Intro to Meatless March

When I was very small, my favorite meal was steak and mushrooms. I eschewed all vegetables other than corn until I was well into adulthood. I was a committed carnivore.

I still love meat. But in light of climate change evidence and predictions, I started to see my carnivorous lifestyle as grossly irresponsible. Our food supply chain currently causes 26 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, but if people switch to plant-based diets, we can reduce the food supply chain's emissions by up to 70 percent (see
I was never going to quit meat "cold turkey" - after all, turkey is scrumptious. 

But I have been decreasing the amount of meat I consume, by finding vegetarian alternatives that my family members agree are delicious. Going a whole month without meat will no longer be the big deal it once would have been.
These are the reasons I am observing M…

Grain Salad with Ginger Sesame Dressing

Yesterday Emma lost her first tooth. Today was her last day of first grade.

They grow up so fast, don't they?

HA HA HA JUST KIDDING! I feel like I have been a parent for thousands of years. I can't really believe she's not old enough to drive herself around yet, and to make ME dinner. So, for now, I continue to cook, mostly vegetarian!

This recipe for "Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad With Ginger Sesame Dressing" (NYT Cooking; subscription required) is a great one for spring/summer, when you can take advantage of fresh cucumbers, peppers, and whatever the heck else you are moved to throw in. Don't be constrained by the recipe's (rather intimidating) list of 18 ingredients!

I didn't have edamame, but I did throw in a defrosted packet of kelp, and it was a perfect addition (have I become that person who puts seaweed in everything?). And I used a wild/regular rice blend because that was what was in my cupboard.

My sole complaint about this recipe is that it e…

Farro Pilaf with Balsamic Cherries

Today started and ended with me doing my darnedest to support the planet. First thing in the morning, I co-hosted an assembly for kindergartners and first-graders at my daughter's school, representing the parent/teacher Green Team. We reviewed the topics from a journal the kids have been working on since January, which the Green Team designed. Each month, they did a simple activity to get them thinking about a new topic: plastic waste; compost, storm drains, etc.

It was good fun! Hopefully we're inspiring environmental consciousness at a young age.

And then for dinner I made a surprisingly good vegetarian dish. I am not sure why I was surprised; I did put this recipe on my list because it looked good. I guess I just get tired of cooking so I tell myself that what I make isn't going to be very good anyway, so why bother?

I gritted my teeth and cooked it regardless, and it WAS good. Be warned that you're going to need time to pre-soak your farro if you want to make &quo…

Mac & Cheese & Peas & Beans & Radishes

I am so happy that our local farmers markets are back in business for the season. Among the things I picked up this week was a bunch of radishes, with an eye to making sandwiches using the recipe for "Roasted Radishes with Honey, Lemon, and Thyme," from the Delicious Living blog.

Things did not go as planned. You're shocked, right? SHOCKED.

I had bought a woefully inadequate quantity of radishes, as it turned out, but I recovered. I made the sauce per the recipe and threw in some green beans, and roasted the two veggies together. (I should have started with the radishes and added the beans later, because they didn't take as long to cook, but whatever.)

Pat made us some very beautiful cocktails.

And then I had my backup dancer shell some farmer's market peas, and we threw those into some Kraft Mac & Cheese, and dinner was served. All's well that ends well.

Today I was a volunteer at the Maplewood South Orange Book Festival, for the third year running. I l…

Coconut Noodles

It has been a kind of tough week. I got this sinus affliction, and then my computer spontaneously tried to upload a new operating system, and failed miserably. The whole thing had to get wiped. I have been good about backing things up since the Unfortunate Water Glass Mishap of late 2017, but still, I had to make 2 trips to the Apple store, I was frozen out of my work email for a bit, and getting Microsoft Office back turned out to be a chore.

Nonetheless, I have religiously maintained my commitment to meatlessness.

Naw, that's a lie, I'm afraid. I grilled beef burgers on Friday and they were SOOOOOO GOOOOOOD, and Saturday we hosted friends for brunch and I ate approximately my weight in bacon.

Well, it's a marathon, folks, not a sprint, and today I turned a chicken recipe into a tofu recipe ("Coconut Noodles" from NYT Cooking; subscription required). I wish I could report that this was an act that represented a comeback, a triumphant return to my former glory, …

The Beyond Burger

You already know I'm a fan of the Impossible Burger, so I had to try the Beyond Burger, which can be purchased uncooked at Whole Foods.

It was Mother's Day, and my extended family got the option of trying them, too! Bless them for their open minds.

Alas, I wasn't wild about them. To be fair, I had stuffed myself all afternoon with cheese and crackers, so I wasn't especially hungry. But they seemed a little dry, and simply lacking in the juiciness that a person craves in a burger.

However, I still had two more patties in the fridge tonight, so I tried them again - this time on the stovetop (a non-stick pan is key) rather than the sandwich press as previously. They were better this time, and I think maybe they were overcooked the first time. I am still a little lukewarm, but hey, gotta save the planet, right?

Tonight I served them on regular bread, cut to be round, because I couldn't be bothered buying burger buns. Amazing alliteration, amiright?

Further Environmentally Friendly Seafood Choices

As noted in my most recent post, even if you're not going the whole hog (ha) on vegetarianism, there are choices you can make that are better for the earth than others. Seafood rather than red meat, for example, and if you're doing seafood, anchovies rather than shrimp or lobsters.

With that in mind, I made "Lemony Pasta With Kelp, Chile and Anchovies" today (NYT Cooking, subscription required) for lunch.

I ordered my kelp from Atlantic Sea Farms. I fear that their pride in using environmentally friendly packing materials may be misplaced, given that they recommend you choose overnight shipping, because otherwise your frozen kelp won't stay frozen, because....of their environmentally friendly packing materials. But anyway, now I have plenty of kelp to last for a while.

It was delicious and I would make it again, but I wasn't blown away. I think the kelp smoothie packets could have used a further puree; the kelp was a little hard to manage because still strin…

Environmentally Friendly Seafood Choices

Since Meatless March, I have been eating a lot less meat than I did prior to Meatless March. But I'm still dabbling in meat, and I don't imagine I'll ever go entirely vegetarian.

When I eat meat, my choices aren't solely guided by environmental impact (cough cough bacon), but it's a consideration. And so when I have a hankering for seafood, I find this sort of information helpful:
"A number of popular wild fish — anchovies, sardines, herring, tuna, pollock, cod, haddock — have, on average, a lower carbon footprint than chicken or pork. Mollusks like clams, oysters and scallops are also great low-carbon choices." - from the NYT Q&A on food and climate that I keep going on and on about
Tonight, then, I sautéed scallops, and added them to Trader Joe's Linguine with Clam Sauce, which comes frozen in a bag. I cut the kernels from an ear of corn and threw those in too. The result was pretty good, and oh so fast! Large scallops only need a couple of minu…

Asparagus Empanadas

March is perhaps not the ideal month to be meatless in the northern hemisphere, because you're stuck with winter produce - greenhouse-grown or well-traveled or cold-friendly. But here we are in May! Which means things like asparagus and fava beans!

That was what inspired me to make "Asparagus empanadas with fava beans, peas and goat cheese," from the Laylita's Recipes website.

Well, never again, Laylita, never again. Why not? Because it takes an eternity to peel fava beans. Why? Because you have to peel them TWICE. Yeah that's right! Twice! And even when you start out with an entire pound of these crazy bean pods, you only get about 3/4 of a cup of beans! It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

However, you can fill empanadas with anything. I have made them a few times before, and I use a pastry recipe from NYT Cooking (subscription required). It is easy, but you will want to cook them at a higher temperature than recommended in the recipe if you want them t…

Mushroom Soup

It rained allllll day today, meaning it was a perfect day for comfort food: mushroom soup served with fresh bread. I used this recipe:

Naturally, I screwed something up: in Step 3, when instructed to add the FRESH mushrooms to the pan, I added the reconstituted dried ones instead, and didn't realize my mistake till I'd also added the stock. So I chucked the fresh ones in belatedly and hoped for the best. And as usual, it tasted good. Cooking is not always as exacting as one might think, which is lucky for me, since I mess up daily - and after so many years of practice!

I served the soup with French bread I'd made from Mark Bittman's recipe in "How To Cook Everything," still slightly warm from the oven. My backup dancers described this bread as "chewy," which doesn't sound overwhelmingly positive, but they claimed to like it.

I didn't take a photo of the plated meal because it wasn't much to look at: brown soup (described by Emma as mudd…

Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Casserole

Screwing things up is perhaps the essence of my brand as a chef. When Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman makes this recipe for "Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Casserole," it has this gorgeous cheesy topping, a little bit browned in spots. When I made it, I somehow overlooked the "1/3 of" when the recipe stated "stir in 1/3 of grated cheese." Instead I put all of it into the sauce rather than 2/3 of it on top, and thus it had no gorgeous broiled topping.

Cheese on top, cheese in the sauce....there is a difference, of course, but the key word is "cheese." You can't really go wrong where cheese is involved. It still tasted good.

The only wild rice blend at Stop-and-Shop had very little wild rice in it, so that was a little disappointing to me as a Minnesotan. And while we're acknowledging my Minnesota roots, I should say that if you make this dish in my home state, you would call it hotdish. Odds are good that you would serve it at a pot…

NYT's amazing FAQ on Food and Climate Change

Doubtless you recall my March 20 blog post that mentioned my correspondence with NYT food editor Sam Sifton. I have been eagerly awaiting the outputs of his team's collaboration with the Times' climate team, and they issued it today.

It is FANTASTIC. Seriously! The overview FAQ about various connections between food and climate is so artfully done: concise; well-researched; interesting; and not preachy, just informative.

As I think about it, that one webpage is everything my own blog aspires to be, including the recipes! Of course, you can't learn pointless tidbits about my own life if you only read the Times' FAQ, so don't stop coming here, but please check out and share what NYT has done. It includes not just the FAQ but also some articles on specific topics.

Back to those pointless tidbits about myself: I have suddenly rediscovered pop music, and decided I like it. I believe I am responsible for about 5 million of the 117,336,219 views that Taylor Swift's n…

Cauliflower Gratin

Last November, we were part of a wacky and wonderful endeavor by two of my college friends and their three kids. They made our house a stop on their school-year-long journey around the country, visiting friends and family. We hosted them for a little over 2 weeks. For the most part, Mandy and I teamed up each night to cook for our two families. It was good fun to have someone to chat with while we worked (I sometimes feel lonely in the kitchen, ever since then!), and it was sort of exhilarating to pull off cooking full meals for 8 people night after night.

A few weeks ago Mandy followed up to ask for one of the recipes we cooked, "Roasted Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese," from NYT Cooking (subscription required). I could barely remember making it, but she reminded me that it was good, and urged me to make it again in pursuit of meatlessness, so that's what we had tonight! And it really is good - a great blend of flavors, and reasonably healthy.

You coul…

White Bean Burgers

NYT Cooking's "White Bean Burgers" (subscription required) are a lot easier to make than NYT Cooking's "The Ultimate Veggie Burger," and they're not really comparable anyway. The latter aims to resemble meat; the former is its own meatless thing. Pat actually preferred the white bean burgers.

I cut the recipe in half but, as is my signature move, I forgot to halve one ingredient (the egg) and it turned out just fine. I cooked them on the sandwich press rather than in a skillet, so I wouldn't have to flip them.

Hey, guess what? A new study claims that meal kits are actually better for the environment than the traditional shopping and cooking model, on the whole. I did not see that coming. I'm afraid that rather than being encouraged, I'm just ever more dismayed that there is no way to live and eat without degrading the planet.

Nonetheless: my tulips and azaleas and bleeding hearts are blooming, and thanks to plenty of rain, the grass all ove…