meat

A few Labor Day things

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I went with the bright pink
I went with the bright pink

Even though I had to work on Labor Day, I still enjoyed some time with my family over the weekend. Saturday a bunch of “the cousins” came over to my parents’ house for a BBQ, which was a lot of fun. Sunday was a low-key day that involved lunch with my mom, and mani-pedis. I literally hadn’t gotten my nails done since it was still cold out. Much-needed. My parents were nice enough to drive me back into the city, where we all shared some drinks and appetizers before they went to see a movie.

The past few weeks, I’ve been packing my lunch a little more often than normal—having something colorful to look forward to, especially working a humid, gray holiday, is really nice. Yesterday I enjoyed what I’m just going to call an antipasti salad: a few slices of leftover prosciutto (from the wine bar I went to with the ‘rents) over greens along with roasted eggplant and sliced mini heirloom tomatoes—plenty of balsamic and some grated pecorino. antipasti salad

It wasn’t quite a Labor  Day BBQ, but it was certainly enjoyable.

What was the best thing you ate over Labor Day weekend? 

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Cultured Beef is Here

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So that lab-grown burger thing finally happened.

Cultured Burger
(Photo by David Parry/PA Wire)

Three months and 20,000 muscle fibers later, Dutch researchers, led by Mark Post, managed to grow some meat in a petri dish. They’re calling it cultured beef, and this burger began as merely a few stem cells extracted from a cow’s shoulder, and now look!

At the unveiling event Monday, the meat was cooked in sunflower oil and butter and sampled by chosen tasters, Austrian food scientist Hanni Rützler, and Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based journalist and author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From The Future of Food.

So wow. This is both weird and cool and…well, really weird. What I’m curious to know is whether it has the same nutrient profile as ground beef. At this point, the in vitro meat is all muscle, and while a fat-free meat patty might sound like a great idea, you do have to consider the flavor factor. Curious to see how long that research takes.

I do like the idea that this technology could eventually offer an alternative to the massive scale of animal slaughter and its impact on human health and on the planet. Because it’s derived from animal cells, though, I’m curious to hear how people who follow vegan and vegetarian diets feel about it.

While I like the idea, I can’t say I’d be up for trying it yet. It’s sort of how I (still) feel about laser eye surgery—I’d rather wait until it becomes more mainstream with advances in technology so it’s not, like, “Hey, let’s do this crazy new thing in your eyeball!” Except the meat equivalent. I know laser vision correction is no longer new, but for the sake of illustrating a point…

Would you try cultured beef? 

Lazy/Busy Person’s Pulled Chicken

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This day-ish 2 years ago, I was blogging about a fancy raw vegan dinner after which I had trouble drawing a deep breath because I didn’t know I can’t have tree nuts yet—especially not the raw ones. Good times. A year before that, I was blogging about a lunch that involved soy chicken.

Funny how times have changed. These days, I like my soy to be recognizable as soy and for my chicken to be real chicken—preferably organic.

IMG_2720Today I decided to be a real adult and bust out the slow-cooker. After a little too much plant-based protein this week (chickpeas, black beans, black-eyed peas…) I needed some freaking meat. Maybe I had to google how to “pull” chicken, but man, I’m glad I did. Calling this a recipe is basically a joke. It was almost too easy…

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless organic chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (you could be fancy and make your own, but I left it up to Trader Joe’s this time)
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Mix water and barbecue sauce together.
  2. Pour some of the sauce/water mix in and then the chicken and then the rest of the liquid.
  3. Cook on low for 5 hours. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, use two forks to “pull” it. Aka tear it apart from itself, but gently.

Hm. I have a BFA in writing, for f***’s sake. You’d think I’d be able to come up with a better description for how one pulls chicken…I guess I’ll have to work on that and get back to you.

Do you have a slow-cooker? What do you like to use it for? 

Mark Bittman on Making Peace with Meat

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I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen the term “flexitarian” around. I have to admit, I’ve always been a fan. It’s a good way to sum up a sane style of eating.

A little of the good stuff goes a long way
A little of the good stuff goes a long way

Our reasons for choosing whether are not to consume meat are personal and variable. Though some of us may choose to be vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or whatever-my-boyfriend-wants-me-to-be-atarian, it’s important for people to understand that you don’t have to be one extreme or the other. You can find your own balance. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you have to eschew a vegan meal, same as just because you prefer not to eat meat doesn’t mean you have to forgo bacon every now and then if it’s the one thing you crave like crazy.

In this piece, author Mark Bittman (I  can’t wait to read his newest, VB6), makes a compelling case for eating small (if more expensive) amounts of quality meat raised by reputable farmers as opposed to taking an all-or-nothing approach. He also shares some delicious recipes!

How would you describe your style of eating? 

Healthy Shake ‘n’ Bake

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Friday was a weird day to cap off a weird week. As I mentioned Tuesday, I have a lot of friends and family in the Boston area, so I couldn’t seem to tear myself away from the radio/internet, except for that 45-minutes I went to the gym thinking I’d take a break there with a magazine, totally having forgotten about this thing called TV. So yeah.

After a long, hot shower, I stopped by the grocery store because, like my mother, my response to pretty much any stressful situation is to cook, if only to have something to do with my hands. That is, when I’ve already indulged in a little retail therapy. Payless shoe sale, what up?

IMG_2186

Writing last week about wimping out in the meat aisle motivated me to make a goddamn decision for a change, and I walked out with a package of chicken “breast tenders.” Hate the name (so awkward), love how easy they are to cook.

Growing up, my mom made a lot of healthy food, but we still occasionally had things like Shake ‘n’ Bake. I hadn’t thought about it in years, but after noticing I’d been making, like, the same 3 or 4 recipes over the past month, I half-assedly challenged myself to make a few new things. I’m still not sure how Shake & Bake specifically got in my head, but a recently conversation I’d had about cornmeal got me thinking of incorporating a cornmeal crust somehow. Deep thoughts, I know.

Since I’d never made real shake ‘n’ bake, I had to look up how it’s done. I know, I know…eHow to the rescue! This version is a lot lower in sodium than the original but packed with flavor. Not too shabby. I improvised a little but I’m glad I wrote down what I added—I’ll definitely be making this again. IMG_2190

Ingredients:

  • ~1 lb chicken breast tenders or chicken breast cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp each: dried oregano, ground coriander, ground ginger, dried basil
  • red pepper flakes (optional but delicious)
  • pinch of salt
  • ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine cornmeal and spices in a large ziploc bag. Shake to mix.
  3. Moisten chicken with water. (ugh, I just said “moisten.”)
  4. Add chicken to bag. Seal and shake vigorously.
  5. To avoid a messy clean-up, wrap tin-foil over a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray of choice to prevent sticking. Place chicken strips on sheet and cook 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Turn once about halfway through.

This was posted on the Weekend Kitchen Creations blog, where you can also check out recipes from other bloggers.

Did you/do you eat Shake ‘n’ Bake? What’s your favorite chicken recipe—or vegetarian version of a classic chicken dish? 

Choose Your Meat

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I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but whenever I walk into a grocery store without a specific recipe in mind, I get overwhelmed when I get to the meat section. Even if I have the vague idea that I want to make something with, say, chicken in it over the course of the next few days, I often leave empty-handed, having talked myself into finding ways to use up things I already have on hand, like eggs, canned beans, or frozen fish.

Not that using what you have is a bad thing at all! It just gets a little repetitive sometimes—I’ve been eating a lot of salads and stir-fry concoctions. Note to self: plan ahead. I actually think meal-planning is really fun, and I also love coming across new resources and tools to make it happen.

I saw this great infographic floating around the internet for choosing the healthiest meat, and I wanted to share it with you guys.

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

Horse Meat Found in Ikea Meatballs

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photo from WSJ

On Monday, Swedish retailer Ikea announced it had recalled a batch of frozen meatballs sent to over 12 European countries after food inspectors in the Czech Republic found horse meat DNA in packs labeled as pork and beef. As  reported in The Wall Street Journal, these 2.2-lb packs, sold under the name Kottbullar, went out to stores in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, France, the U.K., Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Belgium.  Yikes!

The part that I find most upsetting is not that it’s horse meat but that the horse meat isn’t labeled—not like it’s “supposed” to be there, but still. If a person were to knowingly purchase horse meat, that would be one thing, but for those with allergies or dietary restrictions or even just lack of desire to eat horses, this is not good. It’s also scary that Ikea is only the latest company to be affected by a European horse meat scandal.

In a statement posted on its website, Ikea said, “Our own checks have shown no traces of horse meat. Now we must of course look into this further.”

Um, yeah…

I’ve never had meatballs from Ikea, but I know a lot of people who totally think they’re worth the ferry ride to Red Hook. Or the road trip to Ikeas that do not involve passage by boat. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a few changed opinions, though…

Have you ever had Ikea meatballs? Even if your area wasn’t affected (the US, for example), would you still eat them after hearing about a horse meat-related recall?