I never saw it, so I can’t be sure, but I suspect that my mom’s hamburger recipe went something like this:
NO MORE COMPANY HAMBURGERS:
Take 2 pounds of hamburger meat and leave it on the counter all day. Make sure the meat is segregated from all available seasonings so the cardboard flavor of the ultimate product is preserved. Form thick patties and grill the hell out of them for one minute. Serve.
I remember taking a bite of one of her hamburgers. It was protesting cow flesh encased in crunchy carbon, pressed between two buns from the day-old bakery. I ran outside and spit it into the bushes and earned a spanking for my efforts.
While I’ll happily cook Thai Chicken, Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta and Feta Cheese, Bowties with Peas and Prosciutto and Korean barbecue, I’ve never made hamburgers for my kids. I don’t believe in torture.
Bill, on the other hand, can make a burger. We’d been married for years before I agreed to try one, but it was delicious. He pats the meat as if sculpting a masterpiece, marinates it in a combination of Dale’s sauce and exotic spices, and tends the grill while I prepare pillowy buns, sliced red onion, several kinds of mustard, cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. It’s a fabulous family meal, but Bill is the key ingredient.
Every Sunday I sit my Type A butt down and plan all my meals for the week. Last week the boys requested Bill’s hamburgers and I penciled them in for Thursday, thrilled to get a night off.
Thursday I was home from work and watching Messer and Montana flirt on CSI when Bill called to say he’d forgotten that the baseball draft was that night. He wouldn’t be home until after eight.
“Honey, your boys will starve. I need you to come home and make dinner before you go,” I said.
“Can you say that again? I think my Blackberry is on the fritz. I thought you said you needed me to fix dinner.”
“I do. It’s hamburger night. I haven’t made hamburgers in my life, and you know the story about my mom. She–”
“I remember. Live cow inside a carbon crust.”
“Well, it clearly gave me emotional scars, and I don’t want to do that to the boys. I’d rather feed them cereal,” I said.
“I’ll see if I can run home before the meeting and get them started,” Bill said.
On CSI, Stella had subjected the mysterious substance on the debutante’s dress to an array of scientific tests before identifying it as Cheese Doodle dust. Then I heard Bill dash in and call Drew. They puttered for a few minutes and Bill left. The charcoal was lit, the patties were marinating, and I didn’t have the vaguest idea of what to do next.
I called Bill.
“When do I know the fire is ready?”
“The charcoal will be white around the edges. Then you put the hamburgers on and cook them until they’re done.”
“Roger. How long is that?” I asked.
Bill sighed. “You just cut into one and look at it.”
“Dude, give me an estimate. Is it more like five minutes or thirty?”
“I’d say fifteen,” he said. “But that’s just a guess. I can’t believe you cook these fancy dinners and don’t know a grill from your ass.”
“I can buy a grill. I’m from the Tiny Kingdom. I just can’t use one,” I said.
We hung up and I headed outside to face my nemesis.
Drew was at the grill, tongs in hand, carefully spreading out the charcoal.
“I think it will be at least five more minutes before the fire is ready,” he said.
“Hey, do you know what you’re doing with the fire?” I asked.
“Yes ma’am. I watch Daddy. I know how to grill the hamburgers, too. Can you reach a cookie sheet for me to put them on? It’s too high for me.”
I returned with a cookie sheet, tongs, an oven mitt and the patties. I hovered over Drew for a bit, feeling like it would be child neglect to leave him with a sizzling fire and a plate of raw meat.
“Hey Mom, I can do this myself. If you want to finish your show you can,” Drew offered.
I took him up on it.
The hamburgers were the best ever.
The look on Drew’s face as we applauded his culinary skills wasn’t bad either.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Mysterious Disappearance of Feathers
The theme for this week’s Flashback Friday is “What I Was Doing X Years Ago, Where “X” = Any Positive Integer”