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?
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.
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.
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.
I made homemade ketchup (a double batch of this version, just using raw sugar instead of brown sugar).
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.
Recipe at Writ
Doubled and adapted from last year
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
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.