Tasty spicy carrots

Steam carrots that are sliced into pieces.

While they are steaming, put a few pieces of butter in the bottom of a large ceramic bowl. Add a generous amount of cumin and turmeric.

Pour the steamed carrots into the bowl. Quickly put a plate on top of the bowl, covering it completely. Do not let the carrots get cool too quickly.

Wait 3 minutes, lift off the plate, then use a spoon to toss the carrots in the bowl, mixing up the butter and spices. Put the plate back on top for a minute.

Serve with crumbled feta cheese on top.

Spiced carrots

Ingredients
5 large carrots, julienne-cut
2 tsp cumin powder, divided
2 tsp curry powder, divided
¼ cup parsley flakes, crushed just before use
An inch of butter, divided

Method
Steam the carrots until they are medium-soft. You don’t want them mushy, but you also don’t want them so firm that they won’t absorb the flavor.

While they are steaming, prep a large glass or ceramic bowl. Put half the butter in the bottom, thinly sliced. (You want it to melt quickly.) Add half the cumin and curry powders evenly over the bottom of the bowl.

When the carrots are done, pour them into the prepared bowl and immediately put a cover over it. I used a plate, upside-down. It is ideal if there is a 1 to 2 inch space between the carrots and the cover. This will use the heat of the carrots to melt the butter.

After about 5 minutes, toss the mixture in the bowl and add the rest of the butter and spices, including the parsley. Work quickly to retain the heat. Put the cover back on. Let sit at least another 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or you can refrigerate and serve the next day, when the flavors are even better.

Makes 4 servings.

Fruitatarian

There is something called being a “fruitatarian”. There are several different levels of it but essentially it is someone who does not eat anything that has been killed. It has been jokingly said that vegetarians just eat things that cannot run away. If you eat broccoli, the plant dies. If you eat a tomato it does not. It is the fruit of a plant. You don’t have to kill the plant to eat it.

If you really care about the well-being of all living things then you have to understand that even plants are alive. Beans, nuts, seeds, grains, fruit and honey are all things that you can eat and nothing has to die for you to eat it. You could also eat eggs and milk. Those are gifts from the animal. The animal does not die.

Do I do this? No. Not yet. I’m working on it. But I think it is good to be mindful of my impact on this planet. How many beings have to die so that I can live? Is it wise to eat scallops instead of fish? One large fish can produce enough food for eight servings. One serving of scallops means that at least ten scallops died. Is that fair? Just because they are smaller doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of living. Who am I to say that my life is more valuable than theirs?

I saw a reality show once where the contestants had to hunt and clean their supper. The meat eaters were a bit squeamish. The vegetarian refused to do it. The host explained that if you are going to eat meat, you better understand that if you aren’t the one doing the killing, someone else is. Someone else had to do the dirty work. Someone else had to clean out the animal. Those nice little packets of meat that you buy at Publix? That animal was alive. It had a face. You can’t see it anymore because of how it is processed. This makes it easier to stomach, if you will.

If you can’t handle killing it and processing it, then maybe you should think twice about eating it. Or at least eat less of it.

In the biography of Saint Francis by Nikos Kazantzakis, Saint Francis often refused to eat because he felt that he should not cause the harm of any living being. Sometimes that meant that he got very ill because he was malnourished.

This is a hard choice. Who gets to live? You, or the other beings? With being a fruitatarian, you don’t have to choose. You can eat things that don’t result in a death. It is an interesting idea.

Meatless? Are you mad?

I was at a local burrito place today and ordered “seitan chorizo con papas” as my protein option. The preparer checked with me to make sure I knew it was vegetarian. I told him that was why I ordered it. He then shared with me that a lot of people freak out when they learn this. They reject it and go with the barbacoa.

I’ve noticed a lot of people are like this. They are terrified of being without meat. I’m like this. I’m trying to eat less meat but I haven’t taken the plunge yet and gone totally vegetarian.

It is as if there is a fear of being without meat, like we will faint or fade away from lack of nutrition.

Looking at the obesity rates of Americans, there is no worry about fading away to nothing anytime soon.

I had a coworker that I invited to an Indian buffet. He asked what was available and I started to describe what we were likely to find. He was quite interested in the chicken tikka masala but bored by the spinach and potato dishes. He was a little dismayed by the absence of any beef dish. When I told him that the best dishes were the vegetarian ones he visibly got defensive.

What? Not eat meat? Are you kidding?

I pointed out that there are people who go without meat for their entire lives and they do just fine. One meal without meat wouldn’t kill him. He was so skeptical that he decided not to go.

I remember a conversation with the manager at an Indian buffet many years ago. He said that people in India and in America are both dying because of food. Indians are dying from not enough food, while Americans are dying from too much food. We are eating ourselves into our graves. We suffer from preventable diseases for many years beforehand.

Our doctors, insurers, and pharmacists make a lot of money on treating these diseases with palliative treatments. I don’t have all the words yet to explain how angry and upset I am about Western medical thought, about how it treats symptoms rather than addressing the cause of illness.

I know I feel better when I eat a vegetation diet. I feel lighter and happier. I know I am doing something nice for my body.

Our bodies are temples. Our bodies are temporal houses for our immortal souls. So why do we fill them up with trash? Why do we pollute them with preservatives?

I haven’t made the full switch because I like the taste of meat. I like the texture. I don’t want to limit myself to only two or three options on the menu when I eat out. I don’t want to be a bother to friends when they are kind enough to invite me over to their homes for dinner.

I remember when I was in college and had gone entirely vegetarian because my boyfriend was. It was as if I needed a buddy or a partner, like in a hike in the wilderness or in AA. I needed someone to participate in this different diet with me. Plus, he cooked.

I was invited to a cousin’s wedding and the invitation said that if you had special dietary needs to call. I called and told her that I was vegetarian. She said that wasn’t a problem. A day later I got a call from my aunt, her mother, saying how dare I insist that they change everything around just for me. I was immediately uninvited to the wedding.

It was years later before I realized that side of the family was crazy in an abusive kind of way.

There is a knee-jerk reaction against being vegetarian. It is seen as counter cultural. It is seen as rebellious. It is seen as other, as weird.

But the norm is to eat all you want, spend all you want, and die soon and poor.

I don’t want to be normal. I want to live a happy, healthy life. But I also want the convenience of eating out. It is a sign of our culture that it is almost impossible to get vegetables if you eat from fast-food places. And when you do find vegetables they are either very salty, or cooked with pork, or they are just salad greens with little nutrition.

Perhaps it is time to Occupy the Kitchen.

There is nothing more countercultural than cooking your own food. There is nothing more rebellious than taking charge of your health.