Based on ecological reasons, my flatmate has recently decided to turn vegetarian. My, was she a bacon lover.
Nonetheless, I fully support and understand her choice. Despite being born omnivores, the impact and consequences of today’s meat and fish consumption are horrendous. Not only is the amount of water used to produce one pound of meat (ca. 1600 litres, no joke) disgusting, the amount of ongoing soy bean cultivation to create enough meal for livestock is equally shocking. Since the 90’s, soy bean production has doubled globally, with about 85% of the produce being used for oil and meal. On average, for the 87kg meat and 250 eggs each European eats per annum, 400m2 of land are needed per person to keep up with the demand. Unimaginable. The rapid expansion has led to invasion of natural habitats, (including woodlands, rainforests, savannahs in South America), damaging water reserves, soil quality, ultimately threatening wildlife and biodiversity.
Something has to change. Something has to change fast. Reducing your meat and dairy intake would be a great first step – it is mine.
That being said, I went through my recipe index and was shocked by the small percentage of vegetarian dishes cited. So, to improve that statistic, I got to work and am proud to present you with a simple mid-week vegetarian gratin. Not dairy free, but delicious. Meat is definitely not missed here. Also, keeping in tune with the ecological theme, it is avocado free.
Asparagus Mushroom Gratin
If you are Swiss – stop reading here and wait for my next post. If not, please continue.
Sit back, close your eyes, and try to imagine how a typical Swiss winter weekend is spent. What did you come up with? Let me guess: waking up to blue sky and sunshine in a remote wooden chalet amongst meters of powpow. The day is started with freshly baked bread and hot chocolate, before taking to the slopes (mind you, by this time it’s probably only just gone 08:30 am). After a full days of skiing you slide into the local après ski bar for a glas or two of mulled wine before returning to your chalet and pampering yourself, especially your muscles, in the in-house sauna or steam-bath. Showered, relaxed and changed you gather around the fireplace and commence with an apéro, probably consisting of some bubblies, Hobelkäse and Bündnerfleisch. And dinner? Well, cheese of course. There’s nothing like melted cheese served with potatoes, grilled veggies, garlic and meats, a.k.a Raclette (wohooo low carb!!). The food-belly will be painful, but worth it – no better way to digest than with a sip of Kirsch whilst enjoying fire number two, before heading to bed. And tomorrow? Well, naturally, REPEAT, with cheese fondue instead. Sound about right?
Now, what on earth do the Swiss do when it snows and rains all day? Get all dressed up in ski-gear and watch ski-racing from the sofa, prior to commencing the daily apéro a few hours early? Exactly right. Also exactly how I spent my past weekend (minus the ski-gear, in-house sauna and steam-bath, add the onesie). It was glorious, you should try it.
WE DID IT!!! My friend and I successfully ran the Race for Life yesterday evening in Battersea Park. It was such a great event with an amazing atmosphere – over 3000 people had signed up to run, jog or walk the distance :-).
I managed the 5k in just over 25 minutes… not too bad for an awful long distance runner. Thank you to everyone for your generous donations, together you helped me raise a grand total of £1’711.00 in aid of Cancer Research UK!!!! If you have not yet donated but still wish to do so, the link below is active until early September:
Moving on to today’s recipe – recently I have started taking one ingredient and basing an entire menu around it. Today’s choice: Polenta. Polenta is great in cakes and breads (nothing beats chilli with cornbread) but also makes a great side to mushroomy dishes. It reminds me of my childhood holidays in the warm italian part of southern Switzerland. The reason behind my choice of polenta is a recent dinner invitation. They served a delicious polenta/lemon/almond cake for dessert. I had two helpings (despite a starter, a main and an exploding food belly). The minute I got home I tried to find a similar recipe, determined to re-create this heavenly lemony dessert. I don’t know if it’s exactly the same recipe, but it sure tasted just as good :-). The strawberry coulis is an addition of mine, I felt the dish needed some fresh fruity sauce to round it off.
Beef Fillet, Mushrooms, Sherry Sauce, Creamy Polenta
adapted from Fast Food by Laurel Glen and Wildeisen