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With the alert for snow above 9,000 feet on Sunday evening, we wondered if we had somehow missed summer. By the time you read this, though, summer will have returned to most all of Wyoming, so there's nothing to fear. And the brief cool down was a lovely chance to open the house and turn the coolers off.

Burgers are one of the best parts of summer, as long as they are cooked well enough. Cooking them at home is the secret.

And while you're in the kitchen preparing the basic burgers, there are unlimited ways to make them delicious.

Of course, there is nothing at all wrong with yellow mustard and dill pickle slices, but occasionally, you might feel the need for some jazz.

I enjoyed seeing Rachael Ray on a rare Friday off, and she shared a burger recipe that I'd like to try (without the cilantro of course). Yuck! And she reminded viewers of a tip I'd heard previously that actually works. When pattying burger from scratch, after you've added the seasonings to the meat, reform it into a loose rectangle as if you're making a meat loaf.

Then count the number of patties you need, and score the meat with the side of your hand into that many even portions before you make patties. That way, you won't have some giant burgers that don't cook and some mini burgers that turn into hockey pucks.

And for the same reason, you want to make the burgers slightly thinner in the middle than around the edges, so that they cook evenly.

The most recent three-day weekend featured hot dogs, cheeseburgers and ribs on the grill at the tiny homestead. All were a hit, and all will be repeated.

Here is a relatively plain patty that gets its pizzazz from the cheesy mixture on top. Adjust to your family's preferences and enjoy!


Decked-Out Burgers

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 6 hamburger buns, split
  • Lettuce leaves and tomato slices, optional

In a bowl, combine cheese, mushrooms, mayonnaise and bacon; cover and refrigerate. In another bowl, combine the beef, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce. Shape mixture into six, 1-/2 inch thick patties.

Grill, covered, over medium-hot heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Spoon cheese mixture on top of each burger. Grill 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese begins to melt. Serve on buns with lettuce and tomato if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "The Ultimate Ground Beef Cookbook")

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