Bean Burger

I’ve had a little dream.

I suspect that it finds its source in Shadowrun: Dragonfall, a cool little turn based strategy game with rpg elements that I finished around Christmas time while I was back in Scotland.

Anyway, for whatever reason I’ve had this urge to build myself a little garden, possibly on a flat rooftop somewhere, and kit it out with a vegetable patch and a clutch of solar panels. I think this sentiment grew out of the game, as that is very much the aesthetic of the Kreusbazaar, the game’s central environment, a tough little anarchist state holding its own in the sea of violence and exploitation that surfaced in the wake of Berlin’s Dracopocalypse.

Around the same time I was eating a lot of bean burgers. There was a stand at the Edinburgh’s Christmas Market, just down the strip from the waffle stand run by a gang of South German accountants and lawyers, that sold a wide selection of burgers, and we learned to get along well with them selling vegetarian food and my rarely having time to make my own lunch.

So if I had a rooftop garden I feel like, climate permitting, I’d probably grow beans.

And I made a bean burger for myself, which is tangentially connected to all this babble and rather more so to the title of this article. Why it is I seem to feel the need to misdirect so aggressively in my opening statements is a facet of myself I am yet to understand.

So there was a bean burger. The bean mix functioned a bit more like a spread than a burger, but it turned out pretty well.

Instructions!

Fry your beans in oil, and then mash them to a paste with a fork in the pan. Throw in some finely chopped onion.

Spread the mix onto an English Muffin, or whatever bread product you have handy.

Fry a strip of firm tofu in oil, and put this on the bean mix like a cute little soy steak (omg! so cute!)

Add sweet chilli sauce.

Eat.

Use glucose extracted by your digestive system to collapse Australia’s monstrous government and attend celebratory drinks in quorganism’s solar bean garden.

Enjoy your week, imaginary readers.

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Soy For Science!!! First Attempt…

Nutrisoy. Oh boy. You folks have listened to me ramble about cyberpunk, about Shadowrun, and about the weird culinary world they inhabit. So today, we get my first attempt at nutrisoy. Nutrisoy surfaces several times in Shadowrun fiction, though its exact composition is never discussed as far as I’ve read. I know that its something that you eat if your at the lower end of the economic spectrum, and functions as a sort of “all food”, used to replace meat and most other nutrient intake. Certainly designed for survival rather than taste. They don’t give a recipe, but the vague implication is that the product is produced by immense corporate entities, probably using all manner of synthetic nutrient supplements to keep costs down. Being neither a megacorp employee nor a lab tech, I’ve had to improvise. So, now you can meet my ingredients.

wpid-20150325_153333.jpgApocalypse lentils! Tasty and easy to wpid-20150325_153529.jpgprepare, and designed to survive anything up to nuclear fallout. I’ve been gathering a lot of food cans on my zombie runs (see here) so this felt pretty appropriate.

Cryo-spinach! Because if you can’t get hold of synthetic iron and fiber then you may as well dig it outta the freezer where no living thing has any right to grow. After all, we have to keep this in genre.

wpid-20150325_154444.jpg wpid-20150325_153739.jpgA capsicum! Or a pepper, depending on where in the world you’re reading from… In honesty I couldn’t think of a way to make this any more genre appropriate… So I settled for mangling it beyond all recognition…

And finally, of course. My Soy. Industrial sized tofu. wpid-20150325_160059.jpgNow that’s done, we can get into the methodology at play here. Get a handle on that cryo-spinach and toss it into a frypan with some oil and the lentils. If you want to be real road warrior use engine oil. If you want to be alive by the end of this use canola. It will take a bit for the ice to melt. If you are using non-cryo spinach, you will probably need to throw some water in at this point as well. wpid-20150325_155208.jpgAdd brutalised capsicum. Stir and simmer. Regret nothing. Chop the tofu into smaller chunks and dig shallow graves for it in the mixture so it will fry most effectively. wpid-20150325_160242.jpgGive the interred tofu a bit of a singe so that it can soak up a bit of taste. I will admit that by this point our taste is hovering somewhere between “wilting forest” and “overgrown (ghoul infested?) cemetery”, so I throw in some ground green chilli. Sriracha will do equally well, but you may have noticed I’m angling towards a particular colour scheme for this one. Once its had a chance to cook for a bit, smash the tofu into more manageable chunks. Its at this point that we get industrial on this sorry fusker. wpid-20150325_165528.jpgBlend it down to a paste, and then return it to a mould of your choice. Since I do not have a corporation issue blender I had to do it in a few batches. wpid-20150325_170238.jpgwpid-20150325_173259.jpg So there you have it. As for taste… well, that’s not really what it was designed for. Served over rice it tasted a bit like a barely seasoned salad, though I suppose the “flavour nozzles” we encounter in the fiction are the proposed remedy for that. So; Lessons! First thing I’ll probably do next time is add some colour. Food dye is simple enough, and we get a nice nod to the Paranoia franchise with its colour coded society. As you could probably guess this attempt was meant to be green, but the light brown of the lentils and white of the tofu kind of brought it around to a kind of dull mud. Second, if I’m going to serve this to anybody it will probably need a bit more flavour. Not exactly in line with genre, but if I can get these things tasting better and elegantly packaged then it might have some appeal. Maybe in vending machines. Probably tied to the colour code… yellow would be curry. Green… maybe another kind of curry. Maybe introducing some fried bread products into the mix would allow a richer taste without compromising the basic idea of it… And finally, I think I need some sort of setting agent, but wouldn’t really want to use eggs, try and keep it as non-animal product as possible. This would let it sit happier in a block, and allow us to minimize packaging. Though single use packages are certainly more cyberpunk, I tend to have environmental concerns… I’ll tell you how that pans out. Maybe we can come up with some kind of alternative. So that’s my new cyberpunk recipe for you all. Not perfect, but it’s got potential. wpid-20150327_172548.jpg

Pumpkins, Pagans and Penises in your Faith

I’ve been watching the seasons.

It’s been a bit weird, coming back to inverted seasons, but the Australian Autumn has proven rather warmer and sunnier than even the Scottish Summer. Even then, it’s nearly Samhain, and that means…

Pumpkins!

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve given y’all, my dear imaginary readers, one of my recipes/snuff pieces, so here’s one that’s kind of about a pumpkin pasta dish, a little bit about religion, with a dash of Renaissance art thrown in for good measure.

Anyway.

Seeds.wpid-20150120_160026.jpg

I know that we’re at the opposite end of the agricultural cycle to be really thinking about planting, but seeds are handy in vegetarian-land because we all need iron and chewing rusty nails gets some funny looks. But once again, Samhain approacheth, and hollowing out pumpkins sort of sits well with that, so we’ve got these little fellas out of that process.

I’m using a Butternut for this. I think the British call them Squash, but they’ve always been pumpkins to me.

I’ve got some mixed seeds too, Just for variety.wpid-20150120_160127.jpg

For my northern hemisphere imaginary readers, it may be weird that I’m talking about Samhain in March, and indeed the calendars do read Easter. Hell, for you guys Halloween isn’t til October. Just gotta remember I’m on the topsy turvy arse end of the globe now, out by the “here be dragons” label. And this is part of the problem I have with gods with dicks.

So you fry the seeds first. Otherwise they’ll be chewy.wpid-20150120_160220.jpg

You see I’ve had two Autumns this year. Two dying seasons, two harvest times. Last Autumn I was lucky enough to see Titian’s Diana and Actaeon series in the Scottish National Gallery, who had secured their loan for a few months. Beautiful pictures, but it kind of shocked me that he’d painted her as blonde. To my mind Diana was pale and raven haired, in line with the moon in the night sky.

Once you’ve chopped the pumpkin, put it in the pan with the seed mix. wpid-20150120_160430.jpgFry it up a bit, gives it more flavour. You can add some chopped onion at this point if you want, I do sometimes. It adds more bulk than taste, so it’s handy if you’re short on pumpkin.

Which we shouldn’t be at this time of year, despite the crazy Catholic Calendar telling us its the Festival of Eoster, telling us its spring time. Not sure whose bright idea that was, but its a damn fine way to foster ill considered farming practices.

Not that it matters so much in a modern context but seriously. Gods and their penises.

So I usually add a bit of water at this point, otherwise you’ll burn the mix.Throw in a touch of nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin at this point, though you probably don’t want more than half a teaspoon of each. Dash of salt and pepper.

A young cousin of my partner, while we were all temple hopping in Paestum, asked if I had a favourite Greek god, his being Ares, and I answered Artemis (Diana to the Romans and for that reason Titian) because she was crazy. She’s a brilliant character because she has absolutely no space in her heart for mercy or compromise. I suppose if I were to pick an actual role model from the Greek pantheon I’d probably be more inclined towards Athena, and even she did some pretty dark stuff (Gorgons, for example) but what I always liked about the Greek gods was I don’t think they ever felt the need to be role models. I tend to think that they were more like fables, stories about the kind of stuff that people get up to when they have too much power. The kind of gods that lead people’s most common prayer to be “oh great and glorious god, please find it into your benevolence to not kill us today.”

Give the sauce a fistful of spinach. A generous fistful. Remember that spinach is wpid-20150120_162009.jpgalways going to cook right down, add a little more water if you need to cover the leaves, but that will mean it will take longer to simmer. I’ll leave it to your discretion.

An I suppose we come to the crux of my problem with wanger deities. In the upper floor of the Scottish National Gallery, right above the frame of Diana arranging for Actaeon’s hounds to eat him after she had the temerity to show up without knocking, there’s the Medieval section. You run into a lot of pictures of Jaysus in the Medieval section, as well as a number of Madonna and child pictures that show a blatant disregard for how breasts work. I’ve got nothing against Jesus specifically. I mean, I’ve tended to view him and his Ma as fairly piss poor imitations of Attis and Cybele, and it amuses me greatly to think of the Madonna chowing down on a Christ sandwich come Winter. That was all intentional in the attempt to convert pagans, so… well, the ones that cheesed me off were the images of Jesus crowning his mother, as if he could somehow bestow divinity on Mary.

Here’s a fun fact Abrahamic fundy types. God didn’t give you life. Your mother did.

Put the pasta on to boil. You’ll want a little salt in the water.

I’ve been thinking about Cybele, the Mesopotamian fertility goddess who the Greeks called the Magna Mater, lately. Like Eoster, she’s had a rough time with the Christians trying to erase her. I think I like her because she’s understands that there are seasons for all things. She is the birth, life and death of her children, consuming them like the earth so that life can continue. Your dick gods tend to favour a top down, absolutist control structure that leads to things like absurd, impractical calendars, non-existent months named after dead crazy people, and violent fundamentalists murdering those weaker than them in attempt to block out the pathetic futility of their own existence in the face of the infinite.wpid-20150120_162255.jpg

Grate up some cheese, because cheese is great. Strain off the pasta, and your ready to dish up!

I suppose the real problem I have with gods that have penises is that they always seem to assume that they have to be alone. The only one. Maybe they looked down past their gut one day and counted. But having that as a core conceit means there’s not any room for change, for evolution or for variety. All it has is control, and the myriad abuses of that.

So I like the Magna Mater. I admit in my mind she’s a vicious, snapping thing, tough as Diana and twice as crazy, a goddess who doesn’t speak in words because she’s older than language and has never seen a need for them. But she recognizes that things change. That anything can die, because change is a necessity in the face of a changing world, to the seasons or the bigger changes we’re facing today. Because trying to massage your sad little ego in the face of a hostile universe doesn’t fix your problems. The universe is hostile either way.

I like to think she’s still waiting. Watching Jehovah. Watching the state of Abrahamic stagnation, waiting to begin the cycle again. She’ll still be there. Still hungry.

Sure is lucky that we made this delicious pumpkin pasta then isn’t it? Happy early Samhain everybody!

wpid-20150120_164637.jpgAstute readers may have realized that this recipe, or indeed this entire article, is not very Cyberpunk at all. Fr those of you worried by this, fear not! I have something lined up for you that I think you’ll appreciate… and photos supplied by me dangit, so this article’s mine! You can’t have it!