Tag Archives: writing

Cheeseburger Pie: A Remembrance

I don’t remember ever helping my mom make cheeseburger pie. They say that letting kids help in the kitchen encourages those kids to eat the food they helped to make, but I’m pretty sure my opinion of cheeseburger pie wouldn’t have changed whether I had helped or not. Cheeseburger pie was simply awful.

I recently found the cheeseburger pie recipe while I was going through a family recipe book I had received as a wedding present. Seeing it written out brought back a cavalcade of memories. I could just taste the slightly gritty ground beef, the backbone of the dish. The beef bathed in a slime of ketchup (half a cup!) and evaporated milk. The recipe called for half a cup of diced onions, but we never—I mean not once that I remember—had fresh onions in the house. Instead, Mom used minced dried onions, which were never quite soft enough to just disappear nor quite crunchy enough to add interesting texture. This combination of meat, ketchup, milk, and onions always proved too much for the storebought frozen pie crust, pasty and sodden even after baking. Topped with shredded cheese mixed with just the wrong amount of Worcestershire sauce, cheeseburger pie was the food of my nightmares.

Here’s the recipe copied from my mom’s recipe card.

Our dining room wasn’t really big enough to fit our table and, by extension, the four of us kids and my parents. As a result, many nights my parents ate dinner in the living room and watched the news, while we kids were left to our own devices in the dining room. But cheeseburger pie was a dining room meal. We had to pull the table out from the wall, leaving little to no room to get into the kitchen or living room. Moreover, in a household where paper plates were all but ubiquitous, for cheeseburger pie we got out the Pfalzgraff.

My eight-year-old self, picking at the edge of the crust (the only part I deemed edible), didn’t appreciate this opportunity for gathering. Not everyone in my family felt the same way—in fact, cheeseburger pie was a beloved family treat. Whereas I stewed in a puddle of aggrieved tears in the corner of the dining room every time it was served, at least one of my brothers once requested cheeseburger pie for his birthday dinner. (When I asked my older brother just a few weeks ago for his opinion of the dish, he replied, “The nectar of the gods.”) I was the only dissenting voice.

In a weird way, cheeseburger pie means a lot to me. Now, I appreciate the lesson that even in a tightly knit family, tastes differ, and you don’t always get your way.  It’s good to try new things that you might not like. I try to teach my kids these lessons every day. But I’ll never feed them cheeseburger pie to illustrate the point.




I remember the first time I heard the word(?) NaNoWriMo. First I thought: What in the world does that word(?) mean? It sounds a bit like an alien planet. Once I found out what it was, I thought: You people are insane. Write a novel in a month? That’s crazy.

I still think NaNoWriMo is crazy. But it has spurred several other WriMos that seem a little more useful to my current life: DigiWriMo and AcWriMo. Both of these challenges begin in about a week on November 1. And I’m going to try to do them both. I feel pretty certain that I won’t make it to 50,000 words, but you never know.

The cool thing about AcWriMo and DigiWriMo is that they work in tandem. I intend to do a large portion of my academic writing for the month online, thereby fulfilling the requirements for both challenges. (Is that cheating? If it is, oh well. I’m doing it anyway.)

Both WriMos have challenged participants to set outlandish goals and make them public. So here’s my plan for the month.

The overall goal: Populate Preble’s Boys with bios of each officer and ship.

The specifics:

1. Write one officer bio every day for the first 17 days, taking off Sundays.

2. Write one or two ship bios for the remaining days. (Take Thanksgiving Day and Sundays off.)

3. Blog about the progress and challenges of the site at least twice during the month.

The challenges:

1. Language exam, Nov. 16.

2. A live-in toddler.

3. Need for more research. (My intention is to write the bios using secondary sources for now and when I have the chance to travel to archives, then flesh them out with primary sources if needed.)

4. Thanksgiving!

The preparation:

1. Research: I need to build up my Zotero library about each of these officers so that I don’t have to do a lot of reading when it’s writing time.

2. Organization: I need to set up a good system for keeping myself organized. I’ve been working in a sort of piecemeal fashion up to this point. I need to get it together.

And that’s the plan. We shall see whether my site is text-heavy by the end of the month!

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing for DigiWriMo and AcWriMo!