Sunday, May 31, 2020

My Kitchen in May: Eating Less Meat

A meatless Beyond Burger from our grill. It was delicious!
A meatless "Beyond Burger" from our grill. It was delicious! Sesame-semolina bread baked by Len.
In our kitchen this May there is one big change: we are eating less meat. News stories have covered the coronavirus disasters throughout the meat packing industry: one plant after another has been closed because the working conditions, which were already terrible before, have now become hotbeds of contagion. Indifference to the health and safety of workers is so pervasive in this industry, that they don't have a clue what to do about the new dangerous situation. Beef and pork are the most affected, but chicken processing plants are also a dangerous place for workers -- we have eaten chicken once or twice, but no beef or pork. There are other issues with meat, but it's the workers' plight that pushed us to do this.

These are very challenging times. And as I have said repeatedly, we definitely know how lucky we are to be confined to a beautiful and comfortable location where we have ample food to eat. We have enormous sympathy for people who are in need, who are homeless, who are sick, whose jobs put them at risk, and who are mourning the victims of the terrible pandemic. We also remain aware of the way that people of color and underprivileged ethnicities are being abused in our society. I feel helpless in the face of the great problems of our era. Food provides an escape from dark thoughts.

At the end of each month, I look back on what's been cooking in our kitchen. This month, I'll talk about some of the ways we have cooked vegan, dairy, egg, and fish meals to comply with our new effort. Many of these meals involve unfamiliar ingredients and recipes that I've never tried before. I was grateful to Jason and Katrina for suggestions about vegetarian eating.

We have tried two meat substitutes:

Beyond Burgers on the grill. Their resemblance to beef
was a surprise.
A sandwich of fried Seitan with lettuce and tomato. Seitan is a wheat gluten substitute for meat
that was new to me. Jason and Katrina brought it to us. Unlike the Beyond Burger, it was just ok. 


I found a new recipe for canned cherry tomatoes marinated
in oil and citrus peel, which I served over pasta.
By dumb luck, I had bought canned cherry tomatoes!
It's a really good dish! (Link to recipe)
Pasta with cauliflower, peas, and cheese sauce.
Cabbage, carrot, and soba noodles.
New recipe recommended by Jason and Katrina -- A big thank you to them.


Pancakes are a favorite of mine, so I've made both old and new variations. Besides creating a filling non-meat dinner, the recipe I've been following uses up sourdough discard! I've made both sweet and savory pancakes, for example, pancakes with blueberries which we ate with citron jam, and regular sweet pancakes with maple syrup. 

Savory pancakes with peanut sauce and cabbage salad.
Pancakes with red pepper, corn, herbs,
and cheese stuffing. Lots of calories but very good!

Salads, Eggs, Soups

Soup and salad is a classic combination. Eggs and salad make a great non-meat lunch or dinner as well. Various curry dishes are more solid than soup, but I'm putting their photos in this category. Because Indian and other South Asian cuisines feature many vegan and vegetarian dishes, they are perfect for the type of cooking I'm trying to do, as are Israeli dairy recipes and traditional foods from other cuisines where meat is not always the center of the meal.

My usual favorite French cuisine offers rather few vegetarian dishes. During the month, I prepared French leeks vinaigrette and leek soup. I remember a conversation with a French friend who was a vegetarian; she described her challenges dining in Paris restaurants, where she often had to just eat a few side dishes, no main course.

Here are a few of the lunches and dinners from the past month. Oddly enough, we very rarely eat sandwiches! When Len makes bread (which I've documented quite a bit in other posts) we usually just eat it with the meal, or sometimes by itself with just butter. 

A plate of salad with a roll and deviled eggs...
serving the deviled eggs, artichoke hearts, salad.
Tabouli salad with packaged hummus and
Wasa cracker-bread.
A salad plate with yogurt and a packaged soup ready to be heated.
A hearty dinner soup: squash, corn, white beans,
onion, and tomato with herbs de Provence.
Sweet potato & garbanzo bean curry with peanuts and rice.
Curry-flavored red lentils with mushrooms.
Curry was the featured new flavor last month,
and I've continued to experiment with it.
Bread, tomato soup, hummus.
Tomato, red pepper, and goat cheese salad.
Classic egg salad.
Raita of yogurt, cucumber, and herbs.
Vegetarian chili with added Seitan.

About my Vegetarian Efforts

I don't know how long we will continue the new way of eating. Last month, I wrote that in May we were considering take-out restaurant meals for consumption at home, but we still feel it's safer to cook all of our own food. Friends continue to shop for us when they do their own shopping, though I try to limit how much I ask for. Happily, we are finding that it's becoming easier to get appointments for delivery or pick-up of food, especially from Whole Foods. Access to Whole Foods means we can have more not-canned fish — the Whole Foods fish department stocks only responsibly obtained fish. It also means we can buy ice cream!

In the photo above, you can see one of my vegetarian adventures: in the pot is a vegan stock about to boil. I used scraps from leeks, green onions, carrots, celery, cilantro, and parsley. Later the stock was used for potato-leek soup. On the other burner I was making rhubarb sauce, which I do every spring.

A Few Fish Dinners

Tuna croquettes made from canned tuna, and served with mashed potatoes
and peas -- a non-meat dinner straight out of my childhood!
We also consumed one jar of herring this month: another food from my childhood.
Good old-fashioned tuna salad with hard boiled egg.
Wild-caught shrimp with tomato sauce. Farm-raised shrimp
are terrible for the environment, the workers, and your health.
I hope I will find wild-caught shrimp again soon.
I'm sharing this post with Sherry at -- each month a number of bloggers write about what's going on in their kitchens and link up with Sherry, and I'm happy to connect with them. I also enjoy frequently sharing with other bloggers at Weekend Cooking hosted by "The Intrepid Reader" and at the Tuesday blog event hosted by "Bluebeard and Elizabeth." All the images in this post are my own copyrighted photos, and if you see them other than at my blog, you are reading a pirated version. Post © 2020 mae sander.


Tina said...

All of your meals look delicious and very healthy. I completely understand you avoiding the beef and pork right now. That's great you can get delivery and help with shopping. We went out and stocked up again but between the virus and the current violent protests we are going to stay home again for a long time.

Jeanie said...

Well done. I want to crawl in and devour the food in each and every photo! We've been eating less meat, too, unless I can find out its provenance. The packing company issues concern me, though they say it doesn't transfer to food -- it's such a funky virus, I don't want to take the chance that next week they discover it does!

You are so inventive with your cooking, both of you. Fabulous!

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

Your dinners look absolutely delicious especially that (veg) burger- so funny- we had one last night for the first time too. I put it in the microwave covered in spaghetti sauce and then served it over rice.

Jeff the Chef said...

I especially love the chili and the pancakes!

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

All your meals look so good.

I rarely eat beef and pork. Once in a while I eat chicken, and if I want something special I buy lamb. 😊 I try not to eat red meat too much for health reasons, and as you say how those meat factories treat their workers is another reason to reduce meat consumption.

I can go weeks just eating rice, leafy greens and different curries . LOL

francesca said...

Your pandemic diet looks wonderful Mae- lots of good, sustainable foods without resorting to things wrapped in plastic or meat from dubious sources. I empathise with the sorrow and sense of impotence you discuss in your preface to this food story. To read about events in the USA over the last few days is really disturbing. Deep seated racism, a shallow and idiotic leader, along with 4 million unemployed, and so many deaths from the virus, with further spread each day, it's a recipe for chaos. Sit tight Mae, I'll be thinking of you through this disturbing time in American history. Perhaps a gracious, moral and inspiring leader might arise from the chaos.

My name is Erika. said...

All the food looks delicious. I haven't tried the beyond meat. I am curious about it, but not sure about it either. But it is good to hear you liked it. I'd say you had a good month of eating. Hugs-Erika

Tanza Erlambang said...

Love cheese sauce eat with Pasta, cauliflower and peas....healthy and delicious.

Have a wonderful day,

Sherry's Pickings said...

thanks so much for joining in Mae. I hadn't really thought about not eating meat over the last couple of months. We do eat a lot of vego dishes anyway, being old hippie vegos from way back:) I have this thing about fake meat products. I think either you do or you don't eat meat, and i just can't bear the fake stuff. I prefer making my own vegetable patties etc. Looks like you have been eating well during COVID. We have been cooking like mad things! which means so much washing up! i.e. doing dishes. When we lived with a friend in Philly years ago, she always laughed when we talked about washing up as that meant washing your face, i think. Take care, keep well and keep cooking.
sherry x

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

You've eaten abundantly well! Many of our wet fish counters have been closed so we've eaten less fish than usual this month.

Mae Travels said...

@Sherry: You wrote "I think either you do or you don't eat meat, and i just can't bear the fake stuff." That's what I've been saying for years.

But we decided to give these fake burgers a try and we were really surprised when we liked them! And as far as we know, the workers who make them are not abused like the meat plant workers. So it goes. Life is full of surprises.


kathyinozarks said...

Your dishes all look really delicious. thanks for sharing all these photos.
Yum Happy T wishes Kathy

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

You ate and drank tremendously well in May. There are things I've never heard of before and things I've used for years, since I'm "basically" a vegetarian. I say that because once every two or three years, I get a craving for a hamburger. One burger and I'm good for at least two years. Of course, now I totally agree with you that it's not safe to eat beef or pork.

I've never eaten those beyond meat burgers, but I've made my own burgers in the past using black beans, lentils, or tofu. Grilled, they taste great. Not so much if you cook them in a skillet on the stove. Well, maybe the tofu burgers are pretty good cooked on the stove. But I like tofu a LOT.

I also love couscous, quinoa, and pasta. Of those pasta is my least favorite because it's got so many calories. It seems when someone invites me to their home (back before the virus, of course), they wouldn't know what else to fix except pasta. Sometimes people would fix fish tacos or pizza. But mostly pasta, which is why I seldom buy it.

I love egg salad and tuna salad, too. Eggs are out of sight here. My friend Scott who shops for me, told me eggs were $2.59/doz the last time he shopped for me. I'm hoping the price has dropped slightly since then.

Sorry I went on a rant. It's not often I can share my love of veggies with others. After all, I live in a BEEF state, too. Thanks for sharing your incredibly healthy meals and various drinks with us for T this almost Tuesday.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I forgot to mention that your suggestion of a car trip is out of the question, since these three youngsters are all under 16. They live with their aunt in CA who adopted them after their mother died several years ago. I took care of them until their aunt could arrive and make funeral arrangements. Their mother and I were in the same Ph.D. program together and we shared the same office. We got to be great friends, too, which is why she entrusted me with them as she was dying.

Linda Kunsman said...

wow!! I am so glad I had dinner before visiting-cuz I'd eat every one of these dishes (minus the hard boiled eggs)! We rarely eat any meat but not quite vegan (yet:) as we do love our seafood and breakfast eggs. Thank you for sharing all this yummy vegetarian food, and happy T day!

Valerie-Jael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iris Flavia said...

And whilst I read your blog I have the news on the other monitor. (Yes, I´m old, I have a regular PC with two big screens)
I see Michigan burning, people screaming and shouting, so good to read your words as contrast!

Hm! I once had burgers from beet roots in Australia. It was beet roots, LOL. But also OK.

Your tomatoes made me laugh! And can you believe it!!! I wanted to buy cauliflower to grill and found none!!! Two grocery stores and none, I even dreamed of cauliflower. No kidding, I was so happy in my dream.
Oh, right, we have a Homer Simpson pan for pancakes, good idea to use that again.
Artichoke hearts I had once. Not yummy. Maybe done wrong? They´re healthy, right? But eggs, I love!
OK, you got me hungry now! In lack of cauliflower cooked broccoli sits in the fridge, wating for me.

It´s a "pain" going through your post!, you know that, right? You "owe" me a new keyboard, this one is drooled over.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Delicious looking assortment of food that you've cooked. Happy T-Day!

Meggymay said...

Your meals and the photos looked delicious. I'm pleased I have just finished lunch as I would now be off to raid the pantry for food.
Happy T day wishes.

Divers and Sundry said...

It sounds like a good idea to explore alternatives to meat these days, and your photos look like you're coming up with some great ideas. It all looks delicious! Happy T Tuesday :)

Let's Art Journal said...

Wow, all your meals look so delicious! I would like to try them all 😉. Thanks for sharing, there are so many yummy ideas here! Happy T Day wishes! Stay safe and well! Hugs, Jo x

Eileen Bergen said...

You've created such a variety of delicious looking meals with little or no meat. I'm impressed!

Happy T-Day! Eileen xx

Caty said...

All these meals look so so delicious, I love them all, especially the salads.
Have a great week and Happy T-day !
Big hugs,

DVArtist said...

A beautiful selection of foods. Your photos could be in a magazine. Every try making your own veggie burgers? I have a great recipe if you are interested.

Kate Yetter said...

Your food looks delicious and colorful! I admire your going meatless as it is a very difficult thing to do. We recently bought part of a cow from a local farmer so no meat processing plant was involved. So many farmers are suffering because of this craziness. If you still want meat without supporting the meat plants, I suggest going to your local farmers.

Deliciously Ella has some great vegan recipes. My favorite cookbook of hers is Deliciously Ella Everyday. The Gooey Black Bean Brownies are SO good.
Happy Tea Day,

CJ Kennedy said...

Who knew that vegetarian could look so good! Your presentations look so beautiful. Stay safe and have a Happy T Day

Lisca said...

What an absolute delight it was to read your blog. Just up my street!
It's brave of you to try and eat meatless (and for those reasons). I live rurally and can source my meat locally. But perhaps there is a farmers market near you where you can get meat that is not mass produced, or even organic., It will be more expensive, but then it will be an occasional treat. A real treat.
I don't go for the fake meat products. It is ultra processed with all sorts of chemicals in them that I don't know. They probably taste very nice, but once you get used to eating more vegetable based meals, you'll see your taste buds adapt.
All your pictures made my mouth water. You certainly have been eating well, and it has spurred me on to make more salads.
Your tuna croquets look very nice. I do a similar thing called tuna & corn fritters, which have sweetcorn, tuna and egg as main ingredients. And I fry them in the pan.
Your curries look really delicious. If this is the first time you have made curries, I suppose the curry comes out of a jar, but if you look online, you can make your own curry mixtures. There are so many and they all have a slightly different taste. Just buy the basic spices separately. We like Madras and Rogan Josh mixtures.
Thank you again for joining us and I'm looking forward to reading about your food adventures in the future.
Keep cooking!

pearshapedcrafting said...

I loved seeing the food you have been eating - We are not vegan, or even vegetarian but are eating less meat by choice!
I don't eat meat substitutes as they generally have a lot of sugar in them but I love 'burgers' made with large flat mushrooms baked with chopped garlic and butter or with white fish fillets coated with egg and breadcrumbs and fried. Hubby has started making curries using curry pastes not sauces and we prefer them now, our curries usually have chicken in them and lots of veggies. My post last week shows the two cook books we are using at the moment that are really changing our eating habits.
Apologies for the late visit, our internet, which hasn't been so good lately suddenly went right down yesterday and was only restored mid morning today(a local issue)Belated Happy T Day! Chrisx

Liz said...

I salute your stand on meat Mae. I am lucky as another reader said that I can purchase local sustainably sourced and humanely raised beef and pork. That being said, we don't eat it often since we prefer lamb, chicken or vegetarian meals. The commercial big business meat packing plants are horrid. And I agree with all you have said about the current 'situation' in the US. It has driven me to tears. Stay well and thank you for your post.

Claudia said...

Looks like you've been eating well Mae, despite the times. Can't say that we've had any less meat, being that I get humanely raised, organic pork and chicken, and locally raised grass fed beef. Just glad we live where we do, lots of open country. I'm also happy that restaurants are re-opening, so we can eat out occasionally! It's been so sad for all the farmers, and small business owners who've gone under during this "pandemic". Aloha

dreams of sourdough said...

What a smorgasbord of food! Can I come live in your kitchen? :) I'm so impressed by your vegetarian efforts too. I'm mostly vegetarian (used to be fully veg now only eat it once or twice a week with friends) and when I read about conditions in meat processing plants it really turns me off meat

Moya said...

Hi Mae, looks like you have been cooking up a storm. Actually, I have never made or tried a meatless burger so must lookout for them in our supermarkets. I do think nowadays most people are cutting down on their consumption of meat products. Stay well :)