Wednesday, November 30, 2011
My childhood memories of food fit into two categories...things I was forced to eat (see again Liver and Spinach night) and things I couldn't get enough of (ironically, the majority of these involved ground beef). One meal that fit into the latter was Hamburger Helper. We didn't have this too often, but it was always exciting when we did. My favourite was cheesy beef...insert some sort of noodley description here...macaroni? casserole? bottom line was it was beef, noodles and cheese sauce.
I had tried the macaroni and cheese (Mac Daddy) from Veganomicon and was less than impressed (sadly I think I still have most of the leftovers in my freezer...yes, cleaning out my freezer is on my list of things to do) and had vowed not to make any more vegan 'cheese' pasta recipes. But then I was flipping through Appetite for Reduction and came across Tempeh Helper, and I knew there was no chance that I wouldn't be making this recipe.
The recipe wasn't too hard to make although there seemed to be way too much sauce for the amount of noodles and stuff that was called for, and it never quite thickened up like it was supposed to, so it was kind of soupy.
As for the final result...I should admit right now that if I ever had real Hamburger Helper as an adult, I can't say that I'd like it as much...or at all (the whole meat thing aside). But that said, what I realized is that it's probably not a good idea to go into a recipe with childhood memories of how good something was, because nothing will ever live up to that. It's an even worse idea to go into a recipe that you've completely changed and veganized with childhood memories because the child in you will want to fold her arms, pout and refuse to eat it (not that I ever did that...). I honestly don't think this was a bad recipe and it was tasty enough. It just really didn't even have a chance from the get-go. I probably wouldn't make this again, but it's nothing against the recipe - it's a very decent vegan version of Hamburger Helper, and if you've never had the real Hamburger Helper but were always curious - definitely give it a try...you'll create your own standard of comparison and I'm sure if you ever did try the real thing after that (with whatever meat or meat substitute you prefer), you'll probably want to fold your arms, pout and refuse to eat it.
Tempeh Helper: I'll try to be fair and not rate this by comparing it to a 25 year old memory. It was tasty and I did eat all the leftovers, but even impartially, it was nothing really special or outstanding...decent would be a fitting word. 3.5 out of 5 mullet men.
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