I wrote a few weeks ago about being a vegetarian and how I started eating meat again because I could no longer make the effort not to. It was a slightly simplistic account.
Although I originally became a vegetarian because of a playground dare it was my mum who enabled me to remain one. It so happened that around the same time that I slunk home to beg her to write a letter to the school cooks telling them that I hadn’t actually been lying she had seen a documentary about veal crates and had been toying with the idea of turning veggie. For many years I was the only vegetarian at my school and I was viewed as some sort of troublemaking hippy. The cooks made little effort to provide a vegetarian option and I was bullied for being different. I kicked back against this and turned from someone who saw vegetarianism as an extension of loving fluffy animals to someone who saw meat as murder.
By the time I met and fell in love with Debbie I defined myself by my vegetarianism. As we were starting a new life together I came to think I should define myself by who I was not by what I did or did not eat. Partly as a test for myself the first thing I ate was a fillet steak served blue. Obviously as I became a veggie at ten I had never experienced such a thing (especially as I had grown up in the seventies when all food was grey) and I suddenly realised what I had been missing.
I still had animal welfare concerns and I have come to realise that I can maybe do as much by buying meat from producers who treat their animals humanely thus encouraging them and with respect as I can by not eating any meat.
This week we popped up to Norfolk to visit family and whilst there I made a detour to get hold of some Bray’s Cottage pork pies. I have been following Sarah Pettegree on Twitter for some time and had determined that, diet or no diet, I was having some of her pies. What had first drawn me to them was their stance on sourcing their meat and to be honest even if the pies had been run of the mill I would have been happy. Luckily they were wonderful. I was going to spend a whole blog post rhapsodising about them but MiMi beat me to it. I will just say that they are well worth tracking down. Even if it involves trying to find somewhere to park in Holt whilst the clouds seem intent on emptying themselves on you.
One of the problems with a food optimising diet is that I have had to move away from several of my staples. I used to make several one pot type dishes with rice, pasta or potatoes cooked together with meat but now we are having more meat and two veg meals.
The issue with that is that when you can’t have potato as one of you veg you can get bored with boiled veg very quickly.
I have been cooking a few more interesting side dishes recently.
Uncooked Beetroot (allow about 1 tennis ball sized beet per person)
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp per beet wine vinegar. If you are using red beetrot then use red wine but a sweet white wine vinegar goes wonderfully with golden beetroot.
Wash your beets then wrap them, unpeeled in foil and bake for about forty minutes at about 180° (gas mark 4). Remove and allow to cool until you are able to handle them. The skin should slough off quite easily. Cut into slices about 1cm thick. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the sliced beetroot. When they start to colour slightly add the vinegar and stir-fry to coat the beets.
Spinach with garlic and lemon
1 tsp Olive oil
2 Cloves garlic, sliced
1 lemon juice only
In a wok gently heat the oil and fry the garlic. When it is cooked but before it browns add the spinach and stir-fry until wilted. Stir through the lemon juice and serve.
I have never been a fan of plain boiled potatoes. Mash is best made with lots of butter and chips are a complete non-starter on this diet. Most recipes for fondant potatoes are lovely but would make the group leader at Fat Club faint. This one is a little less bad. Mainly because it isn’t technically a fondant potato.
Not Fondant Potatoes
1 medium potato per person
1 tsp butter
Peel the potatoes and then cut away the edge or use a cookie cutter until each one is the same shape and size. Submerge in the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer very gently until the potatoes are cooked being careful not to let them fall apart. Remove from the stock. Melt the butter in a frying pan then fry the ends of the potatoes until light brown (this is just to give it a bit of colour and crispness)
We had another quite heavy week this week. Our lovely friend came to visit and forced us to drink far too much over the weekend. It was a complete surprise that we both maintained this week.