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Friday, January 10, 2014

Returning to my roots

When I was little, we lived simply, with food we grew and stored. Most of our meals consisted of pasta (if you didn't guess where I grew up) and greens, and an occasional taste of meat. We grew and canned our own tomatoes and tomato paste, made our own sausages, and grew a variety of legumes to last us all winter long. We made our own bread and pizza too. Very few meals needed ingredients or spices that came from the local store.

So, with such background, you'd think it would be easy for me to cook vegetarian meals at my daughter's house. Absolutely! I did think though that I would miss the sausage in the meat ragu, the chicken in the fajita, and the ground beef in the chile. I did not.

What I did, before I even left the house to be with my daughter and her new baby, I made a list of meals that I could adapt easily.  Instead of meat, I used mushrooms and more herbs to flavor my sauces; Instead of eliminating a dish, I adapted it to adjust to a vegetarian lifestyle.

These are the meals I prepared:

Minestrone, Lasagna, Pasta primavera, Provencal Tan, Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Basil, Split Pea soup, Crepes with savory ricotta, Lentil Soup, Falafel,  Risotto with peas and spinach, Kale and beans, Burritos with spinach, rice and beans, Roasted root veggie chips with hummus, Cabbage, potatoes, onions and peas casserole, Tabbouleh salad with fresh basil, parsley, pine nuts, Citrus salad with pecans, Apple and carrot salad, Farro with cauliflower and walnuts, Pizza and vegetable soup, Eggplant parmigiana, Mixed Greens, beans, rice and roasted peppers enchilada.............................................................

I made enough for dinner to have leftovers for lunch.
Salads and cheese quesadillas were the back up lunches.
Cereals, eggs, pancakes and granola were the breakfast choices.

I relearned lessons I had as a child, to think on my feet and combine what I had in the refrigerator to put a meal together. The Provencal Tan was such a meal: Odds and ends, more zucchini than potatoes or eggplant,  layered with onions instead of leeks and baked in a very hot oven
turned out to be a very tasty dish for supper with brown rice on the side; and a sandwich filler the next day with a slice of cheese.  It didn't hurt to have the internet around for recipes such as the granola, the Filafel, even banana muffins when too many bananas needed to be used up.

None of these dishes were new to me.
I just had to return to my roots to get into the groove.


20 comments:

Brian Miller said...

i have eaten quite a few vegetarian meals that i would be happy to eat all the time and not miss the meat...

i do love meat...

but i think it is all in how it is prepared....

L. D. said...

We just don't eat as much meat as we use to. I could be a vegetarian if I had to be a little meat once in a while is good. We eat smaller portions so much any more that when we do cook a full meal we feel stuffed.

Rob-bear said...

That sounds wonderful, Rosaria. Glad you're back "into the grove."

Hope Pia and Nico are well!

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Rachel Cotterill said...

That all sounds absolutely wonderful!

When are you coming to visit me with your excellent vegetarian catering skills? ;)

Kitty Cat said...

Oooo... I remember your awesome minestrone. It's the best I have ever tasted! Lucky Pia & Jason for having you around. :)

dianefaith said...

I wouldn't miss meat at all, and I hate cooking it. But my husband seems to crave it, and it's red meat he craves most. After a couple of days without it, he starts mentioning his need for "a steak." We do eat smaller portions, but that meat has to be in there most of the time. Love your meals!

ds said...

As I am caught between a strict vegetarian and a devout carnivore, I appreciate the effort you made to adapt.(as you say, it is not so difficult) On my own, I rarely eat meat any more. Your meals sound delicious!

Lydia said...

I am overwhelmed and more-than-impressed by your list of menu selections. I have been thinking lately how few dishes I prepare from scratch anymore. I do not eat red meat, but do eat chicken and fish, and I am sort of stuck in a rut with chicken breasts, baked potatoes, lots of salads, grilled salmon, basmati rice, vege-burgers, chili, pasta with organic bottled sauce or store-bought pesto sauce. I long to prepare real meals again, with thought put into them....but, to be honest, my husband would rather go out to dinner and I have lost excitement meal preparation. Reading your post makes me realize I should cook just for my own enjoyment if nothing else!!!

Tom Sightings said...

Mmmmm, sounds like a delicious menu! (I was going to say scrumptious but I didn't know how to spell it ... but now I've looked it up.)

Hilary said...

I think that if I was completely on my own and only ever had myself to think of, I'd become vegetarian over time. I tend to lean that way when alone. All of your meals sound scrumptious. Wanna come visit? ;)

yaya said...

Congrats on the new baby in the family and how lucky for your daughter that you could come and help out...plus put together those fabulous meals! We did eat from our gardens more when I was little. We didn't have junk food around the house. Freshly baked bread from the oven was treat enough! Glad you rose to the challenge and went back to what always works..simple, fresh, and made with love!

the walking man said...

Now that i don't eat red meat anymore it all tastes like chicken to me.

Maggie May said...

The only meat I eat is chicken or turkey meat and I also adapt all the usual recipes without any problem.
My long suffering husband does enjoys veggie meals...... so he says!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Linda Myers said...

I envy anyone who can cook from what's on hand. I rarely cook - my husband likes it, so he does it. I probably ought to take a course on cooking for dummies.

Amanda said...

What lucky recipients your daughter and family - I can't get over the plethora of recipes - what a repertoire you have of culinary gems! Brava!

Becky Jerdee said...

Wish I could sit at your table, Rosaria! I adore vegetarian and try to do as much as the hubs will allow :)

manofroma said...

Fascinating! You made me water. What a terrific cook you are. But I am especially glad about your new baby. The best thing for a fresh new start. I am waiting for grandchildren. As far as I understood they are not too far to arrive. We will see. I badly need a fresh new start too.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I'm impressed. Everything sounds delicious. Interesting what we come up with when we only have certain ingredients before us.

I hope you enjoyed all the cooking. I'm pretty certain your daughter was more than appreciative of your meals and presence.

Sandy Carlson said...

Your meals sound delicious. I don't eat meat, and it just feels kinder.

Thanks for visiting my blog via Hilary. I would be honored if you shared my post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. what a lovely post of homely food and the ease we can adapt meals, if we've had that basic grounding.

All of these sound delicious ideas .. and I love vegetarian food, though I do eat meat. But prefer fish ...

I bet your daughter was happy to have you around! Cheers Hilary