Two weeks ago our daughter came home from school with a friend to stay for the first week of the holidays. Natalie lives with her mother in Stratford so, as it is 4 hours away, we only get to see her during the school holidays. As her older sister couldn’t come up this time she bought a friend. A lovely little girl who also happened to be a vegetarian. It was rather an interesting exercise feeding her as we are largely carnivorous in this household and all my specialities pretty much include meat. Turns out that going to a boarding school in Stratford does not teach young girls how to take care of themselves any more. This little girl couldn’t even put her rubbish in the bin and got very confused when we asked her to rinse her plate. Don’t even attempt to explain to her how a door can be closed after you go through it. Poor Nat just about went spare following along behind her cleaning up and shutting doors. Its winter. We are trying to keep the warm in.
During the stay our darling daughter turned 15. For anyone’s birthday in our house I always get them to pick what ever they want for dinner. Natalie picked her favourite. Messy Burgers. Essentially this is a home-made hamburger that you wrap in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun. Sounds a lot healthier than it is. By the time you get all the cheese and sauces on it, it is near the same fat content apart for the bun. The fun bit, the messy bit, is when you bite in. Never eat one of these things without at least 10 serviettes at hand and are leaning over an extremely large plate because these suckers a juicy and they go everywhere and will definitely run down both arms, but by god are they delicious 😀 I have to admit they are one of my favourites also 😀
So the big dilemma was how the heck to you make a vegie burger patty for the vegetarian. After consultation with said vegetarian we purchased a can of nut meat which she assured me that she had used before. On opening the can we found a product that resembled dry jellimeat cat food. My darling, brave husband took one look at it and said ‘Don’t ever give that to me, I won’t eat it’ and left the room. I looked at our wee animal activist and asked what we do with it. She looked at me blankly. At this point I pretty much figured that we may have over estimated her abilities but thought to myself ‘lets see what she will do’ and promptly started squishing beef mince for my happy meataterians.
She pulled some out of the can. This is not as easy as it sounds because this stuff is like a tube of drywall in consistency. She got some into the bowl and began breaking it up with . . . her fingers . . . for a really long time. I asked her what she would do to make it into a burger and she looked at me and said ‘I don’t know’. I asked if she had ever cooked with this product before and she said nope but she knew that this is what you use to make the burgers. Nat was leaning over her shoulder looking at the weird stuff in a bowl at this time laughing. I suggested it might need some moisture to bind it like an egg. Our beautiful, heroic and intelligent daughter turned to get the egg and break it in for her.
I popped a bit of the pale brown stuff from the can into my mouth. I wasn’t expecting much due to the rather unappetising appearance of the stuff but figured that if I was suddenly, and unexpectedly, going to have to figure out how to make vege burgers I better find out with this stuff tasted like. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was rather tasty, kinda like a snickers bar without the chocolate although it did have a kind of drained cottage cheese constancy going on that was not entirely pleasant. I suggested that it might need some seasoning and Nat turned to the cupboard for some soy sauce and turned to get a few spicy bits like black pepper.
I turned back to find that our vegie lover who apparently has a complete inability to adult had done a bolt and left us to it. She had run off to the lounge and was sitting on the floor playing with Simon cat. I looked at Nat who had her hands in the bowl mixing up the egg and brown stuff with rather large surprised eyes. Nat shrugged and gave me the eye roll that universally signifies ‘My friend is an idiot. I can’t believe she just ditched me and I now have to make her freakin burger’.
So Nat and I added some stuff and fried this thing. We didn’t have great hopes for the frying as I was concerned that it would fall apart but it turns out that a bit of heat melts this stuff and it actually held its shape. On tasting it wasn’t too bad to eat either so it was High Fives to Nat and I.
The rest of the holiday pretty much went along the same vein and she also developed a rather nasty cold in the last 2 days which she promptly shared with us all. I reckon it was the lack of protein rich red meaty goodness in her diet that resulted in her low immune system and possibly also low brain activity.
On leaving morning I found that not only had I caught her cold but that it had decided it wished to make a home with me and would then kick me in the butt for the next 2 weeks, still counting as its not done yet. At the point of goodbye she thanked us for having her and we made the correct ‘of course, anytime’ noises and then I suggested that if she does ever come back that I would rather that she left flowers, chocolates or wine as a leaving gift rather than Ebola.
See. Never trust a vegetarian.