Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adventures With Food

It's a new record: for just over ten months I've been on a pescetarian diet, and with a few exceptions I've stuck to it. In fact, there have been four times in the past ten months that I've eaten land-based meat: the accidental meatball (mentioned in the comments here, my Olive Garden memory lapse*, the surprise potatoes**, and last Thanksgiving (which was the only one of these that was premeditated). I've never been able to do this for more than a couple days before, and I think that my success this time is due to taking it in small steps. Allowing myself fish and seafood has made the transition easier.

Another thing that's made this easier is Asian food. We've improvised a lot of our meals, altered them from the way we've eaten our whole lives: spaghetti with no meat, chili with a lot of beans, grilled veggie sandwiches. More helpful, though, has been our increasing reliance on East Asian and South Asian food, especially Indian.

Some time ago Anskov suggested a cookbook written by his friend Suvir Saran. I used some of my birthday money to pick up a copy last week, because when we looked through it in the store we liked the recipes and it seemed like something even I could use (read: simple).
Last night I made the Simple Lentil Dal with Cumin and Dried Red Chiles*** on page 27. It turned out pretty well, even though I'm a three-assed monkey in the kitchen, and even though I did some things that endangered the project's success.

First of all, I didn't include the chilies because a) Michele can't eat really spicy stuff and I wanted to start safe, and b) we didn't see any dried red chilies in any of the stores we were in yesterday. Also, I used ancho pepper instead of cayenne due to a miscommunication Michele and I had a few weeks ago. As a result, the dish was much blander than Mr. Saran must have intended. It was still good, though, and as soon as I stop sabotoging the recipe I'm sure it will turn out better.

The second problem I had derives from my multi-ass monkitude. I burned the tarka before mixing it in, so I'm sure that threw the flavor off. Char instead of spice, and all that. In my defense, there's very little time to think when the tarka is cooking, so it's easy for a three-assed monkey to mess it up.

It's good that I'm figuring this out now, because in two months it will have been a year since I gave up land meat. On that anniversary I plan to go full vegetarian. If my actions can match my convictions as well this time around, that is.

* I ordered the potato soup with my meal, forgetting it has sausage in it. I ate it anyway, because I didn't want it to go to waste, and I didn't want to hassle the waitress for my screw-up.

** For Michele's birthday we went to a German restaurant that had almost no veggie options. I got mushroom soup and an order of home fries. The soup was great and the potatoes were phenomenal--and included bacon crumbles. I didn't realize until three bites in, and again didn't want to waste it.

*** I know that's spelled wrong, but that's the way it is in the book. I know he doesn't want me to mix in South American countries.


Anskov said...

Glad you got the book! Let us know how your other ventures in the kitchen go. I just made a few things from the cookbook a couple weeks ago. If you want a good dal, try the Gujarati recipe - it's great. If you have any asian markets near you, you might be able to find curry leaf (which is amazing to cook with)

dchmielewski said...

I give you all the credit in the world, Jason. I have thought many times about going meat-free due to moral issues, but between it being a pain in the butt my weakness regarding tasty animals.

Very good for you. I will do my best not to take up the slack and consume extra animals ;-)

Jason said...

The strange thing is that there are a ton of Indian restaurants and stores here. I think I'll stick with recipe number one for a while, though. I need practice.

Thanks. Your concerns were mine, too. Not to say your situation is mine. I don't know if I'd want to raise a child vegetarian while his body is developing. I can easily make the choice for myself, but not necessarily for another.

Both of you go ahead and consume my unconsumed animals. That way you're eating the leftovers rather than increasing demand.