That’s What It’s All About

Put your right foot in, take your right foot out, put your right foot in and shake it all about…

I was so excited and relieved yesterday to post my final entry for the Paleo Iron Chef competition that I completely forgot to announce the winner of the Farmageddon giveaway.

And the winner is Janet!  Here’s her comment:

“Here is what I will do with that movie if you pass it to me. I live in a dairy-heavy agricultural area–bereft of any who will sell it raw. We have a festival every year ’cause this town is the “Milk Center of the World”. (Hyperbole much?) I also work in a library. I will use our meeting room with projector and screen and hold a public screening of this movie. I handle publicity for this library so I know where to send info to get people to see it. After that, I will donate the DVD to the library for public circulation. We do have a farmer’s market on it’s second year here. I can put fliers for the movie there too or even have a card-table.

“Looks like a plan to me.”

Janet, it looks like one to me, too.  I’ll send you an email shortly to get your address so I can send the movie your way.

And speaking of comments, I got the nicest one yesterday on my Baked Haddock with Uglimole recipe.  Nicole said:

“I’ve been wandering through Foodgawker lately and I keep ending up here! ;) You have scrumptious looking pictures and such healthy, do-able recipes. I’ve Sprung about a dozen of them so far and can’t wait to actually put one on a plate. Thanks for sharing such wonderful food and cooking ideas!”

Yes!  That is the goal of what this blog has become – healthy, do-able recipes.   It is incredibly gratifying to have that acknowledged, both from long-time readers who have been around for the change, and new readers who have found my humble little corner of the internet through the various channels to which I submit recipes.

I’m not the most controversial blogger in the world; politics make me crazy and economics put me to sleep.  I don’t often call people out on their stupidity, unless they bring it to me directly, and I certainly don’t find calling people names because I disagree with them fun (or mature).  I’m certainly not a scientist or an expert of any kind.  I’m not even a chef, despite Beloved’s insistence on labeling me as such.  I’m just a cook – a good one, to be sure and why not admit it?  I’ve been doing it nearly 40 years, and I’ve got the burn scars on my hands and arms to prove it.  I’ve learned a lot of things in that time – some the hard way, like “never fry bacon in your underwear” (go ahead and feel free to poke a little fun at how that’s phrased), and some through painstaking research.  And if I don’t like the conclusions I come to because of that research, I don’t go around twisting the facts to suit me, or dismissing the source out of hand.  I spend a lot of time moaning over the amount of misinformation disseminated by the media, but I don’t want to make it my mission to point each and every instance out.

I guess my point to all of this is that I could not be more pleased to have someone describe the recipes here as “healthy and do-able.”  Because at the Sushi Bar, that’s what it’s all about.

Paleo Iron Chef

Have you ever heard of Reddit?  According to Wikipedia, Reddit is “a social news website where the registered users submit content, in the form of either a link or a text ‘self’ post. Other users then vote the submission ‘up’ or ‘down,’ which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s pages and front page.”  These posts are usually confined to a certain topic; each topic has it’s own section on the site, known as a “subreddit.”

Now that I’ve thoroughly bored you, I’ll confess that I was only vaguely aware of the existence of this site until recently, when I started receiving a little traffic from the paleo board, usually someone linking to one of my recipes.  Then yesterday, Patty of Chowstalker linked to one of the threads, announcing a 20-day Paleo Iron Chef competition.

As a Food Network/Cooking Channel junkie, and huge fan of Iron Chef America, Chopped and other “cooking challenge” shows, I am just all over that.

Basically, every day for 20 days, there will be a new thread posted for people to share their recipes using that day’s “not-so-secret” ingredient; the recipe with the most community “up-votes” wins that category, and the poster with the most up-votes overall wins the competition.  The very kind person organizing this, knowing we’re busy folks, has already provided us with a list of ingredients, hence the “not-so-secret” part.  The list is:

Day 1: Coconut Milk

Day 2: Eggs

Day 3: Avocado

Day 4: Salmon

Day 5: Tomato

Day 6: Chicken

Day 7: Curry

Day 8: Shrimp

Day 9: Sweet Potato

Day 10: Ground Beef

Day 11: Almonds

Day 12: Pork

Day 13: Garlic

Day 14: Broccoli

Day 15: Onions

Day 16: Asparagus

Day 17: Honey

Day 18: Butter

Day 19: Spinach

Day 20: Halibut/Tilapia/Haddock

The competition begins April 16, and I’ve already started plotting my recipes (I have great hopes for the coconut milk recipe).  I’ve also decided I’m going to use existing recipes for at least 3 of the categories, and I’ll let you know which on those days.  I’ll post the recipes I develop for the other ingredients here as part of my normal routine; if not on the competition day of the ingredient, then soon thereafter.

So, whose cuisine will reign supreme?  Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hope mine will, but no matter who wins, it will be a great way to share lots of tasty, real food recipes.

Ala cuisine!


And “Eat Like A Dinosaur” Goes To…

You didn’t really think it was going to be that easy, did you?  We must describe the very scientific method by which we chose the winners.

First, we had to show off the prize.

Then, we had to ready our Selection Device.

Then, after a careful and meticulous selection process, the winners were chosen!

Congratulations, Nicole and Mel!  I will send you an email shortly so I can get your addresses.

Have a lovely Tuesday, everyone!

Eat Like a Dinosaur – a Review and a Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Matt and Stacy of saying they’d send me a copy of their new cookbook for kids, Eat Like A Dinosaur, if I’d be so kind as to review it.

I said, “I’d love to!”  So there – I got a free copy of the book in exchange for a review.  It’s not as if I have to give it a good one, right?

Well, that’s not going to happen, because overall the book is excellent.

Matt and Stacy are parents to three small boys.  They were both overweight and their two older sons suffered from a myriad of health and behavior problems – asthma, eczema, ADHD, self-control issues and both were in the upper range for weight while being in the normal range for height, putting them at danger of suffering from the same weight problems as their parents.  About the time their youngest son was born, they decided to treat these issues with diet, and adopted a paleo lifestyle.

Matt and Stacy lost 200 pounds between the two of them, and the problems their sons were dealing with disappeared – some, like the behavior problems, almost immediately and some, like the eczema, over a period of weeks.  Both boys’ weight also normalized.  Their youngest son, who has never consumed any grains, legumes or dairy, has “by a noticeable degree, been [their] most trouble-free, happy baby.”  Unlike his brothers, he’s rarely sick, experiencing one fever in the first 18 months of his life and no hospitalizations, when his oldest brother had been hospitalized twice as a baby.

Yes, they credit his diet, and I tend to agree with them.

The opening section of the book tells this story in much greater detail, of course, along with the challenges they faced switching their older boys to a diet devoid of Goldfish crackers, peanut butter sandwiches and Kraft mac n’ cheese.  This is followed by a section of kitchen tools you might find useful when cooking their recipes, along with ingredients not generally found in the average kitchen – and that’s the source of my first issue with the book (albeit a mild one).  The recipes often rely quite heavily on often hard-to-find and/or expensive ingredients or equipment, such as a coconut cream concentrate, coconut aminos and raw macadamia nuts (something that falls into both categories).  For those of us that are already on board with this diet or a similar one, most, if not all, of these things are in our kitchens, but for a parent seeking an alternative to the Standard American Diet for their children or those on a strapped budget, the recommendation you own an ice cream maker as well as a stand mixer with a meat grinder attachment could be intimidating.

The next section is a story, complete with colorful illustrations, directed at the kids for whom the book is intended.  Told from the perspective of the oldest son, Cole, it explains in an entertaining and very understandable manner why the family eats the way they do, how the boys reacted to it, and how their new diet has made everyone feel better.  For an older child, the concept of eating like a dinosaur might be stretching it (dinosaurs don’t eat cookies, even if they might eat the ingredients used to make them), but young children will most likely embrace the idea – it was a stroke of brilliance on the part of Matt and Stacy.

The center, and largest, section is the – ahem – meat of the book:  the recipes.  And there are a LOT of them, beginning with Main Dishes (beef, pork, poultry, eggs and seafood), and Side Dishes (mostly vegetables and starches, with one egg, one fruit and a recipe for meat stock). Dips and Sauces are next, which is really smart – if their kids are anything like The G Man, they will eat both meats and vegetables much more readily if they have something to dip them in. Snacks, then Special Treats, are last, which brings me to my only other issue with the book – the Snacks and Special Treats sections are almost as large as the other three sections combined. While the Side Dishes contain only nine vegetable recipes, the Treats section alone contains 28 recipes – the next largest section, Main Dishes, contains only 26.

I understand the reasons behind this, I really do – it’s hard for kids of any age to be denied the yummy treats their friends and peers seem to endlessly indulge in, but it’s especially difficult for small children who generally couldn’t care less about the healthful properties of the food they are eating; all they care about is how something tastes.  And to give Matt and Stacy credit, they incorporate as many healthful ingredients – fresh fruit, avocados, even zucchini – into these recipes as they can, but many still contain plenty of sweeteners in the form of dates, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and evaporated cane juice; some recipes use more than one kind.  They also rely very heavily on almond flour, almond butter and almond milk, as well as other nuts, for these treats, so if your child suffers from a tree nut allergy, the snacks and treats recipes you can make become limited.

There are no real surprises as far as the recipes go, but that is a good thing – children generally don’t like surprises when it comes to their food.  The purpose of the cookbook is to introduce kids to a way of eating that is far more healthful than the Standard American Diet, and Eat Like A Dinosaur succeeds spectacularly in this endeavor.  Understanding that children are far more likely to eat a wide range of foods if they are involved in the preparation, each recipe comes with steps that are safe and easy for kids to perform.  Many of the recipes are also given fun names – Roast Pork with Squish Squashy Apples, Fish in a Boat, Rat on a Stick, Mock-A-Mole and Bunny’s Soup are just a few.  Nor are any of the recipes particularly lengthy or complicated, an important consideration for busy parents.

Do the recipes taste good?  The Rat on a Stick (well, our version was just “Rat” because Meema was out of skewers) and Maple Butternut Squash Purée do – The G Man ate both quite enthusiastically.  This surprised me, because the recipe for Rat on a Stick called for two tablespoons of red Thai curry paste, and I worried it would be too spicy for the little guy’s palate, but he wolfed it down – after dipping each bite in the squash purée.  I have no reason to believe that the rest of the dishes aren’t every bit as delicious.  Hey, I’m more than a little impressed that they can get their boys to eat salmon – I can’t get The Young One, who is 17, to touch it.

The last section of the book is full of helpful information – how to pack a paleo lunch for your child, how to shop a farmer’s market and plan the week’s meals around the seasonal ingredients you find, even how to shop at yard sales and thrift stores for those kitchen gadgets that might otherwise be out of your reach financially – and how to do each of these things while herding 3 small boys around (again, I’m nothing but impressed).  There is also a chart outlining which recipes contain ingredients that are common allergens – fish, shellfish, eggs and nuts.  Of course, there are no recipes with grains, dairy, legumes or industrial seed oils.

So, do I recommend Eat Like A Dinosaur?  I do!  I like it so much that I am giving not one, but two, away.  In the interest of transparency, I was not given the additional copies for this giveaway – I’ve purchased them myself.  Yup, I’m that impressed with it.

To win a copy of Eat Like A Dinosaur, simply leave me a comment stating why you’d like it.  One entry per person, so leaving more than one comment won’t give you multiple chances to win.  I’ll close the contest Saturday, March 31 2012 at midnight and announce the winner on Tuesday, April 3 2012.

Happy eating like a dinosaur, y’all!

Best Blogger Awards Bust

It occurred to me recently (very recently – like this morning) that I never updated you on how the whole Best Blogger Awards over at ended.

It was a bust.

Well, not a complete bust, I suppose – out of 20 nominees, I came in 7th (and way ahead of Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks and Chocolate and Zucchini, I might add).  Really, there only ever really appeared to be 3 true contenders and even the fat-free vegan blog didn’t win.  No, it was Skinny Taste, replete with literally dozens of recipes for low-fat cookies, cupcakes, muffins, breads and desserts (each recipe with painstakingly calculated Weight Watchers points) that took the honors in the food blog division of the contest.

Honestly, I really can’t complain since the winner was chosen by reader’s votes, and is it really surprising that the winner is a low-fat blog when that is’s food philosophy?

However, I do believe I’m justified in being a tad disgusted with how they handled the whole damn thing.  They emailed me not only once, but twice, when I was nominated and then two more times for my essay about my blog – which, as I predicted, they never published.  Not only did they not publish it, I never heard a single word back from them.  Not so much as a “sorry, but you’re a loser” notification.  I could respect it if they’d told me something like “You just don’t fit the image we’re trying to project and don’t feel our readers can identify with your lifestyle” even if I don’t agree with it, but I guess doesn’t have to worry too much about professional courtesy (to say nothing of just plain human courtesy) when dealing with the little guys.

They’ll figure out soon enough that it’s us little guys – what I like to call the Real Food Foodies, with our cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, grass-fed beef liver, pastured whole eggs and homemade bone broths – who are really driving the bus into a nourishing, sustainable future.

To paraphrase one certain headless lady:  Let them eat CAFO.  And keep their silly blog awards.

Posted in participation of Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday