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The Essential Vegetarian

By Katie Jeffreys

Features Editor

I would like to address an issue which is not of exclusive importance to vegetarians. Since its approval by the FDA in 1993, recombinant bovine growth hormones have been used to stimulate milk production in cows. POSILAC, the brand name of rBGH, is manufactured by Monsnato, the company which also brings you NutraSweet and many bioengineered foods.

Ben and Jerry’s is one company which has taken a stand against the use of this genetically engineered hormone. I must agree with them in thinking that rBGHs are unnecessary. The hormones cause health problems for the cows (the company recounts “Some studies report a 79 percent increase in mastitis (infection of the udder) resulting in [a] greater need for antibiotics, reduced pregnancy rates, cystic ovaries, and uterine disorders, digestive disorders and lacerations, enlargements and calluses of the knee.”). In addition, the milk produced is less healthy for human consumption, as it is lower in protein.

I do not understand why farmers need to produce more milk than there is demand for. One of the greatest problems of world hunger is not a lack of food, but an inability to distribute food. So producing more milk, which will in fact spoil more quickly due to the bacteria in it, does not help bring milk to people who would otherwise not have any.

I recently had dinner at India Quality Restaurant. Despite their somewhat hokey sounding name, the dinner was tasty, inexpensive, and served in a friendly manner. While this is not the best Indian food I have had in Boston, it was quite satisfactory. The meal began with a plate of vegetarian appetizers which were, of course, fried. The broccoli nan was a nice accompaniment to the main dish (I had one with mild seasonings, chick peas and potatoes). The appetizer, bread, and entree constituted a light dinner for two. At about $15, this seems like a good value for a nice sit-down dinner (especially after the $50 lunch at Stephanie’s last week).

The new location on Commonwealth Avenue in Kenmore Square is clean with interesting wall and table decorations. They have lunch specials as well, in smaller sizes than their dinner portions, which many of my friends eat as take-out.

One final note on Networks. I have been back several times since my initial meeting with the manager, and have found the quality has improved immensely. The hummus and roasted pepper sandwich is tasty, and at over a dollar cheaper than the meat versions, is quite a deal by Networks standards (though for the same price you can get a huge veggie sub at La Verde’s). The daily specials have also been filling, healthy, and tasty. The stuffed zucchini earlier this week and the vegetable kabobs last week both had a mix of vegetables and starches which made me feel I was having a very balanced and filling meal. The zucchini was served with eggplant which was very dry and had a strange flavor. I thought it was rather odd. I would have preferred it in the stuffing of the zucchini or cooked in a sauce.

That is all for this week in vegetarian land. Next time: a vegetarian Thanksgiving. Tofu-turkey, anyone? E-mail me with any questions or comments at <>. This week’s recipe is in the Thanksgiving spirit, a tasty way to cook eggplant which can act as an entree or side dish.

Eggplant Steak

2 small eggplants

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

Remove stem end from eggplant and cut off enough skin to square sides; discard or recycle skin. Slice remaining eggplant lengthwise into four pieces, each approximately 3/4 inch thick.

Sprinkle the salt evenly over the eggplant and place salted slices in a bowl for about 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness. Rinse eggplant well and pat dry.

In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the Tabasco; brush evenly over both sides of the eggplant slices. Bake eggplant on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, turning over once; broil for 1 minute per side or until well browned and tender all the way through. (As an alternative, grill over medium heat for 7 minutes per side; increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook for two minutes per side.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together remaining olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, parsley, and fresh rosemary (if fresh rosemary is unavailable, use dried). Brush mixture over cooked eggplant; season with salt and pepper and let stand for five minutes before serving.