Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One day my kids will thank me (Right? Right?!!!)

Last night I made a lovely Tunisian Vegetable Stew (from Moosewood's fast and easy recipes book). I love that stuff. I top it with goat cheese and pistachios rather than almonds and feta.

Trying to please all the people all the time is just impossible. I was looking through my recipe books and found notes about certain dishes I'd written to myself:

"Omit figs next time"
"Girls and I loved; DH gagged"
"Girl 1 and I liked; DH said pretty good; Girl 2 cried"

I don't have the mental capacity to cook one meatless meal, and one not. The whole point is to cook less meat throughout the week (we average about 3-4 nights meatless--the others are never red meat-usually chicken and turkey and I'm trying to get my kids to like fish).

I am always and forever trying new things. But I think I should just give up, and turn into my mother--cook the same 5-7 things that everyone likes, for the next 20 years.
On some nights that sounds like absolute heaven--the nights in which someone is crying because they can't stand Chakchouka. On other days, it sounds like my personal version of hell.
I'm not a mean mom. I do try to cook a few things every week that everyone likes. But, on the nights it's something new, or particularly funky, why am I surprised when my six year old has tears running down her face? Am I asking too much of small children?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

They've been vegetarian longer than me

A few months ago I discovered an email list of Vegetarian Mormons.  It's not high traffic, but friendly with lots of ideas.  For example, right now there's some emails being exchanged on vegan food storage.  I wasn't on the list a week when I learned that Protein Combining (eating a vegetable with a whole grain, frex, at each meal to get a "complete protein") is unnecessary.  Which everyone else figured out in 1988.
MormonVeg is a discussion forum for Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) who wish to understand the reasons to reduce the consumption of meat and other animal products or get help in doing so. Participants do NOT have to be vegetarian, vegan, or even LDS to subscribe or participate actively. A genuine interest is all that's necessary.  (emphasis mine)
I won't be reposting any of their emails here or elsewhere, of course.  That would not be cool.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A week of everyday dinners

(This is what I actually prepared and we ate. As opposed to, y'know, those grand plans which I make, but then redistribute the ingredients into simpler, easier foods)
You can browse more weekly menus here.

Monday, split meal
Burrito Bar
--Vegetarian refried beans (from a can) with taco sauce
--Leftover Roasted Butternut Squash
--Warmed tortillas
--seasoned hamburger for the meat-eaters
side: sliced apples
I don't think the tomatoes are worth eating this time of year. But roasted butternut squash is quite nice in a burrito.
dessert: blackberry cobbler

Tomato Curry with Pulao Rice
Green Salad
Velvet Cake for dessert

Mushroom Ravioli
Marinara Sauce
Caesar salad

Thursday, split meal
Homemade cream-of-broccoli soup
3 cups cooked broccoli, 3/4 cup vegetarian broth.  Warm and puree.  Add 1 cup of milk.  Garnish with parmesan.  
yam fries
(chicken for the meat-eaters)
whatever is leftover. There's leftover ravioli (most unusual) due to eating our Wednesday afternoon purchases at the kids' school bake sale for Haiti, proceeds went thru UNICEF.

Pizza, always pizza. I think this week I need dinner AND the movie to get away from the kids' pizza.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Umami Mommy

We're a part vegetarian family, but I will admit to looking for ways to sell the meat-eaters on more vegetarian dishes. It's not that I really care who's eating what, having no strong philosophical underpinning to my personal vegetarianism. It's just that I find it tedious making double dinners many meals a week.

So, here's what helps sell a vegetarian dish to a meat-eating family. Umami. (oo-ma-me). Many of us have heard of bitter, sour, sweet, and salty as tastes our tongues can detect, but a fifth taste vector has been proposed, coyly named umami. I've heard the umami flavor described as a meaty or savory flavor. It's an aspect of the taste of meat, but it's also an aspect of the taste of mushrooms, soy sauce, miso soup, parmesan cheese, and nori. Even in (ugh) MSG. I've read that it's in the taste of tomato too, and even in potatoes, carrots, and asparagus. Ketchup, vegemite, and worcestershire sauce are said to have that umami kick.

I'm convinced that umami is the reason I can serve mushroom ravioli and everyone in the family will be pleased.

Do your family's favorite vegetarian dishes coincidentally feature that umami taste?

more on umami: SF Gate article on Umami from year 2000; umami skepticism on page 2 of 4.