meatless monday: save the baby seals…

Oh the mind is a mysterious creature. My poultry pursuit has created a monster, in my subconscious that is. The guilt that I have about eating meat has surfaced quite literally in my dreams. Let me set the scene for you: I am attending a party in an unfamiliar house. I have brought a dish to share. As I uncover it, I realize that it is a baby seal.

I start to taste a small piece of the meat to make sure it is edible. Somewhere in my head, I’m justifying that the seal is technically seafood, which I eat. It lives in the water, right? I proceed to carve a chunk of meat off of the seal. It squirms a little on the table and I realize that it is still alive. It turns to look at me as I take a bite of its flesh. A large filet has been removed from its side but it doesn’t seem to mind too much. It slowly starts to regenerate, leaving a scar and indent in the space I have just carved from. I feel terrible and decide to not inflict any more pain on this poor creature.

I’m trying to let it loose when everyone joins me at the table. They are all hungry and want to sample my delicious seal dish. I’m holding it, trying to break away from the group and set the poor animal free outside. I know that it can’t regenerate itself if everyone takes a bite. I start to cry and feel sick to my stomach. How did this happen? What should I do? What if it dies because of me? End scene. I wake up, deeply disturbed.

I mean really, can I be any more dramatic about this? Do I have to be so emotionally traumatized by food? Why is my sense of right and wrong so deeply engrained into my dietary beliefs? Other people eat meat. I even eat raw fish. Why am I torturing myself over my decision to occasionally eat free range, farm raised chicken that I prepare myself? The guilt is killing me, or at least wrecking a good night’s sleep. I guess this is the part of the process where I need to distinguish in my own mind why I believe eating certain things are good or bad. Rationalization. Reconciliation. Justification.

On that note, let’s celebrate Meatless Monday! Its cooling off here in Chicago and the Farmer’s Markets are full of squash and pumpkins. An autumn soup served with Quiche is on the menu today. The soup is great with just a hunk of crusty bread but for a more complete meal, the Quiche provides protein from the eggs and cheese (and not baby seal). Here’s to a guilt free meal and pleasant dreams!

Recipe: Curried Pumpkin Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (can substitute fresh diced pumpkin or butternut squash)
Juice of 1 orange
3 cups milk or almond milk
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8 small pieces of toast, or crackers (optional)

In a large skillet over medium-high, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half of the onions. Saute until onions are very soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup and half the ginger, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring often, until the onions are thick and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven over medium-high, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining onion, the curry powder, red pepper flakes, remaining ginger, and the apples. Saute until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. (If you are using fresh pumpkin or squash, saute it with the apples and onion until soft). Mix in the pumpkin puree and orange juice, then transfer everything in the Dutch oven to a blender or food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot and return to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, then top each serving with 2 crackers or pieces of toast. Arrange some of the caramelized onions over the crackers or toast. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe: Basic Classic Quiche

9″ unbaked pie crust
1 cup shredded cheese, your choice (cheddar, swiss, parmesan, goat, feta, etc)
1-1 1/2 cups of whatever you can dream up (spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions, broccoli, leeks, thinly sliced potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, basil, etc)
5 eggs
2 cups heavy cream or half & half (can substitute milk or soy milk)
3/4 tsp salt, pepper to taste
1/3 tsp nutmeg, ground
Sprinkle cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Place veggies and herbs on top of the cheese.
Whisk together eggs, cream, salt and nutmeg in a medium size mixing bowl on medium speed. Carefully pour cream on top of veggies, etc.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.
(photos to be added after I make dinner tonight!)


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