I’ve been an on-again, off-again vegetarian my whole life. On one hand, I know that the meat industry comes with its share of environmental and ethical concerns. On the other hand, crispy-skinned chicken, brunswick stew, and pasta bolognese make me really happy. The newly released cookbook from American Humane’s president and CEO, Dr. Robin R. Ganzert, intrigued me. Titled The Humane Table: Cooking with Compassion, it promised seasonal recipes that highlight meat, eggs, and dairy products from humanely raised animals. It sounded like the answer to my ethical struggle with my love for cheese, meat, and eggs.
Ganzert taps a list of approved businesses and purveyors who reflect American Humane’s pillars, including Springer Mountain Farms’ broiler chicken, Coleman Natural Pork, and Clover Stornetta Farms, Inc. dairy products. Each recipe makes conscious use of one of the products on the list—a move that’s as easy as deciding which brand of eggs to buy at the store. They’re also organized by the season, which means delightful roasted turkey and whole duck during the holiday season and grilled delicacies during the summer. I love cooking with the season, so I stuck with recipes that let me hover over the warm stove and oven. Sure, the heat made me feel cozy in the middle of December, but the knowledge that I was cooking with humanely produced ingredients didn’t hurt either.
Cooking from The Humane Table Cookbook
Few things peeve me more than a sad, dry muffin, but adding sour cream (Ganzert calls for Clover Sonoma here) to the batter is a total game changer. These muffins came out ultra tender and moist (but not oily) and were fragrant from the almond extract. The recipe says it yields 24 muffins, but I got a solid dozen out of the batch with no batter left over. You’ll have a lot of cranberry sauce remaining, which you can freeze for future batches or turn into a seasonal aioli.
A bed of salad with a piece of salmon laid on top is one of my absolute favorite dinners, so I was immediately drawn to this blackened salmon recipe. A simple let punchy spice blend over a piece of sautéed fish gives it a beautiful bark and every bite is generously seasoned. The salmon at the store looked a little questionable so I opted for arctic char instead. The pink, fatty fish bears plenty of semblance to salmon, but you can usually find it at a bit better price. It went perfectly with simple salad greens and white rice.
I’m not a big sandwich person but have a weakness for anything griddled or pressed if cheese is involved. Breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs, and melty cheddar are not a new trio, but I was thrilled to learn that England’s Best eggs (my usual go-to brand) are on the American Humane list for sourcing eggs from compassionately kept chickens. I used ciabatta roller instead of rye bread, because they turn cracklingly crisp on the crust but stay soft and pillowy within.