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Meatless Monday: The Eyes of Texas

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My father's joke is, you know when you're in trouble when you hear:
1) The check is in the mail.
2) I'm from the government, I'm here to help you.

It always makes me laugh. But in the case of the EPA, it's no joke. EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency, which, though sort of on holiday during the previous administration, has roared back to life under the helm of Lisa P. Jackson, who last week laid out her timeline for the Clean Air Act, regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Jackson's phase-in plan is so gradual, it's hacked off environmentalists, but was still too much for Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose state tops the chart when it comes to producing heat-trapping gases. In fact, the idea of regulation and restriction got him so riled, he's suing the EPA.

Perry, up against Senator Key Bailey Hutchinson in tomorrow's state primary, claims the EPA plan will curtail Texas' economy. Is it really easier to sue than it is to change? Surfing on the wave of criticism over e-mail stolen from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Perry's suit also states the new EPA policy is based on false evidence of global warming. Suing the EPA is not his first over-the-top move. Last year, Perry wanted Texas to secede from the union.

I'd miss Texas. I have friends there, and they're not like Perry (then again, they're not running for public office). I'd miss Texas' rich multicultural culinary history, which -- surprise -- doesn't start and end with beef.

Like all regional cuisine, Texas cuisine was born of necessity. According to culinary historians, the first Texans arrived via the Asia by walking across the straits of Alaska (you know, that other state with all the big wide open spaces). They made Texas home, and by the time France, Spain, England and such started showing up in the early 1700s, native Texans had gone from hunter-gatherers to growing simple, durable, economical crops like corn, peppers and beans. They also figured out how to take these staples and turn them into something greater than the sum of their parts.

Take Tex-Mex migas. Migas, Spanish for crumbs, is essentially eggs scrambled with crumbled corn tortillas and veggies. I've known rogue versions smothered with bottled salsa, grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream and refried beans, but migas are best at their most elemental, when made with a few fresh, local vegetables. The dish speaks for itself that way, and what it has to say is comforting and honest.

The same cannot be said for Perry. Say, though, just say the governor's right on this and we're not the blame for global warming. It's happening anyway.

The EPA's Jackson hasn't issued the new gas emissions restrictions for yucks but because greenhouse gases pose a threat to the population. Protecting our environment -- which the EPA's struggling to do despite opposition -- is in everyone's best interest, whether you're a voter or a politician, a Democrat or a Republican.

Perry can secede, he can sue, he can generate a lot of hot air trying to debunk the IPCC reports, but he can't change the climate. As climate czar Carol Browner says, "I'm sticking with the 2,500 [IPCC] scientists. These people have been studying this issue for a very long time and agree this problem is real."

Though it may seem so at times, Texas is not exempt from reality. No one is. Global change is well, global. And it can't be litigated away. Sometimes, the government really is here to help us. The Clean Air Act is the bill we need to pay now. We can't shrug it off and say the check is in the mail.

Tex-Mex Migas

Originally a breakfast dish, migas are welcome and comforting at any time of the day. Yes, you can add salsa and sour cream, grated cheese, guacamole, hot sauce, anything you like -- it invites innovation. Make a vegan version by swapping the eggs for 12 ounces of firm tofu, drained and crumbled. But try migas at their simplest, the way they were created. It will make you feel kindly towards Texas.

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 soft corn tortilla, cut into strips
1 small onion or 3 scallions, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin powder
5 eggs
1 tomato, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped fine
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tortilla strips and saute until they crisp and turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add chopped onion, jalapeno and red pepper and continue to saute, stirring, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in cumin power.

Break eggs in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Pour over vegetables. Allow eggs to set for a minute. Then sprinkle chopped tomatoes and cilantro and scramble everything together.

Continue cooking until eggs are soft and fluffy, but set, another minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste and tip onto two plates. Serve with extra tortillas and garnish to your heart's content.

Serves 2. Recipes doubles, even triples but is best eaten hot, fresh and at once.

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