Wednesday, November 16, 2011
From Vegan to Bacon Godess
What knocked me off the wagon was one too many white bread and american cheese sandwiches at the summer camp I had worked at for most of highschool. You see, I am also lactose intolerant. Though I would usually eat the cheese, you can imagine I was not really taking in enough calories. I was hungry. One day I could take it no longer, I ate a hot dog. After that my friend Joe, who had recently fallen off the wagon as well, and I went on a meat eating binge. We had to remember what animals tasted like after nearly a decade each of not eating them. We were out to try everything!
A few years went by and I graduated from college. Then I followed in the footsteps of so many by moving to Colorado to snowboard. Sometime during the Colorado years I decided to return to vegetarianism. I wasn't as strict with myself and have always held the belief that I should try everything once (I will never eat animals I have had as pets, or horses). And yes, I did eat rocky mountain oysters. Before I went veg again, I tried them believing they were salisbury steak. They looked and tasted just like the salisbury steak at the cafeteria where I worked. I thought that they just put up the sign for rocky mountain oysters to get a rise out of the tourists. I later discovered that in fact the rocky mountain oysters were authentic.
After a few years in Colorado I moved to southern California. My good friend there was a vegan and I decided to give it a go. I mean being lactose intolerant I really shouldn't be eating cheese. I had yet to eat true free range chicken eggs, so I also didn't really think I liked eggs. Handily the cafeteria here in California provided a soy substitute for every animal based protein. We had soy sausages, soy corn dogs, soy nuggets, soy burgurs, soy patties...the list goes on. You may have heard that eating too much soy is bad for you. I can attest to it, I was crazy and generally not fun to be around. I am much happier now that I eat bacon again.
Towards the end of the first year in California I made a decision. If I or a person I knew had killed an animal, I would eat it. I tried fresh tuna from the Pacific and rattlesnake. I also started eating eggs from the chickens where I worked, turns out eggs ARE actually good. I tried drinking goat milk straight from the milking bucket, that is one I won't be trying again.
That summer I moved to Montana, where I eventually moved full time, where just about everyone hunts and fishes and it is difficult to establish residency if you don't eat meat. I tried fresh caught trout, elk, moose, bison. It was all delicious.
And so my food views changed once again. The more I returned to Montana where the farm to table path is more transparent, the more meat I have eaten. I try not to eat meat more than once a day, I try to have at least one day with no meat. I am gentle with myself with both my rules and the dairy. I eat bacon, and it's delicious. I do my best to shop locally. When I do eat prepared foods, I try to eat things that have the same ingredients I would use (do you have the ingredients to make soy bacon in your pantry?). I try to avoid soy at all costs (I do eat edemame, I could pick that myself if any of the farms would let me). I have also learned that the better the pigs are treated the better the bacon tastes. And really animal welfare is the reason I originally became a vegetarian all those years ago. This week's recipe is void of bacon (I am still recovering from the bacon chocolate chip cookies). It does contain one of the ingredients that convinced me that eating some meat was ok; elk, hunted and butchered by someone I know.
First you will need to get some elk steaks. If you don't hunt yourself, find out who among your friends does and start offering to do things for this person in trade for these steaks. Do they need a ride to the airport? Help with the butchering? Their carpets cleaned? Figure it out, you will need about a pound.
Peppers (green, red or yellow and something mildly spicy such as anaheim, one of each)
Defrost the elk steaks and cut into strips the size you would expect to find in a fajita. Put in a bowl and mix with about a tablespoon of the taco seasoning. I'll let you decide exactly how much seasoning your elk needs.
Chop up as much onion as you like. I don't enjoy very much onion, so I use about 1/4 of an onion.
Put your skillet on the stove on medium heat and toss the onions in.
Meanwhile chop all three peppers. When the onions are starting to get tender add the peppers, salt, pepper, another teaspoon or two of taco seasoning and about 1/4 cup of water. Put the lid on the mixture and cook until the peppers are tender. Now you can take off the lid and add the elk steak. Stir and cook for not much more than five minutes. The elk should just be brown on the outside and pink in the middle. Please don't overcook the elk.
Hopefully you remembered to warm those tortillas because you want to eat this right away. Plenty of veggies and local meat, yum!