Living Leaner with a meatless menu
It will never happen. We will never be vegetarian. For starters, who would eat all our chickens and ducks? We have found though, since rearing our own meat birds and eating our own lovely farm fresh eggs, that we are developing less of a taste for bought meat. This can pose as a challenge when you are in the mood for a nice piece of steak or a beautiful piece of pork for a Sunday lunch. We have become experts at sourcing. I am the most annoying customer. I ask question after question after question and if I am not happy with the answer then I keep my money and move on. We have gotten to the point where we would rather do without unless we can trust the source of the meat, know the details of the diet it was fed and are guaranteed that it was not injected with growth hormones.
Living with this rigidity in our lifestyle can pose as a problem when you want to invite friends over for dinner. They already think we are odd enough, what with preferring to hang at home and talk to the ducks and all….. and now we want to feed them ‘no meat’…….yep. It was part of our challenge. We did not specifically plan it this way. We just threw dinner together, they showed up and no one noticed there was no meat. There were no leftovers and everyone left with a pocket full of recipes and a wee jar of spicy salsa.
Before you think I am going to go all ‘beans n’ rice’ on you, let me cut to the chase. We had beans and rice. Yep. Total hippies. I know.
Lily, our Mexican friend, told us that Pinto beans were the ‘poor mans’ bean in Mexico and they do not get used very often. We found this funny because Pinto beans are our favourite beans. With a bag of dried beans costing only €1.19 at the local grocery, you can’t go wrong. Soak them overnight. Boil them in a rich oxtail or chicken broth with a little bit of black pepper. Once cooked, toss in a little olive oil or butter and serve immediately.This is our favourite way to eat them but last Friday we went all the way and blended the cooked beans in the food processor, then fried them in a tablespoon of lard. If you do not have any lard you can call Margaret at Oldfarm and get some. And you should.
Last week we learned the difference between ‘Salsa’ and Pico de gallo’. Truth be told, we are huge fans of ‘raw’ food, especially when it comes to tomatoes. So a compromise was met. We would mix the two.
The yellow tomatoes were roasted with one red chili, 2 slices of smoked bacon and a medium sized onion. Liberal amounts of black pepper was used and a light sprinkling of salt as the bacon can be salty enough. Once roasted (20 minutes in a hot oven) we used the food processor to blend the salsa – minus the bacon. Somehow, in the mix of things, the bacon ended up being swiped by two very fast little hands.
Once the yellow tomato salsa was ready, we made a pico de gallo which consisted of 1 green chili, 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced, cherry tomatoes (red and yellow), a half a cup of corriander/cilantro, one small red onion finely chopped, a half teaspoon of cumin, a dusting of mexican oregano, the juice of half a lime (vital) and a good dash of franks red hot sauce. We also added freshly grounded black pepper and maldon salt.
Then we mixed both the salas and the pico de gallo together and the result was epic guys. Try it. You will love it. Taste as you go and add more chilis if you feel it needs more heat!
I have a funny relationship with Bell peppers. I cannot digest them with the skin on. So, the Chef, because he loves me, goes to great pains to ‘do ‘em right’ for me. A lot of people have issues with peppers. Try this method of cooking them and make this dish. You will be addicted.
If you link to the photos on FB right here you will see a few more steps in the photo album that will show you just how easy it is to roasted and peel the peppers. The original idea for this dish came from Lily and you can check out her blog for a lot more delicious and very interesting Mexican dishes.
Roast the peppers until the skin is black, This does not affect the flavour of the peppers in a bad way at all. Then sweat them in a ziplock bag for twenty minutes. Peel and slice the peppers. Sauté a few onions, add in the peppers, a teaspoon of cumin powder, one tin of corn and one tub of cream cheese. The end. The kids ate this for breakfast yesterday morning with poached eggs. Sometimes, if you let them. kids will teach you ‘what is right’…..
Loading your tortilla with a little beans and corn n’ peppers. You will not be hungry.
We also cooked a nice large bowl of rice. We have a rice cooker and used 2 cups of rice, 1 tin of crushed tomatoes and 3 cups of chicken stock.
The secret to having a ‘meatless’ dinner is to make sure that everything tastes great. There was A LOT of colour on the plates and the kids were able to help themselves to a little taste of everything.
In the end, we fed six adults and six kids for the bargain price of ……………….€21.02.
Yes, a little over budget but not by very much at all! We did use a lot of coriander that grows like a weed in the polytunnel so if you are buying it I reckon you would have to tack on another euro ….. Get some seeds and grow your own!
So, how is it going? Have you seen any dip in your food budget since you started paying closer attention to how much you are spending each week at the grocery shops? My friend Simone, who lives in Amsterdam, has taken on the challenge too and is coming up with a few lovely recipes so check out her blog too. Tonight, we are going to bone out a chicken and make Chicken marsala for dinner. Stay tuned, because this is a recipe everyone should know how to cook!
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today where it is getting a little blustery in Galway!
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I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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