Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Vegetarian & The Mountain Man

Their first dinner as a married couple began like any other:

There once was a boy named Shiloh (aka Mountain Man) who fell in love with a square toothed girl named Lisa (the Vegetarian).  Lisa wasn't a real vegetarian, she was a practicing  periodic vegetarian, more emotionally volatile but a bit less opinionated than full time vegetarians...(To my true Veg friends, I so admire your convictions and wish I could make the leap--) Shiloh came from a family who hunted deer and elk and ate them too.  Yet in spite of these differences, they somehow managed to fall in love and get married.  At the time of their first meal as husband and wife, Lisa was in the midst of a five year long vegetarian streak and Shiloh had been eating meat three times a day and often as a midnight snack too.

Lisa carefully prepared one of her favorite dishes:  Hummus, tabbouleh, and fresh sliced peaches purchased at the local farmer's market.  As Lisa placed dinner on the floor--remember, they were newly married and didn't yet have a table--Shiloh carefully surveyed her offering.  With great tenderness and love, the six-foot-five-inch-hollow-legged-man ate the meal prepared by his new bride.  At which point, the fairy-tale ended and he asked, "Where's the beef?"

*       *       *

Over the years, I have gone back and forth in my vegetarian ways and seem to have arrived at a point in moderation being married to the beef eating, pork loving, Mountain Man:  I don't eat things with four legs.  So, horse, cows, pigs, iguana, and armadillo are out.  But les poulets, our fish friends and humans apparently, are in--but only if I find myself in a plane crash in a remote mountain range and in the company of Ethan Hawke.

Anyway, Shiloh and I 'meat' (so sorry, couldn't resist!) in the middle where the consumption of animals is concerned.  Over the years my culinary creativity has been stretched (tofu tacos anyone?) as Shiloh's patience has waxed strong in the face vegetarian enchiladas, vats of  ratatouille (it's not just a Disney movie) and my near constant eye rolling when he takes our meat eating children to the local burger joint (they inevitably always order grilled cheese!)  But somehow, we've made it work.  Part of the reason is that Shiloh's basic philosophy (while pointing at his mouth) is, "food goes in here".

No matter the dish, dinner together as a family is our most important hour.  We get to catch up, reflect, rejoice and just be--it is the ritual that binds us together as we all arrive home after being in the throws of the storm. With this celebratory idea in mind, I'm including our favorite family recipe for a crisp autumn day:  Lasagna Soup (thank you, Gwen.)

While not a fan of actual lasagna, this is a truly great soup.  I think that it is best made while listening to Rosemary Clooney's "Mambo Italiano" as I drag Shiloh around the kitchen and we shimmy like we are contestants on Dancing With the Stars--only with fewer sequins, and less spray tan.

So to the 5 of you that read this blog, here it is:

Lasagna Soup
1 pound turkey sausage (not pork, beef or armadillo)
2 cups shopped onions
1 cup diced carrot
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 can chopped Italian style stewed tomatoes
1 cup radiatore pasta
2 cups fresh spinach
cubed mozzarella or provolone & Parmesan and chopped, fresh basil to garnish

In a large stockpot, brown sausage, onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic.  Then add chicken broth, tomatoes, and radiatore (pronounced with a heavy Italian accent, and don't forget to roll your 'r'--rah-dee-ah-tor-aye.)  It's really effective to wear some kind of striped blue and white Venetian gondola captain shirt and sing a bit in Italian.  If you don't speak Italian, don't worry, most Italian's don't speak Italian either (I'm kidding, please don't write me letters--) Just do it with confidence and you can fool anyone.

Simmer soup until pasta is cooked and tender, about 10 minutes.
Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute more.

Serve over cubes of mozzarella or provolone and garnish with Parmesan and fresh basil.

Light a candle, crack a Diet Coke, sit with your family and enjoy this luscious and filling soup.  Celebrate your time together.  Celebrate yourself.   Mangia bene, vivi felice!

What's your favorite dinner time ritual?  Your favorite recipe?  Share it here!!!


  1. I'm with Shiloh, sorry. Give me the Pot Roast Potatoes and carrots for every Sunday dinner. I miss those family dinner hours or half-hours or ten minutes when they were teenagers. No recipe needed except for the hot rolls to go with it slathered with real BUTTER! Thanks for stopping by today with the girls, I ate some heated up with a little butter on it too. Even saved some for the Bishop. We are thankful for your thinking of us!

  2. Mary, I am ALL about the real butter!!! What would I put on my bread since I'm not eating the pot roast!!??? Good to see you today too!

  3. I NEVER knew you were psudo vegetarian! The soup sounds yummy! But, I must admit, I am unfortunately, all about the beef and pork... well, and chicken and turkey, just not ground and substituted for beef. But we actually only eat meat once or twice a week, if you don't count any unplanned, solitary trips FishingMan makes to his favorite Irish Restaurant, the one with the Golden Arches out front. I need to add more meat protein now that I am tottering on the edge of diabetes because there's only so many salads you can eat in a week before threatening to kill all the lettuce in a 5 mile radius.

  4. Inspired by the one and only you, we had it for dinner tonight. It's the kind of thing you can not get full of because you just eat it for the fancy taste! Thank you for sharing!! Crazy mountain man though, he probably even likes shopping at Cabella's!

  5. I can take or leave beef and pig, I will eat it but could live without them, but chicken and fish make it impossible to go all out veggie, can't live without them.

  6. I'm with you Brady--well, I wouldn't eat the cow or pig, but I like the chicken and fish.

    @Everybody, thank you so much for reading, following and passing Diary of a Square Toothed Girl along! I love you!