Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Tale About Chicken Soup

Let me tell you the tale of this chicken soup made on the fly.  It smells fantastic and I wish I could let you have some because this soup is that good.

I was at my wonderful co-op the other day and just like any responsible earth loving co-op, the person that checked me out asked if I wanted him to lop off the tops of my carrots for compost.  I remembered that I have been thinking about making some chicken soup for a while and asked for parsnips instead.  Luckily they had some parsnips.  I picked up some celery when I was at the grocery store and then I was all set to make some soup.

After defrosting some chicken drumsticks from the freezer in my fridge, I got home today and got to work.  I did all these steps on the fly which I don’t really recommend.  You don’t want to see the carnage of discarded vegetable parts on my kitchen counter right now.  In any case, this is what I did.

  1. Pour a big glug of olive oil into my trusty Le Creuset oval dutch oven.  Really, any sturdy pot should do here, I just happen to love me a Le Creuset.
  2. Put the pot on the stove over medium heat.
  3. Dump in a good amount of onions chopped into large pieces, whole cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Get everything stirred around until you get some browning of the onions and the garlic.
  5. Add the drumsticks.  Cook until brown and then turn over and cook until the other side is brown.
  6. While doing step five, add some chopped carrots, parsnips, celery, and carrot tops (the green leafy parts).
  7. Peel a good chunk of ginger and chop into big pieces and add to pot.
  8. Once chicken is brown on all sides and you mix up all the ingredients in the pot (the vegetables don’t really need browning, but it would probably make it extra tasty if you did.  Cook’s preference here.), add water.
  9. Cover and when things start boiling, turn down the heat to a dull roar, a.k.a. a simmer, and simmer away covered for about 40 minutes.
  10. Check your chicken, and if you are happy with the chicken, you’re done!

I’m kind of excited that I got that all into 10 steps.  The reality is that everything was a lot more on the seat of my pants cooking and I just cooked in the way that made sense to me.  I’m sure I violated a million chicken soup rules and used all the wrong cooking words in my description above, but tonight, I’m not worrying about it.  Just roll with me here, all right?

I mean there is nothing left to do here, except eat this up.  How can you resist this?

I’ll be portioning into containers for meals.  One drumstick a meal, so I’m looking at five meals here.  Probably more like four, since I’ll probably get through one drumstick right now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some eating and some more cooking to do.

I’m feeling a little less down in the dumps, so stay tuned.  Hopefully, I can get out some more posts and catch you all up with what’s been going on in this kitchen.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is enjoying the holiday season!

PS If you aren’t following a paleo or primal way of eating like I am, dump some egg noodles in for extra fun.  🙂  (Not that I’m advocating eating wheat or anything, but different strokes for different folks…I’m okay with that.)


Pancakes

 

(from the left, clockwise) almond butter version, plain version, pumpkin chevre version


I never really understood the appeal of pancakes or waffles.  I could see their appeal.  They seem to call to you with their carb-y goodness.  Pancakes are also wonderfully fluffy to boot.  The only thing is that cooking pancakes and waffles myself usually resulted in less than stellar results.  I am not one to tolerate flops in the kitchen when I’m hungry.

In college when I had a fantastic dining hall at my disposal, I’d go and order breakfast and sit in the silence of a nearly empty early morning dining hall enjoying my chocolate chip pancake and two eggs over easy.  Yes, you read that right.  I ate my two eggs over easy on top of my plate sized chocolate chip pancake.  You are entitled to be grossed out, but really, you should try it sometime.  It’s fantastically tasty.

In the years since college I haven’t thought much about pancakes.  I can’t remember the last time I had pancakes in fact.  I think it might have been college and that was many years ago.  In any case, the subject of pancakes came up yesterday during my weekly farmer’s market socializing.  I didn’t think too much of it, but I guess the thought of pancakes stuck with me.

This morning I knew I wanted to catch some of the good weather, so I went out for a run/walk in the balmy, windy morning.  The temperatures are only going to drop today (what kind of a place has weather where the temperature gets colder during the day?!).  So, off I went.  I wasn’t really feeling the whole thing, but I knew I needed it.  I headed out and ended up at the co-op.

I took a leisurely browse knowing that there wasn’t anything that I had to buy.  I always love just wandering around and discovering new things.  As I was wandering up and down the aisles, I ended up in the baking section and I thought, “I wonder if they have any coconut flour.”  Lo and behold, one lone bag of coconut flour awaited adoption and pancakes were at the top of the list.

After doing a little google searching, I found that paleo pancakes tended to fall into four broad categories:

  1. almond flour based pancakes
  2. coconut flour based pancakes
  3. mixed almond and coconut flour based pancakes
  4. banana (no flour) based pancakes

Of all the recipes (if you google paleo pancakes you will get a lot of hits), none of them really caught my eye.  I decided to wing things.  I went for a coconut flour based pancake and started off with 1/4 cup of coconut flour (by the way, coconut flour smells amazing and I think they would make fantastic cookies).

This is the basic gist of what I did:

1/4 cup coconut flour

dash of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder (it’s not completely paleo, I know…you can use baking soda if it helps you sleep better at night)

2 duck eggs (that’s all I had, most everyone else uses your standard chicken eggs)

coconut milk – I just kept adding until I liked the consistency of the batter

Mix/combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and fry up in a frying pan.  I used ghee for the first few and then switched to coconut oil.  The sweetness of the coconut flour doesn’t seem to go too well with the ghee.

Almond butter pancakes

After making the basic batter, I added some add ins.  To one part of the batter I added almond butter (don’t ask me how much, I don’t know.  Just add as much as makes you happy) and to another part I added some pumpkin chèvre.  Remember this guy?

Yup, I put a bit of that in the batter.  It’s hard to do straight out of the fridge.  Next time I would probably let it warm up to room temperature before swirling it into my batter.  I’d also probably like to put some cinnamon and nutmeg swirls into it.  I was feeling impatient and didn’t get much fancier than doing simple add ins.

Time for the awards:

  • best pancake – the regular batter without any add ins.  The batter cooks up into a fluffy light lemon saucer of tastiness.  It’s fluffy, but in a different way than a regular pancake.   It’s similar to the difference between custard and yogurt.
  • easiest to flip almond butter fortified batter.  My research of paleo pancakes this morning revealed that paleo pancakes can be difficult to flip.  Hence all the small cookies sized pancakes this morning.
  • most likely to go well with fruit and syrup – almond butter fortified batter.  I can’t be definitive about this because I found my strawberries covered in a nice sheen of mold this morning – talk about disappointment.
  • most decadent – pumpkin chèvre version. While good the way that I made them, I think that with some more experimentation and tweaking, you could get a really decadent version that would be nice to serve on special occasions.  We’ll see if I ever get around to that.

The pumpkin chevre ones in the middle got a little burnt. Regular on the left and almond butter on the right.

At the end of the day, I’m not big into products made from flour.  Even if they are paleo approved flours.  For one thing, they tend to take longer to prepare and cook.  I also think that paleo foods that are made from flours tend to be heavier and give you the effects that you might get from eating wheat products anyway, so I might just end up being one of those people who eats a wheat laden product every now and then.

My personal philosophy is to eat what I want to eat instead of eating some modified version that might fit into my diet.  Will I make paleo pancakes again?  Possibly.  I won’t be eating these with any regularity, but it was fun to give paleo pancakes a shot.

 


Bender Badness

I went on an uncharacteristic bender yesterday.  As much as I like to stick to my delusional thoughts of perfection, the reality is that I am a mere mortal just like any other human being of this planet.

I’ve been having a rough time of it lately and the last few days were marked by some specific unpleasantness, so having an early day on Friday, I decided to deal with my problems in the form of going out with a friend for a drink.  The evening ended up being a combo of beer and food.  I went all out and completely went off the paleo reservation.  Then again, I’ve been hovering at the edges of the reservation with the amount of dairy I’ve been consuming of late.  I also need more exercise, but I digress.

I had two glasses of some very good dark beer.  (Don’t ask me what it was called.)  Then I split a poutine, fries with gravy and duck meat on top (I think that’s what it was), with my friend and subsequently ate a burger.  I left the bun and the chips on the plate.

Much later, I did not feel so good.  That’s what I get for going on this little spree of madness.  The madness did not end there.

Today, I ended up eating two mini cupcakes with frosting.  They were novel and tasty, I won’t lie to you.

Last night, when I wasn’t feeling well, I was feeling pretty sorry about not staying paleo.  Today, I just ate the cupcakes and didn’t think much of it.  The two mini cupcakes are the equivalent of maybe 2/3 a regular cupcake.

Mostly, I’m just sharing this because I’m a little bit surprised that I strayed so far from the way that I usually eat.

I seem to still be working through my uninspired rut.  I think that some combination of the coming winter, not getting any sun time most days, and working long days inside with sick people is getting to me.

I hope to be back later, to at the very least start catching up on all my backlogged photos.

Till then, share your stories of “benders” in the comments section.  Of course you can say pretty much whatever you want if you’d rather not share “bender” war stories.


Why You Should Shop At Farmers Markets

1. The food is better – when I say better I mean fresher.  The produce has usually been picked in the last day or the last few days.  The produce is picked when it’s ready to be picked, instead of being picked early so that it ripens along the way.

2. Less waste – when you’re in the grocery store you put all your produce in separate little bags and then they get bagged again. At the farmer’s market if you don’t bring your own bag your produce will be put into as few plastic bags as possible.  If you go a couple of times, you’ll feel guilty enough wasting bags that you’ll probably start bringing your own.  I use my used plastic bags again for garbage.  I don’t buy garbage bags separately.

3. Know thy farmer – you know who is growing your food and how they are growing the food.  Just ask.  They are happy to talk to you.

4. Social time – I don’t know about you, but I like the congeniality of farmers markets.  People are generally cheery and social.  You can get some good cooking ideas and tips.  Maybe you’ll even make some friends.

5. Outside time – if you commit to going to the farmer’s market every week, you’re forced to be outside.  (Well, at least when the market is outside).  I’ve gone when it’s raining, freezing cold, and when it’s hot and sticky.  Each week is a little different, but it’s nice to enjoy whatever weather you’re having while you shop.

6. Cutting out the middleman – I don’t know if shopping at farmer’s markets is cheaper.  I think it is because I waste less food and I am motivated to eat all my food.  In any case, you cut out the middlemen in your food supply chain.  Again, less waste, probably less money, and you know what’s happening to your food.

There are probably a million other reasons to shop at farmers markets.  Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.


November Musings

I’m not sure that November and I are friends this year.  I seem to have gotten off to a rough start and I am already halfway through the month.  I am just hoping to make it to Thanksgiving in one piece.  Despite the lack of posts on here, I actually have a million photos that are dotted all over my desktop waiting to be uploaded and written about.

I find that when I’m back logged inevitably some posts never get written.  I’m going to do my best to catch up and to make sure that I blog about those things that I said I would blog about in earlier posts.  I can’t make any promises though.

So in my last post, I talked about calamari.

Looks good doesn’t it?  I have to say the calamari was tasty, but I think in the future I’ll leave the calamari making to someone else.  Dodging big gobs of hot flying oil is not my idea of a fun evening.

For anyone who does want to undertake the making of their own calamari, this is how I did it.

  1. Buy some fresh calamari squid.  
  2. Slice squid into pieces.  Now, if you’re like me and you are impatient, you’ll try cooking the first batch without cutting the squid into rings and you’ll get something that ultimately looks like this:  
  3. Beat an egg or two in a bowl.  
  4. Pour out some almond flour onto a plate and give a few good shakes of oregano and some salt.  Stir the mixture well so that you get even flavoring.  I kept replenishing the almond flour mix since it gets all stuck together into an unusable mess after coating a few pieces.  
  5. Fry calamari in a pan with oil.  I used regular olive oil, but you can use any high smoke point fat of your choice.  I only have a picture of frying up the large unsliced squid, which was fried in a little bit of oil.  In comparison, I fried my rings up in a good amount of oil, which led to the gobs of flying oil that I referred to above.  Fry a couple of minutes on each side.  You’ll notice the pieces shrinking up and getting warped.  Being that this was my first time doing this, I don’t have any good cooking advice for you.
  6. In the end you get either the picture you see in step 2, or this:  

Personally, I’m partial to the sliced up calamari that ends up in rings of fried up goodness.  The trick is to make sure you put some oregano into the flour because that makes the flavor that much better.  I wish I had remembered to squeeze a lemon over these guys, but I didn’t have any.  Another tasty idea might be to drizzle a tiny bit of honey over these when they are still warm and add some sliced almonds or crushed nuts to the top.

So, I’m still behind on blogging, I forgot to take pictures of what I bought yesterday at market (nothing too exciting, so you won’t be missing much), and it’s getting late.  I’ll do what I can to catch up this week, but no promises.  I’m still trying to work myself out of my uninspired funk.

Have a great week!

PS Check out the new Info page.  I put all the places that I’ve been mentioning on this blog into one place.  There are links if you want to check out the places where I get my food from.

What My Week Has Been Like

I’m barely halfway through my week and I already had two cuts on my hands to my name when I started this morning.  Well, there is that saying that things happen in threes and tonight, event three made a spectacular show.

Yup, that’s my wine glass smashed to smithereens.  To make even three of this series of unfortunate events even more spectacular, is the fact that this happened right in front of my stove while I was frying up some calamari.

So oil fireworks that I was trying to dodge up top, shattered glass on the floor, and one very tired person.  I managed to finish cooking, but it was not easy.

Convincing myself to cook this evening was effort enough and now it looks like I’ll be creeping along the floor with wet paper towels and a flashlight trying to make sure that all the glass is off the floor.  Since my living room, office, and kitchen are all in the same room, I’ll be doing some crawling under and around furniture as well.  I just can’t afford to get anymore cuts, so let’s hope I see all that class before crawling on it or walking on it.

I’ll be back with a calamari post, but I can’t promise that it’ll be any time soon.  I really need to straighten out my sleep issues first.

Till next time.


Erf

All right, so I lied about getting the cooking done today.  Apparently, I’m very very very sleep deprived and needed to nap today in addition to my marathon sleep of last night.  So, other than cooking to feed myself a meal, I don’t have any great cooking for you.  Let’s hope that tomorrow, I’ll be feeling motivated and get this cooking done.  I’ll have to since my brussel sprouts are out and looking sad.  That stalk is a monster!