Friday, April 29, 2011

New Things #12-15!


So, here are some "new" things that I've had on the back burner for awhile now. A couple I started to write, but gave up, feeling uninspired to write one big ol' thing on that certain topic. Here I shall unleash them in all of their new, kinda concise glory!

New Thing #12-Go on a Vegan Diet
A little bit before Halloween Derrick & I decided that on November 1st we would shun any & all animal product until Thanksgiving. In many ways my eating habits tend to swing a bit towards the vegetarian (or the poultry-only, haha) camp anyway, but I never ate or cooked vegan for veganhood's sake. There were many reasons to this diet. One, I have a couple vegan/vegetarian cookbooks that I love, but never utilize to their fullest. Two, it would be fun to try something new & break free of our old standbys. Three, we had been eating far too much crap. Four, it was supposed to be sort of a stepping stone to me going on a more rigid anti-inflammatory diet (oops).

Obviously, this experiment was months ago, but I do remember enjoying it! It was a great chance to try new ways of cooking & using new ingredients (particularly those that I could never get D to try). I for one felt as though I had more energy, but maybe that was the fermented soy going to my head.

We've definitely integrated some recipes into our normal repertoire, & I would like to do the whole vegan diet thang again. Tempeh as a sausage replacement in pasta sauce? Yes please! Now I need to find a tomato substitute, as those are verboten from the anti-inflammatory diet. Tomatooooes, noooooooooooooooo!

New Thing #13--Go to a Naked Play
As in, the actors & actresses in this play are mostly not wearing any clothes.

Oh, & P.S.--One of your friends is in it. One of your friends who also happened to be the guy that married you to your husband. Yup, I've now seen his twig & berries.

Well then!
In all honesty, the entire experience was far less awkward than I thought it would be. I thought I was likely to giggle like a clown in church (huh?), but I remained composed & inappropriate-giggle-free. It helped that the play was well done, & that there wasn't an elevated stage on which junk & the like was displayed.

Afterward we all went out for Cuban food & it was like it never happened...or like it happened, but wasn't a big deal whatsoever (for some of us, ahem!).
Yay theata!

New Thing #14--Perform Various Farm Management Techniques
One of my classes that is winding to a close as I type is a hands-on class in which we learn & perform tasks that one would do on a farm. Some things I've done previously, but a fair amount I had not. Here they are!

-Draw blood from the jugular vein of a sheep.
-Flip a pregnant sheep over to trim her hooves & trim the wool around the teats & udder in preparation of lambing.
-Vaccinate & draw blood from cows in various places.
-Swab the gullet of a chicken.
-Draw blood from the wing vein of a chicken.
-Witness a pig give birth.
-Process newborn pigs--clip needle teeth, dock tail, administer iron shot.
-Visit the farm at night to watch for sheep in labor or that have given birth.
-Process newborn lambs--trim & dip umbilical cord, weight & record stats, paint number on side that corresponds to mother, make sure it is eating & walking.
-Bottle feed a lamb.
-Witness the trimming of a boar's tusks (gross).
-Visit the farm in the morning to feed all of the animals. Avoid the pig barn at all costs.
-Tag goat's ears.
-Talk self out of stealing a goat kid, because they are pretty much the best things ever.
-Try out shearing a sheep.
-Herd & wrassle many cute things.
-Inject a mastitis-preventative directly into sheeps' teats.
-Hug, snuggle & talk to many a lovely creature.

Is this it? I'm probably missing some stuff.

One thing that I witnessed & was supposed to do but didn't get to do was practice artificial insemination on a cow. After standing on a freezing cold cow pie-covered paddock in the drizzly rain for almost 3 hours, it was finally almost my turn. At first I had really, really not wanted to do this at all.

Why, you ask?

Artificially inseminating a cow requires sticking your left arm into the rectum of the poor cow & working your way through the peristaltic waves to the cervix. Here you lift up the cervix & guide the insemination gun with your right hand through the vagina & towards your left hand. Long story short, many people got covered in crap that day. Also, I felt really bad for the cows & just was not looking forward to the upcoming task.

But, after standing out in the dismal weather for far longer than I wanted to, I had worked myself up & I WAS going to do this, be awesome at it, learn from it & hopefully never have to do it again. Unfortunately (& I have decided that it really was unfortunate) though, the cow was NOT having it & began kicking her leg like a wild woman, almost severely injuring herself, let alone the rest of us. Poor crazy thing.

My professor apologized & told us that we were calling it quits for the day & that he would try to get the AI specialist to come back so we could give it a shot. However, this didn't happen.

Overall, this class was great, I learned a lot from it & I'm actually quite sad that it is ending. I will miss being around livestock on a regular basis.

One of my friends!

New Thing #15--Try a New Food
And what was this new food, you wonder?
Beef heart, to be precise.

This is kind of horrible yet appropriate placement, considering the above new thing, isn't it?

One thing you should know about me is that I am not huge on ingesting most mammals with any regularity, particularly beef. It's a combination of things for me. It's just not a taste that I relish or ever really want, save for the summertime fresh-off-the-grill burger. Even then, I usually prefer a turkey burger. Beef is just usually not even on my radar as something that I want to eat. Lately it's been even further off my radar, mainly because of my farm class. Cows are lovely & I don't agree with the way they are raised/handled/slaughtered in most cases. Without getting into a huge scientific, animal science-geek, political conversation, it just bums me out, ok?

So I've been avoiding it even more so for the last 5 months.

One of my long-emerging beliefs (but by no means a new belief anywhere) is that if you are going to kill an animal to eat it, you should use as much of it as possible & waste minimal, minimal amounts of it. Including the organs. Which incidentally taste pretty good when prepared properly.

While on our honeymoon in Dublin I tried black pudding and white pudding. (One of my other "rules" is that especially when traveling I will try pretty much anything in the spirit of living. By the way, frog legs are rich & have the texture of chicken. They also beg to be wearing tuxedo pants.). These types of puddings are more like sausages, but with barley in them, which gives them a nice nutty flavor & chewy texture. The black pudding was black because it contained blood, & the white contained no blood but DID have brains.
I tried them to try them, but let me tell you HOLY CRAP BLACK PUDDING IS DELICIOUS!
Especially the one we had at Gallagher's Boxty House. I never though I would actually crave black pudding. Seriously. Delicious.

Ok, back on track. Eating heart.

For Derrick's (& other April-born men) birthday dinner with his Mom we went to a Bolivian & Peruvian joint called Los Andes. You should go there, it is really good. D ordered the beef heart appetizer & despite not having a bite of beef in probably over 6 months, I decided I would try it.
It was sliced into thin pieces, rubbed with one of their awesome spice rubs, skewered & grilled. It came to us smelling aromatic & lightly drizzled with a creamy mint sauce.

I took a small piece, cut it, dolloped some mint sauce (so good!) on it & popped it in my mouth.
Hmm....a little chewy, as you'd expect a muscle like the heart to be, but not as chewy as I anticipated. Actually, it felt & tasted very much like a steak tip.

I deemed it yummy!

But I also deemed myself done & a bit guilty-feeling, because of my whole aforementioned beef thing. But I tried it, it was good & there you go.

Thus concludes this mega Clam Handle post. Thanks for reading!