My Fourth of July saga continues...
When my children were younger - MUCH younger - they called the Fourth of July "Boom Day".
This said with just a touch of anxiety, as it usually consisted of a long, hot, expensive, confusing and claustrophobically-crowded day at some waterfront celebration toting my toddlers in strollers or backpacks; concluding with dramatic fireworks exploding out of the dark, accompanied by booming live patriotic music.
All of which scared my poor over-tired darlings half to death, made them cry, sent us home early and ruined the evening's intended effect for those unfortunate souls who chose to "party" next to us...
Great holiday memories. Don't laugh, you have them too...
But my children are older and I'm wiser (or maybe just anti-social) and a "quiet" Independence Day celebration at home sounded like just the thing. But, fickle offspring that they are, two of the Sprouts deserted me at the last minute for better offers, you know... camping, the beach, friends, etc. and "Boom Day" ended up as a pleasantly quiet Vegan picnic lunch in the park.
Late that evening though, as it began to get dark and neighbors for miles around started their personal pyrotechnic displays, my oldest decided we should sit out on the patio, do burgers and corn over the fire and enjoy the free show.
And quite a show it was.
Our back yard and patio overlook a large valley filled with homes, and each of these homes must have had several hundred dollars worth of (often illegal) explosives to burn.
Nevertheless, it was beautiful, spectacularly loud and lit up the sky for THREE hours.
Much better than fighting crowds!
We got to poke sticks in the fire, watch the show, no 'Beer Garden' rules, play with the camera, and dinner was right in front of us! Turned out to be a rare and crazy-fun evening with my oldest 'Sprout'. Cherish those moments when you have them.
Now, back to the food.
Roasted corn is pretty easy over the fire, just peel back the husks, remove the silk, put husks back, wrap in foil and lay in the coals for a bit.
On the other hand, vegan burgers, that will work on the grill, create a bit of a challenge. I tend to prefer homemade, with a bit of actual "vegetables" in them, and I'm not a fan of black bean burgers, so...
Through trial and error I concocted a pretty good "burger" that I cook into big, firm patties ahead of time, freeze and then pop on the grill to warm up. They hold together well, look "burger-like" and don't have that charred-oatmeal-bean-vegetable taste when you're done. I've had confirmed omnivores eat them with gusto.
- 1/2 cup dry TVP, reconstituted in boiling water (you'll have about 1 cup) OR use about 1 cup some commercial "burger-crumbles"
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 C. grated carrot or zucchini (or a mix of both)
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. molasses (yes! you heard me! the dreaded molasses)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 C. fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 C. oats
- flax-eggs as needed (3 Tbsp ground flax mixed in 1/2 cup soymilk)
- 1/4 cup besan/chickpea flour
- 2 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten flour
- Seasonings to taste (I use sage, lemon pepper and smoked salt)
- olive oil, as needed
Saute onion and garlic in a lightly greased skillet until onion starts to soften, about five minutes.
Add carrots/zucchini and saute about 10 mins more, til veggies have softened.
Stir in the cumin, cilantro, soy sauce and peanut butter (you can also use tahini). Mix. Remove from heat and let cool 5-10 minutes.
Finally, sprinkle in vital wheat gluten flour and stir. It should bind together nicely, but add more breadcrumbs or liquid if needed. The mixture should be firm and substantial, somewhat sticky, not sloppy wet or crumbly.
Shape burgers from mixture. They should hold together pretty well.
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add burgers, cover and cook over medium-low about seven minutes a side, until browned, firm and cooked through. (I admit I've shaped these with a Mason-jar ring to get that perfectly round, evenly-thick "burger" shape.)
To grill later: Freeze cooled, cooked burgers. When ready to grill, remove from freezer, brush with oil and place on grill. Cook until browned to your liking and heated through, usually turning once or twice. You do have to be gentle with them, but they should hold together. If they're not cooperating (and sometimes, for whatever reason, they don't) place them on greased foil with holes poked through. You might want to do that anyway if the grill has been used excessively for animal products.