- Date: Saturday, April 9, 2011 -- 6pm
- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Kitchen: Our House
- Fellow Chef: Matty
- Dining Companions: Helen, Charles, Clara, Chris C., Whitney, and Tom
- Recipe Rating: B+
I would have made this recipe long ago since hamburgers are super delicious, but the recipe calls for a meat grinder, which I didn't own. As it turns out, the meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid wasn't nearly as expensive as I thought it would be, so I bought myself one and made this recipe! I started by salting some boneless chuck steak and refrigerating it for 24 hours. I then rinsed the steak, cubed it, and put it through the meat grinder. Once it was all ground up, the beef looked like this:
It's very exciting to now have the equipment to transform steak into ground beef at home! I formed the beef into patties, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and my special gentleman grilled them. The result: delicious! I was skeptical about whether or not grinding your own meat would really make any difference, but indeed I would say that these burgers were juicier and more flavorful than what you end up with when you buy ground beef at the store. I would have given them a higher grade, but there was one little problem: my home-ground meat did not hold together as well as typical ground beef does, so it was hard to turn the burgers on the grill without them breaking apart. My special gentleman did the grilling and he got a little frustrated with them. We pieced together the broken ones though and they were still delicious. We set up a selection of burger toppings so everyone could customize their burger. I had pepper jack, caramelized onions, bacon, avocado, and barbecue sauce on my burger. It was good!
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Our European adventure continues to be absolutely lovely. The week-end before last we spent in Strasbourg, France. All of the other destinations on this trip were chosen for mathematical reasons -- destinations where conferences are taking place, or a collaborator lives. Strasbourg, however, we chose just for fun. We had a weekend between conferences -- the one in the Black Forest in Germany, and another one in Switzerland -- and we chose to spend the weekend in Strasbourg. The city was fantastically beautiful, and we had a wonderful time there. We wandered through the city, both by foot and by boat, and took in beautiful buildings such as this enormous cathedral:
We also did a lot of eating! One of the culinary stars of our trip so far has been the sandwich. It's hard to really explain why sandwiches are so much better in France than they are in the United States. I suppose the answer is simple enough: the bread in France is better. But I think there is more to it than that. In any event, we have eaten a lot of sandwiches -- many of them while sitting on the edge of a fountain, watching people wander by:
While we were in Strasbourg my special gentleman made it his personal mission to eat as many croissants as he could in two days. I have never met anyone who loves croissants as much as he does. They were especially good at our hotel. In the photo below, my special gentleman is enjoying his fourth croissant during one meal! (He also had eggs, bacon, yogurt, pastries, bread, prosciutto, and a variety of cheeses during that breakfast -- we aren't exactly dieting on this trip!).
After an awesome weekend in Strasbourg we headed back to Switzerland. During our first stint in Switzerland, at the beginning of the trip, we were in the French-speaking part of the country. This time we headed to a small town in German-speaking Swtizerland. My special gentleman had a conference there, at a resort hotel on a lake. Here's the view from just outside the building we stayed in. In the other direction the view was of the alps. It was pretty spectacular.
My special gentleman's conference lasted all week, but I only stayed there for a couple days. On Tuesday I headed to England! My good friend Chris, who I am working on a research project with, lives in Oxford. So I flew up there for 5 days to work and hang out with him. I had never been to Oxford before, and it is a beautiful city, with lots of views like this one:
A friend from high school, Anna, also lives in Oxford. She and I spent an afternoon together and she gave me a great tour of the city. We walked up to the top of a tower for some spectacular views. Here's Anna, looking out over Oxford:
As we were walking around, Anna and I also caught a brief glimpse of Michelle Obama, who happened to be in Oxford that day. That was pretty exciting!
My time in England was both fun and productive. I had a nice time hanging out with Chris and we got some work done, which is always a good thing! On Saturday I flew back to Switzerland, where my special gentleman and a different friend also named Chris picked me up at the airport. The three of us drove from Basel, Switzerland to Nantes, France, with an overnight stop in Dijon. It was about an 8-9 hour drive in total, and it was a very enjoyable European road trip experience. Chris had brought along a choose-your-own-adventure book where one attempts to survive a zombie apocalypse. He read it aloud in the car and we made choices together as a group. Our first 3 or 4 attempts ended in horrible, gruesome deaths, but eventually we managed to survive! I would recommend it for a long drive!
We arrived in Nantes yesterday afternoon. Last night my special gentleman and I went to a movie. We hadn't gone out to a movie since January (it was a busy semester!) so it felt like a great luxury. This week my special gentleman has a conference and I have no obligations! I have lots of work I need to do, but I don't have any conference activities or collaborators here in Nantes, so his week will be a little more relaxing for me. And at the end of the week I am headed back to the States. I'm not on my way home just yet though -- I am going to a workshop in California first. My special gentleman will stay in France for another week at his conference. It's hard to believe we have already been in Europe for three weeks. Time flies I guess!
Speaking of time flying, today is me and my special gentleman's two year wedding anniversary! I feel blessed every day by a fantastic marriage, and this trip has only made me appreciate my special gentleman even more. I am not a traveler by nature -- I like being at home! But travel is very fun with my special gentleman. On our one-year wedding anniversary we were in the mountains in Japan. For our two-year anniversary we are in the Loire Valley in France. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever be home on our anniversary to eat the top tier of our wedding cake, which is still in our freezer! It might be a little freezer burnt by the time we get to it. It's a small price to pay for some lovely travel adventures!