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FOOD | Oakland Getting Hyphy (also: Turkey Burgers)

Reposted from Kat Gaines’ food blog, The Wine-y Tomato.

Oakland is an exciting place to be right now. Not only are we in the spotlight of the Occupy movement right now (If you don’t know what I’m talking about*, just google “Occupy Oakland,” and read up on what’s been happening here lately. And if you’re marching/striking/occupying as I type this, please stay safe**), but about two weeks ago, we had two nicely unsettling earthquakes in one day. The first happened while my coworkers and I were in a meeting, and everyone promptly scooted away from the table in preparation to jump underneath it if the earthquake got bigger / continued. Glad to know we were all on the same page there. The second earthquake apparently heard me discussing the first one with my roommate when I came home from work that evening, and as if to say “Ha, that was nothing,” shook my apartment building with enough force that I’m now convinced that when/if “the big one” comes along, I will not be anywhere near my apartment.

We had another, smaller quake, a few days ago (on my mom’s birthday, actually) around 5 in the morning. It woke me out of what had been, up until that point, a very peaceful and deep sleep. However, I had to send my boyfriend the link to later that day to prove that it actually happened*** and it wasn’t just a big truck rolling by or the upstairs neighbors stomping around, because he slept.straight.through it. Go figure. My mom informed me that my dad used to do the same thing when they lived in Southern California and earthquakes happened in the middle of the night. “What earthquake?”

Of course Facebook blows up with people going crazy every time there’s a significant earthquake, but perhaps my favorite favorite favorite earthquake update of the day read: “of course I’m trying to put eyeliner on when the entire building decides to go hyphy.”

Follow the asterisks**** at the end of this post if you don’t know what hyphy means, but for now let’s just say that it’s a totally accurate description. Both my office building and apartment building decided to go hyphy for those quakes. Let’s just hope the the next time Oakland goes hyphy, I’m not in my apartment building, because I’m now pretty sure that it’s not earthquake safe.

Even with all the crazy, I’m still finding time to cook yummy things, and especially so when I’m having a crazy day and know my boyfriend is too. It just makes everything better to come home to a home-cooked meal, right? One of my boyfriend’s staples when he is cooking for himself (which has earned him the nickname “The Carnivore” from me), is to buy some ground beef and slap together a big, greasy burger. Or I guess I should make the plural – burgers. Dude eats 2 burgers at a time, 3 if he’s hungry. I wish I were kidding. So recently I decided that if I made a delicious turkey burger, I could get him to switch up that routine a little – and guess what? These were so filling (in a healthy way) that he only ate one.

I realized that I had never really made a turkey burger in planning these, so I went with common sense and cobbled together a recipe from several other various sources – one of which was my mom, who informed me that she mixes the ground turkey with Fantastic World Foods’ Nature Burger — a dry veggie burger mix. D’oh. I didn’t feel like tracking down a box of Nature Burger, and I’m trying to steer myself away from soy somewhat, so I improvised. The thing about making turkey burgers is that ground turkey can be dry and bland, so I wanted to add plenty of moisture, texture, and flavor to make these into something that The Carnivore would actually eat. So to start with, I added a healthy handful of this:

That is gremolata, and while it’s nothing more than a finely diced mixture of garlic, lemon zest, and parsley, it adds a huge kick of flavor. Life lessons y’all: Garlic will never disappoint you.

I decided to kick up the veggie factor by also adding finely chopped onion and celery, and grated carrot. The Carnivore was not happy to see that I was adding carrots – he friggin’ HATES carrots (unless I sneak them into something, which I was trying to do here until he came into the kitchen and saw the mixing bowl…*sigh*). But it was too late, the carrots were already in the bowl, so that was that. I also added an egg and a splash of milk for moisture and binding, and panko bread crumbs for more binding and texture (the cashier at Trader Joe’s when I was buying ingredients for this meal: “You’re not going to coat the ground turkey in panko, are you?!”):

I know no one really wants to see a picture of a bowl of raw ground turkey, but I took a picture so here it is anyway – what the mixture looks like after you smush it together with your hands (yes, your hands, don’t be a wimp):

The rest is pretty simple: form a few burger patties and drop them into a pan (preferably one with deep sides for minimal splattering) pre-heated with oil:

Cook until browned on the bottom, flip, and cook until finished. Top with cheese (optional, obviously, but I wanted to make sure The Carnivore would forget that there were carrots involved):

Oh, I made some roasted beets, too. I forgot about them in the oven and pretty much ruined them with overcooking, but we ate them anyway. Here they are all pretty pre-oven:

And guess what? He actually liked the inclusion of carrots once he tasted what turned out to be literally the best turkey burger anyone has ever had. Juicy, super tasty, veggie-packed and filling (after only *one*). Final score: Carrots – 1, Picky Eating Habits – 0.

*Here is some info on Occupy Oakland, but really, do you live in a cave?
**Stay safe! Here’s how.
***There was an earthquake at 5 a.m. October 27th, I’m not crazy, REALLY.
****Hyphy. Also: Hyphy.