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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tastes Like Summer: Mojitos and Burgers

In Michigan, we can have long winters - as we just had this past season. We had some significant snow in March and even some horrid days in early April. After being cooped up inside for 5 months, we have finally been seeing some wonderful breezy days with temps in the 60s and low 70s.. and SUN, SUN, SUN.

The SUN is a big deal for us. It wasn't until some one mentioned it to me that I realized --- we sure have a lot of cloudy days in this state. Having grown up here, you just get used to it and this is "normal" ... but check out these figures:

From World Facts and Figures

Here is a Sampling of US cities and the number of Sunny Days (not partly cloudy or partly sunny, just sunny) over the course of one year.

Sunny Days City
242 Yuma, AZ
210 Las Vegas , NV
186 Los Angeles, CA
157 Amarillo, TX
139 Oklahoma City, OK
131 Kahului, HI
115 Denver, CO

Now let's look at the "below 100" cities...
97 Saint Cloud, MN (even with that name, they beat us)
84 Chicago, IL
77 Duluth, MN
75 Detroit, MI
66 Flint, MI

This doesn't mean we're clearly the worst place - it just is related to how we are situated within the Great Lakes... for instance some parts of Hawaii also see a lot of clouds, but that's a totally different climate than Michigan!

Anyway, after we had yet another decent weekend of nice weather (it was even better since they called for rain and we were all pleasantly surprised to see sun), The Husband and I wanted to grill! With all this great weather, I had purchased a Grilling magazine and have been avidly shopping for Patio furniture. It's time to go outside!

We had Moose over and the menu was hamburgers... but not any ole boring hamburger, because.. that just sounds boring. The Husband hands-down loves Dale's burgers (Dale's is a tasty seasoning/marinade) which he learned about during a fishing trip, and it's a tasty way to do burgers. We've had one complaint that it was salty but so far everyone else loves Dales and you can typically find it in your local grocery store, at least around here - near the BBQ sauces.

The Husband rolled the ground chuck (The Grilling magazine says to use beef with 20% fat.. interesting, I had been using sirloin before) into balls and we put them into a ziploc bag and poured Dale's on top to marinade in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. The longer you marinade, the more you'll taste the salty goodness of Dale's. 30 minutes (flipping from time to time) was enough to get a subtle flavor.

The Husband also seasoned with montreal steak seasoning and some garlic powder. The Grilling magazine also said to not press down on the burgers in a flattening motion, otherwise you'll lose your tasty juices - so that was another good tip.

Of course, I had a slew of toppings, most of which the boys would not touch. Lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo, mustards, ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch, bacon, and swiss or american cheese. You could make your hamburger however you like it! I also used the onion-sprinkled buns from Brownberry which were tasty. I served the burgers with parmesan roasted asparagus and herb roasted redskin potatoes.

To wash down a tasty burger, a wonderful summer cocktail is the Mojito. We first encountered this drink a few years before it became popular everywhere in the US - at which time we were in Key West, close to its origin in Cuba. The mojito is a refreshing combination of mint, lime, rum, and sugar.

These measurements are estimations, adjust to your liking:

The Original Mojito Recipe

(for 1 serving, however making several at a time is a good idea)

8-10 fresh mint leaves
1.5 to 2 oz. of White Rum
2-3 limes, halved, and then juiced to make 1-2 oz

1.5 to 2 oz of simple syrup (see below) ... original recipe would use sugar cane juice, but who has that?
Crushed Ice
Club Soda
Straw, for drinking

Break apart or roughly chop your mint leaves and place in the bottom of your glass(es) - a pint glass works well. Pour in a little bit of the lime juice and use your juicing utensil or a spoon to muddle into the mint in the bottom of the glass. Once the mint is beaten up, pour in the rest of the lime juice (1-2 oz) and rum (1-2 oz). Pour in the simple syrup, stir, and now you can taste-test here. The drink will be concentrated but just make sure you have it tangy enough (lime) and sweet enough (simple syrup), and adjust as needed. Fill glass to the top with crushed ice, and use Club Soda to top of the beverage (probably an ounce will fit). Serve with a straw, and I like to jam the straw up and down to melt in some of the ice and club soda. This is delicious, try it! (Or come over and I will make you one!)

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Heat 1 cup of water in a microwave safe bowl until boiling. Remove from microwave and stir in sugar until it is all dissolved. Let cool and set aside for use with cocktails. Will keep at room temperature for a few days. This can be done in a sauce pan, too.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just going to ignore those statistics and remember that we really did get sun last week and it will eventually come back.

    I just found your site. Hi from another MI foodblogger.