Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who knew Hickory Burgers would give me a feminist crisis!

Cooking these burgers sent me into a feminist crisis. I grew up a no holds barred feminist--a product of the Seventies. My father actually gave me Gloria Steinem books to read. I went to college fully intending to mix family and work, but I turned out to have a very conventional mother/housewife life. For almost 2 decades I turned out to be a feminist in thought more than deed.

My grandmother as I have said was quite amazing, she taught at the University of Utah, wrote articles and wrote a book. She was on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Young Women General Board for decades. She traveled with the church extensively throughout the world, so I asked my mom how she did it. My mom told me that all their dinners were prepared ahead of time and frozen and that Grandma did most of the housework. On Saturday mornings everyone worked, but they did different things. I say she was pretty liberated in deeds, but I am not sure about thoughts. Her book is full of advice for women taking care of families and the importance of that role.

I went to work several years ago, when my youngest was 9. I kind-of always knew I would be the kind that would want to work outside the home. The only way I can describe myself when I am home all day is lethargic--I stretch out the most mundane tasks to take all day and end up feeling like I never get anything done. I don't like housework and I wasn't disciplined enough to get it done and then go on to other things. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mother and I am really grateful that I was able to stay home with my kids while they were toddlers. I am also grateful that most days I am off by three and can be home when my kids get home from school.

When I went to work my husband got everyone to do their own laundry, but other than that I am still mostly in charge of the house and cooking. We all clean up after dinner and everyone helps clean the house on Saturday, but if I want the bed made or our bedroom cleaned, I do it. I work 30 hours a week and my husband works 40-50 hours a week--it makes sense that I do most of the housework. Is it a gender role?--probably. Although I have no problem asking for help and I make my children do all the same chores regardless of gender.

I am going to take you back in time (insert wavy lines here emphasizing time travel) where men are men and women are there to prepare things for men--yes, back to the 1960's. This time travel brought to you by a section in my grandmother's cookbook labeled "Barbecuing--A Man's Delight:," note the italics added by me:

"A man loves an informal party, especially an outside barbecue, calling for no tie, sport shirt, slacks, and soft shoes.  It isn't just the comfortable clothes that sell the barbecue idea to him, but outdoor cooking is man's cooking.  He is king, and the food has a zest. It's fun, as a guest, to watch dinner in preparation,and as an added dividend here is the wonderful fragrance of tangy sauces, of charcoal, and of sputtering meat.  The following are recipes he will enjoy preparing. As a wife, see that all ingredients are handy and that there is a big apron to cover the expanse of him, and then stop hovering, walk away, and be the happy hostess."

I totally love that big apron line to cover the "expanse of him!"

In today's world, where many of the lines are blurred between gender roles, I find it really interesting that not that long ago there was such certainty in who does what and why. Grandma makes statements that are quite funny to read today and she said them without a hint of irony. There was no hedging--this is what he does and this is what she does. In some ways in a world where we don't really have to accept any limits or roles this certainty seems confining, but also just a little comforting to know exactly what is expected. I don't know--I think it's better to negotiate in a family and come to a conclusion that is fair to everyone.

Anyway, all I really wanted to write about was burgers!

Hickory Burgers

1/3 c catsup
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 soda crackers, finely crumbled (I put mine in a sandwhich bag and rolled over it with a rolling pin.)
8 slices Cheddar cheese
Hickory Salt (I couldn't find a hickory salt so I used McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite)
2  pounds ground beef
2  eggs

Combine all ingredients except cheese. Mix well. (Isn't all that raw hamburger appetizing?)  I ended up having to use my mega spoon and then fingers!

Form 16 thin patties.  Place the cheese slices on half the patties; completely cover with the second pattie.  Seal edges well. Sprinkle with hickory salt (Mesquite), grill. (I had to broil mine due to weather issues.)

Serve on toasted buns with sliced tomatoes and sliced dill pickles.

This is a really flavorful hamburger and putting cheese in the middle made it quite moist. The only problem was I couldn't really taste the cheese--which I like to do on a cheeseburger.  I think because of the mesquite salt, it ended tasting a bit like a sausage burger, which was really quite yummy.  The hickory salt added a smoked flavor that I liked, but I think I would like this better as meatloaf rather than a hamburger.

The kids and husband gave it a thumbs up though and would eat it again.


  1. I loved this post, you feminist you. :)

  2. I had burgers yesterday, but ah! I want another today! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  3. Oh, I've been meaning to make some of these up myself! I've heard such good things about putting the cheese in the burger- so thanks for sharing so I have some assistance when I get around to making these! :)

  4. Aliceatthemoon, These are actually really yummy. Thanks for the comment.