Wednesday, 24 August 2016 12:08

Home on the free-range

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Down on my hands and knees on the kitchen planking, as I pick up the contents of a spilled tray of fresh veggies —I think about my wedding day.

The same thing happened then, too, although I didn’t know about it until later.
There, in the church kitchen, as guests began to arrive and mingle in the day-lit event hall, the kitchen helpers were experiencing a minor disaster.
In what was the first time in decades that the Mennonite side of my family would meet with the Seventh Day Adventist side, and the first time most would be introduced to my soon-to-be husband’s also-Adventist multitude, there were any number of things that could go wrong.
The mostly-vegetarian Adventists might take umbrage over the meats presented, while the Mennonites might grow faint from so little sausage.
Or an argument concerning Sabbath doctrine could break out around the luncheon tables.
Thankfully, however, both groups are traditional pacifists. It wasn’t until my sister’s wedding a few months later, when Lutherans sat next to a cluster of Wiccans, that things got out of sorts.
Meanwhile, back on the day, after the ceremony itself, I bustled myself and my dress into the church following an afternoon of being photographed.
It was July 31st and 38C, and my crinolines had begun to trap heat like a garden cloche. But, unaware that fresh vegetables were, at that moment, being hosed off and re-trayed, ignorance was bliss.
Now, fast forward 17 years, and my brother-in-law was getting married in New Zealand last spring. Vegans both, Todd and Donna were determined that their reception would include no foods that had ever interfered with an animal of any beak, hoof or fin.
Unable to attend because it was halfway around the planet, and we had lately made a covenant that yoked us together with a mortgage until death (or repayment) do us part, we missed blessing our brother and new sister as they began their new life together.
We also missed the live chicken that showed up to be featured in the wedding album. And we missed the good-hearted attempt of the bride and groom to convert atleast a few meat-and-egg-eaters, and dairy-consumers, to veganism.
All known accounts suggest the effort was for naught. Although some wedding guests were reported as saying, while they were still hungry after the lentil loaf, that some of the food was, in fact, okay.
“Not bad!” came some very high praise.
Then, as happens after weddings the world over, the guests waved off the new couple, the chicken dove for cover, and the crowd scattered and drove off to find something more to eat.
Meanwhile, back home, we’ve decided to add a few more vegetarian (though not vegan) meals to our list. Beginning with black bean burgers, served on dinner buns, with mayo, avocado and red onion, the patties are easily the best case we’ve made for setting a tray of ground beef to roam free.
Admittedly, the squeaky cheese came from an unknown cow, but the egg we used to bind the ingredients together was free-range, from a backyard coop. In fact, because of Todd and Donna, I’m on the look-out for other free-range products when we shop.
 It doesn’t make up for not being there, but we have a feeling that Todd and Donna will appreciate this more than the chef’s knife we sent.
Black Bean Burgers
1-398 ml can black beans, drained
1-199 ml corn nibblets, drained
1-127 ml can chopped green chilies, with liquid
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped "squeaky cheese" curds
1 large egg
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
flaked kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup cornmeal
canola oil for frying
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse beans until coarsely mashed. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add corn, chilies, crumbs, cheese, egg and spices. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Season to taste.
Form into about twelve 1/2 cup patties. Coat with cornmeal.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add a few patties at a time and cook 10-15 minutes, turning once, until crisp and cooked on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

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