Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Red meat!

With all that's going on in the world today, the most sustained gasping in the media concerned research published in the current Archives of Internal Medicine, "Meat Intake and Mortality." I suppose the brouhaha stems from the unusually large number of its participants, over 500,000 in all. It certainly can't be because the findings are novel, because there have been smaller previous studies which came to a similar conclusion, namely that consumption of red meat and processed meat notably increases people's risk of developing cancer. Also significant is that the study found that consuming "the other white meat," pork, increases one's risk of cancer, unlike consuming poultry and seafood.

What's unclear, and which can't be discovered by such a study, in which participants responded to a detailed questionnaire, are overall differences between the actual dishes consumed by heavy red meat eaters and those partial to poultry. For instance, what is contained in the "chicken mixtures" mentioned as a type of white meat consumed by some participants? Since so many people eat prepared foods and in restaurants, it's possible that many poultry and seafood dishes and sandwiches differ markedly from those composed of red meat--namely, I suspect that many white meat and seafood dishes contain higher amounts of vegetables, and a greater variety of them, than do red meat dishes.

The basic slant of all the panic is that doing without red meat is a hardship. Please, tell that to my taste buds. All they know is, insert flavorful seasoned food and enjoy!

Melissas soyrizoIn that spirit, I decided to try a new product that I spied at a new Giant Food, Melissa's soyrizo (vegan chorizo). It looked promising, and even had an enticing garlicky, peppery aroma as soon as I broke open the casing to prepare dinner...

soyrizo being preparedThe bright red (paprika) color and crumbly texture were the clues that told me that this "sausage" follows The Rule of All Good Food--namely, that good food is messy. The red goop all over my hands as I was making small patties confirmed that the soyrizo conforms to this rule, as did the fantastic smell wafting all over the house as I pan fried them in a bit of oil in a nonstick pan.

This preparation was to get the patties ready to top homemade pizza--homemade dough, topped by spaghetti sauce and mozzarella slices, ground fennel, thinly sliced onion, Italian seasoning, with the soyrizo. As this "sausage" is not a lowfat dish, there's no need to, say, sprinkle olive oil over the pizza after you remove it from the oven. (Although I still added a bit of oil to the pizza's naked edges.)

The (admittedly blurry, but decidedly tasty) result:

pizza slices topped with the soyrizoHomemade pizza dough is quick to make; in fact, the entire pizza can be in your mouth in an hour! Heeeeeerre it is...

Homemade Pizza Dough (enough for six slices of one large pizza)

1/2 cup warm water

1 package active dry yeast

pinch sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. olive or canola oil

~1 1/2 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour

favorite pizza toppings--sauce, cheese, etc.

In a medium bowl, place the water, yeast, and water, and stir with a fork. Cover the bowl with a plate, and let sit in a warm spot for 5 minutes. Grease the pizza pan with a bit of margarine.

After five minutes, the yeast mixture should be bubbly. Stir in the salt, oil, and the flour a half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Add a bit of flour to the counter, and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Then, return the ball of dough to the bowl, cover with a plate, and let rest for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare topping(s).

The dough should have risen some and be soft, but not sticky. If it's sticky, add a bit of flour to your hands, and pat into the pizza pan. Add the sauce, cheese, toppings, and bake for 10 minutes. When the cheese is well browned and the crust lightly browned, remove the pizza from the oven, cut into slices, and serve.

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