Friday, July 22, 2011

Black Bean Burgers - Pan Fried

Recently I read an article on BBC News Magazine listing Americanisms that are becoming more mainstream in the UK, but that the Brits find annoying. I wonder if there are any of our colloquialisms they welcome? Having spent some time living in London when I was in college and now having business colleagues in the UK, I've often thought I'd like to adopt certain British words and phrases. Some I like because they're just a bit more snarky, but some I find appealing because they seem to capture the essence of the mood or idea a bit better than our American words do. Take, for instance, one of my favorites - "sacked" instead of "fired". In a recent example of this, I was reading in a newspaper about the Murdoch scandal where they reported that Rebekah Brooks got "sacked" from News of the World. For me, thinking of someone being sacked creates a vision for me of them being cast aside, perhaps into a trash can. Being fired makes me think of someone going up in flames. Going up in flames is much more damaging or permanent. Being tossed into a trash can is demeaning and unpleasant, but you can bounce back.
Another one on the top of my list: Going to the loo (instead of the bathroom/restroom). Maybe it's me, but going to the loo is more discreet sounding and somehow even cheery. It doesn't seem to scream, "I'm going to perform bodily functions!"
Some other faves:
  • Bloody -it's so versatile, yet doesn't sound nearly as offensive as the "f" word. "That's bloody fantastic!" "Put down that bloody cell phone while you're behind the wheel!" "What the bloody heck does he think he's doing?"
  • Cheers - as a greeting, not just prior to drinking a pint
  • Wanker - as in jerk. "That guy is such a wanker. Don't pay any attention to him."
  • Smashing - meaning fantastic. "You look smashing in that dress!"
  • Bollocks - as in rubbish or no good. "That Fox News reporter is talking bollocks."
  • Ring -as in call someone. "I'll give you a ring when I'm ready to go this evening."
  • Sod - also versatile - "Sod off" or "Sod it" - again, another lighter sound version of the "f word"
Those are just a few that come to mind. If you have any you especially like, please let me know.

Please don't take this as complaining, because I'm very much enjoying the heat of the summer, but it's been so bloody hot, it's not very conducive to turning on the oven. So, as always, I'm looking for things to make for dinner that are tasty, yet don't require much heat to prepare. I've made a very similar black bean burger recipe in the past, but baked them in the oven. This recipe was taken and adapted from www.thevegandelicious.wordpress.com who adapted it from Veganomicon. I didn't have any wheat gluten, so I used an egg instead, therefore rendering it no longer vegan, but will try it that way next time. These are tasty, a nice texture and cook up quickly. If you've made some fun summer salads and need a protein based accompaniment this is a perfect solution.

Black Bean Burgers - pan fried

2 cups of cooked black beans or 1 15 oz can (rinsed)
1 egg (or go to Meaux's site, listed above for both vegan and gluten free variations)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tspn chile powder
1/2 tspn cumin
1/4 cup water
1 tbspn tomato paste or ketchup
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 small onion, diced

1. Mash the beans with a fork until there are no full beans left (I've also used a hand potato mashing utensil).
2. Add everything else and mix with a wooden spoon. Then knead with your hands until well mixed and firm.
3. In 4 equal parts make the patties - form a ball and then flatten.
4. In a frying pan, heat up some oil on medium heat. Cook the patties for about 5-7 minutes on each side.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Salad With a Fried Egg

What came first - the vegan or the vegetarian? This isn't a philosophical mindbender like the chicken or the egg question, and now, in the days of Google, it's fairly easy to find an answer to it. While I figured the vegetarian came first, I didn't know by how much. According to Wikipedia, the first records of vegetarianism date back to 6th century BC! The term "vegan" was coined in 1944. I'm sure there were vegans prior to the label becoming official. But, still, that's a pretty big gap in time.
In more than 2 decades of not eating meat, I have tried a couple of times to go vegan. I found it much harder to sustain that diet. It's not so challenging to do at home, especially when I was living alone, but I find eating socially and eating out to be far more of a burden as a vegan. For a period of time, I ate mostly vegan at home, but would be open to eating dairy and eggs when I ate elsewhere. When I moved in with Todd I found it much more difficult to find lots of options of menus he would enjoy sans cheese. I felt I was already imposing my non-meat ways on him, since I do all the cooking, so I should compromise on dairy. Now, if you look in my fridge you would find feta, chevre, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses at any given time. You would also find yogurt and eggs. I still use non-dairy milk and I still enjoy eating vegan meals, especially when I'm flying solo for dinner.
Tonight, I was on my own for dinner, but did not choose the vegan route. I had a mish mosh of vegetables from both the farmers market and the grocer, and I needed to pull together something quick since I didn't get home until 9:00. Heidi from 101 Cookbooks, a vegetarian cooking blog I read regularly, often throws a fried egg on top a salad or a simple veg dish. I finally decided to try this tonight. I have to say the results were tasty, albeit it an ecclectic combination. I used pea tendrils (big score from the Belmont FM last week) as the greens. Then, I added some steamed sweet potatoes, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, chickpeas and a balsamic dijon vinaigrette.