Aug
29
2012
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Balancing vegetarian and non-vegetarian in the kitchen

Making your hamburgers more interesting

Here in Sweden most people are meat eaters. One look at summer’s food magazines, and one recognizes that barbecued meat has become the favorite menu of the season. The strong sensitivities about how we treat the rest of the natural world in this culture means that the debate about our handling of animals, including those that we consume, rages strong. Since the famed creator of Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren, pleaded in her engaging newspaper articles for the rights of farm animals during the 1970s and 80s, there has been a lot of discussion about the alleged gruesome treatment of pigs in Denmark, the conditions that chickens live in, etc.

Though the number of vegetarian restaurants in Stockholm has increased, reflecting an increase in vegetarians in the population, one can safely say that most people look for their meat (the priority), veg and potatoes on the plate. Although my own children go to Waldorf schools in which there are probably more vegetarians than in other schools, they miss the salami when it is not in the refrigerator and enjoy a finely roasted leg of lamb with rosemary in the autumn.

Having been a vegetarian before coming to Sweden, living without meat isn’t a sacrifice, in fact I find it challenging and exciting from a culinary point of view. For my family it is a little more challenging, which is the reason that I try to keep a balance of vegetarian and non-vegetarian in my kitchen. Yet, schedules and lack of time to think through the shopping list can sometimes result in that balance going out of wack. We all know that it’s important to reign in our meat-eating habits for both environmental and health reasons, so this autumn I’ve come up with three principles to keep my kitchen in balance:

1. Plan a vegetarian meal every other day and don’t mention to the family that you are doing so (no one will notice).

2. For the non-vegetarian days, find new ways to combine vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients (as in the recipe suggestions, below) thus allowing you to use less meat . Provide “veg and potatoes” (could be a salad or interesting grain) that are so interesting and tasty that they become the main attraction. Check the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for many options.

3. Don’t do any major food shopping without a shopping list which you’ve thought through. This can seem daunting when you have a heavy work schedule, but it makes life so much easier  and satisfying if you’ve taken a few minutes on Sunday to plan ahead and scout the recipe books for vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Planning also tends to benefit your bank account, as you don’t end up purchasing unnecessary foods.

Delicious Hamburgers with Fruit of the Autumn

500 g or 17 oz minced meat
2 slices white toast bread crumbled, crusts removed
1 onion (white or red), finely chopped
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 large cooked beet, chopped into small cubes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the grill in your oven. Place the meat in a mixing bowl and add all ingredients. The mixture is best blended using your hands so that you end up with a smooth “dough.” Line a baking tray with baking paper and form the mixture into hamburger patties. Grill for about 5 minutes on either side. Serve with any number of wonderful salads you can find in the Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook.

You can try the same recipe mixing in other types of interesting vegetarian ingredients which increase flavor, improve consistency, create bulk and reduce the quantity of meat you need to buy. For instance, try raw carrots instead of beetroot.

Written by Admin in: Beef,Beets,Meats,Root Vegetables,Vegetables | Tags: , ,
Sep
03
2009
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Lovely Leftovers

We love them at nordicwellbeing.com!

We love them at nordicwellbeing.com!

My grandmother always used to say that most things that you prepare taste even better the next day if you rehash them a little bit. I guess she had to develop this approach having lived through two world wars. The thing is, I tend to agree with her. I don’t know whether it has to do with actual taste or just the satisfaction of not wasting food.

Who doesn’t have a sealed tub of leftover cooked pasta in their refrigerator? Please raise your hand. Aha! As I suspected, no one is raising their hand. As I had just pulled this year’s beets out of the ground in my kitchen garden yet didn’t feel like spending too much time cooking, I decided to put two and two together and came up with this little number that is just superb. I know you must think that we are beet-lovers at nordicwellbeing.com (yes we are! see our Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook).

Beet Pasta
(per person to be served)

50-100 g or 2-3 oz leftover cooked pasta or cook up some new
2 medium beets, cooked*
30g  or 1 oz. Goat’s cheese: feta or chevre
2-3 tbsps roughly chopped hazelnuts
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt/Pepper

Place the pasta in a microwave-proof bowl. Chop beets into bite-size wedges and add to the pasta without blending. Crumble over goat’s cheese and add hazelnuts. Cover and heat in the microwave until warm (1-2 minutes on maximum). Drizzle over the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Enjoy with a green salad.

* Cooking beets: Remove most of the stalk leaving about 2-3 cm or 1 inch on the beetroot. Wash and place in a cooking pot. Cover with water and add a bit of salt. Bring to boil and then lower heat leaving to cook about 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce the beets with a fork or other. Drain away the water and allow to cool. Remove the skin to use in food preparation. It should slide off easily.

If you do like beets (a wise health choice), please look no further, check Paavo’s Bytes and The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook.

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Along the lines of food and frugality, please do check out the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm which is now home to the Manna Exhibition which has toured Sweden, Denmark and the US. The new cafe, MatMekka, established simultaneously with the exhibition is well worth a visit!

Dec
03
2008
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Beetroots for Christmas

Big Beautiful Beet

Big Beautiful Beet

Since I’m on great Finnish food ideas and root vegetables this week, I thought I’d throw in that little extra that will add great color and flavor to your holiday season table.

I just cannot say enough good things about beetroots. Just a superb food. If you don’t eat them yet, start! Want to learn more about them? Check Paavo’s Bytes for May 2008 in More Bytes.

Beetroots in Soured Cream with mashed potatoes or mashed root vegetables (see my recipe in the previous entry in this blog) is a terrific dish and very easy to prepare. Here’s how:

 

Beetroots in Sour Cream

1.8 lbs or 800 g medium beetroots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions finely chopped
2 tbsps butter
1 2/3 cups or 4 dl sour cream
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
Salt/Pepper
A generous handful of fresh chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onion and beetroot. Lower the heat, cover and allow to ‘sweat’ until cooked. Blend in the soured cream and wine vinegar. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Place on a warm serving dish and sprinkle over parsley.

Typically, this dish is served with mashed potatoes piped around it. However, you can go for a lighter version and simply serve with my light recipe for mashed root vegetables as a separate dish.

If you are wondering how to avoid ending up with pink fingers after making this dish, wear disposable kitchen gloves.

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