Wednesday, April 14, 2010
One house in particular, in fact. Since before we got here. We found it on the internet before we left Australia, and went to see it five days after we arrived. Then we spent the next nearly three months dealing with banks (six of them, if you count trying to get the mortgage and trying to get all our funds into one place), organizing inspections, negotiating, and faxing enough documents hither and yon to deforest a small state park. It was that cliché: a roller coaster of emotions: non-stop and, at times, nauseating. My father-in-law, who works in finance, consoled me more than once with the maxim that “Every deal dies a thousand deaths.”
On Saturday, it looked like we were finally there. The sellers had accepted the best offer we could wangle out of the bank. We were talking about scheduling the closing date. On Saturday night, I made hamburgers and fries for dinner, and as we sat around the hotel apartment table, we allowed ourselves to dream about the future for the first time: how maybe the next time we had hamburgers, they’d be cooked on our grill in our back yard, instead of in a rented skillet on a rented electric stove.
On Sunday the sellers changed their minds and pulled out of the deal. They couldn’t accept that neither of the banks that we asked would finance a mortgage at the price they wanted, and they decided they’d rather not sell the house to us at all than cut the price by 9%.
So we’re back to Square One, wiser but poorer. Well, not quite Square One: at least now we know we should be able to get a mortgage, and all of our funds are in the same bank, instead of scattered across three continents.
Maybe Square Two.
But we’ve still got a roof over our heads. And it won’t be so bad even if we do have to make stovetop hamburgers again, because they were pretty great. DP has already asked when we can have them again, and for someone who likes hamburgers as much as he does, that is high praise indeed.
Hopeful hamburger dinner
I thought of calling this meal “real fast food,” but the fast part doesn’t really apply, especially since I made the hamburger buns myself (see picture). And really, there’s not much similarity between this meal and a trip to the drive-thru. For that, I am very thankful. I don’t care if I never eat another mass-produced hamburger again, but these are a different story.
(ETA this image because I was so proud of my homemade hamburgers & buns--see here for more info!)
- hamburgers on homemade buns (I followed this recipe for buns to the letter, so I won’t rewrite it here; the only thing I added was some sesame seed and poppy seed topping on some) with the usual toppings: ketchup, mustard, onions, cheese, pickles
- oven fries
- grilled zucchini and tomato salad (just as good with sautéed zucchini)
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
This mixture, known as a panade, is specially designed to stay moist even when cooked to well done. It does its job.
1.5 lb/750 g best ground beef
1 slice good-quality honey wheat bread, crusts removed, chopped into small pieces
2 Tbsp whole milk
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oil or bacon fat
Mash bread and milk together in a medium-sized bowl until you have a consistent mush. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and soy sauce and mix thoroughly. Break beef up into bowl in small pieces, then mix with your hands as you would meatloaf. Shape beef mixture into hamburger patties; indent the top of each one (this keeps them from bulging during cooking) and set aside for the moment.
Heat oil or fat in a skillet on the stove on medium. When the pan is hot, place as many patties (indented side up) as will fit in the skillet without crowding. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook for another 2-4 minutes. If making cheeseburgers, add cheese at this point, and cover skillet to make sure the cheese melts.
Makes 4-6 hamburger patties.
1 large or 2 small potatoes per person being served
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 425F/205C. Generously oil a baking sheet and put in the oven to heat. Scrub the potatoes clean but do not peel. Slice the potatoes lengthwise into wedges about ½ in (1 cm) thick. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to combine, making sure that all of the potatoes are coated with a thin layer of oil.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and arrange the potato wedges (I like to put mine with the skin side down so they don’t stick). Roast in the oven for at least 30 minutes, or until the wedges are brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, sprinkle liberally with salt and less so with pepper, and serve immediately.