Once upon a time (about 300 years ago), a French mathematician named Denis Papin was living and working in London. Papin was a tinkerer. After putting in long days as an assistant to a physicist, the Frenchman worked on his own inventions — the most enduring of which was something he called a “steam digester”: a cast iron container with a tight-sealing, screw-top lid and a release valve that could be heated over red-hot coals. The purpose of the device? To cook and tenderize food in a flash.
Papin’s steam digester was a closed environment that was designed to heat water under intense pressure, pushing its boiling point far above the normal 212°F. When the device was heated, the pressure from the steam would raise the internal temperature up to 257°F, forcing the steam — a fantastically efficient heat conductor — through foods, thus shortening the cooking time by as much as two-thirds. What’s more, with all the liquids retained in the pot, the resulting dishes were moist and bursting with concentrated flavors.
Papin was excited about his invention, and unveiled his new “engine for softening bones” before the Royal Society of London — the oldest and most prestigious geek squad known to man. He proudly noted that “the hardest cow-beef may be made as tender and savoury as young and choice meat,” making the steam digester ideal for speedy, cost-effective cooking — as well as for the “making of drinks, chemistry, and dyeing.”
But Papin’s steam digester wasn’t quite ready for prime time. It required a specially-built furnace, and despite the addition of a safety valve, pressurized explosions weren’t uncommon. The steam digester never really caught on. Dejected after years of fruitless attempts to turn people onto pressure cooking, Papin never even bothered to patent his invention, and he died penniless in 1712.
This may be three centuries too late, but Denis Papin: I salute you.
It’s Day 14 — you still with me? Now that we’re two weeks into the Whole30®, your palate’s probably craving some variety — and there’s no better way to keep things lively than with fragrant, flavorful spices and blends.
I love buying spice blends from specialty stores like Penzeys Spices and Spice Hound. Every time I visit my local Penzeys, I get lost in the intoxicating scents of the seasonings on the shelves.
I know I’m not alone. I mean, people STARTED WARS and DISCOVERED CONTINENTS over spices. They even write love notes to spices.
Sadly, spice blends aren’t cheap or easily accessible to everyone. You can easily drop a small fortune on little jars of powder — provided you can even find a specialty seller that offers the uniquely tantalizing combinations of spices you’re seeking.
So what’s the best way to maximize flavor while minimizing cost?
In Chinese homes, rice is almost always eaten in its steamed form. Shoveled from bowl to mouth, fluffy white rice is a staple food for billions — a fragrant, starchy accompaniment to flavorful dishes of meat and vegetables. But with the quantities of rice that’s steamed in every Chinese house, there’s bound to be leftovers. And what’s the best way to repurpose rice into a quick and satisfying one-wok meal?
That’s right: Fried rice.
With a red-hot wok and ten minutes, a resourceful cook can whip up a rich, well-seasoned platter of Chinese fried rice tossed with spring onions and ribbons of egg. This humble dish is anything but unassuming in flavor.
But what if you’ve gone grain-free?
It’s Saturday — a perfect day to brave the crowds at your friendly neighborhood Asian market and stock up on specialty goodies for your Paleo pantry.
If you don’t have an Asian supermarket near you, no worries — one’s sure to spring up before long. We Asians are EVERYWHERE. Mwahaha.
From 99 Ranch and H Mart to Uwajimaya and Nijiya Market, grocery chains stocked with Eastern delicacies are popping up all over North America. And piled high on the shelves of their cramped supermarket aisles? A dizzying array of treats that appeal to anyone who digs Asian cooking — even those of us Paleo eaters who recoil at the sight of soy and ramen.
Not sure what to pick up on your weekend jaunt at the Asian market? Here’s an idea: Bring along your shopping list for bò kho, a spicy Vietnamese beef stew like no other.
Ready for my tour of an Asian supermarket?
Longtime readers know where to find us when we’re not in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ninety-eight percent of the year, Henry and I are crazily juggling a bazillion things at once, but when we need to decompress, we grab the kids and decamp to Hawaii — our home away from home.
Once or twice a year, we herd the family on a plane to Kauai or Maui, stock up on supplies at a local Costco, and exhale to the sounds of slack-key and ukulele on the radio. Our next trip to Hawaii is just FIVE DAYS AWAY, and I CANNOT WAIT. I love everything about the islands: The people, the pace, the climate, the beaches, the sunsets, the food.
But foremost among the Hawaiian dishes I crave? Kalua pig.
That’s right: Slow-roasted porky goodness that’s traditionally cooked in a hole in the ground.
I’ve lost track of the times someone’s announce to me: “I could never eat Paleo ‘cause that’s just waaay too much meat.” And I cheerily chirp back, “Great! More for me!”
But in all seriousness, I don’t eat nearly as much meat as people imagine. Sure, I went through a bacon-bingeing phase early on — didn’t we all? — but my everyday meals look pretty much like what you see in the Whole9’s Meal Planning Template. Each meal starts with a palm-sized portions of healthy protein, and then I fill the rest of my plate with vegetables. I’ll even wager that I eat more vegetables than some vegetarians, because let’s face it: some of ‘em are just subsisting on hyper-processed faux food. (Quorn™ and Tofurky® don’t count as vegetables in my book.)
If you think veggies are boring, just pick up a cabbage. It may look like a humble vegetable, but there’s a myriad of ways to prepare it.
Plus, the heads are so damn cute. The French adore cabbage so much that a common term of endearment for kiddos is mon petit chou chou or “my little cabbage.”
Then again, we Americans came up with Cabbage Patch Kids, ugly cankled babies that were birthed out of fresh cabbage heads. No wonder so many of us didn’t eat our veggies while growing up in the 1980s. I’m proud to say I never owned one of those monstrosities (unlike someone I know), and happily munch on cabbages with relish.
Wanna see how you can slice and dice a cabbage into something spectacular?
Despite working all day at the office and coming home to demanding in-laws and bickering children, my mom somehow always found the time to whip up an elaborate supper. Our spread would predictably include at least four entrées, steamed white rice, and a pot of simmering soup to end our meal. And on weekends, when all of my uncles and aunts would gather at our house for dinner, my mom would make a feast of ten or more dishes — but she never forgot about the soup.
She did this every night. All from scratch. Her epic meals were one of many ways she showed us her love.
Now that I’m a mom, I’m taking a page out of my mother’s playbook and fixing up steaming bowls of homemade soup for my family. And when I do, I get the warm fuzzies, thinking back to my mom’s nightly kitchen ritual. (Ai ya! Did I just admit that I want to be like my mother? Shhh! Don’t tell her.) Melissa Joulwan recently described soup as a “big pot of warm hug,” and I couldn’t agree more. Everyone should take the time to cook a nourishing meal for their loved ones — and luckily, a pot of soup is a simple and economical way to do it.
It’s Day 8 of your Whole30®, and right about now, you’re probably starting to feel like the Energizer Bunny. Awesome, right? But you’re likely also hankering for some less-than-great-for-you foods. Whaddaya say we chase away those Luther Burger cravings with some good old fashioned Whole30-friendly food photos?
For those of you who are new to my blog, take a peek at my archives and you’ll see that my posts typically consist of photos of my everyday chow. I haven’t posted my daily “Paleo Eats” since the start of this year, though, so let me show you what I mean.
Yesterday morning, I popped out of bed when I heard Henry noisily scrambling eggs for the kids and packing their lunches. I joined him in the kitchen and made myself an old favorite: A thai rolled omelet with lime, cilantro, scallions, and fish sauce.
This recipe happens to be a mash-up of Julia Child’s rolled omelet and kai jiao. Never heard of kai jaio? It’s often described as a “Thai omelet,” but unlike its Western counterpart, this egg dish is eaten at any time of day — and traditionally served atop a generous mound of rice and with a squirt of fiery sriracha. Obviously, neither of those accompaniments are Whole30-compliant, but I highly recommend trying it with my Simple Cauliflower Rice — and when the month is over, my Paleo Sriracha, too.
Keep reading to check out the rest of my eats for the day!
Today’s Whole30®-friendly recipe is brand-new to the blog: Asian Meatballs!
This East-West fusion-inspired take on classic Sunday meatballs is a hit with our entire family. These savory balls of meat and minced vegetables are a cinch to prepare, and each bite is bursting with umami from the mushrooms, fish sauce, and tomato paste. (What can I say? This mommy knows umami.)
Make a double batch, and you’ll have a fantastically versatile emergency protein that you can use throughout the week to accompany big salads, zoodles, or simple cauliflower “rice.” Or just pop a few meatballs into a container and bring ‘em to work as a handy snack.
Those of you iPad® owners who have downloaded the latest version of the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook app may recognize these Asian Meatballs as one of the brand new recipes that came with the update. (If you’re digging the app, can I trouble you to go review and rate the app over at the App Store?)
Ready for the recipe?