Thursday, February 28, 2008

Calling all Veggies

After the last beef recall I made the mistake of going online to watch the video of the mistreatment of cows being processed through a slaughterhouse. It was horrific, and I don't recommend watching it if you enjoy a cheeseburger now and again. I then fell down the rabbit hole and started to link my way through more and more horrific tales of industrial/corporate farming. I will spare you the details, they are out there if you want to read up, but its not for the faint hearted. I do, however, recommend reading up on the ecological impact these large industrial farms have on the environment.

Once I resurfaced and quelled the bile rising in my throat I decided to go vegetarian for a while. Just to see if I could do it. I've given up red meat, pork, and all poultry (lamb goes without saying). I still keep organic dairy, eggs from local free range cage free chickens , and fish (wild, not farm raised) in my diet. Some might say that's not really being a vegetarian, but dude, I'm so not givin' up my dairy! I have to say it's been easier to stick to than I thought it would be. Probably because my decision has nothing to do with my own dietary needs, but out of my personal sense of ecological and moral responsibility. It's too bad there is no ethical dilemma in chocolate (and if there is, shut up, I don't want to know!).

I have toyed with the idea of being a vegetarian since my pseudo hippie days in college(yes, I was one of those), but have always loved a good cheeseburger or meatball every now and again, so have been hesitant to give up meat. But the more I hear about how we raise our livestock and process them for slaughter, I become more and more neurotic as I walk through the grocery store. I pick up a package of chicken, gross myself out, then put it back down. A package of hamburger? Ditto. I have to put it down again. I look like freekin' Rainman pacing back and forth down the meat section picking up things, muttering to myself, and putting them back. It's not pretty people.

Now I know, local organic meat is a responsible option, and I may do that at some point, but it is so prohibitively expensive, I don't think I could afford it, and I can't even begin to imagine how someone could afford to feed an entire family that way. It's sad really, that only the well off can afford to feed their families quality foods that haven't been so pumped full of poisons and chemicals that you can no longer even call it food. The cheap crap is just that. Crap. Whew! Don't get me started on that soap box, I'll never get down.

So now I'm having a big time digging around cookbooks and the Internets looking for groovy vegetarian dishes, and trying out different ways to rework dishes I always cook. The Stuffed Peppers the Tap dancing Queen posted the other day were a direct result of such digging. She added chicken, which is great, but it tastes just as good without.

OK, here's where you guys come in. I need ideas, recipes, general vegetarian tips. (Yes, I know, the minute anyone asks you for a recipe you draw a blank - I'm lookin' at you Miss B). So if you have any good ones, post em in the comment section. Maybe I'll start posting my culinary attempts here, complete with pictures.

Now I'm hungry.


flutter said...

Asparagus Bread Pudding

One 1-pound loaf sourdough or other crusty bread
3 cups milk
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 pound asparagus
3 to 4 ounces oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan or casserole with nonstick cooking spray (hs note: I greased the pan w/ butter).

Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 3/4-inch slices, then stack 4 or 5 slices of bread. Cut them into 3/4-inch cubes. Repeat with the remaining bread and put all of the cubes in a large bowl.

In medium bowl, whish together the milk, broth, eggs, salt, pepper, and dill until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread.

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the bread along with the mushrooms and shallots. Fold everything together well to combine the ingredients. Spoon them into the prepared pan and pat down the top to compact the ingredients. Sprinkle the cheese evenly ever the top.

Bake the pudding for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and crisp and there is no liquid in the center. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into portions.

we_be_toys said...

Mmmm! The Asparagus Bread Pudding looks so good,....I'm drawing a blank! So what else is new?

Can I get back to ya?

Maggie said...

K I have no clue about recipes but I just wanted to ask, have you read Fast Food Nation yet?


Chanda (aka Bea) said...

Maggie - I haven't read that yet, but I know I should. I have a feeling, just based on what I read about it in Wikipedia, that I would never want to eat meat again. Or fast food. Or anything produced by ConAgra. I did see Supersize Me though, and that pretty much cured me of McDonalds.

Hanlie said...

I really recommend "The Food Revolution" or "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins.

A lot of people pat themselves on the back because they don't eat a lot of red meat, opting for poultry and fish instead. Well, the reality of the matter is that poultry is one of the most toxic foods in any supermarket, because of the farming methods. I'd much rather eat a lamb chop, than a piece of chicken! And everybody's raving about tilapia, but as far a I know that's a farmed fish in the US and as such, is exposed to unacceptably high levels of toxins and antibiotics. Any animal products that we consume have to be certified organic, or something that you've seen frolicking in a field!

We only eat animal products when we go out, roughly once a week. The rest of the week we're quite happy to eat fruit and salad (I'm juicing of course) and in winter I make soups. I'll post a nice vegan soup recipe for you today.

Sarah said...

This is exactly the way I've been thinking lately. I enjoy meat but I am more and more turned off by being part of this process.

Great post.

Lentil-Kale Stew

Saute one chopped onion, four chopped celery stalks, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Add two cans of brown lentils (rinsed), 3 cups of V8, 1 cup of crushed tomatoes, and 6 cups of kale (trimmed, cleaned, and chopped). Serve with cheddar cheese (if desired -- it's great without as well).


Sarah said...

oh -- simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Longer if you like your kale softer.

Trisaratops said...

I have a vegan friend who always makes me think about going vegetarian. I had to give up dairy for a month for medical reason, and I was so grumpy! But cutting out meat is something I know I resist giving up only because I enjoy the flavor. How selfish is that? I applaud your efforts! I ususally only eat meat at dinner, so I have a lot of great recipes on my site. Here's a great lentil recipe:

2 cups onions, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots
1 TBS minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 TBS red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat, saute onions and carrots 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add remaining ingredients, except the vinegar. Raise heat, bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for 10 minutes, then add the vinegar and serve hot. Delish!

FairiesNest said...

Well you KNOW that here at Casa Toy-Plott we eat mostly veggie! I'll dig out a few goodies and email them your way. One idea for organic chicken is to search out local producers. That way not only do you eliminate the middle man, and thus some of the cost, but you also reduce your carbon footprint. Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's new book? It's awesome! Makes you want to rush out to your local farmer's market immediately! And yeah, I was one of those people too...still am!

HappyBlogChick said...

That's such a huge change. I respect it completly.

When I cook at home I cook a LOT of venison, because I feel like hunted meat is so much more responsible than factory-farmed meat. But I don't stick exclusively to it. I need to look around for local meat.

Anonymous said...

I have some veggie cook books you can have.

CactusFreek said...

I totally understand where you are coming from! I have a real problem with meat and where it comes from. And i pace the supermarket meat section like that too! Oh my goodness, i thought i was the only one out there. So if there's you, and there's me, there must be others. A secret "We like meat but we want to do our bit" club.
I could soooo easily be a vegetarian, but i haven't quite taken that step.
I'm always looking for quick, easy and filling vege dishes that aren't too complex.
I make one dish that is really versatile.
[ ]
I just cut up whatever veges i have in the fridge, layer them in a casarole dish with a sprinkle of oil, and cook them in the over til everything is tender. Sometimes i add cheese.
Sometimes i add a scrambled egg mixture.
Sometimes i add herbs.
It's really workable.

Farewell kindered spirit! lol