Category Archives: Family

Beets Miss Used, Under Used And Abused – New goodies

Pickled beets
Small whole beets, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute pack in jar(s), add 1 tsp mustard seed, 6 cloves, (optional 1/2 tsp sugar)cover with a mixture of 3 parts cider vinegar and 1 part water.
Store in refrigerator for 2 to 5 days before eating.
Hint Leave root and 1/4 inch of tops on beets to prevent beets ‘bleeding’ turning your vinegar/water mixture red.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian said: Beets are gaining popularity as a superfood.
Beet juice consumption is associated with a decrease in blood pressure, which can be an effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions.
Beets are also one of the few vegetables that contain a group of pigments known as betalains, which display potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

Its high fiber content (each cup of beets contains 4g of fiber), beets help to prevent constipation and promote healthy bowel movements.

Raw for shaved beet salad
Slicing the (raw) beets very thinly leaves them crisp without being too hard to chew. All you need is a vegetable peeler to shave the slices of beets to your desired thickness!
Beets and goat cheese is always a winning combination. Top with drizzles of balsamic vinegar and pinches of fresh herbs.

Roast for roasted beets
The roasting process helps to concentrate the sweetness, and the caramelization of beets’ natural sugar helps add a complexity of flavors.
Wrapped in foil while roasting so that they don’t dry out. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, peel and season with balsamic vinegar and orange zest to taste.

Blend for Beet Juice
Beet juice is actually delicious and rich in fiber. One cup of beet juice contains about 5g of fiber and half the amount of sugar as compared to one cup of fresh orange juice.
Beets pair well with almost any fruit or vegetable and add a vibrant color to juice drinks. The classic recipe consist of Apples, Beets and Carrots blended together.

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Dangerous Temperature Reports – May Be The Norm For Others

Sometimes I just have to laugh when I see headlines like today’s weather report headline on UK’s The Telegraph web site.

UK weather: Killer heatwave feared as 93F temperatures loom this week

Grin The Telegraph needs a ‘good’ proof reader. The Telegraph said “The Met Office said that Sunday was the hottest day of the year at 82C, but that new highs were likely on Monday and Tuesday. I’m pretty sure it won’t reach 180F this week in the UK.

The list below is 30 year weather report averages for my area of Oklahoma. The place I choose to garden and live.

Days of 90 Degrees or Higher: 101
May averages 7 days over 91 and 0 days over 100
June averages 19 days over 91 and 3 days over 100
July averages 28 days over 91 and 11 of those days are over 100
August averages 27 days over 91 and 11 of those days are over 100
Days With Precipitation: 60
Thunderstorm Days: 50
Last Freeze in Spring: April 2
First Freeze in Autumn: November 6
Growing Season: 218 Days
Typically, there are about 4 events each year of hail exceeding one inch(25.4mm) in diameter
Average Monthly rain fall:
May 4 3/4 inches
June 2 1/4 inches
July 2 1/4 inches
August 2 1/2 inches

My Next 7 day forecast: T=98 – W=100 – T=102 – F=103 – S=98 and S=103

OK, OK, Please don’t tar and feather me.

I am well aware that UK gardeners do not normally have or even need air conditioners in their homes. But 90F is just not that hot. Use a bit of common sense.

Tips from the (US)CDC for Preventing Heat Related Illness
Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air conditioned place.
Electric fans provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
Wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing.
NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
Although any one at any time can suffer from heat related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
Infants and young children
People aged 65 or older
Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

If you must be out in the heat:
Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour.
Try to rest often in shady areas.
Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.

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Greek Style Summer Garden Salad

Tomato’s, Red Onions, Cucumbers garnish with cheese, I favor Feta cheese.

Use only very fresh home grown herbs, leafy greens and vegetables. It simply does not taste as good when made from market vegetables that were picked green in Mexico or Chile, shipped thousands of miles.

Garden Fresh – Greek Style Farmers {horiatiki} Salad
*3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*1½ tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice [in a pinch use white wine vinegar]
*1 clove minced garlic {optional}
*1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
*¼ teaspoon salt {optional}
*¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and extra for garnish {Optional} use sparingly
*3 tomatoes cut into wedges
*¼ red onion thin sliced into rings
*1 cucumber sliced into thick half moons de-seed if cucumbers are large
*½ green and or red sweet pepper—julienne {optional}
*4 oz (120g) feta cheese cut into small cubes [Use a cheese that you like]

Note: Add what ever garden fresh greens or herbs you have to this salad.

Put olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and or or basel in a small jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine.
Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl, add cheese on top.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine just before serving.

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Refrigerator Pickles – Quick And Easy

This process applies to cucumber pickles as well as almost any vegetable you like.

This recipe makes 1 pint. Adjust recipe to make as many pints / quarts as you want.

Wash and sterilize canning jar(s) and lids.
Wash cucumbers well under cold running water.
Slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch thick slices, with or without skin on.
Pack jar(s) with sliced cucumbers (onion and pepper) if used.
1 cup 5% vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp pickle spices
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
2 slices onion
1 small red pepper(hot or mild)
1 tsp sugar
* Pickled beets benefit from adding 5 to 8 cloves to your vinegar mix.

Wrap spices in cheese cloth add to vinegar mix.
Hint If you don’t have cheese cloth add spices to vinegar mix and strain using a tea strainer.
Heat 1 cup vinegar with 1/4 cup water, added spices bring to a boil.
Remove spices. Pour over cucumbers leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Seal jar(s). Allow to cool to room tempeture.
Store in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using.

Dried Tomato’s Packed In Olive Oil

Selecting tomato’s to be dried. Select any kind of Tomato, ripe, but not over ripe, still firm and free of insect damage or bruising. The yield varies considerably depending on the moisture content of the tomatoes, which depends upon the type of tomato you select weather and gardening conditions.
* Oven drying, set oven temperature to 130 to 145 degrees. Prop open (crack oven door) to allow warm moist air to escape.
* Counter top electric dehydrator. Follow instructions for your dehydrator.

Cut small tomatoes, grape, cherry and Roma types in half. Cut large tomatoes in to 1/4 size. Under running cold water remove seeds. Dust with your choice of herbs. Place tomatoes ‘Skin Side Down’ on drying racks.

Drying time depends on temperature and water content of the tomatoes, the thickness of the slices, and how well the air is able to circulate around them. When done, the tomatoes should be flexible, like a fresh raisin, not brittle. Dehydrating Your Fruit and Vegetable Harvest
Hint If you are going to pack your tomato’s in olive oil, error on being a little moist over being overly dry.

Let your tomatoes cool to room temperature this will take about 20 to 30 minutes. Fill zip lock bags. Don’t overfill the bags, leave a little room for expansion. Do try to avoid leaving any excess air pockets! A vacuum bag is a better choice. Be sure to squeeze out the extra air.

Storing your dried tomatoes. Store dried tomatoes in a cool dark place. The freezer is best, the dried tomatoes will retain their color and flavor for about 9 to 12 months. A refrigerator is OK for a few weeks, but if there is much moisture left in them, they WILL soon start to get moldy.

Packing Dried Tomato’s In Oil

Using wide mouth, canning jars, 1/2 or 1 pint size. You can use larger jars they’ll store more tomatoes. Wash and sterilize your jars and utensils.

Layering your dried tomatoes in the jar adding between each layer. A pinch salt, a thin slice of garlic, pinch of dried basel and oregano. Repeat this process until you’re nearly at the top of the jar (leave 1/2 inch or more of head space). Use a spoon and press down to compress the ingredients.

Fill your jars with olive oil, make sure that the tomatoes are completely covered with olive oil.
Hint Let jars set a few minutes allowing air bubbles to escape and top off with oil as needed.

Tightly seal and store the jar in a cool, dark place. I think being refrigerated is best, Not Stored in a pantry.

Let your tomatoes sit for a week before consuming them. This will allow your tomato’s, spices and olive oil to infuse and allow your tomatoes to become soft. Ready to grace any dish you prepare.

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Preserving Your Excess Tomato Crop

At some point most gardeners will have a few or a lot of excess tomato’s. Ripe tomato’s have a short shelf life, so to preserve your crop consider one of the following options.

Preparing Tomato’s for Canning or Freezing Select only disease free, vine ripe, tomato’s.

Freezing Tomato’s is fast, easy and a good option even if you only have a few excess tomato’s.
Wash tomato’s under cold running water. Dry your tomato’s well and pack whole in freezer bags.
Hint After thawing your frozen tomato’s the skin will easily slip off.

Acidification – to ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes.
Hint Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acid vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid.
For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoons vinegar.
Lemond juice, citric acid or vinegar can be added directly to the jars before filling.
* Some gardeners add a small amount sugar (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) to offset acid taste.

Wash tomatoes under cold running water. Dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold(ice) water. Slip off skins and remove cores.
Hint Coring tomato’s is optional.
Leave whole or cut in halve or quarters. Add bottled lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid to jars.
{Optional} Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars.

Raw pack Heat water to boiling for packing tomatoes. Fill hot sterilized jars with raw tomatoes. Cover tomatoes in the jars with boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Hot pack Put prepared tomatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to completely cover them. Boil tomatoes gently for 5 minutes. Fill hot sterilized jars with hot tomatoes. Add cooking liquid to the jars to cover the tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
Optional Hint Strain cooking liquid to remove tomato seeds.

A Word Of Caution.
Canning tomato’s is easy, However, Carefully Follow the canning times to insure your tomato’s reach the temperature required to kill all harmful bacteria.

Table 1. Recommended
process time for water-packed Whole or Halved Tomatoes
in a boiling water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 3,000 ft 3,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot &
Pints 40 min 45 50 55
Quarts 45 50 55 60
Table 2. Recommended
process time for water-packed Whole or Halved Tomatoes
in a dial-gauge pressure canner
  Canner Gauge Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 2,000 ft 2,001 – 4,000 ft 4,001 – 6,000 ft 6,001 – 8,000 ft
Hot &
Pints or Quarts 15 min 6 lb 7 lb 8 lb 9 lb
10 11 12 13 14
Table 3. Recommended
process time for water-packed Whole or Halved Tomatoes
in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
  Canner Gauge Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Hot &
Pints or
15 min 5 lb 10 lb
10 10 15

Hint Add a bit of spice to your life. Before packing jars with tomato’s, add a spoon full of finely chopped onion, garlic, oregano, basel, pepper (hot or mild) or other spices you like.

This is an updated version of a July 2013 posting.

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Pinto beans for your Health

pinto bean I’m talking about Dried Pinto Beans. Fresh green shelled pinto is a whole different animal.

Wikipeda said “Pinto bean is the most popular bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico, and is most often eaten whole in broth or mashed and refried.” The young pods may also be harvested and cooked as green pinto beans. In Spanish, they are called frijol pinto, “speckled bean”, in South America it is known as the poroto frutilla, “strawberry bean”. It is named for its mottled skin (compare pinto horse).

Pinto beans are very low in saturated fat. They are also a good source of protein, phosphorus and manganese, and a very good source of dietary fiber and folate.

Rice and pinto beans served with cornbread or corn tortillas are often a staple meal when meat is unavailable. The amino acids in this combination make it a complete protein source.

Studies have indicated pinto beans can lower the levels of both HDL and LDL. Pinto beans have also been shown to contain Phytoestrogen which has a variety of possible health effects.

Pinto Beans, cooked
1.00 cup
(171.00 grams)
Calories: 245
GI: low







Cooking Pinto beans. (Makes about 4 cups cooked beans)
2 – cups(1 pound dry beans) wash under cold running water. Remove anything that is not a bean.
Soaking beans speed the cooking process, soak beans covered with fresh water for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a heavy (non-aluminum) 4 quart or larger pot.
Hint Soaking is not required, put beans in cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender.
Soaking longer than one hour may cause some beans to crack their skin. This does not effect the bean nor their flavor. It’s an eye appeal thing.
HintAdd salt near the end of the cooking process. Adding salt to early can cause bean skins to become tough.

Suggested optional ingredients. Use spices you like!
1/2 Onion finely chopped
1 or 2 Garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs oregano
1/2 tsp Salt (adjust to your taste)
1/4 tsp Black pepper
1 – Jalapeno pepper finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed Red pepper flakes
3 – slices Bacon course chopped
1 – Ham bone, Ham hock or 1/2 of a cured hog jowl course chopped

Cornbread and pinto beans go together like pasta and cheese, kids and watermelon on a hot summer day.

Texas Cornbread, while some cornbread recipes are more cake like and thick, Texas style cornbread is grainy in texture, flatter, and very crispy and brown on the outside. The melted shortening in the batter helps, but what really sets it apart is pouring the cornbread batter into a sizzling hot cast iron pan before baking. And unlike many cornbread recipes, there is no sweetness(no sugar).

While you make your cornbread mix, heat a heavy oven proof skillet or 9 inch X 9 inch pan on your stove top, melting 1 or 2 tbs shorting. Pan must be very hot, shorting near it’s smoke point when you pour your batter into the pan.

Per-heat oven to 450 degrees F.

1 – cup yellow corn meal
1/2 – cup all purpose flour
1 tsp – salt
1 – tbs baking powder
1 – egg, beaten well
1/4 – cup melted shorting.
1 – cup buttermilk. Hint If you don’t have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar to your milk and you’re good to go. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Mix dry ingredients, egg and melted shorting while adding 1 cup buttermilk. If the mix seems a little dry add a little more milk to the cornbread batter.
Pour your batter into your hot skillet and bake in a per-heated 450 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

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Your To-Do List — Plan And Plant A Butterfly Garden

Butterfly garden there is a growing number of homeowners planting flowers and shrubs specifically to attracted these colorful, winged wonders, and it’s not that hard to do.
An unintended but pleasant side benefit of planting a Butterfly flower garden, it will also attract Hummingbirds as well.

Do your homework first! Butterfly sanctuaries can flourish in nearly every climate in the U.S. and information on how to pull it off can be had for free at most state agricultural extension offices, especially those that have master gardener programs.

Generally speaking, native flowering plant seed can be collected in the wild. Beyond the effort and time you invest in collecting seed and planting, natives require little or no additional maintenance such as watering or fertilization. In fact a rich fertile soil is often harmful to the healthy growth of native flowering plants.

With all this high tech stuff… like the world wide web, it is easy to search, find and purchase numerous varieties of native(wildflower) flowering plant seeds that will benefit your Butterfly garden project.

A word of caution is in order. Many native flowering plants are free re-seeders and may require aggressive actions to control them. Preventing them from taking over your yard and garden.

When planning / planting your butterfly garden, keep in mind that you’ll be nurturing adult Butterfly’s and butterfly caterpillar’s. So it makes sense that each would prefer particular greenery. The plants that caterpillars enjoy, host plants, while adult butterflies drink from nectar plants. Colors and shapes are important considerations.

Butterflies (and bees) are most attracted to flowers that are red, yellow, orange, pink, or purple. In order to access the nectar, butterflies look for blooms that are either flat or have relatively short tubes.
Coneflowers, sunflowers, and daisies are good choices, as are tubular flowers like salvia and mint.

Butterfly shelter will attract and keep Butterfly’s in your garden. Shrubs and trees may throw unwanted shade in your butterfly garden, but they’re also key when it comes to protection. Delicate butterflies need protection from wind and rain, as well as a perch for the night.

Water is another element and is almost as important as a food source. Insects get water from dew and rain, but adding a birdbath or other water element guarantees they’ll have the moisture they require. To keep butterflies coming back, include a place for them to lay their eggs, milkweed is a particular favorite for many species of Butterfly’s.
Butterflies And Caterpillar’s In Your Garden

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Hot Wings – Snacks or as a Side-Dish

If you think you have seen this before, you have Sort-a. I keep tweaking the recipes.

Basic Hot Wings recipe
Serves 4 (normal people) you may need more, much more!
12 whole chicken wings
3 ounces unsalted butter or(BBQ sauce)
1 small garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup hot sauce (Your choice, mild, hot or smoking hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place a 6 quart saucepan with a steamer basket with 1 inch of water in the bottom, over high heat cover and bring to a boil.

Remove the tips of the wings. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and pat dry.
It’s important to do this step, Lay the wings on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.
Hint Grilling on a medium hot wood fired grill works great and gives your wings an added level of flavor.

While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter(BBQ sauce) in a bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a large bowl, large enough to hold all of the chicken. Stir to combine ingredients.

Remove the wings from the oven or grill and transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm or cold.
CautionKeep warm/hot food at 140+ degrees F. and cold foods cold 35 – 40 degrees F.

Do It Your Self Hot Pepper Sauce
*Makes about 1 1/2 cups of hot sauce.
1 teaspoon salt
4-6 cloves garlic
1/4 – 1/2 medium size onion
1 – vine ripe tomato chopped
10 to 15 Jalapeno peppers or for super hot wings use about 20 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers (use any pepper you like and can tolerate it’s heat)
3/4 cup vinegar
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro. Parsley works well as a cilantro replacement.(If you like that sort of stuff in your hot sauce)
4-6 mild peppers (Banana, Cubanelle, Hungarian Yellow, Biscayne Sweet.. etc. Do Not Use Green, Yellow or Red Bell Pepper in this recipe…) Fire roasted and peeled peppers add a new level of flavor to your sauce.
Hint Don’t be afraid to use spices you like. Oregano, Basel and even Rosemary are nice additions to your sauce.

Wash and remove the stems from the peppers and chop roughly (wearing gloves is recommended)
Hint To cool your hot sauce down a bit, de-seed and de-vane peppers.
Then do the same with the garlic, onion, tomato and cilantro so it’s easy to work with in the food processor.
Add everything to a blender or food processor and process for a couple minutes. Try to get a smooth consistency but try not to overwork it, you don’t want to add too much air and risk it getting foamy.
*Using caution, taste for salt (if you’re getting a sort of raw taste with no flavor except the heat of the pepper, add a little more salt)
*Fresh squeezed lime or lemons also add another level of flavor to this sauce.
Best served fresh homemade, but you can place it in a jar, refrigerate and use as needed.

Happy and Safe 4th of July Holiday.

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Grills And Burgers It Must Be Summer

For the best burgers ever. Use beef that is no leaner than 85%. Meat with a higher fat content will be juicier and more flavorful. But be aware, patties from higher fat meat will shrink more when they cook. Choose coarse ground beef for juicier burgers with a more pleasing texture.
Hint For ground chicken and turkey burgers, add a little olive oil to the mixture.

Spice up your burger.Add just about anything you like to your burger mixture.
Fresh or dried herbs and spices
Dehydrated or fresh minced onion and garlic
Seasoning mixes for soups or salad dressings
Your favorite cheese, such as blue cheese, goat cheese, Gorgonzola, feta, Stilton, Cheddar, or pepperjack.
Prepared sauces including BBQ sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, hoisin sauce, plum sauce, oyster sauce, salsa, or salad dressing
Other tidbits like olives, capers, chopped tomatoes, diced chilies, hot or mild, crumbled bacon, or minced ham.

Wait on the salt! Don’t combine salt into the mixture, especially if you’re not going to grill the patties right away. Salt will extract moisture from the meat, leaving you with dry burgers. Instead, sprinkle each burger with salt before you put it on the grill.

Don’t over mix your ground beef. Use a light touch when combining seasonings with the ground beef. If you mix it too much, your burgers will be dense and heavy.

Leave the meat mixture (or patties) in the refrigerator for several hours to allow all the flavors to mingle. To form patties, wet your hands a little to keep the meat from sticking to them. If you make patties ahead of time, stack them on a plate separated by waxed paper and cover with plastic wrap before you put it in the refrigerator.

Don’t form patties too thick or too thin. A 5/8 to 3/4-inch thick patty is ideal. To keep patties from swelling in the middle, make small indentations in the center.

Make sure the grill is the appropriate temperature. Medium low( 250°F to 325°F) to medium heat(325 to 375°F) is best. If your grill is too hot, your burgers will burn on the outside before getting done on the inside. Keep the grill lid closed while cooking, it shortens cooking time and helps to keep your burgers moist.

Always start with a clean, well oiled grill grate. This keeps burgers from sticking, extends the life of your grate, and helps put those beautiful grill marks on your patties.

Turn Only Once. It’s hard to resist, but try not to flatten your burgers with the spatula. It squeezes out flavorful juices making your patty dry and tough.

Cook burgers properly. Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (170 degrees F for poultry). For an accurate reading, insert the thermometer into the patty horizontally.
Don’t have a meat thermometer. For food safety Get One.

* No more dry, lackluster burgers. Baste frequently with your favorite barbecue sauce.
* Asian flavors of hoisin, Sriracha sauce, and sesame oil with a little crushed red pepper for some added heat.
* Cajun spiced mayonnaise is the perfect complement to spicy beef burgers.
* Perfectly grilled burgers deserve more than beer. Try a medium bodied red wine such as Chianti, Sangiovese, Malbec or Zinfandel.

Grill temperature ranges.
High – 450 to 650°F
Medium high – 375 to 450 °F
Medium – 325 to 375°F
Medium low – 250°F to 325°F
Low – 225 to 250°F

Happy and Safe 4th of July holiday.

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