Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dead Zones and Dead Meat

Dead Zones and Dead Meat

Right now the average American eats 211 pounds of meat a year. And that voracious appetite not only is driving Climate Change, but is now leading to huge Dead Zones in the ocean. Here's an article about a vast dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico - created by the run off from animal agriculture. I know meat "tastes good". I know meat is "easy to cook". I know meat "has lots of protein". I know meat is familiar and comforting. But sometimes we have to do things that aren't 100% self-motivated. Sometimes we have to make choices with others in mind - because our planet is an ecosystem - and we are all a part of its web. We are all affected by the actions of others. We all rely on each other. We make this world, this reality together. All I am asking is that you take the time to reflect and consider whether you could take steps to reduce your meat consumption? How about Meatless Monday? Meatless Friday? If you're worried about nutrition or not knowing what to cook - hey, use me. I am happy to share resources and recipes from 25 years of being a vegetarian. And people who know me will tell you I am a pretty darn good cook. Mashed potato enchilada casserole anyone? Read the article. Give it some thought. Message me if you want a recipe. This is not about shame. And its not about someone trying to tell you what to do. This is about our planet, our oceans, the web of life.

And here is a recipe to start you out! 

Mashed Potato Enchilada Casserole

Okay, first off, apologies for lack of measurements here … I am not the best at writing down details of my recipes …

The sales pitch: I have yet to meet a person who didn’t like this recipe – or to make it for a dinner or party and not have people take seconds. Vegans, Vegetarians, and Meat-eaters alike have dug in with gusto on this one.

Mashed potato enchiladas break down into essentially 3 parts:

1.     The mashed potatoes
2.     The sautéed veggies you want to add
3.     The enchilada part

So first step:

1.     Make a pot of mashed potatoes. I usually make a largish pot full (lets say 2 to 3 pounds of potatoes depending on the size of your pan) cause I love them and if there are leftovers I am good with that. The worst is to be making your casserole and run out of taters!
2.     Only tip in terms of this recipe is to make them on the looser side, rather than too stiff. Nice and fluffy works best but not wet.
3.     Oh, and if you want to make them vegan not just vegetarian – its easy to just use some of the reserved potato cooking liquid instead of milk and use olive oil or vegan butter instead of butter. For an even bigger flavor boost – add a bit of veggie bouillon to the cooking water.

Mashed potatoes done.

Next step: sauté your veggies:

1.     I usually go for Mexican themed veggies – so red bell peppers, zucchini, corn … but I also sometimes like to add greens like spinach or kale and sometimes mushrooms. My sauté routine for these is a little oil, a little tamari (or soy sauce), some salt, pepper, a dash of cumin and paprika, and a squeeze of lime or lemon (if you have it).

Okay, veggies sautéed.

Now for the construction of the casserole and the enchilada part.

So pull together your ingredients and your pan.

I usually use a large deepish baking dish for these so I can get in a few layers.

So what you need for the construction is:

1.     Corn tortillas (be safe and go for two packages, depending on how many tortillas come in your pack).
2.     Your mashed potatoes
3.     Your veggies
4.     A can of black beans or pinto beans (drained and rinsed) – if you want to add a little extra protein to the mix. If you’re worried about needing more protein – go for 2 cans worth.
5.     Enchilada sauce (I buy canned and usually go for mild to keep it from overwhelming the flavors – but by all means get hot or make your own!). I don’t skimp on this – its key, so for a large casserole I can use as many as 3-4 cans of sauce!
6.     Black olives – if you want to get very Mexican restaurant about it
7.     Chopped fresh cilantro (ditto above).
8.     Regarding Cheeze. So one of the points of this recipe is that with the combo of the mashed potatoes and the sauce, you don’t really miss the cheese at all. BUT if you’re transitioning into eating less meat and dairy and don’t believe me – give a non-dairy cheese a try. For this recipe I recommend Daiya shreds. They melt like the real thing and taste excellent.

Construction: I go the casserole route because I think rolling tortillas is too hard. If you want the real thing – go for it!

For a casserole construction – I start with coating the bottom of the pan with sauce – just pour some in and spread it around with your fingers … cause why not? Then add a layer of tortillas – I try not to leave big open spaces and don’t mind overlapping. Next spread on a layer of mashed potatoes (I usually use a fork to get them semi-even), then a sprinkle of veggies, then beans, olives, cilantro or other toppings (Daiya if using) – now douse that in sauce. Repeat – tortillas, taters, veggies, toppings, sauce. Generally speaking, if I can manage to cram in 3 layers I am happy. But if you have a nice deep dish you can go more! I just try to eyeball my ingredients and the size of the pan and estimate how many layers and how deep I can go with each layer. End with a layer of tortillas and then sauce. Sprinkle the top with a little bit of Daiya or some olives if you’re not using the cheeze.

Bake, covered with tin foil, in about a 375 oven for about an hour. Its done when its hot and bubbling all through. Sometimes you need to test the very middle to make sure …

Let it sit for a couple minutes before digging in. I like to serve it with dollops of guacamole and a green salad.

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