The Perfect Veggie Burger

A few weeks ago we were playing what a friend of ours calls “Pantry Survivor” — where you invent new dishes based on what’s in your pantry. We came up with a great veggie burger combination.

The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Wheat bread
  • Cheddar cheese (we used white cheddar)
  • Veggie burger patties (we used California-style patties from Boca Burger)
  • Yellow onion
  • Refried beans
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Mayonnaise
  • Olive oil
  • BBQ sauce (we used Stubb’s Wicked Chicken Wing Sauce)

Slice about half an onion and cover with olive oil. Also slice some cheddar cheese (1-2 slices per burger). Slice tomatoes julienne style, then chop into about 1/4″ pieces.

Grill onions and veggie patties. We grilled them using an indoor grill pan from Pampered Chef, which allows enough air underneath the food to give it a nice crispness that you won’t get with a normal skillet.

Meanwhile, heat up your refried beans and toast your bread. Also mix equal parts mayonnaise and BBQ sauce together.

About one minute before the veggie patties are done, place the sliced cheese on top of them to allow it to melt.

Place a healthy amount of the mayonnaise/BBQ sauce mix on one side of the bread and a healthy amount of refried beans on the other. Place pickled jalapenos and tomatoes on the refried beans side, along with the grilled onions.

Place veggie burger and cheese on the other side. Serve and enjoy!

This is a great Texas-style burger that can easily be made with things you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. Very tasty and filling. We decided that this type of burger needs a name, so we have coined it “La Raquelita.”

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Brooklyn Heights Pizzeria

Friday night we met a friend for dinner at Brooklyn Heights Pizzeria, a neighborhood restaurant that we frequent. Our friend grew up in New York and was eager to try it out.

This restaurant was originally a great little coffee shop called The Coffee Plant (funny, the website is still up). They served great deserts all day, but my only complaint was the service was slow. One day Coyote Mercury stopped in for a latte and got to talking to the owner, who was about to close the coffee shop and redesign the space as a “Texas-style pizza pub.” He was even putting in his own water filtration system to balance the ph to the neighborhood in which he grew up in Brooklyn.

So we eagerly awaited its opening, and that day finally came. For the first several months they did not have a liquor license but would give you a beer or a glass of wine on the house. Most of the waitstaff seemed to be brand new to waiting tables, but everyone was really friendly and that made up for any slowness in service. 

In addition to some of the best pizza in Austin, the great thing about Brooklyn Heights is the variety on the menu. You can choose from about two dozen specialty pizzas, do-it-yourself toppings, hot wings, and even onion rings. They even have cheesecake shipped from New York’s Carnegie Deli.

On this visit we ordered “The Mad Italian,” a 16-inch pizza complete with banana peppers, Italian sausage, bell peppers, red onion, and garlic. This usually also comes with pineapple but we skipped this last night. The sausage is slightly spicy and sliced finely, which is a nice complement to the slightly sweet red sauce that is not overly thick but also does not allow toppings to slide off the slice.

When Brooklyn Heights opened I would often tell people that it was equal or superior to Home Slice, but slightly different. I liked the crust at Home Slice better, as it was a little thinner and more akin to pizza I have eaten in New York, but the sauce at Brooklyn Heights was better.

But today I’m not so sure. The restaurant has undergone some management and menu changes, and today the pizza is a little thicker than before and not quite as greasy. Grease is a good thing in pizza in my book, but nevertheless Brooklyn Heights still makes a fine pie that is worth the drive to check out.

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Friday Random Ten

Why not?

  1. “You Were There For Me” – Peter Rowan – KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 14
  2. “Cross The Breeze” – Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation*
  3. “What They Don’t Tell You” – Tim Hagans – Animation Imagination
  4. “Third Stone From The Sun” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
  5. “Memphis Soul Stew” – King Curtis
  6. “Granny Cool” – Sugar – File Under Easy Listening
  7. “Cathedral” – Graham Nash – KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 11
  8. “Let’s Go” – Stanton Moore – Flyin The Koop*
  9. “White Tornado” – REM – Dead Letter Office*
  10. “The Ledge” – The Replacements – Pleased To Meet Me

* – denotes artists I have seen live

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Vivo

Yesterday I went with a friend to Vivo for lunch. It’s a great place for me to dine with former co-workers from my old job, as it’s about halfway between there and my current company. Plus, they have an outstanding salsa that has more black pepper than most restaurant salsas and is packed with flavor. But be careful: During the week it’s best to try to get there before noon or you’ll have to wait for a table.

We had a lovely lunch of puffy tacos and enchiladas. My only complaint is that they smothered cheese over just about everything but the rice on my plate. Now I’m a big fan of cheese, but there was practically more cheese than beans. That’s just a little much for lunch.

As I was leaving I noticed the following written on a dumpster outside in huge white letters:

“GO WEST YUPPIES. STOP GENTRIFYING THE EAST SIDE.”

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Shame on the Pet Food Companies

All three of my greyhounds were poisoned as a result of the latest recall from Natural Balance pet food.

The official diagnosis was stable kidney failure. After 36 hours of heavy IV fluids to have their kidneys flushed, Daphne and Phoebe are recovering and came home Tuesday night. They are still spending each day at the vet for more fluids and observation. Joey did not do as well and ended up at a specialty hospital in canine ICU. Yesterday he finally turned around and is on the road to recovery, but with the possibility long term kidney damage. He comes home on Friday.

What you need to know is that the food they were eating does not contain wheat, but still contained melamine — an industry chemical — which was found in rice protein this time around. They had no more than three meals of the tainted food, and several thousand dollars later it looks like they are all going to make it. The long-term effects, however, remain to be seen.

Bottom line: The FDA does not have a handle on what’s going into pet food. I STRONGLY URGE you to switch over to cooking food for your pets today. While it may be more work, think about what’s happened to us and you may think otherwise.

Symptoms that affected our dogs: Nausea, excessive drinking, excessive urination. If you see any of this in your pets I would call your vet, regardless of whether or not your food has been recalled since our dogs were sick days before the recall actually happened.

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Friday Random Ten

What an awful traffic day…

  1. “Don’t Have to Be Sad” – Yo La Tengo – Summer Sun*
  2. “Suedehead” – Morrissey – Bona Drag
  3. “D. Sharpe” – Bill Frissell – Unspeakable*
  4. “Misirlou” -  Laurindo Almeida – Ultra Lounge, Bossa Novaville
  5. “The Oscillator” – Thievery Corporation – Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi*
  6. “The Landlady” – Phish – A Picture of Nectar*
  7. “Tonight We Ride” – Tom Russell – KGSR Broadcasts, Vol. 13
  8. “Speaking for Myself, Personally, In My Own Opinion” – Nucleus – Elastic Rock
  9. “arabic” – The Claudia Quintet – I, Claudia
  10. “Springtime in Vienna” – The Tragically Hip – Trouble at the Henhouse*

* – denotes artists I have seen live

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Home Improvement Projects

We moved into our house in September 2004. When we had the house built the builder was helpful in what upgrades to purchase through them, and which ones we would be better off doing on our own (price and selection).

Nearly three years later, we are still working on these upgrades. After having the floors done in February, here is what is up on our project list for the Spring:

  • New kitchen countertops. We went with the cheap standard when we moved in, and considering we have nice upgraded countertops they really detract from the kitchen. We’ve ordered Zodiaq quartz countertops, which have the nice look of granite but are apparently more durable.
  • New kitchen appliances. Out with the white, in with the stainless steel.
  • Paint. Right now our house is pretty sterile with everything being a nice, calm tan. After much deliberation we’re going with some bold colors that will hopefully add depth to the house.
  • New bathroom light fixtures. What we have now is probably the cheapest item in our house. We’ll be moving away from exposed light bulbs to something more soothing to the eyes.
  • Landscaping. This likely won’t all happen this year, but we’ll be putting in some flower beds and a ceiling fan for the porch. More on this one next year, I think…

We’ll see how far we get before the summer, and I’ll post some before and after photos as we go.

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Simon

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This our new cat, Simon. We got him yesterday. There’s more about him here.

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Meet Simon

Yesterday we went to Petco to pick up some dog food, and at the front FOGAS (Friends of Gonzales Animal Shelter) had cats up for adoption. The woman hosting the event was just getting the cats out, and a cat caught my eye. I talked to the lady for a while about him and found out that:

  • He was surrendered by his owners Saturday, who decided to move and that he wasn’t going to be part of their new home.
  • He was in great health and had no behavior problems.
  • He was great with kids and other cats, and fine with dogs.

We ended up adopting him on the spot yesterday. He came to us with the name Sugar Daddy, but that won’t fly at our house so we have renamed him Simon. Some stats about Simon:

  • He was born in August 2004, making him about 2 1/2 years old.
  • He’s mostly white with a few grey tabby patches, and has a grey tabby tail.
  • He weighs 14 pounds, but is a smallish guy and likely needs to lose a little weight.
  • He has deep green eyes.
  • Despite being a little overweight, he’s on the muscular side.

We set him up in one of the guest rooms to let him get acclimated to his new home, but he really wanted to explore so we introduced him to the hounds last night. They are mostly disinterested in him, but Phoebe wants to be his friend. Everyone has gotten along well so far.

Things we have noticed about his personality:

  • He’s very friendly and mellow. He has rolled over on his back several times to have his belly rubbed, and has been lying in the middle of the floor.
  • He can open cabinets and drawers, so we are getting some child locks today.
  • He’s very curious and likes to explore.
  • He’s young enough that he still plays.
  • He likes to be held and purrs a lot.
  • He follows us around to see what we’re up to.

Photos to come once they are uploaded to my computer…

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Friday Random Ten

This week:

  1. “New Age” – The Velvet Underground – Loaded
  2. “The Last Dance” – Frank Sinatra – The Very Good Years
  3. “Dyngyladi” – Yat-Kha – Deep Roots & Future Grooves
  4. “You’re the One” – Luther Allison – KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 5
  5. “Changer” – Stereolab – ABC Music Radio 1 Sessions
  6. “Down by the Water” – PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
  7. “Son of Mr. Green Genes” – Frank Zappa – Hot Rats
  8. “Angel Nemali” – Stanton Moore – All Kooked Out*
  9. “Space Age Love Song” – A Flock of Seagulls – The Best of A Flock of Seagulls
  10. “Beloved” – Thievery Corporation – Versions*

* – denotes artists I’ve seen live

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