Hamburger a la Fred

Upon returning from the beach, the mood in the Wise household has tanked. Hurled from the glamorous freedom of vacation back into the plodding reality of ordinary life and work, we’ve both been a bit downtrodden, even grumpy.

My own irritability has been exacerbated by a sprained ankle I acquired on the way back from the beach–not by slipping on a sundae dropped by a careless toddler at McDonald’s, or in a 12-car pileup on I-40, or even by tripping over the entryway at a rest stop. No, I managed to do this in the car. Sitting down. With my feet up.

After examining my X-rays, the doctor at Duke Urgent Care explained that the damage occurred because of an old injury, an avulsion fracture, in which a ligament had torn and pulled a little piece of bone off with it. I well remembered the injury, from my senior year at Duke in 1987, during a volleyball game held as part of a scholarship competition at Vanderbilt Law School. (I did not win the game or the scholarship. I suspect the committee questioned the sense of a candidate who could not bear the thought of not wearing her brand-new five-inch heels to the interview and so wore the heel on one foot and a splint with a cotton sock on the other.) And the results apparently are still with me, because it seems that the ankle is more susceptible to additional injury–including holding my ankle in a stretched position a little too long.

I’m now splinted and wrapped, able to wear only flat sandals to work, and not really in any shape to stand in the kitchen and cook. So Fred stepped bravely into the breach, offering to try his hand at dinner tonight.

As he did a couple of years ago, the last time he was allowed in the kitchen, he made hamburgers. This time, he consulted Mark Bittman for starters but decided that he wasn’t going to grind his own meat. He used 2/3 lb. ground beef for two patties, added a splash of Worchestershire sauce and salt to each one, and fried the two thick patties with some jalapenos and garlic. We debated the merits of bread vs. bun, and Fred’s preference (sourdough bread) won out because he was cooking. I hate to admit it, but he was right. Served with fresh tomato slices and onion, the flavor of the meat stood out, with the bread a nice complement to t he flavor rather than an overwhelming presence. And we ate them so fast it didn’t have time to get soggy.

I’m still grumpy, but I’m grateful that I have a husband who takes care of me when I most need it.

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