My daughter insisted I become socially active. After all, it’s 2014 (her words, not mine.) Luckily for me it is 2014, where there are plenty acceptable, almost mandatory, paths for social shortcuts. This seemed like wonderful stuff for an introverted writer who spends excessive amounts of the day in front of a computer, until I understood the extent of work required to upkeep one’s social network.
My daughter offered to teach me, insisting it would be okay.
“Trust me, you can handle it,” she commanded. Wearily, I agreed, stepping beyond the boundaries of Facebook and into the Wild West of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Tumblr, gently guided and instructed by my teenage daughter, who is extremely forgiving to my crusty old mind.
“Mom, you should really ask your successful Hollywood friend to send you a shout out,” she assessed one morning as she did her daily spot-check on the multiple social sites she had set up for me. Her fingers tapped away at my iPhone and her voice carried the professionalism of a seasoned Head Hunter.
“He has to tell me to shut up?” I queried, anxious. Had I pissed Thomas off lately?
“Shout OUT, Mom. It’s when they promote you on their Twitter account.” She is too good-natured to roll her eyes at me.
“Ah,” I mumble, making a mental note to ask to be shouted at.
I am grateful for my daughter’s guidance. The day feels squeezed already trying to manage my limited time writing The Great American Novel, raising children, baking bread, and the other precious events that cannot be put on hold, like dying that stubborn white out of my hair.
Now I have to shine with snazzy pictures, clever phrases, and pound signs?
The hair will have to wait.
“You need to put your food out there,” my daughter informs me. “Promote your site.” This seems obvious enough for her, but she is smart and sensitive and comprehends the challenge such a concept poses for me. After all, I am the only human being she knows who still reads an actual newspaper each day.
“Start with lunch today,” she instructs as she hands me my phone and steps out of the car. I watch her curls bounce away as she enters her school and vow to not let her down. After all, doesn’t she have Personal Branding first period?
For lunch I prepare turkey-cilantro sliders. The pale, lean ground turkey had been taunting me in the refrigerator, doubting my skill to make its fat-free pallid presence into something memorable. It would have been easier to grab the slabs of porterhouse steak to its left: a dash of salt and pepper and a hot grill and voilà! Or transform the porcinis perched on the last shelf into garlicky slivers sparkling with olive oil, minced onion and a squeeze of fresh lime. If I’d introduce some Arborio rice, steamy chicken broth and a sloppy dash of white wine I could promote the whole experience to a creamy mushroom risotto. The trick is to tease that risotto, just a half a cup of liquid at a go, and sturdy, patient, stirring. Of course, I’d add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano towards the end. It’s a marvelous, nutty wonder, a simple remedy that eludes many home cooks.
Yes, these would have been clean, quick victories, but I had my daughter on my mind. I wanted to make her proud, and I knew the quickest way to her heart would be with a juicy slider.
I went to work sautéing some shallots. Shallots are usually sold in a plastic mesh bags next to your garlic and regular onions. Perhaps you’ve passed them a zillion times and not noticed.
Grab a bag and toss it in the lower drawer of your fridge.
They are like onions, but with a mellower, almost buttery flavor, another culinary treasure passed up by many home cooks.
I diced my shallots really fine and plopped them onto a heated skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Then along came the garlic. I sautéed them until they were transparent in color, a minute or two.
I placed the ground turkey into a medium-sized mixing bowl and went to town adding the usual suspects for sliders: a raw egg, fresh breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, and the onion/garlic mix I had just made. A half a cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano would grace this dish as well.
A quick trip to my garden brought back some snipped basil leaves and cilantro, which I minced and threw in. A wave of spicy freshness made me smile and feel grateful for my garden and the sun on my face.
Now for some condiments: a squeeze of Ketchup, a scoop of tomato paste, and a spoonful of coarse-grain mustard, simply because I couldn’t find the Grey Poupon.
At this point my wedding band and that other funky ring I got in the art show in Buenos Aires came off. I knew what I was about to do would get messy.
The dog stared.
He hoped I would drop a clump of meat.
But I didn’t.
I worked quickly and thoroughly, using my hands to blend all the flavors together and form tiny little balls, two inches in diameter. As I did, I put the skillet to heat on medium-high.
The dog was persistent. Hopeful.
He stayed, resigned to the fact that I wasn’t giving any samples, and just kept me company.
The sliders went on the grill with a happy sizzle. A few minutes on each side and they were done. I set one up real nice, on a warmed bun, nestled amongst a bounty of lettuce, fresh-sliced tomatoes, pickles, onions and jalapeños. Mayo and mustard and ketchup went in as well.
I found my prettiest placemat and positioned the meal just so, taking the photograph as the sun shone graciously on my creation, making it twinkle.
It was time to think of something hip and snazzy to say. But wait, did this have to be 140 characters? Was that rule for Instagram or Twitter? I was overcome with a wave of confusion as I struggled with my social media ineptitude. I longed for my daughter’s fast-tapping fingers to readily snatch the phone from me followed by her calming, controlling voice that sighs on automatic, “here Mom, let me do it.”
But she was in Biology now and I would have to fend for myself.
epic sliders @alonamartinez #lunch, #sliders, #turkey, #no filter, #tap tap
I couldn’t remember most of the vital tips my daughter had shared with me during my crash course in Social Media. I certainly had forgotten all the hip language to use. I did remember that hashtag was something powerfully important, so I went to town with that. Then I posted it on every site she had opened for me, just to be safe and sat down with my newspaper for a quiet and quite delicious lunch, grateful for both my daughter’s savvy guidance and the ink staining my fingertips.
- 1 lbs. ground turkey meat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup minced shallots
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1/8 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a small skillet, heat up olive oil and sauté shallots and garlic until clear, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl add all the ingredients (including the shallots) and blend, with your hands, to combine.
- Form sliders as you would burgers, only small! Grill on a heated grill pan on medium-high heat for three minutes on each side.
- Serve on buns with your favorite accompaniments.
- Tweet, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, FB, and enjoy!
- Makes 12-14 sliders