Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Elizabeth's conversion, apostacy, and attempts to come back to the fold

Okay, enough with the religious metaphors.

I grew up in Texas and New Mexico--meat country! We were meat eaters--at least the rest of my family liked meaty things--ham, bacon, sausage, hamburgers, and such. My parents were/are both educators so we didn't have lots of money growing up, and my mom didn't buy lots of fancy stuff. We ate, in my memory at least, the same 5 or 6 meals for dinner.

I never liked anything porcine, and abhorred steak. I didn't do much cooking as a teenager. I don't recollect ever really touching meat. When I went to BYU, I don't know what I ate the first few months. I know I had never heard of scrod before the Y--and never since, come to think of it. I had a lot of intestinal distress that first semester. Looking back on it now, it was probably more nerves than anything. Sometime during that first semester I met a girl who was from the Bay area and she was a vegetarian, and had been for several years.

I don't think it had ever occurred to me to not eat meat, but when the concept was presented, it just made good sense religiously, economically, environmentally, and physically; and from that time, until I was 31, I was a vegetarian (ovo-lacto--I tried vegan for about a year, but it was too hard). I had a boyfriend who was Indian, and a devout/orthodox vegetarian, so that worked out well. We were together for about 4 years so I learned to cook a lot of vegetarian food. I was completely happy in my vegetarian life. There used to be a place in Provo called Govinda's and I ate there weekly. And Bombay House, too. I miss those days. :)

Every now and then, very, very rarely, I'd get a craving for meat, and I'd skulk myself to a good burger joint and get something to go, and eat flesh on some back road where I hopefully wouldn't be 'caught'. I met my husband as a veg and he married me as a veg. He'd dated other social work hippie types so he was used to vegetarians, and Portland is chock full of them.

When I was 31 we got pregnant. It hadn't occurred to me to not continue vegetarianism. But then I started reading all those What to Expect/What to Eat books and I got nervous. I worried I would be hurting our baby by not getting enough protein.

So, I bought some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I honestly had never bought raw flesh before this. I read in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook what to do. But I was so worried that I would under-cook them and get some dread disease, that basically I made chicken jerky. It was soo dry. I laugh thinking about it because I'm still pretty neurotic. Whenever I eat really juicy chicken and think it is so much better than my typical's sad, really--I get scared I'm going to be salmonella-ized. I've never cooked a roast. I have bought one whole chicken in my life--it's probably cheaper to go that route than buying boneless/skinless.

Ever since, we eat meat a few times a week. A 2.5-3 lb bag of frozen chicken breasts lasts easily a week. Tonight I made spaghetti sauce with turkey sausage. My husband is just happy I feed him so he doesn't fuss about meat or no meat. But he prefers to have meat than go back to vegetarian all the time. My older daughter acts like I'm depriving her if there isn't meat in dinner, but my 5 year old prefers the vegetarian stuff. I don't ever buy anything made from pigs. If I had money I'd go back to organic dairy/eggs/flesh.

I'd like my goal to be making my meat go even further. I think that would be more harmony-inducing than going 100% meat-free. I could just go back to not eating meat myself, but that is a pain. But, as I'm thinking aloud (so to speak), I could just not eat the meat in the dish, giving it to the carnivores... which could make the meat go a little further?? Hmmm.....

Right now, my goal is also to try to lower my grocery bill by about $10 a week.

So, that's me, and how I'm connected to the blog.


Lisa said...

I see some common ground in this post and my life. 5-7 of the same meals growing up-all with meat. I've never purchased a whole raw chicken-ever. Although one of my friends bought 30 pounds of chicken recently because it was on sale and then did whatever you to do to it to bottle it. Mmm, doesn't THAT sound scrumptious?!

Lisa said...

No offense if you are a chicken bottler. It just doesn't sound appetizing to me! I'm sure it's awesome!

Johnna said...

It's funny how well religious metaphors work to describe vegetarianism.

I'm nervous when cooking meat too, having spent most my 20s as a vegetarian.

My secret is the instant-read meat thermometer, about $8 at Target. Chicken breasts are done at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Millie said...

Wow. I've never thought about meat being scary to cook. I've just been glad to have it turn out correctly - roasts not too tough, chicken done and not dry, etc.

My great grandmother and grandmother used to bottle chicken and salmon, but they caught or raised the meat themselves. It was just what you did. It sounds weird to me, too. :)

My newfound veggie life stems mainly from my laziness - and we've never been big meat-eaters anyway. My husband used to hide meat in his cheeks and then get rid of it later, when made to eat his dinner as a child. He never liked it much. I just don't care about eating it and I LOVE not having to cook it every night or even every week.

Thanks, Elizabeth. :)

Scarehaircare said...

Is it my foodie-ness or my whole foods upbringing? I have roasts and chicken in my freezer and I know how to use them. However, more and more I find less meat on my plate.

15 years ago when my sis-in-love started to foray in vegetarianism we thought she was nuts (veggie-thinking eing such a strange notion in our family back then). She's no longer a vegetarian but now likes the idea of flexitarianism and joins me in meatless a few times a week.

My goal is trying to get my family of 3 boys (15,11,8), 1 girl (6) and Mr. Wonderful to see that less meat is do-able. The question I love to ask them: Do you feel better after eating a huge steak meal or after eating a balanced mostly-veggie meal (which I then follow with my favorite verse of "In Our Lovely Deseret" (sing it with me, you know you want to).

Elizabeth-W said...

Bottled chicken to me will ever be associated with cooking meals for seriously mentally ill individuals. It's a long work-related story, so I'll spare the details.
Johnna, you don't understand. I'm truly neurotic--what if the gauge runs low???? ;P
Millie, I did the same thing as a kid with stuff like pork chops.
Scare, yes! I can sing along...the second verse is the one that matters here---'drink no liquor and they eat but a very little meat; they are seeking to be great and good and wise"