Foodie Tuesday: Ploughman’s Lunch & Cavegirl Quiche

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Ploughman’s-in-a-bowl.

I want to eat joyfully and intently and live a long, healthy life, then die and get recycled.

You know that although I respect veganism and the very solid reasons millions of people have for choosing not to eat animals and animal products, I am, like some other animals, an omnivore myself. Like these brother animals, I am okay with eating my fellow creatures. Hopefully people who respect animals’ right to be carnivores can respect a human’s wish to be a carnivorous animal as well. Yes, I want animals to be treated with great care and respect while they live, and yet I know that they’ll die; I expect no less on either count for myself. I would love to know that when I die it would be permitted, instead of my personal-leftovers having to be buried in a state-sanctioned impermeable box to take up prime real estate in perpetuity, for the aforementioned detritus to be left in the woods for some nice creatures to eat up, and what remains to fade into the grand recycling unit of the forest. Short of that, I have arranged with my loved ones to cremate what-was-me [after any possible organ farming is accomplished] and put my ashes into garden-feeding, where at least I will fertilize feed for ruminants and so serve as a smaller part in earth’s renewal. That’s what I think we’re all designed to do. Carbon to carbon. So whether I get eaten or make a less obvious contribution as a small pH balancing agent in the dirt, I plan to return the gifts that others, animal and plant alike, have given me in my life. This is not particularly meant to be a political or religious statement on my part, as I apply it only to myself, and I don’t begrudge anyone’s disagreement with it, it’s just a worldview that seems pragmatic to me. I am not saying this to court condemnation or controversy (you know I despise them) but simply to be honest with myself as much as with you.

So my protein preferences arrive as fatty and delicious nuts, eggs, seafood and, indeed, meats. I tend to be very old-fashioned in that way, following the path of my workman ancestors, and even their ancestors back in the hunter-gatherer days. I am enormously (no pun intended) grateful for the gifts of the earth that keep me not only alive but healthy and even well fed, and I don’t want to squander or be thoughtless about such magnanimity. Hence my determination to eat more deliberately and moderately as I grow older, and also my penchant for being ever more inventive in refusing to waste the goodness of any part of my personal food cycle. The recent posts about rescuing broth-making remnants are a tiny testament to this commitment. I’m a junk food junkie like everybody else, loving stuff that’s far from good for me, but I’m gradually learning to lean a bit further toward the less trashy ways to enjoy those elements that are the true reasons I like junk, not the addictive formats in which they’re presented to us by commercial producers and retailers so that we’ll just treat them–and our bodies–like garbage by over-consuming them thoughtlessly.

I want to eat joyfully and intently and live a long, healthy life, then die and get recycled.

A couple of the variant meals I based on my recent beef ginger mousse making fed both my frugal and my treat-hungry sides. Having the pre-made avocado mash around amped up both aspects as well, and the addition along the way of some other easy-to-keep ingredients made it all pretty much homemade fast food without the related regret.

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Another day, another ploughman’s.

Ploughman’s lunch, that great English enthusiasm for serving and eating what’s essentially deconstructed sandwiches–bread, cheese, chutney, pickled goodies, and so forth–are pretty common around our house. The differences in our tastes, multiplied by the number of friends sharing the meal, makes it easier to stick to assemble-it-yourself service for so many things that the logic of the operation is obvious. Since I’m generally weaning myself from wheat, that makes a hands-on, fork-in version of the Ploughman’s even more useful. Beef mousse and avocado mash make this easy. Hard boiled eggs are a grand addition, but a quick scramble or fry is fine as well. Chutney or jam alongside? Oh, yeah. Pickles of any sort are a plus. Add the crunchy pleasures (and instant utensils) of carrots, snap peas, celery, apples, jicama, radishes or any number of other good crudites and you’ve got all you can handle, short of a cold cider, iced tea, beer or lemonade. Filling, varied and delicious.

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Ploughman’s redux: beef mousse with pureed fresh tomatoes and mint, olives, pickled green beans, roast chicken, snow peas and apple.

For a cave-dweller-pleasing rearrangement of the same essential ingredients, I stacked it all up and sliced it into a semblance of a pie, first as a single layer and then as a double-decker version. Rather than baking it all up as an actual crustless quiche or omelet, which should be simple and tasty with the addition of some beaten eggs (and if I had some on hand, a bit of shredded cheese), I ate it cold and was not sorry to have the quicker version either. This one, given my previous pseudo-recipes on the topic, can be pretty easily illustrated in assembly by pictures only. What you choose to do with it is up to you! As long as you don’t disappoint me by wasting it. [Winking broadly.]

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The Cavegirl Quiche Assembly Line: sliced chicken or smoked turkey; mashed lemony avocado; sliced olives; pate or beef mousse; fried or scrambled eggs; tomato-mint puree; pickled green beans.

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A wedge of cavegirl quiche. Enough to take the edge off a day’s hunting and gathering.

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The double-decker version of cavegirl lunch: how to get ready for yet further mastodon chasing and saber-tooth battling.

Where are They Now?

In a couple of generations, so much change! It seems to me, at this point in my life and the tiny spot where that life sits in human history, that change grows ever speedier, as well, but I can only guess at that. I do know that within the memory of my own family and friends, what was common knowledge and something like a cultural vernacular at one time within those groups disappears with the rapidity of birdseed down a squirrel’s gullet.

When I was growing up, computers were still [refrigerated] room-sized and full of punch cards that represented their binary data in concrete form, and any private individual owning or knowing how to operate one was generally a subject for science fiction and fantasy. You might think the magnitude of the gap between then and today’s ubiquity of such techno-wonders as laptops and smartphones and their ilk would carbon date me, but no, I am still alive and kicking (though not nearly so high as, say, a Rockette), and I expect that today’s marvels will have become equally quotidian and us, equally blasé about them almost before I can blink my diode-wearied eyes.

One of the more obvious markers of the speed of our cultural shifts has been our costume, at least since we started wearing clothes. I can, to be fair, imagine that–once there were more than a couple of people around wearing leaves and animal skins–there was immediately somebody on hand checking out whether the prognathous brow next door was adorned with a groovier piece of saber-tooth fur than her own, and some other body busily rearranging his gunnera leaf cape because he’d noticed with some envy that the cave dweller across the way had added another leaf to his ensemble for a hat, giving him a little more screening from the notice of passing pteranodons.

So eventually, we arrive in the present day, when there are still a few ladies alive who can remember wearing middy blouses, and their granddaughters instead wore midi skirts. And in the course of my life, I remember a number of fashions and popular items of clothing that have ranged rather widely and sometimes even circled back to repeat a generation later, when the young and trendy are distant enough from their original appearances to be unaware of how ridiculously out of date the New Thing looks to the people who knew it as the New Thing thirty years earlier. This tautology of togs can be amusing, mystifying, a tad mortifying, or possibly just inspiring to those who kept the ‘offending’ garments in their attics for just such an occasion or at least out of laziness and apathy. In any case, we find ourselves seeing the past replayed despite our long-ago vows to never revisit such awful and embarrassing gaffes of taste, expense and/or comfort, and as much as we might revile them on their reappearance, it’s not entirely unknown for us to readopt them along with the crowd, when they’ve become familiar again.

Where are they now? Probably right where we left them, waiting to be picked up and worn once more. Much as it pains me to admit it, you will probably eventually find me wearing, again, such vintage garb as elephant pants, soap-and-water saddle shoes, paper dresses, bobby socks, a matching crocheted vest and tam, dickeys, or perhaps just a tasteful voile pinafore over my dress. Not sure if I’ll go as far as a bustle or a farthingale, but since everything old is eventually new again, I can’t say for certain that I won’t, either. Safe to say I think it highly unlikely you’ll ever see me wearing a girdle or V-boots or armor, even if those should become familiar personal accoutrements again anywhere during my life, but I rule nothing out–weirder things have happened. And I’d hate to get too out of sync with my fashionista neighbors, don’t you know.digital illustration