This is it. The solstice was just this week. Summer is finally here. Driving home through the green roads with the windows open, we smell flowers and fresh cut grass and memories come flooding back. Everything is leafy green and beautiful. This is the time you look forward to, when your toes are always frozen in the deep of winter. This is the time you remember as idyllic and slow-moving, years into the too-fast future.
Last night, after a dinner hour when the girls painted the dining room in a fine mist of glitter and spaghetti sauce and drove me to the precipice of insanity, the girls were finally sleeping soundly. Mina snuffled on her belly in her crib under a quilt, and Violet in her bottom bunk buried under books, blankets and stuffed animals. Malcolm and I sat on the porch in our Adirondak chairs and discussed the impending summer. It was chilly, but we didn’t mind. There were peepers peeping in the pond across the road and stars streaked across the inky sky above our farmhouse near the ocean. We wrapped ourselves up in sweaters and made plans, anticipating the warm seasons.
Every year, our friend Kita from GirlCarnivore organizes an electronic celebration of burgers; an entire month of inspired creations from some of the best food bloggers in the business, all more than capable food photographers and recipe developers. And this year, we are honored to be a part of the festivities.
Each year, there’s a giveaway associated with this coordinated food blogger effort, and each year, the giveaway package gets bigger and bigger. For #BurgerMonth2016, there are giveaways each week for the entire month of May, all to honor the venerable cheeseburger.
This week, the prize package includes giveaways from Certified Angus Beef, Char-broil, KitchenIQ, Cabot Cheese, Grill Master Club, American Lamb Board, Cowboy Charcoal and CuttingBoard.com. Thank you guys all so, so much for providing such amazing prizes! Scroll down to the bottom of this post, to enter.
Now, look. When you’re friends with someone who calls herself “GirlCarnivore,” and she challenges you to come up with an over-the-top burger creation, you had better bring the ruckus. You bring some weak-ass mini barbecue “slider” business, and she’s likely to laugh you right out of the room, emasculating you in the way only someone who is very, very serious about posting pictures of steaks on the internet can. I knew I had to do something big. So I thought, for my burger, why not eat all of the animals in the animal kingdom in a single serving? Or at least, all of the animals you might find on a farm?
“The Barnyard” features a hamburger patty made with a combination of ground beef and ground lamb, topped with wasabi goat cheese, thick-cut slab bacon*, and a fried egg, with a mere scattering of lettuce and tomato to make you feel healthy, instead of like some sort of omnivorous monster. We dressed it simply with a little mayo, although in retrospect, a little spicy ketchup would have been nice, too.
*The bacon for this behemoth was provided by my friend Max Miller, chef at a restaurant called “The Landings” here in Rockland, Maine. Almost every time I see him, he is smoking great slabs of pork belly, the smoke permeating his crazy red beard and making his eyes go wild with porcine pleasure. He serves it in big, thick slices at The Landings in a few different ways, including in a BLT that is not to be missed. Thanks, Max, for always going the extra mile to make food awesome. And for giving me this bacon.
Can you eat an entire barnyard’s worth of animals in one sitting? Yes, you can. Here’s the recipe:
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 4 leaves romaine lettuce
- 4 slices tomato
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 8 strips thick-cut bacon, cooked
- 4 fried eggs
- 4 teaspoons mayonnaise
- 4 hamburger buns or rolls
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine ground beef and ground lamb, mixing well to combine. Divide into four 1/4 pound patties, and flatten to a little larger than bun size. In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, cook burgers to desired temperature, flipping once. Add goat cheese, and cover pan until cheese melts.
- To assemble burgers: Dress each bun bottom with mayonnaise, then top with lettuce leaf, burger, a slice of tomato, two strips of bacon, and finally, the fried egg. Serve immediately.
There are about a billion chances to win this week’s giveaway! Enter as many times as you’d like, using the methods below:
So, it seems weird to not talk about this thing we’re doing here at From Away World Headquarters. There’s no reason NOT to talk about it, especially since, right now, it’s consuming pretty much all of our thoughts and actions from day-to-day. What’s all the excitement about?
This month, we are doing the 30-day Whole30 program.
For the uninitiated, Whole30 is a pretty radical system of cleansing your body over a 30 day period, which is not normally a concept that appeals to me on any level. My diet, at age 37, remains embarrassingly similar to a college student’s: Cheesesteaks, pizza, and barbecue are the order of the day.
Not surprisingly, my body isn’t responding to this onslaught of meat, cheese, and heavily-processed frozen foods the way it once did, in my wiry, reckless 20s. A mostly sendetary lifestyle (except in the summer, when I am sweating like a monster, slingin’ sandwiches on my food truck) means that the stuff I eat tends to stay with me, usually right around the middle. Each year, my t-shirts get a little bigger, and my already weak chin regresses further into my ample neck. Because what am I going to do, push-ups?
That was one of the most appealing things to me about Whole30: This notion that, as a people, we’ve basically forgotten how to feed ourselves real meals made of actual food. There is so much sugar and so many sweeteners hidden everywhere, so much refinement and processing of grains, that the food supply we all depend on is basically poison.[blockquote author=”” pull=”pullright”]That was one of the most appealing things to me about Whole30: This notion that, as a people, we’ve basically forgotten how to feed ourselves real meals made of actual food. [/blockquote]
I know, I know. This is some real hippie talk. Especially coming from someone who makes it a point to eat as many questionable processed foods as possible for the sake of his art. But the idea of a total, one-time reset really appealed to me, the restrictions on diet the perfect antidote to the nearly nonstop onslaught of microwave burritos and McDonald’s. The challenge of making such an abrupt shift in the things I am putting in my body was appealing. I also really like how no-nonsense the language of the program is. The Whole30 program discourages you to whine about how difficult these changes to diet are, reminding you that “beating cancer is hard, you can drink black coffee for a month.” A radical structure for resetting my body’s chemistry, reminds me how to eat again, and that ALSO gets all up in my face? That’s what I’m talking about.
That’s enough babbling about the program. After all, this is the internet, and you can visit the official website to learn more about the details. So what are the rules, in a nutshell? No sugar or artificial sweeteners of any kind. No bread, grains, rice, or legumes. No dairy of any kind. No alcohol (yowtch!).
So what is allowed? Meat and vegetables like woah. Seafood, eggs, nuts and most fruit. Again, you’re urged to eat FOOD. Like, made out of plants and animals and stuff. I know.
Is it hard? Yes. You wouldn’t BELIEVE how much sugar you’re eating in your regular diet, day in, day out, without even thinking about it. It’s insidious. It’s in everything. Mayonnaise. Bacon. Sriracha. Essentially, my three major food groups.
Is Whole30 rewarding? That remains to be seen. As of this writing, I am only on day four, which means that the dramatic mood and energy swings are offset by the pleasurable novelty of the whole thing. However, I do think we’ll be able to finish the thirty days, which didn’t seem at all likely on day one.
What is the point, then, of this very long-winded intro? It means that for the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be taking a bit of a break from our heavily comfort food-influenced cooking, introducing a new Whole30 category on the site, a new Whole30 Pinterest page, and figuring out how to continue eating the kinds of foods we like, made Whole30 compliant for anyone else on a similar journey. “Journey?” Ew.
If you’re not into it, I understand. Check back in a few weeks, and I’ll be back to deep-frying chicken thighs in Jameson. But for now, try a few of these experiments. You might, like us, be surprised at how much delicious, healthy cooking you can do with such a restrictive list of ingredients, and how (at least at dinnertime), doing Whole30 can still feel like “you.”
- 4-5 boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons massaman curry paste (see note)
- 2 tablespoons coconut or safflower oil, or clarified butter or ghee
- 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 14.5 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup green beans, trimmed
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 3 tablespoons extra light olive oil
- In a medium bowl, combine pork, coconut milk, and curry paste. Stir well to coat meat, ensuring curry paste is dissolved. Set aside 30 minutes, up to a few hours.
- In a high-sided pan over medium-high heat, brown pork (including curry marinade) in oil or clarified butter. Add potatoes and canned coconut milk, and simmer until potatoes just begin to soften. Add green beans, and simmer a few minutes longer until cooked through. Add pineapple, allow to heat though, and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.
- Cut cauliflower into large florets, removing tough inner core from the head. Pulse in a food processor until desired consistency (larger to simulate rice, smaller for fakey couscous). Saute in extra light olive oil, covered, for a few minutes, until cauliflower just barely begins to soften and turn golden brown. Serve with pork.
- Double check your Massaman curry paste, to makes sure it contains no added sugar. Since the potency of these pastes are all different, start with two teaspoons, then add more at the end for a stronger curry flavor, if needed.
We’re pretty thorough, in the way we try to categorize recipes for this food blog. The problem is, we haven’t yet set up a category for “Help it’s a weeknight and I forgot that I had to cook dinner even though I’ve been doing it every night for decades and the kids are committing heinous, felony-level assaults on one another and my wife (or husband) will be home soon from an exhausting day in the cubicle farm and if I eat one more improvised penne pasta and chicken dish I am going to drive all four of us off a bridge.”
It’s a good name for a category. Maybe a little wordy.
But that’s exactly the itch that this recipe scratches. Sometimes, I just want something kind of quasi-ethnic, not really Thai, or Chinese, per se, but something that’s just a little spicy, and a little sweet, with some new flavors that haven’t been done over and over again. I want to combine “shrimp” and “toasted coconut” into a vacation for my mouth, even as my body remains housebound, held captive by the dueling toddler and baby. And if I can get some hot fruit in there, all the better.
This recipe comes together mostly with pantry staples, especially if you’re the kind of person who keeps a bag of shrimp in the freezer. And for the sake of our friendship, I hope that you are. It’s cheap, fast, and satisfying, and provides enough of a break from the suppertime status quo to give you the strength to keep you going for another week. Enjoy.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Juice from one lime
- 1 pound shrimp (31-42 count), peeled and de-veined
- 2 cups fresh mango, cubed (or thawed frozen mango)
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, combine onion and oil and cook until onions begin to turn translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic, Sriracha, basil, soy sauce, lime juice, and shrimp. Cooking, stirring often, until shrimp is cooked through, about 4 minutes more.
- Add mango and allow to heat through. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
- Unripe or firm mango works best, though you can use frozen mango in a pinch.
Any month that starts with your family Saran-wrapping your toilet and your cubicle mates filling your desk drawers with ping pong balls, deserves an equally silly giveaway. Which is why we’re giving away one of these sweet vintage teapots, hand painted by Etsy user LennyMud into an iconic piece of tableware suitable for any child of the 80s, or anyone who thinks that tea time should be a little less stuffy. From the website:[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]”I pity the fool that doesn’t love this 80’s icon! This is an upcycled vintage stoneware teapot that I have reglazed and restored to like new condition before altering it by adding my image of Mr Tea and kiln firing it a final time. It measures 8.5 x 7.5 and holds 4 cups of tea.”[/blockquote]
Entering this giveaway couldn’t be simpler, and there are multiple ways to do it. Do one, do them all, but get your hands on this sweet teapot! Giveaway ends April 30th, at 12:00AM Eastern.