The Day the Beef Ran Out

I was reading an article this morning on Food Dive, about how, in order to feed every last of the projected ten billion mouths on the planet by 2050, the whole world food system must be rethought.

What’s for dinner?   [Photo by  chuttersnap  on  Unsplash  ]

What’s for dinner? [Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash ]

Of course, the historical answer to food shortage questions has always been, the rich and powerful will eat (e.g., most Americans and citizens of the West, along with the power elite of the developing world), while the rest of the folk scramble or starve. And I’m sure plenty of this will happen in 2050. But suppose we wanted to think globally, for novelty’s sake? The World Resources Institute, the World Bank Group, United Nations Environment, the United Nations Development Program and two French agricultural groups got together to study and make suggestions, taking into account the increasing pressures of climate change.

After six years of research and modeling, the report shows there is no one solution, Searchinger said. Some of the report's directives include producing more crops, meat and milk on the same land, reducing both food waste and demand for beef and lamb, and using technology to reduce emissions. 

I’m on board with those directives, but I don’t know about reducing demand for beef. (Lamb, no problem. You are welcome to our share of the world’s lamb.) I think of my own household, where we probably eat beef twice a week. The only way we could reduce that number would be to get rid of my teenage son (which we plan on doing when he goes to college next year). He swims competitively and vacuums up the meat, especially beef. Of course, sending him to college only transfers the beef-consumption problem to the dining hall, and I’m betting they can’t afford to buy the earth-friendly, omega-3-rich, grass-fed beef we have at home, but I sure as heck don’t want to buy it for ALL those teenage boys with my tuition fees. (Back to the rich only wanting to feed themselves.) Maybe the world will do a version of what we do in my house: funnel most of the beef toward the one who needs it most. Growing boys, women low on iron, competitive athletes.

Last night, since I was making broccoli-beef stir fry, I knew my youngest daughter wouldn’t eat the beef, so I added a veggie curry. Everyone was happy. And, since the vegetable curry just sat in the crock-pot, it wasn’t a problem.

If you don’t have an ardent beef-eater in your house, give this recipe a try:

Vegetable and Chickpea Curry

(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

1 Tbsp olive oil

one chopped medium onion

2 carrots, sliced

1/2 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1-1/2 cups cubed potato

1 c diced bell pepper

1 c green beans, cut in 1” segments

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

dash cayenne pepper

half-can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 cup chicken broth

1-2 c fresh spinach leaves

1/2 cup coconut milk

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and carrots till tender, about five minutes. Add curry powder through jalapeno and cook one minute, stirring.

Dump mixture in slow-cooker. Stir in garbanzo beans through broth. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours. Add spinach and coconut milk and stir until the spinach wilts. Serve with rice.


The recipe is pretty versatile and makes a nice sauce. I could see adding chunks of sweet potatoes next time. If your family likes/tolerates tofu, you could add tofu in the last hour. Maybe some broccoli.

Even my beef-eater picked out the carrots and the potatoes from the veggie curry, so everyone got something and no one went away hungry. Which is our worldwide goal, I imagine.

Tofu or Not Tofu, That Is the Question

Between food allergies, food intolerances, food preferences, and dietary restrictions, whether doctor- or self-imposed, it can be hard to sit down together for a meal. Generally I've been pretty lucky--no one in my immediate family has a food allergy, and in my extended family, only my mother-in-law has a gluten intolerance, but it's so mild she got bored of nursing it after a while. This free pass on food allergies gives me a little more patience with food preferences. If someone hates a certain dish and everyone else likes it, I just wait till I know that person won't be there to serve it.

So last night the two most carnivorous members of the family were going to be out, which meant it was time for tofu. Really, only my seventeen-year-old likes tofu. I agreed to a tofu meal because: (1) someone had given me a free package of tofu made on Vashon Island which was going to expire in a few days; and, (2) the 17YO agreed to cook dinner.

Although we didn't have exactly the ingredients called for, our dinner turned out pretty tasty (for tofu)!

Stir-Fried Broccoli and Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2.5 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb extra-firm tofu, drained and cut in 1/2" cubes
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups small broccoli florets and/or asparagus pieces
3/4 c water
1.5 Tbsp minced garlic

Combine soy sauce through sesame oil and set aside. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the tofu and sprinkle with salt. Cook 8 minutes or until browned, tossing frequently. Remove from pan. Add vegetables, water and garlic to pan. Cover and cook 4 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add soy sauce mixture and tofu, stirring to coat. Cook 2 minutes until sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

Now, of course, we have leftover tofu, but at least it's cooked and in flavored sauce. Leftover tofu works great thrown in with some noodles or fried rice, or even as a sandwich filling. Or, if you happen to stir-fry more vegetables, you can just toss the cooked tofu in at the end to pump up the protein and filling-ness factor. It'll never be my preference, but it's just fine, occasionally.

As a p.s., Island Springs, maker of the tofu we used, has some recipes on its website that make tofu look as luscious as I imagine it's possible for pressed soybean curds to look. Which is actually fairly luscious. Take a look at the pics running on the home page!