Western Burgers

Western BurgersWestern Burgers are a high school cafeteria legend in my hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas. They are a simple and beautiful bit of comfort, consisting of hamburger meat, onion, and seasonings fully wrapped up in a hot, buttery bun. God bless the lunch lady (or man…they always seemed to be ladies back then), I say. Can you believe they actually made yeast breads like this in our schools at one point? THE “LUNCH LADY” was a title of honor, and in my earliest memories she served sheet cakes and turkey with rice and gravy. She knew everyone by name. But here is the sad truth. I don’t think I ever had one of THE Western Burgers in my high school. By the time I switched from my tiny, little Catholic school to the big, giant Wichita Falls High School (lovingly known as “Old High”), vending machines had come into vogue in schools. And while many of my new friends still ate in the cafeteria, I have to admit that I found the bustling scene a bit intimidating as the new kid. So my best pal and cousin, Joey, and I sat in one of the courtyards and typically ate a bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles for lunch washed down with a Diet Dr Pepper. Egads. Think of all that I missed.

But, the legend of the Western Burger lives on in the hearts and minds of like-minded food folk from my neck of the woods. The actual school version doesn’t happen anymore because apparently it doesn’t meet the health requirements of a school lunch food. Apparently they are not quite so legendary when made in a whole wheat roll. Well, no kidding. However, due to the continued adoration of this would-be inductee to the Lunch Lady Recipe Hall of Fame…I made that up, but we should probably have a Lunch Lady Recipe Hall of Fame…the Wichita Falls School District now has an annual Western Burger Feed as a fundraiser for local charities. I cannot even begin to come up with a decent excuse for not having made the road trip for this. But I always miss it and then read about it in the paper and smack myself on the head.

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Egg Sandwiches

egg sandwich leadKISS: Keep it simple stupid. Some days need to be simple. Sometimes I don’t even tell you about the easy go-to meals my family enjoys just because they seem too obvious. But, this is truly one of my favorites. And usually, I have all of the necessary items right in my refrigerator. In fact, this was “fancy” as I usually don’t add the bacon or potatoes.

Yes, it is the humble egg sandwich. My mother made these for us all the time when we were little and they were always loved. So, making them for my family actually seems like a special event…like when I make her French Toast. Make them however you like. Lily likes jelly on hers. But, Pitts and I go the savory route and have it with mayo and mustard. So it you have bread, eggs, mayo and mustard…you have lunch or dinner right on hand. For grown-ups, allot two eggs per sandwich and for kids, one is usually enough.

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Turkey Reuben

Let’s talk about sandwiches again. I like talking about sandwiches. I certainly have my favorites, with the Croque-Madame I made awhile back being my runaway favorite. But, I’m very fond of the whole family of grilled cheese sandwiches and this is one I think deserves to be made over and over again. I wanted to stick a tomato in there to make it prettier for you, but that would be all wrong. Forgive me. Turkey is white, sauerkraut is white, the cheese is white, the bread is off-white. Not the most compelling sandwich to photograph, but the eating…spot on. I love it.

Then again, I love sauerkraut. And I’m the only one in my nuclear family who does, so I wasn’t able to get any extra opinions on this. But I think it is perfect the way it is. Why don’t you have a sandwich with me and tell me what you think?

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Oaxacadillas

Oaxaca (wa-ha-ka) is a state in Southwestern Mexico. Oaxaca cheese is cow’s milk cheese that is a little salty, a little stringy, mild, and it melts into a silky white lava that is a great foundation for a million dishes. To my knowledge there is not actually anything in the world known as an oaxacadilla. I made that up. But this cheese is used by a lot of folks in quesadillas and it is immediately apparent why. The cheese is just friendly that way. I chose a rolled quesadilla so the cheese to stay inside the tortilla, because in it is nested chunks of onion, sautéed mushrooms and roasted poblano peppers. But on subsequent days, I made a more traditional folded “quesadilla” and it was slightly messier, but wonderful all the same.

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Tomato Confit BLT

photo of tomato confit sandwichI’ve never made a traditional BLT. I’ve never had the urge because I don’t think I’ve ever purposefully ordered tomatoes on a sandwich or burger. I told my mother when I was about four that “pamatoes” were nasty and I meant it with all of my little heart. Now I rather like them, but I still don’t order them on sandwiches. Then yesterday I was outside looking at my garden and my beautiful new Fall lettuces, and I started having daydreams about a roasted tomato BLT with thick slices of bacon and a big bed of fresh lettuce. I am loving my little salad garden. It is simple to grow and there is no comparison whatsoever between lettuce from the grocery store, and lettuce picked within minutes of being used in a salad or on a sandwich.

So, here we are with another installment of what I eat when I have only myself to please.

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