Things Fall Apart, but that’s okay.



Yesterday, I was checking out my WP reader and I came across a very tasty-looking recipe for a “burger” at the Girl Eats Greens blog.  I was so tempted by it that I immediately printed it off, and since I knew that I had everything in to make it, I decided to do just that.

If you check the recipe at Jamie’s site, you can see what she used to make the burgers, but I will tell you that I don’t believe I have ever followed a recipe to the letter in my life, so no surprise, I didn’t with this one.

I cooked up a package of organic quinoa and set it aside.  I also sliced up some sweet potatoes (since the ones in her photo were calling my name), tossed them with a little olive oil, basil, black pepper and smoked paprika and put them in the fridge.

Then I set about to make the burgers.  My original intention was to make them small and put them in a wrap, but they seemed to be quite substantial what with the quinoa and black bean combo; I felt a bun or wrap might prove unnecessary.  Besides, I had leftover super-salad (kale, romaine, apple, carrot, beet, hemp hearts, walnuts with a tahini dressing)  in the fridge to have on the side as well.

I got out my big trusty stainless bowl and dumped in a can of black beans (rinsed and drained) which I mashed with a positively ancient metal potato-masher that has been in my family since the 1960s. (I’m usually very good at parting with things when they’ve done their time; not so, my mom).

Next, I added in some chopped scallions, a bunch of chopped cilantro. Jamie’s recipe called for 2 cups of spinach.  I didn’t have fresh on hand, but I had a zip-bag of spinach that I had frozen a while back, so I had taken it out to thaw and then pressed it between two paper towels to get most of the moisture out.  I also dropped in, 1 tsp. garlic (from a jar), 1 tsp. cumin, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 loaded tsp. of sriracha and some freshly ground black pepper.  I kept on mashing it all together and then added the quinoa and stirred it well.

I had a notion to add some frozen organic corn kernels too, as I love corn – I can eat anyone under the table when there is fresh corn on the go.  I will hunt you down for your own cobs if they look unfinished to me. *kidding  No, I’m not, but don’t judge me.

So anyway, I mixed up the whole mess and tried to make patties with it, but it was just not holding together.  Granted, Jamie used a food processor which I don’t own, so maybe that’s what went wrong – there was just not enough liquid squeezed out of the beans to bind it together. Also, I may have got a little over-enthusiastic with the quinoa.

In an effort to remedy this, I threw in a huge Tablespoon of tahini and it worked!

I formed the patties, lay them out a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (God’s gift to cooks and bakers, imho), covered them with foil and put them in the fridge until I was ready to bake them.

As per Jamie’s instructions, I did up my sweet-tater fries in a 425 degree oven and then left them on the stove in an old baking pan on low, to stay warm.

I baked the patties on one side for 10 minutes, but when I tried to flip them—disaster! They started to crumble and there was no piecing them back together.  Thankfully, I had only made the attempt on two burgers and the rest were intact.  I put them back in the oven and baked for another 10 minutes.

Apart from a little bit of crumbling from pan to plate, they stayed together.  I drizzled some of my tahini dressing left over from the lunchtime salad, put some fries on the plate and salad on the side.

Things fall apart sometimes, but honestly, I don’t care if it’s not magazine-cover material as long as it tastes good on my tongue and nourishes my belly and no animals were harmed to put it on my plate.

Have a look at these babies!




The Restaurant Dilemma



The past few weeks have presented a few challenges for my husband and I, as new Vegans.  It’s not that we’ve been put in situations of temptation—I don’t mean to be flip, but we really haven’t felt the slightest bit tempted, we are so convicted in our attitudes against consuming anything animal, that it supersedes all other instincts—it’s more that we are not adept enough at catching all the possible incidences of non-vegan ingredients in foods.

The complication recently has been trying to accommodate our new vegan parameters with the carnivorous wants of my 85 year old mother.  Meat-eaters can be such die-hards, especially in the elder years.

First, we had my mother’s 85th birthday to work around.  We’re a small family and don’t go in for parties, as a rule, but we did want to go out for a nice meal to celebrate.  I did some research, and found a place where we could all be satisfied — or so, I thought.

We live in a small town, and vegan options in the immediate vicinity are few and far between. We have a great little lunch-cafe that we stop into regularly on the weekend for veggie wraps and smoothies and such, but dinner menus pose a problem, so we went to the nearest city to a quite nice restaurant where the service was very good and the food was too.  My husband had a lovely quinoa curry, and I had a ravioli which I was careful not to get sauced with cream, but with oil. So far, so good.  My mother had pulled pork, (much to my disgust, but I try not to bug her too much, and after all, it WAS her birthday).

There were no other options on the menu for our vegan diet-needs, and it was only when we driving home that it dawned on me that the pasta I had eaten had most likely been made with egg. Bah!

As for dessert, my mother had some decadent cake and I had an absolutely delectable raspberry-strawberry non-dairy sorbet.  I told our waiter I was coming back just for that.

Fast forward to Easter weekend and we are again on the horns of a dilemma.  We spent the bulk of Easter – Thursday night, Friday afternoon, Saturday night and Sunday morning singing in the choir at our church, so my mom wanted to treat me to a meal out rather than having to prepare something on Sunday.  As I said, the options in town are pretty scarce.

We ended up going to a nice pub/restaurant in the town down the road where both my husband and I had a substantial veggie burger and mom, once again had pork, only this time it was schnitzel.

I noticed the description of the veggie burger detailed an “aioli”, so I asked our server if he could find out if the “aioli” had mayonnaise in it. (It was my husband who piped up with, “We’re Vegans”, so I guess it’s official.)  It did, so I ordered it without and opted for a tomato-onion jam, and a corn-relish.  Yum.

We also discovered that my mother’s dish came with a side of sauerkraut, which I read was supposed to be good for you. Mom’s not a fan, so I scooped up the bulk of it and put it on the burger.

The burger was good, but the pasty white bun was as I always remembered them, like a mouthful of cotton wool.

Not sure what was in that burger or the sauerkraut, but let’s just say, my night was not a good one. At 3:00 a.m., I was sitting in the dark in my kitchen, eating an organic banana to try and calm my stomach. Hmm.

The best part about Easter eating was without question tasting raw, organic chocolate for the very first time!  We had both given it up for Lent and let me tell you, the first thing we put in our mouths on Easter Sunday morning was a piece of melt-in-your-mouth Giddy Yoyo (see my sidebar for the link) raw, wild Equadorian vegan chocolate.

This chocolate is very pricey and so we quickly designated it our “weekend chocolate”. Ha ha.  That notion lasted about an hour.

Oh, but this guy did pay us a visit: