I Don’t Got You, Babe

Yep, Babe was the last straw. I had stopped cooking and eating cows, lambs and horses (just making sure you’re still paying attention) at the plea of our children some 18 years ago. But I was still allowing myself some wiggle room. I mean, give up bacon? Now we’re talking serious sacrifice.

And then I saw the movie, Babe. Ridiculous as it sounds – and let’s face it, is – I couldn’t eat pig again after seeing that movie. What was that great scene with Duchess the cat?

“Oh, I haven’t upset you, have I, pig?”

No, Duchess. But you upset ME! Damn you, Duchess. After your cruel words to the hapless little pig and Babe’s flashbacks to the slaughter of his mother, I knew bacon would never cross my plate again.

So urged on by our children, who had become non-meat eaters, and inspired by the life and times of a fictitious pig, I swore off mammals for mealtime. Fish and fowl, despite the pathos of Ferdinand the duck, remained fair play for dinner, however.

Although I can’t think about it too much or I might have to stop eating them, too.

After a few years of meatlessness, our children were seduced back to the world of hamburgers, bacon and sirloins. Those faithless followers of food fads led me down the garden path and then abandoned me, forever scarred by the thought of screaming pigs meeting their gory end, to a lonely life of limited culinary choices.

And if you think I was upset, just imagine how my husband, Scott, felt. A Montana boy born and bred, little delicacies around how the mammal might feel about being part of our food chain never occurred to him. When we went for our annual visits to Montana, he would roll his eyes when I politely turned down the platters of beef and pork that were passed around the table. But Scott was a good sport about it. He got used to turkey burgers, turkey chili, turkey meatloaf. He was fine with fish and chicken on the barbecue instead of a steak. In return, however, he did invoke the “Tofu Rule.” Which simply put is, “don’t even think about it.”

Giving up mammals has forced me into becoming a more imaginative and resourceful cook, if only because the boredom of eating dry chicken breasts 365 days a year is so deadly. Just about anything you can make with mammal, I can make without it (except for standing rib roasts, and those gross me out so completely that I don’t really need to compete with them).

So to get you thinking in a Babe-friendly way, here’s my recipe for totally delicious split pea soup. No pigs died in the making of this dish.

Ingredients

2 cups split peas
1 cup pearl barley
4 peeled carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, cut in quarters
1 smoked turkey drumstick
7 cups water
Salt to taste

Super Easy Directions

Rinse the split peas and barley. Place into a large soup pot with the water, turkey and all vegetables. Simmer over low for two hours, until peas are tender and, well, a little mushy. Remove drumstick from pot. When cool, strip off meat. Toss the bone, fat and disgusting tendrils. Chop the good stuff and return to the pot. Then, and only then, test the soup for saltiness. Depending on the smoked turkey, you may or may not need to add salt. If the soup is too thick, add more water. Duh.

You now have dinner for a few nights. I serve it with warm sourdough bread and a green salad, brightened up with grapefruit and avocado. Add a good earthy red wine (you can’t go wrong with Tres Picos, and it’s a bargain), and you won’t miss chomping on that cow one little bit. Guaranteed.