I was a vegetarian until, as I like to joke, I got pregnant and discovered that there are not enough vegetables in the world to keep a pregnant woman fed. My poor long suffering husband would wait until I wasn’t home for dinner and then make himself steak. Personally, I haven’t had steak in 30 years or more, but have relented and will eat chicken, ground beef, and pork. I mostly gave up on fish, which I love, because the entire marine food chain is so contaminated. I seldom cook with meat more than twice a week, if that, although we’re small eaters so we usually have leftovers when we make a meat dish. I recently was able to work out my schedule so that I can go to the local butcher (who has very inconvenient hours), and this has vastly improved my opinion of meat. Most of my meat dishes are stews and casseroles— I used to feed a family of four on dishes made with under a pound of meat among us.
I’ve gone back and forth on dietary habits. When the kids were little, they’d pretty much eat whatever you put in front of them, a survival strategy when you have a Greek-Swedish-Chinese-Turkish-Hungarian family. The Chinese have fascinating vegetables, and I’ve learned from my Mo-in-law where and what to buy to make her traditional meals. So for a while we ate a lot of things with weird veggies and turkey legs. Then DD got fussy, and would only eat things with chopped beef in them, so we did that for a while, until she decided that the only thing she could digest was pasta. Back to vegetarian!
What I find from having my own growing source is not so much that I eat more vegetables, as that I eat more interesting vegetables and more varied ones. If I’m growing it, I’ll eat it. Plus, they aren’t at risk of going bad—if I’m not going to cook it right away, it just doesn’t get picked. I really want to get to the point where I have a winter larder full of preserved eggplant, squash, homemade tomato paste and root vegetables, because I do tend to get away from vegetable-based meals in the winter.
Late summer vegetables yielded this delicious rice dish.
Curried Pumpkin vegetarian biryani
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, cooked in carrot broth (made by boiling the greens)
1 small Sugar Pumpkin, cubed
3 small turnips, cubed
1 cup pine nuts
sliced carrots (I used what I had ready to harvest, just 4 small carrots)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup green beans, French cut
handful of broccoli shoots, and swiss chard
1 cup raisins
Spices: curry powder, cardamom, coriander, turmeric (for color)
Prepare the rice according to package instructions. Five minutes before it’s done, add the raisins (just put them on top and re-cover the pot, no need to mix them in.)
Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan, add curry and cardamom to the oil and heat until it just starts to steam; add the pumpkin, carrots, and turnips and sauté for a couple of minutes, add the onions and sauté until they’ve released and then steamed off their moisture. Add the pine nuts; sauté for a minute or two. Add the greens and sauté until they are bright green. If the rice is not done, turn the heat under the veggies down (or off if it's going to be more than about 5 minutes).
Add the rice and raisins, mix together, add the turmeric for a nice golden color (just a little will do the trick). Salt and pepper to taste.
For meat lovers, sauté some lamb or tender beef in the curried oil and set aside until serving.
This recipe yielded 4-5 servings for moderate eaters.