Soul Searching Twenty-Something Seeks Food Love: Settles For Food Like Most Days

Soul Searching Twenty-Something Seeks Food Love: Settles For Food Like Most Days

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Burgers are a Special Gift

Who doesn't like a burger?

It is estimated that the average American eats anywhere from 1-3 burgers a week.  So, even conservatively, Americans are eating over fifty burgers a year.  The burgers we're talking about here are the meaty, greasy, fatty burgers, whether grilled with care at the neighborhood barbeque or fast food scarfed down in from the driver's seat. 

Burgers are an food archetype for Americans.  With a big ol' side of french fries and a slice of goopy apple pie, you have a cholesterol- and saturated fat-laden image of why the American Heart Association anticipates that by 2020, three quarters of the world's deaths will result from chronic disease, with coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease leading the way to hell (or heaven, if you can look this results in the eye and be an optimist).

And to make matters worse, the carbon footprint of our burger addiction is equally disturbing.  In the analysis of The Cheeseburger Footprint, Swiss research on the energy required to produce a hamburger is converted to the annual carbon footprint of a Hummer.  If Americans are eating an average of 3 hamburgers a week, we're consuming energy at a rate that would equal double the number of SUVs on the road IF every SUV on the road were the excessive gas-guzzling nightmare of a Hummer.

Still hungry for burgers?

I am.  Because, my tasty Hazelnut Mushroom burgers, don't require meat (a great improvement for carbon footprint).  I could eat three of these every week with out feeling guilty or gross!  And the best part:  my whole kitchen and house smell a-f-ing-mazing.  From the toasting of hazelnuts, the sauting of mushrooms, to the baking of the patties (with yummy pressed garlic and chives in them), my tummy has been rumbling away every time I inhale!

The orivinal recipe comes from Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body & Soul.  It's a fun little cookbook that I picked up, mostly because I crave me some macaroni and cheese once in a while.  (But I get by on macaroni and cheeze).  I'm most excited about the recipes for soy ice creams and shakes (since I have and love my ice cream maker), but decided to give homemade "veggie" burgers a try. 

I'm not going to act like I don't throw frozen veggie burgers from the grocery store in the toaster oven and eat them (on a moderately regular basis).  I do.  And, to be honest, between the packaging and the mass farmed ingredients, I'm sure these aren't the world's greenest burgers.  In their defence, I guarantee you that the veggies involved do not fart, so all the cow methane is at least out of the picture (saving approximately .73 Hummers a year. . .j/k).

But I found that the variety that I can enjoy in textures and flavors of homemade burgers, whether soft, chewy, bean-y, or veggie-y, is enjoyable in and of itself.

Anyone who knows me knows that i have a mushroom problem.  I'm a big sucker.  If a menu has anything that is "in a mushroom sauce" or "over mushrooms," I can't  help but order it.  I'm also the kind of person who compulsively eats nuts until the bowl is empty.  I just love them.  I love walnuts, cashews, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, you-name-it-nuts, I'll dig in.  So when I found mushroom hazelnut burgers, I knew where to begin.

I did a few things differently that the recipe called for.  I used wheat berries instead of flour for filler, to add some chewy to the burger.  I used shitake and baby bellas instead of crimini (because they were here in my house.  I didn't have an onion on hand, but I had fresh chives just begging to be chopped up and tossed into something.  Cooking isn't about fitting the mold of a recipe, but being able to flow freely in your kitchen and enjoying the outcome.

The Ingredients:

1 c TVP, rehydrated
8 oz mushrooms, sauted (they wanted crimini, but like I said, shitake and baby bella are what you see here)
1/2 c onion, sauted (replaced with a handful of diced chives)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed and sauted (YUM!!!!)
1 c. cooked brown rice (I used wild and brown rices, mixed)
3/4 coarsely chopped hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
1/4 c. wheat flour (I replaced it with tasty wheat berries)
salt & pepper to taste

Start by chopping the mushrooms, garlic, and onion/chives in a food processor using the pulse function (don't make them mushy, make them chopped!). 
Add in the rice and tvp.  Chop (not mush) a bit more!
Finally throw in those hazelnuts and give everything one more good chop (still no mush). . .
Mix the chopped mixture into the flour & grain mixture.

Then, SMUSH UP SOME BURGERS!  Take off your jewelry and get your hands into your food.  Cooking is a visceral experience and the more connected with your food that you are, the more authentic (think Heidegger) your experience can be!
Bake your patties for 15 minutes.  Flip them.  Bake them again for 10 minutes.  Don't bake them too long, or you will end up with dried out crunchy burgers.  I made that mistake once and will never make it again.  Plate them up and enjoy a beautiful burger, that is not only nourishing with great whole grains and protein, but also tastes great (earthy and roasty with garlic and chive accents). 
I enjoyed mine on fresh ciabatta with cherry tomatoes, spring greens, and a smear of Vegenaise.  When homemade burgers are so tasty and filled with such simple ingredients, why bother with Boca?

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