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! 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ode 001: Coconut

Ode 001: Coconut by CaptainShen
I begin The Odes with what I believe to be the single most giving, sustainable, nutrient dense offering of the earth: The Humble Coconut.

The coconut (Hawaiian: "niu"), in all its many forms, is something that I view as being capable of singlehandedly being able to support the lives of other creatures. We can take from it water, food, fuel, and protection. We can build from its shell-- tools, weapons, and drinking vessels. Its fibery husk ('aha) provides kindling, filtration, nets, cords, and ropes; the palm's fronds can be woven into mats, tied into brooms, or used with kukui nuts to make candles. The trunk can be built into musical instruments, furniture, and canoes.

The coconut itself, though, holds the real magic. As a young fruit, the flesh is soft, sweet, and jelly-like. It matures into a crisp, juicy nut, which can be eaten, dried, grated, pressed for oil, or boiled into milk. It is full of nutrients and medium chain fatty acids, one of which is Lauric acid, which is converted in the body to Monolaurin, which is anti-bacterial and supports the body's ability to fight lipid-based nasties (like herpes, HIV, influenza, etc). Another of it's medium chain fatty acids is Capric acid, which transforms into mono-caprin, which is then anti-microbial. The oil itself, as we know, is massively stable and is dissimilar to all other vegetable oils in that it doesn't oxidize in cooking. It is nourishing for the skin when applied topically and, as a sunscreen, blocks many of the 'cancer causing rays' while allowing your body to continue producing Vitamin D from the sun! I'll mention that I've always heard that coconut water-- which is truly hydrating and naturally potassium rich (thats an electrolyte, you know)-- can be used in place of plasma during emergency blood transfusions.

In one canded photo of my kitchen, once, I spotted no less than four coconut products. Some that I can think of off-hand:

Coconut Oil
Coconut Water
Coconut kefir
Coconut Milk
Coconut Flour
Unsweetened Dried Flakes/Shreds
Young Coconut Flesh
Old Coconut Flesh
Coconut Vinegar
Coconut Aminos
Coconut Butter
Coconut Cream
& Creamed Coconut
(That may have been less annoying had I cut the word 'coconut' from every item)

For my commemorative first Ode (as well as my primal birthday celebration), I will post three recipes: A traditional Hawaiian dessert, Haupia; Coconut Sour Cream; and Coconut Stir-Fry.

ODE TO THE COCONUT! First comment gets A PRIZE-- just list 5 (real, primal) uses for coconut that I didn't mention.

Happy Primal Birthday, Me.

And with that, a simple post. I have been primal for 1 year as of today. Stay tuned for a commemorative post, the re-vamp, and the beginning of what I will call 'The Odes.'

Anyone want to make me a very primal treat? *wink*

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foraged! Found Food (and some found links)

A few links: 
These people take food presentation and photography to an entirely different level of artistic beauty.

I made Adobong Pusit Sa Gata from 'Home Cooking Rocks' and I have GOT to reccommend it. Next I plan on making their Mushrooms, and I suggest you follow suit. This site is full of deliciousness, and is very primally workable.

Good News--- the bee hive found recently in the walls of my alma mater is being given a chance at survival! Or, at least, delayed execution. Its said to contain something like HALF THE BEES IN NORTH TEXAS.

Foraged! by CaptainShen
Foraging has always been something of a natural concept to me, and I was never one to be afraid to nibble on a leaf (or, perhaps more stupidly naively, a berry) as a kid. I LOVE the idea that we are surrounded by edible things, and there is no reason to stop at things that have been picked by someone else and 'labelled' for sale.

Eating for free is an alluring idea. Pair it with the romanticism of a whimsical stroll through a sunny field and you have created my Thursday-- and my salad. OK, maybe not really. Maybe you've just imagined my salad's accent-- scant seasoning-- whisper of--... alright, so not much. But the point isn't the AMOUNT of food-- it is that I danced (uh, stomped) through a grassy Texas field and found food!

I was told there was wild asparagus growing in a certain area by an amazing friend (Jim, the patriarch of my "Denton Family*). I made my way to where I thought he meant, found a place a few blocks away to park, and made my way over with little more than a bandana to carry my findings in and a car key. Not even my camera came. Dry yellow grass up to my knees and brush collecting in my Vibrams, I followed a kind of old path and wound around the entire property finding nothing that looked even remotely vegetable-like. The grasses I saw I knew of as different spring onions (three, actually) and I plucked a few, but wandered with growing disappointment toward the stalks that seemed to never come. Instead of taking a logical path around the back of the property (hours later), I decided to cut straight through the overgrown middle.

There amongst the grasses, in their yellow-green frailty, I saw them. How and why I spotted them as I traipzed on past, I don't know-- but there they swayed.


I plucked a few and left more so they could grow into something more substantial later on.

I think I'll toss them in vinaigrette and top my salmon with them.

Happy Eating!

*Bios to come later, after my Primal Birthday Revamp. TOMORROW!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Curry Beef with Radish and Okra

Beef with Radish and Okra Curry by CaptainShen
One of my favorite dinners, growing up, was when my mom would make curry out of an old Hawaiian cookbook and set out this tray with all kinds of little delights to sprinkle over the top. Green Onion, crushed nuts, raisins, coconut, cilantro... it was all so special and so customizable. I can't make a curry like mom, but I can do some good stuff with some good ingredients. I simply mandolined a tired wedge of purple cabbage. After steaming it, it popped to life, giving me a fresh bright bed to ladle my beef onto.
1 TB Ginger, crushed and minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 tsp dried minced citrus peel
Jalepeno, minced
1/2 L Onion, chopped
1 carrot, into tiny moons
1 cup okra, sliced
1 roma tomato, chopped
4 radishes, steamed and quartered
6 Brussels, steamed and quartered
3/4 lb...ish... beef
Fish Sauce
1/4 C Coconut Milk
Curry Powder
1/2 TB Cinnamon
Crushed Almonds
Shredded/Flaked Coconut
Oh, stop. Its not that long a list. Steam your brussels and radishes, and then lightly steam some cabbage. Sautee the first four ingredients in coconut oil. Sprinkle in fish sauce and add half of your curry powder (I used about 1 TB total, because I ran out, and it was far too little). Add onion, stir around a bit, and add beef. Brown, and before it is cooked through, add vegetables and the rest of the curry powder. Stir, hum to yourself, and add coconut milk. Sprinkle some more fish sauce, sprinkle some salt and arrowroot powder (I know it wasn't listed as an ingredient, but you were already baulking at the length...), give it all a thorough stir, and cover. Let it simmer while you pick some stuff up and then prepare little dishes of garnishes.

Spoon it all onto your purple cabbage, top with your favourites, and you're done.

Happy eating!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1 Year... comin' up.

Herb LampIn 6 days I will have been "really" Primal for 1 year. AWESOME! This is epic, and I plan on doing a couple bloggy things in order to commemorate it. Here are a few things to expect:

First, a total revamp of the blog itself, as well as the move to (there is only a test post there now). It will simply be easier than having an unrelated (though endearing) URL to my blog's actual title.

On the new blog, I plan on utilizing a more consistant design and format (for things such as recipes) and bringing other aspects of myself and my life into the blog. I've been "awkward" about sharing much about myself, which I believe is good-- but it wasn't in as much a 'cautious' way as a 'confusing' way. (Don't you love how I'm mixing it up with quotations and apostrophes? I'm wild, I know.) I have accumulated many names and nicknames (not hear, so much as from the places that people find me from-- real life, forums, etc. I'm Shen, captainshen, ikaika, littlesaiyan, El...) and haven't avoided much identification despite that. So, I'll address you as me rather than as a mildly faceless nomenclaturally confused eating individual with inconsistent design. (some would argue that this description is me)

One aspect of myself that I have not embraced in this space is that of my art. I plan on hand-drawing many of my site's features, as well as illustrating posts every now and then. Art is an important branch of expression for me and I feel stunted by my lack of hardware (I need a good computer with good software) that allows me to bridge between the visual arts of the physical world and the graphical arts of the virtual world.

Certainly not least, I'd like to allow my embracement of local food and products to become, in some way, a hub of local resources. (Warning: this sounds rather self-congratulatory) I have a lot of information to share, and I've learned a lot that I think that people, especially in the Denton/DFW area, can benefit from.

So, in short:
  • New blog URL, New Design
  • Who am I?
  • Incorporate Illustrations
  • Provide Local Resources 
Other aspects that I will attempt to address with a little more clarity are my job and my connection to the other places on earth (my Hawaii/Texas background, my Japanese connection, my love of my country and other countries, my upcoming trip to Israel). 

So... dear viewers... please stay tuned! 

Jeff Visits The Treehouse

House-guests are generally great people. I love them, in fact. But to have a guest staying with me who is as entirely dedicated to food in the same exact ways that I am is a priceless, invigorating, and thrilling thing. I did have a primal guest for a weekend, and though he's gone home, he continues to be a guest of sorts-- piping in on the weekend here in this post!

El: Jeff first embarked upon a driving adventure in which he missed my town (a couple of times) and then I led him back. When he got here, a feast awaited: Primal Tamale Casserole, as mentioned two posts back, and fixins. It got a little dry for me during the driving adventure, but my lovely neighbor came to the rescue with sour cream. We fared well, methinks.

Jeff: When I used Google maps to find how to arrive at El's location, I may have accidentally checked the "Please drive me around the city in efforts to show me all possible ways to not make it to the location" box. This did, however, provide the necessary time to make me all the more hungry for the meal El had provided for the night. The casserole was a great meal, but i feel that the true star of the night food-wise was the Mexican rice! I typically do not care for cauliflower rice but that stuff was the bomb.

El: The next morning, Saturday, we had Crossfit for breakfast at Crossfit NTX, my local box. Always a good time with Sean and the guys there. By good, I mean insane. I go on Saturdays when I'm off, for their community workouts (which are Saturday and Sunday) and it was stellar to bring Jeff to his first session. 

Jeff: Crossfit has always been one of the things I've desired to try out, and not only did i get to try it but it completly dominated me. I do not have a regular workout routine so by the time we were done with the 30 minute warm up I was already aching and sweating. In the end(five days of soreness) I have a huge desire to return to Crossfit because the workout was intense but the people involved were helpful, friendly, and made me feel accepted despite my lack of physical ability.

El: We earned ourselves a good lunch, and though steak or some-such may have been more appropriate, sustenance came in the simplicity of cod wraps with egg salad. The egg-salad I made with my herbed mayonnaise-- the basic recipe plus parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, and of course the rosemary-infused avocado oil. Big pebbles of blacked black pepper gave it a punchiness and plenty of dill pickle a familiarity. My only complaint was that there was not enough. The cod was... sigh. Better luck next time, self. 

Jeff: I really enjoyed the Cod wraps(I blame the Cod itself for being tougher than desired, not El's cooking ability). The leaf veggie we used to wrap the Cod was surprising more substantial to the meal than you would think that a wrap would be. I found myself just chewing on the tasty leaf itself more so than the cod filling. The egg salad was great, and I believe I did get the larger portion of it, but you snooze you lose. 

El: As we finished licking our plates, we had already begun to ponder the direction that dinner would take us, and some great spark of ambition caught me. "I want pizza," I professed. And that was the end of that. Half an hour later, we roamed my favorite grocery store,  H-Mart, in Carrollton and allowed Jeff to stock up on things that he can't quite get where he's from. 

Jeff: Where I come from, finding something like almond flour or powdered coconut milk is next to impossible. So having the opportunity to do shopping for things I can't get my hands on was a welcomed expedition. At H-Mart I bought some Purple potatos, seaweed, and coconut products in various forms. I have to say despite not having a clue what they say on the label, the Asian brands of food are great! Later in the week I took home those purple potatos and fried them in some olive oil and spices, and they were amazing, with the crispness and consistency of a spud but with a sweeter taste. 

El: That got us talking about what else he can't get, and less than an hour later, we were in the vast and bright mall of food that is Whole Foods Park Lane in Dallas. Jeff doesn't get to go into Whole Foods so much, so it was a thrill-ride of sorts... we nabbed a basket of goodies for pizza making, general groceries, and Jeff's trip home. I forgot what all we got, but at one point I bought some Salish Alderwood smoked salt and ran back to the butcher, where he kindly rubbed it on fresh pork belly for us and sliced it like bacon. Thats as uncured as it gets. We got some in-store hand-stretched mozerella to top the pizza and some parm and eggplant to compose the crust, a la my favorite pizza recipe at This Primal Life. Another goodie we got was chipotle chili powder, which smelled so much like BBQ sauce it was unavoidable. I figured that's make a good pizza sauce... *cough, cough*

Jeff: Now I've been to a whole foods before, but I have to say its not quite the same unless you have El with you.. Not only does she know exactly what cheeses to buy but she will willingly help any customer who is need! I think I lost her like 5 times during the trip, whether she realized she was lost or not is another matter. Mainly bought some delicious cheeses from Whole foods, my favorite so far being the Goat Gouda. Having a market where you can buy organic/grass fed products is a blessing you may not realize you have until you don't have it at all. 

El: Now that I look at the pizza recipe, I realize why it was 'too wet...' ...we forgot almond flour! Or neglected it. But we bulked up our (tiny eggplant) recipe by adding more eggs, parm, and coconut flour. I also forgot to 'return to the oven' before topping, which would've improved upon it... but it was SO good that we didn't much care. 'Fresh' bacon, sauteed onions and mushrooms, and HOT tomato sauce mingled with delightfully fresh mozzarella chunks and left us satisfied and happy. 

Jeff: Oddly enough I love food. This love of food includes all types of food, except for the famous Pizza. My entire life has been filled with lackluster Italian pies, with too much sauce or too much greasy cheese and the like. That night, the pizza El made quietly restored my trust to pizza, she obtained perfect balance of toppings, sauce, and crust. That chipotle powder we used in the sauce was a bit spicier than intended so the first batch of sauce became a batch of bbq sauce to be saved for later. I think the pictures of the pizza should do some justice to it, but let my recommendation go out for all pizza lovers, this stuff was gooood.

El: When Sunday finally came, we rolled scrambled eggs in prosciutto and nori, packed lunch, and set out on a hike on the 380 Greenbelt, a nearby park. It was more of a stroll, I guess-- beautiful but too easy to be a 'hike,' and the weather was perfect. The walk was (thankfully!) sprinkled with dogs, which make most anything better. We settled on a log for a casual lunch of a recipe (another actual RECIPE!) that I've made and will make time and time again, from The The Primal Blueprint Cookbook-- little shrimp bites. I just made a quick Asian cabbage salad to go underneath. And some sauce.

Jeff: By this time the Crossfit was just beginning to take its toll, which caused me to walk in a funny stiff legged kinda way. I think what kept me going was two fold, first fold was the amazing breakfast we had. It was my first prosciutto to ever be had and certainly not the last. The scrambled eggs we filled it with were great, just light enough so we wouldn't feel sluggish on our hike. The second fold was knowing there was more delicious food to be had when we decided to stop and have lunch. The shrimp bites paired with the creamy Asian sauce was a match made in heaven, with the crunchy salad adding a great contrast. On the way back I think some of those dogs knew I had eaten a delicious meal because several of them tried to bite me, despite my friendly smile.

Our weekend came to a close with that-- a return to Denton and the seeing off of Jeff. Then, on a separate note, I was reunited with my car and had a spectacular Pappasitos dinner with my parents. But, unrelated it is!

Jeff, great to have you. Come back as soon as you can!

Next Up: My Awesome Asian Dressing Recipe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Prosciutto Egg Roll by CaptainShen
Primal Shout-Outs:

Mom, having gone primal last September, continues to inspire me. She's a blast to eat with and a source of inspiration and someone with whom I can share. Every time she visits, we have an incredible time-- in eating and in goofing off. Who else can hula with their cave-mama? She's one of the youngest hearts I know.

Jeff! Meeting up with another crazy primal is always invigorating! I owe him thanks for the visit and an invite to come back anytime. Many meals and many adventures were had-- we did some crossfitting, some hiking, some shopping, and some chilling.

My Kumu. My hula teacher whom has just purged her home of grains and gone grocery shopping for the better. I'm so honored that she's decided to give this a go and I promised I'd get some good recipes up!

Audrey-- your son has always been one of my favorite friends. After we talked a lot online, it was very apparent that he came from good stock! I hope you are enjoying The Primal Blueprint thus far and continue to learn and experiment with this-- and always feel free to ask questions!

The fella in prep-foods at work: I'm sorry I haven't totally remembered your name yet, but I'm glad you've enjoyed my meal pics and hope you have fun experimenting with your own! Keep me updated!

The Vibram-Wearin' Paleo Eatin' guests from work: It was a PLEASURE meeting (I made the typo 'meating' and felt compelled to keep it... hah!) you both. You seem like amazing people and it is such a relief to meet someone you can talk to who GETS what you're saying, isn't it?? I hope you liked the pasta sauce and I hope the roast turned out good!
Up next: A recap Jeff's visit and the menu that saw us through, as well as a lot of pictures. After that will come recipes. I'll include a restaurant review for Snappy Salads very soon, and talk about the Whole30, dairy, and what primal means. Last but not least, I plan on setting out a Japanese Primal Guide.
Stay tuned! Throw me a comment! Seriously I need the ego boost.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Yike! Long time.

OK, so I've been what I'd call-- well, not busy-- but... temporally coagulated. I have been eating, of course-- and I've been taking plenty of pictures of said food-- but they never make it here to be talked about. I do, however, have a house-guest (a fellow primal!) who I'll be hosting for the next few days. This means I've made (and will be making) heaps of food. Tonight's menu?

- Coconut Tamale Casserole
This includes my tamale dough, as seen in my Coconut Chicken Tamales as the bottom 'layer,' baked, then topped with grass-fed ground beef seasoned in 'tex-mex' ways. Recently I came across the statement that one of the main identifiers distingushing Mexican food versus Tex-Mex is the heavy use of Cumin in Texas. The next layer is stir fried multi-colored bell peppers and onions with jalepeno. This is topped with good cheese (Dubliner. Awesome Irish cheese that I thought fit really well despite its geographic inaccuracy!) and from there will be topped with dried onions and coconut flakes, as well as diner's choice of the following guest stars...

- Guacamole, Salsa, Coconut Sour Cream, and Jalepeno Cilantro Coconut Cream
The coconut Sour Cream was simply powdered coconut milk mixed THICK with lemon juice, water, and a little bit of raw goat milk yogurt. I then left it to sit out on the counter. I took a little bit of this mixture and blended it with a little more water, minced jalepeno, and HEAPS of cilantro. Just a little powdered garlic an onion resulted in a creamy green sauce that is chilling in the refrigerator as we speak. (Uh, are we speaking?)

- The BEST tex-mex cauliflower ever!
Sometimes I believe that pretending cauliflower is rice is very stupid. Sometimes, a heap of perfectly seasoned minced caulflower is the most AMAZING THING I'VE EVER COOKED. This was quite a process, but you'd swear you were eating the red 'spanish rice' from many-a-beloved tex-mex restaurants. OH MAN! Ask me about it. I may post the recipe, with pictures.

So, dare I say it... I believe I'm 'back' and will start posting with more regularity. That is, perhaps, enough regular posts that I will not have 'whopper' posts that people are disinclined to read?

Happy eating,