Friday, 20 February 2009

And another recipe!

Yes, I freely admit I am trying to use up the head of cabbage I bought. I love cabbage. I love it raw, I love it boiled, I love it braised. I really really love it braised, actually, because cabbage gets all lovely and silky and tender but still has just enough chew and it takes on this delicate sweetness that is just amazing. So I had some leftover ground turkey, and ground beef, and cabbage. And I had about an hour before the SO would start whining for food.

So, I Googled around for recipes and came up with one for unstuffed cabbage, which of course I screwed around with because that's how I roll. This meal comes together very easily and requires little supervision, and since the SO loved this, I thought it was worthy of a post.

For this recipe, which will serve one small female and one larger, very hungry male with some leftovers, you will need
1) 7 g/1.5 tsp butter
2) 454 g/1 lb of cabbage of cabbage
3) 120 g onion, thinly sliced.
4) 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
5) 200 g jarred tomato sauce+1/2 cup water OR 1 16 oz can tomatoes
6) 454 g ground beef/turkey
7) Malt vinegar (or any other you have lying around)
8) Red pepper flakes
9) Salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Use butter to grease bottom of large dutch oven.
3) Slice cabbage into 1.5" wedges and lay on the bottom of the oven.
4) Lay onion slices and garlic slices on top of cabbage.
5) Pour tomatoes or tomato sauce+water over cabbage+onions+garlic.
6) Roll the meat into 1.5" diameter balls. Wedge meatballs between cabbage slices. When doing so, make sure you give them a good roll in the tomatoes.
7) Douse the pot with a nice shake of vinegar, salt and pepper, and hot pepper flakes to taste.
8) Throw the lid on the pot and stick the whole shebang in the oven for an hour. Halfway through cooking, remove the lid.
9. Serve in bowls in order to savour properly with the lovely meaty tomatoey broth that will form on the bottom of the pan.

In the last 20 minutes or so of cooking, carefully monitor the meat. My turkey meatballs we slightly overcooked, although the beef was dandy. This recipe would work nicely with ground lamb or chicken as well. And it's an economical dish, owing to the cheap ingredients.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend :)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Kind Bar hacks

So a while ago, starving at an airport, I grabbed a Kind Bar in my mad dash to make my flight. For those not familiar with them, these bars are actually pretty good, in my opinion. They're made of fruits and nuts, and while some have icing, and all are bonded together with glucose syrup, some of them are still pretty good re: fat (lots of it) and carbs (not too too high). What I really loved were the flavors of the dried fruit and the nuts together.

Let me say I don't recommend dried fruits if you're trying to lose weight. They are sugar bullets. But for an occasional dessert, I really like them.

My two favorite bars are the date walnut and the apricot almond. So here's what I do: I buy dates and I split them open and stuff them with walnuts and eat them like a sandwich. Three big dates and my sweet tooth is MORE than satisfied. With the apricots and almonds I slice three dried almonds into strips and eat them with ten almonds, a strip of apricot on top of each almond. So I control the portion of dried fruit and pair it with some good nutritive fat. And I get my dessert fix AND I save money and avoid the glucose syrup in the Kind Bar.

I know this hack thing sounds basic. But Kind Bars sell pretty well, so I assume people either haven't thought about doing this or just can't be bothered to buy the raw ingredients (of which there are two each) and make these snacks themselves. That fact in and of itself kind of blows my mind. Or maybe I'm just that cheap ;)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Hunting for supplies

One of my favorite things to do is to go searching for various supplies requested. This is always fun, as these random assortments are not things that I would purchase myself (but then, I am no cook like her) . . .

Salami, various meats, different foods of precise nutritional composition. It is fun because it is always somewhat challenging and always educational. I have made mistakes from time to time, therefore the charge now is to give me explicit instructions when making purchases.

I have always been into the culture of eating; my largest discretionary expenses have always been food and eating out . . . I enjoy the atmosphere of great meals, though since we met this has transitioned more to home, than out. I have various interests and hobbies and developing skills in cooking is one for 2009. I am still trying to make a mental picture of where to start and since I have been fetching random bits and pieces for a while, I am starting to get an idea on what to look for.

More on how I figure out how to cook things beyond my chicken taco recipe later.

If you're afraid of cooking fish...

I have the technique for you! It's fast, easy, delicious, and as a bonus, there is little clean up after. Interested?

If so, here's what you need to make 4 servings:
1) 4 firm fleshed fish fillets (salmon, cod, mahimahi) about an inch thick and 4-6 oz (112 to 168 g)
2) 2 cloves of garlic, slivered or finely chopped, however you prefer
3) 1 lemon
4) butter
5) Salt
6) Four large sheets of foil

1) Preheat oven to 450F.
2) Place one fillet in the center of each piece of foil. Top with some of the garlic, lemon, a couple pats of butter (I used 6g per packet, but you can use more if you'd like) and good sprinkle of salt. You can also had herbs like dill if you have them lying around. Yell at cat who is trying to sample bit of raw fillet.*
3) Lock cat in bathroom until finished with step 4.
4) Bring two of the opposite sides together and crimp them so they're sealed shut. Now crimp the other two ends until they're sealed shut. Make sure everything is nice and tightly closed.
5) Place packets on cookie sheet and slide into the over for 12-15 minutes (adjust time accordingly for thinner or fatter fillets).
6) Remove packets from oven, place on plate and slit open packets VERY CAREFULLY as there has been steam build up and nobody likes 2nd degree burns before dinner.
7) Enjoy your moist, perfectly cooked, no pan to clean up fish. Taunt cat, then take pity and slip a bit into his food bowl.

*Please note, some instructions apply only to cat owners.

This dish is what we had for dinner last night, along with sauteed cabbage as I completely forgot about my mushrooms (which will be on the menu tonight!) until after dinner ;)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Getting back on the blog wagon :)

I was going to title this post "Falling off the blog wagon" but I decided I was going to be glass half full for once in my otherwise Nelly Naysayer life ;) Busy busy busy at work and moving in, but things are starting to settle. Boxes have been emptied, my kitchen has been resurrected in a new and improved form (my mom generously stocked me with Le Creuset from the Le Creuset outlet store, and it's already been put to good use) and I am off and running with the meal preparation.

So what have I been up to the last week or so? Well, aside from all the boring stuff, I've discovered an AWESOME new way to exercise. For a once a week high stress bit of training, right near my new apartment are the Filbert Steps. These are a very long set of stairs up the side of Telegraph Hill, and let me tell you, running up those is a serious workout. And, it's free! Love, love, love. And my legs, although sore as the dickens, secretly love it too. Or at least, my brain will take them to a bar, get them drunk, and eventually convince them of that, I'm sure.

And I went to my first San Francisco Farmers Market at the Ferry building. Among my amazing purchases were gorgeous organic dried pork sausage from the Fatted Calf, purple heart lettuce that is so beautiful I almost wanted to decorate with it instead of eat it, perfect mandarin oranges, some deliciously oozy goat camembert, and black trumpet mushrooms, which are kind of earthy and spicy. Needless to say, I've been cooking up a storm.

The lettuce was tossed with lemon juice and walnut oil and a little bit of salt and pepper, and decorated with hunks of avocado and grilled portabella mushrooms, served alongside a meatloaf with lots of chopped fresh parsley, onion, and a few good shakes of worchestershire sauce. The mandarins are munched out of hand with the camembert for dessert.

Tonight I am doing pan roasted mahimahi with lemon, butter, and garlic served with the sauteed black trumpt mushrooms. With so much delicious fresh stuff out here, Paleo seems easier than ever. Ironically, there are also a million more temptations out here. Real french pastry (as opposed to the easily avoidable nasty americanized cotton ball versions), San Francisco sourdough with that fabulous golden crust on every corner. Although the SO bought a bag of Ghirardelli chocolates and how sad was I to see they use HFCS in their chocolates? Thankfully, it's only in the filled ones, but still.

In any case, please forgive my absence!

Monday, 9 February 2009

A less considered aspect of primal living

Today, I want to talk a little bit about my other SO. His name is Rocky, and he's a 10 year old, 13 pound orange tabby I adopted about 8 months ago.

Growing up, I always had cats around. And as a teenager, my family acquired a basset hound as well. So I have always associated home with pets. When I moved out on my own, I was hesitant to get a one--it took me 8 years of being on my own before I got up the nerve to acquire one. I take the responsibility that comes with pet ownership very seriously, and I wanted to be sure I could provide a good environment for an animal.

So about 8 months ago I set myself to the task of finding a cat. I went to the excellent SPCA in Boston, since I firmly believe adopting shelter kitties. And I was immediately attracted to a playful ten month old unfortunately named Boo Boo (sidenote: why do people do this to animals? Seriously????) until my friend pointed out I would still have Boo Boo when I was 40.

Sufficiently freaked out, I kept looking until I saw this other cat, waaaay in the back, with a pretty orange patch on his nose. I looked at his description--he was old. PERFECT. So in due course, Rocky (aka Rocko, Rockstar, Rockefeller--I'm amazed he's not totally confused as to his actual name, not that he responds to any of the above anyway) came home with me.

So what does cat ownership have to do with this blog? Well, I eat the way I eat because I want to be healthy. Pets have been shown over and over again to have a symbiotic relationship with their owners: their presence lowers blood pressure, makes people feel less lonely, and can otherwise relieve stress. I can personally vouch that I am a happier person for having Rocky around; it's hard to be cranky when you have a warm fuzzy critter snuggling up to you asking for head rubs.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Long time no post

For me, anyway. I have an excuse, I promise! Our stuff has still not arrived from Boston, so we've temporarily relocated to a hotel because frankly, I'm a princess and 4 nights on an air mattress is my limit. So there hasn't been much cooking going on.

I am making psychological progress that is very encouraging to me. For example, I had a lovely experience last night. The SO and I met up with an old, old friend of mine who I haven't seen for 5 or 6 years. She's in SF getting her PhD in neuroscience (yeah, she was the smart one in our group, can ya tell?) We went to a Thai place in Inner Sunset for dinner.

I had Po Tak, which is a mixed seafood soup in a clear chicken/lime spicy broth, as well as a green pumpkin veggie curry I split with the SO. I have lost a decent amount of weight since the last time this friend saw me. From some people, this would elicit some kind of expression of concern. But she just told me I looked great. And she didn't make one crack about me not eating any rice.

Most of my friends are very much like this, but I was curious to see how one I hadn't seen in a long time would react. I'm obviously still a bit defensive, anticipating negative comments. But I also wasn't about to eat the rice as some kind of anticipatory 'see, I'm normal, really!' or order dessert for show. That I consider progress. But I was also reminded I need to give people more credit sometimes, and not let a few bad apples spoil my impression of the lot.

The other bit of progress for me was at lunch on Friday. Where I work, on Fridays everyone in the office eats lunch together. This week, it was sandwiches. Someone was complaining about how heavy they were, and someone else said "you could eat the inside out" and I actually said "yeah, that's what I do." I would NEVER have said that out loud even a few months ago. I would have done it, but I would have been furtive about it (see above: trying to avoid the perception I'm a freak.) I also stole the kale garnish from the sandwich tray to top my meat.

So I'm going to pat myself on the back for the progress I have made in being more comfortable about being open with the way I eat. And I'm going to remember that it can't hurt to give someone the benefit of the doubt until he or she shows me that he or she doesn't deserve it. It's definitely easier on the knees not to be in a defensive crouch all the time.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Dietary Vices

We all have them, whether we give in to them or not. I am one of those who does. It would be disengenous of me to pretend I'm the perfect Paleo/CR chick all the time. I do the best I can, and I think I do pretty well, and I'm happy with that.

I know there are a lot of people who take the all or nothing attitude with eating healthfully--I used to be one of them. Waaaaaaaaay back in the day in my deeply fat phobic phase, I would beat myself up if I had even a small amount of the stuff.

Then I happened on a helpful rule of thumb. Basically, would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself when you screw up? I began to automatically apply that rule to my self criticism, and I decided I should stop being so mean to me. So if I knew I was making a less than ideal choice, did that mean I had blown the whole day? If I had some chocolate at lunch, then I wouldn't have chocolate after dinner. After all, that's what I would tell a friend to do. I wouldn't tell her she was weak and lazy and didn't really want to be healthy.

And I still do that now, because I definitely have some dietary vices. I love how Mark Sisson advocates healthy vices, like dark chocolate, and I agree with him. But I also have some not so healthy vices. And even though I'm most definitely not Catholic, sometimes confession is good for the soul, so here goes:

1) Diet soda, aka Diet Satan: It erodes your teeth and your esophagus, it's full of crap, it's bad bad bad. But it's sweet and fizzy and caffeinated. Sigh. I have cut back on my consumption considerably, but I still fall off the wagon, particularly at movie theaters. Yes, I know plain water is better. Yes, I am trying to switch to seltzer. I'm working on it.

2) Ice cream: this is an occasional treat for me, but I don't think dairy is particularly good for me and I really don't think dairy full of sugar is good for me. And then I see the beautiful curvy bright red Dairy Queen sign and my mind goes blank... Good thing there aren't any near my home.

3) Low carb tortillas: Grain, soy, where do I begin with this? Again, it's an occasional thing, but every once in a while I miss the particular chew that comes with bread products. I justify them to myself because of the low carb content, but I'm a shitty liar and I know I'm full of it.

4) Vodka: I do have the occasional tipple... 'nuff said.

5) Almond M&Ms: only after the vodka. Sigh.

Phew! That feels better. I hope I haven't completely lost my Paleo cred with y'all :) I do always keep my calories consistent, so at least I'm CR'ed if not always ON'ed. I'm not perfect. I just try my best and make my peace with my screw ups--it's a much less stressful life that way.

Kindred Spirits

Part of the reason I started this blog is that my style of eating is not one that has met with widespread approval among real world folks. In the virtual world it is easier to find those people whose dietary philosophies align with my own.*

This morning, my stepfather had a stress echo on his heart (he's fine, it's a routine check up for him) and his cardiologist mentioned that he (the doc, not my stepfather) did the caveman diet. My stepfather told him I did too and the cardiologist got all excited. I'll bet he was feeling the same way I felt when I found all of the wonderful blogs I have found online. It's really nice to find kindred spirits.

One of the marvelous things about San Francisco, particularly since I don't have my kitchen set up yet, is the plethora of good options for us Paleo eaters. Finding even fast(ish) food that contains organic meat and veggies and good fat is surprisingly easy. For example, today I had a takeout soup of roasted chicken and summer squash in a lime/chicken broth with a salad (and lots of healthy oil on the salad). There was even a chicken bone in my soup, which showed they were using... wait for it... REAL CHICKEN instead of that pre fab crap they try to pass off as chicken at some joints (Au Bon Pain, I'm looking at you!).

I'm sure for many people who attempt Paleo, one of the biggest hurdles is what to eat when they're out and about, because frankly, the options out there are not great. For example, the aforementioned and maligned Au Bon Pain does have a sort of decent cobb salad that you can get with or without cheese depending on how Paleo you are. Eating the inside out of sandwiches works well for me, particularly if you get a grilled chicken sandwich. Most places do have olives or nuts for decent fat options. At bars at happy hour I've been known to corral the celery sticks and blue cheese dressing from the wing platter. But it is frustrating, and I feel your pain. There have been times when I have opted to just hold out, because there are literally no options. There are other times when I have peeled the fried coating back to get at least some of the poor abused protein underneath. Not pretty, let me tell you.

Anyway, I think my point, as I meander to it, is that I hope my blog serves the same purpose other paleo and CR blogs have served for me, which is to make those who choose to eat this way, or try to eat this way, feel like they have a community that welcomes them. Some of us are lucky enough to have the support of our families and SOs, but others are not, and particularly for those who lack that real world support, the blogging community can perform a very important role. And besides, I do love getting comments :)

*Not to exclude you vegans/vegetarians/others--I love you all too! We all need to do what is best for ourselves, not what other people tell us to do :)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


At least my Cards were valiant to the end... So now we are established in San Francisco. I know I'm not the first East Coast refugee to say this, but it is stunningly lovely out here. And the food. Oh, the glorious food.

But first, my mother's rib recipe. She boils pork back ribs with onions until mostly cooked, and then slaters them with a homemade barbecue sauce like this one I would make the same but with homemade ketchup a la Mark's Daily Apple and no sugar, but a tablespoon of molasses. In any case, once slathered, they are grilled. HEAVEN. With some grilled veggies it was a feast.

San Francisco is a foodie haven, of course. I only got here last night and I'm already blown away by the quality of the produce around here. I found some lovely crisp asian pears 4/$1.99. They're going for $2/piece in Boston. Last night's dinner was quick and easy, since we're still lacking most of our equipment.

Chicken burgers:
3/4 lb Ground chicken (breast or thigh, whatever you like)
1/2 medium jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 medium onion (100g), finely diced
Salt-to taste
Pepper-to taste
Chili powder-to taste
Romaine leaves
Tomato slices
Avocado slices

Mix together all the ingredients up to and including the seasonings gently and pack into burger shape. Cook in a frying pan at medium to high heat. If you use chicken breast, throw a little fat on the pan, cook for approximatly four minutes each side
or until done. Lay on one half of romaine leaf, top with tomato and avocado slices, fold over other half of romaine leaf to make a bun. Yummy, easy, spicy.

We had that with a side of raw shredded cabbage with a quick vinaigrette (3 parts oil to one part acid, salt, pepper, and enough mustard to make it emulsify, shaken hard in a bottle). We both vastly preferred having home cooking to a restaurant, tired as we were. It amazed both of us how much our tastes have changed since we really started making a concerted effort to eat in a few months ago.

On the long drive out we had beef jerky, almonds, lots of water and iced tea, and the occasional diet soda (I'm working on it :( ). I can't wait to get my kitchen set up and really start exploring the farmers markets here.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


:) So now you know where my loyalties lie. We are in transit from Beantown to the City on the Bay, so posting will be light until Wednesday when we are settled. Currently we're in AZ, hanging with my parents, preparing to cheer on the home team. On the menu-RIBS! Hope you're all having a lovely weekend.