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November 22, 2012

so tomorrow there will be another number | meat and three veg



After this lovely lady's post, I've been thinking about food choices a lot more this week: thinking about my own personal journey to the way I eat now, and how those habits developed over time. My food journey began last year - six months into my first "proper" job since finishing my degree, I found myself with a little extra money each week and the ability to be a little more flexible in what I ate. After four years as a student surviving off a very minimal weekly income it was a luxury to be able to afford to experiment a little more in what I cooked and what I ate. 

Prior to this, my food choices had been based around affordability: sometimes this meant two baked potatoes or two minute noodles for dinner in those weeks where there were bills to pay and shampoo to buy. At the end of my fourth year, busy with writing a dissertation, this changed a little to include time as a factor. Could I cook and eat in less than 20 minutes? If not, I didn't buy it. In those last two weeks of 18 hour writing days, I survived off plain pasta, canned tuna, apples, and a whole lot of caffeine. On the last night before my dissertation was due, I was writing all night in my office at university. A friend called me at 7pm: "I'm outside," he said, "come down, I've got dinner for you." And he handed me a warm plastic container full of pesto pasta, before skating back off into the night. I've never forgotten that gesture. 

Most of my friends and family know me to be a vegetarian. And that's mainly true - I only rarely eat meat, and when I do, it's important to me that it is local, free range, and organic; and that I feel like my body needs it for nutrients. This year, I've eaten meat on two occasions. The first was when there was no other option for dinner, out in the wilderness with family. The second was last night.

J returned from four days tramping (hiking for US readers) with plenty of stories of interesting people they'd shared a hut with. They had met some hunters who cooked freshly caught chamois (also known as "shammy" to locals), and also gave them some to bring back home to us. It ticked all my personal "boxes" when it comes to meat-eating and when J told me she planned to cook it for dinner on Tuesday night, I told her I'd love to try some. I'd never eaten chamois before. I made this sauce to go with it - I think it would make a great accompaniment to lamb or beef as well.



mushroom & black pepper meat sauce

This meat sauce would also be great served with pasta for a vegetarian dish. The quantities used here make enough for four people.

Slice two red onions into half rings, and soften them over a medium heat with a little olive oil. Turn the heat up a little and add some apple cider vinegar and honey or balsamic vinegar. Cook for around 30 minutes until caramelised. Add about 1 glass of red cooking wine to the pan - it should bubble a lot, if it doesn't turn the heat up. Chop 8 flat mushrooms (I used portobello) into quarters and add to the pan, letting them cook in the wine. Stir in as much freshly cracked black pepper as you'd like. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add 1 tbsp flour - either white or wholemeal and stir. This will thicken the sauce up - add milk to thin it back and keep warm until ready to serve.

Last night I cheated a little - we had some french onion soup to use up, so I used that instead of caramelising onions. 

So it came to be - a traditional "meat and three veg" meal was served at Maitland St. The cooking was very much a team effort, with much discussion and consulting the internet as to how to cook the meat. The piece we were given looked like a beef fillet would, so we sliced it into medallions and cooked it, as T would describe "pshhhh....pshhhh..." - translates to one minute each side in a very hot pan. We ate it with the mushroom sauce, potato and kumara (known outside of Aotearoa as sweet potato), mashed together, and lightly fried cabbage and red onion. It was delicious.



I think the biggest mistake we can make is to be inflexible in our diets. I realised that it's important to me to eat mainly vegetarian, but that it's also okay for me to eat free-range, organic, local meat now and then too. After all, isn't it all about moderation?

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I've decided that each day I write a post I'm going to include a word or two about something I'm grateful for that day. I used to reflect once a week and take the time to be grateful, and I think that it's helpful for me to look back over my day with gratitude now and then.

day 1/365 
Today I'm grateful for clear and cloudless skies, and that I work in a place where I can take twenty minutes in the afternoon and sit underneath a weeping willow tree, looking at water and the old fashioned clock tower buildings of the university I work at, enjoying the fresh air in my lungs and sun on my skin.

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title from stars - celebration guns

10 comments:

  1. G, a good week for nourishing organic recipes.. A lovely image you painted of your surroundings, gratitude is a powerful beast x

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    1. You're right, gratitude is powerful. x

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  2. I like your "grateful". A job like that sounds heavenly. How we eat is influenced by budget, time and the whims of children. Sometimes it's a juggling act, and it's certainly the reason why I'd rather bake a cake than cook tea any day!

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    1. It isn't all heavenly, but that part of it is. Yes, so many things influence our diets.. I think I'm lucky to not have children's whims to deal with just yet. x

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  3. Oh the pesto pasta story - what a kind hearted & thoughtful friend....I too eat mainly vegetarian, although when I was pregnant with Saskia I started eating fish again. I felt my body needed it - and I agree, it's important to listen to your body. Happy weekend x

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    1. yes - so thoughtful. I always struggle with low iron stores/anaemia - I felt great after having meat earlier in the week. It's difficult to get enough iron in your diet. hope your weekend was lovely xx

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  4. I have the same approach to meat, and perhaps it's fair to say all animal products. Lately they've been finding their way into our kitchen more but overall we don't stock it. That way when we do buy the milk or meat or cheese it can be the really good stuff. Moderation is key!

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    1. That's definitely how we approach meat; milk and cheese are more regular but they are from a local farm who has 20 cows and only bottles unpasteurised milk - so it feels more ethical than processed milk that's travelled from the other island. thanks for stopping by xx

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  5. Flexibility is key! I've learned that I've missed so much in times I tried to live by rigid food rules. All is good for the taking in moderation. =) Now, for budget issues? I still have problems with that. Good food is simply too expensive a lot of the time.

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    1. I find with rigid rules I'm basically setting myself up for failure and disappointment when I break the rules.. as for budgeting, always a bit of a struggle. x

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