Sailor and I just got home from volunteering at a community food bank. Together with my teenage sunday school class (young women, we call them), we shelved donated food items. I'm kicking myself for not having my camera on hand. You might have liked to have seen when I picked up the leeky jar of natural peanut butter. I believe we collectively unloaded five pallets, and by the end we knew right where to put the asparagus spears, baby food, salad dressing, and umpteen million tins of canned soup. Cream of Chicken, Cream of mushroom, tomato, tomato and basil, chicken and rice, chicken noodle-I've seen it all tonight. Amidst all of the reaching and packing, I had to remind myself of how fortunate we are to have a healthy abundance of good food available. We have a little garden, a modest closet full of food storage, and a weekly budget that allows us to nourish our bodies and enjoy all the pleasures of a varied diet. It's also good to have a little extra to share, especially during these trying economic times-yet another reason to be frugal. I'm anxious to get back to the food center with my own little family. Although the four of us won't be able to get five whole pallets unloaded, we could renew our feelings of gratitude by recognizing that what we have enough to share. Enough said.
Sheesh, I must be on the wrong holiday, because it surely isn't Thanksgiving. But Fourth of July makes me grateful too; not just grateful because I've got enough to eat, but grateful to be an American citizen. Maybe I'll write more about that tomorrow. For today, here's my latest and greatest cheeseburger. I named it after Catalina Island in California, where you can buy juicy burgers with roasted green chilies. My version has a southwest inspired Thousand Island dressing, plus a hefty pile of cilantro, red ripe tomatoes, and melting cheddar cheese. Plus the buns: I posted my homemade hamburger buns here last year, but I'm reposting them again today; they're just to good to be forgotten.
Money Saving Tips:
Every grocery store in town has ground beef on sale this week. Buy it in bulk and separate it at home to save some serious moolah. Make your own hamburger buns to save even further.
Estimated Cost: $8.00 for four
Notes: You can use fresh jalapenos here; just be sure to roast or blanch them first.
1 and 1/4 lb. ground sirloin or chuck
1 4 ounce can diced green chilies
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced jarred or canned jalapenos
sliced sharp cheddar cheese
4 hamburger buns
To form patties, combine the meat, chilies, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper. Shape into four patties and grill about 5-7 minutes per side for medium, adding cheese slices for last two minutes of cooking. In a separate small bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, onion and jalapenos; season to taste with salt and pepper. To assemble burgers, spread both sides of buns with mayo mixture. Place tomatoes, burgers, and cilantro on bottom buns; place top bun over.
Homemade Hamburger Buns
Estimated Cost: $2.00 for 10
Notes: These buns will take your burger from so-so to unforgettable. Make them a couple days ahead and freeze them, or bake them up fresh. Use all purpose flour for a soft rich bun.
Tips: Buy professional quality yeast. My favorite is SAF. Ask your baker what brand he uses, and ask if you can buy some. A great place to let dough rise during the summer is inside a warm parked car.
1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for buttering bowl
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, yolk and white divided
2 and 1/4 teaspoon yeast (I use SAF)
3 cups flour
In a microwave safe small bowl, combine 1 cup milk, sugar and butter. Heat until butter just melts and mixture is warm but not hot. If it is hot, wait until it is lukewarm to proceed. In a large bowl, combine salt, egg white, yeast, and flour-one cup at a time, to form a soft dough. (In a separate small bowl, combine remaining egg yolk and tablespoon of milk). The dough will be sticky. Add a little extra flour if necessary to keep the dough sticky, but still workable. Knead dough briefly, about three minutes, to form a smooth elastic ball. Butter same bowl, replace dough, cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled. (At this point, you could punch the dough down and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours, or until ready to proceed.) Shape dough into 10 separate round buns. You can roll them out and cut them with a biscuit cutter, or you can simply shape them into 10 round buns. Let rise on a greased baking sheet for about 45 minutes, or until light and risen. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush buns with egg yolk mixture. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Blackened Corn Potato Salad
Also...I'm still working on that perfect pound cake. I've got my latest version in the oven-it looks extremely promising....