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.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hearing Voices

I've been thinking about voices. I am the type of reader that once I find an author I enjoy I will read everything they've written just because I love the voice of the writer (without regard to quality). I am  like that with blog authors as well. The voice of some bloggers just resonate and I miss that when they don't post.

I've been nostalgic lately which is not really in my basic personality. I don't have many regrets and am always ready for the next thing in my life, but lately I've been looking back.

I went to the wedding of the daughter of a great friend. I used be a neighbor too and many of the wedding guests were dear friends. I saw parents of another great friend whom I had known since 7th grade. I went over to talk to them--the dad had been my Bishop as well as my Stake President and the mom had always been a lovely person in my life and I suddenly got really and embarrassingly teary! When I saw them I realized I just plain missed them.  I thought of how much they and their daughter had been a big part of my formative years and I felt lucky, but also sad that their voices were heard so little in my life.

In our house their are many sounds. My husband learning a new guitar song, my daughter playing hymns, my youngest daughter and son playing and fighting together. I love to hear my children practice their instruments, no matter how bad or good they sound. My daughter who is a flutist would practice for hours and I loved her warm-up scales and TOFU as much as concertos. (I am still not sure why we called it TOFU.)  There is a real beauty to learning music.

I also love the voices of my children; one of my most driven and focused daughters has a laugh filled voice, while another's voice is musical and gentle, one is a person of few words--but each word is either hilarious or insightful and often both. I have one daughter who often speaks in a monotone, but she has the most original thoughts of anyone I've ever known. My son's voice is energetic, negotiating and love filled. Anyway, I love their voices and when they are out of the house there is a real void.

This is the first summer I've spent without my twin daughters. One decided to serve a mission and is in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the other decided that she would like stay and work in NYC where she spends the rest of the year. (By the way, doesn't New York get enough of her--NY is very selfish!) When they are around they are non stop talkers so their voices are sorely missed.

The traveling twins.
Then their are other voices I miss. Those of people that have passed on. Every extended family gathering I really miss my grandmother and she's been gone for 22 years. She had a strong, true voice. I never met my husband's father, but I miss him too.

I've moved around a bit and had the opportunity to meet some really lovely people and some stay in my life and some just naturally drift away. Each one with their distinct personalities. Some friends were toxic and it was better to just let time and space create distance, but I miss them too.