Burgers, Recipes & France

Fri 17th, Sep, 2010

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**issuing a BC warning, here follows one of my rambles, not sure quite where it came from but I’m trying to avoid de-cluttering the study :-)

G’day Mate.  Sorry I had to do that after seeing it on Oprah.  I find it h i l a r i o us now that I live here how everyone thinks Down Under is all Paul Hogan

Anyway, I digress, (and yes I would love to have Afternoon Tea with Oprah),  this post is about home-made burgers, because on Facebook we’ve been loving and sharing and enjoying chatting about family recipes for real people….but it takes me a while to get to burger, so you may or may not choose to leave now.

A good few years ago now, after many a trip to France..the South in the warm & the North so beautiful,  I really got interested in simple home-cooked food…miles away from the insipid offerings ‘home-cooked’ might conjure up and in contrast to the fad for tiny bits of food arranged as art that was so hip at the time.

This newfound love for really gob-smackingly tasty real food came not long after I had been working in London for a PR company (yawn yawn up themselves yahhhwwwn) & many of the clients were in the food industry and at that time eating and food fashion really took off in the UK...I was seriously turned off by that and still am….nothing…nothing worse than some self proclaimed foodie boring you to death with truffle oil and how they make their pasta from scratch dahling…. but in France I felt as far removed from that world as can be.

I had spent many an evening and lunch standing on the sidelines in a horrible little navy blue dress and heels, at big London hotels, of some pretentious champagne event (oh the stories) held for even more pretentious food writers and critics and watched as they ponced around sniffing food and wine…


But on our holidays and daytrips to France, Mr BC and I were in our element…on holiday a lot of the time with other Brits, who and I say this without wishing to impart any judgement, were kinda out looking for spaghetti bolgnese, we would often sneak off from the pack in search of the elusive and lovely Plat du Jour and spend a couple or two leisurely hours being served how only the French can do it…a pile of regular but wonderfully grown lettuce leaves doused with a potion that made lettuce taste like gold and slivers of cheese arranged just so, house wine, chosen with pride sloshed in a weathered caraffe and a piece of meat or fish grilled and doused in some simple sauce that made one feel one may well have arrived in heaven.  For 10 bucks.

One year at Christmas we went to Lille for lunch (we could hop on the train & be in France in 30 mins from where we lived – I hear it’s even easier now)…we froze, I bought a new handbag with most of the month’s earnings, browsed the Christmas markets, found a Plat du Jour and absolutely revelled in the phenomonon that is good, easy, cheap and attainable eating.

This sparked in me a love of real food….and back on good old Blighty, when I was young and with just Honeymoon Baby and me at home, I took myself on a culinary adventure with mostly in mind re-creating simple food from regular things.  I lapped up Elizabeth David and tried to make good things outta lettuce leaves.

Mr BC was commuting hard, we were young, saving and naive…we thought with one baby we were busy, that life was full but every night we ate well, I skipped around full of enthusiasm, head full of Nigel Slater’s writings and blown-away by Jamie of Oliver fame and his down-to-earth approach to food.  Mr BC never had it so good in the secret cafe at number 5.

And then.

Baby number 3 came along.

Things changed.


Mrs BC wasn’t skipping anymore, baby was big, 10lbs of stocky delight and hungry most all of the time.  And the offers of help & support weren’t flooding in…we struggled on exhausted & Mr BC boiled pasta every night and then, one day after 12 or probably much more weeks of pasta & cheese every single day (no deliveries of home-cooked meals for me) I sat on the cold kitchen floor, next to the big bouncing baby and cried.

I couldn’t look another piece of pasta in the eye.

And for some reason, sitting down there with the kitchen cabinets I remembered the crock pot tucked to the back, a wedding present.  I sought it out…one of those old-fashioned ones you don’t see now…a kinda creamy plastic outer and hugely thick brown dish…round not like the oval ones you see now.

I don’t remember what went in it..but twelve long hours later, Mr BC walked in the door and smelt Plat du Jour.

And there began a revolution.  I sought out crock pot recipes from anywhere I could find and to my amazement began to find all sorts of things that, via the internet and the greatest thing ever, honest real-life reviews from real people, I began to learn that slow cookers are an under-rated thing.

Yep I’m getting to the burgers.

And now, still with a love of easy cooking, but far far away from not only the land of the Plat du Jour but the life of a gal with one baby and lots of time, I rely on my trusty crock pot many a night.

And that’s how I found a recipe for burgers in the crock.


And how this, not a leetle French dish, came to be my kids favourite meal, apart I suppose, from Sunday’s roast.

And so the other night I made this and we Facebooked about it and I thought I ‘d tell you about it cos as they were going off to training and asked what was for dinner you’d think I had said we were eating pure gold..homemade burgers….HOORAY…there were actually real cheers and jumps.

But my little secret is this is super-easy and though it ain’t for you if you don’t do fat, shudder at mince or sniff food too insidiously , but if you have 3 very active kids, one little girl who eats more than your husband, one teenager whose shoulders stick out like chicken wings even though you spend most of your waking hours feeding him and a husband who can eat for England, oops now we are official I should say Australia, and still have no love handles…well then this might be for you.

And just as an aside, I was recently watching a cooking show were the humble crock was scorned, big cookery star lamenting his skills and eschewing this gadget as sublimely ridiculous.

I had to chuckle to myself.

Obviously he’s never cried on the kitchen floor.


p.s. After blabbering on about crockpots, for the first time I actually was late home when I did this & didn’t have enough time to crock and made this in a pan and so I wrote the recipe with a stove-top affair in mind, mine is, I guess, not much more than a shallow pan cum saucepan with a lid/

But if you do have a crockpot (which I have been calling it since those years ago since sitting on the kitchen floor) lurking.

Rock it.




my next crock pot endeavour is Vegetable & Chickpea Curry here via Alison on Facebook…

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38 Responses to “Burgers, Recipes & France”

  1. Carol says:

    Now that sounds like something I can do and I LOVE my crock pot.

  2. Tricia Rose says:

    Well done Sarah, I cracked at baby No. 2.

    You have made me so nostalgic for those spur-of-the-moment trips to France – we used to go to Le Touquet for the weekend with whoever fitted in the car – heavenly fish soup, the smell of bread, little children happily gulping plateau de fruits de mer and tripe a la mode de Caen…

    Meanwhile back at the rock face – the produce in California is seriously good – at the moment there seems to be glut of heirloom tomatoes… and it’s true what they say about American steak (but nothing beats Australian/NZ lamb)… making myself hungry here.

  3. Janet says:

    Well, I just have to say I adore your humor! I have two young men in my home (meaning my children 14 and 17) aside from my husband…and I just cracked up about how you can’t feed them enough and he has shoulders like wings! That is my 17 year old for sure. He eats and I have no idea where it goes~! Ah…to be young again. Keep up your fab stories, I just love them! Greetings from Virginia!

  4. ha ha haa, too funny, Oh yes us Melbournites are total snobs and even worse when you live on a mountain on the outskirts of Melbourne he he ;0) I was thinking about the same thing with all this Oprah hoo hah which I mentioned on facebook. Its like we are expected to go around saying G’day all the time when I really dont know hardly anyone who does!! Recipie look delish, if I cooked I am sure I would make it. Will pass recipie along to my darling cooking extraodinaire husband!

  5. Angie Smith says:

    Sounds fab Sarah ! I will try it this weekend ! The meat is just ground meat correct, not made into patties? We call that sloppy joes ! But we add tomatoes.. I do think yours sounds better !

  6. Sarah I use my crockpot (often referred to as slow cookers, depending where you’re from in the usa) at least three times a month. I work full time and my hubby and I have different schedules, so with the crockpot it’s ready when he’s home, even if I’m not there. I’ve never done a burger though, I”m assuming it’s more like a “sloppy joe”? not a patty? Sounds yummy. By the way, half hour to France? Jealous I am.

  7. Ldom says:

    We have a crockpot, but I have to say it gathers dust in a closet… not because of snobbery, but because my husband decided to cook a chilli in it… I’d left for work and he threw the ingredients in… only to realise that he didn’t know how to make stock and decided to substitute it with beer (he’d heard that beer was good in chilli)… I walked into our apartment 9 hours later to the smell of fermenting meat… I was 6 months pregnant at the time and the smell of alcohol turned my stomach… now I just can’t get past that smell whenever I think of a crockpot… Your burger looks delish though! Lx

  8. Karin says:

    you’re a great story teller :)

  9. Melissa says:

    as a fellow mum and food- real food- muncher and feeder of five…..i LOVED this tale!!

    i’ve sat on that floor…i’ve cried those tears and i have loved jaime!!

    brilliant story and as its still VERY early here- you have now organised my dinner way ahead of time!!!

    big hugs for that one!

    melissa x

  10. carla says:

    Brilliant story Sarah, you do make me chuckle ;o)

    Def be trying this one out in my slow cooker soon…….sounds yum.

    Have a great weekend xx

  11. Pearl Maple says:

    Great story about your adventures and journey into being a cooker of burgers. Crock pots or slow cookers are a great option for busy families.

    Really like your little facebook label at the end of the post, that is cute.

  12. elisabeth says:

    I love your blog so much. I love how you write, it is so soothing to me. Your whole blog makes me feel so calm and refreshed. When is your book coming out?! Seriously, you must have been asked by now. I would be so happy to have a book from you. It would be neat to do something like “Beach Cottage Home,” or “Sarah at Home” and make it a combo of your stories, recipes, decorating tips, and photos. I think it would sell like hotcakes.
    Oh, and I totally hear you about the food snobs. They make me mad. I guess they don’t realize that we are real people with real families who have to eat to grow, not just to floof about sniffing at eachother snobbily about what food is “right” at the moment. With 5 kids, 4 being boys, 2 being of the teenage variety who eat like horses, I need to cook food that fills up bellies, and tastes good too without a lot of pretentious ingredients that I can’t even find. And I love my crockpot. Like, love. So, thanks for the recipe and for keeping it real for us normal people out there. Have a GREAT day!

    • Sarah says:

      wow thanks Elisabeth, what a lovely comment! appreciate it…

      I am working on the book…it’s more time that I need in my day lol!


  13. Victoria says:

    Dear Sarah,
    Only people who have cried in the kitchen floor really know how to cook! lol I so love the genuiness of your stories and the fact that you live a real life with a real Mr. and kids. Thanks for another great recipe. I will be trying this for sure!

  14. HRH Sarah says:

    Half an hour from FRANCE, arrrgghh. Of course, seeing your current abode, who needs France? You’ve created a little paradise of your own! Loved the story, and totally get sitting in the floor crying, whew! I second the motion that youwrite a book. Just slap a bunch of your posts together, and call the publisher! xoxo

  15. i wish i had your handwriting. so fun. happy weekend, the lady

  16. Melinda says:

    Sarah you are the best storyteller…i really think you need to publish a book with your tales. They are fantastic and so are the photos. Mel xx

  17. Krista says:

    Love this post so much, Sarah. I HAVE cried on the kitchen floor and oh, how I love my crockpot. :-) Thank you. :-) X

  18. Annette says:

    I loved reading your epic adventure of the humble burger…you have a great writing style.
    We received a crock pot for our wedding (nearly 30 years ago), yes the old orange one (now vintage)!.
    Up until a few years back it lurked in the back of my kitchen cupboard, but there seemed to be a revival of them in the media and it sparked my memory about it. Since then I use it quite often. Nothing quite like the feeling when you put it on in the morning and during the day realise you don’t have to think about what to have for tea…lovely!

  19. cheryl says:

    you’re right about melbourne..but really.. sydney snobbery? maybe you need to venture over the bridge more often.
    also lets hope the stereotypical image of the australian -akubra hat wearing , outback living is not promoted on oprah’s trip “downunder”,
    when the large majority of us are urban dwellimg & live near the coast, and full of cultural diversity.

    • Sarah says:

      you wanna believe it Cheryl.

      I think there will be a huge stereotypical downunder thing going on with Oprah…we shall see

      oh and however I still love saying G’day in this new country of mine THAT I LURRVE

  20. vosgesparis says:

    I don’t like meaty burgers (I am a veggie) but I truly enjoyed your story … hope that counts as a good comment.]have a great weekend…
    PS I like the word we facebooked haha see you here and there and maybe at mine ;)
    x desiree

  21. liz grundvig says:

    mmmmmmmmmmmm’ mm’mmm

  22. Paddy says:

    PR dahling PR! How did you stand it? You know, I came this close earlier this year. Great words BTW. You have nailed that discomfort I feel at all the food-writing tosh about these days. And don’t get me started about university courses that turn out food writers. Where are they all going to work? Oh, dear me, I’m sorry, I fear I’ve lowered the tone again. Made the best white bean (canned cannellini) and coconut curry from a Valli Little Delicious book called Quick Smart Cook the other day. Have also found it on Taste http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/23583/white+bean+coconut+curry. Yum.

    Keep up the good work.

    But have not painted my house white yet.

    • sarah says:

      I didn’t last long Paddy

      there sure is some tosh out there yes sirree

      no fear of lowering the tone on here as I am sure you know

      I will get you to paint it white…just you wait ;-)

  23. Paddy says:

    PS: Went vintage shopping and bought some 80s tortoise shell Carrera sunglasses. So proud. They are amazing. I remember them being really expensive way back.

  24. This is a wonderful post.. I love crockpots, Elizabeth David, and burgers. I just discovered your blog and am so excited to read more.

  25. Loved your ramble.


  26. Cindy S says:

    Oh, girl, I am so with you on the crock pot phenomena, I LOVE my crock pot! And I have an old round one like you described and it cooked three meals for me this last week. Very yummy meals at that, that I got off of people blogs! YaY for real people.
    I really want to try your recipe, it sound SO good.
    Hugs, Cindy

  27. I’ve been on that kitchen floor in a flood of tears too….oh boy…you know what they say…what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger (well, so they say)! I loved that you shared that story with us and loved that it brought us to your burger recipe. Wow, I’d never thought of doing a burger like that – it sounds fantastic and can’t wait to try it (damn shops in Munich are closed on Sunday’s otherwise I’d be there now getting the mince and bread rolls). Food snobs – fools! Haha! They don’t know what they are missing. Bring back real food … and while we’re at it bring back G’day (actually I say G’day to my kids every day when they get off the school bus)!! Hope that you enjoyed the curry. I’ve had a thing for lemon pie/ tart lately. Have never tried making it, but really want to give it a go…off to the kitchen to see what I can come up with. Happy cooking : )
    (ps really looking forward to more news of your book…sounds great mate!!)

  28. susan says:

    Sarah… I’m going to give your recipe a go…… :):)

    six children, five of whom are boys, two of whom are teens and one husband… oh and me who can also eat for Australia ;) I think we could seriously enjoy your burgers.

    if Oprah wears an akubra I swear I will vomit!! haha please please don’t let her throw another shrimp on the barby or do anything else completely naff. Let’s get her on a surfboard!!
    There’s got to be someone out there who can market Australia as we Australians see it and not as those o/s do…… and for the record, we do not ride kangaroos down the street. Never! haha

    and… I think a book of your stories would be great. :):)

  29. Esther says:

    I’ll have to try this because even though we like a good steak burgers, I’ve yet to find a hamburger patty recipe I like. Although this isn’t a patty….but still good.

    I like to make my curries in the slow cooker and meat-and-mexibeans to have with tacos or rice. I LOVE simplicity and there’s nothing like walking through the door after work and smelling good smells and know that dinners already made.

    If you want a good homemade relish recipe to to go with that homemade burger, just check out my site.

  30. corrie says:

    oh yum thanks for sharing! we ate frozen fish, chips and microwave vegetables when my first was born because there was no help and so much work to do but now I love my slow cooker! So wish someone had bought me one with my first baby! Now I must make this for my hubby and get it under my belt before baby 4 arrives and the slow cooker really gets a workout!


  31. My sister just sent me the link for your site because she loved how you presented your recipe. You almost make me want to cook…almost. I’m a little pregnant right now, but in a few months I’ll have to give this a try.

  32. Nadine says:

    Hi Sarah, is this one on your main recipe page? xo