Episode 704 (236) Watermelon Burgers
This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.
Watermelon burgers. Mark Bitman, a food critic, wrote this article entitled "Throw Another Melon on the Grill" with some suggestions for grilling some food we rarely consider. The grill has come to be associated with burgers and steaks, but that is not the only use for one. Watermelon is delicious. We combined that with something he calls grilled yam planks. Put them together and you are set.
I hardly ever think of myself as a vegetarian just as most folks don't think of themselves as carnivores. We are just people who eat food. That seems fair. Some of us choose one thing and others of us choose something else. I remember when I used to consider being a vegetarian and I couldn't imagine how or why anyone would do such a thing.
Meat is a basic staple in our culture. Eating meat is sort of like owning a gun...it is considered a God given right to many. We kill it. We eat it.
Some of us have chosen to go another direction. I'm sure we number in the millions. People sometimes ask me why I am a vegetarian and I always have to pause to consider an answer. People who have already given it considerable thought ask, "Is it for health reasons, or moral reasons?"
When I first started being a vegetarian at age 67 I suppose it was for both: health and moral. I had heard that it was good for one's health for a long time. Then I started to read about how meat was being produced in this country on factory farms: atrocious physical conditions, loaded with drugs and supplements, abhorrent work conditions, and environmentally unsustainable use of the land. But I must admit that to me meat that is sold today doesn't taste anything like it used to when animals roamed the pastures. It is like the taste has been bred out. Then again, I was raised on an acreage in the midwest where we raised our own animals for butchering. They were all grass feed with just a little grain added.
Our daughter became a vegetarian first. She held to all of the previous mentioned reasons plus she had two small children she was trying to raise. She felt responsible for their health. She could not, in good faith, put such stuff in their bodies. Her decision certainly influenced our choice.
I often wondered what vegetarians did eat. It seemed to me like the diet must be pretty much a slug: not much taste, not much choice, and not very filling. I was wrong on all counts.
We have discovered an amazing variety of dishes that top the charts in taste. Brenda just jotted down some of our favorite dishes, sort of like if most folks would jot down hamburgers, pork chops, steak and pizza with everything on it.
There are many varieties of veggie pastas that she likes to make. I always love it when right before dinner she says, "I don't know what we will have". That's code for we will be eating something new and delicious. Then there are the quiches - spinach and red pepper or mushroom. I like them with or without the crust. Then she throws in some various kinds of frittatas. I'm not sure of the difference between those and quiches but there must be something.
One of our favorite dinners to serve when company comes is some kind of vegetable curry over rice. There are several types of curry to choose from and the spiciness can be managed to suite your taste. We also have discovered polenta. I'm not sure what polenta is, but it seems like some sort of cornmeal. We had never had this until we took the turn and now we love it in some sort of corn and tomato casserole.
This is one of the greatest things about retirement. When we are working at going to school or going to work our lives are pretty well filled up. We don't have time or energy to really consider some of the basics of our lives. We eat what we are familiar with and whatever is handy. It is pure luxury to pull up a recipe that perhaps has some feature that you have never considered and then bring it into being within a few hours. Life becomes a treat...at least at that moment. It's like magic.
I must mention a few other dishes. Eggplant parmesan is one for holiday celebrations. We have always received rave reviews whenever it is the main dish. It not only tastes fantastic, but they are beautiful when they are ready to eat. Then there is cannelloni with spinach and goat cheese. Not to be outdone by roasted bell peppers with quinoa and goat cheese.
And then a macaroni and cheese with jalapeños that is unlike any mac and cheese dish you could ever imagine. I could not stop eating this stuff. It is the jalapeños and bread crumb crust that make it. Last but not least I will mention zucchini patties: shredded zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, onions and some other stuff. Always welcome.
For lunches we have found the beauty of salads of all sorts, veggie sandwiches or cheeses of various kinds matched with an assortment of crackers.
We have now been vegetarians for ten years. We have deviated into the pescetarian world. We added fish. I don’t feel real good about this but my wife loves to create various ways of preparing and working with varieties of fish.
There are so many tastes out there. Becoming vegetarian or pescetarian opened a lot of doors for us. I can't imagine falling back in the habit of eating dead animals.
As a postscript: we did try watermelon burgers twice: no luck. But the yam planks were delicious.
This is Retirement Talk.