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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

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I happen to know some very popular vegetarians.
I happen to know some very popular vegetarians.

Do vegetarians annoy you?

October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

I think I'm allowed to perch on both sides of the fence for the vegetarian / carnivore issue because I was a vegetarian for more than a decade. Then, midway through pregnancy, I became the jubilant meat-eater that I am today.

During my vegetarian days, I remember feeling like my dietary choice was annoying -- almost offensive -- to some people in my personal life. Family members made comments like "what exactly do you eat?" and "I don't think a little chicken broth will kill you."

I've noticed this in my professional world as well. I wrote numerous articles and blogs about vegetarianism  for OnMilwaukee.com, and it's clear that a fair share of Talkbackers are irritated by the veggie breed.

So what is it about vegetarians that some find so annoying?

I compiled my own list of possibilities based on experience as well as speculation, but feel free to add your own thoughts via the Talkback feature.

Possible annoying attributes of vegetarians:

Vegetarians are self-righteous? Perhaps some vegetarians think they're more educated and evolved humans with way more self-discipline since they do not eat the meat.

Vegetarians are rude? When someone makes a big meal, the last thing the cook want sto hear is, "You made that with chicken stock? I'll just eat the salad." Some vegetarians I know will graciously break their meat-free diet to avoid undermining someone's efforts. Others feel strongly in their convictions, and would stick to them regardless of who prepared their meal. 

Vegetarians are hung up on titles? Are vegetarians more into the label than the health benefits? Is it cool to be a vegetarian? Is it another way to define one's self and to fit in liberal hipster social circles?

Vegetarians are too thin? Do those with meat on their bones -…

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The sour cream is optional in the recipe, but not optional when I make it.
The sour cream is optional in the recipe, but not optional when I make it.

Daily dish: Chicken tortilla soup

October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

I just started cooking about three years ago, and since then, I have learned the most about the art of cuisine from my friends. This particular recipe comes from my friend Stacy and it never fails to hit the spot. Additionally, it's easy to make and packs impressive presentation which makes the still-novice chef in me feel acoomplished.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
1 bag corn chips
2 lbs. chicken with bone (remove skin, optional)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.) (or 4-5 ripe tomatoes diced)
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup frozen corn (or canned)
1 cup black beans, drained
1 cup red or green bell pepper chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1 lime cut into wedges
2 tsp. safflower oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you want it hot!)

Directions:
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne and bake in covered glass dish at 350 for 1 hour.  Let cool and remove from skin/bone, saving meat and drippings. In soup pot, sauté garlic, onion and peppers just until tender. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, corn, peppers, chicken with drippings and spices.  Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add half cilantro and reduce heat to low, simmer 10 minutes.  Serve in bowls with rest of fresh cilantro, lime and crumbled corn chips as garnish.  Add more salt and pepper to taste, dollop of sour cream optional.  Serves 6 to 8.

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I loved the zoo train as a kid, too.
I loved the zoo train as a kid, too.

A trip to the zoo is all about the choo-choo

On a recent trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo, I was blown away by the improvements. I hadn’t been there in a long time, and the cat house and the aquariums -- the zoo grounds in general -- were much nicer than I remembered. I told my friend, "I actually don’t feel that bad for the animals."

Although my sons had a great time running around and checking out the animals, every time they heard the train whistle, they asked if it was time to ride the rails. ("Can we ride it now, mom? Can we? Can we?")

Finally, I abandoned my practical course and cut back to the front of the grounds to hop the train. The boys loved every moment of it, from choosing which train car to sit in (they tried out three or four cars before picking the one closest to the engineer) to waving to every person they saw during the ride.

That night, when my husband asked them about their favorite animal at the zoo, Kai said, "We rode the train!" It’s true: for many little people, a trip to the zoo is all about the train ride, with the carousel coming in a close second.

Cempazuchi: Yay or nay for los niños?
Cempazuchi: Yay or nay for los niños?

Are these restaurants kid friendly?

October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

Sometimes it’s obvious which restaurants are appropriate for kids and which ones are not. Obviously, youngsters are welcome at most chain restaurants like TGIFriday’s or The Chancery, but potentially less welcome at a place that’s fancier.

Some Milwaukee restaurants, however, are questionable as to whether or not kids are welcome. Recently, I considered bringing my kids to a few restaurants that are more "grown up" eateries, but wondered if we would get looks of disgust.

I recognize it depends on the age of the kids, the way they behave and how busy the restaurant is, but in general, do you find any or all of these restaurants to be appropriate for children?

1.    Emperor of China, 1010 E. Brady St.
2.    Roots, 1818 N. Hubbard St.
3.    Comet Cafe, 1947 N. Farwell Ave.
4.    Cempazuchi, 1205 E. Brady St.
5.    Marchese’s Olive Pit, 1100 S. 1st St.