Sunday, July 22, 2012
Today I managed to get up off the couch and take a short trip to the Walnut Creek Farmer's Market, despite the intense heat and crowds. After being cooped up and generally immobile for the last few days, I was determined to get outside and at least try to walk around a little. I figured the market was a good place to start...
My mission was simple. I want to cook a mean a cheeseburger tonight. A classic, simple, juicy, delicious all-American style burger that melts in my mouth and gets my hands messy. Yes, I know I've written about burgers before, several times, but I can't help myself. It's rare that I crave ground red meat to begin with, but for some reason, during the summer especially, I want cheeseburgers. Like mom and dad use to make- cheeseburgers that scream "it's summertime!"
The quintessential mid July meal for our families has always been burgers, piled high with cheese, tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles, mayo and a slice of avocado if we're lucky. Hot dogs are covered in relish, mustard, onions, cheese and chili. There are usually baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, cheese dip, homemade pickles, grilled corn, bowls of plump olives (black for fingertips, green with pimiento for brave souls and Graber's if you are blessed enough to be able to find a can somewhere- thanks Mom.) We never really bothered with extraneous "actual" salads- for some reason, they seem like too much trouble. Eating a bowl of lettuce while lounging around with a brewskie or a glass of wine in 100 degree weather? Hmm... Call me a summertime purist, but I'd rather be scarfing down deviled eggs and cream cheese walnut filled celery sticks.
Weekends here are spent in our backyard, with the good grace of friendly company, roasting in the sun under the heavy limbs of our neighboring black oak trees. With the addition of Pug's electric blue plastic baby pool, we now have a way to keep a little bit cooler. It's a normal weekend activity for us to sit in the patio chairs, feet submerged, sunglasses on, sunblock in hand as Pug floats beside us in a relieved state. The sun seems to saturate every inch of our yard and our souls with dry, radiating heat. We batten down the hatches of our 90 year old craftsman, sealing it shut during the daytime to preserve the shade inside and we keep our fingers crossed that the wind doesn't die down at sunset. If we are lucky, a breeze in the evening cools down the near desperate temperatures we tolerate indoors, together, wrapped in wet towels, laying on the linoleum. It's a way of life, and we love it.
Back to the beauty of the classic cheeseburger. The whole point of this article was to emphasize just how fun and wonderful (if not hot) summer can be in California. As the hubbs and I hobbled our way through the market this morning, I watched the people carrying sunflowers, bags of cherries, baskets of peaches, fresh loaves of bread, bushels of daisies and freshly picked peppers- I realized that this time of year is magical. People are out in droves, happy, feeling energized by the sun and loving the fact that flip-flops are acceptable footwear no matter where you go. Women in sundresses, men in their linen shirts, kids wearing nothing but bathing suits and jelly sandals. To me, there is something special realizing that half of the people we saw out there this morning are headed home to fire up the grill, jump in the pool, lay in the sun and, well, devour cheeseburgers. Classic summer.
The hubbs and I gathered the following goodies for dinner tonight- best part, all of the ingredients are locally produced and farmed. How awesome is that?
The buns... Freshly baked brioche hamburger buns from La Boulange in Lafayette.
The meat... 100% grass-fed organic ground beef from Panorama Meats.
The maters... Organic rainbow heirlooms from the farmer's market.
The cheese... Clover Organic Farms white cheddar.
The pickles... Fresh from Mama Donna's kitchen, vintage 7/31/10.
The onion... Straight out of Grandpa Fiorelli's garden, hand picked.
The chips... Casa Sanchez thin & light tortilla chips.
The salsa... Medium Chipotle dip from Salsa for All Seasons.
The wine... Rainbow Orchards 2009 Chardonnay from El Dorado county.
Considering that I've been totally hibernating these last couple days, I'm really looking forward to a mellow night on the patio, warm air on my face and the smell of the BBQ filling my lungs. I want to sit with my Pug, sip a small glass of bubbly with the hubbs and enjoy the summer air. It may be the end to a weekend, but it's the beginning to a new week, and that's what matters.
Relish the day,