I said, “I’ll take the T-bone steak.”
A soft voice mooed, “Oh wow.”
And I looked up and realized
The waitress was a cow.
I cried, “Mistake—forget the steak.”

Shel Silverstein

This week, I debated over whether to make burgers or steak. I felt more confident in my ability to make a veggie burger that was actually enjoyable, but I thought making steak would be more impressive. Either way, I wanted to use the grill now that the weather has finally taken a turn for the better. Unfortunately, after sitting, unused, all winter, the grill wasn’t immediately up for the task, and, as I was cooking on a time crunch, I abandoned my dream of grilling and settled for using the oven (and a pot).
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Sausage and Peppers

No one really knows how the game is played,
The art of the trade,
How the sausage gets made.
We just assume that it happens,
But no one else is in the room where it happens.

The Room Where It Happens, Hamilton

The last time that sausage and peppers and “sausage” and peppers were made in my home, there were leftovers. When I went to open one container to identify if it was the vegetarian version, I accidentally dropped it on the floor. I spilled the entire container, made a giant mess, and it turned out it was the actual sausage and peppers. I ruined my parent’s food and still got to eat my “sausage” like a big jerk. So this week I am making sausage and peppers—using my mother’s recipe, which, as usual, is not much of a recipe—and making amends.
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Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parm you taste so good.

Peyton Manning, Nationwide Insurance Commercial

This was a big week for me. I finally had to cook for people who weren’t related to me. And I finally incorporated tofu into a recipe. In fact, as opposed to starting with a meat recipe and finding a vegetarian version, I actually started with a recipe for tofu parmesan that I’ve had for a while. Cooking the chicken version was kind of a combination of following advice, winging it, and looking at different recipes while wondering why they all called for such different cook times and temperatures. I made some mistakes and often did not know what I was doing. But, ultimately, everything worked out for the best.
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Beef Empanadas

Jim: Uh, you guys are going to love these. So, empanadas on me. You guys gotta try them.

Creed: Usually I’m a burrito guy, but if you won’t tell, I won’t. Wink, wink.

The Office, “Jury Duty”

The Culinary Institute of America, a renowned culinary school that happens to be close to my home, offers day-long cooking classes for non-students. When I was younger, I took a couple of the classes. One was pretty useless, but the other provided me with recipes that I still use years later. It was in the International Cuisine for Teens class that I learned to make beef empanadas—I honestly can’t remember when I took this class, but I was probably young enough that I would have been eating beef at the time so I may have even eaten beef empanadas. These days, I eat “beef” empanadas, or, if you want to get technical about it, “meatless crumbles” empanadas.
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Chicken Fajitas

Ross: The only thing weird would be if someone didn’t like Mexican food, because I’m making fajitas!

Joey: I do like fajitas.

Friends, The One Where Ross Is Fine

This week I didn’t really know what I wanted to cook. I figured I was due for something with chicken, but I wanted to put off chicken parmesan since I made an Italian meal fairly recently. Eventually, I landed on fajitas. My memories of fajitas stem from experiences at a restaurant, long since closed, called Fresnos in my pre-vegetarian days. Waiters would walk to the tables with sizzling skillets of fajita filling, with a cloud of smoke following behind them. When you left Fresnos, you smelled like fajitas.
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Meeting My Meat and Losing My Appetite

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I’ll accommodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a “vegetarian plate,” if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.

Anthony Bourdain

I generally do my cooking each week on Thursday, or Wednesday if I’ve really got my act together. This Wednesday and Thursday found me in Minnesota, however, so this week I am posting some general musings in place of a recipe. During my trip to the “land of 10,000 lakes,” the subject of my being a vegetarian came up several times, as I was traveling with a handful of carnivores that I did not know very well and had, as a result, never broken bread with before. The questions I fielded covered where I get my protein from (nowhere, basically, because I am an unhealthy vegetarian), how long I’ve been a vegetarian (ten-ish years), and why I became a vegetarian. The last question is just as easily answered as the others (because my love for animals and outrage at the scenes I witnessed in a PETA video overcame my appetite for meat), but it leads me to ponder a different question: why am I still a vegetarian? I can’t answer that question presently, but I had begun thinking about it before my trip to Minnesota. What follows is an essay that I’ve written on this subject (instead of the short post that I promised).
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Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled pork jokes never get old.

Joel Edgerton

Let me begin by saying that I would rather have used almost any other pulled pork-themed quote than the one I chose. Unfortunately, that’s the only one I could find. That being said, I made pulled pork this week! I knew I wanted to make something with pork (the meatballs did have pork, but it was ground and didn’t really count), but I couldn’t think of many popular pork dishes that could be turned, fairly easily, into a vegetarian dish. Eventually I decided to either make pulled pork or sausage and peppers. Obviously, I chose the former, but sausage and peppers will most likely make an appearance at a later date because I already have a sausage quote on the back burner. Also, it’s delicious, but I digress.
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