Fresh Eats

Farmgirls–I have a new favorite food. And–lucky you! I am going to let you in on this rare discovery.  I haven’t found a new go-to food for quite a while, so it has been fun to add something new into our rotating food repertoire.

No, it isn't cotton candy. We went to the Winter Show Rodeo in North Dakota, though!

No, it isn’t cotton candy. We went to the Winter Show Rodeo in North Dakota, though!

It has only taken me several decades to discover just how delicious this mouth watering creation can be. It is a juicy, savory, and unpretentious all-in-one meal. They can be creative, complex or simple; and–perhaps most notable of all–they are quintessentially American.

Are you teetering on the edge of your seat? What could this amazing food possibly be?

I am, of course, referring to the humble hamburger.  Not a veggie burger or chicken sandwich on a bun, but an all beef hamburger!  Did you know that they are actually delicious? That the possibilities are endless? That they are sold everywhere? Amazing!

I am definitely not a food stylist...this is a plaza burger from convention grill in Minneapolis--it has sour cream and diced onions on a rye bun.  Inspired by a restaurant in my college town! Paired with a chocolate malt and fries.  American as it gets.

I am definitely not a food stylist…this is a plaza burger from convention grill in Minneapolis–it has sour cream and diced onions on a rye bun. Inspired by a restaurant in my college town! Paired with a chocolate malt and fries. American as it gets.

The grill at the art deco 30s style Convention Grill in Minneapolis.

The grill at the art deco 30s style Convention Grill in Minneapolis.

My new love affair with burgers (my friends and family might be a bit sick of me singing their praises) began about a month ago at a renowned local establishment: The Palmer Bar. A few of my mom friends and I started a book club called “Brews and Books.” We meet at places with brewed things–coffee shops and bars, namely.  So far we’ve only met at breweries and bars; these Friday night book club meetings quickly turn into girls nights!  There are three bars in our little downtown Palmer. Our “late night” options are limited, but P-Bar (what the cool kids call it, I hear) has a reputation for having awesome burgers.

And awesome burgers they do have!

To be fair, I’ve never given burgers a real chance.  I disliked them as a child and just kind of assumed I still didn’t like them.  Bean burgers and chicken are fine alternatives, so why try to revisit the beef patty? I remember them being very akin to mashed up cardboard with cheese on them.  I would make them palatable by adding tons of pickles in the middle and choking it down.  I think my problems mainly stemmed from my other picky eater things–no mayo, ketchup, tomatoes, raw onions….doesn’t leave too much for a tasty burger!  Luckily, my palate has expanded to include pretty much every edible thing (still no ketchup, though, at least the store bought kind).

Turns out a very well executed burger shared with good friends after a couple of beers is really, really incredible!  I shared a “Charlie” (disclaimer: it might be some other name…) burger with my girlfriend.  It has cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños, lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo.  YUM. The grill at P-bar is in the middle of the establishment so you can watch your food being made by often-jamming-out-to-the-juke-box cooks.  This really adds to the experience.  This burger was illuminating for me. Pretty much life changing. I had an epiphany: the deliciousness of a burger is not necessarily in the patty itself. A burger is nothing if not a sum of its condiments, but without a good patty, those condiments are just salad on mashed up cardboard. If the patty is perfectly juicy and seasoned well, it elevates the way the other ingredients work together in a way that nothing else can compare. There are no substitutions.

These burgers are more photogenic!

These burgers are more photogenic!

So far in my short dalliance with burgers, it is apparent that I like the complex and creative.  It is impressive how well textures and flavors combine with bread and beef when in burger form.  Within a couple of weeks of that transcendent burger, I ate one more restaurant burger and made burgers at home. I couldn’t stop thinking about them and the possibilities…maybe I was a bit obsessed. Burgers at home was a hit–we even made hamburger buns!  Baby Fern was so cute pretending to knead bread as I kneaded the dough.  The big girls had a great time forming little buns. Ava and Opal particularly enjoyed the cinnamon fry bread I made with the extra dough  It was a sandwich artist’s dream with a plethora of toppings: cheese, bacon, pineapple, jalapeños, onion, lettuce, shredded cabbage and carrots, avocado, tomato, fried onions and mushrooms…Mmmm, I think I know what I’m doing for dinner this Friday!

Sandwich art!

Sandwich art!

After more than a month of burger dabbling (am I an expert, yet?!), I now see that all burgers are not created equally.  It seems low quality ingredients, overcooking and under-seasoning are the major downfalls to a burger (duh!). Also, while beef is super yummy, I have some quibbles with the confined animal feedlots that most of the beef we eat is a product of.  Show me the local, happy beef cows!! So, while I do have a whole new level of appreciation for the humble ground beef and bread combination, it will not become my go-to at most restaurants.  I am happy to be a burger snob!

Have you ever eaten one of these truly amazing creations :)? Tell me about your best burger experience!

Until next time,

Sending Peace and Love from Alaska!

Alex, The Rural Farmgirl

Hey! It's Spring :).  Hope you are enjoying it.  It's time for spring skiing in AK!

Hey! It’s Spring :). Hope you are enjoying it. It’s time for spring skiing in AK!

Leave a comment 10 Comments

  1. Carol says:

    We raise our own beef and I must say that there is nothing better than a homemade cheese burger. I prefer Colby Jack cheese with a small amount of mustard and a slice of onion on mine. Yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Amanda says:

    I’m so glad you decided to try a food again that you didn’t like as a child. Good lesson for your kiddos! Funny how our taste changes over time. It took me over 20 years to like green beans, although it helped that my husband grew them in our garden instead of buying a can from the store. And, tomatoes are a work in progress. Our family just finished our yearly butchering of beef and pigs. What was the first thing I made? Burgers!!! We mix worcestershire, hot sauce, cream and salt and pepper into the meat. Also, we had caribou burgers once after my father in law came home from a hunting trip. Yummy! Love your posts and happy spring to you!

  3. Barbara Love says:

    I use my own ground lamb with ground wild elk, lots of minced garlic, chopped reishi mushrooms, a handful of organic rolled oats, a ‘glug’ each of organic italian dressing and org ketchup, sometimes a local egg, seasoned with a grind of pepper, smoked sea salt. I make a batch of patties at a time and freeze them. Truly a great burger, whether grilled or pan fried…as you say, don’t overcook!

  4. Krissel says:

    Hey! You make my day! As a new subscriber and Alaskan moved South I relish in your blog! Try Turkey Red right there in the P! Keep updating as you thaw out and melting snow has your boots getting wet!

  5. Joy says:

    It’s so funny you happen to mention the best burgers ! We discovered two places in our area of New York . I’m talking the New York with hills and farm land as far as the eyes can see. There is a bar call TommyBoys. The best burger ever, lettuce tomato thin slice of red onion and mayo. Cheese too. I save the tooth picks from our burgers! Like notches in a fun. Lol. Another place in the city of Rochester is a place call The Beer Park. Made to look like an old diner with lots of beer taps. Just one light for me but their burger is just wonderful ! Same ingredients and tastes mouth watering. That sounds like fun having a book club at a bar with great food.

  6. Marilyn says:

    Happy that you found a go to food. Enjoy your burgers and books. Your girls are beautiful.
    Marilyn

  7. Elizabeth Granger says:

    I made an awesome burger at home with grass fed beef on whole grain bun with very little
    condiments and maybe a few organic carrot sticks and yes katsup.!

  8. Pauline says:

    I personally use 80/20 ground chuck beef, salt, pepper fried in cast iron pan, topping with yellow american cheese! Nothing better! Although here in Roanoke, Va there’s a joint called Jack Brown’s. They use 100% wagyu beef. They are out of this world!

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