The original plan was to share with you our adventures from the long weekend. We had some fun, went to some places, were well-entertained and fed in the process. However, Sunday night, while Joe and I were out, I received a text from Louisa that completely superseded that story in importance. Are you sitting down? Here’s the exact language of that text:
“Ok, but what if I just became a vegetarian”
Original reaction – laughter. After nearly dropping the phone, that is. Joe and I looked at each other in disbelief. Why does this daughter always try to mess with us? We all know just how much Louisa loves meat. In fact, any reader of this blog knows that Louisa loves meat and has often given me grief when I’ve served a meatless dinner.
After a few more lines of text speak that would only make sense to a parent, I realized she wasn’t kidding. OMG.
Naturally you might be wondering, just as I was, what prompted this impulse. Did she eat a bad piece of meat? Or did all of her vegetarian-convert friends influence her. She denies both of these theories, although I think the second one may play a large part in the decision, because she’s a teen. Louisa’s explanation was that she doesn’t feel she can call herself an animal lover and still eat meat.
(Interesting. She’s actually at an age where values and conscience plays a part in her decision-making. Parenting is really a very fascinating business. Let’s hope this applies to all of the decisions she will be making when she heads off to college. I know.)
I had several reactions to this decision. First, I told her that I didn’t think animal loving and eating meat were incompatible. I believe that humans were born to be omnivores, and it’s all that circle of life thing. I wouldn’t try to turn my cats or puppy into vegetarians. They would probably waste away from poor health. Omnivores eating meat is natural and doesn’t violate our relationship with animals. That said, we should try to support the consumption of meat that was raised humanely and be appreciative of the lives given to fill our plates. It’s not that I’m heartless.
Next, if she does make this decision, I asked that she didn’t take the vegan approach because it’s much easier for her to fulfill her nutritional needs by eating eggs and dairy.
After that, I requested that she be conscientious about what she ate and not follow the approach of teen vegetarians that I’ve heard about who eat blocks of cheese and bowls of cereal as their main staples. A well balanced approach is the way to do this, including adding the dreaded legumes into her diet.
Finally, I told her she could change her mind about this decision without feeling bad, any time she wanted.
Then, my meal planning juices kicked into full throttle as I thought about how to change over our kitchen to become vegetarian. Oh, did you think she’d be the only vegetarian in this household? Nope, as long as Annie was okay with this change, I was ready to move full speed ahead.
You see, this change has been my plan for when Louisa went off to college. I’ve frequently told Joe that our meals will be changing once we’re empty nesters and that there will be many more meatless meals, more along the lines of what I cooked in those early days before kids. I think vegetarian meals are many times more interesting and I do believe healthier than meat centered dinners. When you cook vegetarian, produce is moved front and center on your plate.
Having said all that, this doesn’t mean I won’t ever eat meat again. I’m sure when we go out to eat, Joe and I will order meat. Plus, how could I give up bacon? Or prosciutto? Or sausages? Pulled pork? A well-cooked steak or roast beef? It won’t happen. I like to eat meat a lot more than I like to prepare it, although I may even cook it on occasion. For starters, I will use up the stash in my freezer. I simply won’t require Louisa to eat it when we do.
And so, the timing of this decision came on a very interesting date – the evening before one of the big grilling days of the year, July 4th. Our plans to use the smoker to prepare some kind of smoked meat went out the window and, instead, we tried smoking tofu. You heard me, spicy smoked tofu! With a side pasta salad. Tofu does a great job of absorbing the smoke. And it was good. Maybe not smoked ribs good, but feeling virtuous and healthy, this is pretty good for tofu, good.
- 1 lb firm tofu
- ¼ c soy sauce
- 3 tbs rice vinegar
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tbs minced fresh ginger, or dehydrated ginger pieces
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- Slice tofu block in half through the middle. Place paper towel on large plate, put tofu slices on towel, cover with another paper towel, and then another large plate. Place a large can on top of plate to press it down and let tofu sit at least half an hour to drain while you prepare marinade.
- Once drained, cut up tofu into one-inch cubes and place in bowl. Mix together other ingredients in a measuring cup, then pour over tofu, making sure to turn cubes to coat. Allow tofu to marinate ½ hour.
- Prepare your smoker as directed by your equipment for a cool smoke.
- Thread tofu cubes onto skewers and put in smoker. Reserve marinade. Allow to smoke approximately 30 minutes. Turn up heat on smoker to grill temperature, baste tofu with reserved marinade, and grill approximately 10 minutes, turning and basting once.