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meat-free month

I couldn’t bear the idea of going to bed tonight without writing a short blog post to mark the end of our meat-free month.  No, I haven’t yet finished writing up my meat-free diary, and promise I will get round to it, but I really wanted to say “it’s the end.”  I can’t quite believe I’ve actually stuck to something like this, it feels like a good achievement.

I feel like I am over the craving meat feeling, but perhaps that is because I know I can eat it again from tomorrow – Mr Rigg has just reminded me I promised to get up at 6am to make him a bacon sandwich before work.  If there’s one thing this month has taught me, it’s to be more adventurous and make those recipes I’ve bookmarked but never tried.

I’ll be back soon with the final details of our meat-free month.

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Abbey Leys Farmers Market

Yesterday was my favourite local farmers market at Abbey Leys so it was a great chance to stock up some lovely food.  On top of this, I braved the icy cold with the other stall holders to promote a website I’ve set up to promote local, seasonal food in my community.  It was so blinking cold in the barn, and although I was so pleased with my display of seasonal vegetables and old-fashioned seed packets on stick, a number of people did mistake me for a grower.  Oh well.

local food

But enough of that and back to the real bread.  For a while now, a fantastic bread lady (officially known at Jane’s Handmade Bread) has been coming to the market.  She makes heavenly real bread.  My favourite is her Miracle Bread which is stuffed full of all kinds of seeds and has a lovely golden brown colour to it.  She never arrives before 10.30am, having been up since 3am baking, but everyone waits and queues for ages just to get their hands on some of her beautiful breads.

Jane's Handmade Bread

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Last weekend we had the most lovely food all weekend – and, obviously, all meat-free.  We had Mr Rigg’s parents over for lunch on the Saturday so it was quite a challenge for us to come up with something we thought they would love, as they both really enjoy meat and fish.  We decided on a curry feast and some little nibbly bites to start.  Then on Sunday we seemed to eat well, or at least what I would consider to be eating well.  See what you think.

Saturday 28th January

beluga lentil goat cheese crostini

Beluga lentil crostini.  It’s always nice to do something a bit special when you have guests, so we made these little tiny nibbles, a lovely recipe I’ve been wanting to try from 101 Cookbooks.  They are small toasts topped with a goat cheese and herb mixture – utterly scrumptious!

Now the pictures get a bit less lovely as I was testing out my new phone and rushing to get everything out!

Jamie Oliver Rogan Josh vegetarian curry

We made Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals vegetarian Rogan Josh curry – it’s got butternut squash, cauliflower, spinach and chickpeas in it and is utterly delicious – one of our favourite meals to cook.  From the same meal in the book we also made the lemon pickle (I thought it was disgusting, but everyone else said it was quite nice in small amounts with everything else) and carrot salad (I leave out the almonds and don’t add much chilli).

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It has been days and days since I last posted about our meat-free month.  During those days (weeks really) we have had highs and lows of eating meat-free.  When I last posted, with a snapshot of a vegetarian curry we were making, I was on a real high, thoroughly enjoying our meat-free month and the delicious new recipes we were trying out.

The past week has seen that go downhill with real desperate cravings to eat bacon and egg, and sausages.  I don’t know why, but my body has just been desperate for something else – the result is we’ve eaten a lot of stodgy comfort food as you might get a glimpse of in my diary.  My lovely friend Caroline who has just finished her meat-free month also said they experienced this, getting more and more desperate for, again, bacon and egg by the end of their month.

For now, here is my better week of eating…

Monday 23rd January

potato onion stilton pie

Stilton, onion and potato pie.  Really, it is just that.  Make some mashed potato, sweat some onions down until nice and golden, then in an ovenproof dish layer mash, onion, stilton and then more mash on top.  Bake in the oven and eat.  Fabulously stodgy and simple comfort food.  Really should be eaten with lots of greenery.

Tuesday 24th January

Ah!  No idea of what we ate!  Didn’t take a picture so can’t remember.  Oh well.

Wednesday 25th January

macaroni peas

Macaroni peas.  This is a new firm (and super easy and quick) favourite from Hugh’s Everyday Veg.  You basically cook peas, then blitz half of them to a puree with some of the pea cooking water.  You also add some sliced garlic you’ve gently softened in butter, along with some grated Parmesan (it’s a bit like a pea pesto).  Then you mix together your cooked macaroni, pea puree and the remaining whole peas.  It’s really delicious.

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So I’m lagging behind on updating what we’ve been eating on our meat-free month, so I will speedily try and do some catching up.  On the weekend we had a day at home and a day visiting family.  Visiting family wasn’t a big deal as my parents don’t really eat meat, in fact I’m sure my mother was quite pleased!

On Saturday morning before we headed off to Leicester to see my granny and meet my parents, we whipped up a quick salad from Hugh’s Everyday Veg book to take as our lunch offering (we were each making something).  We also had made a birthday cake as both my parents’ birthdays are in January – pictures of that to follow.

Saturday 14th January

Pearl barley salad with roasted squash and fennel, lemon juice, parsley and cheese.  This is a fresh wintery salad with the roasted squash and fennel tossed through the cooked pearl barley, and the other bits added to taste.  I am neither a huge fan of squash or fennel, but all together it was delicious.  I am learning to trust a few certain chefs to the point where I know I can make most of the recipes, irrespective of whether we think we like the ingredients, and know that we’ll love it.

My mom loved the salad and decided she might give in and buy the book – although she refused to watch anymore of the TV series after Hugh slaughtered a sheep during one episode and didn’t think it was appropriate for a programme encouraging vegetable eating.  I do see her point, although I understand Hugh’s motivations to encourage us to eat meat that is well-cared for.  Mommys.

(Sorry for the measly picture – I forgot to take any photos on Saturday so this is my leftover lunch on Monday)

Sunday 15th January

Broccoli and chilli pasta.  Penne pasta with steamed broccoli that had been tossed in lightly cooked garlic and chilli flakes and a good knob of butter.  I used to eat broccoli pasta all the time at University, but in the past few years haven’t been enamoured by the idea so have been reluctant to make it.  I’m so pleased we did though because there is something very comforting about this combination.  We didn’t follow a recipe we just made it up as we went along – some of the best cooking is done this way I think.

My meat-free month thoughts at the end of week 1

Last night we were chatting about how we were finding our meat-free month so far.  We’ve both had the odd pang for meat, salty crisp bacon in particular.  Bacon, egg and toast even more specifically for me.  But otherwise, I haven’t really had any meal where I’ve missed meat.  Mr Rigg says the one meal we’ve had that he would have enjoyed more with the addition of meat, again bacon, was the colcannon baked potatoes with the poached egg.

I am feeling much more cheerful about what we are cooking and eating, and I am excited about carrying on this way.  It is great to be challenged to come up with interesting and diverse meals that don’t contain meat or fish, and in the process we are discovering some firm new favourites, which we might not otherwise have found.

It also makes me want to carefully look at and work out how much meat we eat in the future – I’m sure somewhere I read guidelines on the suggested weight of meat we should each eat a month, I believe this was from a sustainable point of view, but probably also good for your health.

Naples vegetable market

On Monday our plan is to embark on a Hugh F-W style meat-free month.  Armed with my trusty River Cottage Everyday Veg and numerous other recipe books and ‘old favourites’ I am quite looking forward to a meat-free month.  I’m not sure the same goes for my husband.

For most of my life I didn’t eat meat – I ate fish, and ate meat politely at other people’s houses, but at home we never had meat.  My mom claims it’s because I refused to eat meat as a child that they stopped eating it, but it’s all I’ve really known.

homegrown vegetables

Pop a steak in front of me and I’m not quite sure what to do with it, nor do I enjoy the taste or texture.  I have always had a weakness for bacon and cured meats like salami.  As a teenager boyfriends were also a sticking point which as a result I began to eat and try more kinds of meat.  I am at an unhappy place recently, however, where I struggle to think or dream up a meal which doesn’t contain a hint of meat, usually crispy bits of bacon.

But I don’t want to be like that, I don’t think I will ever stop eating meat or fish, but I want to eat them in small quantities and of the best quality and provenance when I do.  I certainly don’t want to continue in this default setting of adding a hint of something meaty to most dishes.

winter veg stir fry

So, like a number of people, I have been inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to try and have a meat-free month.  I am really quite excited about it and have been busy tagging recipes we can try.  I also have a number of firm favourites that we have been eating recently, so I will defintiely be eating lots of them.

I am hoping to try hard to document every meal we eat, at least I’m hopefully one meal a day I can capture with a picture and share here.  If anyone else is trying this out (my lovely friend Caroline started at the beginning of January) I’d love to hear how you’re getting on and if you have any recipes to recommend.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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