Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just A Little Sumpthin' for the Veg-heads...

Often, when I'm arguing with anonymous people on internet forums about the concept of sustainable, non-industrial meat production, I like to key in on the idea that Americans do indeed eat too much meat. It's true, we are a meat-happy country. People from other cultures are often appalled by how much (& how often) meat is consumed in a typical American's day. As part of my defense of the sort of small, humane producers I do business with, I'll often stress that a key part of reforming (or even eventually eliminating) the undeniably awful large-scale meat industry is for people to eat less meat in general. We need to reduce meat from the center of nearly every meal, I'll say. It needs to be used more often as a flavoring agent or condiment, & less often as the main attraction, I'll stress, aping Pollan. If we all make an effort to do this, I'll opine, then a patchwork of smaller, more ecologically & humanely operated farms can supply a greater portion of our nation's meat fix.

In my mind, this is the best way (outside of the unlikely event of mass Vegan conversion) to solve the obscenity that we call industrial meat.

The only problem with my argument is that I do a fairly crappy job of actually practicing it.

I eat meat at least once a day, although perhaps not in the same proportions as many Americans do. & I more often than not make my meat the focus of the meal, as anyone can observe just from reading my posts on this blog. & if there's anything in this world that consistently gets me heated... it's hypocrisy.

The other night, my unwillingness to truly practice what I preach was really getting to me, so I whipped up a relatively rare vegetarian dinner with some leftovers;

Local zucchini & yellow squash cakes, served with a tomato, thyme & white mushroom ragout.

Honestly, this recipe needs some tweaking. I was pressed for time & short on ingredients, so the cakes didn't turn out quite as I imagined them. Despite expressing what I thought was the bulk of the water in the shredded vegetables, the cakes were still pretty wet when they hit the skillet & they needed more breadcrumbs than I was able to toast up, so they didn't cook up as pleasantly browned & firm as I'd hoped. The ragout was awesome though. Through the magic of food science, it almost had the taste of the wine I would have added, had I been in the habit of keeping wine in the house. & disregarding my disappointment with the texture of the cakes, all the flavors worked together very nicely. The dish wasn't suitable for Vegans (as it contained eggs, milk & a little butter), but it was a great change of pace for me. Not to mention that it was virtually 100% local.

I doubt I'll change my omnivorous ways as a result of taking the Challenge, but I hope to do more of this meat-free cooking in the months to come. The meat case I preside over at work is a great place to find local foods & it will continue to provide me with many meals & ideas for meals. That's not even a question for me. But if I can alter the ratio of meat-based meals in favor of meat-accented or meat-free meals, I'll be just fine with that.

-nano out.

1 comment:

Liz said...

Yum! That looks awesome! My squash burritos were rejected by a couple of 8 year olds yesterday. Maybe they'd go for squash if I fried it in a cake shape? I know I would.

Kudos on the veg. dinner. Just think of all the greenhouse gases saved by that meal!