I got a 20-pound lot of ground beef through my CSA recently (here’s more information about the farm with which my CSA partners for this). I managed to give away/sell about 12 pounds to family and friends — which still leaves me with 8 pounds of meat.
As a vegetarian for the past 20+ years, I don’t have much experience cooking with meat. But as I’m married to an omnivore (and apparently raising one) I’ve been trying to improve.
Short version: I decided to try my hand at slow cooker chili on Saturday. I decide to use the beef and also some frozen whole tomatoes I had gotten my the CSA this winter; I was also going to make vegetarian chili, which I miss, because I haven’t been making it, because my boy is allergic to citric acid, which is in most canned tomato products.
Even shorter version: my chili needs work. Lots and lots of work. The meat eaters at dinner (Dan and my in-laws) gave me an A for effort, but like a C- on result.
Aside: Tomatoes. In a recent winter box, I got a bag of whole frozen tomatoes. I stuck them in my freezer, unsure of what to do with them. I searched around on the Internet, and discovered they are pretty easy to use. You just pull them out of the freezer and run them under warm water. The skins come right off; the cores are a little more problematic. If I decide to freeze tomatoes in the future, I will core them first.
Anyhoo, I miss tomatoes. I don’t get to cook with them regularly anymore because of M’s sensitivity.
I think I did okay with the tomatoes. I added garlic, spices, and carrots (for the chili). And, frankly, I think M still had some issues. I’m going to have to watch that little guy.
Back to the beef: As part of my attempt, I decided I had to try the meat chili. Which I did, at dinner. About two bites.
Here’s my impression: The meat seemed very … dry? Chewy, maybe. Not overly flavorful. The chili had *no* heat, which clearly needs to be rectified.
And, yes, I will probably try it again. I don’t know that I’ll down a whole bowl of it, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
My primary reason for being a vegetarian is that I just don’t like meat. I’m not sure I can say that anymore, because I don’t have the first idea what meat tastes like anymore.
Another reason for not eating meat is my strong antipathy for the animal products industry in this country. It’s horrid to the animals, it’s bad for the environment, and the end product isn’t healthy. It just seems unethical to me, and I don’t want to participate. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a lecture on the animal products industry when we have dinner together. I’ll probably even serve meat if you eat at my house. I don’t eat meat; that’s my choice. If you choose differently, that’s fine.)
(My favorite take on the animal products industry in America comes from Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Great book; you should check it out if you’re curious about any of this stuff.)
As I’ve steadily continued consuming and serving locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables in my house, and then discovered organic and locally sourced cheese, milk, and eggs, I started noticing that local meat was available too. Mostly beef and chicken. In general, the animals are free-range, hormone- and antibiotic-free, fed naturally, and come from farms nearby.
And the thought crossed my mind: I could eat that kind of meat, I think. I wouldn’t have an ethical issue with that.
So the next question was: if push came to shove, would I?
Again, I only had a bite or two of the chili. It’s hardly enough to turn in my vegetarian card. I’ve explored getting chickens from my CSA, but they don’t deliver them to my pick up location — I’d have to go to the farm to get them. Once I make something good with the beef, I may give a serving of meat (say 4 ounces) a shot and see what happens.
Plus, if Kate is going to become an omnivore, I’d like her to realize that the cafeteria nuggets, burgers, and hot dogs, are not, actually, very good food.