I’ve been thinking about writing this post nearly every day for the past four weeks since I last visited this space. Yes, it’s been four weeks. Four years ago, I would have considered such an absence sacrilegious.
Did you ever start something that you just fell in love with and you did that thing with all your heart and then as time went by you realized maybe you should stop doing it because you don’t really love it as much as you thought you did, or perhaps worse, you realize you are not really all that good at it?
Well, those are my feelings about this blog. Like many of my friends with real world jobs, I started this blog as a creative outlet. I wanted to get some words on a page, experiment in the kitchen, and heck, while I was at it, why not rekindle my on-again/off-again relationship with photography?
Many bloggers who have been at this game a quarter of the time I have can boast much more success. But what does that mean? Although I began this blog strictly as a hobby, I instantly felt pressure to make money off of it. Add affiliate links! Plaster it with ads! Monetize, monetize, monetize!
Now, don’t get me wrong, money is a nice thing to have lining my pocket. But must creativity be inextricably linked with money? When “starving artist” is part of our vernacular, one might think so. Four weeks ago, I probably thought so.
Then I listened to a podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert (I admit, I am her fangirl), and she talked a lot about not ever setting out to let her creativity support her. It’s not creativity’s responsibility to pay our bills. Did you know that she kept a part-time job until Eat, Pray, Love was a certified success? And I just read an article about how Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox showed up at her restaurant gig until the show took off. I find those stories radically grounding and refreshing.
A great deal of my feelings on creativity surround writing. I think about writing every day, but I rarely do it for myself. The thought of what might come after terrifies me. Not only do I enjoy writing as much as one who writes can enjoy writing (I confidently claim 99% of writers have a love-hate relationship with the craft), a few people I respect a great deal have told me I am a good writer.
Yet, day after day I don’t write because the very real potential of writing pages upon pages of something that takes all the heart and soul I’ve got and then turns out to be not so good is paralyzing. Until I listened to that podcast, I thought commercial success was really all that mattered.
These thoughts extend beyond the written word. The gal who once scoffed at the thought that anyone would really need a cell phone much less a camera on their cell phones has an Instagram account (guilty as charged). I did not sign up with Instagram in hopes that thousands upon thousands of people would look at my work everyday. I started my account because I loved the idea that I could see beautiful pictures from places across the world simply by swiping my thumb across a screen. Is that not somehow enough?
A lot has happened in the past four weeks. Some of it heart crushing, some of it grand. I picked up a much-needed reminder from one friend to another that not everyone has to be on the same timeline. And I remind myself daily that I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.
One of those “anythings” happens to be the lentil veggie burger I made for dinner on a lazy Sunday. Lentils are one of those things I buy to use in a specific recipe, and then I wonder what else to do with them. I love non-meat burgers, but I also quickly tire of black bean burgers. Using up my lonely lentils in veggie burgers was not only a great way to change things up, but this recipe also allowed me to use everything I received in my weekly CSA pick-up, right down to the cornmeal. Enjoy!
Lentil Veggie Burger
- 3/4 cup dry lentils
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup arugula, lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain any excess water from the lentils once fully cooked.
- While the lentils cook, coat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Saute the garlic, mushrooms, and sweet potato in the skillet over medium heat until the sweet potato is tender, about for 6 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the mushroom and sweet potato mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Combine 1 cup of the cooked lentils, mushroom and sweet potato mixture, arugula, and soy sauce in a food processor and process until nearly smooth.
- Stir processed mixture into the remaining cooked lentils until combined. The mixture will be quite soft.
- Shape the lentil mixture into four patties about 1/2-inch-thick.
- Sprinkle both sides of each lentil burger with cornmeal.
- Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and warm over medium heat.
- Add the lentil burger patties to the skillet and cook until warmed through, turning the patties half-way through cooking. This process will probably take 8-10 minutes.
- Heap with toppings of your choice (sauteed peppers and mustard seen here) and serve.
If you have leftover cooked lentils, you will want to have 2 cups of cooked lentils available for this recipe.The biggest challenge with this recipe is likely to be getting veggie burgers to hold together as you flip them over and then remove them from the skillet. The patties are fairly delicate but should stay relatively intact if you take it easy.