new guest blogger: Jennie Menke

I am so excited to introduce our new guest blogger to you! She is a very old friend from High School... Now I am not one of those people that attends my reunions so it was serendipity that I came upon my old friend Jennie and her wonderful blog! and I happened to find her just as she was embarking on 'meatless mondays' which I have to admit I have never heard about but I love the idea!

I have asked Jennie to join Nonchalant Mom because for one thing, I LOVE the way she writes and secondly I also happen to like what she writes about. I am certain that you will enjoy her posts as we learn more about 'meatless mondays' and also about gardening when the time comes (I thought it would be nice to have a person who actually knows what they are doing rather than my hap-hazard gardening). I am going to leave you to it and let you warm up to Jennie, organic-ly, as you read her posts! So please welcome Jennie Menke!

I am a very old and, I guess you could say, long lost, friend of nonchalantmom’s. After many years apart, I was thrilled to get a note asking if I was interested in guest blogging here. Not just because nonchalantmom is one of the coolest people I have ever known, but because I love to write. In fact, that’s how we met up again -- through my own blog -- which is a conglomeration of cooking, gardening and general blathering.

To be honest, though, I have no clue how to start this.

Do I introduce myself to you in my normal, long-winded fashion? Do I tell crazy stories about nonchalantmom’s sordid past? Do I pretend I’ve been doing this for ages and that I’m not intimidated at all?

I’m guessing, no, no, and, no.

So I’ll wing it.

My kids are fifteen(!) and thirteen. I’d like to think I’m a nonchalant-type of mom. But the reality is that you’d probably have to classify me as a manipulative, screaming, psychotic-type of mom.

Oh sure, I’m nonchalant on some levels.

...Just not on the levels I want to be.

I suppose you should also know that I’m egotistical and highly sarcastic. And, most of what I write is in jest. So please don’t take anything too seriously.


One of the things that we thought you might be interested in was my decision to participate (as a family) in the Meatless Monday movement as a New Year’s Resolution. I should probably admit that it was more of an autocratic decree on my part than a family decision, but a noble one, don’t you think? I figured it would be an adventure. We’d learn new ways to cook and eat; exploring new foods and cultures! We’d save the planet! It would be great!

When in reality, it’s been more of a highly stressful, mad-dash scramble at the last minute every Monday. More of a comic event than anything. Should I mention that, as I write this, it is 4:16 Monday afternoon and I still haven’t decided what we are having for Meatless Monday tonight?

It’s true. I am also a procrastinator.

The first Meatless Monday was a disaster. Probably one of the single worst meals I have cooked in my entire life. Even though Monday comes every seven days and it should be no surprise, the first Meatless Monday of the year seemed to come out of nowhere. I was utterly unprepared. I don’t know what I was thinking. It made for a great self-effacing blog post, but that’s about it.

Well, come to think of it, the penne tubes swimming in the pureed carrot were a great way to hide dog pills. But to say more in its defense would be wrong. It was truly horrible.

Other dishes have had much better success: Ma Po Tofu, Basil Ricotta Ravioli with Browned Butter and Sage, Miso Soup...

And, one life-changing experience.

[I forgot to tell you: I’m also a terrible exaggerator. I like to call it embellishing. My family calls it lying. Call it what you want. I embellish everything. So, when I say ‘life changing’ , take it with a grain of salt.]


Of course, everyone but me has probably been eating Indian for years.

But I’m from Minnesota. Still live in Minnesota. And I it gets worse. I live 40 miles from the cities. In Minnesota, that means you are in farm country. Indian food is not an option unless you make it yourself.

Which, happily, I finally did.

I cannot begin to express the transformation that occurred when we finally sat down to this Meatless Monday meal. No one knew what to expect. Would we like it? At least I had chosen to make fresh Naan bread, so I knew wouldn’t go hungry. But really, how bad could it be?
It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It was GREAT. It was the best meal we had eaten in recent memory, including those with meat. And it was vegetarian.

It felt like a real meal.

We were full!

I guess I have now exposed myself as a true meat lover. But maybe that’s just a habit. Maybe I only think we need meat to make it feel like a meal. Maybe if I could find more recipes like the Indian ones, we would eat end up eating less and less meat as time goes by. Not because of a New Year’s Resolution, but because it tastes good.

I have friends who tell me to just make tomato soup and grilled cheese, or pancakes -- to stop over-thinking it. But, aside from my family being fairly snobbish about what constitutes dinner around here (and pancakes don’t fit the bill), I have no desire to take the easy route and make familiar meatless things. I want to find more things like the Indian dishes. It’s just proving to be a little more time-consuming than I thought it would be. The research is part of the fun, but I can easily burn the better part of a day absorbed in websites and videos And before I know it....Oh no! it’s 5:15!

Dinner is due on the table in less than 2 hours and I have no idea what I’m going to make! See? See how this happens to me? That’s another thing: I’m terrible with time. Horribly unrealistic about what I can get done in a set amount of time. On the other hand, you gotta admit it’s a great way to end this, no?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to sharing more of our Meatless Mondays along with a little gardening and animal husbandry thrown in here and there as topics come up. Thanks for reading and leave a comment if you like. Let me know what you think.

click here to visit Jennies blog and more detailed recipes