Monday, October 3, 2011

Product Pick: PureWraps

PureWraps by CaptainShen
PureWraps, a photo by CaptainShen on Flickr.
I gave PureWraps a test-run after seeing their ingredient list: Coconut Meat, Coconut Water, Himalayan Salt. I got in touch with the people from the company and had a long (VERY long) conversation through email with them. They're great people and I got a very good impression. I decided that, while expensive, these were worth a try. I ordered them at $5.99 for four wraps.

When I received them, I knew that I'd have to do something very special with each one. Something that I just missed wrapping up, with clean dry fingers and well-bundled ingredients.

The people at Improveat assured me that these weren't easily tearable and they were indeed something you could pick up and eat. They were right-- they were pliable enough and didn't crack like lettuce does. It was nice to have something dry in my hands. I don't know that they would hold up in a lunch-box (though I'd be willing to give it a try, as that was what I originally wanted them for!). The taste was great-- pleasant and mild, but not invisible. It had a good tooth-feel.

The four tests (in no particular order):

1. Blueberry, Almond, and Coconut Butter Flute: One of my favorite snacks pre-primal was almond butter or peanut butter on a lavash with blueberries. Here, with almond butter and coconut butter, the delightful burstiness returned with proper squish-and-pop feel. Wonderful.

2. Turkey Wrap: Actually, the last thing I did. I don't often have deli-meat around, so it took me a long time to finally get around to making this one. I wanted to make a "real wrap," so I did the normal sandwich fillings. This turned out very well, too-- though, being a few months after making the other three, the wrap was still pliable yet a bit crackly. I solved this the sushi-making way: liquid. I spritzed on balsamic vinegar to soften it up and encourage it to stick to itself.

3. Chicken Wrap: This was filled with guava fajita-meat and served as my taco-test-run. Er, burrito. Taquito? Some other American bastardization of the Mexican cuisine? Hang on, lets get this right: This would be a test-run of a Tex-Mex Burrito.

4. Spring Roll : The first thing I thought of was the dear-to-my-heart gỏi cuốn, or Summer Rolls, that I grew up with. Paired with seaweed noodles, this would work.

All in all, I feel that they're something fun to change things up. They're convenient, and delicious, but for me they'll have to be a special-occasion kind of treat. The reason is two-fold: 1) The price is so limiting that at more than $1 PER sheet, they're too high for even a proper taco-night. 2) They're a higher carbohydrate option than I'm used to (8 grams per sheet) but their ingredients check-out just fine, so as a fun little indulgence, fine. I didn't try the curry flavored one (though I gladly would) and while I understand why the cost is high, I think it would make the product more successful if it were more accessible.

All in all, I rate these very high. On a scale of 1-10:

Ingredients: 10
Ease of use: 8
Nutrition: 7
Convenience: 9
Price: 2
Over-All: 8 (Mathematically, 7.2, but I really to love them and the price was the only thing bringing them down!)
So, get some and have some fun with it. I purchased mine at NaturalZing, a blast off a website on its own.  Let me know what you think.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tacos: Simplicity

Tacos by CaptainShen
Tacos, a photo by CaptainShen on Flickr.
I maybe, sometimes, often over complicate things. For one of the Mark's Daily Apple contests that I really have my eye on, readers were asked to choose a recipe posted in a previous thread and take a photo of it. I just got back from a long trip out of state, so I had just above nothing in the kitchen. I had put some frozen beef in the fridge to thaw overnight (lucky move) and had a tiny head of cabbage in the fridge, as well as an avocado from the trip. Basically, I chose a recipe that looked extremely simple and required few ingredients. The one I found: Primal Tacos from Hollykelsey.

I used what I had and I whipped the rest up after a short bike ride to the Farmers Market and produce store. I made a few tweaks here and there, but didn't have high hopes for the recipe (no offense, Hollykelsey, read on!). I'm a Texan and I have made some seriously involved taco meat. I have put a lot of effort into past primal tacos, and with great results.

I am also, as it turns out, a naive and arrogant little chef.

These were AMAZING. This was GREAT. One of the best recipes I've ever made from a blog! It was so simple-- yet somehow, with the first bite-- I was left astounded, with a familiar burst of flavor dancing on my tongue. These, my friends, are TACOS!

Thanks MDA and Hollykelsey! You humble me (and fill me up).

Happy eating!

Note: The coconut sour cream is something I pride myself in and whipped up my own way. Coconut milk powder, creamed coconut, lemon juice, salt, and a sprinkling of garlic powder sat out on the counter during my ride to get ingredients and chilled in the fridge while I cooked.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Mom: An Inspiration

IMG_1062 by CaptainShen
I'd like to honor my Mom today. She's from Hawaii and is one of the youngest souls I know. When she was in high school in Kaneohe, she was already a tall 5'9" and weighed 112. When she was around 25 she began to put on weight. She had moved to the mainland and says that every year she'd put on a few pounds at Thanksgiving, never losing them, and when I was born she'd reached 188. That is when she joined Weight Watchers.

Ever since I was a kid, she'd been afflicted with terrible migraines, had to nap every single day, and was constantly striving for her 'goal weight' of 169 at Weight Watchers. She was depressed a lot of the time. She kind of went up and down with her weight and her health, never attaining what she wanted and always coming up short of that magic number. At her heaviest (on, still, a 5'9" frame) was 202. She hasn't ever told anyone that-- she said it for the first time when I asked her to share for this story. She says she always got within 7 pounds of her goal weight.

She thought I went absolutely crazy when I first went primal, and got a little bit used to it ater a while. On a road trip together, I made our road snacks-- conventional for her and primal for me. By the time the trip was over, she wanted my snacks more! I asked her to go for the 30 day challenge in 2010, and to my surprise, she jumped on board. She was 186 lbs, but never started the challenge to lose weight-- just to gain health.

She began doing more and more things, stopped needing naps, began ripping out the old bathroom wall to remodel (!?!), changed the oil in the cars with my dad, and generally just shed years of age. She settled into the primal lifestyle well and was magnificently creative with her foods. We shared (and still do) everything-- recipes, meals, snacks, and articles. When she visited, I'd read Mark Sisson's book with her or watch a movie like Fathead. Suddenly, one day in January, I recieved a call from her. There was utter shock in her voice. She told me, completely taken aback, that she was 2 lbs under her nearly-forgotten goal-weight of old times. She seemed relieved, and amazed, but at the same time-- that number that she'd been reaching to attain ironically mattered so little now. I remember the exact moment I realized that this had definitely changed her: She bent over and picked up something she had dropped without even thinking about it. It had been so long since I'd seen her quickly and nimbly squat down or bend over that it stopped me in my steps.

I interviewed Mom because I think that she absolutely has a wonderful story to share (and deserves 100% to win this contest. As much as I'd love those supplements myself, this one is for Mom). Mom is a beautiful, vibrant, healthy 62 years old with who's smile can light up an entire island and who's heart still knows how to play. So, Without further ado, I introduce to you: Sandy Poster.

What has been liberating about eating this way?
"You know-- butter, cheese, eggs, bacon... these were all things I grew up with. Then I came to a time in my life where they were saying "Limit your eggs to weekends, eat turkey bacon... that is whats liberating to me. What I can't get my friends to understand is you don't NEED Sweet N' Low, you don't NEED splenda. I keep telling them, its things that are made in a laboratory that you need to stay away from. I asked her, 'Why not just try without the sugar?' and she said 'Oh I could NEVER do that.' Why not?'
What does primal mean to you?Primal is ... natural. Things from the earth and its non-chemical and its a way that, to me, a way that you can eat and your body knows how to work with you.
Primal means... Healthier eating and more energy. I don't know how to put it into words. Its like a new journey that is FUN.. its fun discovering new recipes and its fun eating its just really awesome knowing that everything I eat is doing something good for me and that if I do slip every now and then-- like if I just think i have to have a peice of a brownie or something-- i take a bite of it and I realize this isn't as good as I thought it was gonna be. There is a couple of times that I've eaten something like cheesecake.

What do you think is the greatest benefit you've seen, being primal? For the first time in my life I am NOT counting calories, I'm NOT counting portions. I eat when I want to eat what I want to eat. I eat when I'm hungry and I'm fine! My snack is a handful of nuts with some dark chocolate. If I miss a meal or if I don't eat it exactly on time, I don't have that horrible horrible zoned out feeling. I don't zone out like I used to. Feeling more comfortable with my body. Less pain, less muscle pain... a little renewed energy.

Whats your number one primal food? *laugh* Would I be a dork if I said bacon?

Anything you'd like to add? In the begining I just thought I was taking a challenge, and the way I feel now... its a lifestyle. Its a change in lifestyle. I feel better than I've felt in a long time. I do realize I need to excersize more-- If I do start excersizing, I think I'll feel even better!

Its a weird journey because I was such a sugarholic. It was sugar sugar everything -- donuts, cookies, cakes, pies. I will admit that I miss, every now and then, just being able to have something like that. Most the time I'm in complete control-- most of the time it doesn't bother my to have [my youngest daughter] or [my husband] eating cookies in front of me. Its funny-- every now and then I would love to just have a donut. But then I know how bad it would make me feel! Too much bakatadi*.
I don't feel bad about not being able to have the wedding cake now, but I get excited about what I CAN have. Like a little square of dark chocolate-- I will take that little square of dark chocolate and nibble on it. The things that I love together I never would have imagined, like a bite of apple and a bite of cheese. I savor every minute of it! I always have had a passion for food, that was part of my problem-- and I think that even more than the grain, is the bad vegetable oils. Cutting the nasty oils it what strikes me as the most beneficial.
I like knowing that people-- almost everywhere you go-- people say "Oh, I couldn't do that." "I could never give that up." And I love knowing that I CAN do it. It makes me feel like I can do anything.

Mom Sittin

Mom Bikin'  IMG_7390
IMG_1060  IMG_1069

- "186 lbs to 163 lbs (without trying)"
- "I stopped requiring naps"
- "Flexibility, Oh my god! I can bend, stoop, pick stuff up, lift things! The other day this girl that works in the back [at work] was trying to get a layaway box down and I grabbed this whole box of layaway, lifted it with one hand, and just stuck it on the shelf. "
- "I'm not depressed-- I never even thought about it just now! I was driving down Green Oaks Blvd. the other day and it was one of those kind of open-up-the-car-window-days, and the air felt good, and I thought 'I havent felt this way in a long time.' I lost the passion for life. I used to be depressed all the time, but it wasn't like 'oh poor me, I'm so depressed,' it was like a lack of excitement for things. I didn't have any drive. I'd wanna do something in my mind but I was too tired to do it. Like just for example, gosh, like [remodelling] the bathroom. When I went to Grandma's I couldn't sit still, I was moving the whole time. I was doing their laundry, my laundry, their dishes, fixin' stuff, and you know them, they were like 'come sit down, you're gonna weigh yourself down!'"

Mom: Primal Success Story

A FEW KEY QUOTES "They're not Phytates... they're FARTates!"
"Ever since going primal I just have this deep... uncontrollable urge... to drink bacon grease."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Using the "Whole Animal," or, Mottainai

Here is a nice story, largely unrelated to the topic at hand. Once upon a time I was chatting with a couple of guests at work. I mused about how giving the coconut palm was, providing vitamins and minerals in the liquid from within the fruit, nutritious and fatty nuts, creamy milk, healthful oil for eating, cleaning and conditioning skin, sennet ('aha') for ropes-- well, I digress, but needless to say I have a great respect for the tree. They told me about the coconut palm in their culture, being from Mangolore, and the Kalpa Vriksha. The Kalpa Vriksha is, as many western cultures might call it, a Tree of Life. They said that they called the coconut palm that because it was all-giving and all-providing.

That got me thinking, later, about the way in which plants and animals provide for the people to live. In a way, I believe that much of what we consume from can be considered all-giving, if we are only all-accepting.

In Japan, the concept of Mottainai is the idea of simply not being wasteful. I learned 'Mottainai' a long, long time ago-- I'm not sure from who or why or how, but I remember the following, about the Mottainai Obake.

 And f you are awesome (or 8), you could also watch this video. Anyhow, I remember vaguely the concept being described to me as "what old men say when you throw away a sandwich." I did a heap of studying about the concept, and old Japanese traditions (such as furoshiki, an all-purpose Japanese bandana) and even did my final project for my Japanese Minor on it.

Eventually I come to this: I believe in using as much of everything as possible. One thing feeds the next thing and everything is a cycle. This cycle is so vital to life and living and being and growing-- an entirely captivating and rhythmic system that seems to be have been choreographed by necessity and currently carried out only as novelty. The entire process of cutting and peeling vegetables, discarding large parts of them, and (oh no!) throwing out the 'less enjoyed' parts of animals just makes me so sad inside. Learn about the different nutrients in the leaves, roots, stems, seeds, and fruits. Learn about how giving the bones and organs of an animal can be.

I try my hardest to wring two or three uses out of things. Yesterdays dressing is today's marinade, last night's leftovers are this morning's omelette, and the drippings from that meat will cook the next batch of veggies. Yogurt drains out whey and you can make fermented vegetables, chock-full of probiotics, from that (as the yogurt enables you to make the next batch of yogurt!). Since I was little, I saved papaya seeds as pepper (not knowing about how rich in enzymes they were!) and planted all (to my parents dismay?) my fruit seeds.

Stock is a good place to start: Vegetable peelings and stubs can get thrown into the freezer and collect in a bag. The stems of your herbs and the heads and shells of your shrimps are almost as valuable as the initial foods were. Buy a whole chicken and roast it, then pick it clean and save the carcass. Make a stock from it. Slow-cook your ribs or roasts and save those bones. Make a stock from them. When its time to boil (er, almost boil) those meaty discards, add your frozen carrot peelings and parsley stems. Add your celery and onion butts! I could make an entire blog about stock making alone, so I'll leave you with those tips and urge you to explore the world of stockmaking from one of the many masters.

You can throw the tops of carrots into salads or anywhere you'd use parsley. Radish tops make a mean pesto and the white tails of green onions can grow you more green onions simply by trimming the roots and placing them in fresh water in a sunny spot. In looking through old cookbooks in my dear grandmother's house, I found a very simple recipe that is perfectly in keeping with this subject. I invite you to try it and I'll try it too. It is so simple, in fact, that I don't even believe it has a name (or that people actually need a recipe for it), but sometimes it is nice to see something in old print and pass it on. It makes it a little bit more real, and a little bit more like it is part of that cycle.
BEET GREENS FIESOLE from Fresh-from-the-Garden Cookbookby Miriam B. Loo
1 lb beet greens, washed and trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TB olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook beet greens in salted boiling water until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well, pressing greens to sides of colander or sieve to remove all moisture. In a medium-size skillet, sauté garlic in olive oil until just brown, about 1 minute. Add beet greens; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat greens through. Serve immediately.
Serves 4. 
Thanks for stickin' around. Let me know if you try it!

Happy eating.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Zahlouk and Meatballs

Zahlouk and Meatballs by CaptainShen
Moroccan food is one of my top favorite cuisines in the whole world. It is almost level with Tunisian food for me-- they are both exotic and mysterious, yet warm, bright, and familiar enough to be comfort food. It is well varied, though almost every single recipe uses Olive Oil, Cumin, Paprika, Cilantro, and Parsley. It is beautiful, bright, and clean. I love it desperately and rarely get to eat it unless I make it myself.

Zahlouk (to me this is pronounced just like 'Salad,' except with different letters. What?! Um...) is a Moroccan stewed eggplant and tomato dish that really develops its flavor on the stove after almost exactly the 30 minute mark. I'm not sure how 'authentic' my recipe is, but I do something that I've never seen done with it before: I add meat. Sometimes I add it ground up like a middle-eastern ragout, but this time I added it in meatball form. So, I have Cinnamon Lemon Meatballs and Zahlouk.
3 Chinese eggplants*, peeled in stripes, then cubed
1 large grated onion
2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 or 3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/2 TB paprika
1/2 TB cumin
Sea Salt
Course Black Pepper
1/2 TB white vinegar
Olive Oil 
Grass-fed ground beef, 1/2 lb
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
Sea Salt
Salt the eggplant and boil it for like half an hour. Drain it and press the water out of the pieces with a spoon, in a colander, until they're mostly wrung out. 
Roll the beef into loose meatballs and get a skillet really hot, with a bit of olive oil. Put the meatballs in and sprinkle them with salt, some cinnamon, and some lemon juice. After turning them a few times so that they're nicely browned (and have made a bit of grease) add the onions and garlic to get them going. After they've sauteed just a bit, add everything else (except vinegar and some lemon juice and salt). Let it cook on medium for another half hour, smashing the eggplant and tomatoes with a spoon but not smashing the meatballs. After that half hour, add the vinegar, the rest of the lemon, and some salt. One thing that I did differently was use one big fat vine tomato and a whole bunch of little grape tomatoes. Those popped and cooked beautifully!

Oh lets see, did I forget anything? I'm not sure. I served this with my standard spinach-- that is, spinach with wakame stirred in it after it cooked.

*Or, one giant American eggplant.
**Also, I'm showing off my new bowl. <3

Monday, August 8, 2011

To like? Or not to like?

I have wondered for a very long time how it is that some people simply like or dislike certain foods. Flavor is an odd thing-- I can pick out a very favorite, distinctly flavored cheese or stir roasted bell peppers and garlic into anything and I just can't get enough of the flavor. Someone else could try it-- just this weekend I let someone try a favourite blue cheese, D'Auvergne, and they were straight-up repulsed by it. My salty, creamy, earthy block of buttery goodness?? How can this be?!

My friend Matt shared a very interesting link recently: The food a pregnant mother eats actually flavors her ambiotic fluid ("yum" is not the first thing that comes to mind), therefore making a lasting impression on her baby's preferences. Its a very cool article, so check it out.

It makes sense. Just as it is clear that smoking, drinking, and doing drugs effects babies, it is quite apparent that the food that Mom eats will too. I tell you what, though-- this will make it all the more hard to watch people-that-happen-to-be-pregnant noshing on horrific things.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Buffalo Cauliflower

I hope I didn't misslead you with the name, as I love bison and bison meat too, yet there is none involved. No no, this recipe is more dedicated to my best friend V (or even her husband).

I really dig cauliflower. I think that it is a stellar vegetable in all that it brings us (and allows us to do to it). I don't know what gave me such a grand idea (maybe the fact that butter based sauces on steamed cauliflower naturally lead to good things) but I decided to make a 'Buffalo Cauliflower' (which I swear I just unintentionally spelled Butterfulo) and I think it came out rather dandy.

1 Head Cauliflower
1/8 Cup Butter
3 Cloves Minced Garlic (or more)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
1/8 Cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/8 Cup Softened Cream Cheese
Smoked Sea Salt, Coarse
Black Pepper, Coarse
1/2 Cup Chopped Celery*
1 Stalk Green Onion, Sliced*
Steam and chop cauliflower. 
Melt butter over low heat. Sautee garlic and mustard seeds until garlic softens. Turn up to medium high heat. Add Cauliflower. Mix together tomato sauce, hot sauce, and cream cheese. Pour over the top. Top with smoked sea salt and pepper (don't skip coarse ground pepper!) and stir in until very well coated. It should all be creamy and orange.  

Add in celery and green onions and serve, topping with more ground pepper. *(not pictured)

I ate this with an SB Longhorn Beef Patty-- a phenomenal beefy flavored beef patty simply topped with pepper, mustard, and ketchup. 

Happy eating! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Be Primal

It has been called many things. It is somewhat Paleo, sometimes called 'the caveman diet,' sometimes referred to with the idea of ancestral health, or simply the way we were built to eat. Either way, I believe it, and many many amazing people have paved the way for those of us who live the lifestyle. Everyone has their own summary, and I present to you mine, in very few words.

To be Primal is: 
  • To have meats and vegetables in as pure a form as possible: Wild Caught, Organic, Pastured or Grass-Fed, whenever you can. It is to appreciate every fish or every egg, how it is gathered and how it is treated. 
  • To eat vegetables, lots and lots. Salads and stir-frys, roasted grilled and steamed, baked or pan-fried, and in abundance. 
  • To enjoy good fats: Real animal fats, like butter, lard, tallow, and bacon grease, and to utilize coconut oil for cooking as well as appreciating extra virgin olive oil and all of its magic. 
  • To avoid bad fats, like soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, grapseed oil, sunflowerseed oil, and any other industrial seed oil. 
  • To avoid the things that must be processed: Grains (corn too) and legumes (soy too). 
  • And to avoid sugar, definately. Thats juice and date-paste and agave and everything else. 
  • To avoid artificial, laboratory made things, like artificial sweeteners and crazy meat-products. 
  • To indulge in artisan cheeses and occasional dairy, bacon and prosciutto, pancetta, heavy cream, delicious berries and fruits, some nuts and seeds, high-mineral salts and a gallery of fragrant and worldly spices, very good dark chocolate and perhaps some red-wine. 
  • To thrive, essentially, off of coconut anything! 

(Pyramid by Dana M)
Enjoy. Happy eating!

Links: - a collection of the best primal and paleo RECIPES
Mark Sisson's Primal 101
More Basics
Girl Gone Primal's in depth post

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quick Griddle Breakfast

Crappy Phone Picture of Delicious Thing
Why am I posting consistently about cravings now? Shall I make this a theme?* What a lame theme. Anyhow, I went to bed wanting to make something quick and soft with coconut flour, so I got up and made some little pancakes. My mom likes this kind of stuff, so this is for you, mom. Primal pancakes are usually overly eggy or overly crumbly, but I had a grand idea.

I'm honestly not that impressed with So Delicious coconut products. They fill a niche, I'll give them that, but it seems to be kind of a desperate least-bad-thing-when-you-need-something-milky. I like the coconut kefir when I want something yogurty and don't feel like dairy (or making my own yogurt or kefir), but it just has way too many ingredients in it. They can't even make yogurt without heaps of additives, so I just don't buy it. Anyhow, I do continue to purchase the kefir and had some in my fridge, so I put that in the batter. My recipe was roughly as follows:
1 Egg
1 TB coconut flour
1 tsp almond flour
1/8 cup coconut kefir
a dash of: Salt, cinnamon, almond flavoring, vanilla flavoring
Thats it. They came out super soft! Then I mixed some coconut kefir with coconut butter and frozen blueberries and warmed it up, pouring it over the top. I had originally intended on putting some nuts and blueberries IN the pancakes, but forgot. It'd be good. Have at it.

Happy eating!

*OK, I added a 'skewampus' tag for "breads" and makeshift, ridiculous "replacement" foods.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back to the U.S. Bento: Primal Kid Lunch

Israel was phenomenal. What more can I say? How can I sum up 10 life changing days in a digestible bite prefacing a post about lunch? I don't plan on using up the details; I will soon be writing a short book about it. Journal, sort of. I'll talk about food there once I'm done wrangling the gigs and gigs of photos which I returned with. But for now, an odd tale.

Upon returning to work, I felt a little bit snacky all through the day and was hit with, right before I went home, a very strange craving. Bologna. Nevermind that my high-school nickname was Brak; this is a very odd craving for me. Luckily, I work in a place that has Applegate Bologna readily available, which, for better or for worse, is something that I would deem as 'safe.' Perhaps not optimal nutrition delivery vessels, but safe.

So, I returned home with a few slices and am having them with lunch today. This lunch would be a perfect kid lunch, with all of its little pickupable bits and classic lunchy tastes. It'd be complete with a tin robot lunch box. Inside the meaty little slices I put some lemony homemade mayo* and dijon mustard, roasted red peppers and sliced onion, a bit of butter lettuce and some fat avocado.

More finger-foods as sides were baby carrots and cherry tomatoes with one single orphaned cucumber coin. Olives and sugar-snaps would be good too-- but I'm giddy as a child with this lunch in my future!

*made with olive oil from Texas Olive Ranch-- more to come on them :).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Baseline Fridge and a Meal Plan...

As I mentioned, I'm trying to empty the fridge in prep for my leaving, and have little things to use up. Avocado, cream cheese, mayonnaise (I've evolved the recipe since that post), Gruyere, blue cheese, and bell peppers, cabbage, eggplants... Ok, so to make sure I'm not hungry and don't have leftovers, I've got a to plan out how to use it all up at just the right time. Additionally, having two slices of Non-Bread left, I decided that I could make one mean pimento cheese. Today's lunch will be a real pimento cheese sandwich (though, with the hardboiled eggs I added, its more of a cheesy-kine egg-salad...) and dinner will be cabbage stir-fry with Salmon. Cabbage stir-fry used up odds and ends (like onions, celery, cocktail sausages chopped, more bell pepper) and I made lomi-lomi Salmon with the other part of this piece of salmon-- therefore using up more onion, avocado, tomato, and romaine. I'll grill some eggplant (I had planned on making eggplants lasagna, but seriously, heating up the kitchen? Nah) and a few salads later I should be set. Except for this brick of cream cheese.

So, this all got me pondering... when coming home to an empty fridge, what would I hope to find? What will I jump to get at the grocery store? I imagine the following would do quite nicely:
1 pound ground grass-fed beef
Some Fish
A skosh of bacon
1 dozen eggs
1 salad-spinner full of spinach
Raw Salad Veggies
Cruciferous Veggies (My favorite vegetables are of this family. To be cooked!)
A small amount of good cheese
Berries (Blue??)
Maranatha Sunflower-Seed Butter (...addiction???)
Homemade Mayo
Twinlabs Cod Liver Oil

Non-fridge things that need replenishing include:
Red Wine Vinegar and White Wine Vinegar
Unsweetened chocolate <3
Coconut Butter/Manna

I have my butter frozen and I'll be putting my kombucha, nuts, and oils in the fridge while I'm gone (to be removed when I return).

So, its empty for now.

All that is left are pickled things, film, condiments, and a few bites for the next couple days.

My salad spinner is empty. Sweating Eggplants and the little bundles on the bottom are for today. There are two eggs and a half of a giant heirloom tomato. Pickles, pickles, and pickles.

What would you put in your fridge, starting fresh?

(Refraining From) Primal Outreach

When you find something you believe in, strongly, you tend to want to share it. It is very hard not to do, but usually silence and self-control is of great importance in avoiding coming across as 'preachy' or 'extremist.' I stay quiet most all of the time, but it is hard-- very hard-- to watch people that you desperately love partaking in things that you know to be harmful. I would be so happy to see how (or 'if,' if you'd like to play that way) my closest friends and family thrived in eating real, unprocessed foods and taking time to rest and play. There are some people who I know would be on board (my beloved Denton family) if they tried it, and would have a blast. In fact, being veggie-growin' Vibram wearin' earth lovers, they are only a short hop away. I'd love to find that my amazing father's youthfulness was able to express itself if he reacted well to avoiding starches and sugars! He's the smartest man with the youngest soul that I know, and I believe he'd love to play much harder. I'd love for my best friend, in all her light-heartedness and beauty, would read about Kelly Korg in the book I leant her. I want to say: I have nothing to gain from this, I get no throwbacks or secret commission. I just believe that it is right, and I want you to thrive! I'd love for my strong, gorgeous younger sister to discover the efficiency of primal eating, as she works out and plays harder and better than anyone I know. If only, if only, if only.

Airplane Food

Airplanes are tricky beasts. First of all, something that large and made of metal just shouldn't be able to fly. Its beautiful, but I suspect it is more magic than science. Ahem.

Secondly, airplane food sucks really bad. To be fair enough to the airline I'm using, I've never flown Swiss Air, and I'll withhold judgement until I have--- they were even accommodating on the phone. But usually, especially with domestic flights, "meals" are bags of crackers with bags of pretzels with boxes of cookies.

So, the quest for travel food begins. Not just things you can bring with you camping, but things you can bring with you in close quarters, and things with severe restrictions on size and type. So, my rules for Airplane Foods will be:
1. Shelf Stable.
2. Non-liquid and Portable.
3. Non-Offensive.
1: These things should be shelf stable at least to a degree. It should last up to a day or two, safely, without refrigeration. I don't want to have an ice pack or worry if I crash in a hotel room and leave something in my bag. 2: Of course, dainty and crushable things (like kale-chips) would just turn to dust and saucy, soupy, and salady things would just be a pain. Also, there are 2oz liquid restrictions on the plane, which cuts out some people's beloved smoothies (which I'm not big on anyhow). And last but not least, number 3: Non-offensive. By this I mean odor, sound, and sight-- what you wouldn't want to eat while touching elbows with someone on a plane. If you live in an arrogant, self-serving vein of people, you'll scoff at this. However, I believe that something that sets us primals away from other people is the general (this is both assumptive and observant of me) observation in my eyes that we are a more considerate, self-content bunch than many other people from many other lifestyles. Especially other ''special-diets.'' I'll break no specific bones about it, but for sake of argument lets agree that we're simply less ''in-your face'' about how we eat. Anyhow, rule 3 cuts out things like anchovies, whole dried sardines, carrots, ice, etc. They're too loud or visually bibzzare or smelly. These change once you leave the plane (thankfully)

So the way that I'll do this is to list the foods, and then list the rules that they possibly skirt-- ie: I'll include carrots, but list '3' because they're loud. You can cast them aside as you desire!

Notes or Drawbacks
On the cusp of:
Hard Cheese

Nuts & Seeds Caloric, High Omega-6

Hard Salami (and Summer Sausage) 1
Hard-boiled egg

1 (3?)
Dried Meat

Dried Fish

Dried Fruit or Veg

Coconut Flakes

Radish Chips (and other Root Chips)

Kale Chips


Primal Crackers Caloric, High Omega-6

Nut Butters Portable packets.

Olives Esp dry, like beldi!

Veggies and Fruits

Tinned fish


*3 Not that kale chips are offensive, but they're really freaking ''health-foody.'' I have no bones about that, but I imagine Pvt. McNormal running home and telling everyone about that hippie he sat next to on the plane eating Kale-Chips dipped in Coconut-butter... Hahaha!

This all being said, I'm simply pondering travel. I'm thinking with a primal-muffin from mom and some nut-crackers, my trail mix, couple radish chips and some Unikaas Reserve, I'll be more than prepared. It may be less-than ideal food for every-day consumption-- but you're about to travel and your airplane food certainly should not be your biggest concern!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Using Up: The makings of an all-American BBQ dinner.

BBQ Dinner
I'm preparing to leave the country. I'm Israel bound! I'll be gone for a while-- just about 15 days. Its a little bit interesting, to think of being away for that long-- simply leaving your things behind can be uncomfortable, or at least mildly thought-provoking. I'm eating perishables out of the fridge. I'm getting someone to water all of my plants and beloved succulents, but I plan on turning off the A/C the entire time. In Texas heat, things begin to happen. Frightening things.

Any-how, I'd like to run out of fridge food at the exact time that I leave, having no leftovers and no shortage at all. I'm doing pretty well, but this takes a large slice of creativity and a fair amount of meal-planning.

Here is what I had, among other things, to work with:
1 Egg Per day, exactly
Leftover canned tomato sauce
Lots of onions, red bell peppers, and a big round zuccinni from market
Heaps of cut Jicama from Jeff
1 black radish
A whole lot of celery
A wee bit of homemade mayonnaise
"Black and White" Vinegar (Blackberry and White Vinegar) from Texas Olive Ranch
Homemade beef bone stock, a few ounces
Maille Mustard (I want to use it up, it has sugar.)
1/2 smoked sweet potato
A few TB leftover devilled-egg filling from a BBQ

So, the culinary shadow-puppets formed a obvious, beautiful possibility: A true BBQ dinner. I made BBQ sauce, and it was STELLAR. Best primal BBQ sauce ever!

I made a single devilled egg, and STILL had too much yolk-stuff, so I decided to use that in a 'root salad,' in which I steamed a bunch of zucchini and radish with garlic cloves, then combined them with mustard, dill, spices, onions (lots), and the smoked sweet potato and chopped jicama and celery! AAAAh, simply put, chilling this bowl in the fridge was a true test of will-power. I didn't add any mayonnaise*, but used up the last of a bottle of white wine vinegar and olive oil to give it moisture. Silky, moist, fork-tender brisket from dad's smoker, topped with tangy and glossy-smooth bbq sauce? Yes. Flanked by a cold root salad? Of course. All cozied up beside two perfect little devilled eggs? Oh, man, my Texas is showing. And all that was left to have was a big stein of iced tea. Happy summer, ya'll.

*The rest of my homemade mayo will star in part of this week's planned meal number #3.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BBQ Sauce

Sometimes, you just want to rock some good bbq sauce. This is best served hot and spooned over brisket, but its good for cold brisket, too.

Tomato Sauce (smooth) 6 oz
Beef Stock 6 oz
Blackberry Vinegar 2 TB
Garlic Powder ½ TB
Cocoa Powder 1 TB
Pimenton 1 tsp
Chipotle Powder ½ tsp
Clove Powder ½ tsp
Sea Salt to taste

I use a really smooth, liquidy tomato sauce, like Muir Glen.

This sauce is tangy, and reduced, the sweetness comes out--- to the point where it can get too sweet. The blackberry vinegar that I use is Texas Olive Ranch's Black and White Vinegar, but I'm sure any balsamic would work. Even red-wine might work here, but I'd also add Apple Cider Vinegar.

Combine liquids in saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk in dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
Let simmer for a long time until thickened..

A Smoker's Harvest

My family does food quite well. We don't all do food in the same way, but we do it very, very well. One point of pride which we hold in high regard would be my father's building and manning of a smoker from an old propane tank. We didn't light the smoker at dinner time or evey weekend or for even for the occasional football game. No, no, the greater scope of life would've been intimidated by this. Flooded by such intense glory that it would've thrown off the balance of things. Entire populations of creatures would drop to dangerously low levels. No-- this was once an experience for once a year or sometimes once every two. The smoker, when lit, would have a minimum of three days of support from someone who was home. The smoker would be loaded full of dozens and dozens of cuts of meat and whole poultry, while the smoke-free oven that he'd put on the end would be utilized for all other meals. Meats rubbed with my father's own spice rub would come bubbling and encrusted with black (the best part) from the vast abdomen of this great beast and straight onto the slicing board to melt its tender flesh into our souls (yes, souls!).

That is how the smoker went.

A small sampling of the resulting treasures!
Smoker Credit: Dad                   Photo Credit: Mom
Recent years, however, have left the parents busy and the smoker lie in a period of primordial hibernation in their backyard. Its dormant state was unassuming and humble. However, my father rousted the dragon. I drove down to them a grass-fed brisket, market-made pork bratwurst (I'm not usually a fan, but SMOKED is different), a pork butt, and sweet potatoes. In addition to that, they send back those things, a whole chicken, and a rack of ribs.

Life is good. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grilled Scallops with Shallot Wine Sauce

Sometimes meals exist that are so simple that I feel almost guilty posting 'recipes' for them. OK-- most meals fit this criteria for me. Usually my cooking involves a skillet, a bit of fat, sauteeing onion and garlic, adding protein, and placing on a salad of some kind. If I'm not eating that way, I'm simpling mincing things and assembling them in bowls.*

So, this is one of those, but the flavors and temperatures and textures all spun together so lightly and perfectly that I thought I'd share, so that perhaps those out there who are currently honing their culinary intuition may dance with them as well. Oh! Ok, I've over-romanced my food here. Don't I have the right to do this?!


This is a perfect example of quality ingredients holding up an entire meal. I recently procured some wild-caught scallops during a One-Day-Sale of $9.99/lb. I am a being who loves her some seafood. This sale excited me greatly and I brought home the pillowy little nuggets. I thought of using half of them for one thing and the part for ceviche (insert dreamy sigh here) but I decided for a very simple approach to cooking them all at once.

Simple: In a dish you can put on the grill (skillet/aluminum dish, etc...) marinate** scallops in melted butter, sea-salt, shallot, thyme, and white pepper. I added a sprinkling of citrus peel. There may have been some other things? Let it sit for a few hours.

Skewer this. Set aside the pan containing the marinade/hardened butter and such. Mince up some garlic and grab a few more herbs. You can either grill the scallops or 'roast' them on the grill, which I did by jerry-rigging up a little 'rotisserie' skewer balanced on two rack-supports. Um, just grill them.

IMG_9302 IMG_9306 IMG_9308

While they're grilling, set the marinating pan on the grill and let it begin to bubble and pop. Deglaze with a little red wine and scrape and stir until reduced. Good job! That is your sauce. Serve on scallops atop a mixed green salad.


*May I come clean about something pertaining to bowl-meals? Really? Oh, I will in another post.
**Grammar point: Marinade is a noun. Marinate is a verb. Got it? Comprende? 了解? Capiche? Maopopo?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I'll be soon releasing a list of local resources and plans for some very interesting little short films about local farmers, business owners, or characters. Stay tuned!

Happy Eating!

Monday, June 6, 2011

(Non) Bread

IMG_8448 by CaptainShen
No-Grain Bread!
I'm generally a happy little thing, hopping around with wild-caught fishes, grass-fed meats, a pleathora of cheeses, coconut milk (and oil, and flesh, and vinegar, and shoyu...), and other delectables that we primals nourish ourselves with.

However, every now and then, I want a freaking sandwich. I want a sandwich on something that won't crack thinly under its load. I want a sandwich that won't leave my hands wet. I want a sandwich that I can set down once I've started eating (is this a common phenomenon?).

I was happy to find a recipe at Middlin' Plus that targeted each of the problem areas involved with "primal bread," (saying those words makes me a bit disdainful, still). And delicious it was. It held up spongefully, it comforted springily, and it held my sandwich's contents loyally. Thank you, bread-that-isn't-bread. You were lovely.

Primal Sandwich Toad-In-The-Hole

First, a lovely tuna-salad sandwich. And behold our second photo, the glorious and long abstained from, toad-in-the-hole. I remember my little sister asking me to make that for breakfast. I still cherished the leftover 'biscuit' and topped it with coconut-butter and strawberries. (Those in the background are some self-spiced sausages. Pork? Methinks.)

(I used sharp cheddar added a barely-stirred line of chili powder and some toasted pepitas. It was deliciously similar to jalepeno cornbread. Give it a go!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Cave for Jeff

OK, so I've mentioned before what a blast Jeff and I had grokking about, and after a few more visits, he has finally moved up to the Metroplex from down by Waco. I assisted he and his family during move-in, and we spent the next night and day eating, walking, unpacking, shopping, and arranging. It was incredible to be in someone else's place being cooked for in a VERY primal way! As such, I'm happy to share some of Jeff's handcrafted meals. These came from the Primal Blueprint's Quick and Easy Cookbook, if I recall correctly.

Jeff's Pork Stir Fry Stuffed Portabella Breakfast

The Return of the Bento

Once upon a time in a kitchen far far away, I began a blog to showcase the bento boxes that I thrived on. Much of my life and beliefs have changed, but some things remain the same: I love food and I love bento.

Bento boxes and all their little toys and cups excite me and make lunch that much more special. Though I'm certainly not afraid to dump good ingredients into a bowl and happily devour, there is something entirely special about cracking the lids of an artfully arranged, delicately balanced little lunch. Bento boxes allow for a sort of break in your day that removes you from the sit-and-scarf catches of 30 minute work breaks. They seem to be something of a culinary breath. 

Admitedly, I've not been attentively documenting or sharing my bento boxes with you so much anymore (sorry, if you need emotional support let me know), but I'm leaning to change that. Please, enjoy my bento. 

Kabocha pumpkin with cinnamon, Kale Avocado Salad
Egg salad and Sardine stewed in tomato sauce

As I ate this, I began to realize something. As a normal part of my life, I make a lot of things from scratch. I don't think about it, I don't make an effort to do it. I have simply become a person that does this. The egg salad was made from eggs that I get directly from the chicken farmer locally, made with my homemade mayonnaise, and included chives that I grew and pickles that I had fermented and chopped into relish myself. Crazy? It seems to be regarded as a little bit crazy. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ode 002: The Radish

In order to allow move on to important upcoming posts, I have a similarly important one to finish up on. This is my second Ode!

The radish: Crispy, refreshing, and bright when raw, cooling and juicy in salad, is a doppelganger of vegetables. It has the ability to suggest qualities of potatoes, water chestnuts, nuts, jicama, and potatoes-- but only suggest, and not emulate. The radish feels no need to hide his true identity, unlike many superheroes.

Red radishes, black and icicle radishes, Daikon and Mu-- they are so unexplored in Western culture, and I vote we change that, stat.

The classic little red radishes, (the "Oh-I've only-had-radishes-raw-in-salads" Radishes), begin our venture into the unnappreciated world of these coolly hot little roots. If you get a good radish-- really fresh radishes, from a good enough place-- they are NOT all that spicey. They still have a whisper of a bite that makes them interesting, but nothing eye watering. Try slicing them into coins and eating guacamole with them. Awesome. They can also be sprinkled around a roasting chicken or added to the roasting pan of veggies. The larger ones, quartered, and the smaller ones, halved or left whole, roast dry beautifully with seasalt and cayenne. They transform into something magical and silky when cooked in a wet environment and topped with butter and herbs.

The larger radishes, like black, watermelon, and icicle, have a very important place in my heart, and my kitchen. When you get out the mandolin (the one your mother gave you, with the melted edge), and slice these guys thinly, you are borderlining ceremony, for something spectacular is on the horizon. Toss these with olive and coconut oils, chili powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Now, bake them at 400 degrees on a pizza stone or something, 10-15 minutes on each side, until they crisp up. If you let them burn, they are bitter-- if you undercook them, they are soft-- but if you cook them JUST right and let them cool, they rival any kettlechip. They're done when they've gone black (but not carbon) all the way through.

Last but not least, we come to two gargantuan varieties: Daikon and Mu. Daikon is used grated in Japanese cuisine to add a cool aspect to salty grilled fishes for a refreshing palette cleanse. Without Mu (a monster, melon looking radish) we wouldn't have kimchee or kaktugi-- travesties, both! Daikon also works into chips as mentioned above, but tends to yield slightly softer results. Kiriboshi Daikon is a shredded, dried daikon, awesome to use in dishes to add texture and a mellow nutty sweetness. For radish kimchee, cube Mu (or daikon) and lots of green onions. Puree lots and lots of garlic and ginger with fish sauce, salt, and korean red pepper flakes. Put both vegetables and puree in a jar and shake like mad until evenly coated, then leave on the counter for about 5 days before chilling for another 5. Kaktugi! Like magic!

And with that, our second Ode. Tell me, have you yet to embrace these humble little beings? Tell me a radish's tale.

More to come, don't you worry.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Snack

IMG_8365 by CaptainShen
IMG_8365, a photo by CaptainShen on Flickr.
Mom + Park + Snack = Awesome day.

Check out our spread!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Forage: Episode Two, and: A Little Instructional, Plus: too many punctuation errors in this title.

IMG_7714 by CaptainShen
So, on a morning sprint not too long ago, as the little town of Denton stretched its bright and strange eyelids, I found some mulberries. They were scant and the tree a tad sickly, but they did a good job of reminding me of one of my favorite pickin' trees elsewhere in Denton. I returned home with a LOT of them, only having picked a little of what the tree had to offer (of course I left the red berries to ripen for later pickings!). 250 grams, to be exact-- uh, minus the handfuls I threw back during picking.

I hoped on my bike after prepping my Foragin' Bag. It is imperative to truncate the 'g' on 'Foraging' when prepping your Foragin' Bag. It just helps you, you know, get in the mood or whatever. The following is just little stuff for a casual picking-- nothing too hardcore.

Bandana/Cloth* (to tie into bags to carry/clean up, whatever)
Ziploc Baggies
Hard Container (for dainty items)
Small Scissors
Small Flashlight
Of course, its good to have a guide-book and familiarize yourself with your area (really, if you start eating strange mushrooms and throwing back unknown berries, it is NOT my fault). On a simple casual outing you can expect to come back with the ubiquitous green onions and chives (a bit grassy by this time of year), dandelion greens (best picked before the yellow flower appears). Certainly with a little more romping you can find delightful little mulberries, wild blackberries, and pears. I've even seen wild asparagus and what I THINK was wild carrot (it was too young to tell).

Be careful, guys, and happy eating.

*I believe that bandanas are absolutely necessary for anything you do, ever.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Home Cured Bacon

Home Cured Bacon by CaptainShen
I accidentally deleted my post on home-curing bacon without a smoker. Sad day! Any questions?

edit: Alright, since DeusInvictus so quickly (and desperately!) replied, I'll give a synopsis of The Baconing. And first, to answer the question of description: Meaty, spiced, peppery, smoky, and mildly sweet. It will indeed make you sway. It didn't uniformly crisp up like I like, but that can be easily solved by getting it cut more thinly.* Unfortunately, since I cannot recover that post, it won't be exact-- but I can remember the gist of it. 

Essentially, home 'curing**' bacon is simply marinating pork-belly in salt and spices until it is 'cured,' in the same way that one (if one were smart and wonderful) would make salted salmon for Lomilomi Salmon (salt, wait, wash). If you didn't understand the things that I just mentioned, just move on. There is still hope for you. 

My dad is a genius of smoking. Not that my father has a cigarette between every finger or a special cigar-smoking device-- not that at all. Silly-wicket. My father built a magnificent smoker out of a propane tank long long ago, welding huge sheets of steel into a magical sculpture that transforms raw meat into charred treasure. My favorite times, as a child, involved being treated to 'the heel' of the brisket, in its black crusty goodness, with a tender line of pink meat just underneath. He'd fire it up only when he'd stocked up on an entire petting-zoo worth of meat and could fill it (and the oven on the end) to the brim. I have fond memories of a clean bathtub full of raw briskets thawing in the front bathroom (how very strange). It fed us, and many other family and friends, for months. 

However, a smoker I have not. It would be efficient for me, at least right now. A few years ago, I shared my knowledge of liquid smoke making with my dad and he bestowed unto me a bottle of home-made liquid smoke. OK, we're back to bacon. Seriously, I took the scenic route to get here. Simply purchase pork belly from your meat market and place it flat in a ziploc bag with a 1/2 cup (ish) of liquid smoke, some small cinnamon sticks, whole black peppercorns, salish alderwood smoked salt, fennel seeds, and SO importantly: ground Fenugreek. Fenugreek is an intoxicating, mellow spice, reminiscent of maple syrup. Lay this bag of goodies (after mixing well) flat on a shelf in the fridge and flip it every day for seven days. When you're done, take the pork belly (we can start calling it bacon now!) bacons out of the bag, wash them under cool water to get all the excess salt off, and dry them like mad. Dry them really, really well. Crack black pepper over them and let them sit in your fridge, uncovered, on a paper towel, for another day. 

Now, there you have it. Place sheets of wax paper between them and put them in a baggy to use or freeze! Congratulations, bacon-maker. You win breakfast. 

Happy eating!

*I'm going to try this next time using unsliced pork-belly. This time I used slices, as seen in the picture below. 
**I don't claim to use the word 'curing' in any sort of scientific way. I don't know what that actually entails, alright? Back off! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini

I've just 'met' (well, sort of) the owner of Paleo Middle Eastern and am right now excitedly waiting for this beauty to emerge from my oven. I rarely make full-scale casserole-pan recipes unless I have guests, but this looked too good to pass up. I rode my bicycle to an Indian shop in hopes that they'd have a vegetable corer (not because I'm ignorant of the differences between 'Indian' and 'Middle Eastern,' but because the next-most-ethnic thing we've got is Kroger. As in, nothing.*) but they had one not (though I did get some good Garam Masala <3). Moving on, this brings us to tonight and my kitchen, where my little vegetable peeler with its little blade sat in its jar** mocking me. Also, I was faced with the fact that my favorite Moroccan*** casserole dish is an odd/small shape. As such, I cut the squashes all in half and made super mini little ones. Perfect! Also, the meat I happened to have thawed in my fridge was my favorite red-meat of all time: Lamb. New Zealand ground lamb. hhhhhhnnn....

* OK, mild lie. There is a little Mexican shop where I stopped and bought fresh pork rinds (sooo good dusted with cinnamon), and misunderstood them as '$1.59 a pound,' then asking for a pound. The kind lady began scooping and didn't stop until she'd essentially filled a small trashbag and labelled it $6 something. I stared in a moment of blank confusion, rarely stumped by language barriers, and began to laugh. I somehow explained what I'd thought and she happily put them back and gave me a little bag of around $2 :). Delicious.

** Who keeps a peeler in a jar?!

*** Seriously. Not a cultural dunce.

Friday, April 15, 2011


The modern world is one of stress and deadlines, the abundance of work and the absence of play, and a tension that seems to be constantly cranking just a little tighter. We can be happier and healthier if we just go play-- literally, go frolic, hike, swing, or play sports-- but sometimes these natural things elude us. We must make a conscious effort to balance our stress with release, our tension with relaxation, and our contracting with lengthening. Stretch. Walk. Breathe.

Sometimes check yourself. How are you sitting? Sit up, allow yourself to align. How are you standing? Relax your shoulders, bring them down. Stretch your back out, spread your toes, and twist yourself until your tension dissipates.

I have to have a clean house to relax. I turn all lights off but the string-lights, light candles and burn insense, and experience a cup of tea. I'm way, way into tea.

How do you relax?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


P1010667 by CaptainShen
P1010667, a photo by CaptainShen on Flickr.

I had thawed out some ground grass-fed beef, but suddenly came to the realization that it wasn't ground beef at all. It was super-succulent, silky grass-fed thin deli meat, house-roasted at a store near my house. However, it wasn't what I wanted at all-- I'd had the same in a basil salad for breakfast.

Utterly hopeless, I fell to the floor and began to pound my fist on the refrigerator. What on earth could I make?! The only meat I had that wasn't frozen was tinned tuna! All I had in the fridge were bizzare, random things! An open tin of anchovies, two eggs laid by a coworker's own beloved chickens, dry-cured olives, a half of an organic roma tomato, and these darned spring onions, bulbous glossy purple-white and crisp green. Not to mention the remainder of those pesky capers and the last little serving of some vinaigrette.

Cough, cough. Apparently, my refrigerator had converted to a gigantic Niçoise salad holder.

I love this salad dearly. The startling saltiness of the anchovies, olives, and capers is soothed by the cooing coolness of refreshing tomato, spinach, and olive oil. Of course, the crown jewels of this bowl were the voluptuously creamy little orange-yolked cups, creamy beneath nutty sparks of cracked black pepper.

I tend to agree with the old school thought that a proper Niçoise salad (thats Nii-Swas) utilizes tinned tuna and does not contained the cooked vegetables (potato and green bean) that are popular in mondern times.

Perfect salad for a sunny meal on the lawn before work.

Aaaah... how... ...Nice...

Bò rừng bizon lá lốt: Green Bison Morsels

Alright, So I've moved! The new address (uhm, look up) is That makes sense now, doesn't it? I know, I know, I haven't held up the rest of my birthday declarations yet, but I am working on it. I already gave you an ode and a drawing, alright? 

I have these little lovely morsels to share with you on moving day. These are bite-sized crispy salty little morsels of tender meat baked in grape-leaves, Vietnamese style. As per my city of origin (Arlington, Texas), I feel deeply connected to Vietnamese cuisine and flavors. You think thats funny? You think that's strange? You must not be from Arlington.

(Seriously, we have the 15th highest Vietnamese population in the United States, and we're better for it.)

Anyhow, these are typically made out of beef, but I had some incredible bison in the fridge, so these are "bò rừng bizon lá lốt." Mine turned out insanely, unapologetically green because of the amount of herb and spinach I added. Dear Vietnamese readers: I totally just dictionaried 'bison' in place of 'beef.' Correct me if you please ;)

I served this with a quick 'papaya salad,' but used a finely chopped endive instead of green-papaya (Oh! How I love Gỏi khô bò) because Denton is absolutely void of any market that is even remotely a little bit Asian, much less any place providing the papaya and beansprout bulk-bins of my youth.

I just searched for some good recipes (you really don't need one) and found a great one here. I was surprised to see that she, too, put spinach in! I don't think that is very traditional. I served it with my Dakine Dressing.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sea Bass! Glorious Sea Bass!

Seabass! by CaptainShen
With my great love of salmon as my unquestionable favorite fish of all time, I've been trying to explore white fishes with a little more dedication.

For the most part, they bore me. I love rainbow trout and turbot, but other white fishes that I've tried just seem so... listless. Dull.

However, a few weeks back, I fell upon the holiness that is Turbot with weakened knees and a pattering heart. It has taken its place among my top ranks. Of course, it is blasphemously expensive.

I was talking about this with a good friend of mine, a fishmonger, and my disdain for non-oily whitefishes, and he realized with shock that I couldn't recall seabass. (Previous to this, my closest association to 'sea-bass' was a giant stuffed fish that a group of high-school friends of mine had, periodically making appearances in movies or conversations. Who knows...)

Anyhow, friend-the-fishmonger gave me a bit and I had it tonight. OH sweet delight, it is succulant and silky. I simply steamed it with cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes. White fish! You have hope, yet!

...still, blasphemously expensive.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Eat Safe, Use Condiments.

Oh, how uncomfortably stupid, the title of this post. Sauces and dips of all kinds have been on my mind as of late, and while insubstantial to really make up a post (or meal) I believe I've accumulated enough to create a little substance (or meal).

Dakine Dressing
This 'Asian-esque' dressing is one of my favorite little creations! It is an amazing, thick, light tasting dressing that is translucent and beautiful. I usually just make salad dressing on a whim for my meal, eat, and move on-- but this was so good that I scrambled to remember what went into it and how much--ish. I'm glad-- because it has definitely become one of my favorite refrigerator staples. And, wonder of wonders, it doesn't separate!
1 TB Sunflower Butter
1 TB Mac Nut Oil
1 tsp Ginger Juice
1 tsp Coconut Vinegar
1 tsp coconut Shoyu
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
Big Pinch of White Pepper
Big Pinch of Orange Zest
Big Pinch of Dulse Flakes
Big Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Small Pinch of Strong Cinnamon
Whisk together and store in an adorable glass jar in the fridge. This makes two or three...ish.. servings.

Hamburger Dressing
Assuming that your mom (swell lady that she is) has gifted you some home-made bacon-mayonnaise, you're ready to go. Otherwise, make it. I didn't like bacon mayonnaise much before I tried it in this way-- then things got REAL. Mix 1 part mustard, 1 part ketchup (check out the link at the end!), 1 part bacon-mayo, 1 part olive oil, and 1 part (apple cider or white wine is good) vinegar. Add a little bit of dry dill leaf (or pickle relish). Whisk it together... aaaand done.

Tahini Dressing
Easy dressing that I learned from the owner of Milk And Honey, my favorite little Israel shop in Dallas. Eh, Richardson? Hm. I remember when I was younger cooking a big passover dinner for my family that we all enjoyed on tables out back, and I remember how jazzed I was-- delighted, really-- that my dad seemed to really love this dressing. Anyhow, back to the shop and Richardson and the recipe. They said simply say to mix tahini with water. That's it. Thats all, and you know, some lemon juice. Thats all it takes, with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. That's all. That's what they said, that's how they said it. And they are right. You want I should make it?

Coconut Sour Cream
I really just didn't have sour cream and had a lot of coconut powder laying around. Why not make coconut cream and sour it with vinegar?
4 TB Powdered Coconut Milk
1/2 TB Coconut Vinegar (or White Wine Vinegar)
1 TB whey (I used raw goat's milk whey from yogurt-making)
Good Salt
A bit of warm water (1 or 2 TB)
Put the powdered coconut milk in a mixing bowl and add just enough warm water so that you can start whisking it with a fork. Using an actual whisk at this stage makes it lumpy and messy, so use your fork and make it metal. Stir and whisk until it is really thick-- thicker than sour cream-- and add your vinegar and salt. Whisk together and leave out on the counter overnight. This tastes VERY coconutty-- in fact, I added some olive oil before putting it in the fridge to bring down that natural 'sweetness' a bit-- but its delicious and adds an entirely exotic whirl to anything you'd add sour cream to. I added the whey with the intention of allowing it to ferment, but I don't think it did anything and it probably isn't necessary. 

A Little Lagniappe:

Mustard Vinaigrette.  The salad itself is AWESOME too-- Bacon and Egg salad? Rugged ingredients, yet elegant presentation. Its a classic French salad, the Salad of Burgundy. Between the glory that is a Burgundy Salad and the heaven that comes in the form of Niçoise salad, methinks the French know their salads. (Me also thinks that the rest of the world knows their salads perhaps a little bit better than America, the beautiful.)

Fermented Ketchup. I omitted any added sweet (duh?) as tomatoes have enough sugar on their own. I used raw goat milk whey that was leftover from my yogurt making. I didn't bother straining it, so it does have a spreadable pastiness to it. I am probably going to use this recipe next time, as I think that the anchovies/fish sauce are a very important part of making ketchup. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Mention for Fathead

It is actually quite different to explain to people how everything they thought they knew about health is a bit of a lie. 'A bit' may not be the right term here. Saturated fats fuel the body, butter, bacon, lard, and eggs are essential parts of a good diet, and grains and sugar are wreaking havoc on our world. Cholesterol doesn't connect to heart disease. My arteries are not slamming shut. 

I'll attempt to pare down what it means to be Primal, but that will be a few posts down. Right now I'll simply point you toward one of my favourite gentlemen breaking down the whole mess: Tom Naughton's lectures are now available online. Tom Naughton was the guy who made Fathead, which is a great film to sit down to for a laugh and to learn a little. But at the very least, do yourself a favor and take a peek at his lectures. It doesn't take long and it could change your life!