Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Post-Super Storm Sandy Post

I hope all of you who were affected by Super Storm Sandy are safe, dry and warm.  I made it to Boston on Sunday afternoon, on time.  The flight was bumpy but the pilot did his best to fly above the storm at 39,000 feet.  After a fantastic Sunday family dinner at my Mother's house (the best Italian sausages ever,) we made it safely home to my sister's.

We hunkered down during the storm ready with a pump, generator, flashlights, and other supplies essential to hurricane preparedness...

We never lost power and remained safe and dry despite the rain and some fairly scary wind gusts.

The rain has left us this morning and the sun just came out and is shining brightly over my sisters house!  I have eggs en cocotte in the oven for our breakfast.  I'm so happy to be here with my sister and look forward to spending the rest of my trip enjoying my family and fall in New England.  

Have a wonderful week and stay safe!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Counting Down

Sorry I haven't had any good food porn lately.  The whole business with my tooth had me dining on mostly soft things for the last couple of weeks.  I got pretty sick of bananas, yogurt and scrambled eggs!  But it's all done now, the crown is in place and my mouth is feeling pretty much back to normal.  I always knew I was destined to wear a crown, har-har!

Just one more shift and a few more days before I take off for points north.  I'm so excited to see my sister and my Mother and Auntie!  I'll be doing trip prep this week.  I've just cooked up batches of Bolognese sauce, chili and creamy tomato soup by request of Rob, so he can have lots of delicious things to eat while I'm away.   They are cooling now, then into the freezer.

Since my mouth started getting back to normal I was able to cook a couple of lovely meals this weekend.  STEAK!  I was so happy that I was able to eat steak again.

Ranch Marinated Steak with Watercress Salad, from Publix Aprons meal ideas. I saw the demo lady make it in the store and the salad was so lovely, I had to make it at home. I didn't use the ranch seasoning packet, I just salted the steak before grilling it.  This salad is amazing!  The spicy watercress went so perfectly with the heart of palm and red grapes.  This is a keeper.

On Sunday I did America's Test Kitchen's High Roast Chicken.  I do a version of roast chicken every week and this one really intrigued me when I read this thread on Chowhound.  I brined the chicken for just over an hour. I didn't do the compound butter, just brushed the skin with softened ghee after patting it dry.

Oh my stars and stripes, this roast chicken was just insane.  A four and a half pound chicken took just under 55 minutes at 500 degrees and it was cooked to perfection. So juicy and flavorful and the skin was potato chip crispy!  I want to try this method with the Thanksgiving turkey this year.  

And now, feast your eyes on these...

Yes, indeed, those are chicken feet on my kitchen counter!  The farm processed some of their old egg-layers and offered them for sale for stewing and stock.  I was so excited because older chickens are much richer in bone-broth goodness.  I bought four chickens along with 20 chicken feet to add to the broth. Chicken feet are very rich in gelatin, collagen, glucosamine chondroitin and trace minerals.  They are creepy but they are going to make amazing bone broth!  I've got one of the stewing hens earmarked for Alton Brown's Coq au Vin recipe for this Saturday.  

I'm off away on Sunday and don't return until November 9th.  I'm not sure how much time I'll have for blogging while I'm away, so in the meantime have a wonderful week and take good care!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Melange

I'm on the mend from my root canal procedure.  It was pretty painful going but I got some good rest, took some pain meds and stuck to mostly soft food.  I have the first of two follow up appointments this afternoon then hopefully my mouth will be good as new.  Best of all, no more tooth pain for my upcoming trip to Boston. 

My recovery wasn't all bad, I managed to get dolled up for a 70's disco-themed party on Saturday night.  It was lots of fun and I just loved dressing up like a foxy disco diva.  Not everyone dressed up but perhaps I'm in the minority who thinks the best part of a costume party is embracing the theme and getting in character.  I loved that wig!  There were people who asked me (totally non-ironically) if that was my real hair.  Hilarious.

It's also my fourth anniversary of writing this blog.  Four years of putting it all out there.  The good and bad, the successes and failures.  I've learned so much about my health and fitness, the most valuable piece of knowledge is that my health is like a bank account. When I fill my bank with good things like rest, movement and health-giving foods, I feel and look great.   And when I don't, my health gets overdrawn and my body lets me now about it.  It's really as simple as that.  

One last bit of news I want to share.  Our move is still happening but the location has changed.  I got my greatest wish and that's to go home.  Instead of Virginia, we're headed to the North Shore of Boston.  All being well with sticking to our timeline and plan, this Yankee is going home!

I hope you all have a great week ahead and that the sun is shining wherever you are.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is it the Weekend Yet?

My life is pretty sweet and for that I am thankful but the last few days have been a lot to take.  Rob being away makes a rough patch rougher without his hugs to make it better.  

I ran into a neighbor on Saturday while out walking the dog.  She looked great, really fit, and I told her so.  Then she proceeded to make a comment that really made me feel bad about *my* size.  She is apparently misinformed about my blog.  Knowing only the name, she seems to think it's about gluttony and laziness.  You may have seen my facebook post about the incident.  I've spent the better part of the last four years (yes, it's my 4th blogging anniversary this month) working hard to improve every aspect of my health and while I may not look like a 120 pound yoga instructor, I have been quite successful at it.  Not taking fat shaming to heart is easier said then done.  

I had a filling replaced earlier this year and have been having some sensitivity in the area which turned into a full blown toothache waking me out of a dead sleep on Saturday night. Nothing worse than a toothache!  I got an emergency appointment with the dentist this afternoon and found out I have to have root canal procedure.  I got a prescription for some pain pills which has taken the edge off and hopefully will help me get some sleep tonight.

Then my brakes started grinding yesterday.  So most likely new brake pads on Thursday.

And the upstairs toilet is leaking so there was a mess to clean.  Rob is going to have to put on his plumber hat when he arrives home tomorrow.

So it's only Tuesday and I feel like I've been through the ringer.  I'm nervous about seeing the Endodontist, the most dental work I've ever had to have was a filling or two.  Wish me luck and send good vibes for a much better rest of the week!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Closet Stressors

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how my leg injury impacted me, it left me immobile, inactive and depressed.  I packed on some weight, which is understandable, though I wish I had handled the eating for comfort better.  Since doing the Whole 30 I got my mobility back. I'm back at work, working out, walking the dog and generally being much more active.  But it's not magically going to restore me to my pre-injury clothing size.

I've continued with a Primal lifestyle, (additional crucial reading here) which includes clean primal eating, going to bed early in a completely dark room, getting activity, getting sunlight, and reducing stress.  All the other factors have become my life and I'm loving it but that little bugger stress is still somewhat an issue for me, especially external forces.  For instance, walking into my closet each day and seeing clothes that no longer fit me has really been messing with my head.  

My ultimate plan is to get get my body back to the size it was pre-injury but it won't happen overnight.  It's going to take how long it's going to take but seeing my smallest clothes in that section of the closet is totally stressful.  And stress can and will make it it really difficult for your body lose fat.  

So yesterday I cleaned out the closet.  It needed to be done anyway, but I put the smallest of my things into storage in the guest room.  My closet is now tidy and organized and I know everything in there fits me properly.  This has done much to alleviate the stress about not fitting into certain things. 

I'm going to continue with what I'm doing because it's working for me and whether it takes me six months, a year or two years to achieve my goals of getting into back into those clothes, it will happen but I just cannot stress about it.  The saying goes, "Dress the body you have, not the body you want."  And that's what I intend on doing.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Review~Make It Paleo

I was very excited when my review copy of Make it Paleo: Over 200 Grain Free Recipes For Any Occasion arrived a couple of weeks ago.

Make it Paleo is from the couple behind the fabulous recipe site called The Food Lovers Kitchen.  This is a thick tome with 172 breakfast, appetizer, entree, salad, soup, and sauce and dressing recipes and 43 dedicated to cheats and treats and a gorgeous photo for each and every one.  It's also perhaps the most beautifully photographed cookbook in my sizable collection.  This  is food porn at its finest.

The goal of this book is to make sure that you never feel, despite choosing not to eat grains or processed sugars, that nothing is missing from your meals. Haley and Bill achieved their goal.  
Let's get to the recipes.

London Broil with Balsamic Marinade
I love using garlic and balsamic vinegar in marinades.  The addition of finely diced red onion was really good, considering my aversion to them.  It turned out to be a delicious dinner and the leftovers were great to bring to work.

Eggs Paleo

The idea behind this play on Eggs Benedict is a revelation; poached eggs on top of sliced tomato topped with an avocado sauce and crumbled, crispy bacon but no self-respecting wife of an Englishman would serve a raw tomato on a breakfast plate.  I grilled the thick tomato slices in a screaming hot skillet until golden browned. Not sure why the serving size is just one egg and tomato stack but I went ahead made us two eggs each.  It was the perfect portion for us for Sunday brunch.  

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
I used pastured chicken from the farm.  The recipe instructs you to brown the chicken pieces in a separate skillet then roast the chicken in a dutch oven but it should be a one pot dish because you don't want to lose out on the wonderful flavor you build from browning and cooking the chicken in the same pot.  I browned the chicken in ghee then I cooked the garlic in the rendered chicken fat.  Then deglazed with a splash of red vinegar, a good dish always needs a splash of acid.  That being said, it is a delicious dish, simple and flavorful.  I used the soft, sweet roasted garlic cloves in the mashed acorn squash I served with the chicken and it was amazing. It made me wonder why I don't roast garlic more often.

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Tomato Sauce
This was my first time cooking spaghetti squash and we loved it.  The sauce was so good, but that's because I didn't follow the recipe.  I just couldn't once I read it through.  I was learning to make the most delicious Italian sauces from my Mother and Grandmother when the authors were still in diapers.  The recipe instructs to add the mushrooms to the sauce before simmering but mushrooms need to sauteed otherwise they end up flabby and the sauce ends up watery.  I sauteed the mushrooms with the zucchini and made sure all the water was cooked out before adding the crushed tomatoes.  And then there is the cayenne pepper.

Crushed red pepper!

Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken
The recipe called for three chicken breasts for three servings.  I doubled the recipe for leftovers.  And it made really good leftovers.  The recipe called for olive oil drizzled over then to press the garlic and rosemary into the chicken.  I made a paste of finely minced garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and made a compound ghee.  I bathed the chicken breasts in the mixture and let them sit for an hour before popping the pan in the oven.  Then I drizzled on the balsamic over the hot chicken. Oh, my, this is a lovely way to transform the humble chicken breast into something spectacular.

The sauce, dressing and marinade section is a treasure trove. Store-bought condiments tend to be full of questionable ingredients so this section going to be super useful. Other than recipes and photos the book contains a nice overview of the paleo/primal eating style and a fantastic two-page spread on the most essential kitchen gadgets to have in stock, not a useless item in the bunch.  There are several pages dedicated to the many and varied foods to stock in your fridge and pantry.

If you're new to the grain-free way of eating, Make it Paleo would make an excellent first book. I'd also highly recommend it for new cooks, whether Paleo or not. And although I'm neither a stranger to the kitchen nor new to grain-free cooking, I still enjoyed reading and cooking from Make it Paleo. There are some great recipes here that pack in the flavor with very little fuss.

Make it Paleo is on sale for $19.01 right now at Amazon. That is a fantastic price for such a big book of recipes and if you click through this article, you are supporting my blog. (Thanks a million!)

Full disclosure~ I was sent this book by the authors as a review copy.