24 January 2016

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car”

Two things have happened in the last couple of days to prompt me to write this post.

The first thing was that I picked up a strange little book at “work” (see end of this post for details of my “job” and some wonderful bargains if you live near me!) …

food rules - michael pollan

an-eater's manual

Looking it up on Amazon I see that this booklet is basically the salient points from a far more comprehensive and attractively illustrated version but the points in the little book are good enough for me. 

Michael Pollan’s rules are very much the kind of thing I’ve been trying to say, for instance, and very apropos to this post …

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car”


“It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language (think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles …)”

The second thing is, I think, old news but I’ve just read it on Facebook – so called “Hamburger chef” Jamie Oliver successfully challenged McDonalds about the use of pink slime, ie. the fatty parts of the beef ‘washed’ in ammonium hydroxide, in their burgers. Apparently they no longer do this thanks, at least in part, to Jamie. I started looking into this but there was loads to read and I’m not really that interested. 

What I am interested in is …

Why, apart from convenience for people on the road and in a real hurry, why would anyone choose to have a takeaway (or eat in) burger (or other meal) from McDonalds or other fast food outlet?

Do you know how easy it is to make a burger? 

If not this is what you do …

~   Get some fresh but not too lean minced beef – you want your burger to be juicy.
~   Divide it into portions the size you would like your burgers but treat the meat gently as overworking it will toughen them. I have always made 225g/8oz burgers both at home for my real man and when cooking professionally. Allow me to go off on a small tangent here ...
According to McDonalds themselves their cooked beef patties in a Big Mac weigh approximately 66g/2.3 ounces each so that’s a little under 4.6g/5oz. Even allowing for shrinkage you can do way better than that! Anyhoo …
~   Make a small depression in the burger on one side. (I say this but have never done it - apparently it helps the burger cook evenly and stay flat).
~   Heat a frying pan and grease lightly. ~   Season your burgers on both sides with salt and black pepper. The salt is important because not only does make the burger tasty it helps form a good crust on the meat.
~   Cook your burger till perfect by browning over medium high heat according to the timings below on the first side without disturbing it. Flip onto the second side and finish cooking. Times may vary a little according to the thickness of the burgers.

Rare – 3 minutes per side, feels soft and juicy.
Medium – 4 minutes per side, feels springy.
Well Done –  5 minutes per side, feels firm.

~   If you top your burger with something eg. bacon, cheese etc. cover the pan briefly to heat and melt the topping or, better really if you can,  pop the burger into a hot oven or under a hot grill for just a minute to heat briefly.
~   Serve with a burger bun (toasted or not to your taste) with whatever you fancy eg. mayonnaise, bbq sauce etc. plus real cheese, bacon, onions and so on.

6 important points when making burgers …

~   Don’t crowd the pan; if cooking more than one burger there must be space between them or they will steam rather than fry.~   DON'T press or flatten burgers during cooking because this squeezes out the juices, compresses the meats and really irritates me!
~   If the meat seems stuck to the pan when you want to turn it wait a little while; once a good crust has formed it will release itself from the pan, providing you dried the meat properly before cooking.
~   Only flip once.
~   Don't cut into the burger to see if it is done at this releases yummy juices.
~   As with all meat set aside to rest in a warm place for a few minutes before serving.

So, your choice …

Big Mac

Big Mac – £.2.69 comprising 132g ground beef (possibly and possibly not with additives), one white bun, some lettuce, a slice of processed cheese (or cheese product to be exact ie. not real cheese).

Or ...

Homemade Burger - £1.80 approx comprising 225g ground beef, 2 rashers back bacon, a generous portion of lovely mature Cornish cheddar, a spoonful of freshly fried red onions, lettuce and baby plum tomatoes, white burger bun. 

This is one I made earlier for my real man.

Cooking your own burger takes about 10 minutes from taking the meat out of the packet (although longer if you also do chips), I’m sure you could easily wait that long in McDonalds!

This is just one example of why you should cook your own food – it is real and fresh, can be made exactly as you like it and is also cheaper.

My “Work”

I’ve written before about this – two days a week I help sort out vast amounts of books that have been donated to Cornwall Hospice Care.  They are divided into books that are good enough to sell on Amazon and those that can be sold in the many shops around Cornwall. Some books don’t make the mark and are sold for pulping – heartbreaking!

Naturally I am often tempted to buy a book (or ten) myself, so I do, hence the Michael Pollan book mentioned above.

Bargains – I volunteer at the warehouse at Holmbush which is behind their great shop selling pre-loved furniture and stuff. There is also a clearance outlet where phenomenal bargains are to be found including clothes for £1 and paperback books at five for a pound.  So if you are in the St. Austell area head over to St. Austell Furnish, their largest store  and get yourself some reading matter!

Speaking of books – I have just updated my book of cooking tips and hacks which is now considerably extended from 219 to over 500 seriously helpful tips. 


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Paper Dragon said...

Hi there, just like to say that I purchased your 4 genius books for kindle yesterday - ice cream, sorbet, scones and soup. They are great! Wonderful simple recipes and a delightful writing style that made me laugh out loud at times.



Suzy Bowler said...

Wow - thank you so much!