September 23, 2009

Vegans, Vegetarians, Flexitarians, and Freeatarians. Oh, my!

Although I like to think of myself as a vegetarian, I do still eat some seafood which I guess makes me a flexitarian. Flexitarians generally eat no flesh, but once in a while do eat seafood, poultry or red meat. There are a stunning number of labels these days for describing our eating habits and styles. Where for centuries of our country's history, we strove for "three squares," now we graze, nosh, aim for six minis a day, and eat many, many meals "on the go."

When I first became interested in vegetarianism a very long time ago, the World Vegetarian Congress defined thirteen levels of vegetarianism ranging from vegans who use no milk, eggs, honey or any product, including clothing, dervied from the animal kingdon to Jain (Indian) vegetarians who avoid foods that grow below the ground.

Most people today who follow a flesh-free way of eating are ovo-lacto vegetarians, keeping eggs and dairy products as part of their diets. Of course meat is generally considered as a protein source, but it's an expensive one, especially in terms of our earth's limitied arable land.

While all the labels certainly can get confusing, the basic idea of limiting our intake of what's called pass-through protein makes great earth-savvy sense. Consider the idea JUST from an economic viewpoint... The acreage it takes to fatten a beef critter would feed so many more people in this world if planted in various protein-rich grains and legumes. (I'm sure you can see where the label "pass-through protein" comes from.) Actually, Americans HAVE been reducing their meat-eating in the recent past especially since this economic downturn began.

And remember, I'm just asking you to consider this from a personal and global economic perspective, not even factoring in health, ethical, or other individual considerations.

Okay, so what's a freeatarian, you ask? I was at a wedding recently where a table of us were discussing the whole range of vegetarian approaches, when one 20-something said that he's a freeatarian. HUH? "Yup, if it's free, I eat it!"


September 10, 2009

Freezing a Summer Fruit Salad

One of my favorite cookbooks, one I've often mentioned here, is Make-A-Mix Cookery, an invaluable guide to making your own money- and time-saving mixes. Basic Bisquick-type mix, cookie, cake, bread mixes. Meat seasoning mixes, and so, so much more. One recipe in that book has always interested me, but I'd never tried it until last weekend.

It's called Marie's Fruit Cocktail Mix, a combination of green grapes, peaches, melons and blueberries in a lemon- and orange-flavored simple syrup. I hadn't tried it because I couldn't imagine how this mix would freeze and not be all mushy when thawed.

Of course I didn't quite follow the recipe as given... I cut the sugar in the syrup and used less melon than called for. I have a container of the finished product thawing on the counter right now, but this I can tell you: It looked terrific and tasted w-a-y wicked good as a fresh fruit salad. We had company for supper the night I made it, and they raved over the samples I served with molasses crinkle cookies.

Frozen Fruit Cocktail Mix

1/2 watermelon, cut in bite-size pieces
1 crenshaw melon, cut in bite-size pieces
1 cantaloup, cut in bite-size pieces
lots of green grapes
lots of blueberries
peaches to taste, cut in bite-size pieces

You'll need a B-I-G bowl for mixing all this fruit.

Mix together and bring to a boil, stirring well:

3 cups sugar
2 qts. water


1 6 oz can EACH, frozen orange juice and frozen lemonade.

Pour, hot, over fruit, gently mix, pack into freezer containers, leaving 1/2" head room. The orginal recipe said to pack the fruit then cover with the hot syrup, but I wanted to be sure the fruit was well-coated with the syrup to prevent any browning.

Okay, I've just gotten into the almost-thawed fruit...everything's kept its color perfectly, the watermelon, cantaloup and crenshaw have all kept both their texture and individual flavors, and
the blueberries, peaches and grapes are yummy too.

Most definitely, this recipe is a money-saving winner for winter!