Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Primal Texas Gardening Resources

After the suffocating summer we endured last year (and a shortage of bees), my wife and I had trouble getting much of anything started in our vegetable patch for this past fall/winter. That said, we were more than ready to get the early spring vegetables going in our garden. Ready enough to start planting in February. In these unseasonably warm first few months of the year… we decided to gamble. We planted a number of seeds in the last week of February, waited two weeks and planted more. Things are looking good as we seem to have survived March without a frost or freeze.

My wife and one of last year's turnips!

Hope springs eternal this time of year. We all have visions of what we want our lawn and garden to look like; lush, green, bountiful. And before reality starts flooding in, we head to the store to stock up on seeds, fertilizers and supplies. Know that not all stores are the same… and where you get your supplies may play a role in the success of your garden.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Primal Economics 102 - Produce

I wasn't always a fan of the produce section.  The veg in my shopping cart used to come in the way of some canned green beans, an onion, a few out of season roma tomatoes and a bag of frozen french fries.  Oh, and ketchup.  [Odds are the tomatoes were going to go bad sitting on my counter.]  My shopping cart slowly evolved over the years... and the places I got my produce from changed, as well.

While most Central Market grocers have well organized and beautifully arranged produce sections, you have to do a little digging to find what little organic produce they stock.  Whole Foods carries more organic produce... but you're going to pay for it.  Listed below are a few of the other ways you can affordably source your produce.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bacon Rosemary Cod

I haven't done anything with seafood in a while.  I take that back.  I haven't posted anything to do with seafood in awhile.  I made salmon cakes a couple of weeks back.  On the plus side, they tasted great!  They just weren't very appealing to the eye.  Worth trying again later, though. 

You may or may not have noticed... I'll wrap bacon around just about anything.  Dates, eggs, chicken livers (a-frickin'-mazing)... and fish.  Looking at this recipe, instead of cod, you could probably sub in chicken tenders or some sort of lean beef cut into strips.  But, cod plays nicely in this dish.  It has a good, firm texture and it's not a fishy fish (for those who complain about such things).  And, considering the fact that my freezer is stocked with the 2.5 pounds of the cod I bought at Sam's... it's time to make cod.

To prepare...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Restaurant Review - Louis Mueller Barbecue

Stepping outside of your own kitchen, you lose control of how your food is prepared.  Most restaurants will give you a brief description of the dishes on their menu... but few will tell you what is actually in them.  Do enough digging online, and you can find out how much MSG you choked down at a national chain... and how many more ingredients there were in their crispy french fries (aside from potatoes, oil and salt).  Caveat emptor.

Having been in Austin for PaleoFX12, we decided to stop at Louis Mueller Barbecue on our way out of town.  Louis' is a mere 45 minutes northeast of downtown Austin, we took "the long way" home.  It was well worth the side trip.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What is a Paleo/Primal Kitchen?

The question of how to stock a primal or paleo pantry is a common one... and each of our answers are a little different.  While we all stock our fair share of meat and vegetables, the details start to vary from there on.  But what about the actual kitchen itself?
I imagine the original paleo kitchen was pretty simple: a fire, a knife and maybe a flat stone that could be heated and cooked on... maybe a mortar and pestle.  Even looking back a mere hundred years or so, most people would be lost in a kitchen circa the turn of the 20th century.  No ice or filtered water dispensed from the refridgerator door?  No dial on the oven to meter the temperature inside?  No food processor?  No microwave? 

Just as the human diet has changed and evolved over the centuries, so have the kitchens we use.  I started thinking about how and why...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Bites

These little guys are in a freezer bag tucked away in my backpack as I wander around PaleoFX.  I kind of wish there was a time activated sensor that rationed these out to me... then I wouldn't need "self-control."  While they certainly aren't cookies in a traditional sense (no sugar, flour, etc.), eating them in excess will still not do me favors.  Eating almonds, apples and raisins are all better for you than cookies... but you can easily eat too many of those things as well.

I thought about naming these Cinnamon Raisin Apple Paleos... but they taste way better than that acronym would imply.  To make these...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Other People's Food - Volume 2

My wife and I went to a formal dinner this weekend.  I'm always interested in seeing how other people plate and portion food.  Looking down at my plate, I was shocked at the lack of veg.  At first, I rationalized that it might have something to do with budgeting... managing costs for an event that was serving a couple hundred people.  But then I saw the tenderloin on everyone's plate that weighed in around 6-8 ounces.  If they can afford to feed us all beef tenderloin, they can afford to give us more than two skinny asparagas stalks and an equally atrophied carrot.  The food wasn't meant to be the focus, so all in all, it was a great event.  I'm just saying...

Listed below are a couple of the recipes that have supplemented the menu in my house the last couple of weeks...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken "Waldorf" Salad

I'm putting the name "Waldorf" in quotes because, well... it only slightly resembles a Waldorf salad.  A Waldorf salad is traditionally described as "a salad made of fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal."  My version eschews celery and adds tons of protein... because I'm not looking for an appetizer or a light meal.  I want a lunch that will get me through the rest of my day at work and through whatever CFWR has in store for me... and hold me over until dinner.

And, my version has bacon.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Poblano Chicken Bake

Why do casseroles on TV always have pasta in them?  The commercials show a smiling mom opening the oven door (with gleeful children onlooking) and pulling out a steaming dish... that is 80% pasta, 20% meat, lightly tossed in "tomato" sauce and covered in breadcrumbs.  Just watching this makes my insulin spike.  Thankfully, the next commercial is usually for some sort of diabetes medication.  Paula Deen would approve.  Based on the use of sweet potatoes and bacon grease, she might even approve of the recipe I have below.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Second Change: CrossFit

Exactly 52 weeks ago today, at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I set foot in a CrossFit box for the first time.  In the early part of 2011, I came to the realization that I was incredibly out of shape... and fueling myself on a fast food diet while leading a sedentary lifestyle wasn't going to do my lifespan any favors.  I knew I had to find some sort of physical exertion that I could enjoy enough to stick with.  I'd tried running in my neighborhood... and found it to be boring.  Treadmills and ellipticals bored me even more.  But across from my old office, there was a gym that seemed to be thrown together in a warehouse.  Unlike most gyms, there was no traditional equipment to be seen inside... and the people who went there did odd things... like running around the block while carrying heavy objects.  Interesting.  The sign out front boldly proclaimed the establishment as CrossFit Strong.  As I wanted to find out more about how they would make me "fit" and "strong," I checked out their website... and tumbling down the rabbit hole I went.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Primal Texas Chili

This recipe is overdue.  I have no excuse for not posting it sooner.  In a perfect world, I would have made it on a bitterly cold winter afternoon.  Few things cut through a winter chill like a warm bowl of Texas Red.  But alas, I don't know that we had a winter this year.  It was 78 degrees the day I made this batch.  And with little chance of a freeze on the horizon, I decided I just needed a bowl this past weekend. 

How do you define chili?  Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers.  Folks in the upper midwest put cinnamon in theirs.  Sometimes "chili" is served on top of noodles.  People from all parts use recipes with all sorts of beans.  There's even debate about the kind of meat that should be used.  I've had some good venison chili, and some people like to incoporate pork into their recipe.  While most people believe that chili meat starts and ends with beef, they're still divided into cubed vs. ground beef camps.  Overall, I keep my recipe simple.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Egg Muffins: The Spinach Experiment

It is a fantastic source of iron and calcium.  It was a food item I went out of my way to avoid as a child.  It is a staple food in Popeye's diet.  Folks, I'm talking about spinach.  While I wouldn't touch the stuff as a kid, I can't get enough of it now.  I know it's good for me.  I mix it into meat sauces and stews.  I wilt it and serve it as as side dish.  I make it the green, leafy foundation of a salad.  And, now I'm eating it for breakfast.

This week, I decided to turn my recipe for my batch of egg muffins on its ear... meaning more veg, less meat. Using my normal template for egg muffins, I came up with...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Primal Economics 101

Grass fed beef gets expensive.  So does free-range chicken.  Especially when you are feeding more than one mouth... or a growing family.  And, while someday I may be able to shop exclusively at Whole Foods and the like, I'd like a little more wiggle room in my grocery budget.  I decided to conduct an experiment in consumer economics that I would like to call Primal Economics 101.

I looked at my last few grocery bills and realized that the majority of the bill was going towards protein.  Meat, fish, eggs, bacon, nuts, protein powder, etc.  There was a significant amount of produce on the receipt, too... but that will be reduced soon, as our vegetable garden will start producing and we will be picking up our weekly share from a local CSA (community supported agriculture) farm.  I'd heard from a few sources about how serious money can be saved by shopping at Sam's, Costco and the like.  But nobody provided a breakdown of what and how much.  And then there's the idea of having to pay for membership.  I remained skeptical.

So, this weekend, using a free one-day pass that I found online to try out our local Sam's Club...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Other People's Food

My wife gets on to me when we're at restaurants for craning my neck to peer at passing plates or even openly gawking at what is being eaten at the table next to me.  Is this rude?  Really?  My favorites are the neighboring tables that start conversations about what each of us ordered and what else we've tried/recommend off of the menu.  The patrons at Company Cafe and Jonathon's Oak Cliff have been the most talkative... and there is plenty to talk about with their menus.

When my mind starts runs out of ideas and I can't find inspiration on my bookshelf or by wandering the grocery store... I wander the internet, the world's biggest free cookbook.  Listed below are a couple of the recipes that have supplemented the menu in my house the last few weeks...