Topless grilling

burger for blogOK — topless grilling is not really a thing. Or maybe it is, and if so, I don’t really want to know about it.

But when summertime rolls around (yes, I know that summer doesn’t officially start until the solstice on June 20, but summer-like weather has finally arrived), there are two sure signs of it at our house. The tops come off the Jeeps, and grilling becomes the preferred means of cookery

Both those things happened today, with the second consecutive day of warm weather.

The panels on the four-door Jeep that I drive come off quite easily, so they have been removed for the sporadic nice days we’ve experienced thus far, but have been quickly been put back when showers and cooler days have threatened. Hubby Bryan’s Jeep, however, is the standard model, and takes a bit more time and effort to remove the lid. But today the top came off and will likely stay off for the duration. (There is a smaller top that can be deployed in the case of sprinkles and a full cover for when harsher weather hits.)

Like the removal of the panels on the four-door Jeep, the cover has come off the grill sporadically over the last couple of months, but we hadn’t gone into full-on grilling-every-day mode. But I think that will change now, and tonight we had some delicious burgers for supper (see picture above). Hubby Bryan is the grill master — Burger Master, in particular — at our house.

Here are some of the techniques HB employs to get the best-tasting burger.

  • Don’t use extra lean ground beef. Fat is flavor, and if too lean, it is dry and tasteless when grilled.
  • Form the burgers lightly — don’t pack them — and use your thumbs to form a dimple in the middle of each patty. This will keep the meat from forming a dome while it cooks.
  • Shape the burgers to fit your bun or bread. With the burger pictured above, Bryan went for an oval to better fit the bread he used in lieu of a bun.
  • Never use the spatula to “smash” the burger while grilling. This forces out all the juices
  • Don’t over-grill your burgers. They are best left a little bit pink in the center for optimum juiciness.
  • Experiment with toppings. Tonight we had caramelized onions and mushrooms on top of our burgers, along with a dollop of beer cheese spread. Yes — the beer cheese spread that comes in a plastic tub melts quickly and makes for a really tasty burger.
  • And don’t forget that ground meats besides beef make good burgers. Watch for my favorite turkey burger recipe in an upcoming blog.

 

 

What’s up for Memorial Day?

What’s this — another blog so soon?

I have no intentions of writing a new blog every day — probably more like once a week or so — but this one follows quickly on the heels of the first for a good reason.

This upcoming weekend is Memorial Day — a wonderful three-day extravaganza honoring our fallen service men and women, as well as all of our loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s also generally regarded as the kickoff to summer, although — at least for Worthington students — there will still be four more days of school before the summer hiatus officially begins. (As someone who has been subbing in the schools, I can honestly tell you that most of the kids’ brains are already on vacation!)

So what’s on your Memorial Day weekend agenda? Since people are so quick to say “There’s nothing to do in Worthington,” I want to point out that there are a couple of wonderful things happening this weekend in the ol’ hometown.

On Saturday, Spomer Classics will host its annual Classic Car Show ‘n’ Shine from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Whether you are a classic automobile aficionado or not, it is well worth the stop. In fact, it is well worth making a special trip to Worthington.

Spomer Classics — operated by Marv and Jeanine Spomer, who used to own Spomer Motors — is an amazing museum of automotive memorabilia and much more. The inside space showcases the outstanding collection that Marv has amassed (with Jeanine’s support and help,of course) during his years as a car dealer and now in retirement. Marv is a master at hunting down and acquiring some of the more rare pieces of automotive history. (Check out the photo above that I took during last year’s Show ‘n’ Shine.)

There are classic cars, dealership signs, oil company signs, neon signs — each one has a story that Marv is eager to share if in the vicinity — and the spectacle of it all is almost overwhelming. But even if you’re not into automotive history and collectibles, Marv has also hunted down and preserved many small pieces of Worthington history that are interspersed throughout the facility. A stroll through the museum is a special treat for people with local or area connections,.

Additionally, car collectors from throughout the region will be on hand, parking their own prized vehicles in the museum’s ample parking lot, so you have a chance to check them out, up close and personal, and perhaps hear some of their stories, too.

Spomer Classics truly is a one-of-a-kind attraction that draws many people to Worthington. If you haven’t checked it out before, I urge you to do so on Saturday. It is located on the west end of Oxford Street (former Koppy Motors building) at 322 Oxford St.  Go to spomerclassics.com for more information.

The other must-do on the local calendar of events is the Memorial Day program at 11 a.m. Monday at Chautauqua Park. Besides being a wonderful way to honor our service men and women, the program is traditionally the first performance of the summer season for the “Amazing” Worthington City Band. AND it will give people a chance to see the recent improvements made at the bandshell, which not too long ago was placed on the National Register of Historic Places (see photo and plaque below).

Since I live right across the street from the park, the bandshell is particularly near and dear to my heart, and I cherish the weekly summer band concerts.

Both Spomer Classics and the outdoor band concerts are great assets to our city. Check them out if you’re in town this weekend.

spomer-schoon signspomer -- red carbandshell2017bandshell plaque

 

 

 

 

And so it begins …

Whew. There. I’ve done it. I’ve taken the first step in getting back to writing.

It’s been 10 months since I left my position as features editor at the Daily Globe newspaper in Worthington MN, and I’ve done very little writing since. But after 28 years in journalism, it was a needed break. I needed the separation. I needed to distance myself from the daily process of writing, proofing, editing, designing.

While I loved working at a daily newspaper, the industry has changed. Sadly, a newspaper is no longer a necessity for the average person. It’s not even a luxury. The Internet has changed all that. So when the Daily Globe’s parent company offered a company-wide “voluntary separation program,” I decided it was in my best interest to accept it. No regrets.

But I must clarify — I AM NOT RETIRED! Anyone who believes I could retire in my still-somewhat-early 50s after three decades in journalism doesn’t understand just how poorly journalists are paid. I still need to make money. I still need to get a job with insurance benefits. I just need to figure out what that is. In the meantime, I’ve been working as a substitute paraprofessional in the local schools and helping out on the production side in a local leather crafting shop. It pays the health insurance for the moment.

But back to this blog. For almost 50 years, my late mother, Dorthy Rickers (aka DotMom), wrote a column for the Daily Globe called “Mixing & Musing.” My own personal writings during my newspaper tenure were always titled “Lagniappe,” a Creole term that means “a little something extra,” a favorite word for both me and my mother.

For this new endeavor, however, I’ve decided to revive her original title, because it accurately reflects what I want to accomplish. I hope to share some of my favorite recipes while musing about whatever topic catches my fancy. It will be journey through the past (anecdotes about my mother and some recipes resurrected from long and not-so-long ago), the present (tales of Hubby Bryan’s and my often beer-centric travels in our Jeep, perhaps?) and hopefully what the future holds for all of us.

I hope you will come along with me for the ride.