June 6, 1944 – better known as D-Day. It was a bloody, brutal day with unimaginable losses all around. The lives of the men who stared into the face of death that day on the beaches of France were forever changes. As were the families back home.
When I thumb through pictures surrounding D-Day two things come to mind. The first is an overwhelming sense of profound sadness for those I shall never meet. I cannot help but wonder as I stare into their faced “Is this his final moment?” It hurts, physically hurts, an ache so heavy on my heart. This was someone’s son or sweetheart, someone’s father or brother. Someone loved him. Someone would ache for him. And then I wonder, why take the photograph? What is this need to preserve moments in history for future generations?
It is so that we learn from the ugliness and cling to the beauty. Erasing history doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. What it does mean is that the lessons learned very well may be forgotten, and we are doomed to repeat history until we learn.
I could go on forever about what has plagued America over the last year or so regarding the cancellation of history without regard to the value of history. Did some good men say or do some bad things? Yes, but in their defense the times in which they lived are not the times of today. Learning is a matter of knowing better. Today we know better, or at least we should. But that’s a discussion of another day. Today is all about the brave boys who charged the beaches of France 77 years ago.
In the past, my D-Day Menu included fancy dishes from Italy, France, Germany and America. Delicious, no doubt. Poulet a la Normande is one of my favorites. And who can resist a slice of Apfelkuchen? Not me.
But then I began to hear a song playing in my head. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man. Why? I Haven’t a clue. Cartoonist Elzie Crisler Seger created a comic strip called Thimble Theater. In 1919 On January 17, 1929 Popeye made his appearance. By 1933, Mac Fleisher adapted the Thimble Theater character into his own series Popeye the Sailor Man for Paramount Pictures. It’s reasonable to assume American GIs knew of Popeye. And by the postcards created during World War II, these soldiers were no strangers to J. Wellington Wimpy, better known as Popeye’s straight man, Wimpy. Back home, Popeye encouraged Americans to support the war efforts with War Bonds.
While Popeye had a thing for spinach, Wimpy’s weakness had to be the Hamburger. With that in mind, I realized soldiers of World War II would have given just about anything to trade their C-Rations for a Wimpy Burger. In honor of those brave souls of D-Day, let’s make some burgers by the dozen.
Dill Burger Bites
1/2 cup Dry Onion Flakes
2 tablespoons Beef Stock
1-1/2 lbs Ground Beef
1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
1/8 cup Pickle Juice
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 package (12) square Dinner Rolls
12 Dill Pickle Chips
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a microwave safe bowl, mix together the onion flakes with beef stock. Warm in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Spread onion mixture in a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan. Stir and set aside.
Combine ground chuck, breadcrumbs, egg and pickle juice. Press meat mixture out over the onions. Season with salt and pepper. With a wooden spoon, prick holes through the beef mixture for ventilation while cooking.
Bake in the heated oven until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully tilt pan to drain excess grease. Blot any pooled grease from top of meat with paper towels.
Split rolls open to create a giant top and bottom bun. Place bottom bun on top of the giant burger. Place a cutting board over the pan, flip. Now the bread is on the bottom, the burger on top. Place pickles over the burgers, top with top bun. Cut into squares and serve.
Serve with chips, fries or tater tots – it’s all good.