5.31.2012

Everyone Else is Doing It...

My diet and activity have never fully recovered after my trip back East in March.  And I've had this crappy mindset that "I'll get back" for quite a while... but my intentions never really made it to action.  Last week, I received two separate e-mails from two separate friends at opposite ends of the country...

"We're thinking about doing a Whole30 in June"

I was so excited to read that!  And then within a day, the next message showed up...

"Okay, you got me... Starting my first Whole30 June 1..."

Alright.  Alright.  If the bloat, aching joints, restless sleep, and heartburn aren't enough - the support of knowing two good friends are about to venture into the exciting world of 30 days of strict Paleo IS enough to push me back to the ways of right.

Thank you, ladies.  You know who you are.

The rules of engagement can be found HERE.  In addition to my friends, there is an INCREDIBLE worldwide support group at forum.whole9life.com.  Not sure if that cookie you're about to eat is Whole30 approved?  Check the forum.  But I can tell you right now - it is NOT.

My first week menu is planned.  My new gadgets and ingredients are ordered.  And as of tomorrow I will be embarking once again on 30 days (actually, I want to extend this out a little longer... my relationship with food needs an adjustment once again) of healthy living.  Back in the kitchen.  Back to Murphy's.

Matt will not be taking on the Whole30 with me, but has promised his support during the meals we are eating together.  And I must say - he still hasn't eaten cereal or sandwiches at home or in his lunch since before our Wedded Bliss Whole30 in February.

So prepare - as the next 30 days of posts will be more food ideas.  More pictures.  More recipes and recipe links.  And probably some venting as I once again go through withdrawal from Jelly Belly jelly beans and Ben & Jerry's Mint Cookie ice cream.

Feel free to join in.  Join the conversation.  Drop off some ideas and tips.  Or even share the struggles you might be encountering.

Here we go...

5.30.2012

Cuban Ropa Vieja (sorta-ish)

There is still SO MUCH COW in our freezer!  My not so little grass-fed buddy has been keeping me on my toes with new recipes and ideas.  Matt and I have certainly been eating our share of grilled hamburgers and seasoned ground beef... but I am in need of something a little more exotic and exciting.

I plopped myself down with my big box of recipes this past weekend... printouts, copies, torn magazine pages, scribbled notes... and sifted my way through to pull out a stack of savory ideas with which to put together a meal plan for the coming weeks.  First on the list:  Cuban Ropa Vieja.

The recipe I have is originally from HERE.  But I made a few tweaks this time around and the result was nothing short of spicy deliciousness.

The recipe originally calls for flank steak.  Since I had already defrosted a roast in the refrigerator - that is what I used.  Here's how it all went down...

* 2 cups homemade bone broth
* 8 oz RoTel Tomato Sauce with Green Chilies
* 6 oz tomato paste
* 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
* 2 teaspoons Penzeys ground cumin
* salt & pepper, to your liking
* 1 large sweet onion, sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
* 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
* 1 jalapeño, sliced
* 2 tablespoons coconut oil
* 3 - 4 pound bone-in roast
* 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped


1. In a slow-cooker, add bone broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and apple cider vinegar.  Stir until well blended.
2. Slowly stir in the cumin, salt, and pepper.
3. Carefully add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño to the liquid.
4. Over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil in a large skillet.  Brown each side of the roast in the hot oil.  If you happen to be cooking over a holiday weekend, avoid doing this step in your swim suit.  Trust me.


5. When the roast is evenly browned on each side, gently transfer into the liquid mixture in the slow-cooker.
6.  Add the chopped cilantro into the liquid and stir.
7.  Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours. 


I'm tempted to serve this on top of a bed of quinoa... but for now Matt and I have been munching on it plain.  No traditional rice or tortillas required.


 

5.29.2012

Memorial Day Weekend Whatnots

My husband just recently finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  I was happy to share in his new found enthusiasm for Apple, Inc. while he would read certain paragraphs and stories out loud.  And I would chuckle when Matt would make statements about how his reasons for not ever wanting to own a Mac have since disappeared with the development of cloud computing.  But when we get down to brass tacks - Matt is still a PC.  I am still a Mac.  So when I expressed my mild disgruntlement around the slowness of my computer... my husband delved into his new Apple love and tried to fix it.  Long story short - the computer has been out of commission and that is why I have been absent for the past week.  (My sweet aluminum bodied baby is still a work in progress as I type this)

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Now that I'm back online, I have so many wonderful and not so wonderful things to share with you.  But I'll do my best to spread it out over the course of the week!  Buckle up and check back daily!

Memorial Day actually started on Sunday for us.  We nestled into the couch and loaded up the Blu-Ray with the first disc of Band of Brothers.  My initial reaction to Matt's mini-series marathon suggestion was "well that's not very uplifting"... which was immediately met by his "it isn't supposed to be uplifting.  It's Memorial Day."  Touché, Captain Rottman.  With bacon-wrapped hot dogs and an icy cold Kona Brewing Company Koko Brown, we ventured into the first six episodes of the experiences and emotions of Easy Company in the 101st Airborne during World War II.


The next morning, Matt started off Memorial Day Monday in cleaning mode.  He stripped the grill down, shook off the metal racks, and placed them into the oven.  He started the self-clean mode - hoping to clean not only our dirty oven, but the dirty grill racks as well.  Secretly, I feel he was trying to reenact a battle scene from Band of Brothers in our own house.  Within twenty minutes, every smoke alarm was squealing... the entire house was thick with stifling gray smoke... we were scrambling to open windows... throats and eyes burning... running for one or two gasps of clean fresh air in the far corners of the backyard.  While we waited for the oven to continue its cleaning magic and the house to stop looking like the aftermath at Bastogne - Matt scrubbed out the rest of the grill while I basked in the sun and the pups munched on grass.


Once the house returned to normal, the grill was clean and the grill racks were SPOTLESS, I ventured back into the kitchen and threw a mountain of ingredients into the slow cooker.  I'll post the recipe tomorrow - trust me, you won't want to miss it!  Then it was back onto the couch for the second round of Band of Brothers.

The Germans surrendered.  The war was over.  Major Richard Winters kept us on edge until the credits rolled.  I balled up my mountain of Kleenex and Matt and I went down to celebrate his mom's birthday over a delicious dinner at The Yard House... and a cupcake.  

All in all a good weekend.  I think next year we'll shake things up a bit and watch The Pacific instead.

Thank you to the servicemen and women that have paid the ultimate price so that we may continue to enjoy our freedom.





5.18.2012

Romanian Cabbage - Pressure Cooker Round 2

I want to start off by checking in with my ladies at UCLA that have been challenging themselves these past few weeks to cut out grains and refined sugars... how are you doing Surgery Center??  Feeling good?  Looking good!  Keep up the great work and keep your kitchen interesting!

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Now that I have a better grasp on what to expect from my pressure cooker, I wanted to attempt something new and different.  It's 100 degrees here in the desert, so soups and broths aren't the most appealing to me right now.  I don't recall how the search evolved, but I stumbled on a very interesting recipe for Romanian Cabbage and Sausage.  It sounded quite tasty and since I had most of the ingredients, I planned to make a few adjustments and give it a shot.

Here's what I rounded up from the far corners of the kitchen:

* 5 strips of sugar-free pork bacon from US Wellness Meats, chopped
* 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (next time I will try a red onion)
* 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
* 3 teaspoons Penzeys Paprika
* 3 teaspoons Penzeys Whole Caraway Seeds
* 1 medium cabbage, shredded
* 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
* 1 Tablespoon Salt
* Fresh ground pepper to taste
* 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
* 3/4 cup water
* sprinkle of Penzeys Aleppo Pepper, optional

(Note: I like to buy my spices from Penzeys in bulk and reuse my old containers, explaining the discrepancy between my ingredient list and my picture)


I set my beautiful new pressure cooker on the stove over medium-high heat and cooked the bacon until it started to brown and give up its fat.  I then tossed in the sliced onion and cooked it with the bacon until the onion slices were soft.  Once the bacon was starting to crisp and the onions were nice and soft, I added the tomato paste, paprika, and caraway seeds.  I stirred everything together until it was well combined, then added the cabbage to the pot.  Next, I tossed in the red pepper flakes, salt, and about ten turns of fresh ground black pepper.  Lastly, I poured the lemon juice and water into the pot and stirred everything together.  I locked the lid in place on the pressure cooker and turned the heat on the stove up to high.  Once the cooker was at pressure, I turned the burner down to low, set the timer for 10 minutes, and waited patiently.

This time, I was not afraid of the noises or the possibility of a messy painful mishap.

When the 10 minutes was up, I let the pressure come off the pot naturally for about ten more minutes.  When I was once again certain that all was safe, I removed the lid and voilà!


My cabbage was still a little watery, so I continued to simmer the cabbage over medium-low heat until the sauce thickened and really started to coat the cabbage.  Final product - smoky, spicy, delicious!  I even sprinkled a little bit of Penzeys Aleppo Pepper on top before serving.  If you're not a fan of spicy heat on your tongue, feel free to omit or reduce the amount of red pepper flakes.  I'm a huge fan of spice, as is my husband - so this was perfect for us.  The heat did seem to mellow after cooling in the fridge all day.

So that's it!  I am officially a pressure cooker addict.  And my favorite part - it is so incredibly easy to clean.  I'm not an efficient or enthusiastic dishwasher (who is?), so I like that this pot is quick to wash with soap and hot water and looks shiny and sparkly new when it's dry.

Poftă Bună!





5.17.2012

We are more than a number.

For twenty years, I based my self worth around three digits.  I have relied solely on those numbers to tell me if I was going to have a good day or a bad day.  Those numbers told me if I was beautiful and would would catch the eyes of men... or if I was hideous and should hide in bed and stay under the covers all day.  Like many women who are "trying to lose weight" - the scale was my only indication of success or failure.

The obsession started in middle school.  Grew stronger in high school.  And by the time I was in college, I was constantly aware of the daily gains and losses.  I couldn't even tell you how or why the obsession began, but it did.  And not until this year did I finally shake it off.  It wasn't until I really started paying attention to creating a whole healthy ME and less to the numbers staring me in the face that I realized my value was more than just a number.  I started writing goals that were tangible and tied to emotion.  My targets became clothing sizes and not a target weight.  I focused on how I wanted to feel when I went clothes shopping, how I wanted to order online with ease and not worry if things would be too snug in the hips.  I set goals like "I want to be confident poolside this summer."  I'm pretty sure everyone would think I was crazy if I posted a little sign next to my lounge chair and piña colada that says: Dania - 160 pounds.  That sign doesn't scream confidence.  It screams weirdo.  My physical self lounging in my favorite bikini?  That screams confidence.  For the record, I do not weigh 160 pounds.  I don't KNOW what I weigh, because I haven't touched my scale since the last day of my Whole30.  The point is... that number really shouldn't and doesn't matter to me.


What I have learned over the past twenty years... more so in the past year, is that if my goal is strictly weight loss, I will eventually fail.  Even if I get to that sacred number on the scale - I can't physically stay there.  Whatever it took for me to get to that number is unsustainable.  Instead - if my goals are based on something different - like increasing my maximum back squat, getting to three workouts a week, eating right 90% of the time... those are goals I can continue to work toward and enjoy working toward.  And usually - my body composition changes in a direction that makes me happy.  I'll notice my face isn't as puffy.  My joints aren't as achy.  My personality is more sprightly.  Most of these other people can see, too.  That is what matters.  Not that three digit number.

Ladies (and men) - you are valuable.  You are special and unique and each of you has qualities that make you wonderful and loveable.  I have friends that are witty and make me laugh so hard I cry.  That is why they are my friends.  I have friends that look out for me and care for me.  That is why they are my friends.  Never once have I asked (or cared) what they weigh.  When I was dating Matt - I realized how much I loved him because of his sense of humor, his kind heart, and his compassion in being a good partner.  When he got down on one knee and looked up at me... he didn't ask "Dania, will you marry me?  By the way, this proposal is contingent on how much you weigh."  And I didn't respond with "YES!  But how much do YOU weigh?"  A little extreme - but I hope you get my point.

I understand that we have become dependent on that number.  And not relying on it to give us feedback on our self-worth is a very difficult habit to break.  But I have confidence that it can be done.  Shift your paradigm.  The only weight that you should be concerned with is how much you are picking up and squatting with each day.  How much is stacked on the ends of the barbell when you do your 1 rep max back squat.  Those are the numbers that matter.  Confidence is what makes you beautiful.  Confidence in your ability and your accomplishments is what makes you so attractive to others.

Want to see  WHY that darn number doesn't really matter?  Read this article at Every Day Paleo:  Attention Scale Addicts, Part 2.

And if you don't trust my words, you might trust the experts at the Whole9:  5 Reasons to Break Up With Your Scale.

I love you all... now go pick up something heavy.  (Babies and dogs count!)




5.16.2012

Bone broth and my first time with a pressure cooker

I have been eagerly anticipating the day that I finally get to use my brand new pressure cooker and finally, Mother's Day Sunday was my inaugural making of pressure cooked food!

Since I have great confidence in the recipes over at NomNomPaleo.com, there was not an ounce of concern as I approached my very first batch of bone broth.  For more on why bone broth is SO awesome and SO awesome for you - read this post by Diane Sanfillipo at Balanced Bites.  She had me at "reducing the appearance of cellulite."

I gathered my ingredients accordingly, subbing salt for fish sauce, and put everything into the pressure cooker.



Since this was my first time using a pressure cooker, I read and reread the instruction manual.  I read and reread the recipe.  And I forged ahead, trying to be unafraid of the pressure cooker.  With the lid sealed (then removed and resealed just to be sure), I turned the stove on high and let my bone broth take its course.  Once there was a steady stream of steam and the pressure was up, I lowered the heat on the stove and waited.


I sat in the other room for 50 minutes while my kitchen made pressure cooking noises.  I avoided any potential mishaps and walked around the outskirts of the kitchen when I had to pass through to get something from the refrigerator.  I even shut the patio door to avoid the possibility of splattered bone broth catapulting into my dogs' faces while they waited at the screen sniffing all the delectables cooking in my kitchen that morning.

When time was up, I scurried up to the stove and turned the heat completely off.  Then I let the pot sit for about twenty minutes to let the pressure release.  I carefully turned the steam release to a more open position and let the rest of the pressure come off the pot.  Once I was certain the dogs' noses, I, and the rest of the kitchen were all safe - I opened the lid.  I scraped out the 'goo' that had accumulated across the top of the broth and then strained the rest of the ingredients into a container. 


I separated the broth into smaller containers - some for freezing (uh oh!  There's no room!) and the rest for sipping on the way home from strength cycle heavy days at Murphy's Barbell Club


I have to be honest... I have never tasted a broth so rich, so golden, and so flavorful.  It is DELICIOUS!  And easy.  And didn't entail 3rd degree burns.  The effort was minimal and the payout beyond worth it.  Hooray, new toy!

Next up - Pressure Cooked Romanian Cabbage!
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5.14.2012

Celebrating Mother's Day... In The Kitchen

***Congratulations to Melanie S. and Jan W. for winning a free copy of Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love To Eat!  Thank you, everyone, for participating.  I'll be doing another giveaway in June - keep coming back to find out more!***

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Matt and I had two goals for Sunday:

1) Make room in the freezer for Matt's freezer blocks and coffee beans
2) Celebrate Mother's Day with his family over a tasty meal

Here is how my plan of attack unfolded...

I started with two pounds of Compassionate Certified ground pork from US Wellness Meats and a few tablespoons of Italian seasoning blend I make from my Well Fed cookbook.  I mixed the meat and seasoning to make breakfast sausage and formed it into small patties.  I fried the patties in a little bit of coconut oil and drained them on a paper towel when they were nice and crisp on the outside.



Then I shared a few of the neck bones from our local grass-fed cow with the pups.  They were more than thrilled.

 


Even a few bags of frozen broccoli had been displaced in favor of 100+ pounds of beef, so I tossed the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and a few cloves of garlic into the toaster oven to roast.  When the broccoli started to brown and the garlic was golden, I let it all cool and then tucked it away into the fridge to serve alongside meals later in the week.


I couldn't roast the broccoli in the oven because my oven was already preoccupied with a fresh batch of beef jerky.


The counter tops were still staring at me with glaringly blank work space - so I prepped a US Wellness Meats pork shoulder with a garlicky herb marinade to hang out in the fridge until my jerky was finished.


Breakfast patties done.  Jerky in the oven.  Broccoli cooling.  Pork shoulder marinating in the fridge.  Dogs gnawing on bones.  Freezer space was opening up!  But I wasn't finished... I busted out my new toy and made a batch of bone broth with a few marrow bones.


By this time, my kitchen smelled incredible and the entire house was permeated with the scent of garlic and herbs.  With a little bit of time before Matt's family arrived for Mother's Day, I prepared a red chile sauce with a defrosted tub of New Mexico red chile...


... and threw together a sweet potato hash to serve alongside Matt's grilled tri-tip.


Once the family arrived, most everything was finished and put away in the refrigerator and there was an increased amount of available real estate in the freezer.  Goal #1 accomplished.  For lunch, Matt grilled a beautiful tri-tip and a batch of balsamic seasoned asparagus.  


Matt's mom brought a refreshing summery salad adorned with mandarin oranges, strawberries, avocados, and a raspberry vinaigrette.  It was just perfect for counteracting the 100° F staring at us from the outside thermometer.  The remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing, eating, conversing, and most importantly - laughing!  Goal #2 accomplished.  Even Miss Ellie celebrated by serenading Matt's mom.


I'd have to say it was a very pleasant weekend and I'm thrilled that we have plenty of food ready to go for meals this week.  I love it when a plan comes together.












5.12.2012

Freezer, Meet Meat!

What exciting things are you doing to start off the weekend?

Only a few hours in and my weekend is off to a full and active start... not quite CrossFit Games Regionals active, but active enough for me!  I started the morning adjusting the drip line in my garden.  Now that most everything has sprouted, I can depend on the automated drip to keep the roots and soil damp and cool.



Even our cherry tree, Washington, looks like it has grown a few inches since we planted it.


I then sat down in my kitchen and took a full inventory of the 1/3 of grass-fed moo that has now invaded my freezer.



Beef IS what's for dinner... and breakfast... and lunch... for like the next six months.  I'm pretty dang excited.  Thanks to Melissa at CrossFit Tehachapi for locating a local source of grass-fed beef, coordinating the purchase and the butchering, and even the delivery.  The best part is that the per pound price is much cheaper than what we pay at our local grocery store for regular grain-fed beef.  Hooray for healthy food at a discount!

Matt prepped tri-tip for Mother's Day brunch tomorrow.  He seasoned the meat with Penzeys Chili 9000, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and minced garlic.  Matt insists that anything with "9000" in the name has to be good.  While he was working with the tri-tip, I started to pull together the ingredients for the bone broth that I will be making to break in my new pressure cooker.

 


And now the sun is shining.  The temperature is climbing.  And the yard is calling.  Hard to stay inside when things are so beautiful outside.  Get outdoors today and do something that makes you smile!





5.11.2012

Seek comfort in the chaos...

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."
~ Winston Churchill


I am a creature of habit.  I am like the poster child for the term "creature of habit."  I like my routine.  And once I'm in it, don't jostle anything around because my world will rapidly spin into a decaying pile of chaos and anyone close to me is at risk of being struck by a piece or two of emotional shrapnel.

What is strange, however, is that as much as I enjoy having a set pattern to my days - I am always looking for my own way to shuffle things up.  In my quest to "kaizen" my life, I find I am always recreating.  Recreating a plan, a routine, a strategy... recreating myself.  When I exited the work force early last year, it was the first time since college I didn't have a purpose for waking up in the morning.  So I went back to school.  I immersed myself in studying and practicing until every day of every week, all I thought about was anatomy and massage modalities.

When I completed school late last fall, I fell right back into my lack of routine.  I turned my focus to cooking, meal planning, honing in on the medical nutrition part of Paleo, and consistently getting my rear end handed to me at Murphy's Barbell Club.  I planted my garden and every morning I'd get out in the yard and tinker.  I liked that routine.  And it opened a lot of doors.  I got much healthier in a short amount of time and the best part was my back squat was well on its way to 200 pounds.

Enter the nagging feeling to do something MORE.  A resume went out.  A phone call came back.  Next thing I know, I'm in new hire orientation.  Eek - the working world all over again?  The prospect of recreating a whole new routine started to sink in and the emotional shrapnel started to fly... How am I going to arrange my days?  When will I get to work on my back squat?  I won't be able to spend my days in the kitchen preparing dinners for Matt and planning meals for the coming days.  When will I be able to write blog updates to my loyal and loving fans?  (Insert dramatic stage kisses here)

In the anticipation and fear of something big, something new... I've fallen head first into a pint or two of Ben & Jerry's.  And what I've noticed is that it is a lot harder to think clearly, get my priorities and tasks lined up, and really charge forward when I'm not fueling my body properly.  How can I plan appropriately and take action when my joints are achy, I have a headache, and pants are snug?  I can't.  So if there's one lesson that needs to permanently embed itself in my brain - it is to keep the nutrients and food quality in check during the greatest times of stress in order to avoid adding unnecessary physical and emotional stress to the situation.

So here I go again.  Establishing yet another new routine.  Stitching new shiny filaments of thread into the cloth of which I am made.  Dealing with all of it appropriately, healthily, and with a clear head.  I've done this many times before.  I have the confidence I can do this again.

Perhaps the constant changing of routines IS my routine... and it is the chaos and upheaval in which I seek comfort.

(Paleo) food for thought.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!  Get out, enjoy the sunshine, and try something completely new!





5.10.2012

Get Well Fed for Free!

Have you registered to win a copy of Well Fed, yet?  Contest closes at 9:01 pm PST, so make sure to get your name in the drawing before that time.  Spread the love and let your friends and family get in on the opportunity, too!  TWO winners will be announced sometime Friday afternoon.  Why do you want to add this book to your collection? - Read my review HERE



 
Good luck, everyone!



 

5.09.2012

Neener, Neener Quite Contrary...

I squealed with delight this weekend when I saw cucumber leaves peeking up from their little dirt mound.  Today's post will be short and full of pictures.  You are welcome.

Volt likes to stalk his prey.  My watermelon seeds.



While digging up other parts of the yard, I made a concerted effort to collect the earthworms and introduce them into my garden.  Thatsa spicy earthworm!


Cilantro made its first appearance.


So did the cucumbers.


And despite Volt's efforts to foil my summer plans for vodka soaked watermelon... we have the very first sighting of life!


Can't wait to see what the next week brings!  Is any of it ready to eat yet?  Yeah, I didn't think so. 




5.08.2012

Don't Be Such a Jerky!

Beef jerky = LVE

First - have you registered to win a FREE copy of Well Fed, yet?  Click HERE to enter.  Two copies are up for grabs and the winners will be announced on Friday.  

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There have been many a failed attempt in the past year to locate a good quality, minimal ingredient beef jerky that I could snatch up in a last minute frenzy to quell to my Paleo snacking needs.  Gas station after gas station, grocery store after grocery store (including some of the big name healthy ones) have consistently let me down.  

Trader Joe's Organic Peppered Beef Jerky:
Organic beef?  We're off to a good start.  Organic evaporated cane juice?  I can deal with that.  Organic soy sauce?  Nope.  

Next!

Jack Links Beef Jerky (which is oh so easy to grab at any convenience store on any road trip):
Beef?  Yay-uh!  Water?  What?  Okay, I guess.  Sugar?  Nix.  But the list didn't stop... there were 8 more ingredients listed.  Two ingredients I couldn't pronounce.  Two others contained soy.  Two more contained corn.  

What's a hungry meat eating girl to do?  
Make my own beef jerky, that's what!

Here is my super special recipe for homemade beef jerky.  This recipe is inspired by a good friend who, last summer, provided this hospitalized-girl-in-need with some of the best non-hospital food possible.  And now you can stock up with tender succulent well-seasoned sugar free jerky for future road trips, hospital stays, or couch crashing evenings.

I started with a variation of the dry rub from one of my favorite old non-Paleo recipes (Click here for Dave Lieberman's Beer Braised BBQ Pork Butt).

Jerky seasoning:
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin


Meat:
1.5 - 2 lbs of lean London Broil
(NOTE: since the meat is not cooked, it is only dehydrated - quality is of utmost importance!  I recommend US Wellness Meats or your local grass-fed beef supplier of choice)

In a small bowl that can be resealed for later use, mix all of the ingredients for the jerky seasoning.  Stir with fork.  Cover with the lid and shake vigorously.  Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut all visible fat from the edges of the London broil.  Then cut the meat on the diagonal into 1/8" to 1/4" thick strips.  Place the strips in a large bowl.  Using a clean measuring spoon, add 2 tablespoons of jerky seasoning to the meat.  Toss the meat and seasoning together with your hands until each piece of meat is well coated.  Cover the bowl with the meat and place in the refrigerator anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.


Set the oven to the lowest possible temperature setting.  Mine goes to 170 degrees F, so my cooking time is based on that temperature.  Wrap a baking sheet with aluminum foil (to make clean-up easier) and place a cooling rack in the sheet.  Lay the strips of meat flat across the rack with 1/4" spacing between each piece of meat.  Depending on the original size of your cut of beef, you might need a second sheet/rack combination.



Place the baking sheet in the oven and use an oven mitt to keep the door partially cracked while you are dehydrating your jerky.  Start with a six hour timer.  Check the texture of the meat after six hours.  If it is still tender and soft, continue "cooking" for an additional hour at a time until the meat reaches a desired "jerky" texture level.  The more consistent the thickness of your meat slices, the more even the cooking time.  Some of the thinner/small pieces will be done first.  Simply remove those from the tray and allow to cool while the remainder of the meat is in the oven.  When the rest of the meat reaches a desired texture, remove the tray from the oven and allow the meat to cool.


Once all the meat has been cooled, the jerky can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.  That's if you don't eat it all before then.  Like me.  And my friends.  And my husband.

Enjoy!





5.07.2012

Sharing my Well Fed love!

***UPDATE: May 7, 2012***
The super fabulous Melissa Joulwan has most kindly donated TWO copies of Well Fed for this giveaway.  That means more chances of winning, but most importantly - MORE opportunity to partake of the mouth-wateringly scrumptious recipes!

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Blog post after blog post after blog post, I have ranted endlessly about my untiring love for Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make The Girl's amazing cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat.  Get ready... because here's one more!


I'll be honest... I like to collect cookbooks.  I have shelves upon shelves of cookbooks.  Some of which I excitedly bought only to prepare one or two recipes out of... others have been handed down, passed on, or just showed up on the shelf one day.  I don't care - I love them all.  I love the look of my personal library bedecking the wall of my kitchen.

Enter Well Fed.  Forget the subtitle "Paleo Recipes For People Who Love to Eat"... because if I could change the subtitle it would be "Damn Good Food That Tastes Awesome Especially For Picky Eaters Who Don't Know What's Good For Them."  The recipes contained within are for everyone and just happen to also be Paleo.  I have perused, used, and abused this book until the pages have become spackled with little bits of ingredients from each respective recipe.

I started off slow... weaning my way into the book, not wanting to be too bold or daring.  "The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat" - that sounds safe... and perhaps life changing.  For the first time in my life, I bought chicken thighs.  Thighs.  I ventured away from safe white breast meat I have consumed since my youth.  I gathered my ingredients and prepared the brine solution.  And as Melissa instructed, I "put the chicken in the salty spa."  Fast forward past the seasoning, past the grilling... right up to the part where I put the promised tasty chicken into my face hole.  I was sold.  This woman is a genius!  It WAS (very nearly close to) the best chicken I ever ate.  Right up until I made it again the following week.  Then THAT was the best chicken I ever ate.  Repeat.


Next came the Ginger-Lime Grilled Shrimp.  Fast.  Easy.  Delicious.  And stabbed onto a series of skewers with fresh vegetables?  Now THAT'S a good dinner!


My kitchen bravery grew stronger and bolder.  These recipes are so easy to make... the ingredients are simple and reappear throughout the book.  I can do this.  I can cook!  I added caraway seeds to my spice cabinet for the first time and prepared the Czech Meatballs.  Char Siu Pork?  Home run!  Meat and Spinach Muffins?  YES!  The sauces, the seasonings, the vegetable dishes?  I couldn't fail.  My husband was happy and I felt like Housewife MVP!


The list could go on... but I'll spare the details because I know you all want to hurry up and try to win your own copy.  Okay, okay - just a few more details.  Citrus Pork Carnitas?  Matt and I cannot get enough.  Our left overs are only left over from dinner for a few hours... and then we go back and eat the rest for dessert.  Crispy citrusy pork that melts in your mouth and fills your tummy with warm porky goodness?  Those little glands in the sides of my mouth are working overtime just thinking about how good this recipe is.


What put me over the top and inspired me to share "the Well(th)" were the Bora Bora Fireballs.  What culinary genius comes up with something so tropically amazing?  Melissa Joulwan.  That's who.  Pork.  Pineapple.  Jalapeños.  And toasted coconut.  Oh yes.  I made the balls about three times the size I was instructed to and added a little bit of cooking time.  When they were all ready, Matt and I devoured the juicy savory goodness alongside a batch of Cumin-Roasted Carrots.  Not the best pairing, but I'm not the kitchen whiz.  I just make what's in the refrigerator drawers.  The leftovers became breakfast... lunch... aaaand dinner the following day.  In fact, I made an entire second batch the next night just so the house would continue to be stocked with spicy, savory, coconutty pig.


A few more comments -

1) The book is 99.9% Whole30 approved.  All but one recipe is safe for those of you who are trekking along on your Whole30, thinking of attempting a Whole30, or who have just finished a Whole30 on a month of boring old baked chicken and broccoli.  There is one treat-like recipe and it is clearly labeled TREAT in the Fruits section of the cookbook.

2) The book is full of Melissa's delightful personal stories, a list of YES and NO foods, how to plan and prepare for the week in 60 minutes, how to stock your kitchen, and witty comments and suggestions for each and every recipe... read closely and enjoy.

3) I love this book.  Love it.  And Matt loves what comes out of the oven, grill, and sauté pan.  If you don't already have your own copy - now is your chance to WIN ONE!

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Freebie time!  Enter to win your own personal copy of Well Fed by following all the instructions below.  Don't forget to leave a comment and be sure to SHARE this page with all of your friends! Contest ends at 12:01 am EST on Friday May 11, 2012.  Winner will be announced by 11:59 pm on Friday May 11, 2012.  Good luck!