New Vegetarian Chicklet in the Kitchen!

Please welcome our new Chicklet in the Kitchen!  We wanted a voice and inspiration for vegetarian dishes and Carla agreed to come on board!  Thank you so much!  We can’t wait to see what’s going on in your kitchen.  You can see her right over there in the side bar!  😉

I’m so excited to be here! My name is Carla and I’m a vegetarian. It started out as a two-week experiment and has gone on for five months. Actually, it started years ago when I was a kid, and I preferred veggies over meat. My parents had to fight me to eat meat. I couldn’t bear the thought of the slightest fragment of gristle or fat, to the point where they nearly had to wrestle me into eating my dinner. More than once I sat at the table, frowning at a cold plate of pot roast.

Later on I adapted, not to mention I developed a love of seafood. Fast-forward 25 or so years to last February, when my husband and I sat down to a beautiful, sizzling, cheese-and-shrimp-covered steak at Applebee’s. I cut into it, took my first tantalizing bite, chewed…and couldn’t get it past my throat. It had happened before. Known as “Steakhouse Syndrome” or Schatzki’s Ring, it’s a ring of cartilage in my throat that occasionally tightens up, particularly when I’m tense. (Like when my uncle comes for dinner, looks at my homemade beef and broccoli, and says, “What the hell is this?”) I could breathe but I couldn’t swallow, not even water. Not even spit. VERY uncomfortable.

Long story short, the gastroenterologist I met in the ER later that night told me I had a condition that included heartburn. Mind you, I’d never really had a problem with heartburn, but he seemed to think I should, and he prescribed medication for it. Maybe it healed my throat, but I had heartburn like never before. Make-your-eyes-water kind of heartburn. He also asked me to come have my throat scoped again in the OR. So not fun, especially when the nurse comes in and checks to make sure I’m ready for my colonoscopy. Can you say, “Wrong end!”? (She was in the wrong room. I’m not Mrs. Olshansky.)

Over the summer I talked to a friend’s wife when I learned she’s a vegetarian. She has two teenage boys and my husband’s friend, and I asked her how she manages. She said, very calmly, “You can do it. It’s not a problem.” That got me thinking.

A week after that, I decided that on the next Monday I’d give it a try for two weeks, to see how I liked it. First I learned to love baked sweet potatoes. (I loved them anyway, but I learned how to microwave them. The ultimate fast food.) Then I learned to make spaghetti squash. Then I figured out that if I made spaghetti and meatballs for the family, it’s not impossible to navigate around the meatballs and just have spaghetti and sauce for myself.

There’s a way to do anything if you really want it badly enough, and I’m happy to say that in five months, the only heartburn I’ve had, came about after I decided to try meat again. I thought I could be a pescetarian—I still love seafood, and giving up smoked salmon was heartbreaking—but the heartburn that night made me think, uh, no. The inability to resist a lamb/beef gyro gave me heartburn that lasted three days and gave me a migraine. I definitely feel no need to back there. I even tested myself by making a pound of bacon for my husband and sons, and not even licking my fingers when it was all cooked and ready.

Anyway, that’s how I got here. Recently I’ve fallen madly in love with lemon juice. It tastes good on nearly anything (not hot fudge sundaes, mind you, which still qualify as vegetarian fare, thank you God) but especially good on broiled slices of eggplant. We’ll discuss my eggplant conversion another time, but my simple broiled eggplant recipe goes like this:

Carla’s Broiled Cheesy Eggplant

Ingredients:

One eggplant, sliced about ½ to ¾ inch thick

Lemon juice (just bring the bottle)

Coarse sea salt

Swiss cheese

Lay the sliced eggplant on a spray-oiled broiler. Douse liberally with lemon juice; sprinkle with salt. Broil for 5 minutes on each side. After the second side is broiled, lay a chunk of swiss cheese on each and put it back in the broiler for a minute to 90 seconds, until crispy and golden but not burned. Enjoy!

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13 thoughts on “New Vegetarian Chicklet in the Kitchen!

  1. Carla, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll go find a small eggplant (I’m the only one who eats it in my home) and make it. And maybe with mozzarella, because I don’t like swiss. But definitely with lemon juice. YUM.

    Welcome aboard!

  2. I can’t wait to make this, Carla! I’m sure my husband will love it – he said, “You had me at Swiss cheese.” 🙂

    Welcome to the Chicklets!

  3. Hi Carla!

    Welcome to ‘Chicklets in the Kitchen’, you will have loads of fun here. 🙂
    The gals are all so sweet and nice, which, I’m sure you already know.
    Looking forward to your future post.

    We are big time meat lovers at our house, but many a time I do stick in meatless meals. Sometimes, hubby doesn’t always knows what’s best for him.
    We’ll just keep that between us, OK? 😉

    This sounds like something that will definitely wind-up on my dinner table, thanks!
    I happen to LOVE eggplant! You have any ideas on brussel sprouts, another fav, just running out of different ways to cook them.

    Have a nice day ladies!

      • My hubby hates the sprouts too (he said they look like little cabbages; my response is, and the problem with that is…?). I’m lazy about cooking them, though. I use Green Giant from the freezer, with lots of butter, but I do remember that recipe Abigail posted the link to (thanks for the reminder!). I should give that one a try.

        My grandparents used to grow brussel sprouts in their garden. Might have to see if they’ll grow in mine, come summertime.

        Thanks for the warm welcome! 🙂 This is awesomesauce!

      • Yep, I remember, I kept the recipe for “The Famous Lunden’s Tavern Brussels Sprouts”.
        I did make them and I liked them bunches this way! Hubby just wanted me to cut back on the vinger a bit, …..really?!?….. and more pancetta next time, I think it’s just fine the way it is.

        Just curious to see if any other ways, thanks Abigail! 🙂

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