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And on a more cheerful note

We are trying to eat more veg. I gave up pork ages ago, a habit made more sustainable by visions of Mr Cameron's possible past, but it's hard to give up all meat, so we are trying to eat more veg, buy less meat and when we buy, try to buy cruelty free.

I would like to give up all meat. I haven't been right with it for a long time. In the search for more satisfying vegetarian meals, we watched an entire series of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall extemporising on the glory of greens and I have achieved four vegetarian meals, only one of which was a dud. It was the first, a vapid cauliflower and chickpea curry, apparently from a 'friend' of Hugh's. The others were rather tasty; one indian vegetable curry, one mushroom soup with dumplings, and one aubergine lasagne. Now I am about to embarge on a terrifying experiment. I am about to make some kind of elizabethan vegetable pie with grapes and eggs. I may be gone some time...

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
semyaza
Sep. 24th, 2015 01:23 am (UTC)
I was vegetarian for a long time. Had to give it up for medical reasons. I eat a small amount of meat once a day and not every day - usually free-range chicken when I do. Never pork . I eat free range eggs (and I know for certain they're genuinely free range) and dairy. One does one's best. More important is the sea-change I see in the big consumers. McDonald's will be switching to cage-free eggs over the next ten years and I would imagine that other fast food chains will follow. It has to be a slow switch because it will be a seismic change in an industry where 90% of hens are caged (I'm talking about the US). Not caged is a long way from free range but it's a start.
smokingboot
Sep. 24th, 2015 08:32 am (UTC)
We have some very good butchers and a farm nearby, so if we can get decent pieces of well looked after meat, avoid waste, and ease our reliance on it, hopefully we'll be improving our own health and contributing to better welfare for farmed animals. One of the problems here though is that people are used to cheap food, and there's a widespread cognitive dissonance as to why it's so very cheap. And of course, some people just have no choice.

It's very good news about McD's in the states. I hope it is the same policy here.
semyaza
Sep. 24th, 2015 09:01 am (UTC)
Yes, not everyone is able to make ethical choices - that's one of the reasons why I've been so critical of environmentalism at times - but for my own part I've found that there are ways to cut corners on some things while allowing myself the luxury of an ethical choice on others.
smokingboot
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:00 am (UTC)
It's not an art I've mastered yet.

Even when I was vegetarian for about 5 years, I never gave up fish - just couldn't do it. Now I hear that the seas are emptying, and think maybe I should try an entirely flesh free diet. But that will be difficult living with a partner who doesn't want to go that far, and also extremely time consuming.
semyaza
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:13 am (UTC)
That would be similar to the Japanese Buddhist vegetarian diet. The only ethical fish if you don't want to be a strict vegetarian would be closed-containment, land-based fish farm fish. Land-based fish farms are doable and we're not doing them for the most part. Soy is highly problematical as a meat substitute for health and environmental reasons. At one time - at least, when I became vegetarian in the early 80s - it was all about the ethics of killing animals for food. Now it's about what our farming practices are doing to the environment and what is ultimately of more importance - my guilt about eating a free-range organic chicken now and again or the problem of crops like canola/rapeseed/oilseed or even the shady goings-on in the olive oil industry. It's hard to keep on top of this stuff.
smokingboot
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
It really is, I just never know what to eat and what to avoid. The series I mention with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall does have an episode where he tries the Japanese Buddhist diet, and it looks truly beautiful, though not easy to achieve.
semyaza
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:33 am (UTC)
The concept of shojin ryori is excellent as it's a balanced diet with foods that aren't over-processed but it's hard to achieve at home. I'd be inclined to be a little heavier on the eggs and dairy (if you're not intolerant) and lighter on the tofu but on the whole I'm really keen on the idea of not having too much of any one ingredient in a meal. Meze achieves the same kind of thing.
smokingboot
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
I have never tried shojin ryori - indeed, Hugh's prog was the first I had really heard of this kind of diet - but meze I know well!

The addition of eggs and dairy would certainly make it easier, but again, there's so much rubbish around the dairy industry in this country, ethical considerations rise. Goats milk might be an answer.

Edited at 2015-09-25 02:41 am (UTC)
semyaza
Sep. 25th, 2015 03:07 am (UTC)
We have strict standards about dairy as far as organic certification, use of medications, prohibition of growth hormone etc are concerned but humane treatment is a different issue. They've been working hard on the latter this year in conjunction with the SPCA so I think it's possible for me to know what I'm buying or it will be soon. If I had a choice I'd go for sheep's milk products every time purely because of the flavour but ethically speaking goats might be better. I'd have to research it. Goat's milk isn't suitable for everything though unless you want that flavour.

I'm a nibbler. I like the idea of a lot of little dishes whether of a Mediterranean variety or Asian. I think it's the easiest way to reduce the amount of meat in the diet without feeling that you've been deprived.
smokingboot
Sep. 25th, 2015 07:09 am (UTC)
I am a fridge forager, and very adaptable; I can settle down to lots of little dishes or just three great platefuls a day as long as someone else cooks it!

I'm also a natural carnivore, unlike my mum, whose idea of heaven was a tomato cut in half and rubbed with garlic. She was always bewildered almost to the point of distress by big English meals stacked high with starch, meat and gravy.

Our laws about certification are many and bewildering. There are a couple of companies with a good reputation for animal welfare and fair prices between distributors and farmers, but it's still mostly complex and expensive. Nut milks are a favourite of mine, but they do not work in coffee/tea at all.

romney
Sep. 24th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC)
pie with grapes and eggs *shudder*

Mushroom soup with dumplings sounds great. Have you the recipe? I'd swap for my excellent leek and potato soup recipe, but it's basically "make leek and potato soup" (but the secret is some tarragon, a bit too much cream, and finally some truffle oil drizzled on when serving. And before liquidising, take out about a 1/4 of the bits of leek and potato, then add them back in for some texture)
smokingboot
Sep. 24th, 2015 08:22 am (UTC)
Thanks for the recipe
That sounds lovely! The last leek and potato soup I had was in a pub near Salisbury, and it was basically mash and leeks through a blender... Stand up spoon time. Alarming.

Here then is Hugh FW's mushroom soup with dumplings. Bit of an epic I'm afraid. Amounts are for 4.

Melt 30g butter with a tablespoon of olive/rapeseed oil.
Add two finely chopped onions and gently sweat them for 15 -20 minutes til they are golden.
Add 2 finely chopped medium carrots and 1 finely chopped celery stalk to soften (I left the celery out as larians hates the stuff)

It does say to soak 50- 60 g of dried porcini, but I just used porcini paste. Still, if you do soak them, use 500ml hot water for 30 minutes prior, then take them out after the carrots and celery are added. Rinse, dry and strain the porcini into a bowl.

Increase the heat under the pan to medium high, ad 500g of sliced fresh mushrooms, the porcini (or porcini paste) and 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic. Stir a lot for some reason.

Add porcini strained soaking liquid and 1 litre of mushroom or veg stock.
Add salt, pepper and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Dumpling time:

Sift 100g self raising flour together with half a teaspoon of English mustard powder (I just used English mustard, but you can leave it out completely if not to your taste)

Mix in 50g vegetable suet and a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped herbs (dill, parsley, thyme, chives, chervil or any combo of these)
Season with salt and pepper, use a knife to mix in about 5-6 tablespoons of cold water and make a soft dough.
Dust hands, shape your dumplings - this recipe is for 12-14 of them.

Check soup seasoning, add more salt, pepper, chopped parsley and dill. Add dumplings.
Simmer till dumplings are cooked, it says 12-15 minutes but mine could have done with a tiny bit longer.
If not having dumplngs, just simmer the soup uncovered for 10 minutes more. Tis done!

Edited at 2015-09-24 08:24 am (UTC)
romney
Sep. 24th, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the recipe
Thanks! Will certainly try that.
smokingboot
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the recipe
You're welcome! Sorry it's so vast!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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