Sunday, May 23, 2010

The week of living meatlessly. day 1.

Recently, L. mentioned on her blog that she would be going meat-free for a week at the end of May, and invited her readers to join her. All of us who know her laughed and laughed and laughed. Let me put it this way: the first time I heard about L., I was reading about a dish she had created for a party - "bacon-wrapped bacon" (bacon wrapped around red-braised pork belly and roasted until the bacon renders out its fat and becomes crispy). She writes recipes like a Taiwanese beef noodle soup that calls for 3 pounds of beef shank ("serves 2, with leftovers") and once cooked us a 10-course Chinese feast that involved some form of pork in nearly every dish. If L. could go meatless for a week, so could I. It was a challenge, a throwing down of a gauntlet. I like a challenge.

I thought I would start with cooking my way through the odds and ends cluttering up my fridge. I always buy vegetables, in a half-hearted attempt to eat a bit more healthily, and leave them until they wilt and shrivel into brittle shadows of their former selves. Now they were all I had. There was some asparagus and a few tomatoes; I would stir-fry the asparagus and use some of it in a couscous salad for lunch during the week, then eat the rest with rice and eggs scrambled with tomatoes. I would keep eggs and dairy in my diet, call on the dishes from my childhood, the ones I returned to again and again when my mom went vegetarian for a year. There would be tofu, but no tempeh or seitan. I would not be eating quinoa or lentils.

After I had my simple dinner of eggs scrambled with tomatoes - one of the first things I learned how to cook - and asparagus over rice, I turned to the couscous salad. Loosely based on a recipe from Falling Cloudberries, I skipped the roasted tomatoes and cucumber and kept the mint, scallions, and chèvre. It was light and Spring-like and would do for the next couple days for lunch. A promising start to the week.

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