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Highbrow Cook Off II: Electric Boogaloo

6 May

Welcome back to our second of however many Highbrow Cook Offs (not to be confused with Iron Chef™ which is property of the Food Network™).  This month we chose ground meat as the special ingredient, with three veggies of different colors and one optional starch.  You can read about some of the other restrictions in our first Iron Chef Cook Off post here.  We are allowed the use of any three herbs and spices, excluding salt and pepper, and unlimited pantry items that we had previously agreed upon.  I loved how creative and diverse all of the entries were.  Let us know if you make any of our recipes at home and how they turned out, and stay in touch because HBP is opening this shit storm up to the public now.  Next months ingredient will be revealed in a couple of weeks, but here is a hint: hike up your big boots and get your digging gloves out (whatever a digging glove is).  But enough of that! Let us live in the moment, and bask in the glow of some ground up meat! Allez Cuisine!

Russ Crandall from The Domestic Man

Russian Cabbage Rolls (Голубцы)

You’ll Need:
2 lbs ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
1 head cabbage
1 onion, chopped finely
6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 carrots, shredded (1/2 cup)
1 tsp each salt, pepper, dried dill, prepared mustard
1 14oz can of tomato sauce
8 tbsp butter or ghee
additional 1/2 tsp pepper

Chop the onion finely and set aside. Garlic too. Warm 4 tbsp of the butter or ghee on medium heat for a couple minutes, then add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the onion is aromatic and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, then add the ground beef, salt, pepper, dill, and mustard. Continue to cook until most of the pink has been cooked out of the beef. Add the cooked rice and carrot. Remove from heat and set aside as you work on your cabbage.

Cut out the core of the cabbage. Bring a stockpot half-full of water to a boil on high heat. Drop the cabbage into the boiling water and press it down with the end of a wooden spoon. Hold it there for five minutes, until the cabbage softens. Pull the cabbage out of the water (I used two forks) and let it drain in a colander for a minute, but keep the water boiling. Peel off the leaves. If you get further down the cabbage and the leaves are hard and dry, drop the cabbage into the water for a few more minutes and repeat the process.

Place the cabbage on a cutting board and cut the spine out of it. Put a spoonful of the filling into some cabbage and roll it together. There’s no foolproof way to do this, especially since the cabbage will be in various sizes and thicknesses; just put the filling near one end and roll it up toward the other end. Easy, right? You should be able to make about 18 cabbage rolls.

Place all the rolls in a casserole dish. In the meantime, heat the other 4 tbsp of butter or ghee in a saucepan for a minute or so, then add the tomato sauce and another 1/2 tsp of pepper, stir it together, and reduce the neat to med/low. Simmer the sauce for about five minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls, and bake everything for 45 minutes.

Overall cost (assuming $6/lb for beef): $22 for six servings.

Amanda Kate Donovan

Harina ~ Moroccan Soup

Harina is a well-known Moroccan soup that is typically served to break fast during the Ramadan holy month. There are a million and one ways to make this soup, though traditionally it is made with orzo, vermicelli, lentils, beans and/or chickpeas. I have made some slight modifications to make this flavorful, rich soup paleo and Perfect Health Diet friendly, and so it’s a quick and simple meal for a busy family. This is a great way to use up a bunch of chicken stock, and is the perfect soup to make when you’re sick. Ras-el-hanout is an arabic spice blend that is becoming easier to find. It will vary quite a bit, but generally is a mixture of turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves.

1# ground lamb (or beef, just not pork)
ghee
olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
1T ras-el-hanout
1tsp grated fresh ginger
pinch of cayenne or de arbol chile powder
7c chicken stock
1 large can stewed tomatoes
1c white rice
1/2c cilantro, minced
1/4c parsley, minced

Brown the lamb in 1T each EVOO and ghee in a dutch oven. Add one minced onion and the spices and cook until the onions are translucent. Add about 5 cups of chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil. Turn down to a simmer, and make your rice. I used short grain white rice, cooked in chicken broth and a bit of ghee.

In a small pan, add a tablespoon or two of chicken stock, almost all of the cilantro and parsley (reserving a bit for garnish), and your tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes or so, and add tomato mixture to the soup. Add in the cooked rice and allow to simmer on low until the soup has thickened up a bit and the flavors have blended. Taste for seasoning, and serve with lemon wedges.

Meredith Harbour Yetter ~ Goose Mortadella

I think I have disqualified myself due to the complexity of this frigging recipe, but I had 2 geese in the freezer that had to be addressed before the next hunting season. I followed this recipe from Hank Shaw at Hunter Gardener Angler Cook.

However to fit it to my tastes/ingredient availability I didn’t add any rendered fat, I used pork cheek for the pork fat, so there was a little pork meat in there, but it was about 98% fat, I didn’t use dry milk or sugar at all or instacure 1, For spices I used corinader, dried chipotle powder and black pepper. I did use some salt as well. I also blended some dried wild morels and added them to hopefully replace whatever binding the milk powder is supposed to do.

I counted the morels as a veggie and just slapped the slices of salami onto some grassfed heirloom tomato and cucumbers. Wah-la!

Julie Barnard from Paleo Republic

Polpette di carne e zucchini

1lb ground beef, 80/20
1/2lb Sweet Italian sausage
1/4c finely chopped fresh parsley – hold a pinch back to use with the zucchini
1/4c finely chopped ramps – hold a pinch back to use with the zucchini *note: can substitute scallion, shallot, or chive
A few pinches of salt
Several grinds of pepper
3c tomato sauce, warmed on the stove
3 zucchini, sliced thinly
8×8 baking dish

Oven to 450

Combine ground beef, sausage, parsley, ramps, salt, pepper, and mix by hand until all ingredients are fully combined.

Roll the mixture into round meatballs about 1-1/2” and place into the baking dish. It’s totally cool if they’re touching.

Roast for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and very carefully drain some of the grease that has accumulated in the pan.

Pour the heated sauce over the meatballs and return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are finishing in the oven take a mandolin, sharp knife, or vegetable peeler and thinly slice the zucchini into ribbons. You can quickly steam them but the heat from the sauce and meatballs warms the zucchini up nicely I’ve found, so my preference is raw. Toss with the saved pinches of parsley and ramps.

Remove the meatballs from the oven. Plate the zucchini ribbons and top with the meatballs and sauce.

Serves 2-3

Bree Milne from Real Life

Bahn Mi Lettuce Wraps

I have been craving Bahn Mi lately.  And I’m usually not one to deny cravings, but the best Bahn Mi that I have ever had was at a small little asian grocery store in Prince Rupert, BC.  And since I don’t live there anymore, and it’s quite a ways out of the way to go for a sandwich, I just haven’t done it.  But – lately I had been thinking that I could do it, I could make a pretty good Bahn Mi if I tried.  So here’s my try – a la Paleo!

Do Chua

  • 1 large carrot cut in matchstick pieces
  • 1 daikon cut in matchstick pieces
  • 2-3 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 cups rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup warm water

Place the daikon and carrots in a colander.  Sprinkle salt all over them and mix with your hands for 2-3 minutes.  Quite a bit of juice should come off the carrots and daikon, and they should become soft.  Rinse them off lightly (or not at all if you like salty food).  Pack them into glass jars.  In a separate container combine the vinegar, warm water and maple syrup (you can use more or less maple syrup depending on your taste for sweet – or omit it completely).  Add the liquid to the veggies.  Seal the jar and put it in the fridge.  I let mine sit for 2 days before I used them and they were great.

Part Two:

  • 1 kg (~2lbs) ground pork + 1 minced/ground pork liver
  • 6 garlic cloves – minced
  • 6 green onions – chopped
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • lard (I used duck fat – cuz that’s how I roll)

Pre heat oven to 350F.  Take your rings off – put all ingredients in a big bowl and combine with your hands.  Then roll into meatballs.  Pan fry on medium heat until goldeny brown all around (about 5 minutes per side).  Place on a  tinfoiled cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

To Assemble:

Ingredients

  • 1 head of lettuce (I used iceberg)
  • Do chua
  • meatballs

Put them all together!  Be a touch careful – the lettuce is a bit finnicky.  And eat!  Enjoy!

Matthew Dalby from The Call of the Honey Guide

Onion, carrot, leek, potato and mackerel

We don’t have a recipe for this one, but I think it’s pretty self explanatory.  And, this is our only fishy entry.  Wallah!

Carly Caller

Cottage Pie

For the Filling

1 knob of butter
1 large onion
3 medium carrots
3 sticks of celery
1 tsp Turmeric
600g of ground beef (mince beef to ma UK homeboyz)
400g of passata (blended tomatoes in a carton)
400g of beef stock
Salt and Pepper

For the Potato MashTopping

5 large potatoes
Butter to taste ( I use nearly half a pack)
Salt and Pepper

Method –

Preheat oven to gas mark 4, (or the equivalent) I keep my oven dish in the oven while preheating. I’m not sure why. Just do it.
Chop finely your onion, carrots and celery
Melt your butter in a large saucepan, fry on a low heat finely chopped veg with the tsp of turmeric, (simply because I put turmeric in to damn near everything, cos I can) for about 10 mintues, or until soft
Add ground beef, turn up heat to meduim, keep mixing the um… mixture, until meat is browned, add your passata and your beef stock, season well and bring to a boil
Once bubbling, turn down heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes until mixture is thick and glossy

Meanwhile, peel and boil your potatoes until soft, not too long though or the potatoes will absorb too much of the water and your topping will just be a layer of slop. Not nice. Once potatoes have boiled, drain and mix in a crapload of butter and salt and black pepper to taste, mash into a nice thick, creamy, buttery, fluffy, mashy goodness. Try not to eat. Yet.

Take your largish dish out the oven, wear oven gloves. It helps, trust me. I use a ceramic dish. I have used glass and that black bakeware stuff I can’t remember the name of, both work fine too. Just use any oven proof dish, in an oven. I digress..

Pour your now reduced, and thicked mince mixture into your oven dish and spoon the mash mixture on top, using a fork to spread the mash. Bake in the oven for about 40-50 mins, or untill browning and crispy. As you can see from my picture, I like mine, almost cremated, but you can keep an eye on yours, and just take it out when you think it looks right. All the lovely butter in the mash will give for a nice crispy topping. Sometimes I’ll even grate chedder cheese (reccommened) on top for the last ten minutes, but I kept this one “clean” for the benefit of the cook off.

Serve with your choice of vegetable. This is of course optional.

Eat.

Highbrow Cook Off! Everyone’s a Winner

1 Apr

There has been an ongoing discussion in our group on how to make ancestral eating, or paleo-ish diets accessible to as many people as possible.  Often a paleo way of eating can sound overwhelming, complicated, time-consuming, and (unnecessarily) complex from just a brief scan of the palsosphere.  We are here to say, “Nuts to that.”  We do tend to pride ourselves on being the hilarious and stunningly attractive voice of reason and moderation in the world of paleo blogging.  It is not necessary to have black truffles and quail eggs on hand, or a half a cow in your freezer to eat  heathy diet.  It’s not necessary to spend your paycheck at Whole Foods.  It’s not even necessary to eat meat.

And, since we all like our food and a dose of healthy competition, here is our first installment of Highbrow Cook Off.  We hope that this will become a monthly feature, and that you all will join in.  For our first contest In Which Everyone Wins we came up with the following ground rules:

  • only use the ingredients outlined
  • use of pre-approved pantry items is unlimited
  • only use minimal processing, and minimal kitchen equipment, as outlined
  • keep track of how much you spend on the ingredients
  • will not use more than 3 kitchen gadgets/utensils, and nothing powered except the oven or stove top

PANTRY ITEMS:

  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • tallow
  • lard
  • ghee
  • stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • herbs, fresh and dried and spices limit to three total

(3) VEGGIES:

  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion

(1) PROTEIN: Eggs!

(1) STARCH: Tubah of your choice.

Following are six submissions to our first ever Highbrow Cook Off!  It’s a long post, but you will be happy to reach the end, for one reason or another.

Ready, set, Allez Cuisine!

Russ, from The Domestic Man came up with this lovely loaded baked potato. This took a Herculean effort on his part since he thinks onions are gross.

“Loaded” Sweet Potato
Serves 1

Utensils:
1 knife
1 wooden spoon
1 medium-sized piece of tinfoil

Hardware:
1 pot or dutch oven
1 egg pan
1 oven

Pantry items:
4 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp chicken stock
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Herbs/spices:
1/2 tsp fresh dill, chopped finely
a sprinkle of dried red chili pepper flakes

Veggies:
2 stalks of kale, chopped coarsely
2 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small onion or 1 shallot, chopped finely

Protein:
2 eggs

Starch:
1 large sweet potato

Total cost: About $2.00 USD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potato and poke with holes using knife. Add the sweet potato to the oven, place a piece of tin foil underneath to catch drippings. Bake for 50 minutes or until soft to the touch.

After the potato has baked for 25 minutes, add 2 tbsp of the ghee to the pot/dutch oven and warm on medium heat. Add the onion/shallot and sauté for 3 minutes, until aromatic. Turn the heat down to med/low, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and continue to sauté for another 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and most of the liquid has cooked out of them. Add the kale, chicken stock, and chili pepper flakes and cover. Turn the heat down to low and cook for five minutes.

After five minutes, remove the cover and return the heat to med/low and allow the stock to mostly evaporate. Stir with wooden spoon every minute or so. While that’s happening, fry the two eggs with the remaining ghee and flip them halfway through. Before flipping, sprinkle them with the fresh dill. Cook to desired doneness (over medium is probably best for this dish – solid whites but runny yolk).

Remove the sweet potato and cut in half lengthwise. Place the eggs on top of the potato and pour the remaining ghee on top. Top with the kale/mushrooms/onion monstrosity.

The next submission is from Chop Your Shit Meredith.  “Now nobody can be fearful of submitting something. Look at this mess! I call it Paleo Deep Dish.”

Utensils: Grater, Knife, Spatula, and yes a whisk – – sorry one too many

Seasoning: Salt, Pepper, Fresh grated garlic

Pantry: Coconut oil, Chicken Foot Stock

Total cost: $3.75 (eggs were free and potatoes were so cheap bought in bulk)

Chop your shit. Peel, then grate potato. Put cast iron skillet with a dollop of coconut oil in oven at 400 to heat it up. Put chopped kale, mushrooms and onion and stock with a little salt and pepper in a tightly covered skillet for like, I dunno, 7 minutes. After that, uncover and turn to high until all the juiciness is gone.

Squeeze out extra liquid from potato or blot dry on towel (I didn’t do this but should have) and combine with grated garlic and beaten eggs. Take out cast iron skillet from oven and spread half the potato egg mixture down, salt pepper. Put back in oven for a few minutes. Take out and spread Kale mixture on top and shove back in oven for a few. Take back out and spread the rest of egg potato mix on top, put back in oven for few. In the end hit it with the broiler.

I overdid the cooking thing here. In the future I will just make a goddamn frittata out of the same ingredients. Cheap, #paleo and prolly tasty (I am IFing so I won’t know until later today).

Next up is Amanda with Eggs Baked in Kale with Chipotle Hash and Sage Butter. Obviously some of us need better cameras. 

  • 2# sweet potatoes
  • 2# onions
  • 1/2 bunch chopped kale
  • 4 c mushrooms
  • 6 Tbs butter or ghee
  •  4 Tbs EVOO
  • 4 eggs
  • chipotle mecco powder
  • fresh sage
  • chicken foot stock
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS: Put about  4 Tbs of ghee in pan with about 10 leaves of fresh sage. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, or until sage becomes crispy. set aside. Open a bottle of wine and pour a drink.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Slice two large yellow onions, or about 2#. Add 2 Tbs EVOO to the pan. Add onions and sea salt and cook on medium-low for about half an hour or until the onions are cooked down and caramelized. Pour another glass of wine.

While the onions cook, chop two large sweet potatoes into 1/2″ pieces and toss with EVOO, salt, pepper and 1 tsp of chipotle mecco. When onions are done, toss together with sweets and spread on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and put in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until browned.

While the hash is baking, wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel (don’t rinse! wet mushrooms dont brown!) I used a mix of white mushrooms and portobello that I had on hand. Heat 2 Tbs EVOO in the pan on medium-high, and add the mushrooms, about 4 cups sliced. Add salt and cook, stirring occasionally while you finish the bottle of wine. Mushrooms will release their water, then begin to brown. About 5 minutes to dance around the kitchen.

When mushrooms are browned, stir in 2 minced garlic cloves until fragrant, then add 2 Tbs chicken stock and about 4 cups of chopped fresh kale, or half a bunch. Whatever. Pour more wine. When the kale begins to wilt, stir in 4 Tbs of butter or ghee and cook until kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Dig out four little wells and crack an egg into each. Turn heat to low, cover and let the eggs cook until the whites are set but the yolks are runny.

About now, your glass should be empty. Pour the last of the wine and remove the hash from the oven. Plate the hash, two eggs in kale, and drizzle half of the sage butter over everything on the plate. Whatever crispy buttery sage you didn’t eat while waiting for the onions to caramelize, add as garnish.

Serves 4 at about $3 per person

Utensils used: one big saute pan, one silicone spoonula that I love, chefs knife, oven and stove top.

Almost there, kids!

Next up is JuBa from The Paleo Republic and some Motherfucking Eggs Bennie!

  • Pantry Items: Ghee, Stock, Salt Pepper
  • Herbs/Aromatics: Lemon, Jalapeno
  • Mushroom: Portobello + Shiitake
  • Kale
  • Onion: Scallion
  • Eggs
  • Japanese Sweet Potato

Sauce: 1c stock reduced to 1/2c and then add one chopped and one sliced Shiitake mushroom, lemon juice, pepper, scallion. Simmer until flavours meld, heat off, stir in 1 tsp ghee.

Eggs: Poached soft in simmering water, flipping hot water over the top until cooked

Japanese Sweet Potato: Already roasted, roughly smashed up by hand, for nice jagged edges to crisp up, half of one large and put under the broiler until crispy

Kale: Sautéed in ghee until slightly softened, seasoned with salt/pepper

Portobellos: Lightly rubbed with ghee on both sides, season with salt, broil for 10 minutes gill side up, 10 minutes gill side down

Plate: Portobellos, kale, eggs, sauce, sliced jalapeño, lemon zest

Grand total: 5.62 on the plate

And now for our UK contingent.  Read these recipes in your head as if Mary Poppins were narrating them.

Carly obviously wins for the best copyrighting.  “Ok, this piece of shit dish is called, potato, mushroom and kale omelette fail. Or unintentionally scrambled omelette. I don’t have the time or ingredients to do it again, so I’m just posting this embarrassment anyways. Better something than nothing.” How can you not love this woman?  But I think we can go with Travis’ suggestion, “Rustic Scramble with Heirloom Kale and Taters”

  • 1 onion
  • 4 mushrooms
  • handful of kale
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper

“Wow! That seems like a lot of ingredients for one omelette!” I hear you cry. Well you would be right. UNLESS it was for a SCRAMBLED omelette. Yup, that’s right. Now if you want to make a bog standard omelet, you know, one of those stupid boring ones that stay as one piece (so 2011) then you should probably halve all the ingredients except the eggs. HOWEVER, if you are happy with THAT monstrosity on your plate, that honestly did taste nice, don’t adjust.

Chop up your onion, mushrooms and cook in the butter with the kale and the spices on a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile peel your potato(es) and chop them into small cubes and boil for about 10 minutes (or until soft).

Once potatoes are soft, drain them and add to the frying pan with your vegetables, fry for a further couple of minutes. Whisk your eggs and pour them into your pan with the potatoes and veg and cook for about 7/8 minutes untill omelette has set.

Then attempt to flip. Panic as you realise you have WAY too many ingredients to make a viable omelette and attempt to scrape the remains off the bottom of the pan to salvage something. TADA!!

Utensils used – Sharp knife, fork, spatula

Pans used – Saucepan, frying pan

Our last entry is from Matthew, who blogs at the Honey Guide.  

Matthew went with his (my) new favorite thing, colcannon.  Colcannon is an Irish version of mashed potatoes with kale and green onions.  It typically also includes loads of butter and cream, but that can easily be left out.  Sautéed mushrooms and onions, and two eggs fried until the whites are cooked but the yolks are runny.  Yum!

Total cost of ingredients was about £1.30

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 handful of chopped kale
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 2 large potatoes

Pantry items:

  • 1 tablespoon of beef dripping
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Utensils:

  • Sharp vegetable knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Vegetable peeler

Hardware:

  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan.

Cooking

Potatoes and kale:

  • Peel and chop up the potatoes into small pieces and place in the saucepan.
  • Cover the potatoes with water and boil on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes add the chopped kale to the potatoes for the last 5 minutes of boiling.
  • Drain off the water, add the butter and salt and mash together with the spoon.

Onions and mushrooms:

  • Heat the frying pan on a medium heat with the beef dripping.
  • Peel and finely slice the onion and add to the frying pan.
  • Wash and chop the mushrooms into quarters and add to the frying pan.
  • Add pepper to the pan and fry for about 15 minutes stirring with the spoon.

 

Let us know if you have any other creative ideas for making a simple, cheap, and yummy paleo meal with our core ingredients, and stay tuned for next month’s challenge!

Kids Love This Shit

27 Jan

Or, how to get your offspring to eat a bag of kale.

We all came here for the food.  Sometimes it feels as though parents are in the minority in the world of paleo-ish.  I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, and while they do not eat a paleo diet, I do all the cooking and shopping and they don’t, so they suck it up and deal.  Kids can be picky and downright monstrous around feeding time, and while its tempting to lay a tarp on the floor and toss food down to them from a safe distance,  its not always feasible.

Kale chips, blueberries, and chicken and veal liver pate. Just frickin' eat it!

I have a few recipes up my sleeve that the kids are cool with, and that are cheap and healthy.  My favorite is Sister Slaw.  I originally got the idea from the beautiful and incomparable Primal Kitchen, who you should love tightly, particularly if you have children and you feed them food.  Her bento box posts are hypnotic.  Anyhoo, get yourself a big bag of kale, or two bunches  I have to mince that onion into practically a puree without my daughter seeing it.  She’s highly suspicious of anything resembling an onion, but its an important addition to the Sister Slaw.  We otherwise make the slaw together meaning I (wo)man the blood-thirsty mandoline and she gets to dump everything together.  It’s important to really massage the dressing into the veggies.  Put on some Al Green and work it.  Make sweet love to it and when you’re done, stick her in the icebox for a couple of hours. [Editors note: The slaw, not the child.]  The kids get this with some U.S.Wellness hot dogs and then I congratulate myself.

Second helping of Sister Slaw

Use the other half of your kale for some chips.  My daughter is actually licking the plate right this second.  She just ate an entire bunch of kale. [Editor’s Note: Meredith just tried kale chips with coconut oil and ate all the kale in the whole wide world because it was so delicious.]  A good trick to keep in mind for the kiddos to get them to eat their veggies is to add more fat and more salt.  Plain kale is kind of gross, but drown in sea salt and good quality olive oil and it’s snack.  I serve these up with some sweet potato puffs, or chicken tenders dipped in egg and rolled in crushed Rice Krispies.

Kids are cool; they will generally eat whatever shit you put in front of them if they get hungry enough.  Note that they tend to get hungrier if they are running around than if they are in front of the TV all day.  Adding fat and salt makes things more delicious and harder to resist, and if they had a hand in cooking it, even more likely that they will try it.  Don’t stress, yo.  Also, be confident in your child’s ability to not starve themselves.  They are remarkable creatures who will likely outlive you.

Sister Slaw

  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale (dinosaur kale), shredded
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  1. Stir together the kale, green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and onion in a very large bowl; set aside.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, and stir thoroughly, making sure to coat the vegetables very well. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours before serving.

Kale Chips

  • Some kale
  • some olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the hard center ribs and tear the leaves into pieces. Toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Try to wait for the pan to cool before eating.

Sweet Potato Puffs

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4c chopped nuts
  • coconut oil
  • cinnamon, salt, other seasonings you might prefer
  1. Stab the potato all over with a fork or knife, and microwave for 5 minutes or so until its cooked through.  Cut it in half, and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, mashing as you do. It doesn’t have to be uniformly smooth, so don’t kill yourself.
  2. Crack two eggs into the mashed sweet potato and mix.
  3. Stir in your crushed nuts, salt and any seasonings you like.  My kids like cinnamon.  I like Ras-el-Hanout.
  4. Fry up in some coconut oil on medium heat until cooked through.

What’s in a Cow?

21 Dec

One of our cows?

My husband is an unemployed economist (oh, irony!), and money is tight.  One of the major (and legitimate) criticisms of ancestral diets is the cost.  It’s a hard thing to do on a very tight budget.  I spend a lot of time cooking and freezing, doing as much processing as I can, seeking out local deals, scrounging free produce from the farmers market that I work at, food pantries, and stuff from cans.  There is a lot of effort involved in this.  Because I feel that food is my medicine that prevents my illness from developing, I do not consider it an option to return to the less expensive, more convenient vegetarian grain-based diet that I ate before.  I thought as an informational post, I could talk a bit about our experience buying half of a cow.  it’s an experience that not a lot of people have these days, particularly from an animal that you know personally, and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.

Our friends E and J are farmers in Vermont.  J’s brother is a dairy farmer, and a couple of years ago gave them three of his male Jerseys to raise for meat.  These three little guys lived fully on pasture, happy as clams with their little donkey friends keeping them calm.  I knew them.  My kids knew them.  In November, E asked us if we could like half of one of the guys, that they were going to market the following week.  Five of the six halves he sold to us and our friends, and the other half he was still looking for a buyer for.

Since everything happened very quickly, we had to make room in our basement on short notice and with short cash.  We had a half-full 5 cubic foot freezer already, and we bought a second freezer of the same size for $169.  It was less expensive to do this than to trade in the one small freezer for a larger one, and this way we can eat our way though one freezer and shut the empty one off in order to save money.

The steers went to market the Friday before Thanksgiving, and were ready to be picked up the week after.  The sides hung between325 and 360 pounds. This should yield 60% to 65% take home beef. For the sake of figuring out what your price per pound cost will be E used 60%.  Our cost was $0.55 per pound for cutting and wrapping.

                 $1.50 per pound for the hanging carcass; this is a standard way for selling sides of beef and is on the very low-end of the spectrum. E also had the guys doing the slaughter remove some extra fat and kidneys that are usually left on to add to the weight.
                 $20.00 – Slaughter cost $40 per animal.

Our cow? Thats my daughter in the blue.

When figuring a 60% return on the hanging weight this will come out to a price of $3.50 per pound for what we took home. Since 60% is low, we made out a little better than this.   Our half was 325 pounds, and we got just over 200 pounds of beef.  What exactly does two-hundred pounds of beef look like?  Well, I wish I took a picture, because it was pretty impressive but I was in a great hurry to get it all catalogued and into the deep freeze.  My husband drove up to Vermont to pick it up at our friends farm and when he pulled in the driveway, the entire back of our SUV, seats folded down, every inch covered with another cooler.
When you get half of a cow, this is what you’re looking at:
~48 packages of ground beef wrapped in 1.5# packages
~9 large top round steaks
~18 packages of shanks, three shanks per package
~3 bottom round roasts
~11 porterhouse steaks
~15 rib eye steaks
~4 eye of round roasts
~4 rump roasts
~5 sirloin steaks
~3-3# packs of stew meat
~3 london broils
~2 brisket
~3 chuck roasts
~5 short ribs (3# each package)
~3 t-bone steaks
~2 tenderloin
~2 shin bones

These are the three steers! They are actually watching my daughter have a tantrum but she is out of the frame.

The roasts are all about four pounds, and the steaks about one inch thick.  I did ask for any bones or organs that they could give me, but only was able to get the two marrow bones that I will use for stock.  Next time we do this, I think I will try harder for the liver, more bones, and more of the nasty bits that no one but me would want.  I would love the tendons, heart, liver, tail, and for some reason I didn’t get a flank or skirt steak which is too bad because I was planning on a big old Rouladen.

So far the meat has been delicious.  We have had a few packages of the ground meat in a sweet potato shepherds pie, meatloaf and meatballs, and I made BBQ pulled pork from the bone-in chuck roast.  Unfortunately not many people have the opportunity to ever eat meat this fresh, from animals who they knew personally.  We feel very blessed to have this much healthy, ethically raised, local food to feed our family, and I look forward to giving steak instead of cookies for hostess gifts this holiday season.
Next up: “How the hell did I end up with a deer neck, and what in god’s name do I do with it?”

The Middle of the Story

12 Nov

Beautiful beets

My name is Amanda.  I’m a fairly boring housewife-type living in coastal New England with my little family; husband, almost 2-year-old son and almost 4 year old daughter, cat, and two canine mutts.  I’m a social worker and psychotherapist specializing in the advanced treatment of psychological trauma, though I don’t discuss the specifics of my work on the internet.  I’m home with my kiddos now while my career is waiting for me. One reason I choose to stay home is because the first year of my daughter’s life was a rough one.

I had to do fertility treatments to get pregnant with my daughter back in 2007.  I won’t dwell on that except to say that it sucked, and I gained some weight from the hormone injections.  But, it worked and she was born in the winter of 2008.  I was lucky enough to fall instantly and profoundly in love with her slippery little body the second she was plopped on my chest.  We had a wonderful time together in the beginning, despite some breastfeeding challenges and the usual sleep deprivation.  Those six months were some of the happiest of my life, though I didn’t know it at the time.  We never do.

Six months into our life together, I got sick.  I knew immediately that something was wrong, so I didn’t tell anyone, even my husband.  My hands were pins and needles.  I thought it was contact dermatitis, but, it spread and moved around my body.  Soon a band around my chest was totally numb, then my fingers went numb, then my feet.  It was scary and disconcerting, and I finally went in to see my doctor, assuming that she would brush it off as a B12 deficiency, give me shot and send me home.  My blood work came back however with very elevated CRP and Sed Rate, and I was positive for some strange antibodies like ANA and smooth muscle cell.  She immediately called a neurologist who had a cancellation and sent me for an MRI and lumbar puncture.

I’ll never forget the phone call.  I was home alone and Hazel was napping.  He was very nonchalant when he said, “So, you have

Carne Asada and Sauteed Spinach

significant white matter damage.”  I was hysterical sobbing and he told me to go to the hospital so I could get Solu-Medrol infusions.  He told me to look online and pick an MS drug before our next appointment.  The steroids were horrendous and I gained even more weight on top of the pregnancy and fertility treatments.  My husband had to take the week off work while I was recovering.  I had no idea what steroids even were and no one, certainly not my doctor, prepared me for the storm that would happen in my body over the next month.

I put together my list of all four injectable medications available at the time, the pros and cons for each, and a long list of questions.  My neurologist didn’t have the time to go over it all with me, and told me to just take Copaxone, a daily injection.  I discovered later that he receives money from Teva Neuroscience, the drug manufacturer, to give talks to the public about “Current trends in drug treatment for MS.”  I am a good patient though so the nurse came to my house and trained my husband and I to do the injections.  For a year, I did the shots every night, had all my questions ignored by my neurologist, had my MRI every 6 months and slept.  I was so tired beyond imagining.  I felt like I was constantly fighting my way up out of general anesthesia.  It made parenting very difficult.  my hands seemed to be permanently numb even after the high-dose steroids, and any increase in core body temperature, or an ambient temperature above 80 degrees would bring back all the old symptoms.  I would go on a mile long walk and sleep for three hours.  My adipose tissue was degraded where I had to inject, and I was covered in painful itchy welts from injection site reactions.  My life was limited and sad.  I pictured myself in a wheelchair at Hazel’s graduation.

I have always been interested in complimentary and alternative treatments, and received a lot of support from my massage therapist, my chiropractor and my acupuncturist.  I read books about alternative treatments for MS, including Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  Many MS patients don’t stick with diets that are perceived as “too limiting”, but having been a vegan and vegetarian for most of my life, I felt like I was prepared.  At the time, a typical day for me would consist of a bowl of Kashi GoLean cereal with skim milk for breakfast, or a bagel with low-fat cream cheese if I was out of the house.  Lunch was usually a sandwich or wrap of some kind, and dinner would be pasta or homemade pizza.  I did a lot of cooking, but because my husband was a vegetarian I rarely made any meat at home.

Grilled spicy Italian sausage with grilled peppers and onions, and cucumber tomato salad

Around the same time, another woman I know with MS said that she was managing her disease with  the Paleo diet.  I remembered hearing something about the “cavemen diet” that was all steak or that it was like Atkins or something with no vegetables and immediately dismissed it.  I read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes around the same time that I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and everything started to fall into place.  it seemed so simple and natural, like water flowing down hill.  I had an epiphany, and sat my husband down to tell him that I was going to have to start buying and cooking meat at home.  My diet before was not one that had much to criticize.  My dietitian that I saw when I was pregnant told me that she wished all pregnant women ate like me; fat-free and low-fat dairy, whole grains, occasional lean meat, lots of fruit and veggies, very low saturated fat.

In desperation, I did a total turnaround.  I decided to give it 30 days after I read Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.  I got rid of what little processed food that I had, and was shocked to find that my definition of “processed” had changed with my new information.  I started eating eggs for breakfast, sometimes with bacon.  I started cooking with butter.  I bought my first package of lard from pastured pigs at our CSA.  I started roasting whole chickens, one of my favorite meals since childhood and that I missed dearly.  I started eating even more vegetables than when I was a vegetarian.  

After 30 days, I was off all my medications and not only remained in remission, but I no longer had the symptoms that I was told would be permanent.  The fatigue was gone, I had total feeling back in my hands with no residual paresthesia, and I had no more heat sensitivity.  On a particularly nice day outside for a walk, my husband said to me, “If this was last year, you would be complaining so much about the heat, and going inside to take a nap.”  Everything changed.  I effortlessly lost about 40 pounds and felt like I was ten years younger.  I loved cooking again.  My husband began eating meat again and had similar results.   I was able to do yoga again, and lift very heavy weight at the gym.  My kids felt lighter, and I was shocked at how much I could get done in a day.  I cannot overstate how dramatic the changes were in my life.

I eat meat on the bone, and cook with chicken stock made from feet.  I make my yogurt and crème fresh and ricotta.  I buy a half

Tomatillos from our friends garden

a cow from grass-fed and finished, pastured cows raised by friends.  I eat so many vegetables.  I love food and the options are limitless.  I eat big salads, avocados, fruit, raw nuts, olive oil and homemade mayonnaise.  I braise lamb shanks, and ox tails and stew.  I roast chickens and sear ducks.  I drink tea and stock and seltzer and wine.  I eat butter and dark chocolate and brie and goat cheese.  I will stuff a fresh fig with blue cheese and honey and thyme for breakfast, and snack on homemade pâté.  I have meals of roasted broccoli, cauliflower, squash and beets with lemon juice.  I eat yogurt I make with heavy cream on berries with cinnamon.  I do not feel deprived of anything.

I struggle with sugar sometimes, and holidays, and alcohol and organ meats.  It’s a process that is constantly revolving and refining for me, and I enjoy that.  I have eaten an ancestral/paleo/primal/traditional foods diet for about 13 months now and stay off my medication and in a total remission with no new disease progress.  I have a new neurologist who supports my choices a hundred percent.  I no longer consider a wheelchair to be a part of my future.  I have a passion for sourcing, cooking and eating Real Food, and helping people, particularly people with chronic health conditions and people with children, transition to a traditional foods diet.  I’m also honored to know my fellow blog collaborators, who are some of the kindest, most knowledgeable and hilarious people I have met.  Truth.