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.

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