God Is In The Ketchup and The Pickles

God is in the details

…A phrase that resonated with me from an early age.  When looking at some particularly beautiful sunset, or the breathtaking splendor viewed from the top of a mountain in Colorado, I wondered how anyone could see those things and question the existence of a divine creator.  As I got older, I began to understand that same phrase differently, as it applied to artists and their work.

Many people painted pictures, but only Leonardo Da Vinci painted a woman whose eyes seem to follow you to any spot from which you view her portrait.  Beautiful and amazing. And a little creepy.

Many artists draw intriguing and detailed pencil sketches, but none as intriguing and magical in their detail as those by M.C. Escher.  I can stare at his work for hours, and contemplate how he made the physically impossible appear plausible.  It becomes entirely believable that water can flow uphill with nothing but natural flow compelling it to do so.

Many people have been accredited it with this quote, or one very similar, and it is possible that all of them did say it.  My favorite version though is thought to have been said by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a famed and prolific German writer in the late 1700’s…He said

God is in the details…The Devil is in the extremities

To me, this addressed not only the divine inspiration that surely must exist in the details, but also the fine line between that inspiration and the sinful nature that exists when one is given to excess.  For example, God may well be in the details of one of Mozart’s concertos, but certainly it is the Devil that is in the details of subversive rap music that disrespects women and condones the killing of cops. 

And while God is in the details of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon On The Island of La Grande Jatte” (my personal favorite), or Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, I believe it is old Beelzebub himself behind, for example,  Andres Serrano’s work, Piss Christ, in which he displayed a crucifix upside down in a jar of his own urine.  Somewhere along the continuum between divine inspiration and sheer lunacy, he crossed a line.  When your “inspiration” raises your “art” to a level where it’s okay to spread hate, you’ve derailed…

I just made myself angry. Moving on…..

I see that yin/yang, duality of nature thing in many forms—art, people’s intentions, and even hamburgers…..But praise the Lord and pass the beer that hamburgers are not all alike.

What sets one hamburger apart from, say, your garden variety fast food burger?

That’s right! The details. 

A better cut of meat and a special kind of bun will automatically create a better burger than Micky D’s. I like Hawaiian buns, myself, or these really fabulous sweet sourdough buns that come out of Houston, Texas……Sweet Mesquite Bakery/a.k.a. Sheila Partin’s…Google them. They also make a jalapeno cheddar sweet sourdough bun….Best buns you’ll ever place your meat into…. And I would never lie to you about something as important as hamburgers.

And what of sauce?….I like Tabasco Mayonnaise, onion mustard, and black pepper and thyme ketchup….Not necessarily all at once, mind you, but the one little change-up makes a huge difference. Or you can get really cray cray, and put some BBQ sauce, A-1, or raspberry chipotle sauce….

Cheese: there is more than one flavor of cheese out there, people! Don’t sell yourself short with American… I like pepper jack myself, or this really good habanero cheddar my grocer sells.  And crumbled bleu cheese (with some bacon and sautéed mushrooms)—–TO DIE FOR.

You get the picture.

And when the creative inspiration needle tips a bit too far the other way, you get things like doughnuts or grilled cheese sandwiches used as buns, surrounding 6 patties and a pound of bacon, with some fried eggs thrown in for good measure. Gluttony is still a sin, right?  That damned Satan. He’s a real boogar.

I am pretty sure you know how to make a hamburger. Get ground meat. Shape into patties. Season as desired. Cook it in some way (preferably involving fire) until done, and serve between bread.

What happens after that is up to you, and if you’re lucky, God. He’s in the details.


Onion Rings

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 medium-sized sweet onion (yellow or red)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Oil for frying

Heat the oil of a deep fryer to 350*

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Slice onions into rings 1/3 of an inch thick, and separate all of the rings.  Toss all of them in the flour mixture and shake off excess. Working with a few at a time, dip into beaten egg, and then back into the seasoned flour.  Deep fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Drain on a wire rack, and serve while still hot.


Thyme and Black Pepper Ketchup

  • 1 gallon can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I like red)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 2/3 C cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • ¼ cup thyme leaves

Place last five ingredients in a piece of cheesecloth and tie shut.  Place all ingredients in a crock pot, and place on high for ten hours. Prop the lid open slightly by placing a wooden spoon under one edge.  Ketchup should be thick.  Puree with an immersion blender, and place in jars.  Process in a canner, or keep refrigerated.


Sambal Olek Pickles

  • 7 lbs pickling cucumbers
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Ball® Kosher Dill Pickle Mix 
  • 4 1-quart sized canning jars, with lids and bands
  • 1 cup Sambal olek
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed slightly

Cut ends off cucumbers. Cut into spears, or slices 1/2″ thick.
Combine water, vinegar, sugar and Ball® Kosher Dill Pickle Mix in a large saucepan. Heat to a boil.

Prepare canner, jars, and lids according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Add ¼ cup Sambal Olek and two cloves garlic into each jar.

Pack spears into jars. Ladle hot pickling liquid over spears leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude*.

For best flavor, allow pickles to stand for 4-6 weeks.

*Increase processing time: 5 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 ft; 10 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 ft; 15 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 ft; 20 minutes for 8,001 to 10,000 ft.


Categories: Family, Food, humor, recipes, Texas, writing


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16 Comments on “God Is In The Ketchup and The Pickles”

  1. Jueseppi B.
    2013/12/17 at 1:52 pm #

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

    2013/12/17 at 2:33 pm #

    Loved the blog. Kind of took that Hip-Hop hit personally but I definitely see what you’re trying to say.

  3. Lance
    2013/12/17 at 2:59 pm #

    Love this write up! Luckily American food is very trendy here in Oz at the moment, so lots of good places to choose from. Happy Days folks!

  4. 2013/12/17 at 3:17 pm #

    I wouldn’t put my meat in any bun — no matter how sweet — unless said bun is toasted. But, I do believe that American cheese is best on a burger. After all, that’s what Whataburger serves on theirs. You think the Prince of Darkness had any influence there? 😉 Excellent stuff, as always.

    • 2013/12/17 at 4:24 pm #

      A bun should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be toasted. I figured that was a given….

      I DO LIKE American on a burger, but only when I have it with ketchup cheese, mustard and pickles..When I have bacon, I have to have mayo and bleu cheese. If I do a Surk Club Surk Burger, with beans and fritos and salsa, then it has to be cheddar….I just know some people that won’t eat anything BUT cheddar, EVER.

  5. 2013/12/17 at 3:20 pm #

    Fresh thyme mixed into the ground meat. Now, there’s a detail to die for 😀 (Maybe some chopped garlic too. And definitely black pepper.)

  6. Sarah
    2013/12/17 at 4:09 pm #

    Best burger…a big fat bacon cheeseburger perhaps with jalapenos, and, wait for it…peanut butter. Yup. You won’t be sorry. Your arteries may be though

  7. 2013/12/17 at 5:35 pm #

    Unusual pairing of Goethe and pickles, but you made it flow pretty well.

  8. 2013/12/17 at 5:36 pm #

    God and artful burger nuance! Makes perfect sense to me.

  9. 2013/12/17 at 7:32 pm #

    Oh wow, I love everything about this post and the recipes! The ketchup and pickles sound AMAZING! Now I have Jason Mraz’s song “Details in the Fabric” stuck in my head…

  10. inesusan
    2013/12/18 at 4:34 am #

    so yummie

  11. 2013/12/18 at 11:20 am #

    surk burger at the surk club? were you sampling your cooking wines again?

  12. 2013/12/25 at 10:48 pm #

    Good job & Merry Christmas!

  13. 2013/12/26 at 12:47 pm #

    Your pickles look great. I just tried my very first batch of icebox pickles. Can’t believe how easy they were in that I haven’t tried them before now.

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