What is it about a gentleman’s palate that leads his brain to reach the unfortunate conclusion that where there is no meat, there is no meal?
For the better part of two decades I have lovingly prepared meals for a man who qualifies food as a complete meal only if, at some point in time, one or more of its ingredients walked or squawked.
Anything else is simply dismissed as an appetizer and serves the sole purpose of killing time and warding off hunger, until the real meal hits the table.
Admittedly, I am an omnivore, but I appreciate a well-prepared meatless meal as much, if not more, than its carnivore-pleasing counterpart.
There are times, especially when the weather begs for al fresco dining, that I crave nothing more than a medley of grilled vegetables with a crisp side salad. However, my husband would interpret this blatant defamation of Weber workmanship, as an inexcusable
waste of propane gas.
I recall a not-so-long-ago experiment during my short-lived obsession with a new kitchen gadget--a food dehydrator
(which sent me the clear message that our situation was hopeless). My inexpensive, yet impulsive purchase was fueled by my rebellion against overpriced dried fruit--a necessary addition to my favorite granola recipe.
On a not-so-busy Saturday before Father's Day, I decided to make the perfect man gift--beef jerky. I found an enticing recipe for a savory teriyaki version and purchased the necessary ingredients, which included two expensive pounds of custom-cut flank steak. After fourteen hours of beef preparation and monitoring, I presented my husband with what seemed to be a weightless bag of this delightfully tasty snack. Just a few baseball innings later, I realized that a once-hefty slab of flank steak was reduced to my husband's version of a quick, TV-room tidbit. He rationalized consumption by eating it with dried snap peas, claiming it was a healthy choice snack. I managed to confiscate the remaining jerky and spent the following week hiding it and rationing portions, all the while hoping to ward off a sodium-induced heart attack.
I have failed in my countless attempts to balance my husband’s consumption of meat with healthier protein alternatives. When I have least expected it, meat has invaded my bean soup (sausage), my scrambled eggs (steak), my macaroni and cheese (hot dogs), and even my salads have found themselves occasionally seduced by chunked pepperoni.
There are times when I feel so brainwashed by all-that-is-butchered, that I can hear my ojas crying out for a three-bean detox.
On those occasions when I am driven by hunger and the inability to prepare a meal that will satisfy both of us, I call upon my old friends—the take-out menus.
This lifts the burden of protein-preparation from my shoulders, while offering meals that satisfy our opposing palates.
While this may seem like a simple solution, it is not without complication. The fact is, I married a man who is an intimate companion to indecision. His inability to choose a restaurant is as hopeless as the dilemma which soon follows—choosing an entrée.
I have often thought of designing and printing my own menu to ease his burden of choice by limiting his options and translating them into his own carnivorous language; thus allowing me to choose from a myriad of multicultural eateries without the guilt of his displeasure.
The menu might appear something like this:
Our entrées from around the globe will please even the most discerning man-palates.
Receive a free side with the purchase of two entrées.
Italian Entrée: Meat in a Ball
Chinese Entrée: Meat on a Stick
German Entrée: Meat in a Tube
Mexican Entrée: Meat in a Crispy Shell
Greek Entrée: Meat in a Pocket
Thai Entrée: Spicy Meat in Clay Pot
American Entrée: Meat Pancake on a Bun
(*Denotes healthy option—It’s salad)
And until the day comes when he can enjoy my roasted vegetable frittata without reaching for the nearest salami, I will call upon reliable resources to support my efforts when my culinary creativity is lacking.
While I don’t believe I would make for a very good vegetarian, I envy the few with whom I am acquainted. I suspect it is their unwavering determination that allows them to endure the foraging so often necessary in our carnivorous culture, to find healthful, delicious, meatless meals.
Perhaps they sleep a bit more soundly than we omnivores, for the two simple facts that they will never contract Mad Cow Disease,
and my husband is off the market.
And speaking of Mad Cow, I am inclined to believe that one
Clara Peller, of 1980’s Wendy’s fame, was indeed affected as she skidded recklessly through town, demanding an answer to
“Where’s the Beef?”
I don’t doubt that her cantankerous husband guilted her into
big-beef acquisition, while he stayed home, cracked open a cold beer and reluctantly, grilled her vegetables.
Until Next Time,
Make Life Delicious
Share Your Food
I am happy to share with you two of my favorite meatless recipes.
One is for a bean salad whose ingredients change as often as I make it.
When fresh string beans are not available, I turn first to high-quality frozen cut beans, and lastly to canned string beans.
For the smaller canned beans, I use whatever I have on hand (Cannellini, Kidney, Black Beans or Pintos) and I adjust the dressing to my taste for the day. Depending on my entree, some days I prefer a sweeter salad so I will add a bit of sugar to the dressing.
The other is for a quick version of falafel. When I am pressed for time, I simply dress the falafel with a dollop of sour cream and a must-have addition—thinly sliced onions (red being my onion of choice).
Three Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
From Everyday Food—Martha Stewart Living Publication
8 oz. Green Beans, stem ends removed and cut in half diagonally
4 oz. Yellow Wax Beans, stem ends removed and cut in half diagonally
2 TBS Dijon Mustard
2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
2 TBS Olive Oil
1 Can (15 oz.) Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
** I usually add a tablespoon of sugar to my dressing because I am a fan of the traditional jarred-picnic variety of bean salad.
Fill a large bowl with ice water, set aside. Steam green beans in steamer basket (or alternatively, you may use microwave steamer to cook beans until crisp tender). Repeat steaming with wax beans. On stove top beans take about 6 to 8 minutes to cook until crisp tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer beans to ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry. In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, and oil (and sugar if using). Season with salt and pepper. Add green beans and wax beans to mixture. Add cannellini beans. Toss well to coat. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate up to one day. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
From All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
1/4 Cup Dry Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro or Parsley
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Red pepper
2 Garlic Cloves Crushed
1 Large Egg
1 15 oz. Can Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans) rinsed and drained
1 TBS. Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Plain Low Fat Yogurt (Greek Yogurt works well here)
2 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice
2 TBS Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste available in market near Peanut Butter)
1 Garlic Clove minced
4 (6 inch) Whole Wheat Pitas , cut in half and warmed
8 Curly Lettuce Leaves
Thickly Sliced Tomato
To Prepare falafel, place first 8 ingredients in a food processor, process mixture until smooth. Divide mixture into 16 equal portions, and shape each portion into a 1/4 inch thick patty. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add patties and cook 5 minutes on each side until patties are browned.
To prepare sauce: combine yogurt, lemon juice, tahini, and garlic, stirring mixture with a whisk. Spread about 1 1/2 TBS sauce into each warmed pita half. Fill each pita half with 1 lettuce leaf, sliced tomato and 2 falafel patties.
Yields 4 servings.