Food is one of the greatest choices we have as members of the 1st world. For the most part, we get to choose what we put in our bodies, and how much.
The path people take to the way they eat as adults is a direct result of the experiences they have as children. Although I am no longer a practicing vegetarian (as evidenced by the extensive number of bacon related posts on my blog) I did spend about 4 years in my early 20’s with a very meatless existence. That choice was a direct result of the farm style living of my youth.
Just before I started Junior High, my parents moved me from the Central Coast of California to a small farm in Eastern Washington state. It sounded like such a romantic and adventurous journey, my love of animals having the full indulgence it had always wanted.
I was a 4-H kid, and the idea of acres and acres of animals was like a dream and within hours of a pig pen fully inhabited by squealing little pink and brown creatures I was in love. I named my favorite guy Garfunkel, as an nod to my love of 70’s music. I spent the summer feeding, walking, and training my new pet. In my head was the knowledge of the inevitable fate of this little guy, but some how it didn’t reach my heart.
Then, towards the end of summer, came an old Chevy pickup truck. White and faded with wooden boards rising up above the sides of the truck bed. I watched from the window as the town butcher consulted with my step father, compared guns, pointed at the pigs, and unceremoniously shoots Garfunkel in the head.
He struggles to get up. Another shot. He moves again. Another shot.
Three days later, I stared at the pork chops on my dinner plate, unable to get the image of his last moments out of my head. Unnerved by the feeling of knowing the first name of my dinner.
Although this is a brutal reality for the meat eating world, and one that we should come to terms with if we choose to eat meat, I am not advocating for everyone to go vegan. I know that the pigs my family raised had great lives. They were loved, cared about, and fed well. If it wasn’t for the dinner they became, they wouldn’t have existed in the first place.
Choice. Choosing to spend more for free range. Choosing to support local growers. Seeking out raw milk and cheese from reliable farms.
Because if the story of Garfunkel is horrifying to you, it is Disneyland compared to way some commercial farms are like.
Just some food for though.
Let me know what you think. If you disagree, agree, or even if you don’t care.
In the interim, here is a meatless breakfast that will give you a break from meat, if that is what you are looking for.
Portobello Mushroom Benedict with Sriracha Hollandaise
4 Portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 large tomato, cut into slices
For the Hollandaise:
4 tbs melted butter
4 egg yolks
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs room temp water
1 tsp sriracha sauce
salt and pepper
In a pan over medium high heat, add the oil and allow it to get hot but not smoking. Place the mushrooms in the pan. If the pan is two small for all of the mushrooms to fit, cook in two batches. Turn the mushrooms once the bottom has turned dark and has softened, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cook on the other side until the entire mushroom is dark, soft and cook all the way through. Remove cooked mushrooms from pan and add the spinach, onions and garlic, cook until soft.
Poach the eggs in lightly salted simmering water. (Tutorial)
Melt the butter in the microwave. In a good quality sauce pan, add the yolks, lemon juice and water and whisk quickly and continually over low heat until it’s frothy and doubled in size (this is an arm work out, be prepared). You don’t want too much heat or you’ll have scrambled eggs. If you need to step away for even a second, or if it’s getting to hot, remove from the heat. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the butter in a steady stream. Continue to whisk until thickened, and almost doubled. If your sauce gets too dry and thick, you can add a few tbs of water. Add the sriracha, and salt and pepper to taste.
Place the mushroom on a plate, top with spinach, then tomato slice, then poached egg and drizzle with hollandaise.