The song: “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas (lyrics)
The foodstuff: Black Bean Burger with Onion Rings from Vegan Junk Food (and actual onion rings from the frozen foods section!)
The connection: The Monster at the End of This Book
** Danger, danger! Minor spoilers ahead! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. **
For the longest time (try seven years!) I resisted watching Supernatural, reports of its sheer epic awesomeness be damned. A show about two dudebros (literally! they’re dudes who just happen to be brothers!) doing dudely things while searching for their equally dudely absent father? Ugh, thanks but no thanks. The last thing I need on my TV are more men. More Buffys and Xenas and Nikitas, yes. John/Joan Watson 2.0? Fuck yeah! (I vote Lucy Liu for everything!) But white guys? We’ve got enough of those, don’t you think?
Alas, I caught a few SPN reruns on TNT and fell in love with it in spite of myself. (The widely acknowledged homoerotic subtext being a ginormous bonus. Gay angels are MY FAVORITE!) Fast-forward four months and the husband and I have already blown through six seasons; Season 7 just became available through Netflix, and we’re eight episodes in. (So no spoilers, okay!) We’d better get a move on, seeing as Season 8 launches on the CW tonight. I predict an SPN marathon this weekend!
Saving animals, eating things. The family business!
In honor of the occasion: a little Kansas and a Black Bean Veggie Burger!
As per Dean – the obedient older son, the “good soldier” who embraces his father’s way of thinking, right down to his style (car: Impala; clothing: black leather jacket) – the SPN soundtrack is super-heavy on the ’70s and ’80s classic rock. Think: AC/DC. Zeppelin. Metallica. Bob Seeger. And Kansas, of course.
For obvious reasons (see, e.g. THE PLOT), “Carry on My Wayward Son” made its appearance in Season 1, and was used with some frequency in the “previously on Supernatural” opening montages. In later seasons it was replaced by other classic rock standards, but it’s never failed to return for the season finales. If there’s one song I’ve come to associate with the show, this is it – and, judging from the fan vid above, I’m not alone!
So there are the tunes. What about the food?
While pie is the obvious – and tempting – choice (shipping Dean with pie is a cult fave in the fandom), I chose the road less traveled with a veggie burger.
In Season 4, Episode 18, “The Monster at the End of This Book,” Chuck (author of The Book of Winchester – known topside as Supernatural) has a prophecy that Sam will enjoy some sexy time with demon Lilith. This is unequivocally NOT A GOOD THING, as she’s on a quest to break the 66 Seals to spring Lucifer from his cage in Hell. Plus Sam has demon blood pulsing through his veins, and Team Free Will lives in constant fear that he’ll go Dark Side.
Anyway, in order to prevent Chuck’s vision from coming to fruition, Dean proposes an opposite day: whenever they’re presented with a choice, do exactly the opposite of what they’d normally do. A series of small, seemingly insignificant steps might lead them down a different path. And so, ordering lunch in a diner, Dean forgoes the bacon cheeseburger (world famous: “Oprah’s girlfriend said we have the best bacon cheeseburgers in the country”) in lieu of a “veggie tofu burger.”
Oh great, I’m thinking. He’s going to get a round disc that resembles cardboard and Dean will take one bite before spitting it across the table and onto Sam because EW TOFU!
Much to my surprise, Dead is pleasantly surprised by his lunch: “Oh, my god. This is delicious. Tofu is amazing!”
Score for Team Vegan!
Except, not so much: ten seconds later the waiter returns to the table. Turns out she gave him the bacon cheeseburger by mistake. You know, Gail’s bacon cheeseburger.
I want to show Dean that a veggie burger need not be a slab of slimy, tasteless tofu. (In fact they never are! It’s an urban legend circulated by defensive omnivores!) Really, vegan burgers aren’t all that diff from non-vegan burgers: some are meh, others are just alright slathered in mustard and mayo and bbq sauce and relish – and others are like tiny little orgasms in your mouth. Ship that!
So I went searching through all the vegan cookbooks at my disposal and came up with this: the Black Bean Burger with Onion Rings (served with a side of onion rings, natch!) from Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food. Black beans, bread crumbs, french fried onions, mayo (it’s vegan too!), BBQ sauce, ketchup, chili powder – this baby’s got it all! Unhealthy (though still better for your ticker than an animal meat burger!), decadent, and deliciously trashy, this is the kind of veggie burger non-vegan joints ought to have on their menus!
It’s super-easy to make, too: simply mash the beans, stir in all the other goodies, form into patties, and fry. (Gold gives you an option for baking them, but where’s the fat – errr, fun – in that?) To make it even easier, I divvied the batter into four equal balls before making the patties, and then set two of them aside for leftovers. Two meals in one!
A ball/burger side-by-side comparison.
The batter looks a little granola-y in this picture, but it’s not!
Also, I think my patties were a little oversized due to the extra onion rings. More for me!
I also changed a few things up: I used a little less cilantro than suggested (not a huge fan of the soapy taste) and less chili powder, too. But more fried onion rings because YUM!
I was hard snacking on these bad boys as I made the burger batter (never cook hungry! you will eat all the ingredients!), so much so that I was worried I’d run out. Good thing the husband bought two cans. I used my hands to crush them for the burgers, getting greasy onion goodness all up in my finger wrinkles in the process. Don’t worry, I licked them clean. Downright pornographic a sight, it was.
Shane’s burger, topped with mayo and guacamole (also from Vegan Junk Food!)
Unfortunately, French’s brand uses palm oil, which I didn’t realize until after the fact. Like Lucifer, palm oil is unequivocally NOT A GOOD THING. (Oh how I wish they’d rewritten the story of Lucifer’s fall to make him more sympathetic, a la His Dark Materials. At least the angels are dicks though!) Unless I can find another brand of onion rings sans palm oil, I won’t make a habit of them. Which is probably a good thing because OMG THE FAT! One could easily blow through 30 grams in one sitting. And by “one” I mean “me.”
On the bright side, I think any crunchy, salty, fatty junk food would work well in this recipe: potato chips, Funions (are these vegan? I have no idea!), tortilla chips even. Or just add some extra bread crumbs for a slightly healthier option? It’s all good.
My beast of a burger. Served with mustard,
lettuce, tomatoes, and one-two-three strips of Lightlife Smart Bacon.
Probably I should have added some cheese, but all I had were shreds.
Eat it, Dean. This sammie’s for you.