As you’ve likely noticed, I post about meat and share meat recipes pretty often here on the blog. We are most certainly carnivores (well, omnivores really) but in reality, we actually don’t eat a ton of meat at Barton Farms and Gardens.
Aside from the chicken we raise ourselves we purchase our meats from local farmers – mostly Breakneck Acres and Brunty Farms (when I can make it to Akron). And let’s all be honest here, buying the good stuff – the local, humanely raised, and often grass-fed stuff – can be expensive. This is NOT a bad thing! I repeat – NOT A BAD THING!
Not only does the flavor alone make it worth every penny but most of us have a seriously warped sense of cost when it comes to meat due to industrial farming and insane supermarket pricing. The best example – one of those whole rotisserie chickens. Every time I see one I think to myself, “How in the hell is that $4?! How is that possible?!”
Raising animals is expensive and time consuming and I am grateful to my farmer friends for doing the dirty work so we can enjoy delicious tasting bacon, pork chops, and steaks. Like I said, the taste alone makes it worth every penny. A pale, limp grocery store pork chop has nothin’ on a Breakneck chop and a watery grocery store broiler cannot hold a candle to one we’ve raised ourselves. I’m not making this up people. Do a taste taste and you’ll see for yourself!
But our moderate meat eating isn’t just about money. It’s also about our general health and my time spent in the kitchen. It’s no secret that eating loads of meat really isn’t that good for us. And sometimes when I get home from work and I’m tired and my feet are swollen and I have like a zillion other things to do I’d rather eat a big salad with chickpeas and egg for protein than cook up a slab of meat.
But of course winter/early spring in Ohio is a difficult time to get local produce. Our freezer stores are getting low and while I savor the greens and root veggies I can score from Breezy Hill Farm and Birdsong Farm I also have to supplement. My store of choice for off-season produce (and sometimes in-season produce when it’s in season) is Beiler’s in Uniontown.
Beiler’s has a great selection of fresh produce as well as bulk foods like spices and flour and beans and rice and quinoa and couscous. All kinds of good stuff. And it’s pretty darn cheap too. When I grocery shop I hit Beiler’s first and then head to the supermarket. Our fridge is rather produce heavy and I’ve gotten pretty successful at whipping up meat-free, vegetable heavy, satisfying dinners. Sometimes I do have to preface dinner with, “Uh. This was an experiment.” But so far so good.
So, anyways here are some meatless meals and snacks we’ve enjoyed lately.
Tofu. I love it. I will eat it raw right out of the package. I think my love for tofu developed during my cross-country-post-college camping road trip with three of my best pals. Two were vegetarian and we subsisted on black bean and tofu burritos all across the western US. Delicious!
Well, anyways I just discovered baked tofu and it was a revelation! It is so, so, so tasty.
There’s the tofu in the back. I wrapped it in a towel and put it on a plate under some weight to squeeze out the water. After about an hour I sliced it up and added it to a marinade of soy sauce, honey, fresh ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Then it went into a 400F degree over for about 20 minutes. I flipped it and then baked it another 20 minutes. Then I let it rest on my counter while I prepared the veggies.
The red, orange, and yellow bell peppers and green beans are from Beilers. I sauteed them in a little sesame oil until they got some color and then I added my stir fry sauce – soy sauce, fresh ginger, a little brown sugar, some honey, and some cornstarch. It thickened up quickly so I also added a little homemade stock so it would be extra saucy. Then I added the baked tofu and cooked it until everything was heated through.
We also love hummus at our house. We eat a ton of it with flatbread, crudites, and pita chips. I am always buying those 10oz tubs and Mike kills them really quickly. Then at Beiler’s I noticed dried garbanzo beans and I thought to myself, “For $1.78 I can probably make 10lbs of hummus.”
I love Smitten Kitchen. Do you follow her blog at all? She has great recipes. I learned about shakshuka (now a staple in the Barton house – also meatless) from her blog. And her rum campari punch recipe is tops! Her hummus recipe – “ethereally smooth hummus” – sounded nice. I gave it a try.
I soaked my garbanzos over night. Then the next day I cooked them and blended them in my food processor with tahini, garlic, and plenty of fresh lemon juice. Smitten Kitchen says you need to pop all of the beans out of their skin to get that super smooth texture. I got about halfway through before I said, “screw it!” and just dumped them all into the food processor. It was still delicious, skins and all, and a fraction of the price of prepared hummus.
Well, my plan was to toss them together but I ate one of the mushrooms raw and decided they were so good they needed to stand alone. I used my own canned tomatoes to make a red sauce for the pasta and then I simply sauteed the mushrooms with some garlic in a little olive oil and we ate them on the side.
But no worries Kent friends – we’re lucky to have someone who is growing mushrooms among us too! My pal Kristen at Black Dog Acres is breaking into the mushroom biz. Keep your eyes peeled or just stop to chat with her to learn more.
We won’t be at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market this Saturday but we will be back next Saturday, April 19. We hope to see you then. We’ve missed you guys!