No Red Meat by Brenda Shriver

Cover of No Red Meat by Brenda Shriver

This is one of the books that I gave to Corrine when I moved from Baltimore to Chicago and she gave back to me a couple of years later. Prior to its vacation at her house, I’d owned it for several years. Maybe five or six? I can’t remember, but I think I bought it at Half-Price Books in Dallas while visiting my friend Turtle-Maria’s family around my 21st birthday.

I bought it because I simply stopped eating red meat1 for a good long time. I think this was a year or two into that phase, but I also don’t remember exactly how old I was when it started. Just that I was already in college and living on my own. I’d be curious if my mother would have been willing to cook for my diet if I’d been living at home when this started. My sister tried vegetarianism several times as a kid, and my mother did a pretty good job of coping with that while still cooking meat for the rest of us. I get the feeling that “no red meat” would have been more challenging, though. If only based on the amount of lip I took from everyone, including my family, for going that route while witnessing many people, including my family, being quite alright with my sister’s vegetarianism (up to and including commending her for the decision).

For someone with limited cooking skills (me), this diet was quite a challenge. Well, all diets were quite a challenge, unless you count “Kraft dinner and microwave popcorn” as a diet, but this added a level to it. Which, thinking on it, was odd. When I lived with Maria-Sea we ate most of our meals together, and she can’t stand red meat. I guess see the “Kraft dinner and microwave popcorn diet” above.

This book helped out a lot, once I got it. I still burned a lot of meals and struggled to decide what to cook, but at least I had some ideas. I even managed to prepare a meal for Claire and Robert (and maybe Turtle-Maria or my then-boyfriend) a fairly “fancy” seeming meal out of this cookbook. It was pretty neat. Less neat was that it was summer, in New Mexico, and I served a baked chicken dish. I had no dining room, and so we sat at a card table in the kitchen, right next to the oven to eat. Still, it was a good time, and everyone enjoyed themselves. I suspect we all ate rather quickly, though. Maybe that’s just the years-later memory of suddenly realizing that the only place I could feed everyone was right next to the oven.

Number of recipes in the book: 300
Number we’ve cooked: 0

You can click the “no red meat” tag on this entry to see everything we’ve preserved out of this book. Note that we have an older edition of the book that we cannot find on Amazon to link to at all. It’s yellow and has a photo of a chicken with some really pretty baby carrots on the front.

fn1. Red meat was everything you’d think of as red meat that you might easily encounter in a small to mid-sized town, plus pork. I know some folks don’t consider pork “red meat”, but I did. I also wasn’t ever offered things that I’m told are red meat but are rare to encounter in a small-town grocery store, such as rabbit. I probably would have refrained. I did not, however, manage to refrain from red meat during my trip to Kenya in this phase. Turns out that I was more willing to eat red meat than be a vegetarian when those were my options. Of course, if I hadn’t been refraining from dairy in Kenya (because I couldn’t stand the milk or the cheese we had access to), I might have gone the other way. Pizza night was not my favorite night at “School for Field Studies: Kenya”: