Moving Towards Plants

my kids all had friends in for the holidays, I’ve had a zillion people to feed
we did a quick and impromptu spaghetti and meatball dinner for twelve, I cheated a little and used jar sauce and store-made meatballs, it was one of those days
Elizabeth and I plating it up, I guess we both like black tanks
it was a fun, casual dinner landing between Christmas and New Year’s Eve
we always have room at the table, human or canine

Now that my family has basically consumed just about an entire cow and drunk our body weights in alcohol several times over these past several weeks, I’m making a concerted effort to add more plants and to drink more water into the dietary rotation while we move into this new year. 

Tuesday’s New York Times Food Section had a timely article Cutting Down on Meat, Mindfully, by Melissa Clark, and all of her points spoke to me directly. She won’t entirely give up her beloved meat and dairy which I find completely relatable, I have way too many people to feed in my life that simply won’t consider a fully plant-based plate. And when I need to entertain a crowd and do it in a hurry, a beef or pork tenderloin is always about twenty-two minutes away from serving time and that’s a tough thing to beat. 

However, as I haven’t been living under a rock, I can’t deny what the published research is saying about the environmental damage two of my passions inflict on our planet, good food and great clothing, I’ll save the clothing/fashion industry impact for another blog post. This simple entry today is about the food I shop for, prepare, eat, and serve. 

Much like Melissa, the author of The Times article, I participate in a seasonal farm share, shop local farmer’s markets, buy organic and source the best and most ethically raised meat, poultry, and fish I can find. I also know I can do better. She mentions Michael Pollan’s writing in her article, and one of his quotes remains my favorite: eat food, mostly plants, not too much. As such I have work to do. 

In fact, I have a course on plant-based cooking to finish. In 2017 after completing Rouxbe’s Professional Cook Certification with a final grade of 95%, I enrolled in their intensive six-month 18-unit Professional Plant-Based Certification Course. I worked hard and steadily until my oldest daughter became engaged and I became completely involved in putting on an at home reception for 210 guests. That wedding was a year and a half ago, since then I’ve applied and paid for two extensions to complete the course. I’ve completed 91% of the material and currently have a non-passing grade of 51%, the final exam and Black Box assignment being heavily weighted. Obviously, I want to pass. New Year’s goal number two, mind you not a resolution, is to finish the course. Bonus of course is that I will be cooking with more plants. 

my mise en place for two pots of split pea soup, one with ham, one plant-based, both with frozen scratch stock
Split Pea Soup, Plant Based | recipe and photo by Rouxbe
mine didn’t really look anything like that, it was kind of brown

Several days ago, I took the bone and remains of the Christmas ham and set about making Split Pea soup, as I also try and limit waste in the kitchen. I was also thinking of my desire to move towards a more plant-based diet for the new year, so I decided to make a vegan version side-by-side. Honestly, the ham version was infinitely better and more satisfying and cooked in less than half the time, it must have been all that good fat. I actually ended up in the end combining both pots, telling myself at least it was a little more plant based. 

Truffled Ravioli with Chanterelles | recipe and photo by Rouxbe
Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage Brown Butter | recipe and photo by Rouxbe

Not giving up though. My dear friend and I had good success preparing and serving Truffled Ravioli with Chanterelles to a group of eighteen and tonight I’ll be making Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage Brown Butter, a dish I’ve served before with good reviews. It’s a little like what I wrote yesterday in my Happy New Year post, I try and add in the good to crowd out the bad. Never mind that plant-based cooking seems more complex and time consuming, I’ll be doing just a little bit better for this wonderful world of ours and nourishing myself and those I love with what feels like maybe a cleaner more conscious way of eating.

By the way, I just got distracted by my weekly goop email, and this one’s about The Annual Goop Detox. If you’re one of those humans that can avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar and eggs, even if only for five days, I admire and respect you. The Goop cleanse comes with a schedule and a shopping list, it looks absolutely beautiful, and I still can’t do it, I’m simply an epic failure at restriction. With full sincerity all best wishes to anyone on any sort of January cleanse, Dry January, or Sober Curious journey. 

If you too might be thinking of the food you are eating and have an interest in cooking, I can’t say enough about what I’ve learned from the online community at Rouxbe. I now know that there’s nothing better than scratch stock, and I always have a store of it in my freezer. These next month’s I’ll be simmering more pots of vegetables, finishing up my Professional Plant-Based Certification Course, and if I’m being absolutely truthful, for sure enjoying a cheeseburger or two, with water and wine, yet hopefully far less frequently than before. 

2020, less meat, more plants

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  1. I enjoy your blog, Rebecca. I have a tip for your brownish split pea soup … add frozen peas at the end of cooking time and use an immersion blender.

    • Thank you, and thank you for reading! Your tip sounds genius, I can’t wait to try it next time, thanks again. Happy New Year! Xo

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