Sarah Belle is a seriously funny writer from Queensland. She has a short tale in the FREE chick-lit ebook anthology, Winter Heat (which I happen to be in, too!), and she's also a part-time vegetarian. We like! I chatted to her, plus nicked a yummy recipe of hers to share.
Hi, Sarah. How long have you been (mostly) vegetarian, and what inspired you to make the change?
I’ve only ever eaten chicken, fish and steak. Pork, bacon and ham have never appealed to me while veal and lamb are babies and I can’t eat babies.
I saw a German video on Facebook last year about Emma the milking cow who had come to the end of her ‘useful’ life from a farming perspective. Most of these cows are then killed, but this one was taken in the back of a horse float to a paddock where she was free to live out the rest of her days in peace.
However, she was terrified in the float and began to cry. Yep, a crying cow! I found myself in tears because the terror on her face was real, she feared death. (Link: https://binged.it/2bOFfEx.)
It occurred to me that I had never given a thought to what animals go through on their journey to my dinner plate. Even though as a kid I was a rabid protestor of fur seal clubbing, whaling and all other cruelty to animals, I hadn’t considered that farming animals experience love, fear, sadness or any other emotion we credit as solely ‘human’. But of course they do - ask any dairy farmer how long a mother cow mews for her calf after he is taken away so we can drink her milk.
After processing all this, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to eat steak, which was hard because I loved steak. A small eye fillet with pepper sauce was heaven! However, a year later, I am now repelled by the flavour of steak, and considering the horrors of live exporting, I feel that I am making my own stand. I respect everyone else’s choice but have made a commitment of my own and am feeling good about it.
Your favourite go-to vegetarian dishes?
I haven’t quite succumbed to the proper vegetarian diet of tofu, nut meat or beans, but I eat loads of veggies, eggs, tuna, chicken (I am only 85% vego!), and nuts and seeds.
Have you ever snuck a vegetarian character or recipe into a story you’ve written?
I haven’t as yet! I usually don’t write about food because I’m not a foodie as such. I wish I was a foodie because people get so excited about different dishes whereas I’m really boring and am happy eating a peanut butter sandwich!
Sarah Belle’s Multi-vore Cannelloni
1 box of cannelloni shells
2 x 375g tubs of smooth ricotta cheese (I use low-fat, but regular is fine)
1 packet of thawed frozen spinach
1.5 jars of Paul Newman’s bolognaise sauce
Salt, pepper, garlic and mixed herbs to taste
Grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese
Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs in a bowl to form the filling.
Grease a large rectangle roasting tray - one that will enable you to lay two rows of cannelloni shells.
Place the filling into a large piping bag and pipe into cannelloni shells. (Carla - Or use a spoon and cover the bottom end of the shell with your other hand!) This is messy so I do it over the baking tray (that way all the filling is still in the dish).
Once full shells are laid in baking dish, spread any remaining filling mixture over the shells.
Cover shells with bolognaise sauce for the vego option. For the meat option, cover with a traditional meat bolognaise sauce or add bacon to the vego sauce.
Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and refrigerate until needed. I usually cook this up to two days in advance. I think sitting in the fridge allows the flavours to mingle a little better. It also reduces cooking time.
Bake uncovered in a 180C oven for 40-50 minutes until cheese is golden!
Serve with garlic or herb bread and a tossed green salad.
Finding my inner peasant...