Apr 11, 2013

One of my heroes on vegetarianism

"Why shouldn't I have a purely vegetarian drink? Why shouldn't I take vegetables in their highest form, so to speak? The modest vegetarians ought to stick to wine or beer, plain vegetable drinks, instead of filling their goblets with the blood of bulls and elephants, as all conventional meat-eaters do, I suppose"

-- G.K. Chesterton


In trying to get things rolling again, I found a post that I thought had been published but it appears to have been languishing among the drafts. It is from August 16th of last year.

Today is my father-in-law's 102nd birthday, or it would have been had he survived. John "Chauncy" Kiernan was a natural nobleman, a dignified, witty man whose charm and honesty was evident to everyone who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. More than three decades have passed since he died and still I can see the twinkle in his eye and the slow smile as he waited for me to process his latest bon mot. He loved honor, country and family. God alone knows what order to put those in. He loved his daughters and I suspect that he even loved me for loving his oldest girl.

I miss him.

His family came from County Leitrim, one of the poorest counties in Ireland and settled in Old Lyme, CT. They loved their dram and the telling of stories and I only wish that I could have been there when my wife's grandfather, John and his four sons, "Chauncy", "Charlie", "Denny", and "Joe" were in the mood to drink and spin yarns. I only met Chauncy and Charlie but both enriched my life.

Tonight, in lieu of a cake, my wife and I told a couple of Irish jokes and lifted a glass of Jameson to the memory of Chauncy. If he'll forgive the Scottish toast ...

"Here's to us. Who's like us? Damn few and they're all dead."

A "not-for-everyone" lunch

Because of the problems of scaling meals to one person, many of my breakfasts and lunches are simple in the extreme; granola, oatmeal, or muesli with almond milk is a common breakfast, and either a cup of mushroom vegetable soup or a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

I must admit that I have developed a small passion for something that people either love or hate, Marmite. I originally started using it because it is a source of B12, a perennial problem for vegetarians, but I have grown to greatly enjoy its unique flavor. In fact, the lunch at my right elbow is two slices of olive-rosemary bread, toasted, and spread with Marmite, Olivio, and chunky peanut butter.

Internal conflicts

  Meat substitutes somehow feel like cheating. We're saying to ourselves that these are the textures and flavors that we must have to feel satisfied. I'm not preaching here, just observing. I use these meat analogues a lot. Tofurkey sausages, TVP in chili or pasta sauce, and what is seitan if not a texture stand-in for flesh. What I'm saying is that every time I do use them it gives me an uneasy feeling of triumph like getting an extra 20 from an ATM, a pleasure but a guilty sneaky one.

Well nobody ever accused me of soft-pedaling my self-analysis.

What makes this situation bearable for me (as I must keep reminding myself) is that I am not an ethical vegan. Although I have an immense distaste for the methods of factory farming, I am not opposed nor disgusted by the eating of flesh. So I am a bit bemused by my own perversely honorable standards kicking in.

And it's not as if I have the same problems with non-dairy cheese. I'm perfectly happy to make a grilled cheese sandwich with soy-based pepper jack. Sometimes I confuse myself.

I blog with BE Write

Apr 10, 2013

Back again!

Oh dear ... it has been a while. This afternoon I was embarrassed when someone (you know who you are) mentioned this blog and I realized how deficient I have been at posting.

It is, however, day 593 of my solely herbivorous diet. Both my LDL and HDL levels are at 49, my BP runs about 110/65 and my cardiologist is threatening to enrich me by taking me off the handful of medications that I have been on.

I though my biggest challenge for this experiment would be my desire for meat and cheese (occasionally I am still tempted) but the biggest problem has been much more plebeian ... cooking for one. The situation is this, my wife and youngest son are omnivores to the point of being disgusted and repulsed by anything meatless or cheeseless. This means that they will not share my food. I offer but am constantly refused. (Yes, I'm exaggerating a bit but not much.) It's a shame too since what I make is more interesting, tastier and healthier than their usual fare.

The other day, for example, I had half a dozen each of baby potatoes, fresh Brussels sprouts, baby bella mushrooms, and small onions all cut in halves tossed with sesame chili oil and roasted for 40 minutes at 425F served around a mound of saffron rice. They shared a frozen pepperoni pizza. The sublime and the ridiculous isn't it?

This means that I either have to cook in extremely small batches, or freeze some for another day. I'll go into that more on some other occasion. In the meantime, here's a quick and easy:

Nightshade Curry

  • 1 small can chickpeas
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2 tsp hot madras curry powder
  • 1 tbs grapeseed or peanut oil
  1. Put a saucepan on a medium low burner with the oil.
  2. Dice the onion.
  3. When the oil sizzles add the onion.
  4. Cook until the onion is translucent.
  5. Add the curry powder and stir well.
  6. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes.
  7. Chop the eggplant into 1" thick slices and quarter them.
  8. Add the eggplant.
  9. Stir well.
  10. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for at least an hour (more is better) stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary
Serve with rice cooked with tumeric and raisins.