Friday, February 5, 2010

Live the fantasy

Not to be sexist regarding my own sex, but every man is a Homer Simpson — he whose every thought process can be stopped dead by the word "donut."

No exception. Even the guy I most identify with "eat to live; don't live to eat" will stop all philosophizing at the mere mention of pie. Then he will want to talk about pie.

Men at the mention of certain foods are like dogs at the mention of "squirrel."

Each man has a certain item the mere mention of which will sidetrack him from all other endeavors, no matter how grave.

I have had trouble thinking for 40 years. Occasionally, no matter the situation, my mind would drift to a particular moment of bliss. It came one summer — my Summer of '67, I'd come to call it. We were on vacation, visiting relatives. Fate brought us to a little burger shack in San Antonio.

My moment? It came when I had my first bite of something that henceforth would populate my dreams: the Bean Burger.

I know, it sounds hideous. I'm not sure why we chose it from among the choices up on the wall high over the pimply kid in the paper hat. Maybe our Uncle Bob recommended it. If it involved meat, he was a connoisseur.

Well, it was the best burger I ever had, and the most unique. For years, my wife had heard me pine for the Bean Burger. She heard me tell its story through two decades as my mustache turned gray. I fantasized for pleasures never to be replicated. Or so I thought.

Then one day it occured to me: I can break down that burger in my sleep. I have revisited it in so many REM cycles. So, why not build one?

And, so one day I announced that we would make bean burgers for supper. She supplied the meat. I supplied the memories. Since then, we have experienced bean burgers anew. In fact, that was my birthday meal request this year. Both sons were on hand for the feast. They now appreciate fully my sonnets of love.

On a similar note, when we moved from Texas recently, Becky longed for a particular delicacy. A vegetarian, she had fallen in lust a couple of years ago for a meatless meatloaf made by the chef at the Hamilton House in Waco. Rather than watch her mourn, as I had for decades for the Bean Burger, I encouraged her to get on the Internet and find a recipe for meatless meatloaf. And she did. And she is in love again. She now has a recipe for a killer meatless meatloaf — killer in euphamism alone, for it is extremely healthy.

Now, here's the part where I urge you to stop salivating and to start using your food-preparing glands.

Here's how we made our Bean Burgers:

Generously sized hamburger patties, grilled just right.

1 can bean dip (preferably spicy hot), slightly warmed

Grated cheese of your choice

chopped onions

busted-up corn chips

and something that's spicy hot.

Melt the cheese onto the meat. Place the meat on a bun. Spread bean dip liberally. Be similarly liberal with the chopped onions. Then be just as generous with the busted-up corn chips. Yeah, let 'em spill out onto the plate. Now, before crushing it all together with the bun, apply something spicy hot. Don't be shy. Salsa. Tabasco. Jalapenos. Or: salsa, tabasco AND jalapenos.

Then, feed your face. Thank me later.

The neat thing about ouf bean-burger feast was that vega-Mom could eat one, too, by substituting her meatless meatloaf for the burger. Hooray!

Oh, here's that recipe. Once again, feed your face. Thank me later.

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

4 cups Special K

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoon basil paste mixed into soup mixture

1 teaspoon salt

1 medium onion chopped

1 can mushroom soup

3 eggs mixed into the soup and basil

Tomato sauce (4 ounce) on the top the last 10 minutes of baking

Food-process the walnuts first, then the onions; add all together;

put it in a Pam-sprayed loaf pan. Cook at 375 for 45 minutes.

Or if you make it into hamburger-size portions, cook for 35 minutes instead of 45.

So, there. As we found, there's no reason to pine for lost loves from distant summers.

This is Super Bowl weekend. Let's face it: The event is more about food than football. So, live your fantasies.

And, guys, if a donut, or a slice of pie, helps you redirect your energy to making the planet run properly, have one.

John Young writes for Cox Newspapers. E-mail:

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