Tuesday, December 21, 2010

what I've been eating

I'm not ready to start posting recipes yet, but I thought it would be fun to have another installment of "what I've been eating." In the last week I've had...

Roasted chestnuts - this is the only time of year I ever see fresh chestnuts in the store, so I got about half a pound to try them out. I liked them best fresh from the oven, but cold is ok. They definitely have a unique flavor and texture.

Fresh pomegranate - this is the time of year for fresh pomegranates, too, and I find popping the seeds out of the membranes oddly satisfying. Not an activity to do while you're wearing a white shirt though, which I learned the stupid way.

Turkey stock - I finally FINALLY figured out how to make good tasting chicken or turkey stock. Ugh, took me long enough. This will get a recipe post by itself at some point. The batch I made this week was made with turkey legs and it turned to gel in the fridge. I get a kick out of that every damn time.

Hash - I made the turkey stock and had a bunch of leftover meat I picked off the bones, so I made some kind of hash using turkey meat for lunch almost every day. My favorite one was purple potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, garlic, turkey thigh meat, and cubed country style pate (storebought) that I cooked in butter.

Chicken Normandy - I got the recipe from Simply Recipes. Basically chicken cooked with loads of apples, onions, and heavy cream. Absolutely delicious.

The leftover sauce made its way into a hash the next day, along with some bacon.

Pork with sauerkraut mashed potatoes - this was a recipe from The New German Cookbook. Pork tenderloin poached in my homemade turkey stock and white wine, along with potatoes mashed with wine-spiked sauerkraut, bacon, and caramelized onions. The potato stuff was great and the pork was very tender, although I wish it had been fattier.

Braised beef shank - basically one of my old recipes, although I have since added some tweaks for maximum deliciousness. The major thing is to take the cooking liquid and boil it down until it's reduced by about half and then thicken it up with a little arrowroot to make it like gravy. Then mix the shredded beef/marrow back into it. Also you can do it in a crockpot on low for 8 hours. We had it with lemony sweet potatoes (recipe from Nourishing Traditions, containing loads of butter, lemon, and egg yolks) and buttered green beans.


I've also had too much birthday cake and German gingerbread, but we shan't speak of these things...

Friday, December 17, 2010

paleo reboot

So, um, hey guys. It's been awhile. What may have happened in the intervening year, you ask? Well, several things. I moved and had a baby, for starters. I also completely abandoned paleo for multiple reasons, including morning sickness, stress, and burnout on food in general. I really wasn't doing well on paleo near the end of it (around the time I wrote the shrimpy new year post back in Jan 2010) and the time off this past year has given me space to sit back and think about why it wasn't working for me and how I think I can improve it.

In short, I was "faileo" dieting. It had become about what I was excluding instead of what I was including and after 4 years of that my health was suffering. I've made myself a list of things that I think will vastly improve my version of the paleo diet, which I'll share with y'all partly in hopes it may help others and partly for my own reference. A lot of the old recipes on this site are probably more faileo than paleo, but I'm gonna leave them all up anyway in case someone finds them useful/tasty/whatever. So here are the guidelines for my new and improved ancient diet (har har):

1. Eat less meat. Shocking. My old recipes you'll see call for around 1/2 lb per person, and I've since found that this is WAY too much protein for me. I feel way better when I slash that in half.
2. Make the meat I eat fattier. Less chicken breast + olive oil, more fatty beef roasts.
3. Make a concerted effort to eat offal, including bones.
4. Make a concerted effort to eat seafood, including shellfish, roe, and seaweed.
5. Eat at least some meat/seafood raw.
6. Choose animal fats over plant fats whenever possible. I may keep butter around...even though it's dairy I think it's a better option than olive oil, which I previously used by the bucketful.
7. Eat more carbs, choosing tubers and squashes over fruit.
8. Severely limit nuts/seeds.
9. Add in herbal infusions like the nettle infusion that I posted about a million years ago and never kept up with. Tons of nutrients in that stuff.
10. Add in some fermented foods.
11. No "paleo" baked goods.

So I'll be back in January with recipes and pictures just like before. Anything in particular that people would like to see?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A very shrimpy new year

Hello little blog, how have you been? I've been busy moving and visiting family over the holidays, but now I'm ready to get back to updating you. In fact, my only resolution this year is actually to blog more often! So let's get to it.

I found a nice looking bag of frozen, unpeeled shrimp at my new grocery store (since moving I've swapped a Whole Foods for a Wegman's) and decided what the heck - I don't do a lot of seafood, but I always feel like I should, and shrimp seem a rather unthreatening place to start. I know shrimp overcook pretty easily, so I wanted to make something where I could just drop them in in the last few minutes. My standby curry seemed a good place to start, both for the ease of cooking and for the fact that the strong curryness would hide the seafoody shrimpyness. Yes I'm a wimp.

Curry is one of my favorite go-to meals when I don't really feel like cooking. All it requires you to have on hand are a can of coconut milk, a jar of curry paste, whatever random assortment of veggies you have languishing about, and some kind of meat. The basic instruction is: brown onions in coconut oil, add in all the other ingredients, simmer 20 minutes.

GO-TO CURRY shrimpy style
serves 3 maybe

The culprits today:
copious amounts of coconut oil
half a large onion
2 tiny sweet potatoes
1 stalk of celery
a can of coconut milk
a small jar of green curry paste
1/2 cup frozen peas
huge handful of baby spinach
1 lb shrimp

I heated the coconut oil in a big skillet and set the onions, sweet potatoes and celery to browning. Then I added the curry paste and let it fry for a minute until it got fragrant, followed by the can of coconut milk, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Then I stirred in the peas and spinach until the spinach started to wilt, followed by the shrimp. Watched it like a hawk and removed it from the heat just when the shrimp turned pink. Done! Served it with lemon wedges to spruce it up a little bit.

To be very strictly paleo you wouldn't want to use the peas or possibly the sweet potatoes, but like I said - just add whatever veggies you have in the house and it'll be fine. My curry is different every single time I make it! If I'm using a different, longer-cooking meat such as chicken, I usually add in at the same time I add the coconut milk.

Since the shrimp I bought needed to be peeled, I was left with a big pile of shrimp shells. I decided to try making some shrimp stock. I have no idea how this tastes yet, and frankly I'm a little leery of it (eww seafood!), but I'm determined to find some way to eat it this week.

I read a few recipes online and amalgamated them to this:


shells and tails from 1 lb of shrimp
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 a big carrot, chopped
a few sprigs of parsley
1 small lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
5 whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp sea salt
water to cover

I combined everything in a smallish pot and brought it to a boil. Skimmed the foam, reduced the heat, and let it simmer for an hour.

Now I have this:

And no idea what to do with it! Please don't say seafood soup, I can't think of anything more horrifying.

In the meantime, maybe I'll start cooking some stuff out of my shiny new cookbooks.

The Whole Beast - Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson and The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall. I can't wait! Happy New Year everyone!