End of the School Days & Not Your Ordinary Burger

It is always a tough time, the end of the school year. Classrooms become hot and stuffy. Shades are drawn in the halfhearted hope that the room will stay cooler. Both teachers and students start to feel more than a bit lethargic. As we slide into June, everyone is feeling like they are long overdue for a vacation.

It wasn’t so bad when we were in elementary school. Maybe it’s changed, but if memory serves me the month of June was sprinkled liberally with field trips, performances and class parties. There were trips to Benson’s Wild Animal Farm and the Franklin Park Zoo. There were pilgrimages to Sturbridge Village and Plimoth Plantation. In sixth grade we got to go to Fenway Park and watch the Red Sox from the bleachers. It was a magic day with Yaz, Tony C., Ken Harrelson, Jim Lonborg and Rico Petrocelli.

When we weren’t gallivanting around the greater Boston area we were kept busy with special projects and performances. We decorated our classrooms and school hallways with our artwork. We were hustled outside for field days. Ostensibly designed to show off our athletic prowess, I suspect these events were purely an excuse to get us outdoors.

Every year there was recital or show of some sort. Mostly we sang a few songs although one year we did a square dance. In third or fourth grade, we learned to play the recorder and showed off our tooting talent at the yearend recital. I use the terms “we” and “our” loosely. I was absolutely hopeless at reading music. Pulling even one decent note out of my little plastic flute was impossible and melodies were certainly beyond me. I stood there quietly twiddling my fingers, pretending to play and hoping that no one noticed.

It was all bearable, or at least almost bearable, until we got to junior high. And it only got worst from there. Suddenly, the month of June was not for ticking off the final days but for writing papers and taking exams. The older we got the worse it got. Gone were the days of simple book reports and dioramas made from old shoe boxes. Yes, there was an assembly with musical performances but the preparations didn’t take any time away from our science, math or English classes. There were no trips to the aquarium to swim with the fishes or strolls along the Freedom Trail. And there were certainly no cupcakes during homeroom.

Only the seniors escaped. Some official, in his or her infinite wisdom, realized that seniors checked out as soon the first college acceptance letter hit the mail slot. Senior-itis was rampant; especially on hot days. To avoid a lot of hassle, fuss and fight, seniors finished classes a month early and did not take final exams. By late May, they were free to play, start summer jobs or pester their parents.

When I was a freshman, my sister Brenda was a senior. It was my first year of high school and my first real final exams so I was particularly jealous of her good fortune. To make matters worse, that particular June was warm and wonderful, picture perfect. (Or at least that’s how I remember it.) Every morning I reluctantly hauled myself out of bed while she lollygagged around until noon. Brenda spent the afternoons working on her tan while I slaved over biology and algebra. Every evening after dinner, I reluctantly dragged myself to my room to study. Meanwhile, my sister was outside enjoying the fresh air or out and about with her friends.

Justice was not served for three long years. Finally, it was my senior year and I too got a few extra weeks to play! Enjoy the first days of summer and bon appétit!

Not Your Ordinary Burger
No need to settle for the same old-same old. Liven up your next burger with a little goat cheese and a delicious Sun-dried Tomato Aioli. Enjoy!
Serves 4

4 good quality hamburger buns
1 pound ground beef
4-6 ounces fresh goat cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sun-dried Tomato Aioli (recipe follows)
Feel free to pile on additional topping to your heart’s content!

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Divide the ground beef into 8 pieces. Gently form thin patties and season with salt and pepper. Crumble goat cheese in the center of 4 patties. Top each with one of the remaining patties and seal the edges.

Cook the burgers on the grill, flipping once to desired doneness, 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Meanwhile, toast the buns or wrap in foil and warm on the grill.

Serve the burgers on buns, garnished with arugula and topped with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli.

Sun-dried Tomato Aioli
Makes about 1 cup.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 halves oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 small chunk red onion, about 1-inch square
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor. Process until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a serving dish, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to combine the flavors. Whisk before serving.

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One Year Ago – Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup

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Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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