It's easy to be motivated when the weather is nice...

Another beautiful day in the Antelope Valley?  The world must be coming to an end!  I kid.  Sorta.  Arrival of the rapture or not, it is hard to not get outside and be productive when the weather is so "spoil you rotten" beautiful.  Sunshine, no wind, gentle breeze, and pale ghostly legs just screamin' for a shot of Vitamin D... all mean three glorious days outdoors.

Friday was spent in the yard.  More planting.  More garden tending.  My husband, who spends much of his time in the "ag patch", insisted on laying a drip line through the veggie garden.  He uses it effectively for all our trees and flowers, so why not treat the veggies to a set watering schedule?  Drip line set?  Check. 

Crazy amounts of drip line.  I turned the timers off for now, at least until something sprouts up from the ground.  There is some small level of therapy that comes from standing in the morning sunshine and watering everything by hand.

I was even motivated enough to finally re-pot the plants that had been crowding my kitchen windowsill.  While I was doubling the available space for my Gerbera daisy, Matt was planting jasmine along the pillars of the pergola.

On Saturday, Matt was off learning CPR and First Aid and I took some time to train Volt how to heel on a leash and not dislocate my shoulder every time we go for a w-a-l-k.  

Matt was finished with class a good six hours earlier than either of us anticipated... so that meant lunch out with the hubby and an afternoon at Lowe's picking out even more plants.

We decided to try Jackie's Cafe in Lancaster.  I was sort of wishing I hadn't eaten a gargantuan breakfast of scrambled pastured eggs and leftover barbacoa beef because the breakfast menu is AWESOME!  I settled for the avocado salad with grilled chicken.  It was quite tasty.  I won't share what Matt had.  Let's just say there was plenty of lettuce, a bit of meat, and it had a crispy tortilla shell bowl.  That is all.

After lunch we hurried home to get back out in the yard and introduce Washington to the rest of the backyard trees.  Blog reading friends... Meet Washington, our new cherry tree!

The yard was at a perfect stopping point for the evening, so I scurried inside and made the chimichurri sauce from ... do you even need to ask ... Well Fed!  I finally found a reason to crack open my sample bottle from Kasandrinos Imports that I received at Paleo F(x).  I have no idea how to describe olive oil, so I'll just tell you - this stuff is good! 

While I was making the chimichurri, Matt prepared a super amazing surf and turf dinner.

Filet medium-rare.  Baked lobster tail with grass-fed butter, lemon juice, and paprika.  Wilted spinach with garlic and olive oil.  And a nice heaping spoonful of chimichurri.  All peacefully enjoyed in our blooming backyard sanctuary.

Well, it was almost peaceful.

Sunday was yet another perfect weather day.  The dogs got a bath.  A walk.  And I got half way through all the nutrition, IF, and chronic illness articles piling up on my Kindle.  It was a pleasant ending to an extremely pleasant weekend.  Monday we're back to the grind and I'm back in the kitchen trying out more new recipes.  Busy week ahead!



Today's post will be short and savory... savory because yesterday's barbacoa attempt came out so spectacular, I had to share!  I'm not sure what sparked the barbacoa craving and I certainly didn't want to drive all the way to Palmdale just to nab up one delicious serving from Chipotle... so I went to the trusty Google and did a search and it sent me to the most fabulous blog:

Paleo Spirit

I always love finding fellow Paleo lifestylers out in the blogosphere.  It means more stories, more support, and the best part - MORE RECIPES!

Lea at Paleo Spirit has an amazing collection of recipes accompanied by some equally amazing pictures.  But the one that I couldn't wait to try - Barbacoa Beef!  It came out so full of flavor, so deliciously spectacular... my trips to Chipotle will be even more diminished.  For the recipe - go visit Paleo Spirit.  Here's what came out of my kitchen last night:

I can't even describe the savory goodness that is adorning this plate.  My kitchen smelled so incredible for the entire afternoon, I had no doubt the final product was going to be a masterpiece.

Dinner!  Barbacoa beef topped with avocado, a small yam, and a scoop of Farmhouse Culture Smoked Jalapeño Kraut.

And for breakfast this morning...?  Eggs with more barbacoa beef and diced avocado.  I'm hooked!


Be Prepared... Or the ChocoVine will haunt you

This past week I broke the cardinal rule of eating healthy - I wasn't prepared.  No grocery shopping.  No menu planning.  No meal prep.  Nothing.  And we all know what happens when we're not prepared...  we grab the easiest thing we can and eat that instead.  The joke is on me, though.  The only things in my entire kitchen that are "easy to grab" are the last few sheets of nori and some coconut chips.  That's what happens when Matt's Shelf is wiped clean of granola bars, oatmeal, and other sweet treats. 

The fridge has been slowly dwindling down from a beautiful bounty of stocked shelves and pre-cooked food to a few paltry leftovers, no veggies, and a lingering box of See's Candy from Christmas.  Oh, and that wretched bottle of ChocoVine.

See how sad?  It sorta makes me want to cry.  The bowls in the lower right are all breakfast and lunch foods for Matt... and they are almost EMPTY!

Green beans, two planks of cod, and coffee.  It's a sad sad day in the Rottman household.  What's a gal to do?  Pull out her copy of Well Fed, Make it Paleo, open up the NomNomPaleo recipe page and make a grocery list that puts all other grocery lists to shame.  And that is exactly what I did, much to my husband's and our credit card's dismay.  I threw my pile of reusable grocery bags and insulated containers into the car and made my way to the nearest town that has a nice assortment of health food stores - 45 minutes away.  Since I am eagerly awaiting my order from US Wellness Meats and we have 1/4 of a grass-fed cow coming our way at the end of the month... I tried to go light on the meat purchase.  Tried.


First stop:  Costco!  I loaded up my cart with the following:

* bag of oranges
* bag of avocados
* Brussels sprouts
* 2 jars of White Linen Marinara Sauce
* tub of baby spinach
* boneless, skinless chicken thighs
* boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
* a tub of Kerry Gold Irish Butter, made from grass-fed cows (This was an exciting find for me!)
* organic ground beef... since we go through this so quickly, I didn't think it would impede on our upcoming delivery of meat
* baby carrots (We know they're good because Matt's company watered them!)
* apples
* eggs
* beef roast - because I am cooking up some serious barbacoa this weekend...  Stay tuned for pictures and recipe info!


Next stop:  Sprouts!  I hate buying my produce at The Food Hole (as my bestest friend and her husband like to call it)... so I thought I'd give Sprouts a try since it was within a two mile radius of everything else.  Into the cart I tossed:

* macadamia nuts (I also like to refer to these as "crack")
* a few bottles of G.T.'s Kombucha
* carrots - for making the Cumin Roasted Carrot recipe from Well Fed
* fresh oregano
* cauliflower
* cilantro
* red and green cabbage
* Italian parsley
* jalapeño peppers for the Well Fed Bora Bora Fireballs
* limes
* red and sweet onion

For some of this pile of healthy goodness, I have a plan.  For the rest - I am preparing myself.  When there is nothing else to eat, veggies are always easy to make and can be exceptionally tasty.


The final stop:  Whole Foods!

* prosciutto - for my attempt at a Meatza next week, topped with spinach and prosciutto.
* 2 dozen pastured eggs - I eat these every morning and prefer to use them when I make mayonnaise
* frozen broccoli - in case of hunger emergency, stir-fry broccoli!
* cans of albacore tuna
* package of roasted nori sheets - for my tuna and homemade mayo wrap addiction
* ground pork - for Matt's breakfast makin's
* pork chorizo - Paleo friendly!  I was super happy to stumble on this at the meat counter
* two bunches of kale chips... I know, I know.  It's just kale.  But when I see kale, I immediately associate it with roasted chips and watching The Sopranos.  That's Matt and my thing now.  It's like pizza and beer.  I mean it.  Don't judge me.

When I finally arrived back home, with only half of the macadamia nuts I started with, I immediately restocked my fridge and wrote out the meals for the coming the week.  I feel so much better with a full fridge and a plan in place.

Look at all the meat and veggies and eggs and goodness that is once again filling the shelves of my fridge!  Oh happy day!

The freezer is once again ready for last minute chicken meals with broccoli sides.  And since I can't see the See's Candy, it isn't there.  Right?  Right!

Point of today's story, my friends?  Have a plan.  Be prepared.  Keep your house well stocked with plenty of options to keep your face fed and your tummy and body healthy and happy.  Trust me - nori and coconut flakes do not make for a tasty lunch, nor a good pre-WOD meal.

Now get out there, enjoy the beautiful weekend weather, and make a plan to start May off right!


My First Bout With Garden Vermin

I always like starting new projects because it tends to fill me with a temporary sense of purpose...  My garden has become my new "toy" and I look forward to waking up every morning just to go take a peek and see if anything is happening yet.  I know that it's absurd to even think there will be anything to look at so soon, but even staring at the damp dirt brings me a teeny sense of pride.  "I did that!" 

On Day 3 of "Garden Watch 2012", I discovered a very disturbing development - VERMIN HAD ATTACKED MY ZUCCHINI! 

And the culprits were still in the yard!

After a mild amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth, I made a small adjustment and renamed the garden "Border Town".  Groan all you want. 

With the sun brightly shining, the garden secure, and the dogs safely sleeping on the couch in the air-conditioned living room... I decided to tackle a craft project that caught my eye on a random garden Google search.  The idea of painting weather-proof rocks for plant labels was fantastic.  I gathered up all the necessary supplies, including a pile of rocks from the old pond...

I then proceeded to tap into my inner 8th grade art class self and let the creative juices flow.  Mr. Roger would be so proud.

If none of my seeds should sprout and all of my plants happen to wilt over, at least the dirt will look pretty with all my painted rocks.  And if that happens, I will pick up my rake and turn it into one of those therapeutic Japanese rock gardens.  The dogs can't ruin rocks... I hope.


Gettin' Earthy With It

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."
Genesis 2:15

The sun and 100 degree heat have made their grand appearance up here in the Antelope Valley.  Since neither one has plans to depart for the next seven months or so... I figured it was finally time for me to get out in the yard and make nice with the earth.  I have nothing close to a green thumb.  In fact, I have mutant ninja thumbs as they were so kindly dubbed right around sixth grade.  Perhaps that is my disadvantage when it comes to making flowers grow... I certainly know it is a disadvantage for speed typing on my iPhone or any other device that requires thumb agility.

Regardless, with my ever increasing desire to know from where my food originates...  I realized that the closest I could possibly get to my food source is to be my own food source.  Awareness doesn't get much better than that.  I will admit that I don't want to get SO wrapped around the source of my soil, my seeds, and the maintenance that the garden is no longer fun but instead becomes an overwhelming tidal wave of organic gardening do's and don'ts.  That would suck.  I would hate it.  And the garden would fall to the wayside, just like my piles of dirty workout clothes.

All that said... I present to you the beginnings of Neener's Garden.  Much of the soil came from an unnamed nearby source... and if it is good enough for those organic baby carrots you're nibbling on at lunch, then it's good enough for my garden.  Matt and I have spent about three days to get to this point - with a few hours each day doing miscellaneous prep, materials gathering, and actual "gardening."

 Matt pieces together the treated wood to prepare the planter box.

 Volt oversees the operation to ensure the completed work is of the utmost quality.

The planter box is positioned over the former pond/planter/Volt's fox hole for afternoon naps.

Dirt is placed, arranged, mixed, jostled, tousled, and whatever else you do with dirt when you start a garden.

Here I am, meticulously poking my finger into some dirt.  Home grown kale chips, baby.  I can't wait!

And so it begins.  Hopefully we will be looking at a beautiful array of veggies after a few months of a whole lot of sunshine, water, and praying to the Master Gardener upstairs.

 I even set up a manual reminder to get out there and water, water, water!  (And kick the dogs out of what may be confused as their own personal salad bar)

My mutant green(ish) thumbs were so excited to be covered in dirt, I kept on going and planted some flowers around our persimmon tree.  I love this Fireball Gerbera Daisy. 

There will be no doggie jackassery taking place in this yard.  Volt is protective of his persimmon tree and the new flora surrounding it. 

And so, dear friends, that is how we spent our Earth Day weekend.  Sorta productive, kinda green, and really earthy.


Lemony, Buttery Deliciousness

In an attempt to venture away from red meat and chicken for at least one meal this year - I purchased a bag of wild Pacific cod at Costco in hopes that I'd find a recipe suitable enough to inspire me to actually eat the fish.  Not only was I mildly inspired - but I was miraculously satisfied and couldn't wait to eat the leftovers.  Looking for a delicious way to make your own white flaky fish?  Add this baked cod to your upcoming meal planning calendar...

I started with this recipe and made a few tweaks so that the ingredients were Paleo friendly.  Here's what I piled on my counter to make this deliciousness -

* 6 defrosted cod fish fillets
* 1/4 cup of melted Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter - Unsalted
* fresh squeezed juice of 1 lemon
* 1/2 cup almond meal
* pinch of salt
* fresh ground black pepper
* Penzeys Turkish Seasoning, to taste

Set the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter and fresh lemon juice.  In a larger mixing bowl, combine the almond meal, salt, and black pepper.  I used about 5 - 7 grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt.  Blend the almond meal, salt, and pepper together with a fork.  Dip each fish fillet into the lemon butter, then into the seasoned almond mix until the fish is well coated.  Place each fillet into an 8x8 baking dish.  Pour the remaining lemon butter mixture over the fish and into the baking dish.  Lightly sprinkle each fillet with Penzeys Turkish Seasoning.  Note: too much will make this dish too salty.  Go light!  Cook the fish, uncovered, for about 30 - 35 minutes or until flaky.


For a veggie side, I julienned a bunch of organic heirloom carrots and thinly sliced a head of red cabbage and a sweet onion.  I sautéed all of the veggies in coconut oil with two cloves of minced garlic and a little salt and pepper.

The next day, I couldn't wait to eat the leftovers!  The only rule Matt enforced with regards to reheating the fish was NO MICROWAVE.  And I have to say, this fish is even more delicious on Day 2 when well heated in a toaster oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  The butter keeps it nice and moist.  I have now met my seafood consumption quota for 2012... that's TWO whole meals of fish.  Mom will be proud.


Stop And Smell the Irises...

90 degrees, sunny, dry, and gorgeous in the High Desert on Friday... and since my only focus for the day was to accomplish something, I set out to just be aware of everything around me and live the day full of joy.  I now present to you... tidings of comfort and joy...

I started the day listening to voicemail and checking e-mail.  My bestest friend in the whole world, who loves her Wheat Thins and pineapple, was inspired by my julienne peeler post and made zucchini spaghetti for dinner this week!  I was thrilled to receive a very enthusiastic "thank you" phone call from her and her husband.  She also shared her pictures with me quoting "not blog worthy."  I just proved her wrong. 

When I walked out the front door for the day, I was greeted by a fully blooming garden:

I was on my way to meet my husband for our bi-weekly "hubby and wife tea time":

After refreshing beverages, Matt left to head way far out east for boring ol' work stuff and I went to Costco to pick up my contribution for the Friday night Paleo BBQ at Murphy's Barbell Club:

After I loaded the pallet of Sam Adams into the back of my vehicle, I headed over to Sears Veterinary Hospital to get some paperwork completed for Volt.  My little boy is testing to be a part of Therapy Dogs, Incorporated!  I'm excited and hope he will qualify to bring as much joy and happiness to the hospitalized, special needs, and elderly as he does to me and Matt.  Here's the resident meow-meow manning the desk at the vet:

Then I set off to Goodwill to drop off a giant donation of books, clothing, and glassware.  Hooray for charitable donations (and tax write-offs):

Stopped on The BLVD for a little fuel at The Brooklyn Deli:

Then back home to water seal the redwood boards that will soon become the veggie garden in my backyard.  This former pond doesn't currently bring me joy... but my new garden will once it is finished:

After the wood was set to dry, I threw on my limited edition NomNomPaleo WOD socks and Matt and I headed up to Murphy's Barbell Club for some high volume heavy lifting - deadlifts and box squats!  Once our posterior chains were sufficiently screaming - it was time to chow!  Coach Bob and his wife Kerry kindly hosted a post-WOD Paleo BBQ.  I was too hungry to stop and take pictures... needless to say, I devoured a (few) very hearty helping(s) of delicious pulled pork, fruit salad, and salad greens.  We were even treated to entertainment while we ate.  This is a picture of Whitney, one of the most bad-ass CrossFitters I know, busting out a few free-standing handstand push-ups.  A little jealous?  Oh yeah!

It was a pretty fantastic Friday and I'm happy to say I actually accomplished quite a few somethings.  Maybe one day, I can add handstand push-ups to that list.