Friday, 29 June 2012

Highway Cobbery

I don't know where they got the name Cobb Salad from.  There is no cob in my salad.  I hate canned corn, and those tiny baby corn cobs.  I used to pick them out of everything.  Anywhoo, a Cobb salad is really any layered salad.  This one was simple--I wanted meat with my meat.  Sometimes that's just the way I roll. 

Its hot here in Toronto right now.  Don't get me wrong; summers are short and hot and dry normally, though we've had some short, wet and cold summers lately, so I'm glad to have the heat back.  But that doesn't mean I want to heat up the kitchen.  No.  I threw the chicken in the crockpot in the early morning, poured in a splash of water and some salt and pepper on it, and walked away and forgot about it until dinner time.  You could cook it any way you like, but my way meant all the goodness from the bones was cooked into my food.  But that's just me.  At the end of the day, all I had to do was boil some eggs and fry some bacon.  Who can't do that?!  Simple.  Life should always be this simple.  Cooking should always be this simple.  Intuitive.  Flexible.

And look, this recipe is not a casserole, and not served with gravy.  I'd say not with sauce, but there was salad dressing, so there ya go.  Sauce.  I love sauce.  Any sauce.  Of course I loved this sauce.  But I think you'll like this sauce, too, as much as I did.  Taste it and you'll know.  I'm right.  I'm always right.

Among 5 plates, I divided...

7 hard-boiled eggs
10 strips of bacon
2 tomatoes
4 chicken breasts
3 romaine hearts
1 cup cheddar
1 cup shredded carrots

And for the dressing....

1/2 cup garlic-basil mayo (recipe here )
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp fresh dill, finely mashed
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 scoops stevia powder or 1 tsp honey
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients. 

Eat on a patio, or deck, or something like that.  Get outside and enjoy the weather.  And the flies.  There's always flies.

Use What You Have:  
Meat Cheese More Veggies
Steak Blue red onions, sweet peppers, blanched asparagus
Ham/ Peameal Cheddar peas, cherry tomatoes
Tuna Provalone green onions, olives
Salmon none green onions, avocado

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Tree-Hugging Hippie in Me

Guys, you may not want to read this post.  This is a girl-thing. 

My inner tree-hugging granola-munching Birkenstock-wearing hippie is showing.  Don't get too close--it might be contagious.

Do you have any idea how many parts of my body now have coconut oil on them?  Holy crap, that stuff is just amazing.  I ask you--what can't it do?  Ok, well, it's not very good shampoo.  It can't do that.  Which brings me to my point...

Its been 9 weeks since a drop of commercial shampoo has touched my hair. 

Yes, I went no-poo.  I know, I know.  Ewwww.

But I can't say that I did it for the right reasons.  It certainly was not a case of no longer wanting that "cancer-causing chemical-laden crap" to come near me.  Ah, alas it was not.  But that would have been virtuous of me, would it not?!

How old are you?  Ok, you don't have to tell me.  We can pretend we're all just 27.  I remember 27.  I'd just had a baby.  My body was lumpy and frumpy.  I was prone to wearing overalls to hide myself in.  I cut off all my hair, making me no one at all.  People stopped looking at me and instead looked through me.  I blended in.  No one did any double-takes.  No one noticed me at all. 

Knock-knock.  Who's there?  Oh, is that you, vanity?

Yes, vanity calling.  It took very little time for me to realise that my hair was the best part of my appearance.  It was my crowning glory.   

I'm no longer 27 (and I did lose the baby weight).  If only I'd known what I had when I had it.  No, I'm 41 now.  And over the past decade and a bit, my hair has become thinner.  It has become more grey.  It has become delicate and frizzy and I have short, broken crazy hairs that confound me.  Around my temples, there used to be wisps.  Due to the sheer amount of greys coming in, I now have veritable bangs.  Seriously, I go to the hairdresser and they ask me if I want my bangs trimmed up.  Bangs?  I don't have bangs!  Those are broken, coarse hairs that refuse to grow anymore!  I just have so many that they look like bangs! 

Ageing hair just sucks.  You have no control over when your hair goes grey.  Its not the grey colour, either.  No, its the fact that those little grey hairs are wiry and kinked, they break easily and they're dull.  No dye will stick to them.  They stick up above your head like a crazy-hair halo.  When you pull your hair back into a ponytail, they stand straight out, making you look frazzled and unkempt.  They refuse to stay flat.  They defy gravity. 

It was the craptastic, dry, brittle state of my hair that drove me to try the no-poo method. 

Of course I went through the cycle of ever-more pricey shampoos first.  I tried them all.  I tried shampooing less; rinsing my hair daily and shampooing only about twice a week.  That worked great except on shampoo days.  The shampoo would strip everything out of my hair and it would be a big, fluffy, puffy halo that defied all straightening all over again. 

Desperation brought me to this.

We all try our versions of snake oil in an attempt to hold back the hands of time.  This is my snake oil.  They say that shampoo strips all the natural oil from your hair, and that is apparently a bad thing.  And the older you are, the less natural oils your body will produce.  We just turn into giant raisins as we get old, I guess.

Now, my hair is very fine.  It is not thin, per se, but the individual strands are very fine and therefore very prone to tangling, breaking, and swelling from humidity.  My hair is naturally straight--at least the top layer is--but the hair underneath and around my face is wavy.  Not a good wavy.  More of a frizzy every-hair-is-doing-its-own-thing kindof wavy.  It has never been, and never will be, the kind of hair that you can just air-dry.  But 3 minutes with a blow dryer is enough to remind the hairs which direction they should point in, at least, until I step outside into the humidity.

So the first no-poo method I tried came from Wellness Mama and contained coconut milk and vitamin E oil.  And it made my hair into a sticky mess.  It was simply way too heavy for my fine hair.  So I moved on over to the traditional baking-soda-and-water method. 

You only need one tablespoon of baking soda, dissolved in a cup of boiling water and let that cool.  I found that adding a half tablespoon of liquid castille soap helped make the concoction a bit easier to work with. 

Now, the no-poo advocates all suggest using apple-cider vinegar and water as a conditioning rinse after that.  Also just  a tablespoon dissolved in water.  Together, the baking soda made my hair  feel sooo dry, then the vinegar made it a sticky mess.  So I read somewhere that blondes do better using lemon juice and water or white vinegar.  I tried lemon juice, and still a sticky mess.  Apparently, you have to use something to acidify the hair after the baking soda since that leaves it alkaline.  I found that a bit of conditioner makes the hair workable again. 

This is my crazy ever-man-for-himself wet hair.

My hair went through about 3 weeks of icky, crunchy ugliness.  There was not a single day when I did not want to give up.  I read posts and blogs about how amazing the no-poo method is EVERY DAY.  They all kept saying to stick with it, it would get better.  God forbid anyone touch my hair--they would have cringed in horror with a big "Eww, gross, Cindi!!"

I really wanted to get off the conditioner. I tried using less and less vinegar/lemon juice, but every time the stuff hit my head, it turnd into a sticky mess.  Then I had an a-ha moment.  What if I tried MORE white vinegar? 

I found that my hair does best with white vinegar, mixed almost half and half with water. Just make sure you add it at the ends, then work your way up and in, not the other way around. There's a lot of rinsing involved. A LOT. Did I say a lot? 

And OMG, voila!  I could run my fingers through my hair as I rinced it. 

3 minutes with a blow dryer--take that crazy hair!!

My hair now feels like kitten fur, really. It is so soft and fine that the slightest breeze will move it out of place. I was actually hoping that by not stripping the oil out of it, the natural oil would kindof coat the hair strands, give them some weight, help coat them against the humidity. Has that happened? Nope. But my hair now dries at twice the speed it used to. Seriously, two minutes with a blow drier. Done.  The sticky, crunchy helmet-head stage is over.

Maybe some day I'll find a way to colour it, too, without crazy, harsh chemicals.  Of course I colour it.  I'm 41.  Today is not the day to fight that battle.  But some day I will.  Just not today.

Maybe next time I'll tell you all the things that I use coconut oil for, and what is in my homemade toothpaste.  Maybe.

My tree-hugging hippie is showing.
And it is crazy-soft and shiny.

Now, anyone want to teach me how to deal with weird wavy hair without blowdrying it?!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Brown Butter Lemon Chicken with Greens

Alright, so I veered into Cindiland and just cooked some chicken and some greens MY way and totally forgot about the recipe that I planned on following.  The end result was lightly lemony, tasty comforting food.  Nothing complicated.  Fast, easy and very well-liked by all.  Sure, you could return the chicken to the skillet and poach it in the (unthickened) sauce, and that would be classy and all, but I didn't want the coconut flour soaking up all the yummy sauce--I wanted lemon sauce on my bok choy!!

Uh-oh.  My Brit is showing again.  Things cooked in butter and sauce just taste better, don't you know?!  Rule number one!!  (Ok, Canadian Rule number one...)

So here's what I did...

Feeds 5-6
Takes about a half hour

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
coconut flour
2 eggs
garlic salt
black pepper
1 c chicken stock
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 tbs tapioca starch
5 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs butter

1 lb bok choy
1/2 bag green beans


Pound chicken flat.

Thoroughly wash, separate and chop your bok choy and green beans, set aside.

Crack eggs into a flat pie dish and whisk with a bit of water.  Sprinkle some coconut flour, maybe a half cup or so, in another pie dish and add a few shakes of pepper and garlic salt.

Heat up a large skillet to medium-high.  Add a fair amount of fat for cooking.  Set your oven to 180 degrees (just to keep chicken warm).  Lightly dredge your chicken pieces in egg, then coconut flour.  Place chicken pieces in skillet and fry, in batches, until browned on both sides and cooked through.  Remove to oven as they are done.  When all of your chicken is cooked, remove skillet from heat but do not wash it and do not turn off element.

Using a different skillet, heat it to medium.  Place your wet bok choy stems and green beans in the skillet and cook, covered, for a couple of minutes.  Add your greens and cook for another minute, until the greens start to wilt.  Cover, remove from heat and set aside.

Return chicken pan to heat element.  Add your chicken stock, butter, lemon juice, and fresh garlic to the pan and bring it all back to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits.  In a small bowl, dissolve your tapioca starch in a bit of cold water.  While stirring the liquid in the skillet quickly, add the tapioca and water mixture.  As soon as it thickens to gravy-like consistency, remove from heat and serve everything together. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

These Are A Few of My Favourite Things....

C'mon--sing it!

Alright, I'll stop that now.

Seriously, though, since throwing off the mantle of grains, sugar and processed foods, I've had to learn a few new tricks of food prep and cooking, which has required that I buy a few new kitchen tools, and some very old kitchen tools have fallen back into my favour. 

Sure, I could just eat whole grilled veggies and slabs of meat on this primal diet, but I like wondrous variety.  In fact, I could eat a different recipe every single day of my life.  Being not much of a cook in my previous life, we often did eat a different thing every night--the kids were raised to eat constant new things.  I like food, all food, and I like to experiment with it.  So this new diet has been a fun challenge.  Now I've had to raise the bar and even make my own sauces, we all have, and it's requiring some interesting new things...  

There is no need for a whole bunch of expensive new gadgets. Paleo doesn't need to be crazy expensive. Use what you have. My favourite things may not be your favourite things, either. I certainly have not dropped big bucks on anything here. I replaced my food processor when my original one broke. I asked for the Dutch Oven as a Christmas gift. I found the Magic Bullet and mandoline on sale. These items are not new from the box--they are loved, food-splattered, scratched and scuffed from living with me.  I'm pretty rough on my kitchen stuff. 

On my "wish list" still?  A food dehydrator and an ice cream maker.  Neither one is necessary on a daily basis, and neither one is cheap, so they wait...

So here's a few of my current favourite things...

1.  Food Processor.  Had a cheap and ancient one, broke it, replaced it with another cheap one, and it works like a charm.  I use it for everything from mixing my baking ingredients to pureeing nuts and dates to shredding cauliflower and cabbage.  There's rarely a day when I don't get it dirty.  It's ugly, but its the family workhorse.
Ugliest processor ever.

2.  Magic Bullet.  Its the mini-me blender.  The fastest way to beat eggs when making Big-Ass Pancakes, or any pancakes, waffles, my non-dairy creamer, smoothies.  The girls make themselves smoothies constantly.  The Bullet is rarely clean in our house.  Good thing it come with 3 containers.

3.  Mandoline Slicer.  Ok, so far, we really, really only use it for making zucchini noodles, but we do tend to do that about once  a week.  It has a million uses--I just haven't used it for them yet.  My food processor has a slicing attachment that's way safer than the mandoline.  We have yet to use the mandoline and not somehow cut ourselves on it.  That thing is stupid-sharp.  I won't let the girls touch it.  I've cut myself washing it.  I've cut myself putting it away.  But I still love you, mandoline, you make the noodles so perfect...

The devil is in the blade

4.  Coffee grinder.  I have 2 grinders right now; one for coffee, and an older one for those little things like grinding chia seeds and flax.  Nothing is better for making quick flax meal.  It grinds finer than the magic bullet or the food processor.  It'll also grind spices.  Sure, I own a mortar and pestle, who doesn't?  But the coffee grinder is fast--and you just wipe it out and move on. 

Hmmm, looks like I last made flax with it.
5.  Crockpot.  Not everything is about gadgets, geez!  I've always loved my crockpot, and I use it even more now with the paleosphere so full of crockpot recipes.  This is almost as primal as you can get, unless you want to go out into your backyard and dig a hole and super-heat some rocks in a giant bonfire to throw in the pit with your meat and bury it for the day.  I find the crockpot leaves a lot less dirt on my food.  I like food prep that doesn't require a shovel.  You will not see a shovel on my favourite things list.  All cheap meat cuts taste better when cooked long and slow.  I got my crockpot when I got married the first time around so it's nearly 20 years old now (God, that makes me sound REALLY old--shut up!) and it's still awesome.  It only has 2 settings and I know its always 5-6 hours on high, or 10-12 hours on low.  Once, I think the lid went through the dishwasher because now half of it has turned cloudy and is harder to see through, so I don't think it was dishwasher safe, but it still works awesome.  I haven't been as impressed with new crockpots I've seen.

Funny thing--growing up, my mom would prep meat and throw it in the cold oven and set the oven timer to come on hours later with no fear of food poisoning or the house burning down, but she never trusted a crockpot.  Weird, I know.  I am neurotic about food safety, but I leave my crockpot on for days while making bone broths.

6.  Dutch Oven.  What is a Dutch Oven, you ask?  It's just a really sturdy pot that can go from stovetop to oven.  I'm not rich enough for any Le Creuset pots.  Mine came from Canadian Tire, I think, but its enamel-coated cast iron and its beautiful.  The thing weighs a tonne. Mostly, I use it on the stovetop for making all stews, home made yogurt, and for boiling/blanching my "pasta" and anything that is too big for a frypan.  The cast iron is ridiculously thick, which means it heats slowly, but very evenly. 

7.  Cast iron Frypan.  It is just the BEST for searing meat and frying bacon.  I LOVE my iron frypan.  The only problem is that it's not very big.  I can barely lift the one I have, and I need a much bigger one.  I have a glass cooktop, too, so it is enamel-coated on the back--no scratching the cooktop.  Its only going to take one bad day and I will drop something on the cooktop, I know.  Last time, it was a marble rolling-pin.  Dropped it twice.  The first time cracked the cooktop but didn't fully break it, two minutes later, I dropped it again.  Silly me.  Turned out it costs the same amount to replace a cooktop as it does to buy a new stove.  So don't drop anything heavy on your cooktop.

8.  Spice Rack.  Really.  I have so many spices that I don't have a spice rack.  I have spice drawers.  I go through spices at a ridiculous rate.  Thank you Bulk Barn!  I can't imagine paying full price for new spice containers every time I run out of something.  I use so much spice that I've slowly replaced those little spice bottles with small jam-size mason jars.  Its an ongoing project, I have hundreds of spices.
Love the chaos...

9.  Wire "Cooling Rack".  This was designed for cooling baked things.  But I use it exclusively for cooking carrot fries, squash fries and sweet potato fries.  No turning required.  Set the oven at 400 for about 40 minutes and forget about them.  having them raised up off the cookie sheet means no scorching them anymore when the oven element comes on.  Smartest cheap idea ever.  Sure, you could broil meat on this rack, too, but I haven't done that.  That's my fry-maker.

10.  Laptop.  Really.  It is my cookbook.  It is my lifeblood.  I search recipes, send them to my "recipes only" email and use it to cook from.  It is ALWAYS sitting on my kitchen counter as I cook.  Usually from several open "tabs" at once.  I wish that ALL of my paleo cookbooks were on my computer.  I could go totally paperless.  Especially if the new Microsoft Notebook is as good as they say it is--that thing has a magnetic keyboard you can remove and a kickstand.  Awesome.  One day...

Other odds and ends?  I save old glass food jars and containers.  For home made sauces.  Its the Brit in me--I use a lot of sauces.  And I love that my yogurt and nut-butter jars are already labelled appropriately.  Remember the 3 R's?  Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.

And  that's it.  These are my basic items.  I'm sure a chef would list a whole different set of items.  But I'm no chef, I just like a lot of food variety  and this is all I really need.  I could get by on less, I guess, but I also hate to spend hours prepping and cooking.  So there you go!

ON THE MENU JN 24 - 30

Alright, this is going to be a challenging week to eat right.  Tonight we'll be heading to the Mandarin Restaurant for my daughter's birthday--an all-you-can-eat buffet of inappropriate (mostly chinese)foods and many tables of desserts.  I know I can do ok with the dinner--they have chicken satay, carved roast beef, peel-and-eat shrimp, cold and hot crab legs to name a few good things.  But I always lose it on the dessert table.  I'm talking cheesecake, butter tarts, chocolate-dipped fruit, creme brulee and several ice creams (including red velvet right now).  I'm going to have to go on a sugar detox after this, I'm afraid.  And to make it even harder, we will be eating out at a restaurant the following night, too, as we are treated by my father-in-law as his gift to both girls' birthdays.  At a regular restaurant, I can eat primally, at least, because there will be no buffet dessert tables calling my name.

Anywhoo, I had to make a run to the grocery store a couple of days ago when it occurred to me I had a picnic to bring food to, and the fridge was completely empty.  Staring at the sparkling clean fridge (hey, it was the perfect time to clean it...) it occurred to me that with the school year ending, we would have to again stock up for the not-so-paleo teens in our house since they'd be in and out all summer now.  There were two choices--provide only paleo-friendly food and watch them go to eat crap at every friend's house and bring home crap from the corner store since they wouldn't actually prepare any paleo-friendly food on their own (my husband and I both work full-time), or come to an agreement on the level-of-evil non-paleo foods we would provide.  I kinda want to be somewhere in the middle.  Sure, I want my kids to eat healthy foods, but they won't if I'm not there to make it for them, so I figure commercial sugar-free flavoured yogurts and nitrate-filled lunch meats are better than seeing them eat Kraft Dinner at their friends houses every day.  So I dropped $50 on lunch meats, keilbassa, pre-sliced (but not processed) cheeses and some fruits (so far).  You will see more not-really-paleo foods on my shopping trips, trying to strike that balance with the teens for the summer. 

So, what's on sale this week?  Not enough as far as I'm concerned. 

@ Food Basics:
-bone-in, skin-on thighs, breasts and drumsticks for $1.88/lb
-green seedless grapes for $0.88/lb
-bacon for $2.99
-bing cherries for $2.88/lb

@ Real Canadian Superstore
-blueberries for $1.44/pint
-cauliflower for $1.98/head
-pork half loin forr $2.98/lb

-lean ground beef $2.49/lb
-2-lb blueberries for $3.99

Total so far?  $118.58 the $50 two days ago for lunch meat, cheese, breakfast sausage, berries and nut butter.
....and chicken was sold out, so I have to go back and drop about another $12 still.  Makes me want to cry.   That's around $180 this week.  Damn.

So, what's on this week's menu, already??

This isn't my photo--its not even paleo, but its my inspiration to MAKE paleo...

  • fried clams/clam fritters with raw veggies recipe TBA
  • chicken BLT salads
  • stovetop lemon chicken scampi with greens  my inspiration came from here, but I may not follow it exactly
  • crockpot buffalo chicken with cauli-mash
  • taco bowls still experimenting with varations on this recipe --this time doubled and baked into big shells to serve in
  • beef and bacon koftas with cauli-orzo salad recipe TBA
and maybe

  • lemon chia seed cake here
Doesn't it  remind you of lemon poppyseed cake?  Lets see if  I can convince a teen to cook this...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Zucchini Calfredo "Grande Style"

Yes, I'm back at it with this "Grande Style" thing again.  There is no more perfect accompaniment to alfredo sauce than fresh tomatoes, green onions and some ham.  That's just truth.

Now, I'm not going to take all the credit on this recipe.  There are several recipes out there in the internet that soak nuts and puree them into a paste to make the sauce.  I'm not smart enough to have thought that one up.  The recipe I started with came from Against All Grain here.  She's just adorable.  Too adorable.  Makes me want to punch her because she's way prettier than me.  But enough of my Evil Queen/Snow White complex.  Her recipe looked good.

So here's what I did

feeds 4-5
takes 1 hour soak time, plus 30 minutes more


4 medium zucchini
1 cup raw cashews
1-2 cups ham
1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 green onions/scallions
1/4 cup parmesan (optional)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
a few shakes of nutmeg
salt and pepper


First things first.  Boil some water.  Pour 4 cups of your boiled water into a large mixing bowl and add the cashews.  Let them soak for an hour.

While that's going on, get everything else ready.  Slice your zucchini really thin with a mandoline or if you don't have one, go buy one right now.  You have an hour, after all!  Seriously, ok, chop your ham into small pieces, cut your tomatoes into quarters, chop your green onions up fine and dig out the parmesan from the back corner of your fridge where you'd forgotten all about it.

Get your blender out and set it up.  Now, pull out a cookie sheet.  Line it with a towel, then put some paper towels ontop of the towel.  Get your strainer out and stick it in the sink.  Pull out a frypan/skillet and leave it on the stovetop.  Now you're ready.  Did that take an hour?  No?  Go away and come back when its almost been an hour.

Alright, this goes sooo fast and easy.  Pull out a large pot and fill it with some water.  Bring it to a boil.  When its boiling, add your zucchini noodles and blanch for JUST 1 MINUTE.  Seriously, not a second longer.  Soggy zucchini is just gross.  Remove pot from heat, and pour zucchini through strainer.  Immediately run cold water over the zucchini to stop the cooking process.  Now spread your zucchini over the paper towels to dry.  You may want to lay some more paper towels ontop of it and help pat it even drier.  Your choice.  Let the zucchini go cold.  Don't worry about it.

Heat your skillet over med-hi heat.  You can saute the ham, but you don't have to if its cooked ham.  Up to you.  Ok, now lift your cashews out of the soaking water but don't discard the water.  You're going to use some of it.  Add the cashews to your blender, along with 1 cup of the soaking liquid.  Add your lemon/lime juice, garlic, basil, nutmeg, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and puree everything until it makes a pasty sauce.  It may look thin at this point.  Pour this into the skillet and heat it through to mix all the flavours, let it simmer for a few minutes--it will thicken.  If it gets too thick, add some of the nut water.  At the last minute, add your parmesan.  If it makes the sauce too thick, add a tiny bit more water.

Remove from heat and stir in your zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, ham and green onions.  Serve with extra parmesan and hot pepper flakes.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

ON THE MENU JN 17 - 23

Ah, it finally happened!  I had enough meat stockpiled in the freezer for a whole week, so I didn't have to buy any!!  Of course, I needed just about everything else.  That's what eating fresh really means.  I need soooo much produce each week.  So what do we see here?  Dog food, 4 dozen eggs, 2 cartons unsweetened almond milk, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, parmesan, salsa, a pgk of cream cheese, broccoli slaw (and behind it carrot slaw), baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers, jalapinos, toothpaste, hubby's body wash, cleaning sponges, chili-garlic sauce, green onions, red onions, strawberries, kiwi, red peppers, mushrooms, butter, yogurt (and behind them, out of sight is 2 kinds of apples and avocadoes, a loaf of breaad of the teens (gasp!) and a peanut butter (double gasp!  so they don't kill us in our sleep!) And in the baggies on the right; raw cashews, raw cane sugar, raisins, dark chocolate chips, cocoa and cinnamon.

So, what did this week of not buying meat cost me?  Not including dog food: $113.02

And what am I cooking with this stuff??

  • honey-garlic pork shish-ka-bob and coleslaw (making an asian marinade, and glazing with a honey garlic sauce, recipe TBA, and coleslaw recipe here )
  • zucchini in white sauce, "grande style" recipe TBA (if it works); I am experimenting with soaking cashews and blending them into a thick white sauce
  • crockpot roast beef, paleo yorkshire and  roasted carrots best yorkshire pudding recipe I have ever made is here
  • armadillo meatballs with raw veggies my hubbie picked this one, a mix between jalapino poppers and scottish eggs...and I LOVE jalapino poppers,  so recipe here
  • beef chili my own recipe, I never remember to write it down so its always just off the top of my head....  One day I will write it down.
....And that's about it.  Both girl's birthdays are this week, so there will be days we're eating out...  And on saturday, I'm going on a picnic and a hike with some fellow paleo peeps through Meet-Up, so that should be fun and I'll get to see other people's food.  Because I'm nosy.  I like to see other people's food.  Don't have a clue yet what I'll bring, either...
This is their pic, just for a teaser....

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Adventures in Cauli-Bread, part II --Pizza!

 So of course I had to try this one.  I love pizza.  I love cheese, but cheese does not love me.  I can take small amounts, the firmer the cheese, the better.  And pizza without cheese is a life not worth living.  But there is a limit on how much cheese I'm willing to consume.  Seriously.  I just can't digest those cheese-filled cauli-crust pizzas I see people making.  Nor can I digest the almond-flour heavy crusts sometimes.  I LOVE the gourmet thin-crust  pizza I blogged the recipe for.  It is hands-down the most authentic-tasting pizza crust I've made yet.  But almond flour is incredibly expensive.  And I could definitely stand to cut down on my nut consumption. 

So I came upon this recipe at Healthylicious Housewife.  And I wondered, could I do it?  Would it work?  Certainly, the hamburger buns worked.  So here's what I did:

Puree'd a half  head of cauliflower (about 3 cups worth) until it was just pulp.  Then I added 3 eggs, 3 tbsp flax seeds that I ground up real fine in an old coffee grinder.  I added a couple of shakes of dried garlic and onion  powder.  Hard to believe that's all that needs to go in there.

I lined a giant pizza pan with greased parchment paper and patted out the very wet mixture and baked it at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then I flipped it over  and cooked it for another 5 minutes.  I moved the rack up to the highest setting and switched the oven to broil.

I topped it with my favourite toppings--cooked sausage and onions with a bit of cheddar on top of it all.  Then I jut broiled until golden.  Easy.
Could I hold it in my hands to eat it?  ....Sorta.  Ok, not really.  But almost.  Was it as tasty as the gourmet thin-crust pizza?  No, but it was very good.  Could you taste the cauliflower?  No, surprisingly.

Cheaper, easier, and probably a lot healthier.  I would call this a success in cauli-bread adventures--that's 2/2 so far!

Monday, 11 June 2012


I wanted pretty simple food this week.  With Steve working again, I'm doing all the cooking, and this week, he's also on a business trip, so I get to be the sole parent, too.  Yay, me!  So I wanted simple.  And cheap.  Because I like cheap.

This week's total $108.16. 

Yup, pretty proud of myself.  That even included dryer sheets and a lfetime supply of toilet paper.

  • cauli-crust pizza with sausage & ham cauli-crust recipe here
  • pad thai with flax pasta pad thai recipe from Well Fed, flax pasta recipe here (mine came out horrible, I warn you!!)
  • chipotle chicken recipe here
  • sloppy joes on squash fries recipe here
  • pork stir-fry with bok choy and sugar snaps sauce tba
  • breakfast for dinner
  • leftover shredded meat fajitas with cucumber-mango salad

  • banana dark chocolate chip muffins here
Chipotle Chicken

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Adventures in Cauli-Bread

I found this awesome post over at Healthylicious Housewife.  I'm not taking credit for thinking up this gem.  I was hunting for a way to make pizza crust without almond flour and without a buttload of cheese in it.  I was astounded by what I saw, and truly curious.  You HAVE to check out her blog/site!!  This woman has made buns with just cauliflower, eggs, and a bit of flax for elasticity.  Is that even possible?  Was it really that simple?  No crazy ingredients or complex instructions or food-dehydrator required??  Would it be sturdy enough without cheese to hold in my hands?  So an experiment needed to be done!!

Of course you have to follow the link and check out her site and all the other amazing recipes she has there--we need to support each other, right?!  For the full recipe, go here.

And BTW, she does this recipe again, with some tweaks, to make that cheese-free cauli-crust pizza that I was hunting for, so I will definately be trying that one, too, shortly.


So, in a nutshell, I puree'd 2 cups of cauliflower as fine as I could make it, not leaving any lumps.  I put it in a big bowl and mixed it with 2 eggs, 1 tbsp ground flax meal and some salt and pepper.  The mixture was very wet.

I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and heated the oven to 450 degrees.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up the wet mixture and plopped it onto the parchment paper.  The original recipe didn't say how many it made, but i managed to get 8 mounds (so 4 buns) out of it.  Now, the recipe also didn't say anything about flattening the mounds out, but I just slightly rounded the corners and left them as big lumps, thinking they'd expand and flatten as they cooked.  They do not, so don't fall for this one. 

I popped them into the oven for 10 minutes, then flipped them over and cooked for another 5 minutes.  At the point where I had to flip them, they were already firm, bouncy little buns, and they did not stick in the slightest.  They were dry enough to pick up and handle, firm enough to hold a heavy piece of meat. 

They were just AMAZING! 

So cool, these tiny buns!!
And they continued to hold together as I added pickles and home made mayo!

Next time, I will flatten them slightly more so I have full-sized thin hamburger buns instead of sliders.  I honestly thought they'd expand.  The slider thing was just a really cool accident. 

The buns stayed moist in the middle, so hopefully flattening and maybe doubling the flax meal will make them even better.  It was just so nice to be able to hold a hamburger in my hands again.  Any caveman would agree. 

The possibilities with this are endless.  Could you make them thin enough to make grilled sandwiches?  Just pop the cooked breads with fillings back onto a griddle to toast up a bit?  Could you make them long and skinny for hot dogs and sausages?!  2 cups of cauliflower is only a 1/2 head.  If you doubled the recipe, you could make both shapes for a bbq.  You can let these little buns go cold, they won't change in consistency.  They do make the meal alittle more filling, which is a good thing!

And if you are making them for a bbq, try making my Brit Sauce to baste the burgers with as they cook and the Garlic-Basil Mayo to go with them.  The sauce will add an awesome tang that goes great with the meat and these buns......  You're welcome.

Brit Sauce

Remember HP sauce?  I know, no longer in your fridge/cupboard, right?  It was tasty stuff, but incredibly strong.  Too strong.  A bit too tangy sometimes.  And full of sugar and crap.

What if you could make your own, and make it just a bit milder, and make it more primally acceptable?  A bit HP sauce-meets-bbq-sauce. 

That is exactly what I did.

And it goes great slathered on bbq meats--burgers, sausages, chicken.  I have variations in mind for a spicy wing sauce and a sweet teriyaki-like stir-fry sauce that I have to test and get back to you on still.  I'm drooling thinking of them.

So here's the basic sauce.  Store it in your fridge; it should last for a very long time with all that vinegar in it, but if you're hesitant, cut the recipe into 1/4 amounts to test it out on burgers and see how you like it.  I'm sure you will like it.

Makes about 1 cup


1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worchestershire sauce
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
dash salt (optional)


Put your balsamic vinegar in a shallow skillet or in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer it until it is reduced by half.  This will only take a couple of minutes.  Add the rest of your ingredients and continue to simmer until it is reduced to about a cup of sauce, about 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  Cool completely before pouring into a jar and storing in the fridge.

Korean Beef with Cauli-Couscous

I was going through my old cookbooks, trying to "thin the heard" and I came upon this recipe that I used to cook for my kids.  I just couldn't throw this one out, so I tore out the pages and threw the rest of the book out.  I do that.  Alot.  I have a binder full of torn pages containing recipes of all sorts, just waiting for the day that I feel inspired and confident enough to translate them into something more primally appropriate.  I'm not exactly an "intuitive" cook--I need the idea of a recipe as a jumping point to get started.  So I collect these ideas and I hoard them.  A friend once called me a recipe whore because I always seem to collect these recipes, but I never actually get around to cooking 90% of them.  At least not the dessert recipes, because I'd weigh 300 lbs if I did.

So anyways, the original recipe called for thin strips of fast-fry steak, something I could never cook right and have it still be tender.  But what if I used ground beef?  Less expensive, tender....  A few tweaks to make it more primally-acceptable...  And this is the result.  It has a slightly sweet, but mild flavour and it pulls together in no time (something I MUST insist on).  Despite the addition of hot pepper flakes, this dish is not hot at all and will not alarm small children's taste buds....  S'alright--I added sriracha sauce after the photo anyways, because I ALWAYS do that.

Now for the rice--who doesn't want a new way to cook rice?!  If you are at all like me, you cook mashed cauli, make cauli rice and put cauliflower into just about everything (we buy 3-4 heads of cauliflower per week).  But really, any other veggie in this recipe might overwhelm the delicate flavour, so a new cauli idea was needed.  I've roasted cauliflower before, whole florets, and loved it (not so much roasted broccoli).  So why not shred them before roasting?  The shredded cauli takes on a nutty flavour as it roasts in the oven, even more so since I tossed my cauli with sesame seed oil first.  I never liked real couscous, but this cauli-couscous I really liked.  Easy.  So here it is:

Serves approx. 5
Ready in 1/2 hour or less

(For the Beef)

2 lbs ground beef*
5-6 green onions (scallions)
5 cloves minced fresh garlic
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup beef stock
4 tbsp soy sauce** + 1/8 cup water
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp tapioca
3 scoops stevia powder (equiv of 3 tsp sugar)

(For the cauliflower)

1 head cauliflower
1 tbsp sesame oil

sesame seeds, for garnish


First, prep everything; shred your cauli in a food processor with the grating tool.  Move it to a big bowl and toss it with the sesame oil.  In a separate, small bowl, mix your soy sauce, beef stock, honey, stevia and sesame seeds, set aside.  Chop your green onions.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Spread cauli between 2 cookie sheets and bake 10 minutes.  Stir.  Return to oven and cook for another 5 minutes, until browning in places.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink.  Add garlic and pepper, cooking for another minute until fragrant.  Add the bowl of soy sauce and whatnot you already mixed up.  Bring to boil.  In that now-empty small bowl, mix your tapioca starch with an equal bit of water to dissolve.  Throw your green onions into the skillet, then while stirring, add the tapioca and allow to thicken for a few seconds.  Remove from heat. 

Taste and adjust for sweetness. 

Serve over cauli-couscous and garnish with extra sesame seeds. 

*if you choose to use beef strips, slice your meat across the grain diagonally into 2-inch strips.  Cook steak with garlic and pepper for scant 2 minutes, allowing it to remain slightly pink.  Remove from heat before adding sauce to skillet, continue with recipe above... Add meat back in at end.  Do not overcook it.

**I hear that coconut aminos is slightly sweeter than soy sauce, that it is not a perfect substitute, but in this recipe, the sweetness might actually come through very nice.  Thought I do not own coconut aminos, if I can get my hands on some, I will definitely try to sub it in this recipe and see how it goes.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Cauli-Rice Custard

Do you remember custard--from a can?  My ex-husband's family would serve custard with everything--it's an Irish thing--hot custard on ice cream, on coffee cakes, on birthday cake, over stewed rhubarb....  Never made it from scratch, though.  It came in powder form in a tin.  Custard makes me think of Teletubbies (sad, but true)--they LOVED custard--"Tubby Custard" to be exact.  How do I know this stuff?  My daughter was into the Teletubbies, and I barely survived it.  Many hours endured.  Barely.  The Teletubbies could drive any mother to drink.  Or to scarf down hot custard. 
I've had an awful hankering for the stuff lately, probably because rhubarb is coming up and I don't have any growing, which makes me sad.  Now, I LOVED custard, but it didn't love me back.  You see, its almost all dairy.  But it got me thinking.....  Could I make it with coconut milk?  Why yes, you can.  Coconut milk makes a really thick, rich custard in fact.  Which got me thinking more, and more....
So last week, I made custard with squash and pumpkin pie spice.  I made it with only 2 eggs, whole eggs, and while it was delicious, it wasn't filling enough.  So I added more eggs after the fact, and the wet squash gave the whole thing a kindof oatmeal-y texture.   Delish, but not pretty, so that one will get a little more experimentation yet.
But then I thought--what about rice pudding?  Not real rice.  Cauli-rice.  Sure, you can heat shredded cauliflower in coconut milk, but wouldn't coconut milk custard--made with 5 eggs--be more filling?  In fact, wouldn't it be breakfast food?  Yes, I think it is.  It definitely is.  You can still vaguely taste the cauliflower, I will admit.  But its slight sweet, thick, creamy, and reminds me very much of my tubby-custard days.  You can experiment with the sweetness if you like. 

This made 5 servings


1 1/2 cans full-fat coconut milk
5 eggs
1 tbsp tapioca starch
3 tsp honey
3-4 scoops stevia powder
2 tsp vanilla

1/2 head cauliflower, riced
2-3 handfuls raisins (about 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
3 tbsp honey

extra cinnamon and crystallised raw sugar (coconut sugar or something like that is perfect), for garnish


Ever done an egg-bath?**  In a large bowl, whisk your eggs with your tapioca starch.  Pull out all the custard ingredients and keep them nearby.  Pour your coconut milk into a saucepan and heat it, whisking frequently, over medium heat, until steaming hot (scalding, but not scorched).  Turn heat down a bit and take pot off burner.  With one hand whisking eggs, slowly add hot coconut milk to eggs.  Keep whisking eggs until you've added all the milk.  This will stop them from curdling.  Then pour the whole mixture back into the pot and put it back on the burner.  Whisk constantly until it thickens and will coat the back of a spoon.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat and add all other custard ingredients.  There.  If you just want hot custard for stewed rhubarb, you're done.  If not, set aside and move onto the rice.

Take out a large skillet.  Turn it onto alittle above medium heat and add your butter.  Add all the other ingredients except the honey.  Heat, stirring frequently, until cauli begins to soften.  Don't over-cook it or make it too mushy or it'll be too wet.  When tender, add honey and remove from heat.

Stir custard and rice together.  Taste for sweetness.

Divide among 5 dishes and garnish with cinnamon and crystallised raw sugar of choice.

**If you're really careful, you could short-cut the custard and just whisk the eggs, tapioca and coconut milk together, and heat slowly, whisking constantly, until it thickens.  Again, do not boil or it will curdle.  Then add all the rest of the custard ingredients. 


lemon butter chicken, on broc & peppers

Finally, a week when I have enough meats in the freezer and veggies in the crisper to not have to spend an arm and a leg on groceries!!  I still have 2 meals worth of chicken legs, 2 lbs sausage, leftover (frozen) shredded pork tenderloin and a second roast of beef.  Yaay me!  So this week's shopping total was $86.98.  Seriously.  Of course, next week there will only be the roast of beef in the freezer and nothing else....but that's next week's problem.

So, here's the plan for the week:
  • crockpot shredded beef with cuban cauli-rice adapted from this recipe
  • general tsao chicken with green beans and sugar-snaps recipe TBA
  • lemon butter chicken on green breans and asparagus recipe here
  • shredded pork fajitas with cucumber-mango salad  salad recipe TBA
  • hamburgers on cauli-egg buns with roast carrots
  • korean beef with cauli-couscous recipe TBA

...and another breakfast experiment
  • cauli-rice custard pudding  recipe TBA
The inspiration for my korean beef--the kids loved this one pre-paleo.  I hope they like my adapted version just as much...