rosemary-garlic burgers

I am one of those obnoxious people who likes asking random questions so I can overanalyze your answers: Would you rather be smart and ugly or beautiful and dumb? If you could go anywhere, where would you go? What’s your favorite book? When did you start liking vegetables? Picture yourself in the desert.

And before any of you kind ones out there leap to reassure me that asking such questions is not obnoxious, not at all, let me just explain that this is only half the problem. The flip side is I don’t really like to answer these questions. I mean, not unless I’ve had plenty of time to really think out my answer and make it exactly what I want it to be or after I’ve really gotten to know you and feel like I can trust that you’ll understand what I mean more than what I say but, even after that point, you should know it’s pretty likely I’ll still change my mind later and, when I do, I will want you to listen to all the reasons why because we have to overanalyze it together!, but meanwhile, go ahead and give me your answer right now so I can unfairly peg and judge you if you don’t mind, thankyouverymuch.

It’s weird. And if you’re thinking I bring this up for a reason today, you already know me better than you should because the truth is, I do want to ask you something, one of those random questions that we could talk about for a half hour if you let me.

So here it is: If you had to choose between beautiful weather + ho-hum food OR ho-hum weather + fantastic food, which would you pick?

burgers on the grill

I guess I ask because I was thinking about it this last weekend, one in which I had gorgeous weather and good food in spades (bonus question: why do we say things like, good food in spades?), and I ate things like rosemary-garlic hamburgers made from grass-fed beef, set on fresh, grilled onion rolls and topped by homemade ketchup, on a day with warm sunshine and bright blue skies with a slight chill in the air.

grilled buns

I loved the weather. I loved the food. Which did I love more? I don’t know. Which do you love more?

If it will help, I’ll tell you more about the food.

burgers and buns

As I said above, we used grass-fed beef (Bonus question #2: Have you seen Food, Inc? Do you know where your meat comes from?), and they were riddled with rosemary and garlic (ala this recipe from Erica of Writ, who posted them last June!? but I never forgot them!) that I pureed in a food processor and mixed up with the meat before forming it into patties.

homemade ketchup

I made homemade ketchup (a double batch of this version, just using raw sugar instead of brown sugar).

my plate

And even though the grill never seemed hot enough and I stood out there forever getting everything cooked, it didn’t really matter because, hello?, do I need to point out again what kind of day it was? Oh, spring.

Well shoot. I guess that’s me talking about the weather again.

There were other things I loved about this weekend. Of course. The eating, the enjoying, the talking about the beautiful flowers were all done alongside people I like and never seem to get sick of and so, honestly, if you’re going to make me pick, I’ll have to reveal the other really annoying thing about my random answers, when I do give them: they’re usually some weird attempt at a loophole where I say neither the food nor the weather but choice (3)!, which of course is the relationships for which those things were just the backdrop. That’s what I pick. Hands down, no contest.





Rosemary-Garlic Hamburgers
Recipe at Writ

Homemade Ketchup
Doubled and adapted from last year

Ingredients:
9 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon celery flakes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup white vinegar
9 Tablespoons raw sugar
2 onions, chopped
2 sport peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic

Directions:
Wrap cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, celery flakes and red pepper flakes in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-quart saucepan (it’s a little snug in this, so feel free to use a bigger pot) over medium-high heat along with the chopped tomatoes, salt, vinegar, sugar, onions, allspice and jalapeno; smash and add the garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onions are very soft, about 40 minutes.

Remove spice bundle; purée sauce in a blender (or with a stick blender, which is what I did) until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into the 3.5-quart saucepan over medium heat (this may take forever, at which point, you’ll decide to throw it all back in the pot and keep going; no problem). Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes (took more like an hour and a half for me this time). Add more salt, sugar or vinegar, if you like, but you probably won’t need to.

Transfer ketchup to a glass mason jar. Set aside; let cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    okay, my huz gives me a hard time because i’m so curious and ask so many questions…especially the one about “what song would you sing on your american idol audition?”

    which, by the way, what song would YOU sing?

    your question is tough. I LOVE good food and i would hate to sacrifice it but everyone knows good weather just makes you feel better.
    but…i think i would go with the food. …i’ll turn a lot of lamps on in the house or something. And at least my tummy will be happy!
    Definitely want to try the home-made ketchup! i LOVE ketchup. And the more tomato-y the better!

  2. Wendi

    I was literally laughing out loud! I can just hear you saying all that. The burgers look awesome… I will probably try them before making my own condiments. :-)

  3. Kim

    My first instinct was to say good food, of course. However, I am a California girl, and I have never known a life without beautiful weather, so I suppose I don’t really know about this ho-hum weather thing…not firsthand for comparison anyway. Just when I didn’t think it could get better, I moved from LA to Berkeley, and (dare I say it?) the food and the weather combo surpassed even my idyllic upbringing. Because Los Angeles is lovely and all, but those 115 degree summers weren’t cutting it for me anymore.

    Please come back to California for a visit. This time, we’ll get together and eat in the sunshine. Though it seems you have plenty of that out in Chicago right about now anyway.

  4. Kendra @ My First Kitchen

    Good food. I have to. The weather here has been gorgeous lately, so Sam and I have taken a walk pretty much every day. And the kid is happy lying on his back on a blanket in the yard, but I just imagine how much more fun that will be when we’re grilling burgers and eating corn on the cob and making ice cream on the deck. I don’t think weather can make food better, but food can make weather better. Does that mean food gets the nod? I think over here it just might.

    And to answer your other questions: smart and ugly, Greece, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, I always have, and apparently I’m not close to my son but still feel that he’s special. My flowers were apparently too far away from my cube.

  5. jacqui

    i’d go with ho-hum weather + fantastic food, because great food can make the weather seem not so bad. soup on a rainy day, for example. or beef stew during a snowstorm. if it weren’t for this fantastic food, i don’t think i would’ve made it til spring, to be perfectly honest. your answer, of course, trumps all. yummy looking burgers, too! i have yet to learn how to grill…

  6. Alejandra

    You know, I think I’d pick the ho-hum weather and good food. I actually love a dreary rainy day spent inside baking a cake or working on some kind of elaborate dish and then settling in to enjoy it (followed by a movie on the couch, or perhaps a good book). So yes, I’d pick good food.

  7. Angela@spinachtiger

    Now you have me in a dilemna. If I were still living in California, I would say good food and ho hum weather, but now living in Nashville, weather is SOOOOOOO important to me, I would say ho hum food.

    By the way, it’s interesting, Nashville really is a town of ho hum food and not enough sun. But better than say, Chicago. hehe

    California on the other hand has delicious food and delicious weather, but the further north you go, the weather is not as nice and the food gets much better. Think San Francisco
    Well, now I’m very chatty for first thing in the a.m I guess you can tell how important weather is to me. I’m not one of those that thinks a rainy day is a cool thing to snuggle up, etc. etc. Seattle would probably be the end of me, (but then they have great food).

  8. Gemma

    It would have to be the food for me after all I live in Britain where ho hum weather is the norm! As long as that ho hum includes some guaranteed gorgeous days that is just fine… Your barbecue looks delicious, looking forward to the first of the year here too.

  9. LeAnn

    Your question reminded me of a recent trip to Mexico, where I took great delight in a rainy day shopping trip. Rather than cut our trip short when the rain started, we took our sandals off and walked (almost danced) in the rain!
    Those burgers sound divine! Can’t wait to try them.

  10. jessiev

    fantastic food over weather – i mean, really, we grill all year round, even in the depths of winter. ;) these burgers look fantastic!!

    please, no one sing over the rainbow or anything from annie.

  11. lisa

    I’d have to say good food — I think food can make or break anything. A horrible wet day can be made 100% better with a pot of savory stew or the smell of freshly baked cookies..

    These burgers sounds fantastic! I love the ketchup recipe. Will put that to immediate use!

  12. Maddie

    If you let me have one of those amazing-looking burgers, I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear! No, but really: I’m used to bad weather, having grown up in Chicago, and I like distinctive seasons; they all have moments of beauty, but seeing the sun emerge in April wouldn’t have the same novelty if I were jaded by living in always-sunny LA. Whereas with great seasonal comfort food, as others have said, the blah-ness of a rainy day can be made to feel cozy and indulgent.

    Re: bonus question #2: This movie should be a must-see for all Americans. It’s kept me consistently questioning and adjusting my behavior since I saw it…powerful stuff.

  13. Celeste

    Just had some Persian food & today the weather is grey, misty and slightly cool so you know where I am going with this one.
    Lived in sunny Florida for a time and we found few restaurants that we could recommend to folks. We enjoyed the sunshine but were always comparing the restaurants to the ones we missed in Vancouver, where it rains a lot.

  14. Shannalee

    Elizabeth, Ha! So glad to find someone who’s also naturally curious! As for your question, my friend and I were talking about that today and both of us had no answer! (Do you see what I did there?)

    Jessica, Well the chief advantage is it tastes better. You can control how sweet/spicy/tangy it is by what you put in it. I love the cloves in this version especially. PLUS – it’s also nice to have a ketchup made from all whole ingredients, which you made yourself. So that’s my sell. Try it!

    Wendi, HA! You so know. You are a good sport to be friends with me anyway. :)

    Kim, Stop it! Stop it! You are giving me weather envy, just when things are getting good here! I would love to come to Cali again sometime, and I’d love to hang out with you!

    Kendra, Best answer ever. See, this is why you and Becky and I need to be best friends. I don’t know what else to say except you make me laugh and I love it.

    Jacqui, It’s so true. Good food can improve the weather… although really really good weather maybe can improve the food? maybe? ok, it’s a stretch. and friend, listen to me: I need to learn how to grill too. boy do I. always a struggle, even with help!

    Alejandra, That all sounds so nice. I think I may be wishing for rain.

    Angela, I so understand. Weather makes such a huge difference in daily routines and how things go, I find myself practically obsessed with a beautiful day when it comes! (of course, as you said, I am from Chicago) And oh California. It does sound nice, especially with all the good food.

    Gemma, I feel very much the same around here. When the good weather finally does come though, it really knocks my socks off!

    Rachel, Our first weather vote! Way to stand up! Sounds like you’ve picked the right place to call home then, all warm and tropical.

    Avalee, Excellent loophole option! I love it!

    Joanna, Oh you’re such a nice old roommate. Remember when I’d pretend to be sleeping because I got too tired to talk anymore? Those were some good times in our room.

    LeAnn, Way to embrace the moment. I need to do more of that.

    JessieV, Get out! So do you go out in the snow and fire up the grill, or do you do it in a covered area, or what? I love that charcoal flavor. mmmm.

    Lisa, Freshly baked cookies really do make everything better, it’s true. And hope you enjoy the ketchup recipe!

    TJ, Ha! See I go back and forth too. Beautiful weather is such a gift, and it’s one that’s totally out of my control. Good food on the other hand, I can take more responsibility for… hmm, maybe that’s why I value the weather so much.

    Maddie, Ha! Deal! :) I love what you said about the value in what we wait/hope for. You are SO RIGHT. I get so happy when spring finally comes, and if I didn’t know winter, maybe I wouldn’t. Also, PS – yay for Food, Inc.! Powerful indeed.

  15. Lisa

    good food. I also agree that food can make a day better – but then again good weather can make just o.k. food seem just a little better if you are enjoying your atmosphere…actually i’m going to change back to food again because even with good atmosphere, food that’s just okay gets tiring quickly. yes, i’m sticking with that.

  16. Karen

    I just made turkey burgers with rosemary and they were delicious — that is a winning combo with ground meat. To your question…I think I’d prefer…great food. If it’s bad weather, you can always cozy up indoors and at least have an amazing meal to keep you happy!

  17. kate

    For me that’s pretty simple; hands down it’s got to be good food. I can deal with unpleasant weather, rain even and really, I’m oooo-k with imperfect food for the most part but a glorious day won’t be dashed to pieces in my mind over a less than stellar meal. I’ve lived through some very lean times in my life and won’t ever take food for granted again, as I’ve learned that appreciating what you’ve got, however meager, is the way to celebrate even the gloomiest of days. Both physically and emotionally. However, put good food and great weather together and you’ll have to drag me out of the clouds.

  18. sheena

    you have no idea what this question has done to me!!! I have been thinking about this for the past 24 hours……and I still have not made up my mind!! I am so silly–it’s not like I really have to choose, but I am determined to figure out which I’d rather have!!

    Weather makes all the difference…..sunshine makes me SO happy!!! But to live with boring food……ugh! And I am imagining the WORST food ever like musty cream of chicken soup casseroles….gag.

    I think I’d have to pick the food. If it’s bad weather, I’ll just bake more, get really fat….but it won’t matter because I’ll be spending my days inside.

    phew! I’ve made up my mind….now I can rest easy:)

  19. Shannalee

    Lisa, HA! Love the back and forth. You sound like me.

    Karen, I so agree. The turkey meatloaf I made a while back was so good, largely I think because of the rosemary.

    Nikki, “Great days for eating are great days” – love that line.

    Kate, It is so true that doing without something makes you appreciate it more, with weather and with food, and I get what you mean.

    Sheena, HA! Your answer is priceless. Love how you reasoned it all out and how that took 24 hours. :) Good choice of food, while acknowledging the power of good sunshine. Rest easy indeed!

  20. Hannah

    Good food, hands down. I spent a week in beautiful, sunny Florida, but the vacation was less-than because I didn’t have one good meal the whole week!

    Good soup can always make up for a rainy day!

  21. Pingback: Happy National Hamburger Day

  22. Alicia

    I made this burger yesterday with my first grass-fed beef purchase, and can I just say, THANK YOU, from a person with absolutely no experience or knowledge on how to cook meat. It was delicious.

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