Ode to vegetables
When I look back at all the food posts I’ve put up on innBrooklyn they largely fall into two catagories — ‘meat based meal’ and ‘sweets and treats’ – and yet most days I don’t eat the former and struggle mightly to avoid the latter. So today’s post is in praise of vegetables which are what I eat more often then not, though I may not often share the pictures or recipes. Eating lots of vegetable based meals is a conscious choice based on several years of thinking about food, reading books and watching movies about food politics and generally soaking up the flexitarian zeitgeist.
I have three main reasons for wanting to have this ‘part time vegetarian’ diet:
- It’s better for the planet — for example, it takes somewhere around 50 fuel calories to produce a single calorie of beef making meat eating weigh extremely heavily on the environment.
- Its healthier for me — with a family history of cholesterol problems and a father who just had a triple bypass I don’t need to eat meat every day.
- I don’t want to support industrial factory farming – from everything I’ve seen and read it is a system which is cruel to animals and farm workers, unhealthy and environmentally damaging. So I limit my cooking to pasture grazed meats from happy cows… and if I go out to eat somewhere without similar options I can always choose the vegetarian dishes.
Anyway: enough lecturing for a saturday morning: if all of the above makes sense to you then you might like what I’m going to share below. If you think I’m talking nonsense or just want to know more I highly recommend reading Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ as a starting point.
For the last few weeks I’ve done a little test cooking for The Flexitarian Cookbook which is to be published in Fall 2010 and which includes lots of recipes that can be cooked either as vegetarian only meals or can have meat additions in small quantities. The steaming bowl of noodles, vegetables and broth above is from one of the recipes I tested. I can’t share the recipe of course, but if you are interested you can offer to be a test cook for the book yourself! I enjoyed the chance to cook new recipes and have input into a soon to be published book, the proceeds of which will benefit some great causes.
My other recent inspiration for vegetable based cooking was the purchase of what is (right now) my absolute favourite ever cookbook: The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia is so full of delicious sounding recipes and mouth watering photos that I am considering doing one of those ‘blogger works way through entire cookbook’ schticks so I can make every one of them. Great aspirations aside, so far I have cooked one meal only which consisted of grilled halloumi cheese, served with a spicy mango chutney and cilantro sauce and some apple/cucumber/onion raita. The flavours were robust and fresh and harmonized so well together, the textures were perfectly matched — it was really brilliant. Unfortunately it was so good I ate it all before even considering any photography. So, for now I recommend you borrow or buy the book and try some of these dishes yourselves. I promised some day I’ll cook, photograph and share some of my makings from it with you too!