I am forever grateful to my super lovely host and hostess for making this impromptu road trip possible; for opening their lovely home to not just me, but to my surprisingly well-behaved dog (except for that moment of panic when I realized she was no longer in the backyard and had wandered ACROSS THE STREET – I ran outside barefoot and almost had a heart attack!); for just being all around awesome people to board a stray food blogger with a lot on her mind AND her dog, to listen to that same food blogger blab on and on about everything… seriously. The bestest people in the world who obliged my request to just live normally… I wanted to see what it’s like to be part of a normal family and life for once, and they totally embraced this.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Aimee & Dean!!! You are both awesome and I am eternally in your debt.
Since I said I wanted to see what it’s like to be part of a normal family and life, they wanted to show me how it’s done where they live. By which I mean… they do something I’ve always wanted to do myself, but have never gotten around to in my years of food blogging: they grind their own meat.
A couple of pounds of steaks from Costco… I forget what cut they said it was. Dean laughed at me when I asked if he leaves the fat in. We agreed that it’s the best part! Here he’s slicing it up.
After a bit of time in the freezer, here it is going in the grinder attached to the Kitchen Aid. The weird contraption you see on it is to prevent the blood from spattering everywhere, because it turns out that freezing is meant to help the blood not spatter… but doesn’t always work.
And at the end of it all… beautifully fresh ground meat that just smelled so awesome (yes, I like the smell of raw, fresh, bloody meat… sue me).
The first night, Dean made Juicy Lucy’s, or burgers with cheese inside. His had the addition of fresh jalapenos (as you see pressed into the top).
He used a combination of pepperjack and jalapeno peppers. Look at that oozy cheese…
Here’s my plate.
Aimee made a side of beans… I forget what she called them, but she told me you cook ground meat a bit, adding seasonings, then add it to different cans of beans to make it your own. Tasty, hearty side.
She also sliced up some sweet potatoes – NC is sweet potato state, I didn’t know that! – tossed them with olive oil, salt/pepper and paprika, then baked them to make healthy sweet potato fries. I wasn’t sure I’d like them since I’m not a big sweet potato person, but these were fantastic – and on the side, a bit of maple aioli (maple syrup mixed with mayo, that’s it). So good!!!
My burger was topped with a slice of those awesome tomatoes, and a slick of mayo of course (per my usual).
The cheese oozed out happily when I bit into it, molten lava hot, so be careful! But this was so good. I really want to stuff my burgers with a bit of bacon too… nom nom nom… I surprised myself by eating the whole thing. Given my rather weak appetite lately, this was impressive to me!
And the next night, continuing our “normal family” routine, we had sloppy joes… and homemade onion rings and fried pickles. Oh my stars. I’d happily move in with Aimee & Dean if they would have me (she just told me she’s making country fried steak and mashed potatoes tonight… I don’t know how they’re not both as big as a house…). Fantastic, stick-to-your-ribs food, along with fabulous company, people you can just relax with and shoot the breeze with… this was one of the most perfect road trip vacations I’ve taken in quite a while.
Aimee, Dean, thank you again for being as awesome as you are. Keywee and I are coming back to hang out with Miss Ellie Pickles sooner than you think!!! 🙂