Feel Free to Pig out on Meat Vegetarians

4 Feb

This is little writing project I had to put together for a class…

Pigs-head-001

To the Vegetarians of the world,

 

Perhaps meat eaters and vegetarians are two different species, and therefore of different thoughts, ambitions, and values. You see, I find myself attempting to justify your lifestyle and continuously emerge from the brainstorming process further confused, and happily craving meat. I have always been extremely passionate about food, with a keen persuasion towards carnivorous fare. I was raised with the traditional concepts of a healthy diet, mostly in the framework of a colorful triangle, which to my dismay encouraged a disproportionate amount of fruits and vegetables. Nonetheless, I was content with a “balanced diet” as long as the greens, yellows and reds sat next to a slab of animal protein. I cannot recall the first vegetarian I met, or discussed the matters of food with; however, I am sure that I was then, as I am now, perplexed by the matter, especially in terms of the variety of motivations vegetarians carry out in their dietary choices, that is, do they exclude meat for health reasons, or ethical reasons?  I am not only troubled by their lifestyle because of my undying love for animal sustenance, but because there is not only a human history of meat consumption, but there is also a growing trend of responsible farming and harvesting that cater to the ethical mind. I by no means advocate a strictly meat-centric diet, and I fully encourage the reduction of the amount of red meat the average person consumes weekly, however, I do believe that there is benefit to the inclusion of animal protein in ones diet for health, and ethical, yes ethical reasons. This letter, my vegetarian friends, is not meant to condemn your lifestyle, but to root out the motivation to the abstinence of meat, and to promote my current knowledge of sustainable animal consumption practices. I am of the mind that we can work together to form a plan of action for your gradual integration back into the meat eating world, because I am sure you are lying when you say that hamburger doesn’t look appetizing.

 

I was recently gifted a book written by Hugh Fearnley-Wittinshall, a British chef and TV personality who is a strong advocate of locally sourced and produced food products, entitled “The River Cottage Meat Book”. The book offers insight into the need for radical reform in the production of meat, and how positive change may be achieved. He explores the carnivorous history of humans, and the moral relationship shared between ourselves, and the animals we kill for food. Hugh marks a pointed issue, stating, “It doesn’t strike me as in any way obvious that killing animals is, in itself, morally wrong. Particularly if we are killing them for food. We are not outside the natural order of things” (Fearnley-Wittinshall 17). The disconnect occurs when we as the consumer are introduced to a neat package at the store, with “its animal origins all but obliterated” (Fearnley-Wittinshall 19). I approach these points with this frame of mind: animal consumption has the capacity to be morally flawed; however, if the consumer takes a conscious approach to the treatment and production of the animal, they fall into the natural order of predator and prey. If we are willing to eat the meat, we must be able to face the cow, as the faceless consumption of widely produced animal product encourages animal mistreatment, and the entrance of chemicals and unsavory practice into the foods we eat. If we encourage not only a closer relationship with our food, but also the slaughter practice, would vegetarians feel compelled to inch closer to meat consumption? The death of animals is inevitable, therefore, utilizing them as a resource, whilst using responsible methods, seems practical.

 

It is understandable that vegetarianism is a protesting lifestyle, aimed at improving animal rights and well-being, both which are currently removed from the wide-scale economy of meat production. However, I believe that change can only be achieved through the hands of the consumer. In the Food and Wine article entitled “Why Vegetarians are Eating Meat,” Christine Lennon claims that eating sustainable meat is “a new form of activism – a way of striking a blow against the factory farming of livestock” (http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/why-vegetarians-are-eating-meat). If you buy something, you support the system that produces it; therefore, in buying meat from producers who have ethical practices, we can encourage change in the industry. More importantly, there are nutritional advantages of grass-fed “pasture raised” beef over factory produced, in that it is lower in fat, and will “have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen people’s immune systems” (http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/why-vegetarians-are-eating-meat).

Consumer choice falls on vegetarians as well. The production of meal replacements derived from soy and wheat gluten is a production process that is energy intensive and tends to be highly processed, containing chemical additives (http://www.cereplast.com/flexitarians-the-new-meat-eating-vegetarians/). Also, where meat is generally a locally produced item, many fruits and vegetables require being shipped from abroad, not only depraving those local populations from food sources, but costing environmentally.

 

Meat consumption is not a choice that is as simple as yes or no. It requires a good deal of thought and consideration if we wish to encourage the growth of ethical standards and practices. I do not believe that a vegetarian lifestyle is the answer to creating change in food production and personal health standards. The true answer is becoming involved in bolstering the production of farms using sound methods to create not only moral practices of raising and slaughtering meat, but in creating a product that is healthier and sustainable. It is the consumer’s job to become involved in the available choices, and to encourage, with our buying practices, better alternatives to factory farming. It is because of this, my vegetarian friend, that you may no longer fear that steak, or rack of lamb because their consumption and your choices can produce change.

 

Sincerely your meat-eating friend,

 

Katie Arbuthnot

 

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An Olympics Warmup

13 Sep

About a month or so again, I did a little write up for a wonderful U Alberta website: http://www.thewandereronline.com/

A fortnight ago, I was flying over the ice-covered waters of Northern Canada whilst pondering the validity of global warming. Today I am sitting comfortably, lounged in a lazy boy in England. My final destination: London, England, a city that is currently under heavy global scrutiny due to the upcoming Olympic Summer games. My reasons for travelling to the UK are not simply Olympics-centered, however. (It appears that wherever I find myself in the country, I am exposed.)

Obviously, the games extend greatly beyond the athletes and events and reflect deeper themes of global politics and economy, a fact which has revealed itself in the abundance of advertising, merchandise, television coverage and sponsors. And more recently, global defense tactics (see: the missile-covered stadiums in London). Although I am able to identify the many unconscious goings-on at the game, I must admittedly confess that I am an Olympics purest. As an athlete, I completely revel in watching fellow athletes on the biggest stage in sport competing, winning, and displaying a wonderful amount of human spirit. I like to think it brings people from all corners of the globe together, and I like to think that for two weeks every two years, the athletes, coaches and fans can set an example of cooperation and unwavering dedication. Unfortunately, I was not able to take part in the Vancouver Olympics in any other capacity than on my bottom in front of a television, so the prospect of being able to participate in an event I hold in such esteem is incredibly exciting.

 

So it is my goal to provide you, the reader, with a Canadian perspective of the London Olympics. Giving insight to the culture, the atmosphere, and perhaps even what goes into a mega event such as this. What makes me qualified to do so you ask? I suppose curiosity, and a profound love and respect for sport and its participants. After four years of CIS basketball under my belt, I can respect what goes into a commitment that unquestionably exceeds my own. One important thing to also consider is that each Olympics is molded by the host city. Therefore, I will aim to discover what it is that makes London and the United Kingdom so unique. Why, beyond the obvious historical value, is this place consistently romanticized, and is it the same as is shown through television and film? I doubt it. Hence, what is special about it? I can say from previous experience that England really is a special place – well to me anyway – so, perhaps in articulating it on paper, we can both gain a better understanding.

* * * * *

 Now that I have spent exactly thirteen glorious days on English soil I have gained a much more comprehensive idea of London 2012. There is no shortage of advertising, for one. There are billboards, magazines, buses, commercials and special television presentations all aimed at product promotion, building “Olympic spirit”, and most importantly, justifying the outrageous overspending of the British Government. One of my favorite things in the build-up to the Games has been the “Official London 2012″ shops. Here you can buy your general merchandise of t-shirts, hats, or foam fingers; however, if you are really feeling the Olympic spirit, why not buy a bathrobe? How about a collectible stone? No? Ok… a scooter? What I am trying to say is the incredible amount of irrelevant products they have is astounding!

The scarier thing, I assume, is it all will fly off the shelves, because let’s face it: everyone needs a London 2012 dining set for sophisticated entertaining. Aside from the commercial aspect, there has been a special atmosphere around the land, especially when in London (I am living in Cambridge at the moment, which is removed from the events by about an hour, yet still promoting the games as much as ever). There are many warning signs of high traffic for the tubes, as well as specially-marked lanes for Olympic vehicles only, which has become a designated area of complaint for Londoners. Adding to the Olympic excitement (and/or drama), has been the failure of the G4S security company to provide its contractual number of security personnel, resulting in the use of British Armed Forces for Olympic security. I must say it is rather unnerving walking the streets of London with military men on every corner. It is comparable to some sort if impromptu Marshall Law. Another bump in the Olympic road for the public has been the inconvenience of the London Ticketing website, not only in the elusiveness of tickets in all events and categories, but also complicated delivery stipulations.

Regardless of these minor difficulties, as each day grows closer to the fabled Opening Ceremonies, it seems people are becoming more enthusiastic, even with the inconvenience of pesky tourists such as myself, and the Olympic spirit is striving to alleviate hostility and surround the tiny island in good humor. This is certainly helped by the daily torch relay which has provided endless stories of inspiration from unsung heroes across the country, as well as a giddy squeal when a known celebrity runs across the screen. I myself am very impatiently waiting for the weekend to arrive so that I may bask in the madness of pre-Olympic London, and then dive into the games. The only thing left to do now is practice painting a maple leaf on my face, and indulge in the unnecessary (above-mentioned) merchandising frenzy!

Review: Next Act Pub

16 Apr

I had heard a lot of good things about “Theater Sports” down at the Varscona Theater, and though it sounded like a fun new thing to try. I bought some tickets online for their weekly show, Friday at 11:00. 11:00 is kind of an awkward time for anything to begin, so I thought, what can we do for an hour or two before a show. Obviously good eats and good drinks was the most obvious option. So, in the spirit of the Theater, and the inspiration to try a new place, we went to the Next Act Pub on the corner of 104 Street and 83 Ave. The pub was small, but luckily we found seats. It was Friday night, so unfortunately it was a little loud for regular, sober communication. Good thing I always speak above proper room volume. The clientele was something I also noticed. Everyone was a little older, and looked more refined than the usual Whyte Avenue Friday night crowd. This I liked, mostly because I can appreciate a pub that’s devote to food, drink and good conversation.

The Menu, both food and drink, looked amazing. Diverse, yet comfortable choices, and most importantly, burgers. I will definitely return again to explore the other components of the menu, however, that night I chose the “Class Act” burger, very fitting if I do say so myself. Mr. D order the Macaroni and Cheese with the additional bits of bacon and jalapeno’s. To drink, we ordered a pitcher of Steam whistle. Probably not worth it as it was just less than 3 pints, and a single pint cost 6$. There were some really  nice beer choices, however, not as deep and diverse as you’ll find at Sugarbowl.

The Burger included cheddar cheese, bacon, and an overeasy egg. The egg was cooked perfectly which allowed the delicious yolk to flow throughout. mmmmm. The Patty though, was seasoned so perfectly. The meat was juicy and cooked very nicely. I consider myself someone who knows a good burger as it’s my favorite food and I’ve consumed far too many in my lifetime, and I can easily say, this was one of the best I have ever had, ANYWHERE! damn. I’m craving it right now.

Mr. D ordered the Mac and Cheese which was baked and steaming hot as it arrived at the table. It was creamy and not overly rich, and the bacon bits were, well, bacon bits so delicious. The Jalapeno’s were a nice touch, however, they were really hot and overpowered a lot of the other components in the dish. If you can handle them, they’re great, but next time we’ll sans the Jalapeno’s.

Overall the meal was delicious, hot, and fresh. The ambiance was great, the menu tantalizing, and the servers friendly. I would absolutely recommend the Next Act to everyone! Whatsmore, they have a foodtruck on the way this summer people! Here’s the website if you want more info,  http://www.nextactpub.com/.

Katie Had a Little Lamb…And Then She Cooked It.

16 Apr

I have been pining to cook up some lamb lately, and unfortunately noticed that it is outrageously priced. This however, was remedied by the wonderful existence of Costco where i found a beautiful pack of 8 Australian lamb chops for the bargain price of 19$. So at that I “cooked” up a plan for a wonderful 3 course meal in which I could woo and seduce my boyfriend. Roast rosemary lambchops, tortellini/leek soup to start, and brownies for dessert. Whats not to love.

Tortellini Soup with Carrots, Peas and Leeks:

2 medium leeks (12 oz. untrimmed)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 Tbs.)
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced (2 Tbs.)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-salt canned chicken broth
8 oz. frozen cheese tortellini
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

Trim the roots and dark green leaves from the leeks. Slice the white and light green part in half lengthwise and then slice the halves thinly crosswise. Rinse well and drain.

Melt the butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, leeks, and carrot. Season with a couple pinches of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. (It’s fine if the vegetables brown lightly.) Stir in 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook for about 20 seconds, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the peas. Continue to simmer until the tortellini are cooked, 3 to 5 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Portion the soup into warm bowls, top each with some of the cheese, and serve.

Lamb Chops:

1 Large roasting pan

1 Large Carrot, rougly chopped

1/2 Onion, chopped

3-4 cloves of Garlic, whole

Bag of mini Yukon Potato, Halved

Salt

Pepper

A few Sprigs of Rosemary, Thyme

2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Lamb Chops

In the roasting pan, place the potatoes, carrot, onion, and garlic. cover in olive oil, add desired amount of salt and pepper and mix together. Next, take full sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme and scatter throughout. Heat the oven to about 425 degrees, and roast potatoes, stirring occasionally.

At about 30 minutes, or when vegetables are just about tender, you’ll want to add the lamb. Before doing so, season both sides with salt and pepper, and I also added a few dashes of dried rosemary to ensure the rosemary taste stuck out. Now on the exact cooking time of the meat I am unsure, unfortunately I overcooked mine by a couple minutes. I would estimate 15-20 minutes, but be sure to check the meat as it cooks to ensure your desired doness. When that is reached, take the pan out, let the meat rest for a few moments, and serve!

As a side dish, I made Yorkshire Puddings as well, and they are so easy to make!

Yorkshire Puddings:

Heat oven to 450 degrees

1 cup Flour

1 Egg

1 Cup milk

tsp salt

Vegetable oil

Muffin Tin

Fill each individual tin with a small layer of vegetable oil. When oven is at heat, place the pan with oil in to heat oil. Whilst that is happening, mix the other ingredients in a bowl until smooth. once the oil is smoking hot, remove from oven. Fill each tin with batter about halfway as it will rise when cooking. Place tin in the oven for about 20 minutes then serve!

Here’s the final spread, completed with a Red Wine, some candles, and love. Needless to say, it was a delicious dinner and incredibly easy to create! Nothing makes me happier than a successful home cooked meal!

Fight Night in Edmonton

1 Apr

The day was March 23. It was a Friday, a typical March evening in the Gateway City, well, typical, except for the events that lay ahead. Fight Night. Pro Boxing. How could I say no to watching grown men dance around the ring, dawning ridiculous costumes and flamboyant persona’s, all in the pursuit of blood for money. My first thought upon knowing I was attending such an event was: “what does one wear to an Edmonton Boxing event?” If I could have foreseen the future, I would have discovered that the typical female garment there consisted of no more than 4+ inch stiletto’s, and rather revealing “dresses.” Unfortunately for me, I had nothing but instinct to rely on and went with that. I regret nothing.

Mr. D and myself, ready to go, entered thy chariot, otherwise known as the #9 bus towards downtown, both giddy with excitement and thirsty for blood. When we arrived at the venue we struck a pose and informed the security lady that we were on “the list,” making me feel infinitely important and superior to the peasants behind me waiting to pay for their pathetic seats! MWAHAHA!….. and so we entered, had a beer, had a chat, and took in the venue.

As the clock struck 7, we took our seats, ringside. When I mean ringside, I mean fighters entering past us, camera men walking to and fro, and hired doctors sneaking photographs of the sexy ladies declaring rounds. My experience with boxing did not exceed watching Million Dollar Baby and a single Pay-Per-View so I was left on the edge of my seat with curious excitement. The quality of the fighting was sub par. Usually one was obviously superior to the other, especially in the cases where one’s weight equaled to the upper three hundreds and the only applause I could offer was in light of the fact he was brave enough to appear shirtless and to attempt physical exercise.

With the exception of one semi-marathon match that led to a close decision in favor of the rookie, the first few matches were one-sided, albeit, exciting. However, It was the final two matches that provided the greatest entertainment of the evening. The first, a bout between ex-sparring partners was indeed a treat. From the motioned throat slitting, to the “suck it gesture”, to the dirty hits after the bell. The “Pride of the North side” as he was labeled, was the obvious winner throughout the match, however his competitor made sure the fans were entertained by blatant provocation and savagery. At times I thought I would witness a Tyson/Ear reenactment. Shame.

The final fight of the night was a female match up, which, I, being a female, found fascinating. I don’t know if I would have the gumption to allow a testosterone driven lady to lay hands on my face, my livelihood, but to each their own. Although this was the headline match up however, it was over just as soon as it had begun. Within a minute, the hometown girl laid a perfect punch, and her opponent was on the ground. Heavyweight Title fight of the world won at the hands of a single blow! Chaos ensued!

That’s me and my beau, ringside, beaming with the emotion and passion of the fights. In fact, I laid a few punches of my own post fight, I should have taken pictures of the wounds for proof. My rookie mistake. All in all, my first fight night was exceptional! It was certainly something I would love to do again, and shall look into for the future. Attending the event taught me one thing: There is always an endless amount of things to do in ones city, no matter how dire it seem! Boxing for instance! Get out there and do something new and fun, and watch  the blood fly!

A Date With a Blonde: St. Ambroise Pale Ale

1 Apr

Brewed by:
McAuslan Brewing, Quebec

On Friday night my significant other took off to watch a bunch of sweaty men grapple each other into submission (MMA) leaving me to fend for myself for an evening. Of course this was no problem as I had magnificent single dinner plans (cheese on toast and salt and vinegar chips) and a nights worth of entertainment at my feet (Downton Abbey! Thank you BBC). Now, in my short 21 years, I have learned that nothing makes a single lady night with BBC and snacks like a good dose of liquor to keep oneself sufficiently entertained and content. On my way home I entered the nearest liquor proprietor and wandered around desperately seeking a delicious and satisfying beverage. The initial problem, beer, or wine. As I was craving something bubbly, I began wandering around the craft beers and came across the St. Ambroise selection. I have tried their Oatmeal Stout, which I must say is absolutely delicious and highly recommended. However, since it was my intention to indulge in more than one, I thought it best to choose something that resembled less of a brick inside of my stomach.

Alas! Next to the stout sat my new dear friend, the Pale Ale. At 14.99 for a 6-pack, the pricing does not differ from any of the other similar 6-pack varieties such as Wild Rose or Alley Kat.

So with that, I skipped merrily to my quaint lil ol basement bedroom and settled in to some fine BBC programming. Now, for the beer. I wont pretend to be a connoisseur, however, I will attempt to cover it’s fine characteristics.

Appearance- Clear, Cooper/Amber appearance in the glass. Little head.

Aroma- Sweet, fruity, slightly bitter

Taste- Initially quite sweet, followed by a lovely bitterness. Fruity with a great taste of hops (which I personally love). Also, had a nice carbonation.

Overall, this is a wonderful choice and value for those that love a hoppy ale. As suggested earlier, the Oatmeal Stout available from the same brewery is an excellent choice also. This is certainly a beer that could be drunk on a summer day, cold, crisp, and refreshing, yet it serves well as a nice complement to food. Have any suggestions of other beers or any questions, pop in a comment! More reviews coming soon, as I love an excuse to indulge in a brew!

Yeah, I enjoyed this, the proof is in the picture.

Review: Filistix

1 Apr

I must admit, I am a stranger to Philipino cuisine, however, everyone must start somewhere. On my search for Edmonton food trucks and fantastic cuisine, I ran across the name Filistix, and whatsmore, I ran across the wonderful piece of information that they had set up a permanent residence in the University of Alberta’s CAB, or Central Academic Building. So on a lovely day in March I took off toward Filistix with my Beau and Mr. Vincent T in search of delicious foodstuffs. We all had The South Pacific (Ginataan Manok), which consists of chicken thighs, garlic, ginger, curry and chillies, all over jasmine rice. I must say, the flavors were much more subtle than I would have wished, or expected, yet, it was a creamy and soulful dish. The slaw it came with also lacked a big kick, and in my opinion required a little more acidity.

In relation to the other sources of food throughout the campus, Filistix is definitely a great choice, however, if you were to venture further, it perhaps would not be something I would crave or seek out over other gems the city possesses. Also, for 11$ a meal, one may expect something a little heftier! I know I do! Overall, I rate Filistix a B-, tasty but lacking the x-factor. I have read that the foodtruck is the superior medium for their food, so in the future, I’ll venture out, have a taste, and update!