How To Enjoy Everything Local Summer Food Has To Offer In One Meal.

If I’m completely honest, I make really, really good hamburgers.  There are several secrets to this.  One is to use only good ingredients.  Another is the hamburger rolls.  Hopefully, the fact that you’re reading this means you’re conscientious enough about what you eat that you’re a label reader like me.  If so, you’ve noticed the horrid items on offer in hamburger rolls at the grocery store.  My two least favorite (though this by no means exhausts the list) are high fructose corn syrup and soy lecithin.

You won’t be able to find hamburger or hot dog rolls at the grocery store without one of these things in them and probably both.  I hate that.  We’re talking about bread here people.  Anyone know what the amazing thing about bread is?  Actually, as Michael Pollan pointed out in his most recent book, ‘Cooked’ there are a lot of amazing things about bread.  But for the purposes of this discussion let’s focus on the fact that really, really good bread needs only four ingredients: yeast, water, flour, salt.  No corn.  No soy.  No syrup of any kind…high or otherwise.


After searching the ‘bread’ aisles at multiple grocery stores with nothing to show but frustration and tendinitis (from picking up bags of rolls, turning them over to read them and then putting them back on the shelf), I set out to find my own recipe for hamburger rolls.  The search took approximately 30 seconds and that’s only because I was using dial-up at the time.

These 40-minute hamburger rolls are the ticket.  But I’ve changed the recipe to ensure I’m using every possible opportunity to cram vegetables into my children.  The only real change is that I shred vegetables and add them with the flour.  Tonight’s choice?  Kale and basil.  These rolls are incredibly easy to make, allow you to accomplish other things during the process if you manage your time well and elicit many oohs and aahs from all who try them.

I like to pile as much fresh lettuce as possible on my burger.

I like to pile as much fresh lettuce as possible on my burger.

Of course, once your perfect hamburger (I’ve also shaped them into hot dog rolls when we took them to a family bbq) rolls come out of the oven, it’s important to enjoy them with only the best quality hamburger.  I have my recipe of course and you probably have yours.  Either way, it needs to include local, grass-fed beef.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  ‘Meat’ from a CAFO?  You might as well wrap that in soy lecithin and hfcf from the store.

I really pulled out all the stops for tonight’s meal.  After all, it’s summer and it’s Sunday.  May as well take advantage of both.  I sold quite a bit of zucchini at market Friday but let’s face it.  It’s zucchini.  That means I brought a lot home too.  I plan to make several loaves of bread and freeze them but the freezer’s only so big.  So fried zucchini made its way onto tonight’s menu.  My mother used to make the most amazing fried zucchini.  I still haven’t achieved that level of deliciousness but tonight’s version was getting close.


This time of year things really start rolling in off the gardens and that means we get to have simple but delicious meals.  Home made hamburgers/rolls and fried zucchini may not sound simple but I rounded off the meal with shell peas and tomatoes.  I took my son out to the hoop house and he helped daddy pick cherry tomatoes.


My daughter, who is seven, went out by herself to the pea patch and picked enough for supper.  She was so proud of herself and so were we!  Very responsible and accomplished!  We don’t cook our shell peas in our house because they are so delicious raw, the kids like opening and eat them individually and who the heck wants to go to all that trouble?

This time of year there is no excuse not to be burying yourself in everything fresh and bountiful from gardens and fields across our beautiful state.  If you find yourself in the unfortunate position to not have a garden (start planning for next year!) you can find everything you need at your local farmer’s market.  You can find the closest few by visiting the directory at the Maine Federation of Farmer’s Markets. Local food.  Eat well – be well.

Ryan Parker

About Ryan Parker

Ryan Parker is a farmer, writer, artist and musician. He currently lives in Central Maine with his wife, two children, a golden retriever, some pigs and chickens. He raises pastured and forested animals and grows a diverse range of vegetables without synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or taxpayer subsidies.