Monday, April 23, 2012 Is It Ethical To Eat Meat? - My New York Times Essay Contest Submission

So the New York Times put out a call for essays on the subject of the ethics of eating meat. I, of course, jumped at the chance to make my case in a humorous yet slighty intelligent manner. My mother was once published by the Times. It looks like I will have to wait for that honor - I was not one of the six finalists. But here it is anyway. Enjoy \m/

Why is it ethical to eat meat? Well, you wouldn’t want to let it go to waste, would you? Waste is a sin and that makes wasting meat unethical. Why waste a perfectly good complete protein? I mean, you could combine some incomplete proteins, like rice and beans, for complementary proteins, but if the meat is already sitting there going to waste… I mean, what are you going to do with the meat, just throw it out so it rots in some landfill? You can’t compost it. Are you going to bury it? Like a proper burial in a cemetery? That’s kind of a waste of space, don’t you think? I suppose you could put it in the freezer but that’s kind of a waste of space, too. You could keep a ton of uneaten rice and beans there, instead.

Actually, you know who might be interested in eating some of those rice and beans? Some of those heritage breeds that are going extinct because of the rise of commercial farming; I bet they’d love some rice and beans and maybe that spot of land you were going to bury them in to live on. It’s quite a shame, the loss of the family homestead. Maybe people have become so far removed from food production they’ve forgotten how important domesticated animals are to agriculture and to our survival as a species. Not only do they provide meat, they provide the power to plow the fields and the nitrogen to fuel them. Pigs root, chickens scratch; every animal on the farm has a job, and most of them roast up nicely. And even Hunter/Gatherer societies ate meat; I’ve never heard of Gatherer/Gatherer societies, have you?

Gee, if every community committed to saving just one heritage breed we could save them all, asses to turkeys. How hard can it be? Get a few Narragansett turkeys or Midget Whites and throw them in a coop. Let them lay some eggs and sit on them (the turkeys, not you) and then let the things grow up for a bit. Once they reach a certain age you’ll have to check them for the breed standard. You don’t want to breed sub-par turkeys. The ones that don’t live up to the standard of the breed that your community is trying to preserve you cull. Cull is a nice way to say kill – or you could give them away as pets, not to be bred. But let’s say someone in your community wants a nice turkey dinner for some special occasion. They contact the butcher, the butcher contacts you, you both decide who will do the dirty work and for what price the butchered turkey will sell, the family gets their turkey dinner and money has exchanged hands – leaving you and the butcher able to feed your families. And someone gets a turkey feather tuffet to sit and eat their rice and beans on.

Yes, I skimmed over the killing part a bit. It’s not pleasant, but unpleasant doesn’t automatically mean unethical. Over thousands of years man has learned how to utilize every part of the animal he killed, to not let any of it go to waste. They even made pink slime somewhat edible. (Don’t worry, man will find another use for pink slime; scented candles, automobile fuel, something like that.) And rice and beans will never go out of style. But here we are with dozens of breeds of domesticated farm animals who may go extinct if we don’t make an effort to save them. And, yes, that also means eating their meat.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 Sophisticated Sunday Morning Cookies

I don't mean to infer that this particular Sunday morning is sophisticated. In fact it's 2:00 in the afternoon and I'm wearing wet sweats because I just washed my dog. The cookie, that's the sophisticated one. I had a little fun with my Kitchen Sink cookie recipe and replaced the butter with olive oil. I was out of baking soda so I used baking powder and changed the sugar from brown to white (remember the acid?)and I seasoned them with rosemary and lemon zest.

Here goes - (measurements are BY WEIGHT, get a postal scale)

4 oz olive oil
7 oz white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping Tablespoon of sour cream
6 oz AP flour
1/8 teaspoon powdered rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 oz oats
1 Tablespoon milled flax seed
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
zest of 1/2 a lemon

So the lines, again, are indicating your mixing. You don't even need a mixer for these, a rubber spatula will do. Mix the first three, then add the second three, then add the dry ingredients (that have been whisked together.) When the batter is almost all the way mixed add the chips and zest - this helps prevent over mixing. I used an ice cream scoop to portion the dough onto cookie trays - I got 17 cookies out of it. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

These are really DDelicious. The rosemary isn't overpowering but it is present as you bite into the cookies crunchy exterior. The lemon is barely detectable, yet it helps the cookie come together in your mouth. If you eat them warm the dripping chocolate chips will remind you of old school cookie commercials but these are like no cookie you've ever had. Seriously good. Try them.