Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Protein Packed BBQ (Beef, Bean, & Quinoa) Patties with Cornbread Rounds

Arr! Thar be photos ahead!
As the spring semester comes to a close, exams are just around the corner and student anxieties are on the rise. Last week alone I was going to bed late working on one thing or another, and then having to get up early to do something else. By Friday the family and I were doing the finishing touches for our weekend camping trip (some of the photos are posted), and it happened.  

(Various photos of the fam at the campsite)

I crashed. 

The maypole ceremony

My heart was beating so loud from my chest it felt like the bells of Notre Dame were tolling. I had a slight fever at 99°F, and simply standing took the breath out of me. Tears streamed from my eyes in panic, my mind racing from one thought to another. I didn’t have time for this; I had packing to do and things to help out with. Nausea resulted from the simultaneous pains from my head and stomach, and my limbs were shaking. Mama Dazz sent me back to bed to lie down. I ended up sleeping for two hours.

The Burt-man in thought

This is what happens when your body to tells you to slow down while on Armour Thyroid.

As mentioned previously, I was/am a Worrier. Once I become worried, it takes quite a lot of effort to calm me down. I used to have anxiety attacks quite often. I was so busy focusing on things I couldn’t control or the lists upon lists of things I had to do that I forgot how it affected me in the present. 

Things don’t bother me as much anymore. I’ve had a lot of training in this department: people, books, philosophies, and life in general. I discovered Taoism the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college from The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. (Actually, I had the idea of Taoism in my head before I knew what Taoism was. It was a there’s-actually-a-discipline-to-my-personal-beliefs kind of thing.) The idea of simply "being" had such a phenomenal impact on my teenage brain that I spent that summer and the semester following feeling one with the Universe.

But here’s the reality: simply being is freaking hard. When there is more money leaving your wallet than there is coming into your bank account, classes to attend, drama to avoid, the whole “Oneness with the Universe” concept seems like a hard thing to accomplish, no matter how noble and desirous it is. There is one part of Taoism that has never failed me and saw me through the bumps in the road: trusting the Universe to sort itself out.

I learned that summer to get out of my own way, to trust in the precise workings of the Universe to smooth out the rough edges. Sometimes the end result may not be what you wanted or expected, but it almost always is what you needed. The lessons in our lives will continue repeating themselves until we get the message, until the lesson is learned. We are happy when we focus on the things we can control and miserable when we focus on uncontrollables.

This reminder was a hard one for me to grasp. 

(More fab fam photos)

Regardless of the Friday morning feeling useless, the rest of my weekend camping was a blast. My extended family and I packed multiple cars and headed to Stanardsville, Virginia, to celebrate the coming of May (also known as Beltaine). Groups that ranged from two to fifteen people were there with the overall census of fewer than two hundred pitched up tents and outside kitchens. Many were dressed in a Renaissance festival or gypsy garb, while others stuck to typical camping apparel. There were venders selling an assortment of wonders surrounding a large bonfire circle, next to the maypole where the May King and Queen were handfasted. There were train cars modified into living quarters, each with a bathroom, a kitchen, a common area, and a bedroom. Drumming and laughter could be heard throughout the night while various holistic arts were taught during the day.

I thought this was the coolest thing!

I was still rather lethargic from Friday morning’s episode, so I didn’t wander from camp often, except to see the maypole ceremony, to visit a family friend for lunch, and to use the facilities. Much of my time was spent taking pictures of the people I loved, the campground, the food, and reading Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens.

(Photos of food... XD)

Gluten free chili

I have to admit I was a tad worried about what I would be eating on this trip. I anticipated not being able to eat much of what the others would be eating and packed accordingly: Granny Smith apples, So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, raw vegetables, rolled oats, a can of beans, raisins, almond butter, almond slivers, two kinds of already cooked rice, potatoes, and canned salmon.

My family wasn’t having that. 

Half of the stuff I brought came back with us, simply because I was accommodated for the main meal. We had two types of chili, both Morri friendly (but one was made with my own spice blend), with quinoa on the side. The breakfasts were also Morri-friendly, but I tend towards hot cereals in the mornings.

And of course, there was coffee.

This weekend further proved how much I love my family, even adding a few more on the roster.

By Monday, I was having an off morning, and it may or may not have been because of the news that the whole world seemed to be watching. Things were not going according to plan. Half of me really wanted to just lie on the couch and watch cartoons all day, to forget how the real world can be a scary and unforgiving place. By my Tai Chi class, that changed completely.

I truly believe Tai Chi is Taoism in movement (which, incidentally enough, it actually is). For the majority of the classes I had been having a hard time memorizing the form, completely forgetting parts and simply frustrated with the right hand being dominant (I’m left-handed) with the sword. Except for slight mistakes that were easily fixable, I was able to do the entire form yesterday, with and without a group.

It was a small victory, but one such as this truly makes all the difference.

And then, there was dinner with the boyfriend. While I was out camping he went to Nashville, Tennessee, to participate in a half-marathon run with a mutual friend. He regaled me with his misadventures and achievements while I cooked up a new inspiration, showing off his new cowboy boots with the smug attitude of being taller (he and I are practically the same size, except he is a centimeter or so taller). In two weeks he will be gone until late August for an internship in Texas, so dinners (any meal, really) like this one will be happening as often as we can before he leaves.

Protein Packed BBQ (Beef, Bean, & Quinoa) Patties with Cornbread Rounds
For the patties
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 c. Refried Beans (I used Trader Joe’s refried black beans with jalapeños)
1 c. Cooked Quinoa
1/4 tsp. Sea salt (may be omitted, as the end result is rather salty)
2 tsp. Crushed garlic
Red chili pepper flakes (optional)
For the sauce
1 c. Trader Joe’s Garlic Chipotle Salsa
1 c. Water

Thoroughly combine the ingredients for the patties in a large mixing bowl.
Place a skillet (I recommend your biggest one) on medium heat with your choice of cooking oil coating the bottom.
Scoop up the mixture in 1/4 c. increments (or larger in you prefer) and form them into patties (give or take, 10 to 12) onto the skillet.
After a few minutes, add the water and salsa into the skillet, cover the pan, and allow to cook for ten minutes.
Flip over the patties, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let cook for another five minutes until done (the result will be softer than your typical burger patty, but it should still feel rather firm in the middle).

Makes 11 patties. Serve with cornbread rounds and a side of French-cut green beans.

* Even though I used 1 ounce less of fat than what Ruhlman calls for, the result still gave a greasy crumb, though it tasted wonderful and had a wonderful crust. (So, to my fellow gluten free bloggers of the GF Ratio Rally, any tips on how to fix this?)
Cornbread Rounds

3 oz Cornmeal
2 oz Arrowroot starch
2 oz Amaranth
1 oz Millet
0.5 oz Agave nectar
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
2 tsp. Baking powder
8 oz. Whole milk
2 Large eggs
3 oz Coconut oil, room temperature)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
Using a blender, combine the milk, eggs, coconut oil, and agave nectar until it has a smooth consistency. (This is important for the coconut oil, as it hardened on contact with the milk.)
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl, and mix the wet and dry ingredients using a whisk or hand-held blender until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into muffin tins (greased or wrapper-lined).
The muffins take about 50 minutes to bake, but check to make sure they are done with a toothpick or knife.

Makes 8 – 12 muffins.

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