Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hunting & Gathering

I've been meaning to blog some meal photos but between being out of town and working my four in a row, I haven't gotten around to it.  I don't suppose it matters because I didn't really do a bang up job in the kitchen last week.  All the meals turned out fine but I just didn't like them very much.  The problem was my grocery list.  I tried to wing it last week and when I do that I tend to buy in themes and I don't notice it until I get home and start cooking.  So last week I went crazy with green leafy veggies.  It was too much.  So this week I went back to the menu plan provided to me through my membership with Paleo Plan.  I'll try to get some photos posted this weekend but can't make any promises because I've got some movies lined up for viewing!!!  I always try to watch the movies in the Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting and Director categories.  I didn't get a chance to some of them before the awards tonight but I made it through part of the list.  Maybe in the next week or two I can watch a couple of the ones I missed.

In the meantime, I've done a little hunting and gathering for you.  Have you been on tastespotting or foodgawker?  There are so many cake and cookie photos as well as pasta dishes.  I've always had a more savory palate than a sweet one, so I always skipped passed those dishes anyway.  But now I really notice how many sites I pass up before I find an entry for a veggie dish or a meat dish.  Sometimes I go through 2 or 3 pages before I find something that I think I might be able to modify for Paleo.

I've been adding mushrooms to a lot of my dishes lately and I sort of like the flavor they add.  I've always avoided mushrooms prior to Paleo but there one of those things I try to incorporate now a days.  Check out Taste of Home for their cauliflower and mushroom dish.

Beets were always a favorite at our house when I was a kid.  We always had plenty of beets in the garden and always made lots of pickled beets, which I love.  I rarely buy them now because they seem so pricey in the store.  Maybe one of these days I'll splurge and pick some up.  If so, I'm trying Lemons and Lavender's hasselback beets because they're so pretty!

I love a big plate of beef, I think it's my favorite.  So I was pretty excited when I came across The Peach Kitchen's photo of Filipino Bistek.

Hunting is something I'm hoping to do this year.  I want to have my own game meat on the table.  Not only will it reduce my grocery bill but I will feel more satisfied about what I eat.  I grew up hunting and still do today but I want to pursue meat for the table.  I love Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and he has some amazing game recipes on his site.  I used to visit he site when I was first attempting Paleo but lost track of it.  I was tickled to come across a pic while H&Ging for recipes.

Here's another beet recipe, this time from SoundSpicy.  This one is a soup with tomatoes that has a brilliant color. 

And finally a pork chop recipe from Share My Kitchen that I would like to try because the chops are topped with a quince sauce.

**Please remember that the recipes may need to be tweaked a little to make them Paleo friendly but most only need one ingredient adapted or removed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I shall think on you no more

One thing I like more than eating and cooking is watching movies.  There's something magical about a movie theater when the lights dim and trailers start playing.  Then the movie starts and you're transported somewhere else for two hours and the troubles for the day are long forgotten.  The cinematography, the soundtrack, the script...all of it, I love it all.  Lines from movies sneak in to my conversations and the best part in when someone recognizes it but too often  they don't. 

The other day I was explaining to someone the tenets of Paleo.  An incredulous response was returned and they stewed around on the thought of no grains.  That always gets people especially when they start thinking of all the stuff they make/buy with grains.  I just chuckle and confirm that it's all out.   I replied "I shall think on it no more" and then giggled to myself.  You see, that a line from a favorite movie on mine.  You guessed it, Rob Roy.  The original line is "you" instead of "it" but hey, I was referring to grains and not a person.  Don't you think Liam Neeson makes a more handsome highlander than Mel Gibson?  I have no qualms in admitting that I like Rob Roy much more than Braveheart.  Sorry, that's just the way it is.

Anyway, back to grains and Paleo.  I've been rather fortunate since switching over this time and haven't had any major cravings.  I think it's because I went cold turkey.  Now, that's not to say that I haven't spent thirty minutes thinking and drooling about Kuntz's Drive-In's steak strips or slightly gooey chocolate chip cookies.  I have.  One night I spent some time masterminding an ingenious plan of driving the two hours to Kuntz's without my family finding out.  I should tell you that it's probably been ten years since I had a steak strip from Kuntz's so why I spent all this time hatching a plan to sneak out there is beyond me.  The other time I obsessed over a food was when one of the docs brought chocolate chip cookies to work and left the huge container in the break room...unguarded.  I meandered to the break room to look at the Superbowl potluck and I spied the container on the third table.  My eyes locked on and I slowly made my way down the line, taking fleeting glances at the crock pots as I passed.  At some point I reached down and grabbed a carrot stick and approached the cookies.  I slowly walked passed them and, while crunching on that carrot stick, resisted the urge to take the lid off for a better view.  To remove that lid was pure danger and I knew it.  I made my way back to my desk and spent the next half hour thinking about the texture of those cookies in my mouth.  I snapped out of it when I had a vision of myself as Cookie Monster.   

I usually realize after a few minutes of obsessing over some pre-Paleo food that I'm doing nothing but undermining myself.  I make myself stop and one of the ways I do it is to think of that line from Rob Roy.  "I will think on you dead until my husband makes you so.  And then I will think on you no more."  Yeah, a little dramatic.  Plus, I'm not married.  And you can't really kill grains with a broadsword and I change the line a little bit but it's what I think of and it gets me through.  That and I think of how crappy I felt before.  Just do what you've got to do to get past the moment and think on it no more.  Just don't give in to temptation.

If you've hung with me this long I think you deserve a recipe.  What do you think?  Well, yesterday while hunting and gathering recipes I came across one that I was eager to try.  When you read the recipe it sounds like a lot of time for burger but it really does not not take that long.  The longest step was making the sweet and sour aioli sauce.  If you don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen, I suggest making the sauce ahead of time and storing in the fridge then make the burgers the next day.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Burgers with Aioli Sauce

Recipe by Scott Pampuch for the 2010 Muir Glen Tomato Vine Dining Tour
Makes 6 burgers

Sweet & Sour Sauce
1/4 c. juice reserved from canned tomatoes (below)
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

Aioli Sauce
1 pasteurized egg yolk
2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 clove garlic
3/4 c. vegetable oil
Sweet & Sour Sauce (above)
1 Tbsp. reserved tomatoes (below)

1 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen Organic or Meridian Ruby Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 c. juice reserved, 1 Tbsp. tomatoes reserved
4 oz. bacon, crisply cooked and chopped
1 egg
1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1.  In 1-quart saucepan, mix sweet & sour sauce ingredients. Simmer over medium eat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce coats back of spoon. Cool to room temperature.

2.  In food processor, place egg yolk, lemon peel, lemon juice, and garlic. Cover; process until blended. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle oil, and then cooled sweet & sour sauce through feeder tube until blended. Pour into small bowl and stir in reserved 1 Tbsp. canned tomatoes; refrigerate.

3.  In large bowl, mix ingredients for burgers; form into 6 patties. Heat gas or charcoal grill. Place patties on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 8-10 minutes on each side or until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160 degrees F.  Remove and top with aioli sauce.

NOTES:  This was served on buns which I left out but the rest of the recipe is as printed.  It turned out really good but I think the next time I will reduce the amount of tomatoes in the beef or just increase the beef.  It seemed rather sweet to me but my sister thought it was fine.  I don't know if it's because I don't consume sugary sweets anymore and that's why it was sweet to me.  I would probably cut the honey back some the next time I make it.

The sauce makes way more than you need but that's a good thing because I kept thinking of other meats and seafood to serve it with.  I actually think that the sauce isn't something I would normally serve with beef but it was tasty.  My sister was having grilled shrimp for her dinner and she used the some of the sauce for her shrimp and absolutely loved it!!  Tomorrow we are getting swordfish, tuna or salmon steaks for supper so we can have the sauce with them.  We both agreed that it would also make a great sauce for pork.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I forgot to add the tablespoon of tomatoes to the sauce but I don't think it matters.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hunting and Gathering

Maybe it's my inner caveman fighting to get to the surface in this modern world but I love to search for recipes, I think it's my way of foraging for food!  I've got a big binder of recipes that I've printed off from my pre-Paleo days that I admit, I'm a little bummed about not being able to make them again.  They were so yummy.  But I'm happy with not eating that stuff but I suppose what I'm bummed about is that I enjoyed finding recipes and trying them out.  Anyway, I still love to search for recipes and while I have to pass over alot of recipes because they are just too non-Paleo, I still find some that I want to try.  My favorite place to search for recipes are the sites that list food bloggers.  Tastespotting, FoodGawker and PhotoGrazing are the main ones that I use.  There are lots of blogs featured that make baked goods but you can find some other recipes and some minor tweaks usually make them Paleo friendly.  Be warned though, if the site of hot crossed buns makes you steamy then perhaps you should avoid looking at the sites because there are some awesome home chefs out there who really know how to use their cameras.  Mouthwatering is all I can say.

Here are a list of some recipes that I found over the past week that would be great Paleo dishes.  Like I said before, you may have to tweak them a little but all of them will be very easy to convert.  Check the "Hunting and Gathering" label/tag in the future for a quick search of links.

  1. From the site Cooking Books is a great looking onion dish that I can't wait to try.
  2. Karma Cucina has a recipe for my favorite winter squash, the butternut.
  3. The brussel sprout gets some star time over at Fuss Free Cooking.
  4. Budget Bytes tells you how much it'll cost you to make their great looking pork chops.
  5. One of these days I will try to make kale chips like the ones at Making Life Delicious.
  6. Here's an interesting plantain dish that I found on Cooking Etcetera.
  7. Skinny Taste has some yummy looking turkey meatballs that would make a great appetizer.
  8. Everything is better with bacon!  Here's another one from Skinny Taste.  This time a salad recipe.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Please, pack your knives and go.

I think the first thing I learned when trying to lead a Paleo lifestyle is preparation.  It's the key to success.  In my early efforts I would fail to buy the right things at the grocery store.  Overbuying some weeks and falling short on others.  I would sometimes get home with three different types of squashes and no other veggies.  I was a disaster when it came to grocery shopping and awful at preparation.  I'm doing a little better now and I must say that I really like the menu lists and shopping lists that Paleo Plan provides me.  The past couple of weeks I have ventured out on my own and haven't used the lists.  I think I've done a fairly good job with purchasing and preparing my meals without guidance.

Another obstacle is my work week.  I work 12 hour shifts and every other weekend I put in 4 days in a row.  During this time I don't like to do anything except get up, shower and grab a bite for breakfast.  I then gather my lunch and dinner out of the fridge and put it in a sack and head to work.  When I get home I go right to bed.  So I try to prepare all my meals in advance for this little stretch.  That's my key to eating Paleo during this time.  In my pre-Paleo days I would hit the drive thru, order take out, raid the candy bins in the cafeteria and eat whatever meal I brought with me (spaghetti, enchiladas,etc).

I truly enjoy cooking and while I may not be a top chef in the kitchen, I think I do a pretty decent job for someone who just started cooking in the past couple of years.  Sure, sometimes I bomb and from time to time I make something inedible but since it's just me eating this food I don't really worry about it.  I'm just glad I'm not cooking for these three.  

Here are some pics of what will be on my lunch and dinner menu while I work this week.

Omelette Muffins for breakfast so I don't have to cook in the morning!  I just chop up whatever veggie I have, saute some onions and sausage and put a scoop in each muffin tin and fill with beaten eggs.  I bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  I use a jumbo tin so for a regular size tin just cut back the time.  They freeze up great and I just pop one in the microwave in the morning to heat it up.  Great time saver!

Mashed Rutabaga is going to be a side dish for some leftover braised shortribs that I had earlier in the week.  I just cubed up the rutabagas and tossed them in a small pot with some water and boiled, covered until they were soft and then I mashed them with a little chicken stock.  I found the recipe for the braised shortribs here.  I simply made whatever adjustments I needed to the recipe in order to make it my style of Paleo.

Baked chicken leg quarters using a recipe in one of my Rick Bayless cookbooks.  This one called for making a little marinade with orange juice, mexican oregano, diced garlic, ground canela, cloves, apple cider vinegar and pasilla chile powder.

Sauteed Kale in tomato sauce.  I find that I always make kale with a tomato sauce so the next time I'm going to search for a recipe sans tomato.  I suspect I do this because I'm still trying to get use to the taste of kale as well as other dark greens.  I never ate these in my pre-Paleo days so I'm trying to acquire a taste for them.  I simply soaked some ancho chiles and then ground them up in my vita-mixer with some crushed tomatoes and chicken stock.  I sauteed some onions in a skillet and then added the tomato-chile mixture.  I let it cook for a minute or so then added the chopped kale and covered it so the kale could steam.

Jumbo pork chop braised in some apple juice with aromatics.  I mix in some crushed ginger with the apple juice and then chopped up some celery, apple and onion.  I put this all in a baking dish and baked the chop until I thought it was done.  I think I may have over cooked my protein which would get me booted off Top Chef.  Thankfully Tom, Gail and Padma  aren't critiquing my dish.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Here I Go Again

Have you ever been stalked by a song?  This happens to me from time to time.  A few years back it was that Partridge Family song I Think I Love You.  It just about drove me nuts, I couldn't stand that song.   Well, now it is Whitesnake's Here I Go Again which I actually like.  Don't laugh, I know that 80's hair metal can seem a bit cheesy now.  But that's my time period so I sort of like the stuff and I'm not too cool to admit it.  Anyway, I've been hearing this song quite a bit lately and not on Gen X radio (the 80s-90s station).  But places like the grocery store, clothing boutiques in abandoned strip malls and most recently in The Fighter (which I suggest you run right out and  Heck, it all started when (for some odd reason) I had a dream with David Coverdale in it.  He was dancing around and doing cartwheels a' la Tawny Kitaen from their video.  It's goofy but that's the best part about dreams.  So, that song is sort of my theme song at the moment, I admit that it pretty much dominates my playlist.

This isn't the first time I've blogged recipes.  Back when I first tried Paleo I had a little blog that I posted some of my recipes on.  It went through a couple of makeovers and name changes.  Looking back on it I probably wasn't very well suited for keeping up a food blog.  I wasn't really sure of what I was doing and I wasn't very good at being Paleo.  I think that's why I kept changing it and eventually doing away with it.  I've got a little more experience now in the kitchen, I'm a little smarter about shopping and I do a better job of preparing food for one and wasting less.  I've had a really strong first month of Paleo and maybe I can do a better job of keeping a food blog this time.  So, here I go again.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 pound ground meat of choice, browned and crumbled
1 acorn squash
5 small dried shiitake mushrooms (or other dried mushroom), reconstituted and finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small cauliflower, chopped to rice size with the food processor
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 poblano pepper, skinned, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin*
1/2 t paprika*
1/4 t cinnamon*
3 T  white wine
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Reconstitute the mushrooms according to package direction.  Save the water, you'll use it later.
  3. Brown the meat and remove from skillet leaving a thin layer of grease/oil in the pan.
  4. Saute the onions, garlic and poblano in the skillet that you browned the meat in.
  5. Add the spices when the veggies are soft and let it cook for a few minutes.  Remove from the skillet and add it to the bowl containing the meat.
  6. Heat a little oil in a skillet and add the cauliflower, mushrooms plus the soaking liquid and wine.  Cook until the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Add the fire roasted tomatoes, veggies and meat to the cauliflower mixture and mix well.  Heat through.
  8. Scoop the mixture into the squash and bake for 35-45 minutes.
Notes:  I nuked my squash in the microwave until they were partially done in order to reduce the bake time.  I figure the other ingredients were already cooked and I didn't think there was much need to have them roasting away in the oven while the squash cooked.  If you don't want to do that then extend the bake time to 45-60 minutes.  At any rate you should be able to pierce the squash easily with a fork when it's done. 

I think I would like to use delicata squash the next time because they are smaller.  I was only able to eat a 1/4 of the squash for a meal so this made 4 servings for me with a little meat mixture left over.  I believe next time I'll use half the cauliflower and reduce the filling mixture by half and use one delicata.

Feel free to wing it with the ingredients.  That's usually what I do when I find a recipe I want to try.

* The spice measurements are my best guess since I rarely measure my spices.  Sorry if this throws you off.  The main thing for me is cumin and then some paprika and just a smidge of cinnamon.