An Almost Perfect First Burger

Burger with onions and mushrooms
One of the highlights of parenting has got to be watching your child experience all their “firsts.” Mr. Second Helpings and I have relished most of The Little Helping’s first tries of activities and foods.  Some first are more monumental than others but they are all precious in my eyes.  Most of the developmental moments or milestones happen spontaneously – smiling, rolling over, standing, and walking.  When it came to introducing The Little Helping to solid foods I relished the planning and preparing what he would squish between his fingers, smear on the table, and perhaps put into his mouth. I hope I always remember his first glee filled bites of banana.

The Little Helping, made it all the way to two and a half before eating his first hamburger. He has eaten many other foods on buns, veggie or bean burgers are a quick from-the-freezer lunch or dinner at least once a month.  We just don’t eat much beef.  Mr. Second Helpings, and I realized his lack of hamburger exposure through the course of a meandering conversation in early May.  In that moment I made it one of my summer goals to craft the perfect first burger for our enthusiastic eater.

Burgers ready to grillIt was a beautiful balmy evening and the shadows were already beginning to lengthen when I fired up the grill.  Mr. Second Helpings and The Little Helping watched me work from the patio table.  I started with the vegetables. First Burger Day also seemed like a good time to try grilling corn for the first time. I trimmed a few ears and tossed them on the grill. The marinated mushrooms and milky white sweet onion slices sizzled in the grill pan along side them.  Maybe I was distracted by my audience but this is when things began to fall a little short of perfection.

Char Grilled Veggies

The onions came of the grill with more char than usual. The corn was black and crispy at the top, bits of burned husk stuck to my fingers and scattered allover the patio when I peeled them away.  Thankfully most of each ear remained sweet and tender.  Also, before we were able to eat our meal I burned the buns – twice.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Blackened Thin Buns

The burgers themselves were a different story.  I wanted to keep them as simple as possible. A pound of 80/20 beef with a blend of seasonings. Once the spices were folded into the meat I used my hands to mold five uniform patties before carefully stacking them with a piece of parchment paper between the layers. Some how, some way, the burger patties managed to come off the grill perfectly cooked and in the desired circular shape each topped by a beautiful melty bit of cheese. I was excited to serve one of these perfect burgers to The Little Helping.

Homemade hamburgers with melted cheese

Mr. Second Helpings assembled a plate for each of them while I hovered over the table, my camera ready to capture that first perfect bite.  I’m not sure how I would know if we achieved burger perfection.  Perhaps The Little Helping would sink his teeth through the layers of bun and meat then leap up and sing God Bless America. Whatever the sign would have been we didn’t get it. This meal progressed much like any other meal. He began by disassembling everything on his plate and then started reorganizing rather than eating.  Eventually Mr. Second Helpings reached over and cut his meat into smaller pieces. When he did try the meat a look of distress crossed his face. That was about the same moment I commented on the amount of heat in the spice blend. The burgers were too spicy for his palate.

toddler eating

Eating Corn on the Cob

Cutting Food for a Child

Ultimately he picked off the cheese, ate half of a bun with mustard, and nibbled on his corn cob.  After a few more minutes of coaxing he was off to dig a hole in the garden. That was it. First Burger Day was over and I had to chuckle. I let myself get carried away thinking that this meal was going to transform into some modern Norman Rockwell moment. But it was just as messy and disorganized as any other meal at our house. Except that it was special anyway. We don’t get to eat bathed in sunshine very often in this part of the world.  The meal itself was a treat. We rarely eat hamburgers partly due to my lack of success preparing them – last time I tried the patties completely fell apart on the grill.  Mr. Second Helpings and I throughly enjoyed our spicy burgers and charred veggies. All tallied up I’d give the evening an 85% perfection rating.

On second thought… This was also the night I debuted the Piña Colada Pie so we all finished the evening with a smile on our faces.  Mmmm… Pie.  Let’s call it a solid 90% and that is a darn good score.

Summery Pineapple and coconut pie


BTW – if you are looking for a how-to on grilling corn check out this post on Simply Recipes.


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