About two years ago Zach and I decided to make a big change in our eating habits, specifically what kind of meat we eat. In the past I didn't give much thought to the type of meat I purchased. I had two criteria: price and freshness (i.e. the "Best by" date was still in the future). Pretty basic.
But the more we thought about it, the more we realized the importance of knowing where our food comes from. What really solidified the decision were two documentaries, King Corn and Food Inc., followed up by some online research. Another big factor in our decision was our Christian faith. For us the decision was less about improving our health and more about moral responsibility and the impact of our food choices on the environment. In essence, it was about being good stewards of what God has given us. (Relevant magazine published an article on the ethical food movement in their July/August 2011 issue. If you have time, you can read an excerpt here.)
So we decided to only purchase and consume meat that was both sustainably and humanely raised. Simply put, for poultry this meant free-range, and for beef it meant free-roaming and grass-fed. We also made the switch to buying our eggs from the farmer's market or purchasing only those marked as free-range at the grocery store. We also eat fish but make sure that what we are buying is marked "sustainable".
Because grass fed/free range meat is more expensive, our meat consumption has dropped way down. We eat meat about once a week, and because of this have added a lot more tofu, eggs, quinoa, and beans to our diet as sources of protein. Besides cost, there are also other good reasons for eating meat less frequently.
Most of the time when dining out I order a vegetarian dish, unless the restaurant carries meat that is specifically labeled as grass-fed or free range. You'd be surprised how many restaurants offer vegetarian options. I've only been to one restaurant over the past two years that did not have a veggie option, and I ended up with fried catfish. Even most BBQ restaurants offer a veggie side-dish meal....although I would love to find a BBQ restaurant that has grass-fed beef.
On explaining our new "diet", I've been surprised at how many times I've received the response "So you're a vegetarian now?" No. We're not vegetarians. We may order vegetarian dishes when we go out, or request a vegetarian meal if you invite us to dinner at your house. But we like meat. Meat is great. Especially bacon...
And that brings us to the title of this post, why we make our own corn dogs. Zach enjoys corn dogs but the poor guy hasn't had one since 5 years ago at the state fair. Let me tell you how easy it is to find corn dogs made with grass-fed beef. Nearly impossible. (If you know of a source, let me know. That and BBQ.)
So I decided to make homemade corn dogs, using The Great Organic Hot Dogs. Thank you Applegate for making a grass-fed hot dog!
2 2/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hot dogs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups whole milk (I used 1% milk)
Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying (about 2 quarts)
12 hot dogs
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir in eggs and milk. (You will have about 5 cups batter.) Fill a large heavy pot, Dutch oven, or deep fryer with enough oil to submerge hot dogs; heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 360 degrees.