Not your run-of-the-mill topic.

I’ve had buffalo burgers and find them tastier than the usual beef burgers.

Almost certain I wouldn’t eat tongue…regardless whose it is. But perhaps you might…

…you think?………hugmamma.

Travel. Garden. Eat.

Given my passion for animals and nature, I would like to be able to say that I cannot bring myself to eat my fellow earth creatures.  I have to be honest, though  . . . I love a good steak.  If it leaves a pool of red on the plate, even better.  (Have I already lost some of you readers?)  I do struggle with the concept of large factory farms and feedlots, however.  I try when I can to search out foods that are not loaded with unhealthy antibiotics and other additives, where I can actually identify the source of the meat I am eating and the process they use to grow and butcher it.  If the source of that meat comes with a good story, even better.  Such is the case with Wild Idea Buffalo Company.

I was introduced to Wild Idea Buffalo when I read the book, Buffalo for the…

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vegetarian, “mission impossible?”

In keeping with my previous post, I’m forced to seriously consider the  health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. If you’ve been with me since the early days of my blog, you’ll know this isn’t a decision I make lightly. Having grown up in a household with many mouths to feed, and a widowed mom as the sole breadwinner, meat was a luxury to be sure. So as an adult who’s been able to afford better fare, all forms of meat, especially red, has been a staple the last 40 years. While my family has cut back considerably on feasting on steak, ground beef still shows up in a variety of favorite dishes, like chili, spaghetti, Salisbury steak, teriyaki meatballs. But my recent spate of digestive issues has me rethinking what I put in my mouth. It’s probably lucky for me that my body has always known when to “hit the brakes”, even when I don’t.

As a child I would frequently suffer what my mom called “bush.” She said that was what the Portuguese called a “turned ” stomach. After asking if I’d fallen down to determine the cause of my pain, she’d set about “turning” my stomach so that it would be right side up again. I wasn’t one to question when I was in agony, so I submitted to her superstitious remedies. Lying on my back, my mom would massage my stomach with rubbing alcohol. Beside myself with moaning, tears streaming down my face, it seemed to me that after a bit my stomach ache was, in fact, better. Of course I was told to rest, my mom cooing me to sleep.

Over the years, I’ve been in and out of doctor’s offices for digestive problems, having even seen a gastroenterologist in my late 20s. While the problem wasn’t in my mind, its resolution was always nebulous. The only solid fact told me by one New York physician, that took me many years to finally accept, is that I’m lactose-intolerant. How did I decide he was probably right? After gorging on ice cream, I’d get a mean belly ache, that’s how. But testing his theory once wasn’t enough. I had to re-enact that scenario again and again, until duh, I got that “light-bulb” moment. So it’s not that I’ve permanently banished jamocha almond fudge or coconut ice cream from my palate. I just satisfy myself with a taste, a kid’s size cup or cone does the trick. And therein probably lies the secret to a healthy diet, A TASTE, not a bowlful or a plateful of anything. Except if you’re like me, a taste can lead to another, and another, and before I know it, I’m in trouble.

Last night on PBS, Dr. Daniel Amen was giving a lecture on “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body,” another of his books. He said something about himself that struck a chord with me. He noticed that certain foods triggered something in his brain which made him crave “bad” foods. Sugar and salt are 2 triggers which have me running like a hamster round and round in its wheel. I noticed a long time ago, probably when I was doing Weight Watchers, that after eating a cookie, I needed to eat chips, or vice versa. As we all do, I kept myself in check for a little while. But as memory fades, so does resolve. That’s why I’m probably lucky that my metabolism goes haywire before I get myself into really dire straits.

Veggies were not a mainstay of family meals in the Hawaiian homes I visited growing up. Since everything had to be shipped into the islands at great expense, fresh produce wasn’t always affordable for lower-income households. I can remember having potatoes, carrots, and onions in stew, with very little meat. But having a separate serving of vegetables on the dinner plate is not something I remember seeing regularly. And I can’t remember that we were heavily into growing our own either. I mention all this as an excuse for not having grown up eating fruits and veggies, as we now know we all should be doing. But wasn’t the old version of the FDA’s food pyramid also to blame? I think carbs, dairy and protein were ranked higher in the old days. But no matter, this is 2011, and I’m 61.

Fruits, veggies, and grains are definitely what my body now needs to maintain my life going forward. My digestive system can no longer process refined foods, dairy products, and meats like it did in the good old days. Wish we could all learn this lesson sooner, rather than later. But the best we can do is continually remind ourselves, and hope that the message finally takes hold nationwide so that future generations will live more healthfully. We seem to be living longer thanks to scientific research, but our quality of life falls far short. Do we really want to extend the number of years we suffer from physical ailments, because we gorged on toxic food?

I sometimes wonder what my mom’s quality of life would have been like, had she the benefit of more education, not just about food, but about everything. She had to leave school after 6th grade. Thereafter, her life was just about survival. What she ate was probably not her biggest concern, but that she ate at all, and that we her children had food on our plates as well.

i have a college degree, i should know better…but i’m still human…and there are so many temptations…hugmamma.

“stretching” meals

Because there were so many mouths to feed when I was growing up, my mom was adept at “stretching” meals. I’m sure she wasn’t the only single parent, or married parents for that matter, who learned to enlarge meals by adding fiber, like oatmeal, or veggies. I was reminded of this when I tried a new meatloaf recipe the other night.

It wasn’t so much that the recipe made more, there were just added ingredients that I wasn’t accustomed to using, like grated potatoes, grated carrots and white rice. The recipe was entitled “Juicy Meatloaf.” Well it really wasn’t juicy. It was more like our dried out Thanksgiving turkey. What really struck me though, was the denseness of the meatloaf. Unlike the one I normally cook for our family, there was no “give” to this meatloaf. Each slice stood firm, and solid. And that’s how it tasted, firm and solid, not moist and juicy. It did last a few days, showing up as left-overs, alongside something else I’d cooked. So I guess the additional ingredients did “stretch” out the meatloaf. It was so dense that half-a-slice went a long way in filling my belly.

A favorite meal I serve my family is steak and onions. This dish can definitely be increased to serve more by adding items like sliced mushrooms, corn niblets, red pepper slices, and I guess anything else that’s to your liking. I’ll often look through the refrig for leftovers, which can be added. Of course everything has to be sliced thin, so they can blend while stirring. Just pour a little oil, perhaps a mixture of a couple pats of butter and canola, into a fry pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute. Toss in the thinly sliced steak pieces. It’s best to use the best cut you can afford, so cooking is quick. When the meat and onions brown, toss in the remaining ingredients, if any. Saute all, stirring every so often. Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste. Cover, and lower heat, cooking for another 15 minutes or so. It’s delicious served over rice, white or brown.

The same thing can be done with ground beef. I’ve never tried it with ground turkey, but it might work just as well. Serving a simple salad alongside either entrée, makes a nice meal. In these economic times, foods prepared simply can still satisfy the gourmand in all of us. By the way, one-and-a-half pounds of either meat will serve 3 adults. The more extras added, the further the entrée will “stretch.”

bon appetite!…hugmamma.