the view from my table

So, food blogging. It’s something I have definitely fallen down on, what with being busy with learning about literature and generally falling out of regular blogging in the post-a-day way I used to do. But, I’m still a total foodie, and have been meaning to get back into geeking out about food.

Add to that, I was recently chatting with a friend about our less-meatarian diet, and she was asking me questions about what our meals actually look like. It’s definitely hard, when first transitioning to a less-meat diet, to figure out what to put on a plate that isn’t a meat and two sides. Mark Bittman addresses this in his book (an AMAZING resource) How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

Even those people who do cook at home reckon that the easiest way to anchor a meal is to throw a steak or a chicken breast on the grill or under the broiler and scatter a few nominal vegetables around it…But a vegetarian meal is more commonly a table with a few dishes on it, all of them of equal importance…The grain is not less valuable than the cooked vegetable, the salad, or the bread: they’re all there to compliment one another. Pickles you made yourself, a nice piece of cheese, or a bowl of nuts–all are valid courses in the vegetarian meal.

Now, Bittman is certainly not a vegan (note the cheese reference), and neither am I. I choose to eat much less meat than the average American for environmental, humanitarian, and health reasons. I try to follow the dictates of Michael Pollan’s famous maxim: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. I try to eat food, by which he means whole ingredients, rather than food products or processed foods. And I try to eat more plant-based foods. But I still eat fish, eggs, and cheese, and the occasional ethically-raised meat when I can afford it.

Anyway, I figured that a weekly roundup of what we actually eat might help friends looking to transition to a less-meat diet get some ideas about what less-meat meals actually look like. These posts will be characterized by most-likely iPhone photography of our meals, which, I confess, more often than not are eaten on TV trays in our living room while we watch something from our DVR. I’ll share links to recipes when I can, or share which cookbooks the recipes came from. My two most frequently used cookbooks are both by Bittman– the aforementioned How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and The Food Matters Cookbook.

So, what did our meals this week look like?

This meal was definitely the most veggie-licious of our week. I tossed a bunch of sliced veggies (red bell pepper, zucchini, squash, onion, grape tomatoes) with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and some Herbes de Provence. I broiled them for about 15 minutes while I made some pearl couscous and cooked a couple of pieces of fish in a skillet. Such a tasty and colorful meal. The fish was really not even necessary. Might have poached an egg and served it on top or just tossed in some chickpeas for a fish-free version.

This is a common meal for us. Cuban-style black beans (I skip the radishes) over coconut rice (the idea for the rice came from this recipe). Almost always eaten with a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke with a lime).

Do those veggies look familiar? They’re leftover from meal #1. I cut them into bite sized pieces, sauteed them til warm, and then added some eggs and gruyere cheese to the mix, for a sort of veggie scramble. I do some variation of this a lot when I have leftover veggies that need to be used up.

Our other meals this week: cheese dip and margaritas and guacamole at a fave Mexican restaurant. Cheese dip and salsa another night too. Chicken and veggie pizza from another fave place. And Mexican night at our church. Might be avoiding anything with a Mexican flavor for this next week!

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7 thoughts on “the view from my table

  1. you know i always dig the foodie posts!

    we have bittman’s regular how to eat everything cookbook & the veg one has been on my to-buy list. i might have to finally breakdown & use my amazon giftcard from christmas on it. what’s the difference in that & the what to eat? are they both worth owning?

    meals look delicious. when i’m good on the veggies (sometimes better than others), we mostly eat them roasted most any veggie tastes even better with olive oil, garlic, lemon, & herbs + that delectable roastie carmelization.

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  2. whoops – i meant what’s the difference/similarities between the how to cook everything veg & the food matters one? i know that food matters i the most recent but beyond that haven’t even cracked it’s binding at the library to see if i’d want to purchase.

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    • Food Matters is more “less meat” than no meat. For example, his coq au vin recipe is mostly eggplant and mushrooms, with a few chicken thighs for the flavor. He’s all about using meat more as a flavor component than a meal centerpiece. It might make a better transition book than How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, as the latter is practically an encyclopedia and requires more thought to create meals out of various dishes/components. One of my most favoritest things about any Bittman book are the variations he offers after almost every recipe. He’s all about swapping things for what you have on hand, and he has really given me the courage to not stick too closely to recipes for fear of screwing up.

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  3. thanks for the tip. i agree on bittman’s angle. i’ve used lots of his recipes from his blog & several NYT articles & always found them good & offering variety.

    as for the books, we may be more advanced than the typical transition as we’ve been trying to phase to less meat in our diet anyhow for health, ecology, & cost reasons. & we like vegetarian dishes anyhow. i can’t imagine we’d ever go completely veg*n as we enjoy being flexitarians.

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