As thousands of children head back to school next week, students in the Seattle area will still be enjoying their summer break until sometime after Labor Day weekend.  When the rest of the country experienced record breaking temperatures, June and July in the Pacific Northwest was often cool, gray, and wet – very stereotypical Seattle weather.  But for the past two weeks we have had zero rain, the temperature has been averaging in the low 70s, and the evenings have been cool.  This has been a welcomed change from last year when our home was so hot that it caused a run on air conditioners by people that couldn’t get a night of good sleep.

Cooking during the summer means not really having to cook at all; at least not in the most conventional way.  I try not to use our oven because our whole house will heat up, which is the last thing I want to happen.  Instead, I focus on making dishes which can be tossed together easily (salads), grilled outside, or assembled quickly (sandwiches).

Lately, I’ve found myself grilling a lot of burgers in the backyard.  What I typically do is buy basic fixings such as tomatoes, lettuce, and onions and slice them in advance and then store them in our refrigerator for later use.  By prepping these ingredients ahead of time, I’m ready to use them as burger toppings, sandwich fillings, or components to a salad instantly.  Other ingredients I also like to prep are cucumbers, bell peppers and avocado.

When it’s time for dinner, I’ll set these ingredients out on our outdoor table as a burger bar along with mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.  Side dishes usually include a pasta salad, fresh vegetables like snap peas with hummus, and fresh fruit like sliced peaches, watermelon, cherries and strawberries.  Everyone helps themselves in preparing their own dinner plates as we enjoy the good food, weather and conversation.

Normally, I would share a recipe with you but instead I am sharing a great tutorial on Shaping Perfect Hamburger Patties. You can easily have your kids help.  I hope it inspires you to savor these last weeks of summer by firing up the grill and enjoying time spent with your family while eating one of America’s favorite foods.

Recipe: Shaping Perfect Hamburger Patties

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)

A simple tip to make uniformed patties.

Instructions

    • Find a lid that is slightly bigger than the size of your hamburger bun. Cover the lid in plastic wrap. This will make it easier to remove the patty after each use.
    • Place enough meat to fill the lid.
    • Press the meat down firmly into the lid. Remove any excess meat or add more if necessary.

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  • Aviva Goldfarb

    Simply brilliant, Alice! They look so appetizing this way.

  • Shari

    I love this! I’ve found the lid that is the perfect size is the lid that comes on the huge disney organic animal crackers sold at Costco. I admit we had about a 1/4 of a container left when I discovered this and ended up with some stale animal crackers! :) A moms gotta do what a moms gotta do right? :)