November 6, 2012

halloumi and veg

Once upon a time, and I know I've told you this story before - but this time it has a different ending, I promise!- I was a vegetarian.
A terrible vegetarian, yes, the kind who ate a lot of TVP in things because I didn't know how to cook without meant so I just switched all meat for the tasteless little grains, but still, a vegetarian. And Will was not. Poor Will, I knew it was true love when a Texas boy who loved his steak and BBQ and potatoes cooked in pig fat could live with terrible vegetarian me. I was a (terrible) vegetarian through most of college, on through grad school and the first year of our marriage, sometimes to lesser degrees (I still ate meat on occasion) until about halfway though my pregnancy with Briton when, Phoebe-like I came home one day crying for ribs. CRYING for them. I think that, and not our wedding day or the births of our children, may have been the happiest day of Will's life. Seriously.

In the years since (10!) I've toyed with the idea of being a vegetarian again. Not specifically because I have problems with meat-I don't find it gross. But I do find the way most meat is produced to be gross - so I'd rather eat no meat, or less meat but good meat. However much I've thought about it, though,  it just hasn't always been in the cards, mostly because I've been married for 12 years to a committed carnivore.

So (and here comes the new ending) you'll imagine my shock when a few months ago, Will came home from work and said that he wanted to try being a vegetarian. Or more precisely, a sort of vegetarian. Like a - we can eat meat while we're out, but not really cook it at home - vegetarian.

I did a little dance, you guys. Right there in the kitchen.

This time around I'm trying to be a better sort-of-vegetarian cook. Trying to explore interesting foods that aren't missing meat because they don't need it.My favorite cookbook is River Cottage Veg, both for recipes and for philosophy. It's written by a self proclaimed meat lover and I like that his attitude is similar to mine.  Very occasionally I buy meat to cook, but generally only really good, local stuff. Like chicken sausage for cassoulet or the occasional package of bacon for breakfast. But mostly, we're vegetarian now.

Which brings us to dinner. And Halloumi. If you've never had Halloumi, run to your nearest specialty food store and pay whatever ridiculous amount they want for it, then come home and fry it up. Seriously. It's like the Nutella of cheese. So good, so weird, so addictive. My only complaint is that it comes in too small a package, and buying two would be so wrong. Both price wise and calorie wise.

I used to fry up Halloumi slices with red peppers and sausages, but this time I roasted up a bunch of veggies over the course of the afternoon. That sounds time consuming but it was more of a convenience thing. Will hates the smell of cooking Brussels sprouts so I always cook them while he's out. (I know, it's weird. He also dislikes onions and doesn't care for....garlic. I almost can't even say that without fainting) And I cooked the mushrooms on my handy dandy electric griddle (have I told you guys how much I love that thing? And my mom for buying it for me? Well, I do. And it's awesome for cooking mushrooms and Halloumi) And then the rest went in the oven closer to dinner, with the first cooked veg to be tossed in at the end. That way everything didn't smell like Brussels sprouts and it was all cooked and ready at dinner.

Yum. Really. YUM. Not pretty maybe. But definitely yummy. And who needs meat? Not with this. Crusty bread, yes. Red wine, of course. Meat? Eh, no thanks.

By the way. Meat boy is now ordering vegan sandwiches when he goes out to lunch at work. Which is really funny if you know the story of Will and the Vegan Muffin.

*And by the way, in case you are wondering, the kids are pretty much on board with this. Evelyn, although I didn't realize it until recently, is basically a natural vegetarian. The only meats she has ever eaten not under duress are chicken drumsticks and bacon. But she could do without just as happily. Even as a baby she wouldn't eat food with meat in it. Go figure. Briton misses his meat, hence the bacon for breakfast at times. But he get's meat in school where, as I've mentioned, they have an absolutely bad ass lunch program. He told me last night he was ok with us being vegetarian at home, but he was still going to eat meat if that was ok with us. Which it is.