19 April 2012

Reorganising myself for less meat

Yesterday I challenged you to join us on reducing the amount of meat you eat. I was really heartened by the number of enthusiastic comments and the suggestions coming forward using practical, common sense ways to cut back. My intention yesterday was to make a silverbeet (chard) pie. All I had to do was make pastry or buy some filo, I had the filling sorted. Well, true to form in the home kitchen, changes were made to suit the availability of ingredients and to use what was in the fridge that I didn't want to waste. That is one of the best things about cooking from scratch, you can take away or add according to your own requirements. I like that.

Another thing that occurred to me yesterday afternoon when it was getting late and I had not made the pastry, is that if I intend to go back to eating more meatless meals, I have to be much more organised than I am at the moment. It's easy enough to make a meal of meat and three veg or a salad, it requires more fore-thought to make a meal using other proteins. I would love to tell you that my life has gone back to normal since the book came out but to tell you the truth, I'm busier than I ever was. It's not just the book, I'm developing some exciting new projects that I'll tell you about soon, there is a lot going on at the Neighbourhood Centre and now that I'm on the committee I have my responsibilities there as well. I'm not complaining, I work better when I'm busy, I just want to share with you why I have to organise myself and what I'm doing in a more efficient way.

I did make the silverbeet pie! You might remember I had a couple of jars of whey after I made those camemberts. I decided not to make pastry but to make ricotta instead and to use the fresh ricotta in a crustless pie. It was delicious.

Here is what I did.

I heated the whey and some fresh unhomogenised milk to 95C/200F, added ½ cup of white vinegar and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Using muslin in a colander, I strained the milky mix and let the whey drain off. If we still had dogs, I would have given them the cooled whey to drink, but as this was already twice cooked and there was little protein left in it, I let it drain away.

That gave me a bowl of moist and creamy ricotta.

To make the pie filling:

Into a frying pan, add chopped onions and  crushed garlic and fry gently until translucent.

Chop silverbeet/spinach. I used a bag of frozen silverbeet left over from our last crop. It had been blanched, I defrosted it in the microwave, squeezed out as much liquid as I could, then chopped it.

We have small eggs at the moment - all our laying girls are new layers, so I used six small eggs. If you have large eggs, use four. Add salt and pepper, about ½ cup of cream, ½ cup of grated hard cheese - I used cheddar, and all the ricotta. Mix together then add the silverbeet and onions and mix again.

If you want to use pastry, line the dish with it, otherwise rub your oven-proof dish with olive oil and add the filling.

Bake in a moderate oven (180C/360F) until golden.

Serve with a garden salad.

This pie is really delicious. Both Hanno and I enjoyed the depth of flavour that the fresh ricotta added. We have enough left over for another meal. I think this meal would suit a committed meat eater - if you wanted to, you could add some bacon to give your meat eaters the feeling they're not missing out.

There are some interesting recipes being added to the associated thread at the forum. You can check them out here.

Hanno and I will be at the Cooroy Butter Factory tonight for the Permaculture Noosa gathering and tomorrow at Dymocks in Brisbane - the details are here.  We hope to see you if you're close by.



  1. Wee-hee! Looking for to hearing more about the new projects...

  2. This is definitely a recipe I'll be referring back to - sounds delicious!

    I heard an interesting interview with the author/animal rights activist/vegetarian johnathan safran foer recently, who said we require a shift in the way we think of vegetarian eating. He said, "do I think it's realistic that in ten years time half of Americans will be vegetarians? No, I don't. But 50% of meals eaten in America being vegetarian? Thats feasible."

    I think we all stand to benefit from eating less meat. The meat we do eat could be better quality/free range/organic and the environmental impact of meat farming and production would be lessened.

  3. This look yummy and is gluten free as well!

  4. That looks delicious, I think even my committed carnivore wouldn't mind it. My hens started laying, I can't believe the difference between fresh and store bought eggs! Thanks for getting me started in all this, you've enriched me :)

  5. 200C for ricotta?

    I keen to make it, but 95C or 200F is what my feeling would say.

  6. Thanks for picking that up Marijke, I got my C and Fs mixed. I've changed it now. It needs to be just under boiling point.

  7. i made my own ricotta for the first time on Monday, it was super easy. I dont think i will every buy it again. And the left over whey is getting added to my bread dough each morning and also put into gravy.

  8. I am making something very similar to this tonight for dinner Rhonda although i usually add a few curried lentils and handful of diced bacon to keep the male of the house happy!
    I love that you added your fresh ricotta! Enjoy your appearances and don't forget to save a little time for yourself over the weekend!

  9. gosh that looks delicious - I made ricotta and paneer last month as part of the Urban farm challenge. I will have to make it again in order to try out your recipe. I like the fact that you can cook it without pastry too. I am hoping I will be able to grow silverbeet this year - everyone else has such success with it... I have taken your advice and used sulphate of potash and do believe that has made a difference.

  10. What I did about 12 months ago to reduce our meat purely for financial reasons was to weigh my meat portions at 400 grams for the two of us. As we both love our meat it was hard at first but now it is just what we do. We have meat most meals so we don't go without we just have less of it. This has worked well for us.

  11. Thank you for thoughtful food ideas, I think people are beginning to wake up. I'm trying, in small bits, to be mindful of how I eat.

  12. Thank you for thoughtful food ideas, I think people are beginning to wake up. I'm trying, in small bits, to be mindful of how I eat.

  13. That looks great Rhonda. We often alternate between big, full on meal and then the next day have a more snack/soup type meal. It works for us and it is good for our budget as well as my sanity! I shall be taking note on how much meat we're eating and see if we can cut it down a bit.

  14. Mmmmm...sounds and looks wonderful! I'm excited to see and try some of the posted meat-free recipes!

  15. Hello Rhonda. I just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying your book. Just reading it makes me feel more 'mindful'. I live frugally, but feel that the money was well spent.

  16. Rhonda,
    thanks for the recipe, especially how to make the ricotta.


  17. I see someone suggested saving the whey for bread making. Very good use for it.

    Another good alternative is to give it to the chickens! Or, freeze it for another time.

  18. Just finished eating your spinach pie. Delish. Thank you. Was thinking of you eating dinner x

  19. I like your ricotta method. I often make a whole milk ricotta. My whey ricotta hasn't been as well-liked by my family in past attempts. This post has inspired me to give it another try.

    And that quiche looks delicious! :o)
    Thanks for your cheesemaking posts, Rhonda. I am enjoying them.

  20. That does look delicious. However, as a small, and fairly sedentary woman, I would need a much, much larger portion than that. I can't imagine that my large and manual-working husband would thrilled to sit down to such a light meal though.

  21. Some of my best dishes come out of having to make do with what I've got (either time or ingredients!). That looks lovely and delicious.

  22. Hi there all you Down to Earth friends, I make a Silverbeet, Tomato and Onion Quiche on a regular basis . I will give you the recipe if anyone would like to try it. We have an abundance of self seeded silverbeet in the garden at the moment and eggs from our chooks
    Marg in Tasmania

  23. Hi Rhonda, I haven't been following for all that long, but am loving your words of inspiration and am trying to catch up on all your posts. I now have jars of tomato sauce, tomato relish and tomato paste all tucked away for later use, and have just had some yummy toast for breakfast using the last of my home made bread (must make some more of that today!). Just one thing though, your post said "if I still had dogs". Have I missed something about your doggies?

  24. I love the idea to reduce the amount of meat that we eat each week...... but where can I find the whey?

  25. Hi Rhonda! I've only commented a few times here, I think, but I am truly in love with your blog. I credit it for really getting me into homesteading. I talk about your blog so much, my husband knows you by name now. :)

    I have been wanting to be less dependent on meat for a while now. Ideally, I'd like to eat less meat overall so we can afford to get really good local meat. I look forward to reading everyone's tips here!

  26. Can you make the ricotta without the whey?

  27. Rhonda, I have several quarts of frozen yoghurt whey in the freezer. What ratio of whey/milk/vinegar did you use to make the ricotta? I've never made ricotta before, but you made it sound so simple I'm eager to try my hand at it. Thanks. :-D


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