Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brown rice with butternut squash and toasted pumpkin seeds

I love meat. Sautéed, simmered, stewed, roasted, boiled, grilled, boneless or bone in, ground, skewered, as a steak, sausage or roast, raw, I love meat.

This is why, after reading Michael Pollan’s book : “The omnivore’s dilemma”, I started thinking about the way I, we, eat meat. It felt so right to me hearing someone say that the killing of an animal should be done in the most respectful way, a kind of ritual in which Man is reminded of where he comes from, thanks Mother Nature for the animal giving up his life so that his species can live on and will eventually in return feed the soil that will feed the animal grazing in the prairie. A perfect circle of life.

On a more practical level, it also reminded me of the importance of knowing where your meat comes from and how the animal was raised and put down. Whenever I see the name of a restaurant chain or beef on sale at ridiculous prices there’s this thought of Steer 534…
This whole industrial meat chain is horrifying, disgusting, shocking. It is like a scene from a horror movie except you can’t close your eyes, it’s there, it’s happening right now! I guess what strikes me most, besides the conditions surrounding the animals’ lives and deaths, is the fact that some people actually work there. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think those guys are any worse than you or me. I don’t think they are to blame. They just got the job they could get and that’s that.

What I am most upset about is the fact that some people “have” to take these jobs. How can they go to work everyday without their sense of pride getting more and more tarnished as the days go by? How can they get rid of the lingering smells on their skin, in their mind? How can they sleep peacefully at night? How can they live with themselves? How can they stay sane? Here’s the trick, I think they can’t.

Because this is all rather upsetting to me and because I want my dollars to go directly support the causes I believe in I have decided to watch my meat intake. Like Michael Pollan suggests, a human being can only kill so many animals and at the same time remain respectful of the life he’s taking away. Therefore (and don’t forget I’m a meat lover) once or twice a week in my house dinner will be free of animal protein. It’s not a big sacrifice, and it helps remind us to be more thankful for the meat we do eat.

Which is what brings me to my meatless dish of the week Brown rice with butternut squash and toasted pumpkin seeds. A satisfying winter dish that could easily get meatier with the addition of mushrooms. The butternut squash is first peeled and cut into bite size chunks, then boiled for about 12 mn until just tender. Then I toss it in some olive oil on medium heat I add salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, flat leaf parsley, when all incorporated, my already cooked unsalted rice goes in with a good splash of tamari, some toasted pumpkin seeds and scallions.

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