Thursday, December 9, 2010

BBQ Sauce, Cabbage Hash, and Cheesesteak

We had some pork ribs from our meat share that we wanted to try. When we looked in the fridge to see what we had to add to them, we saw apples and cranberries from our CSA hanging around. Great flavors to go with pork, so we got started!

We mostly made this up, and it worked out great.

Started with a little fruit juice and a little water with a couple handfuls of cranberries and a pinch of dried chipotle peppers, some cinnamon, and some allspice. When the cranberries had split, we added diced apple. Once that was soft we blended it with half a small can of tomato paste to make a thick sauce.

To that, we added a splash of white vinegar and some liquid smoke. It actually resembled (and tasted like) a real barbecue sauce, with an awesome cranberry flavor and a little sweetness from the apple!

We coated both sides of the pork ribs and put them in the oven under foil for 3 hours on low heat, once in a while taking them out to flip them over and add more sauce. For the last 15 minutes we took off the foil.

They just melted off the bone, and our cranberry BBQ sauce was the perfect complement. Would do again! I think I need to find some jelly jars soon so I can make a big batch of that BBQ sauce and can it in small amounts. We had the rest of it on chicken with cheese later.

We also had an awful lot of green cabbage hanging around. We got one in our veggie basket, and still had half a cabbage from the previous share. We sliced up all the cabbage and used half to make a tasty, simple hash: fry some bacon until rendered, drain most of the grease, add garlic and onions and cook until caramelized, then add cabbage and saute until tender. Spice to taste - we used salt, pepper, cocoa chili blend, and chipotle. It came out great, but our second attempt came out even better.

Cabbage hash #2: fry bacon until mostly cooked, add Italian sausage pieces and cook until mostly done. Drain most of the grease. Add onion, garlic, and cranberries; let onions start to caramelize and let cranberries split. Add cabbage and cook until nearly done; add diced apple. The only spice we needed to add was black pepper.

Cheesesteak is another dish we threw together recently that came out better than expected. We've tried this one twice too, and it's extremely simple. Pan-fry seasoned thin slices of steak until done, then cut the slices into strips. Caramelize onion slices with some chopped garlic. Put steak back into pan with onion. Add cheeses! We had pepperjack, cream cheese, and sharp cheddar lying around, and put in some of each. Add pepper to taste.

Yeah, that's it. I think it depends on two things: the quality of the steak, and the kinds of cheese you use. The two times we've tried it have been pretty good though, and it's something we'll make again.

Let's see, what else have we made recently? We made another batch of butternut chips, which - again - didn't stick around long. Oh! and pumpkin ice cream! The texture is a little odd, but it tastes really good, despite halving the sugar called for in the recipe.

So in non-recipe food news, we picked up our meat share this past weekend, along with a basket of veggies. Our meat share was all beef this time, but there's 26 pounds of it in a variety of cuts for us to play with, and we're supposed to get pork again next month. For veggies we got tomatoes, both hothouse and cherry, so we made tomato soup again (and added cream cheese to it this time); we got a few red potatoes, a cabbage, a pumpkin, two acorn squash, half a dozen apples, a jug of local maple syrup, a giant garlic bulb, a big butternut squash, cranberries, a dozen eggs, and two meats to round it out. Unfortunately with all our cooking all we have left for veggies is the acorn squash. We might have to actually pull out some of our frozen veggies next week!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snack time!

I know I just posted yesterday, but I was thinking about snacks, and thought I'd share my favorite primal snacks.

Fruits are often good snacks on their own. Carrots and celery are too. Sweet potato chips or squash chips (don't fry in vegetable oil!) are great too.

Lately we've made a lot of applesauce. A small bowl of that is a great snack.

We almost always have either Greek yogurt or cottage cheese in the house. Either one is good plain, with applesauce, with berries, or turned into a veggie dip with the addition of a few spices. Cottage cheese is also great with cinnamon, black pepper, or cocoa powder.

I also like plain slices of cheese as a snack. Lately we've had jars of olives and pepperoncini and marinated artichokes around that are good snacks too. We also have lots of pickles around - remnants from the cucumbers in our CSA this summer.

Every time we cook a squash, we save the seeds for roasting. Clean them, add a little olive oil, salt, and seasonings (generally chipotle pepper for us) and roast at 350 or so until they start to turn brown and crunchy. They're like popcorn. Kabocha seeds are the only one I've found that doesn't work very well, just because the shells get chewy rather than crunchy. Acorn, butternut, and pumpkin seeds all turn out great.

We use our dehydrator once in a while for fruits and veggies. Sliced strawberries, apples, bananas, kiwi, coconut, and pineapple work well, as do carrot sticks, broccoli stems, beet slices, cucumber slices, and sweet potato slices. Watch the amounts you eat of these, though; you get all the same carbs from dried fruits and veggies as you do when they're fresh, but not as much volume. It's easy to eat a lot of them. Jerky is a great snack too, also easy to make in batches.

Pickled eggs, seaweed, and pork rinds are also good snacks. Nuts can be good too, but some are high in omega-6 fats and should be balanced out with omega-3s.

One does not need grains to have tasty snacks in the house!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Have some science, and some recipes

This presentation goes over some of the links between sugar, fat, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. I found it really informative, though long; it has 5 parts, each between 10 and 15 minutes. I highly recommend it.

On to food!

Butternut squash, thinly sliced and fried in olive oil at 320 degrees, makes pretty awesome chips. Unfortunately they don't last long.

While almond flour crust works well to make primal pumpkin-kabocha pies (pumpkin and kabocha courtesy of our winter CSA), and is a lot like a graham cracker crust, it does burn where there is no filling, so your pie can't have pretty fluted edges. The recipe I used for the crust used grapeseed oil. I will be try again with butter next time; I suspect I'll get better flavor out of it. One pie has cream cheese in the filling, while the other has some maple syrup; both are tasty.

The pumpkin seeds, kabocha seeds, and seeds from one of our two acorn squash were all roasted with salt and chipotle pepper. Kabocha seeds really don't roast all the well, unfortunately. They tend to be chewy no matter how long they're in for. The pumpkin and acorn ones are better than popcorn, though.

We made lots of applesauce. Almost 6 quarts. We also made 3 quarts of cranberry applesauce, and 3 pints of cranberry sauce. The cranberry and cranberry-apple blend unfortunately needed sugar, and so are not paleo and will be eaten sparingly, but they came out pretty tasty. (Why so much of everything? Well, we bought a peck of apples and two bags of cranberries from the store, intending to make applesauce, and then got another peck of apples from our CSA, along with some cranberries. That makes a lot. But since we've mostly mastered canning for simple things like fruit sauces, the jars will be able to hang out for a while before we eat them.)

We dehydrated all the peels from our apples when we were done making sauces. Now they're like apple chips. Yum!

Then we put a chuck roast we got with our winter CSA in the crockpot whole, along with a few potatoes, a can of diced tomato, artichoke hearts, two small onions, mushrooms, and of course chicken stock and spices. It came out awesome, and made enough for lunch today and tomorrow, and maybe a dinner.

We still have broccoli, brussel sprouts, an acorn squash, and a head of cabbage to eat from our CSA, along with the bulb portions of the two butternut squash we got (we didn't think they'd slice well for chips.) I think we'll freeze the squash and the broccoli and try to make sauerkraut with the cabbage. We also have a gallon of local cider in the fridge, and lots of Amish roll butter in the freezer (I do mean lots. We portioned it into 4 oz. 'sticks' before freezing - the same size as a regular stick of butter - and got 9 of them. After using quite a bit in an acorn squash. And it's super-tasty.) The farm says they owe us two dozen eggs, too; they were out when we got there Saturday. We'll be picking those up tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to eggnog made with fresh farm eggs.

We're picking up more meat on Dec 4th, along with our second winter CSA basket. So far the winter share is just as much of a win as the summer share was. I hope that continues!

Cranberry sauce: 6 cups cranberries, 2 cups orange juice, 1 cup sugar, zest of 1 orange, two tablespoons ginger. Boil until cranberries pop, simmer until thick. Add cinnamon and other spices if desired. Most recipes call for more sugar than this, but using orange juice instead of water adds some, and really, we just don't like things all that sweet anyway anymore.

Cranberry-applesauce: follow the above, but halve the sugar and add a dozen peeled, cored, finely diced apples.

Applesauce: peel, core, dice apples; put into a big pot with some lemon juice. Add water to cover half of the apples. Simmer until apples are tender, blend to desired consistency. Add cinnamon (or add cinnamon sticks early, and take them out before blending.) That's it. Most recipes add sugar, but we've found it's not necessary.

Pie crust: mix together 1.5 cups almond flour (whole almonds in a coffee grinder then sifted works well), 1 tbsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp sea salt. Blend together 2 tbsp honey, 1/4 grapeseed oil, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix with dry ingredients, press into 9" pie tin, bake for 15 minutes (or until golden brown) at 350. Let cool before filling.

Pie filling: mix 2 eggs and 2 cups pumpkin puree (or pumpkin-kabocha blend in our case, strained) with pretty much whatever you want. Cinnamon and nutmeg are pretty essential. One of ours had 1/4 cup maple syrup; the other, maybe 1/2 cup of cream cheese. Fill pie crust and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dehydrator time! and more

We went on a little dehydration kick recently.

We bought some steaks ages ago to turn into jerky, so we did; found a decent soy-free recipe online to try. It came out alright, but there is an undertone of vinegar that I'm not a big fan of in jerky; we'll have to try again with a few adjustments. It doesn't help that we dried that one for a little too long.

But we also made two ground-beef jerkies that came out great. We used beef from our meatshare, so it's pastured and near-organic; it was interesting because the texture was quite a bit different than what I'm used to from Costco. One had a chili spice blend and the other had an Italian herb mix. Ground-beef ones are fun; they're easy, since there's no marinating needed, the spice mixes are easy to make up and don't use soy, and they're also easier to eat when they're done since they're a bit softer. Unfortunately they need to be eaten fairly quickly; they tend to mold. But that hasn't been an issue for us much.

We also dehydrated a lot of fruit. Several apples, two bunches of bananas, half a coconut (ate the other half fresh), and a pineapple. We've decided we like homemade dried coconut better than either fresh coconut or store-ought dried; the dehydration kills the slight astringency one can find in fresh coconut, and we can make larger pieces than we can buy. Also, fresh dried pineapple is nothing like the candied 'dried pineapple' you can buy in a store. It's far more awesome - despite (or because of?) the lack of added sugar. Of course, none of these fruits hung around for long. And we certainly increased our fructose intake for a week. By the way, Syntax adores dried fruit, especially coconut, for some odd reason. But then, he'll eat anything.

We also had fun with our crockpot. We used several meats from our meatshare this time - hot Italian sausage (not sausages, just sausage), bacon, and stew beef - along with one pound of potato, a few onions, and a butternut squash. Using loose sausage meat was certainly different. (We tried to make sausage patties with the sweet sausage, and it worked ok after I added an egg - the texture's a little difficult, but it's very tasty stuff!) What was unusual for us this time was the spice blend we added to the chicken stock base. Because of the butternut, we added some cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg, along with a couple dried chipotle peppers, salt, and black pepper. It came out great. For once our broth is not bland.

We did end up straining it though, in order to let the fat rise so we could skim some of it off. The sausage and bacon rendered quite a bit, and although I don't mind eating a lot of fat now the way I used to, it was just too much. But then we added the skimmed broth back in, and had some extra to use elsewhere; two days ago I made a 'miso soup' by adding some Nori seaweed to that broth. I know, it's not actually miso at all; it's just a seaweed soup, but it's a pretty good substitute.

Then last night was burgers. We got some hamburger patties from the meatshare that we were eager to try, and so we pan-fried them and topped them with cheese, pan-fried pineapple and some avocado slices (and, of course, mustard and ketchup). Rich wanted hamburger buns for his, but mine were great without a bun. And yes, the pineapple/avocado combo came home with us from Hawaii, and it's one I'll do again. We get leftover burgers for lunch today :)

In other news, my doctor wants me to take the glucose blood test sometime soonish to test for pregnancy diabetes. One problem with that is that people on a low-carb diet nearly always test positive, since the body gets used to processing fats instead of sugars and so sugars stick around for a while. The other problem with that is that, if I test positive, they'll recommend... a low-carb diet. WTF? So for a little while I'm going to try to estimate the number of carbs I eat, and see how low-carb I really am. So far today it looks like I'm not very low-carb at all:
1 apple, according to wolphram-alpha, averages 24g carbs.
Half a serving of roasted squash seeds is 15g (a blend of butternut and acorn, but unfortunately wolphram-alpha can't discriminate, and goes with pumpkin and squash)
Each slice of pineapple is probably around 5 g, and I've had one slice dried and will have one on my burger in a little while.
Some mac nuts, about 5g
I'll get another 3-4 in my ketchup with lunch
But the seaweed, coffee, mustard, cheese, and actual burger measure in the milligrams.

So total carbs so far today: around 70 already, with dinner still to go. Well, anything under 100 is considered low-carb, with 30 being the cut-off for very low carb; so I'm still there today, although the fruit really adds up. I'm going to have to look into that glucose test more to see how I'm likely to react. In any case, I don't think it's worthwhile doing, and my midwife agrees; unfortunately the practice she and my doctor work at apparently requires it. Or something. But we'll see,maybe I can skip it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's been a month and a half...

It's been ages since I last posted, but at least I have an excuse!

Wedding planning and a honeymoon take up a lot of time.

But while we were on our honeymoon, we both picked up pairs of Vibram's Mocs. They're like leather gloves for your feet. We're both wearing them daily now - soooo comfortable! I don't think they'll last long, unfortunately; Vibram suggests using them indoors, and we wear ours outside quite a bit. I've already had to use a little Shoe Goo to reattach the sole in one spot. But we'll see, they also look easy to repair.

By the way, eating paleoish is pretty difficult when you're eating out constantly, and you can't really cook in a hotel room that only has a mini-fridge. I mostly gave up on paleo while we were away, and as a result I gained about 8 pounds (half of which I've lost again since - I think the remaining four are baby) and felt worse than usual. It's nice being back and cooking again. Now I have to go through the carb crash again, though. Not fun.

Speaking of cooking, got some recipes for you today.

Recently we made meatloaf using this recipe. Substitutions: 1/2 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup grated parmesan instead of the bread crumbs. We also didn't have any onion, bell pepper, or tomato paste, but we used some dried onion and a little (a couple teaspoons) ketchup instead, forgoing the extra tomato on top. Oh, and we added more bacon on top of course - all woven together. It came out awesome, and was fantastically filling.

Then we got sandwich steak from our meat share (more about that in a minute.) It's little pieces of steak, sliced for sandwiches, in little rounds. We sauteed some onions and mushrooms in just a little cream until tender, sauteed the (salted and peppered) steak slices lightly in that, and layered it all onto steamed cabbage leaves to make little cabbage wraps. They didn't look very appetizing, but they were pretty tasty. I'm not sure the cream was necessary though, and next time I'll add more spices.

Today we spent a lot of time preserving things. We got a lot of apples in our CSA yesterday, and today we made 4 and a half quarts of applesauce, nicely jarred for future use. We also froze 5 pounds of blanched french-fry cut potatoes while still having a pound of home fries to go with dinner.

Along with the apples and potatoes we got a purple cabbage, a dozen potatoes, two dozen eggs, rainbow chard, broccoli, an acorn squash, a butternut squash, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. I've always hated brussel sprouts, so we're going to have to experiment with different ways of cooking them. They're basically little cabbages so maybe I can hide them in the cabbage somehow.

Unfortunately this was our last week of the summer veggie share. We're definitely going to continue it next summer, though; we still have lots of veggies in our freezer and pantry to eat for a while, and I love the variety without having to go shopping.

We also signed up for the winter share, which we get to pick up every two weeks. Apparently it's going to include more apples, eggs, squashes, things grown in their greenhouse, and cheeses. I'm excited to see what we get, and it continues all winter. We also signed up for the meat share like I mentioned. It's expensive, but the meat is all pastured and antibiotic-free, and we get a large variety of cuts. Yesterday we picked up 30 pounds (we'll get 25 pounds each month), in 12 different cuts of beef and pork - including pastured bacon! Expensive, yes; worth it, hopefully. The quality of the meat will help a lot. The DelMonico steak I'm eating now for dinner is really tasty! At the very least we'll be shopping around for cheaper meat shares if we decide this one's too expensive. The small chest freezer, though, is already proving it's worth.

Anyway, this post is getting long. Back to handing out candy (anybody have ideas for a healthier alternative for these kids?) and finishing my dinner between visitors.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Early this week we made soup. Lots of soup. Soup is easy, and you can use almost any veggie in it. We still have some for lunch today.

This one started with chicken stock. We added summer squash, zucchini, wax beans, tomatoes, roasted red and green bell peppers, ground beef, and hot sausage (the meats were browned separately.) It came out pretty good once we added enough salt and spices. Would have been better with onion, but we didn't have any.

Roasted peppers: this is pretty much the only way we do bell peppers now. It takes off the skin, which often gets bitter if you cook with bell peppers.
Cut them in half, leave the seeds and stem, and put cut-side-down on a pan. Put under the broiler until skin is blackened. Cover with tinfoil for 10 minutes or so. Then, peel off skin and take out seeds and stem. They're cooked at this point, so add them to your dish when it's almost done. Easy and tasty!

Tonight, since our veggie soup will be gone, we're going to make cream of mushroom soup. That's one we love, and we haven't made it for a while. Like our tomato soup, this one is much better than Campbell's version - there's no MSG, for one thing. I don't think I've posted our recipe yet, so here it is:

4 cups heavy cream
1.5 cups chicken stock
8 oz. each baby bellas, shitakes, and those round white ones (or whatever mushrooms you like)
1 large yellow onion
1.5 tablespoons butter
Pork cubes, if you want them
Salt & pepper to taste
Marsala wine to taste

Saute diced mushroom in butter in your pot. They'll start to sweat, and you'll find they make a lot of liquid; add diced onion and the chicken stock, and let it all reduce for a while.

Add cream. If desired, add pork pieces (brown them first; if desired, deglaze the pan and add that to your pot, too. I use marsala wine to deglaze.)
Add some marsala wine. Add salt and pepper. (Like the tomato soup, it'll be more salt than you expect.) Let it all simmer and reduce until it's the thickness you like; if you added pork, make sure that's cooked. Stir fairly often. Cream doesn't burn easily, but it does boil over.

It's super-tasty, and pretty filling due to all that cream. I recommend eating it slowly - it's pretty easy to eat too much and feel overfull. If you can, try to find organic cream, and definitely use heavy cream rather than half-and-half so you don't have to reduce it as long. Unfortunately I haven't found a brand of organic heavy cream in any of our local grocery stores. Just not in demand, I guess. Maybe I'll try Trader Joe's tonight.

Friday, September 10, 2010


We've been almost drowning in veggies this week, having been away from home until Tuesday evening. So last night, since neither of us really wanted to cook much, we decided to throw a bunch of stuff together and see what happened.

Well, what happened is pretty tasty, so I thought I'd share.

We made two dishes. Last Saturday, instead of eggs, our farm offered us 2 lbs of grass-fed, grass-finished ground beef, which we gladly accepted. We cooked that up in a pan and added just a few things: halved yellow cherry tomatoes, some Chinese 5-spice powder, and a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt. It's a little bland, but once you add some salt and pepper or a little Frank's, it's really good.

The other one is veggies. We diced a kohlrabi and started sauteeing that; added two small eggplants, and then diced up a few small bell peppers to add. Tossed in some garlic, ginger, a little Worcestershire, and a very small amount of soy sauce. Tastes pretty awesome, and the kholrabi overpowers the eggplant pretty well, which is good because I'm not a giant fan of eggplant and we've had a lot of it recently.

Then we also made a dessert. Orange juice, yogurt, honey, and some lemon juice to soak peach slices in. Came out awesome. I'm excited to have more tonight, too, because right now it's freezing and should make a pretty good almost ice cream.

This morning we scrambled a few eggs to add to our veggie mix, and I'm eating some of that right now. Yum! Will make these again.

Going to the gym tonight...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pizza! (Almost.)

We made two different paleo pizzas the other night.

One was a meatza, with a hamburger crust. Essentially, you make a flat meatloaf (just hamburger, egg, and spices please, no breadcrumbs) and cook that for a while, then drain before adding your sauce, cheese, and toppings and cooking again. It came out absolutely delicious. We didn't have any sauce on hand, and didn't feel like making any, so we went for simple and layered on slices of heirloom tomatoes topped with cheese, bacon, and hot peppers. It came out better this time than last time; we used Girl Gone Primal's suggestion of a stick blender to mix the crust, and it certainly helps the texture.

For the other pizza we tried a cauliflower crust. It mostly failed, unfortunately. Tasted fine - not too much cauliflower flavor - but I think I over-steamed the cauliflower, underestimated the amount of cheese and egg needed, and then undercooked the crust before adding the toppings. It just came out soggy. We'll have to try it again, though; I think we can do better.

And then, yesterday, we made tuna salad for dinner, and chicken salad to have for lunch today. Those are good ways to eat a head of lettuce, since they make pretty awesome sandwich wraps; plus, we just had a lot of random veggies to eat still. The salads were made with our homemade olive-oil mayo/mustard sauce, and we added diced hot peppers, jingle bell peppers (tiny sweet bell-pepperish things), tomatillos, and steamed eggplant. I really like tomatillos by the way. Never really had them before, but they have a nice citrus flavor.

Now all we have left to cook from last week's CSA pickup is green beans! Well, and fennel, of course. What do you do with fennel? We actually didn't get cucumbers last week; it'd be nice to have another week free of them. We'll find out tomorrow. Eggplant might be my new nemesis, though. There was too much to add to our two salads, and we have a tupperware full of diced, steamed eggplant. Not sure what to do with it yet. Ideas?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Eye experiment!

It's 2 pm, and I've just taken off my glasses. In order to read my computer screen, I have to be no more than 16 inches away (without squinting.) I'd like to see if that distance changes by the end of the day. Of course, leaning forward all the time won't be good for my back, so if it looks like it helps I'm going to see about getting a pair of glasses that's about half-strength, and try using those for a while.

In other news, we made liver and onions again last night, with enough left for lunch today. Elk liver this time instead of buffalo. I definitely cooked it better, it's not dry, but I still have some learning to do when it comes to cooking this particular organ. By the way, there really is a difference in flavor between the elk and the buffalo, although they look exactly the same.

And further news, we've finally discovered how much our cats are supposed to be eating. This comes at a very good time, since one of our cats (Syntax) seems to be always hungry, yet is more than a pound overweight. We were pretty close. but he now gets very few breakfast kibbles. Hopefully he starts losing some of that weight soon. The vet called him fat at his last checkup a few months ago; he's gained a pound since then...

Also confession time! I've been going off-diet a little too much lately. Pizza one night because we were lazy. Crackers another night with (eww, can't believe I ate this) a soybean oil based 'cheese snack spread' among other, more paleo-friendly dips. A cake tasting to get our wedding cake all set up (the grain-free chocolate monstrosity is really tasty though, and paleo except for the inordinate amount of sugar that must be in there.) A few spoonfuls of Rich's Ramen last night because it smelled really good. Gah. Well, I think I can start doing better again; all I have to do is remind myself how I felt the day after the pizza. Really, not kidding. It hurt.

We finally picked up more almond flour though, so maybe I can start making my own crackers again. That would help a lot.

Ok, a quick question: we have corn coming out of our ears. Each week we've been getting a dozen ears of corn from our CSA. Some of it we've given away, but a lot we just cut off the cob and put in ziplocs and freeze. We have 3 gallon bags full of the stuff now. What on earth can we do with it? Is there any way to cook it/process it so it's a little healthier? I don't know, but I'm going to have to come up with something soon.

*It's now 8 pm. Based on my extremely inaccurate measuring methods, I can sit an inch further from my computer screen and still read what's there. I wonder how I can measure it better... just using a 12 inch ruler for a 17 inch distance and guessing on an equivalent level of fuzziness is far from conclusive. Perhaps I can load up an eye chart tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicken-beef curry and salmon

Two awesome paleo dinners the past few nights. One was significantly easier to make, but both were tasty.

Put salmon fillets on top of a light bed of chopped leaf fennel on parchment paper
Mix more chopped fennel and cream cheese, slather on top of fillets
Spread a little cream cheese on the parchment paper around the salmon
Fold the parchment paper to form a pocket around the fish
Push the air out, and use the cream cheese on the paper to seal up the packet
Bake packet (on a pan!) at 375 for 10 minutes per inch of fish thickness

Large dice whatever veggies you have on hand (we had summer squash and green beans)
Cut chicken and beef into bite-size cubes
Put the cream from a can of coconut milk into a hot pan, reserving the coconut water
Put the beef in the pan to start cooking. Turn down the heat to medium-low
Start sauteing the veggies in another pan with coconut oil
Add curry paste/powder to both pans
Once the beef is browned on all sides, add the chicken
Remember to stir both pans occasionally!
If you also have bell peppers on hand, roast them and then dice them. Since they're already cooked from roasting they can wait until the end to be added.
When the chicken is browned on all sides, add the beef, chicken, and sauce to the veggies (or vice versa, depending on which of your pans is bigger.)
Use the coconut water you reserved to deglaze the pan you emptied. Scrape up any tasty bits of browned meats/veggies. Add more curry and some heavy cream. Let it simmer for a while to thicken; meanwhile, any liquid in the other pan will continue to thicken, too.
When thickened to taste, add in the sauce and roasted peppers. Done!

Tonight we're going to attempt eggplant parmesan. We'll see how it goes. We may need to add chicken.

By the way, what shoes will you be wearing this winter? I like my flip-flops and Vibrams for the flexibility they allow, but my feet get cold pretty easily. I may see about a pair of vivo barefoots or runamoks, and I was wondering what others intend to wear.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Well, we found a few cucumber recipes to try. We had a lot of cucumbers; about a dozen, not even including a couple we cooked up earlier last week.

Recipe 1: Fried Cucumbers
Instead of bread crumbs, we used the 'breading' from Girl Gone Primal's chicken fingers recipe. It mostly worked, and they were tasty with a little sriracha sauce on top, but I'm not sure we'll make them again; they got soggy pretty quickly, and after that the texture was a little off-putting. We didn't even finish the ones we made, which is too bad because that was the last of my almond flour; time to get more almonds to grind up.

Recipe 2: Cucumbers in Cream Sauce
We'll probably make this one again. The onion cuts the coolness of the cucumbers pretty well. We'll use quite a bit less salt, though; the salt in this batch is a little overpowering. Still, it's tasty, and it's not just cucumber.

Recipe 3: Spicy Cucumbers
We'll make this one again too. We had a few substitutions, though; sesame oil instead of corn oil, and dried chipotle peppers due to lack of finding any dried chili peppers. I ended up adding some red pepper flakes too. It's pretty good, with a nice burn (that's easily cut by the cucumbers in cream mentioned above) which we both enjoy, and the extra cooking oil was used to make some awesome chicken. We'll halve the sugar next time though, I think a little is needed but certainly not that much. I may try using honey instead.

Well, as of Friday, all the cucumbers we had in the house were at least part of a dish of some sort. We had quite a bit left over from recipes 2 and 3, and we've got a lot of pickles, but for a little while, our house was free of unadulterated cucumbers.

Of course on Saturday we picked up more from the CSA. Six more, in fact; two big salad cucumbers, and four smaller pickling cucumbers. So yesterday was cooking time again.

We made more pickles. Now we have two pints of crinkle-cut sweet pickles in the works, and a pint of fennel-mustard spear pickles. Hopefully they all come out well! I've never tried fennel pickles, but we got fennel from the CSA so we thought we'd try it. We also made 2 pints of veggie salsa with all our tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, and onion, and then we made a pint of peach salsa with all the peaches we got this week. Both came out pretty tasty. I'm going to have to work on some good cracker recipes so I can enjoy all the salsa. Maybe sweet potato chips would be good with the peach.

We also opened the first jar of pickles last night! I don't think I'd call them dill, but they're definitely pickles, and I like them. It's good that pickles taste so different from plain cucumbers; we're still eating both of the cucumber dishes we made last week. But, once again, and for longer this time, the house is cucumber-free.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tomato Soup!

Wow. Just wow. Homemade tomato soup = totally awesome. Seriously, awesome.

Mostly fill a medium saucepan with diced fresh tomatoes. We used 8.
Dice and add half an onion and a couple garlic cloves.
Put in a cup of chicken stock.
If you're like us and you like spicy, add half a habanero.
Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes, longer if it's liquidy.
Blend it well. Squish it through a medium-mesh strainer.
Stir in a cup of heavy cream and a couple tablespoons of butter.
Add salt and pepper to taste. (It'll be more salt than you think.)

Serve with wild rice (preferably in the soup.) And maybe a little cream cheese for garnish. (I think sour cream might be better, but we didn't have any.) I also think it would be good with crispy sausage bits in it.

So yeah. Homemade tomato soup, much better than Campbell's MSG-flavored variety. That's all for today. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Basket of veggies

Wow, I guess it's been a while. So much for weekly! Where to start? Well, there was a 'Sauces' cooking class, with more yummy recipes to make. We've gone to the gym a few times. We got another couple veggies baskets; the one shown is this past Saturday's. We had to take a picture this time just because of how much there was! In there you can see a lot of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, a pattypan squash, butter beans (in the bag), blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, rainbow chard, a canteloupe, bell peppers, round cucumbers (the three little whitish round things), and a kohlrabi (the spiky thing on the left. Apparently it's like a turnip, and it tastes like broccoli stems.) Whew! I'm a little surprised we got in all into our fridge. By the way, I know they all look small in that picture, but I assure, those are normal-sized ears of corn, and the tomatoes and cucumbers are quite large. By the way, if anyone has any ideas for cucumbers that doesn't include a salad, I would love to hear it!

We did a fondue dinner last night that helped us eat some of that stuff. We used some of our homemade veggie stock along with a few spices as a cooking medium, which was pretty good, although we didn't add enough salt. We chopped up one of the tomatoes, a bell pepper, half a summer squash and half the kohlrabi for cooking, along with some beef and chicken; we had a few sauces to go with it, including mustard, a couple bbq sauces, a habanero cheese dip, and a cucumber tzatziki sauce that came out pretty good (and used a cucumber! yay!) Turns out it was a lot of food, and at the end of the meal we dumped the rest of the chopped up items into the cooking stock and called it a 'soup' which we had for lunch today.

Today I got to experiment with the rest of the kohlrabi, and made kohlrabi and summer squash au gratin with the rest of the habanero cheese. That worked pretty well too, except for the amount of liquid; you really do need heavy cream instead of half-and-half, but I can't find organic heavy cream at any of the grocery stores we go to. The half-and-half at least comes organic, without the carageenan and other crap. We had fun making deviled eggs last week, too. That's a lot of egg, by the way, since we started with two yolk's worth of homemade mayo and just added more and more eggs after that.

Oh my god, I am so sick of salad. We've had salads of some sort or another in our fridge for the past two months! It's an easy way to use veggies, especially the leafy ones, but a girl's gotta have a limit somewhere. We've made the cucumber-tomato-mint salad for three weeks in a row, and it's tasty stuff, but I'm so tired of it. We're going to try to make tomato soup tomorrow as an alternative tomato meal; I'm betting it'll be good, and it looks fairly easy to make. We have some wild rice we've been saving that will go well with it, too.

In other news, I think that 100-day challenge is over, for now. I've had quite a few non-paleo items the past couple weeks, and not really for any special occasion; on top of that, I've lost track of those. But that's ok. Maybe I'll try again when I'm not so busy with other things, and it's not like I've gone back to the SAD (standard american diet.) It's been a few munchkins on one hand, butter beans on the other, and green bean casserole on the gripping hand; then there's the corn. As you can see we got a dozen ears this week; we got a dozen last week, too, and a dozen the week before that. Right now we're cutting it all of the cob and freezing it in Ziplocs - we have a gallon and a half of frozen corn in the freezer. Who knows what I'm going to do with that stuff. I don't really want to eat it. I found a fun post on Mark's Daily Apple that might have some ideas, though.

So yeah. Any squash or cucumber ideas, please please please let me know. Oh! We did make pickles! We have a big jar of cucumber spears slowly pickling away in a nice dill brine; I really hope they come out well. We'll probably do a lot more of that, cuz I like pickles, and they keep well. I think we'll need more jars. We made more pickled eggs, too. I love those. And now made with farm-fresh eggs from the farm's "all-natural bug control!" But even with the pickles, right now we have 5 very large cucumbers in the fridge, along with a big summer squash, a bigger zucchini, and the ufo-shaped pattypan. I really didn't expect to be drowning in veggies, but it seems we are... can you pickle corn?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mt. Washington

This past weekend was our camping trip. We got to the campsite around 2:30 Friday, after a leisurely morning (having packed frantically Thursday night), got our little tent set up, unpacked our stuff and hung out for a while. I don't think I slept at all Friday night, unfortunately. The camping mats were great as far as mats go, but they're hard compared to our mattress, and then my sister borrowed an air mattress from someone for their tent and you know how loud those things can be when someone fidgets, and you can clearly hear it in the next tent, and then of course her boyfriend KICKED THE ON SWITCH on the silly thing at four in the morning, and shortly after that it was the birds, and then we all had to get up at 5 anyway to get to the mountain early enough to beat the storms predicted for the afternoon. (Love you sis! It really wasn't that bad. You're forgiven. :P)

Breakfast time consisted of a hard boiled (farm-fresh) egg and slices of salami. Why salami? It didn't get pulled out in time for me to add it to my lunch wraps, that's why, and I like salami and had no intentions of missing out. (Lunch wraps: two slices of either turkey or roast beef, spread with dijon mustard and rolled up with a slice of cheese. Make 4, put in ziploc, put in camelback pack.) There should have been lettuce to substitute for the tortillas others used, but we forgot to put those in the cooler... but that's ok, they weren't at all necessary.

So our bags are packed and we're ready to go... and it starts raining. Isn't it ironic? (OK, all lyrics aside, it really was ironic because we got up ridiculously early to avoid the rain.) We go anyway. Get to the mountain, still raining, start hiking anyway at 6:50 am. Vibrams are great, my feet are soaked but it's clear that the boots everyone else has aren't exactly dry, we're ahead of everyone except my cousin who's sticking with us, playing with our camera between squalls, we get to the caretaker's hut halfway up, check the midstation weather report and, half an hour later when everyone catches up, we all hike on, for maybe half a mile.

At this point we're well above the treeline, in Tuckerman's Ravine where the snowpack stays put until well into the summer. There's quite a bit still there, although no longer enough to ski on and quite dangerous at the moment due to the heavy rain that's been going on all morning.

Now, for those of you who have never been on the Tuckerman's Ravine trail, let me explain something. I've said the caretaker's hut was halfway. And so it is; the whole trail is about 4 miles, and the hut is a little more than 2 miles up. What that doesn't explain is the elevation. At the point we were in Tuckerman's Ravine, we had almost 2,000 feet left to climb - upwards. The hardest part, the steepest part, of that trail is entirely rock. Lichen-covered, and at that point very wet, rock.

With the fog, the thunderstorm warnings, and the hail warnings posted at the caretaker's hut we decided that it just wasn't worth the risk for us, and we all turned around. One of my more disappointing Mt. Washington hikes, to be sure, but at least that meant I was able to wear my Vibrams the whole way. We were back down at Pinkham Notch at 11:30. My feet hurt, my ankles hurt, my knees hurt; at least my bunions didn't, although I did get a small blister. I didn't feel like I would ever be dry again.

I'm not certain I would have made it down in my Vibrams if we had gone all the way up. Now, though, I have a pair of KSO Treks to try out, and with the thicker soles and better grip I think they'll be much better for those long hiking trips.

Of course, at that point, we go back to the campsite, where it is still raining. We all change in an attempt to dry off, and my mom, my sister, and I go out shopping for a canopy to put up. Of course when we get back with our little 9x9 canopy tent (after stopping for Irish Coffees, of course), it's stopped raining. But that was ok. We set it up with our three tents around it so that if it rained during the night we could get in and out of our tents easily, without getting water inside. It looked like a cute little tent séance.

Then, of course, it's appetizers and drinks and dinner time. As is usual with my mom's family, there is an overabundance of food: many chickens, lots of ribs, shrimp cocktails, the pasta salad I was asked to bring, the cole slaw my parents brought, veggie platters, cheese platters, and sweet potato chips. And of course cake and cookies for dessert. I was pretty good, paleo-wise: I ate a few bites of the pasta salad, since I'd spent so much time chopping veggies to make it; I ate far too many sweet potato chips, unfortunately fried in corn oil (my parents brought 20 sweet potatoes with them for this purpose); and a bite of cookie and a few bites of cake. Other than that everything was paleo-friendly, and although probably not paleo-ideal I think I did well. By the way, 20 sweet potatoes take about half an hour to peel and slice, even with a mandolin (thanks, Rich and Dad) and far, far longer to fry up. I think we fried them in about 15 batches, with most batches eaten before the next one was done. At least they were appreciated! BTW, for perfect chips: soak thin, even potato slices in water. Get oil up to 400 degrees. Drop in slices, carefully to avoid too much splatter from the water. Stir occasionally and take out when they start to brown. Salt immediately upon removal, and drain on paper towels.

Then it comes time to split up leftovers, pack it all in various cars, hang out a little longer, and go to bed. I slept really well Saturday night. It's amazing what a long day can do. Breakfast was an egg, a banana, a watermelon slice, and coffee.

Then it was a three hour drive, followed by cooking class. Moist heat methods today:

Osso buco
Pork and butternut squash stew (Rich and I made this one)
Braised rabbit
Braised chicken
Braised fennel with sea bass
Artichoke salad (the artichokes were stewed first, we worked on this one too)
Braised purple cabbage
Braised short ribs

Overall, enough to feed 12 with plenty of leftovers for people to take home, and not more than a cup of flour and a tablespoon of cornstarch in all of it put together. By far the most paleo-friendly cooking class yet, and we've come away with some amazing recipes to use. I liked all of those dishes.

Bonus! The two rabbits used were whole, and came with livers and hearts and things. Apparently nobody else likes liver, so Rich and I got those. I also managed to snag one of the osso buco bones for myself as leftovers, and ate the marrow as part of lunch yesterday. I've heard marrow described as 'buttery', and I really can't think of a better description. I was a little skeptical, never having tried it before, but now I'm hooked. I will find ways to make this. (Dreams of a trip to the butcher...)

So after class, we visited a friend who graciously picked up our CSA veggies for us. As expected, it was more than we could handle, so we insisted he keep quite a bit, as an expression of our gratitude for having picked them up for us. There's more corn, of course, and we haven't even finished the corn we got last week; there are far too many cucumbers, more tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and squash, and a cabbage I hadn't seen before and a squash that I'd only seen once. (Pointed cabbage and pattypan squash, as it turns out.) Last night in an effort to use the rest of last week's tomatoes we made a lovely little salad to go with leftover chicken from camping, and as part of lunch today. We're going to have to freeze the beans, and I think Rich is going to make corn pudding for himself with the four ears we still have.

Well, we had a very busy weekend, and we get to the gym and Smokey Bones tomorrow, the print shop (to look at wedding invitations) on Thursday, out for a friend's birthday Friday, and up to my parent's place Sunday. I'm starting to wonder if things will ever slow down. Anyway, here's the recipe for the salad we made.

4 medium-size cucumbers
3 large tomatoes
Dice and toss with dressing.

To make the dressing, blend together:
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Lemon juice
1/8 cup Sherry wine vinegar
A lot of dried mint (maybe 2 tbsp? freshly chopped would be better if you find it)
A dash of dried thyme
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

The longer you let it sit, the more mint flavor you get. It actually smells like watermelon, which is odd, but it's quite tasty, especially with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

All kinds of things

I guess it's been a while since I last posted! Whoops. I'll try to post at least once a week from now on; it's easier that way. I did try to write a post on my iPod on Saturday, but I somehow managed to delete it... :(

Cooking class on Sunday after our Six Flags trip was Soups, Stocks, and Salads. Rich and I made a southwestern squash soup in class that was delicious, and one we'll make again. It's very paleo-friendly. The other soups were less so, unfortunately, but I'm hoping to find ways to alter them, because they were quite tasty. (Yes, another special occasion meal gone...) We also picked up a couple good salad dressing recipes, and have started freezing all our vegetable and meat scraps to make our own stocks. We ended up with enough leftover soups to last us for lunch the whole week. Next week we get to braise rabbit!

Then, this past weekend, we visited my parents for the 4th of July. It was a rather tiring weekend, but a lot of fun. We had a gym session on Friday, and we headed North after picking up our veggies Saturday. So many veggies this week! Soon it's going to border on ridiculous. Rich has been resisting freezing or dehydrating our veggies so far, but this week it's a necessity. Anyway, we hung out with my parents on the lake, played bocce and horseshoes, and went hiking Monday before leaving Tuesday in time for yet another gym appointment. The hike was awesome. It was fairly short, about 5 miles, but one section is all rocks and caves that are tons of fun to climb through. We did that same hike last fall as well; I definitely felt more confident hopping from rock to rock in my Vibrams than I did last fall in my big clunky hiking boots. My feet did get tired again, but at this point we've done all the types of terrain we'll encounter on Mt. Washington this Saturday. I feel confident we can handle it. (We're still going to bring our boots along, though. We haven't done that kind of distance in our VFFs yet, and tired feet on the way down could be dangerous.)

So one question I've gotten from a few people is why I'll sometimes eat things that are clearly not paleo (like a brownie with ice cream over the weekend, and an ear of corn. There goes yet another special occasion meal!) or things that I've said I don't eat, like potato or rice.

The answer's pretty simple. My purpose is to enjoy my life. Finding a diet that helps me feel better, that I think is healthier overall, and that will increase my quality of life in the long term has been a big step towards that. However, I won't give up dairy (go strict paleo) unless I feel my life will be better by doing so, and since I'm at a more reasonable weight now, I don't think that it would. I also will occasionally eat things off-diet because I feel my life is enhanced by those small moments of pleasure. This is why I say I follow a moderate paleo diet; I won't give up dairy, and I don't follow it very strictly.

Giving up wheat and other grains, though, has improved my life, and so it will continue. For example, my trail mix for Saturday is nutritious and interesting, and will provide me with all the energy I'll need. Macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower kernels, and a few cashews and walnuts; chopped-up baking chocolate; craisins, raisins, dates, and occasional blueberries, raisins, pineapple, and banana. Tonight I'll be dehydrating a couple apples and peaches to add, too. It wasn't hard to avoid peanuts, pretzels, soynuts, and Chex, and I think those items detract from my quality of life rather than enhance it.

Well, this weekend I'll be hanging out with my aunts, who mostly disagree with me on my dietary choices; that will be interesting. I think this time I'll be prepared and bring along some info for them. I'm not very good at defending my choices when I don't have a computer in front of me yet. I'll post whatever I pull together, since I'm hoping to either find or create a good, informative summary of what I eat and why.

Oh! One more thing! The cats ate canned food instead of raw meat over the weekend, since we were out of raw meals and didn't have time to dismember chickens until yesterday. Their breath stank. Far worse than what's normal for them now. Back to raw meat again! Unfortunately, though, it doesn't appear that a raw diet affects how much they shed. There's fur everywhere. Poor kitties.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vibrams at the theme park

We went to Six Flags today with a couple friends. Following a suggestion from one of them, we wore our VFFs to the park. All day. Including the water park.

My feet are tired.

But other than that, they're happy. No pain from my bunions. One small blister, but it's not a painful one. The cobblestones were fun to walk on. And we had four different people ask us about our shoes. Would I wear them to the park again? Definitely. However, they didn't dry as quickly as I would have liked, and I would not want to wear them for very long when wet. My toes turned into raisins. Still, it was better than no shoes, in that kind of place... And they don't let you wear sneakers on the water park rides.

We packed lunch and ate on the grass next to the car rather than eat the overpriced, overgreased park food. Chicken salad and tuna salad, with various mustards and spices and bbq sauces and such, on bok choy leaf wraps. Recipe!

First, mayo.
Beat two egg yolks with 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp prepared mustard. (Or 2 tsp lemon and 1/2 tsp. dry mustard.) Beat until the mixture forms a ribbon when you pull out your whisk, rather than droplets. (You can freeze the leftover whites to use in a soufflé.)

Get a cup of olive oil (or other oil. I happen to like the flavor from olive oil; many people like to use high-oleic sunflower oil for half of it to soften the flavor.) One drop at a time, beat oil into egg yolks. Once you've added a third of the oil you can add it faster - a tablespoon at time - until it's all beaten in. If it's not thickening while you add it, you've broken your mayo, and you'll need to start over with a clean bowl, with a new egg yolk and some lemon juice beaten to ribbon-texture, and slowly beat in your broken mayo. But do it slower this time. Once all your oil is in, taste, and add more lemon juice if wanted. Add water to thin it until you like the texture.

Now that you have your mayo, either grill a few chicken breasts or drain a few cans of tuna. If chicken, shred with forks. Mix protein with mayo. Dice and mix in a tomato and half an onion. Dice the stems of your bok choy and add that in too (or celery, if you're not using bok choy.)

Place spoonfuls into bok choy leaves (or other cabbage or lettuce leaf.) Add any mustards or spices you like. Add-in suggestions: lemon pepper, cumin, cayenne, Italian spice blend, Dijon mustard, wasabi. Sunflower seeds are a nice addition too. Wrap and eat!

All of the above fits into a cooler really well, and thus makes an awesome theme-park paleo picnic lunch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shopping woes

I thought I'd put together a little guide for shopping, for anyone trying to eat a healthier diet but is having trouble figuring out what that means.

First of all, whole veggies, fruits, fish, and meats are easy. No ingredient list. What you see is what you're eating. With that said, try to avoid corn and potatoes when in the produce section, and fruit should be more like a treat than a staple. Corn because it's a grain, and starchy; potatoes because of the high starch content; and fruits because of the higher sugar content. Also, if you're suffering from an inflammatory disease of some type, such as arthritis or fibromylgia, try to avoid the nightshade plant family as well (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Peppers means the vegetable, not peppercorns.) For meats, if possible, try to get grass-fed or pastured, rather than grain-fed; similarly, wild fish is more nutrient-dense than farmed fish. Grass-fed meat has a much higher omega-3 content, a vital fatty acid that most people in the US don't get enough of. Also keep an eye out for frankenmeats, whether cured (bacon) or a hodgepodge (sausage). There are often unknowns in these, so take a look at that ingredient list before buying.

Once you have all the whole foods you can eat, let's move on to dairy. Plain cheeses rarely have anything added to them, but the flavored ones often do (we saw a goat's cheese with high fructose corn syrup in it yesterday. Ick.) Get whole milk rather than skim - the fat is necessary to actually absorb that fat-soluble vitamin D. Look out for preservatives in your cream. Garelick Farms has an 'all-natural' line that I like, and any organic brand won't have any extras. Check the ingredients list on yogurts, sour creams, etc. too. Many of these have added sugar. Again, go for the regular stuff rather than low-fat or skim; vitamin D isn't the only fat-soluble vitamin out there. Here, too, grass-fed or pastured is better, if you can get it.

Next, skip the bread, chips, pasta, canned veggies, soda, and cereal sections. Just walk right past them.

For everything else you might want to buy, check the ingredients list for the available brands. Buy the one with the least high fructose corn syrup, fewest unrecognizables, least sugar, and the least soy. Some of those might surprise you; you'll find that mustard is easy, but there aren't many ketchups without HFCS. You'll also find that the store brand is sometimes the healthiest choice. If you like nuts, macadamias have the highest omega-3 content, while walnuts are mostly omega-6, and almonds between these with a fairly neutral balance.

I also recommend learning to make your own mayo and salad dressings. It's not all that hard to do, and that way you'll be able to avoid the soybean oil these products are always made with.

One more note: Here are some good resources if you are interested in joining a veggie CSA or a meat share. Local, small farms often have more nutrient-dense produce, and are more likely to have affordable grass-fed meats.

Link disclaimer: a lot of these links are blogs and other such unreliable sources. I don't expect them to be enough to convince you to start avoiding grains; I've simply tried to include an overview of what I've been learning through my own research, and these people have done a better job of pulling the information together than I can (or want to) do. I think only one is a direct link to a scientific study. Still, if you care about your long-term health, I encourage you to do your own research. As for an overview on the evolutionary aspect of eating grains, check out these posts by neurobiologist Dr. Stephan Guyanet.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Eggs! and hiking

What a crazy weekend. First, on Saturday, we're running around doing errands until we can pick up our veggies at 12, and of course we run late. Then we stop for gas on our way home, so we can get ready to go visit my parents, and Rich's battery dies. Wait for an hour until AAA is done putting in a new battery (yes, it really did need a new one.) Go home, put away veggies, feed cats, drive an hour and a half to get to my parents' place.

So finally we get to the fun parts of the weekend. We cook up some of the awesome fries to go with dinner, and use the bunch of spinach and one of the two strawberry baskets we picked up for a salad. We should have cooked the fries just a little longer, but they came out tasty, and my little sherry vinaigrette worked well on the salad. The smoked salmon my parents made was fantastic, as were the steamed mussels we had for an appetizer.

The next morning we went hiking. Mt. Major isn't a big mountain, but it has rocky parts, dusty parts, root-filled trails, and anything else you'll find on a hiking trail in New England. Rich and I survived all of it in our Vibrams, although my feet were definitely tired at the end of the day. I also got one small blister that worries me a little. So far the plan for Mt. Washington in a couple weeks is still the Vibrams, and we're still going to bring along our old hiking boots. I'm hoping to get another hike or two in before we go for more testing; I'd like to feel comfortable enough to leave our hiking boots behind. We'll see.

Then we had our cooking class, and it was all about eggs. It was a lot of fun, and mostly paleo-friendly. The soufflés had a little flour in them; it was only 3 tbsp for 10 portions, so I didn't let it bother me. They were awesome, and now that I know how to make them, I can make them without the bechamel sauce. By the way, Oopsie rolls? Essentially a soufflé. (In case you haven't heard of Oopsie rolls, they're used as a paleo-friendly bread substitute.) I also made an olive oil mayonnaise, which came out quite tasty, although a little thick; I'll add water next time. The hollandaise - also paleo-friendly - came out quite good, too, although it wasn't quite restaurant-quality. I'll have to play with that one. We also made quiches, scrambled eggs, crepes, eggs benedict, and frittatas. Once I make the almond crust in my almond flour cookbook, I'll have a perfectly good quiche recipe to bring to family gatherings.

Last night we made lunch again for the next few days. We used up our mayos (Rich made a canola-based one, I used my own olive oil mayo) to make chicken salad wraps. We used the scallions, garlic scapes, and tomatoes from our veggie basket in the salad, and used the field lettuce as our wraps. They came out pretty good, but they'll only last us two days; they're just not very big. All we have left from our basket now is the bok choy, a bunch of baby romaine, a little field lettuce, and half a basket of strawberries. And, of course, a dozen eggs, but I'm sure we'll go through that quickly. Eggs don't seem to last long in our house, and now that I know how to make a dark-chocolate soufflé - with strawberries - well...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some recipes and things

A friend of mine asked my about the french fries we made in our cooking class last week. They were super-tasty, and I'll probably make them again anyway, so here it is:

Batonnet your potatoes. (French-fry size cut: ½ inch × ½ inch × 2½-3 inches.) I believe we used long white potatoes, but any white potato should do.
Put them in water in the fridge or freezer for a while. (Don't let them freeze, though.) This way, the potatoes will absorb water instead of lots of oil.
Start heating your oil to 375 degrees or so. I like olive oil, personally. If you're using a pot, fill it less than halfway.
Drain the potatoes well. The drier they are, the less sputtering you'll get.
Put the fries in the oil. If possible, use a metal basket so you'll be able to take them out easily. Stand back. You may need to do several batches, depending on how many potatoes you got and how big your pot is.
After 5-6 minutes, take them out of the oil and let them drain. Watch them; I'm not certain I have that timing correct. And it'll depend on how hot your oil really is, and how many fries you added to it.
Put lots of fresh, grated Parmesan in a bowl, with a few sprigs of minced fresh rosemary and red pepper to taste. Add the fries and toss until evenly coated.

Add salt. There! Awesome-fries!

We've also been having fun cooking up our veggies from the CSA. Monday night we made a spinach and strawberry salad, topped with lightly toasted chopped walnuts, to go with pan-fried buffalo liver and caramelized onion. I have a picture somewhere of Rich's plate, I'll have to see if I can find it later. (My parents had gotten us the buffalo liver to try - thanks!) It was delicious, and we had plenty for Tuesday night, too. Last night was karaoke night, so we were out with friends; I got a bun-less burger with peppered bacon, bleu cheese crumbles, diced jalapeno, and of course pickles, onion, lettuce, and tomato. And steamed broccoli on the side. It was a lot of food, and so yummy. Of course then we ordered dessert and I had to count it as one of my special occasion meals... I've used 4 out of twenty of those, and I'm 17 days into my 100-day challenge, so I'm mostly on-track there.

Then this morning, after our gym workout, we made a quick salad for lunch today. Grilled chicken, field lettuce, two big tomatoes, and a few scallions, and it'll probably last us for lunch tomorrow too. Yay CSA! It's making our meals so much more fun, both to cook and to eat. We still have another bag of spinach and a bunch of bok choy to cook up and eat before we get more stuff on Saturday. We're doing a stir-fry tonight with the bok choy as our base. I wonder if we have any ginger to use, too. I'm getting hungry for that salad now. Let's see, that's a 14 hour fast. Hmm. Maybe I can go longer tomorrow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Graduation parties, some cooking, and some veggies

I'm pretty sure graduation parties are out to get me. I had a few cousins graduate high school, and of course they had parties to celebrate. I don't know how much sugar I ate, but I do know it was far more than I should have eaten - even if most of it was in fruit form. Remember that 100-day challenge I'm in the middle of? I've already used quite a few of those 'special occasion' meals, and I've got a long way to go still...

But on a better note, we went to the gym this morning. Our trainer is out next week, so we get two sessions this week; we'll have a second on Thursday. As usual, he kicked our butts, and as usual, I hurt. I'll hurt tomorrow, too. And probably Wednesday.

We got our first veggie basket from Springdell Farms on Saturday. Lots of spinach, some field lettuce, pak choy, a few tomatoes, some wonderfully flavored unpasteurized farm honey, a dozen eggs, and a basket of small, sweet, juicy strawberries. This is the smallest basket of the season, apparently, so I'm looking forward to Saturday's. Today we're going to make a spinach and strawberry salad to go with the buffalo liver my parents bought for us. The honey has been transported to the office to be used in our tea. I could get used to this whole CSA idea.

Additionally, as you may remember, we had our very first cooking class yesterday. So. Much. Fun. We learned how to choose a good knife; we learned the different kinds of (basic) knives; we learned how to take care of them, sharpen them, hone them, carry them, and, finally, we learned how to use them. I've been teaching myself a little about cutting veggies, and trying to do it right, but I learned more in those three hours than I've taught myself via Food Network over the past year. And at the end of the class, we got to eat the french fries and salad we all so carefully tried to cut, expertly seasoned and dressed by our sweet little chef. I am really, really looking forward to egg class next week; the chef said we're going to learn how to make a souffle, among other things!

Also: this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Out with friends

Tonight is karaoke night! I love Wednesdays, we always have fun. Sometimes I'll even sing. I will order some chicken wings - sauceless - and will indulge in a couple Tequila and Sodas with lemon. Last week the waitress suggested salting the rim, and it was quite nice that way; maybe I'll have one of them that way again.

I'm a bit sore today. Our trainer made us do some jogging yesterday, and then followed that with some pull-ups, push-ups, squats of various types, and presses, all with either the kettle bell or the tow strap. An hour of tensioned movement using free weights each week is doing a lot for me, but I do dislike that day-after soreness. I was amused, though: while running, the trainer said we should be heel-striking. Now, for jogging, that's still a maybe for me, but I won't heel-strike when running anymore. I mentioned how I thought that was strange, since people tend to toe-strike when barefoot, and that it was probably the thicker heels on the sneakers that changed that. We'd also already talked about our little hiking trip in our Vibrams the other day. I wonder if he's going to go look up some of the things I talk about? Dunno. But anyway, he did say that he enjoyed having us work with him, since we actually seem interested in health, and seem to know something about it, so :D

Read an article on coffee today. Well, kind of; I only skimmed it, but that's because I have no intention of changing my coffee habits anyway. But basically they're saying coffee has some good effects, like staving off Parkinson's. Personally, I'll keep drinking it when I'm tired, and sometimes when I'm not tired, and enjoy the flavor the whole way through.

The deodorant experiment is going well. I need to make sure I put enough on, but when I do, it works all day.

And the salmon I made on Sunday was awesome for lunch yesterday. And the second tilapia fillet was perfect today. And the beef I made was wonderful Monday, and will be awesome again tomorrow, and I'm sure the salmon will still be great Friday. I could really get used to making a week's worth of lunches all at once; it's so much easier during the week.

Oh! By the way! If you haven't read it yet, and are interested in capitalism, read this. It's very well-written and awesome.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deodorant progress, and the ripple effect. And lots of cooking!

Got lots to talk about today! First off, I did make that deodorant on Friday. I've ended up having to use my fingers to apply it, just because try not to use A/C, and the coconut oil won't stay solid, but it seems to work OK. I'm damp but I don't stink. Today will really be my first full day using it, so I can't endorse it yet, but so far I survived hiking on Saturday, and hours of cooking yesterday: not quite as well as with the store-bought stuff, but with 100% less aluminum and parabens.

Speaking of cooking, yesterday was 'make lunches for the week' day, among other things. We cooked for three hours! Rich, of course, made some entirely non-paleo items that he's been craving (taco pie and corn pudding), so we've got a fridge full of stuff right now, since mine had to be separate. We've got egg and potato salad out the wazoo, which is unfortunate since I won't eat much of that; it has potato, after all, and the rest of the store-bought mayo. At least now I have a good reason to try to make mayo next time we want some. We made 5 potato's worth of sweet potato chips, which, again, I'll have to try to eat sparingly; we did make them with olive oil, but the sweet potato does have carbs.

However! My lunches! I pulled out the crock pot and made a few semi-sous-vide style meals. Three quart-size freezer bags in the crock pot for about an hour and a half: one containing beef and italian-style homemade dressing, with leeks; one containing cream and vindaloo curry with two tilapia fillets; and one Atlantic salmon, surrounded with cream cheese, dill, and leek. (Yes, in a second meal. Turns out one bunch of leek - three stalks - is a lot of leek.) I also made quite a bit of leek, red onion, and green pepper stir-fry. I already ate one of the tilapia fillets for dinner yesterday, and it was awesome. Looking forward to some of the beef today. Speaking of which, I'm getting hungry.

Ripple effect! A while ago I bought Take Control of Your Fertility, and loved it. Lent it to my sister. Now she loves it too. Whoo! No more hormones for me, and no more for someone I care about! Highly recommend this book. (Disclaimer: I bought the book. Neither the author nor publishing company has given me anything. I hate this disclaimer stuff.)

I have an exciting week coming up. Gym tomorrow, out with friends Wednesday, getting farm-fresh veggies Saturday, and cooking class Sunday. Oh! And not being on-call for work! Waking up a few times an hour does nasty things to one's sleep cycle. The dreams get intense and crazy. The dreams are sometimes fun; the absolute necessity of a large coffee in the morning is not. One more night and we're done with that for almost two months.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vibram hike

We went for a short hike (nature walk, really) in our Vibrams today, in anticipation of our upcoming Mt. Washington hike. I'm not certain yet if we'll be able to handle difficult trails in those shoes. I love them, but my feet still get tired quickly, and I have to pay more attention to where I step than I used to. One thing I noticed that I didn't expect was how little grip they actually have on rocks - I can't just step onto a rock like I can in boots. Mt. Washington is all rock at the top; we'll do Mt. Major at least once first, and see how that goes. We can always carry boots with us just in case.

Got a dozen farm eggs today! Ate one for lunch, over easy on top of a grilled chicken breast with a slice of cheese sandwiched between them, and Frank's on top. One of the easiest lunches we make. Dinner was nice and simple too, just hot dogs and hamburgers with a little ketchup and mustard. Can't find many ketchup brands without corn syrup; Heinz just put out an 'all-natural' variety that uses sugar instead, but until we finish the last bottle we have I just have to deal with the corn syrup. I'm getting used to using less of it though. (Not sure if that counts as an endorsement, but just in case, Heinz has never given me anything. Nor have the Vibram people. Or Frank's Hot Sauce people, for that matter. Did I miss any products?)

We got a lot of cherries today, too. Rich started a cherry whiskey infusion, and of course there were lots of cherries left over. Not sure how many I ate, but I am certain that it was far more than I probably should have. I'm going to have to be more careful with those. Maybe we can freeze some and keep them hidden for a while.

Anyway, it's getting late, even for me. Bedtime!

Friday, June 4, 2010

100-Day Challenge

100 Day Challenge!

Tricia over at Lean Mean Roomie Machine posted her 100-day Paleo Challenge. As a result, I've decided to do my own; 100 days will get me to one month before the wedding, and so it's Important.

I modified it a little from the one Tricia is doing. You can see the little piece of paper I am now carrying in my purse.

Food basics:
Eat meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fat.
No sugar, grains, or legumes. Light on dairy, starch.
Out of 100 days, you may eat 20 special meals.

Gym once/week, 1 hour high-intensity.
Running or similar once per week.

That's about it, but we'll see if I can keep it going. Oh! And blogging!

Dinner last night and lunch today


1 lb crispy, yummy bacon (unfortunately, not grass-fed.)
2 grilled chicken breasts (also not pastured :( We'll get there.)
2.5 tomatoes, left over from a previous salad
Half a head of iceberg lettuce, also left over
4 hard-boiled eggs (yay! the last of the store-bought! Farm-raised coming tomorrow.)

Unknown amount of cider vinegar (Too much, will have to reduce this next time)
About the same amount of extra-virgin olive oil
Some of the bacon grease
Some crushed garlic from a jar
Some diced red jalapenos, also from a jar
Dried basil, thyme, oregano, lots of these because I like my spices
Dash ground sea salt, black pepper

Progress! For once I didn't burn the bacon while dicing the veggies. Got everything timed well. Eggs finished boiling first, started them cooling; finished dicing tomatoes and slicing lettuce in between flipping over bacon; bacon and chicken started cooling down while I diced the eggs; cut up the chicken and then crumbled the bacon. Threw together a quick dressing in less than two minutes; never buying Italian salad dressing again.

Also I managed to not eat anything until 4, giving me an 18 hour fast (except for the cream in my coffee. Really close though!) The 12-8pm work shift does strange things to one's eating habits: wake up at 11 to go to work, eat lunch somewhere between 3 and 6, get home at 8:30 and start cooking dinner if hungry, eat at 9 or 10, go to bed at 3am. Good thing I'm a night person. Good thing Rich and I share this madness! We'll probably want more normal schedules at some point, but I really don't know when.

Bought some lavender essential oil today. Tonight's experiment will be making my own deodorant. I threw out the remainder of my old travel-size Lady Speed Stick this morning, so I have an empty container to fill, and all the ingredients needed to fill it: 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and as of today, two or three drops lavender oil. Whoohoo! No more aluminum! No more parabens! (Assuming it works, of course.)

I did, however, have a moment of weakness. My loving fiance received a cannoli as a thank-you, and of course only ate half of it due to his silly two-donut binge this morning (Dunkin's was giving a free donut per drink.) I like cannoli, so I kindly finished it for him. At some point I think I'll have to try making a cannoli shell with coconut and almond flour, with a nice whipped cream cheese filling, so I won't fall to that particular temptation again. Oh! with chocolate bits! As Hanners says, "baking is science for hungry people", and I've been having fun finding recipes to bake treats using paleo ingredients. Besides, if I can find a good bread recipe, maybe Rich can stop buying loaves of potato bread.

100-day challenge progress: 4 days down. 1 special occasion meal (overly sweetened butternut squash, a beer, and mashed potato. Restaurant stuff.) Half a cannoli today, so that's a second 'special occasion' I guess. 1 hour at the gym Wednesday. On track!