Internet Lentils

On our first night of vegan week, brought to you by Thug Kitchen, I attempted White Bean and Red Lentil Burgers. I have made their Smokey Bean and Spinach Sliders before and they are da bomb. Best veggie burger I have ever had. Saying that about my own cooking is a little cray, but I think it’s the liquid smoke in that recipe that makes it the best thing since sliced bread.

Now I’m not going to give the recipe away here, even though I saw some bloggers online writing it out. Ya’ll should probably buy their damn cookbook like they intended so you can smell the dead trees that mother nature paid for. Let’s go over the highlights. Keep in mind that my husband and the cookbook have tried to drill in my head that I need all of the ingredients and the correct ingredients at that.

15 ingredients total, I messed up 5 of them.

Ingredient #1: Red lentils.
Firstly, I have never heard of or had a lentil in my lifetime. My trusty friend Aaron tells me they’ll be near the rice. Ok, that sounds like something I can handle. I picked out a bag that says “lentil”, seems like the right thing to do. Later I find out that there are multiple types of lentils and I definitely picked up brown instead of red. But it’s all got to be the same, right? I mean, rice generally cooks the same in the rice maker, so why wouldn’t lentils? I’ll just follow the recipe (and not the bag) on how to cook them and call it a day. Hmm. These little fuckers are hard. Am I sure they’re done? It’s not like I’m cooking chicken or any sort of meat, so it shouldn’t really matter? Sure, yeah, whatever, moving on to the next step.

Ingredient #2: Jalapeno, minced.
I omitted the jalapeño because fuck that, that’s scary. Ever been in a knife fight with a jalapeño? Shit ain’t fun.

Ingredient #3: Red Onion.
I totally forgot to pick one of these up because we were in the produce isle for 100 goddamn hours trying to pick everything out for the week and couldn’t get the damn produce bags open. So I gave the fuck up.

Ingredient #4: Your favorite no-salt, all-purpose seasoning blend.
What the actual fuck does this mean? Again, my trusty friend Aaron to the rescue, explains to me how this works. Never heard of such a thing. I have some Italian seasoning, does that work? When I went to the store, apparently they had never heard of such a thing either. Why would I even have a favorite seasoning? My favorite seasoning is bland AF, do ya got that, grocery store?! Thinking you’re all smart with your alphabetical order seasonings. Why don’t you go hang out with some CDs, another alphabetical, takes up too much awkward space in my house, infectious breed of junk. Fuck it, let’s use oregano, it brings all the boys to the yard. I need a milkshake break at this point.

Ingredient #5: Zest of a lime.
Seems like a goddamn waste to buy this little fruit just to tear its skin up for the sake of a few flavor bits. Fuck it.

I will say that cooking all of the ingredients and forming them into burgers wasn’t too earth shattering. I was thinking, alright, not too shabby, gonna cook up these burgers and then chow down. Boy was I wrong…

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As someone who has never had a lentil before, I didn’t think twice about the lentils being so hard. Until Joe pointed out that some of them were impossible to bite into. I then did something you’re never supposed to do when cooking, feeling sick, or making a website (only 2 of those are correct in this statement). I googled about lentils. Turns out, red lentils cook way faster, thus the recipe calling for them and describing a short cooking time. And the brown lentils I used take for fucking ever to cook. I go on to read that eating the uncooked lentils can give you severe abdominal pain.

Do. Not. Want. Stop Eating. Now. I start texting all my friends, HALP 911 LENTIL EMERGENCY. While my friends agreed that the lentils were not cooked, they said I would be fine eating it. I got too scared, like I always do, and stopped eating it. While Joe ate the whole damn thing and lived a happy healthy life.

That’s the last time I ask Stack Overflow about lentils.

On the real though, I’m going to make these again, and make them the right way. It was a very different flavor profile for us and I was excited about that. The few bites I did try were damn delicious despite my oversights.

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Thug Kitchen is my Spirit Animal

I spent a whole Saturday reading through the first Thug Kitchen cookbook and then that week ahead I spent the whole week making recipes from it. They were devine recipes, language and all.

If you don’t know about Thug Kitchen, you need to peep dat shit. I’m pretty sure Thug Kitchen is my spirit animal. I hope no one thinks I’m trying to copy them by the way I write, I just, I get it.

The first thing you need to know is that they use some ris-kay language. Which is GREAT. It really makes the recipe reading hold your attention. And they call you out if they know you’re being a little bitch. I need that in my life, because I am often being a little bitch.

The cookbook had so much more than just recipes. There was a section on how to marinate and bake tofu. I’ve been doing this for years now and have never tried it the way they presented it. I am turnin’ dat oven up to 11 next time I bake some mother fuckin’ tofu.

They give a nice list of must-haves for the kitchen to get your started, from kitchen utensils to kitchen cabinet essentials. I felt pretty good to know that I already had all of these things. Hell yeah, just a modern day cooking artist right here. Note: Melon Baller was NOT on the list. Fuck that thing.

The most helpful section to me was about learning how to substitute ingredients in a recipe. If you don’t have this, just use this. BUT don’t try to substitute a green pepper for an onion because that shit just isn’t the same. And what did I do during my week of trying Thug Kitchen recipes? For every recipe I tried, I forgot an ingredient or 2 and tried to substitute. Some were successful, some were not. I could hear them cursing at me in my head each time I fucked up the dish. More on that later.

I guess what you really need to know is that Thug Kitchen is a vegan cookbook. Though I feel like if I never told you that, you wouldn’t have been able to guess it. The recipes are so rich in flavor and full of ingredients that you don’t even notice the meat is missing. Even the cheese. We made tacos without cheese and it was still baller. The healthy ingredients are off the chart, your heart will be feelin’ extra strong after a week of Thug Kitchen.

I went through the whole book and didn’t write any of my favorites down. I was like shit, I have to go back through this book again to find dinners for this week? Luckily, our trusty friend Aaron was here to handle this for me. He flipped to random pages and those were the dinners for the week – easy peasy! Unless you’re Aaron, it probably wasn’t so easy for him. I say this because I am a difficult person.

Here is an example:
He flips to tofu tacos. While this excites me, I am also immediately against it because it combines tofu and tacos which means that we cannot have a taco dish or a tofu dish again during the week. He is flabbergasted. He explains to me that there are very different types of tacos in this book, I could have tacos all week long if I wanted to. Same with tofu, there are many different flavor profiles that tofu can have, so why not have it more than once a week? He goes on to say how tofu is a bean, just like black beans, which is also something I only like to have once a week. Well, folks, we had a week of different types of beans thanks to Aaron convincing me that I am ridiculous.

The weeks menu looked like this:
1. White bean and lentil burgers with fries
2. 5 spice chinese stir fry
3. BBQ bean burger with peach salsa
4. Tofu scramble tacos

The grocery list was long AF. I asked if I had to get real broccoli as apposed to the frozen broccoli I already had. Aaron insisted I do so. I told him this was too much fresh produce! He said “it’s one section of the grocery store!” Ok fine, you win. What happens when we get to the store? Joe is like, “why do we need all this produce?” BECAUSE AARON SAID SO THAT’S WHY.

It was fun cooking with things I have never cooked with before though. Aaron got a picture of our dinner every night that week only to be upset he wasn’t there to eat it with us.

Hold on to your butts, this is going to be a wild week of vegan cooking. Stay tuned to hear how I fucked these recipes up.

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Mexican Bake

If there is one thing The Reds love, it’s a mexican bake. Or a pasta bake. A bake of any sort really. If you stick it in the baking thing, it’s going to be appealing to us.

This recipe from OhMyVeggies is to die for: http://ohmyveggies.com/cheesy-taco-casserole/
In fact, everything we’ve made from this site has been to die for.

Green pepper and kidney beans were a new ingredient for me to use so I was on board. Oh yeah, tryin’ new things, gettin’ wild.

So now that I’m super smart, this recipe was pretty easy. Chop a bunch of shit, cook it in a pan, then bake it with cheese on top. Easy enough!

The funny part was when Joe went to make it. He would’t stop complaining about how the directions are written. It’s 5 directions at first glance, but there are a million little directions hidden inside each one. Frustrating, right? Now ya’ll understand why I started this blog in the first place! Directions. My grandmother told me that I write the best directions for her and I was like oh my gosh this is my purpose in life. But really, that means I learned something in college. I learned to write directions for my grandmother to use her DVD player to watch 50 Shades of Gray and how to use OnDemand. Good stuff right there.

You know what I didn’t learn in college? How to cut an onion. Here is a bajillion dollars to teach me how to write directions, but no one can teach me how to cook. I need to eat to live, I don’t need to write directions to live. Thanks for the life skills, school.

Every time I try to cut an onion a different disaster strikes. If I hold my breath, my face doesn’t leak all over the onion, so that’s the tactic I’ve been going with. I also chop it without a purpose so I have multiple sized cuts which is great for cooking evenly (not). As I get towards the end, I can’t see anymore because my eyes are burning my face off. Thank tofu that I don’t cut a finger off. Even the other night, my pregnant friend comes over, and I can just smell the onions from the night before and I start to tear up. It had nothing to do with her being pregnant, I swear it was the onions.

My lovely aunt gifted me a pampered chef slap chop to help cut the onion, which is great, it has me spending less time with the little bastard onions. But the problem is that I still have to peel the onion and cut it into the right shape to fit into the slap chop. By that time, my face has fallen off and we are still eating face-onion. I also got the onion stuck in the slap chop, so, there’s that.

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I must say, though, that onions and garlic really do improve dishes. Who knew that that tip was a good tip! I definitely didn’t know because no one taught me that in school. Where was I supposed to learn that? Maybe I need to go work for a school and fix these problems…less math, more knife skills.

The good news about all these cutting problems is that we live in 2017 where there are so many future devices made for cutting. We have a food processor, a veggetti, a veggetti pro, a pampered chef slap chop, garlic press, and a cheese grater. All of these things help to cut things, but there is something fulfilling about being able to cut on your own. It’s like learning to ride a bike before learning to drive a car. Wait, what?

This dish wasn’t a fail, it was a huge success. I could eat it everyday. Ya’ll should try it!

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Blondie Hell

In the fall, I wanted to make a delicious fall dessert. I did what any smart person would do and asked Jeeves which delicious fall dessert to make. Jeeves returned to me a list of many apple related things which sounded great. Joe has a restraining order against apples so I have to keep them at a safe distance. He doesn’t like sweets either, so more for me. Or I could share them at work. Which ever. Well, I would share them at work if I could successfully make something.

I picked an Apple Crisp Blondie (http://www.thereciperebel.com/apple-crisp-blondies/).
I looooooove blondies. And by love, I mean that I used to order them at Ruby Tuesday’s in high school and I couldn’t get enough.

What I liked about this recipe, is that it didn’t seem like a lot of ingredients. Some I already had and the others were easy to obtain. The directions seemed simple. I thought, “why are people so crazy about baking? This doesn’t look hard, at all”. Boy were they right.

I’m going to paste step 1 here for you so you don’t have to click the link. Please read this carefully, as I did not:

  • In a large bowl, melt the butter. Stir in sugar. Stir in remaining ingredients (through flour). Spread into prepared pan.
  • In a large bowl, melt the butter. Stir in sugar. Stir in remaining ingredients (through flour). Spread into prepared pan.
  • In a large bowl, melt the butter. Stir in sugar. Stir in remaining ingredients (through flour). Spread into prepared pan.

THROUGH.FLOUR.

What is through flour?!?!?!

I asked Jeeves again. Dearest Jeeves, what in the hell does “through flour” mean? I went down this rabbit hole reading about the chemistry of baking. The importance of putting certain ingredients in first and certain in last. I’m totally down with that, I can follow a list of directions. In fact, my faux-OCD would L.O.V.E. to add the ingredients as you state them in your recipe that you worked so hard to create for us viewers. I would loveeeeee to follow it correctly.

So tell me again, what is “through flour”? I feel like I need to look this up in multiple languages. Is this still english?

In case you were wondering, the “remaining ingredients” are:
1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, pinch of salt, ½ tsp cinnamon

I thought maybe this meant that while you are adding the flour, add these things in too. As if it was raining and hailing at the same time. As if I had multiple hands to make this happen. Maybe it meant that you add a little at a time? Who knows what it meant. I’ve been asking around for some time now and no one seems to know.

I ended up just mixing everything together and baking it. Guess how it come out? Bad. Like slop. Like chunks of brown sugar. I could just pull these chunks apart and insert my tears between the chunks.

That’s what I get for thinking a recipe looked easy. I should know now that if the recipe doesn’t have in process photos, that it will probably be like hell on granite as I try to recreate it. Blondie dreams ruined forever. I even bought vanilla ice cream to put on top.

I continued to make the apple crisp topping, but by then I had given up completely.

The good news is that I found a blondie recipe in my “I Don’t Know How To Cook” cookbook and it is labeled as “medium”, not even “hard”. I’m going to attempt that one and then I will get back to you on it’s deliciousness. If you don’t hear from me, I have entered blondie hell to never return again.

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Failed Improv

It’s been a year since I last updated and don’t get your hopes up that this means I will update again. This must also mean that I have more confidence in cooking and fail less. That one is up for debate. Here’s a story about how I failed at thinking I could make up a recipe.

Things I Had:
– 3 pounds of yukon gold potatoes
– frozen morning star fachikin
– 1 avocado
– a bunch of spices
– an old red onion

Things I Didn’t Have:
– everything else.

The recipe I tried to make was called Roasted Potato Cups with Loaded Guacamole which was inspired by http://potluck.ohmyveggies.com/roasted-potato-cups-loaded-guacamole/

I thought I could dress up the potatoes with the taco-ish spices and then stuff smashed avocado and a piece of fake chicken inside. Sounds good, right? Errrrr.

Step 1:
– Cut potatoes in half
– Scoop out potato flesh with melon baller or teaspoon
– You can bake the potato flesh balls and it will be like a tater tot

My Step 1:
– Ok I’ve cut the potato in half, but there’s still a big chunk left here in the middle
– What is a melon baller?
– Is this a different kind of teaspoon then the usual measuring device? Is there something I don’t know about teaspoons? Do they double as knifes? How is a round thing supposed to puncture a raw potato?
– Dig a spoon into the potato as hard as you can, which is not very hard, and nearly impossible
– Try to use a knife to cut a hole and then scoop out with spoon. How do I make a knife cut round? Whoops wen’t all the way through the potato with that slice.
– Are the potatoes going to cook if I barely cut any flesh out?
– Give up after a few potatoes and just cut into fries

Step 2:
– Bake the shit
– Prepare the shit to stuff with

My Step 2:
– Shit bakes unevenly because different sizes
– Microwave weird morning star fachikin strips that are nearly freezer burned and feel super rubbery
– Taste weird fachikin
– Cry.
– Cut the avocado and worry that it is too far gone to eat

Now, we eat. Or we don’t eat. Depending on how you feel about this mess.

Lessons Learned:
– Potatoes make everything better, but nothing can make a weird fachikin better
– Avocados are delicious, but guac is better
– Lucky Charms for dinner is good too.

This look was appropriate (this image size is pretty appropriate too):
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French Fry Spill

Guys, I’ve been having a lot of spills lately. I don’t know what the deal is. And as frustrated as I get, I am still determined to make meals better than spegetti and tacos. I don’t know if this counts as a fail, seeing as how the cooking part is still happening. But it sure feels like a fail when your shit splats everywhere. 

You know what annoys me about recipes? Ridiculous titles when all you’re really doing is boiling some noodles and adding a store bought sauce. “Roasted encrusted pan seared twice cooked salmon smothered in winter vegetables with a green chilie sauce”. Bitch all you did was put some salmon in the oven after sprinkling pepper on top and again on the stove and added a jar of sauce after you microwaved your vegetables. Ain’t nothin special about that so quit tryna sound so special in your title. 

The Internet can be so deceiving. But it works for me because adding more than one spice is like standing on one leg, wobbly and I usually fall.

I wanted to make my own French fries with some seasoning, sounds simple enough, right?

Well, first you have to figure out how to cut a potato into French fry shapes and potatoes have odd curves sort of like women so that was difficult to figure out. Whatever, they’re smaller than the potato originally started and that’s all that matters.

Then I threw some junk in a bowl – olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and tossed the potatoes in. “Tossing” is such a difficult thing. I’m standing there like dancing with a bowl in the kitchen hoping that the fries get equally coated. Wonder if this is a technical term in the cooking world, “tossing”.

The recipe says to lay them on foil and use non stick cooking spray, but of course I ignore that because I’m a badass bitch.

After the oven took its sweet ass time preheating, I finally got to put my large pan into the oven. Except oh no, I don’t. Because I drop it all over the oven door instead. I have fries seeping out of my oven onto the floor and I hold back from a hissy fit because dudes, potatoes are a luxurious item. I can’t live with this tragedy. I’m all like MAN DOWN MAN DOWN CALL A MEDIC!

I guess the good news is that I also have a smaller pan of fries, so I’ll stick those in. Oh speaking of sticking, they stuck to the pan like a tongue on a pole in the snow. 

So fuck you french fries, I’m ordering pizza that I don’t even like on the one day that it isn’t half off because the Caps didn’t play the day before.

Sorry potatoes, YOLO.

Cats be like, wtf ma?

  
  

I’m good at something!

I decided one rainy night that I wanted, what I call, “A Frank Dinner” (AFD!). The main ingredient in an AFD! is garlic. You basically want to leave your house smelling like garlic for days and have to brush your teeth 2-3 times to smell normal again. The only downside is the vampires it attracts.

An AFD! also typically consists of salmon and a green vegetable. I devise the plan for lemon pepper salmon and rosemary roasted potatoes and asparagus. Of course, all of this is covered in garlic too.

I had never cooked salmon in a frying pan, never roasted potatoes successfully, and never roasted asparagus. YORO (You Only Roast Once)…

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Things:

  1. I was told that different types of potatoes need to roast at different temperatures. So I googled red potatoes this time for ultimate success
  2. I’ve got this garlic mincer, but how do I get it equally across everything? Welp, I’ll just toss it all over and hope for the best (same with the rosemary)
  3. I dribbled olive oil all over everything a tablespoon at a time
  4. Salmon in a pan, hmmm.
  5. Salmon in a pan.
  6. PUT THE SALMON IN THE PAN!
  7. Heat the olive oil in the pan first?
  8. Heat the olive oil in the pan second?
  9. Just do it already.
  10. Sprinkle so much lemon pepper on the salmon that it looks like a mass pepper murder
  11. 5 min each side, wow this is working…
  12. Oh I got this handy dandy meat thermometer, let’s use that…
  13. IT’S GOOD!

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The verdict: “Wow, you’ve been lying to me this whole time, you really can cook” – Joe.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhh.

It’s safe to say the house and us smelled like garlic for days. AFD! success! The rosemary also got everywhere. It’s like the herpes of cooking, can’t get rid of it!

Stay tuned to find out how repeating this recipe resulted in a few fails…

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Knife choppin’

I really need to learn how to use a knife. I remember going to get one for Joe as a present and there was a knife guy in the store. He asked me to step up to the cutting board and try the knife out and it was super embarrassing. Apparently you need to stand a certain way. Right because my legs have to do with my hands, that makes sense. It’s just like sports with having to have the right form and shit. I don’t do “form”. I do things the Jess way.

I tried to cut a lemon to make flavored water. And, well, this is what I ended up with as trash:

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Im not sure how/why I wasted so much of it. Alls I know is you gotta cut the butts off! Hey, at least I used a serrated knife.

Onions are quite possibly the worst. I’m feeling all good about my cutting ability as I get it down to four pieces. Then it falls apart like a Jenga game. I also feel like I have to hold my breath while cutting it. As soon as I breathe, all hell breaks loose in my eyes, nose, and throat. I try all the silly tricks like putting a spoon in my mouth. I think next time I’ll wear goggles. Oh my eyes, they burn! I do find it fun when you get down to smaller pieces, you can just start chopping in every direction along the cutting board. But when you eat my food, you definitely are not going to get even pieces of onion in your dish. Srs I’m not srs.

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While we are on the topic of onions, can we discuss purchasing them for a moment? I am looking for a yellow onion in the store. Sure, my eyes see a yellow one. But yellow doesn’t always mean yellow, stranger things have happened. The sign says “onions sweet”. Oh, okay. THAT DOESN’T HELP ME. Is it white or yellow? Do I need it to be sweet? Is a yellow onion sweet? Is a white onion the same as a yellow onion then? I HAVE QUESTIONS PEOPLE.

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I’ve been seeing commercials for The Worst Cooks in America and I’ve come to find out that they’re doing a celebrity edition. This makes me feel better about not getting a call back *glare* BUT they are advertising not knowing how to use a knife. Me either dudes, me either. I’m not sure I would survive on that show simply because I can’t get the basics down. Oh the messes I have made.

I prefer to just break things apart, like these delicious Hello Kitty cookies. Break, bake, and go!

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I’m just going to become a shark and cut things with my teeth instead.

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The confused chicken

Excuse me if I am repeating myself, but I. do. not. understand. chicken. DO NOT.

I’m only a vegetarian by default and I am a pretty picky eater (as we know) so sometimes I need some good ol’ fashioned meat.

But I can never. get. it. right.

Problems:

  1. I don’t own a meat thermometer
  2. I once owned a meat thermometer, but it was either broken or I didn’t cook anything right
  3. The directions on the chicken say “from frozen, 375 for 35 min” – don’t you have to thaw chicken and THEN cook it like that?
  4. The directions on the shake n bake say “400 for 20 min”, but it says for pork. Then later on the package says “use pork, chicken or seafood”. Does this apply for chicken?
  5. I’ve been told that white chicken could mean it isn’t done yet, if it’s shiny
  6. What if the edges are pink?
  7. I’ve been told if you cut into it, it’s bad because reasons

So what in the hell am I supposed to do here? I am listening to all of the directions around me and still can’t get it right.

I try following the shake n bake directions and I get so worried when I pull it out of the oven. It is beautifully white, but tough to cut. My fellow chicken cooking texting friends tell me that I have over cooked it. WHY are the signs for under and over cooking the same?

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I understand it depends on the thickness of the meat for how long you cook it, so at least I have one thing going for me.

I also learned that if you put tin foil over it, it helps it to not dry out when you are potentially over cooking it.

But you know what I haven’t learned? How to cook chicken the right way. This is probably because I am used to it tasting dried out. Where da juicy chickens at?

Brb going to Crate & Barrel to buy a meat thermometer….or becoming vegan, one or the other…

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derp.

Hamburglers

Hamburgers. Meat pockets. Shredded brown bugs. Hamburglers. Stealing my sense of pride one crumble at a time.

My poor co-worker, maid of honor, lawyer and friend had to hear me ask 1,000 questions on how to make hamburgers.  I think I broke his brain with the weirdo questions I ask. How do you know when to flip it? How much oil do you put in the pan? What if it’s a non stick pan? What if it falls apart? What if I don’t mix it well enough? I just wish recipes answered the tough questions.

Apparently ground beef has some fraction number on it, who knew meat pickin’ involved math. I think this is the fat content? I still don’t understand, I just bought what I was told to buy. Why can’t they just write “fat or no fat” on it? Or something easier to understand.

We hosted some people over and I thought I would make hamburgers for the first time, if we all survived, than that means it was a great party!

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I was told to add egg, soy sauce, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to the ground beef mixture. Though I read online that you’re not supposed to handle the meat too much, don’t know what that was all about.

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I start stirring all of this stuff together with the meat in a giant bowl with a plastic spoon. Touching the meat from the packaging into the bowl was gross enough, I didn’t want to be tossing it around with my hands. But alas, you have to. Grossssssss. Such an odd texture and I’m not sure how you are supposed to mix it evenly with said texture.

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Then I try to form the patties with my hands, like the Internet says is so easy to do. I love how they give you measurements as if you’re using a ruler. Do they make those? Cooking rulers? I mean they make thermometers, they should make rulers too. I end up forming them like I do cookies, which is probably also incorrect. I make the bigger mistake of thinking the vegetarian could tell me if I was doing it right.

Joe’s mom comes over and I warn her that I probably messed it up badly. She has confidence in me, like she always does, but I’m tellin’ ya! She peels back the tin foil, covers it back up and starts to walk away. I ask her if it was right or not. So she points out what I could do better – the patties need to be bigger because they’re going to cook down, more round and more pressed together. I had cracks so the chunks of meat would just fall right off. Again, I was just thinking cookie slop – which usually gets bigger and stays together just fine.

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I didn’t do the cooking, that’s the scariest part. Joe’s mom made them lovely on the grill for all of us. And no one got sick or died, yay! Success!

On a personal note, this was a really exciting time to host family. Using our new gadgets that we got from our wedding – even though we don’t have enough/an even number of everything yet, we’re getting there! My favorite is these awesome W napkins my real maid of honor got us.

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As usual, judgement:

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