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So much for my BIG SURPRISE. It’s a slider, or a whole bunch of them, what I had in mind for your Labor Day festivities. The simplicity of the dish is just to laugh at. There’s no recipe even needed. You get a pound of ground beef, ideally organic and grass fed, cut it in four even squares. Then those squares get chopped in half. And guess what, the meat is READY! Cook each little bastard for 3-3.5 minutes a side, having seasoned them previously with salt and pepper of course.

OK, let’s make it even EASIER, if possible. I found this video on youtube, where chef John from foodwishes.com reveals his dirty little secret of how to keep your mini burgers all identical and perfect.

Saw it? Got it? Let’s move on to all the additional goodies that come with the meat then.

First and foremost, you need a platform that will showcase and carry your slider. Traditionally it’s a small bun. There are choices after choices of various bread options at grocery stores across the board. You can also go the more adventurous and holistic route I took and make your own rolls.

But who’s got the time for baking on a Sunday night, when your Labor Day BBQ crowd is already popping the beer caps off the bottles?

Once the meat and bread are taken care of, focus your mind and heart on the works, as they call them. My sliders came in all colors and flavors as you can see, as I couldn’t decide on one theme. I sautéed leaks for one. Another mini burger got a bed of caramelized onions to rest upon. And the third one was planked in a pool of pesto. For the topping I chose Fontina cheese, as it melts like butter and tastes nothing like the plastic cheddar thingy they sell you at most of the groceries. It actually tastes like cheese, surprise-surprise. Also, only because I had it lying around, I sliced mango and grilled it for the heck of it. It made a lot of sense in the ned, and I didn’t know it till it was already made.

These are only a few ideas to get you started, but you know the sky is the limit. Using blue Stilton and sautéed portobello mushroom will change the entire experience of a slider. Different sauces, different vegetables–from pickled to raw to grilled ones, will make the slider your very own, depending on your selection. Even the bun os not all that important. You could serve the meat in a cup of bibb lettuce, and that would be wonderful, too. And so much kinder to your love handles!

Think outside of the box, break the rules, get of the old beaten path in order to experience something new, whether in life in general, or simply in your kitchen. My discovery of the world of food has been amazing thus far. It’s a rare thing that I truly love what I’m eating, whether I made it or someone else. (Yes, I’m that picky and discriminating.) But then, when I do find the food that speaks to my soul, it really equals an orgasm. Ask Jason, he’s witnessed both. So keep at it, cook away, look for what tickles you, try new things, explore, and never limit yourself by what you don’t know. That’s the point of learning. Stay open. And who knew half a glass of wine would get me that tipsy?

Happy Labor Day!

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My balls are shrinking. Age, like cold water, morphs my GUTS into small and shivering little nuts.

I was an adventurous and stupidly brave kid who would climb trees and roofs of garages with my older brother’s friends, despite an ever-growing collection of bruises and boo-boos all over my limbs. I was the one whose back all the girly girls would use for shelter hiding from the boys who wanted to pinch their arms and pull their plaits when we were all in second grade. I was the one to stand up to a teacher when the whole class felt mistreated and no one would rise to speak for themselves. I was also the one to scratch my Russian teacher’s car (she was an old and grumpy Pole who taught Russian) with my house keys at the age of 11 when the woman called me a STINKY BUM in front of my entire class for not having memorized new vocabulary SHE HAD NEVER TOLD US TO!

No, I’m not so proud of the latter. At least now I’ll know what to teach my kids NOT to do, specifically. Scratching your Russian teacher’s car with your keys will lead to everlasting shame and will potentially ruin your only chance to enter your own house. At least until parents come home. I can always prevent this from happening by NOT enrolling my kid in Russian classes. Instead, let’s focus on mastering your mama’s native tongue my child  – Polish.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the FEAR. The fear that has emerged out of a thick fog as I entered my thirties. Flying has never made me feel like being on top of the world. There used to be a thrill associated with that activity, but frankly, when younger I would get excited just as much when riding a shopping cart across a super market. Ok, that still is a source of a massive glee. In order to fly, however, without breaking into a showering sweat I need a sedative.

Last weekend, when we were flying to San Francisco, one shot of Patron helped me loosen up enough to cheerfully enter the tunnel leading up to the plane. Right at the door of the machine there were standing two police officers and chatting with an older couple. Apparently they were escorting a passenger who got warped in a loop of time and was not sure where he was anymore. However, as I walked up to the group, all I heard was:

HE WAS IN TOKYO TWO DAYS AGO, THEN HE WAS ON TWO OTHER FLIGHTS SINCE AND NOW SUFFERES FROM INSOMNIA. HE HASN’T SLEPT IN THREE DAYS AND IS AWFULLY CONFUSED.

I looked at the police officer TERRIFIED and asked with crawling panic in my chest:

I HOPE YOU’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT OUR PILOT!

An explosive of laughter tore the air around and strangely enough that sound instantly comforted my shaken insides, a loud sigh escaped my wide-open mouth.

After a wonderful and unintentionally romantic weekend in Napa we found ourselves at the airport all over again. Our flight was delayed two hours due to the weather. The only way I knew how to keep my composure was to hit a bar next to our gate and sip on a perfectly chilled Blue Moon with a slice of an orange tucked on the rim of the glass, while I read through Michael Pollan’s food rules he had recently put into a book by the same title. Thirty-two ounces of the golden nectar later I was perfectly joyful and frankly could not stop laughing, for any reason and at anything. I was ready to board.

Before I knew it, Tuesday rolled in and we quietly dispersed back to our offices. Since lunch wasn’t provided at my work that day, as all the big shots (a.k.a. producers) were absent, I drove back home to let Cosmo out and had about fifteen minutes to feed myself. I opened the fridge and heard the wheels turning in my head. It only took seconds and I had the plan.

Two slices of bread with a thin layer of butter, a few slices of Fontina and a tomato went into a toaster oven. Two eggs were cracked, one after another, yolks separated, and then dropped gently onto a hot skilled greased with butter and olive oil. I seasoned the eggs with chili powder, sea salt, black pepper, and let them set. As soon as the bread was ready, I slid one SUNNY-SIDE-UP on top of each toast, garnished it with a fresh basil leaf and a few slices of fresh avocado. A handful of baby carrots completed that landscape art on my plate.

The bread with melted cheese and toasted tomato was embedded within the frames of the perfectly crunchy crust. I broke the egg yolk with the tip of my knife and let it ooze all over that open sandwich like a warm mist on my face during a facial treatment.

Oh, the delectable bliss.

Fifteen minutes on the dot. Prepared and consumed. Done. Haul my arse back to work.

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