger

burger

The hamburger is on the verge of extinction. Now, it’s a gourmet burger or a bacon burger or the “special burger.”

Somewhere along the way, we stopped calling it a hamburger. Maybe it sounds more upscale if it’s a burger.

Today, in honor of that, I present my 11th attempt at the perfect burger, give or take a few times. As I dig a bit deeper into learning to cook, I continue to be reminded that sometimes simpler is better.

Hamburger No. 11

  • 2 pounds ground meat, 80% lean
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbs. Worchestershire sauce

Mix all of the ingredients, Don’t overdo it. Don’t turn the mixture into mush. Make sure the ground meat still has some texture.

Start with a piece of meat roughly the size of a billiard ball and form it into a patty. Make it thick if you like or thin and broad. Remember, when you cook your burger that it’s going to shrink in diameter, but get much taller.

After you make your patties, preheat your frying pan on medium heat and then reduce slightly to between medium and low.

Once the pan is hot, put your burger into the pan. It should start sizzling right away.

Get a drip can ready. After a few minutes, lift the corner of the burger and see if it has browned. If it has, flip the burger, Cook for one minute, and remove it from the heat and drain the fat and excess liquid into your drip can. Return the pan to the heat.

Cover the burger and continue to cook until it’s finished.

Don’t press down the burger with your kitchen tool. That squeezes out the burger’s moisture.

You can use the “push” test with your turner to test doneness. If it’s really spongy, it’s rare. If there is no give when you press it, then it’s cooked through.

I like my hamburger bun toasted, so I put mine into the toaster oven.

For my cheeseburger, I added a slice of American cheese, a piece of lettuce and some spicy brown mustard. That was it.

It was delicious.

The Disneyland Sandwich

We were having dinner with some friends, and we got onto the topic of lunch. Their daughter is a big fan of tuna for lunch. Like four days a week for the past three years. The kid can’t get enough of it.

That got me thinking about foods I like and those that I don’t. The “do eat” list is a lot longer than the “don’t eat” list.

If you know me, you know that I don’t like bananas. As I like to say, I’d rather have a car run over my toe (which, by the way, has happened) than eat a banana. It’s the ultimate gag-me food. Because of my dislike for bananas, I also have developed a dislike for other overly sweet and mushy foods — yams, certain types of baked squash, sweet potatoes and gruel.

Well, gruel isn’t like yams or sweet potatoes, but no one eats gruel unless you’re still living in the Middle Ages.

Some foods are easy to skip, because people just don’t put them out any more:

Prunes. Our family once had a visitor — Grandpa Pallas — who loved prunes. I remember smelling the odd-looking wrinkled thing and wondered how anyone could put THAT into their mouth. And the kicker was, he wasn’t even our grandpa. But he sure was regular.

Beets. These came out twice a year in our house, sometimes three. They were served when my mom made the big holiday turkey dinner, and we were expected to eat at least one slice of beets. Purple, sort of crunchy, with a slight pickle-like flavor. Not terrible but not enjoyable. What’s my motivation to want to eat this? Oh yes, the answer is none.

Pomegranates. My brother, Tim, loved these when we were little and living in California. I remember watching him get these, cut them apart and eat the seeds. Never once tried one, and I don’t know why.

Red licorice. I actually used to like these until circa 1977. One day, Tim ate a bag of licorice and then went out drinking beer — a lot of beer — with his buddies. Later that night, he barfed up the beer and little red chunks of licorice all over our bedroom floor. I never really liked licorice after that.

Chewing gum. Makes me sort of nervous. Can’t explain it, but it makes me tense and extremely Type A. And I don’t need any help with that.

Any type of melon. I seem to have developed a bizarre allergy to melons: watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew. If it’s a melon, I regretfully must pass.

And then there’s my mom. You’re thinking, “What’s this thing he has with his mother? It’s unhealthy.” It’s OK, because this one is funny.

When we were growing up, my mom occasionally would invent sandwiches that never existed. And she was always game for trying something new by giving it a novel name. One little boy who lived with us for a while wouldn’t eat beans. However, when my mom or dad started calling it “sneab” — that’s beans spelled backward — he had no problems with that.

Well, back to my mom. Her four most unusual sandwiches:

The Mustard Sandwich. Two slices of bread with a layer of yellow mustard. That’s it. What more could you want? Well, for starters, how about some lunchmeat or cheese, lettuce or anything. Slightly tart, and I’m happy to say that I never got this in my lunchbag. Another kid who lived with us was a fan of the mustard sandwich.

The “Special.” She didn’t actually call it this, because it had no title. Ingredients: peanut butter, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato between two slices of bread. And because my mom was a big fan of mayonnaise, it had a healthy layer of it across the peanut butter. Admittedly, the mix of peanut butter and mayonnaise makes for a memorable experience for your taste buds and one that you won’t forget soon or ever.

The Baked Bean Sandwich. It’s just what it sounds like. No surprises here. Cold baked beans between two slices of bread. I was always sort of lukewarm on this one. I ate it without complaining too much.

The Disneyland Sandwich. This deserves a special place in history, as this could be the most creative yet. Ingredients: Peanut butter, grape jelly, cottage cheese and raisins between two slices of bread, preferably wheat. Now get this — we actually liked this. We liked it so much that when we went to Disneyland, we actually asked the waitress to bring us a Disneyland Sandwich! Yeah — she pretty much stood there with her teeth in her head and a blank stare on her face. I can guarantee that no other kid in America has ever eaten a Disneyland Sandwich.

I’d like to write some more, but I’m a bit hungry, and I need to see if we have any cottage cheese in the refrigerator …