So I figured I would update this blog.
I know, I know, it’s been forever.
But it’s about to be Lent, and I figured, what better way to keep this blog going for a little bit then by logging my particular Lenten fast: vegetarianism.
Not only will this be a place for me to record recipes I like, complain about ones I don’t, and generally keep myself accountable for what I’m planning to do, but I figure I have a number of friends who are interested in veggie-style living who might be able to offer tips, support, recipes, or chiding for that day they saw me ordering a chicken salad sandwich at the Medici. Because I’m expecting to slip up here and there, but I’m also expecting to work as hard as I can to slip up as little as possible.
I figured I’d also lay out my rules for the fast, so as to have them ready at hand as a way of judging myself against a fair standard, so I don’t change the goalposts as this goes along. First, I’m not completely taking all meat out of my diet. I am willing to eat fish, provided I have prepared it myself. Since these kinds of meat tend to be more expensive, I don’t plan on eating them with much regularity, but they are options. In addition to normal Lenten practice, which is to break the fast on Sundays, I will allow myself to “cheat” once per week if it’s avoidable, with the caveat that I won’t eat red meat at all even when cheating. I will eat eggs in moderation. I will also focus my vegetarianism on actual vegetables, and not simply eat a box of cookies a day. What would be the point in that? Finally, I will try to post at least once every few days to upgrade anyone reading on how it’s going. If I think of more rules, I’ll share them, but I think for now this will be the Rule of Madison for the duration of Lent.
I would also like to add that, while this is partially a self-improvement thing, there’s also some theological reasons for this. A lot of folks just use Lent as an excuse to get more exercise or cut out soda for a while, and you know, that’s fine by me. I’d rather you have 40 days out of the week making your life better and your body stronger than not. But for me, this was partially motivated by theology.
For one thing, animals are creatures of the living God, just like you and me. They feel pain, and terror. They have internal lives. It seems as though cavalierly eating their meat is something that we should worry about. One may rejoin that we were given dominion over them, yadda yadda Genesis. But, if you ask me, it’s a pretty pisspoor sovereign who uses their dominion as an excuse to murder their subjects. And the creation struggles under the weight of the apparatus designed to feed us and sustain us in our first-world comfort. Meat is a big part of that, and if forty days of going without it can help me bankroll that apparatus a little bit less — and develop strategies that can lessen my support of it in the future — that’s worth doing. And finally, I believe it is true when we are told that we are Temples of God. Our bodies — my body — is meant to give some glory for God. Going without meat will, I hope, serve as a reminder that how I treat my body matters to the God who redeems me, and that She wants me to treat that body with the same respect I would treat any of Her temples.
With that said, I thought I’d share the recipe that I prepared tonight and laid aside for a few meals this week. While it’s not Ash Wednesday for two more days, it never hurts to practice. After all, that’s what fasting is — a spiritual practice.
I made this from my friend Jimmy’s recipe. I made a few changes, but it’s thanks to him. He probably got it from the internet.
Butternut Squash and Apple “Warm Winter” Soup
1 1/2 – 2 T olive oil
1 medium white onion, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1½ pounds peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into approximately 1x1x1 inch cubes
4 peeled and cored apples; cut into pieces approximately half the size of the butternut squash
1½ cups 1% milk
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop squash and apples, combine, set aside. Do the same with the ginger and garlic. Once done, chop the onion finely, mincing in a chopper if possible.
In a large sauce pan or smaller stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced onion to hot oil and cook about 8 minutes, or until the onion turns a golden color. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute more more.
Next add the chopped butternut squash and apple; season with a little salt and pepper and give the whole mixture a good stir, being sure to bring the onion from the bottom of the pan to coat the veggies and fruits throughout. Cover, reduce heat to low and allow the chopped produce to release its juice for about 10 minutes. While the mixture sweats, pour the vegetable stock in a small saucepan over low heat so it’s ready for the next step.
When time has elapsed, pour in the milk and stock, raise the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, being careful not to reach a rapid boil. When the squash is soft, turn off the heat. Using a blender, hand-held mixing wand or food processor, blend it to a puree. (If you lack these tools, a potato masher works great to break everything down, then a few minutes of vigorous whisking will do. It won’t perfectly puree the mixture, but it will still be a tasty soup! If you use this method, you might want to leave the heat on low so as not to lose temperature before serving, as it can take a little more time.)
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with croutons and goat or blue cheese crumbles. Fresh basil or parsley also makes for a good topping.
Serves four to six.