March 04, 2003
Burgers and Squash: A Meat-Lover's Rant

We've been pretty busy lately, what with evening classes (me) and networking events (Carl), and haven't had much energy to menu-plan. We're perpetually buying fresh vegetables, which I would like to use to create some fascinating new vegetarian entree -- one of those complex restaurant deals, like eggplant and pepper terrine with herb oil, something like that. But I find that, by the time 6 PM rolls around, I've only got enough energy to toss some meat in a pan and use the vegetables in a pedestrian side dish.

While I like vegetables, I find that making a meal out of them typically taks much more time and energy than making a meal out of meat. A hunk of steak, salted and peppered, for me, is a main dish. A hunk of broccoli, on the other hand, is not. And the farther you go from the meat-and-potatoes model (in my opinion), the more difficult cooking gets. I've been reading articles lately about the whole up-and-coming raw foods movement, which strikes me as interesting conceptually but insane in practice. Everything's strictly vegan (some places go so far as to exclude honey, as per the whole enslaving bees argument), and nothing is heated beyond 118 (or so) degrees. Thus, "cheeses" are made out of nut pastes, "milk" is extracted from coconuts and almonds, "pasta" is made of coconut meat, and "cooking" a meal often takes hours, if not days, when you add up all the dehydrating and rehydrating, blending and pressing, etc. This is clearly the extreme, but I sometimes feel just as overwhelmed when someone hands me a squash and says, "Make a meatless dinner."

Thus, we made the acorn squash into a side dish -- a yummy but simple puree. Two halved, cleaned acorn squashes go into a microwave until they're soft; flesh is scooped out and mashed with salt, white pepper, and a bit of maple syrup. Our main dish? Meat from the freezer, of course. We recently ordered some samples of Omaha Steak products at a lowlow price (or so they claim), and thus have hamburger patties and steaks in storage. We cooked up two hamburgers (pretty good flavor, but probably not worth the list price) and topped them with some sautéed mushrooms and onions. Carl incinerated four (4!) hamburger buns under the broiler, which we threw, smoldering, into the sink. We had to share the one remaining bun.