July 20, 2012

The Perfect Hamburger (part four) – It got weird

It’s been a helluva long time since I posted on this here website – over two years!


I feel shame.


Many things have happened since then; I’ve become gainfully employed (since December 2010), the laptop with the perfect hamburger pictures died, and we’ve moved house.


But you’re not interested in that.  You’re either a web-bot, interested in sending me spam comments (of which I had 18,000+), or you’re one of my few readers who has finally given up on hearing about the perfect hamburger’s outcome.

So – what happened with the MeatLog and the CheezLog and the Imperfect Burgers?  And what about the math anyway?

In a nutshell, the perfect burgers were really, really nice burgers.  The buns were great, the burgers were delicious (one of my guests referred to eating the Perfect Burger as comparable to “eating custard”, which is a bit of a strange analogy to be sure).  The imperfect burgers were nowhere near as good.  (Imperfect burger – buy ground beef, add granulated garlic, pepper, and some salt.  Form into patties, grill, throw on orange Kraft burger cheese, place in shopbought buns.  Enjoy!)  That being said, some said that my Imperfect Burger was better than any of their own homemade burgers, and the recipe was requested.

Why so long to post about it?

Things got weird at the perfect burger testing evening, and the whole In Search of Perfection process is bloody exhausting.  I knew it was a bit silly to start with, but having a three day marathon to make a fucking hamburger?  That’s lunacy.  Add in the blogging, and the pictures, and making them suitable for quick upload on the web, and you’re looking at a 7 day effort.  I have to say that I spent a lot of time golfing instead.  And then I got a job which involves long hours in the office and a great deal of travel (throughout the GCC, Africa, and parts of SW Asia).  Good fun, but the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a computer.

How did the burger testing evening get weird?  Some of it had to do with how many guests we had… the test group had very much increased in size since the halcyon days of the perfect chicken.  One of the guests didn’t want burger – spooky Dubai chicken breasts were infinitely preferable to hand-ground, carefully prepared and selected beef.   Whatever.  Conversations were decidedly odd; one guest was more than happy to talk to everyone else, incessantly, about how much she disliked her job.  Seriously – you could be talking about cheese, and somehow she’d be able to take the cheese conversation and segue it into how her boss was mean to her.  Ketchup was directly linked to the fact she was underpaid.  Fried mushrooms = underappreciation for her great efforts at work (to be fair to here boss, after hearing some of the shit she pulled to get back at her workplace for not putting her on a pedestal, covering her in glory for her merest presence, and for not bowing worshipfully to her whenever she deigned to enter the workplace, I would have sacked her ass in a moment.)


Then she offered to manually jerk off my dog and store his semen for us.  Yes, at that point we’d thought about breeding him (even if by distance) with a Canadian lady flatcoat, but still –  my puppy did not need to get his first sexual experience (apart from his ongoing homoerotic – and mutual – affair with the cat) from a whiny woman with an overinflated opinion of her own self-worth, a poor work ethic, and no concept of when to shut up and let conversations that weren’t about her to go ahead.  Note that she wasn’t planning to pleasure him that evening (thank god), but was happy to come along with the liquid nitrogen (and I’m assuming the candles, Barry White, and whatever diverse sexual aides were deemed necessary) whenever we desired.


Yeah – it was an “interesting evening”, and one that I’m still scarred from.

Normally when a dinner party goes awry, I’m happy and able to pick up and move on to the next one.  In this case, it was so bloody strange, and so interlinked (in my mind) with the Search For Good Enough, that I had to step away for awhile.

I’m very sorry to find that “awhile” equated to 2+ years in this circumstance.


So what’s next for “In Search of Good Enough”?


I do intend to test more of Heston’s recipes, and blog about them, although on a reduced, more relaxed, and less insane scale.

I also have had some thoughts about the nature of “perfection” itself… and not just the Heston way.  To get all philosophical-like, we’re all sold the idea that we can have a perfect body, perfect career, perfect marriage, perfect fitness, perfect wardrobe, perfect teeth, perfect retirement plan, perfect savings, perfect dinner party (don’t go there), perfect… whatever, by today’s media.  As a corollary to this, we should feel shameful about anything that isn’t perfect.

But wouldn’t it suffice to be Good Enough?  And what is Good Enough in terms of body, fitness, career, marriage, etc?  And if we choose to be Good Enough, does it mean we’re settling, or are we finding balance?

I have thoughts about exploring some of these areas, through self-experimentation and perhaps through the shared experiences of my readers (if I have any left).  I’m not sure where or how I’ll start, but welcome you thoughts and comments!








February 27, 2010

The Perfect Hamburger (part one) – A chunk of cheese, some Sodium Citrate, and thou…

I was going through the grocery store a few weeks ago when I had a urge for a big, fat, juicy burger.  Since we were a bit rushed that evening, I ended up making pasta instead (my husband was on night shift).  But the thought of a nice meaty burger didn’t leave my mind.

Then I realised that I was overdue for another “Perfect” evening, and that Heston had perfected the hamburger.  I checked the recipe for odd ingredients, and it was actually pretty sane.  Sure, Heston requested beef short ribs that were dry-aged for a minumum of thirty days (HA!  It is to laugh!), but I decided that the Dubai-factor made me able to ignore that bit.  Add in the fact that I’ve recently discovered that the butcher at my local grocery store (Le Marche in Arabian Ranches) does their own butchery, and I figured that sourcing meat would be a doddle.  As for the buns, well, they only wanted strong bread flour, a bunch of eggs, yeast, and something called “Trex” (which google revealed to be vegetable fat which us North Americans call shortening), so there were no worries there.

In fact, there was only one ingredient that was somewhat out of the ordinary.  Heston wanted me to make my own “processed” cheese slices (of course), and he wanted me to use sodium citrate to do it.  Apparently this is available at any chemists.

As you probably know from my earlier post/plea, my local chemist didn’t have any sodium citrate on-hand.  Nor did he know where I could find some.  The Dubai-factor once again had reared its ugly head.  Bugger.

I checked online to see if there was anything that I could use instead of sodium citrate, but I was a wee bit leery of doing chemical experimentation.  I did find a link on how to make my own sodium citrate, but the Health and Safety department at Villa GoodEnough (also known as my husband, “Banner of Chickens”) nixed that in the bud.  By the way, did you know that citric acid is potentially explosive?  Nor I!  Does that mean I can make lemons blow up?

So I resorted to my local information board, www.expatwoman.com.  Within a few hours, I had found someone who had sodium citrate based cystitis potions that she’d make available to me.  Unfortunately they were cranberry flavoured, which certainly would not be Heston-approved.  Then another lady (the lovely Dr. KittyKat79) posted that she had a big bottle of sodium citrate sitting next to her in her laboratory.  And she was willing to get some for me! 

I feel a wee bit ashamed about how excited this made me.  But, trust me, I was absolutely delirious with joy.

A few emails later and a rendezvous was arranged.  We had initially considered meeting on the side of the road for the delivery of the white powder, but thought that it might be a wee bit suspicious.  Instead, I met up with Dr. KittyKat and her mother for a coffee.

We met, I got the bottle of sodium citrate (and a bag of hay, which will feature in another recipe soon), they decided that while I was unhinged, I was pretty harmless with it, and so, when I invited them to Perfect Burger night, they were happy to accept.  I got in my car, with a big bottle of citrate in my purse, and cackled merrily all the way home.

The Perfect Burger was ON!!!