OPINION POLL–MEATLESS MONDAYS

First, let me admit my bias and prejudice.  I love meat.  I love steak.  I love chicken.  I love pork.  I love seafood and fish Lamb, duck, goose, turkey, alligator, and so much more.  If it walks or flies or swims, chances are good I’d like to taste it, or maybe smother it in chili, cheese, and onions.

Eat Mor Brokley
Eat Mor Brokley

Okay, glad I got that out of the way, because it matters in relations to what I’m thinking about today, which is meatless Mondays.  A local school district near where Mrs. Greenbean and I live recently announced it would be instituting a policy of not serving meat on Mondays in the school meal programClick here for a news story about it.  It didn’t take long for the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Todd Staples, to weigh in on the subject and accuse the school district of starving children to death and worshiping satan.  Okay, maybe he didn’t go that far, but I read his op/ed in the newspaper, and that was kinda the tone of the whole thing.  Staples really seems worried about the vegetarian/vegan agenda.  Here is a part of what he said:

“Restricting children’s meal choice to not include meat is irresponsible and has no place in our schools . . . This activist movement called ‘Meatless Monday’ is a carefully orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week—starting with Mondays.”

Now, here is where I stand.  As much as the Greenbeans love meat, it is not always the healthiest thing to eat.  It is also wise to cut back on the amount of meat you eat for health reasons.  Americans eat way too much meat, with many thinking it should be served at every meal, which is ridiculous.  For most of human history, meat has been a treat, something special, something to celebrate.  Periodically our household will intentionally cut back on our meat consumption, specifically during Lent or the summer months.

So, I’m not against meatless Mondays.  It might be a good thing.  But what I want to know is, how do you feel about it?  Please take a moment to vote in the opinion poll at the top, and please share on your social media so we can get as many votes as possible.  Thanks!

 

 

image from blogs.sxu.edu

 

 

GUACAMOLE RECIPE

There are few tastes in this world equal to or better than fresh guacamole.  That is just all there is to it.

I haven’t blogged about food in a while, which is odd because I’ve been cooking a great deal.  I just bought a new 20 lb roaster yesterday (it was on sale for $3.47) and I am anxious to use it.  I might buy a turkey this weekend just to roast something!

Back to guacamole.  If you buy that garbage they sell in the grocery store that is pre-made, you are making a terrible mistake.  Guacamole is so much yummier freshly made and it requires almost no skill to make.  There is no excuse for eating nasty guac.

Here is my simple recipe.

You Will Need:

  • 3 mid-sized to large ripe avocados (4 if they are small)
  • 1 red onion (which is actually purple)
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 large red tomato
  • white vinegar
  • lemon or lime juice
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder

What to Do

Start with washing the fresh veggies.  Dice the tomato and put it in a bowl.  Strip the cilantro leaves from the stems (this is important!) and then dice the cilantro as fine as humanly possible.  Put it in the bowl with the tomato.  Peel the red onion and use half of it.  Keep the other half for something else.  Dice the half onion, put it in the bowl with the tomato.  Chop the green onions, completely, but not as fine as you did the cilantro and put it in the bowl with the tomato.

Pour about 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar over this mixture then dash in about a teaspoon of chili powder and garlic.  If you do not want this spicy at all, you can cut back on the chili powder and garlic or go with a dash or two, taste it, and then add more if you desire.  It is completely based on your own likes.  Stir.

Peel your avocados and put them in a separate bowl.  A quick note on when an avocado is ripe.  It is ripe when, as you hold it in your hand, it dimples, or gives, to light pressure from your finger.  If you are working with hard avocados, that means they are not ripe.  You need to wait until they are ripe.  Peel avocados by cutting through it to the core, then sliding the knife around it so that it is bisected.  Then you pull it apart, pop out the seed and push the hard nasty rind off.  If you need to, use a spoon.

After you peel the avocados, splash in a half teaspoon of the lemon or lime juice and a little salt and pepper.   If you really like garlic, you can put a little more garlic powder into the avocados, but not too much.  Remember this golden rule of cooking–you can always add spices later, but you can’t take them out!  Use a hand blender (I use a Braun-multipractic hand blender which I received as a wedding present many many years ago) to break down the avocados.  If they are ripe enough, this can be done with a fork but I always use my hand blender because it is so much fun!

Fold the mix from the veggie bowl into the avocado bowl and mix well.  Do not blend again!  Guac should be chunky for crying out loud, not creamy.  Creamy guac is gross guac.

Taste it with a tortilla chip and decide what it needs more of (more garlic, more salt, more chili powder) or if you’d like to kick up the heat a bit with some Tabasco.  It’s totally up to you.

Put it in the fridge, but you need to eat this dish within 24 hours, because after that, it turns a nasty blackish gray.  The lemon juice helps with that a little, but that is just what avocados do when they are peeled.  So eat up, and never make too much in one batch.

LAZY ENCHILADAS

I know we’re all running up to Thanksgiving, so most of us are thinking about turkey, potatoes, and cranberries but last night we kicked off the week with the Greenbean’s favorite, taco night.  My oldest sprout was home from college and she is sick of bland cafeteria food so she wanted some tex-mex.

In addition to yummy guacamole and homemade tacos I made one of my favorite dishes.  I call it lazy enchiladas.  Other people might call it that too, but I don’t really know.  However it is not really an enchilada at all but it is the easiest and tastiest tex-mex that a person can make.  Active prep time is about 10 minutes and the total cook time is only 50 minutes.  Maybe tonight you’ll want to make it before you have to get all serious about Thanksgiving food.

Ingredients:  1 package of 8 frozen burritos (beef and bean is what I get, but the cheese ones are good too), 3 cans no beans Wolf Brand Chili (yes, it does matter), 1 can Rotel tomatoes, 1 large chopped onion, 2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

How Long Has It Been . . That's Too Long. pic from texmex.net
How Long Has It Been . . That’s Too Long.
pic from texmex.net

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a saucepan, combine the chili and Rotel and heat.  Place the frozen burritos in a baking dish (I use a stoneware dish).  Pour the chili mixture over the top of the burritos.  Layer the onions on top of the chili and put in the oven for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, remove and cover the top with the cheese and put back in the oven.  After five minutes, or until the cheese is melted, remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes.  Serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and hot tortillas.  It can be a side dish like it was for us last night or you can serve it stand alone with a tall glass of ice tea.

The Beaning of Life–Some people assume that beans have to be in chili.  Of course, these people are wrong, but if these misguided souls want beans then I suggest using 1 can of Ranch Style beans as a substitution for one of the cans of chili.  Never, ever buy chili with beans in it.  It’s just plain wrong.

Spice Me–If you like more spice, then put some chili powder, cayenne powder, cumin, and fresh ground pepper in the chili mixture when you heat it.  You could also chop up some fresh peppers and add to the mix or even put in some red hot sauce.  Be warned, though, this heat can sneak up on you and steamroll quickly.

 

THE BEST STEW I’VE EVER MADE

The title of this blog post says it all.  Last night I simply made the best stew I’ve ever concocted.  It was not only the best stew I’ve ever made, it was also in the top 10 things I’ve ever eaten.  That is how good it was.

It all started on Wednesday night as I was preparing food for one of my small groups.  Our theme was biblical food.  Not wanting to bring fig newtons or a bowl full of locust, I decided to pan cook some savory lamp chops.  Since lamb is so expensive, I cut it into little pieces, off the bone, and served them like appetizers with toothpicks.  They were yummy.  But, I had these lamb bones left over.  What to do?

What to do?  Stew!

Here is what I did.

1.  I heated my dutch oven with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, rosemary, sweet basil, garlic, cloves, allspice, and let that come to a nice sizzle.

2.  To the lamb bones I added more hunks of lamb chomp and a pound and a half of stew meat (beef) and put the same chorus of spices on it.

3.  I browned the meat–lamb bones, lamb, and stew meat in the dutch oven and then added four cups of beef broth and three bay leaves.  I just used canned broth but homemade would have been better.

4.  I brought that to a boil and then I covered it, reduced heat (to about 4 on my stove top knob) and let it simmer for three hours, stirring occasionally.

5.  At the end of three hours, I removed the bones and, after letting them cool, I picked the meat off those bones.  It was a considerable amount of meat, and it came off very easy.  I put the meat back into the dutch oven and fished the bay leaves out.

6.  I added 6 potatoes peeled and cut into bite size chunks along with 5 carrots (peeled and diced) and 4 stalks of celery (diced).

7.  After adding the veggies, I added enough water to cover them (about 2 cups maybe?) then covered with the lid and cooked for another hour.

8.  10 minutes before serving, I added one bag of frozen peas and carrots.  It just wouldn’t be stew without that, now would it?

I served the stew simply with crackers and a loaf of french bread from the Albertsons.  The flavor was spectacular.  I was a little worried about the mingling of the lamb and beef, but after the four hours in the dutch oven together, they sang with sweet harmony.