Meatless Monday: Memorial Day

Happy socially-distant Memorial Day! As I stated earlier, most of our traditional Memorial Day things are off this year. But I did take a walk in our local cemetery this morning where the VFW had placed flags by the graves of all the veterans, and I looked at them and tried to send a spiritual thank you to them all for their service.

Right now my husband is sheltering at the boat, which is a two hour trip away, because that is what is healthiest for him. Since he is the most traditionalist in our family, I thought I would experiment a bit with this year’s Memorial Day meal.

For lunch, I made another version of my Farmers Market Green Soup similar to what I posted last week. However, this time I had some buttermilk from our local Mapleview Farm to use up, so I did add dairy instead of the rice I used last week. It gave it a nice texture and a bit more tang, although I still added a dollop of my Paradox Farm jalapeño goat cheese for some extra spice and creaminess.

I started with our meal preparation on Saturday. It is the end of our local strawberry season, alas, after the past week of extensive rain. However, I was delighted to see the first of our local blueberries! That’s the thing when you start eating seasonally–at least during the later spring to mid fall time around here, some produce stops growing, but other new produce takes its place.

Since the last of our strawberries weren’t the best, I roasted them and used them to make a big batch of Roasted Strawberry Margaritas. I sterilized bottles and filled them up and delivered to the five friends who were doing the essential business of producing the service-at-our-spiritual-center-via-Facebook-and-Zoom on Sunday. I figured if we couldn’t have a physical party together, at least we could be sharing the same drink for the same holiday but in the safety of our homes. To accompany it, I also delivered a piece per person of some Blueberry Buttermilk Bread that I made. Of course, I kept some for myself (and the Bread for my son as well), so I began the dinner with the last of the strawberries and ended it with the first of the blueberries.

I have to admit, I really like the more complex taste of a Roasted Strawberry Margarita. I sweetened it with a syrup made of the strawberry juice released while roasting combined with some of my wonderful local Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, so that adds some nuance as well. I don’t like my margaritas very sweet, but I thought this one was really good.

For dinner, I boiled some local baby potatoes, chopped up a local reddish onion, and added some vinaigrette for a lovely warm potato salad. I also roasted some beautiful local asparagus.

For the main course, I had burgers–but for the first time ever, these new beef-like plant-based burgers, Beyond Meat. I didn’t get the pre-formed burgers; I got a pound of meat and formed them into patties to fit the oblong shape of the fresh-based ciabatta rolls I bought this morning. So these were thicker patties than the normal patties.

I cooked them on the grill, flipping them every 3 minutes, but twice instead of the one time prescribed on the recipe. Then I laid a piece of cheese on them, cut off the gas, but allowed them to stay covered as the cheese melted.

The interesting thing was the response from my son, who had no idea I was serving him Beyond Meat. He said he liked it, but did say it seemed drier than usual. (I don’t lie to him, but I also don’t necessarily offer information that isn’t asked, especially when trying an experiment like this.) When he brought it up, I told him it was Beyond Burger instead of meat. He was OK with it, and said he thought it was meat. His opinion was that it was pretty good, but not as juicy as meat. Again, I don’t know if that is true of the product or of the cook (me). Still, he was filled up after half of our half-pounders, but said he would finish it tomorrow for lunch. The same is true for me–I couldn’t finish mine. So we will have a rehash tomorrow for lunch and see how it does as left-overs.

To be honest, I didn’t like how they smelled when “raw” (and my smell sense is not good at all, due to my allergies), or how they felt as I formed them into patties. But they weren’t bad. I agreed with my son that they weren’t as juicy as we like (I cook our beef burgers medium rare), but the taste and consistency were pretty good. For me it was more like a turkey burger than a beef burger. Still I could see it being a great substitute for ground beef in tacos or casseroles or whatever where the texture of the “meat” is less important. I will continue to experiment with this in my commitment to move towards more plant-based meals.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day, and all the best as we navigate this course of figuring our our meals between meatless and meat, local and not, processed and raw ingredients….the question the great Michael Pollan posed in The Omnivore’s Dilemma –that since we humans can eat almost anything, how do we choose what to eat?

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