Paleo Eats: 12/23/12

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The San Francisco Bay Area was hit by two separate rainstorms this weekend, so we elected to hunker down indoors to stay cozy and dry.

For breakfast, I made scrambled eggs…

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….bacon…

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….and lobbed everyone a satsuma. I’m not kidding about launching tangerines at everyone’s heads — I’m training my kids to have ninja-like reflexes. Soon, they’ll be deflecting throwing stars.

After doing the dishes, I puttered around the kitchen, bottling up homemade kombucha, while the Double-Os performed their favorite Weird Al songs in the living room. After a few weeks of experimentation, we’ve landed on our favorite flavors: apple (Big-O), cherry (me), and Fuyu persimmon (Henry). When the kombucha in the continuous brewer achieves the perfect level of tanginess, I bottle the ‘booch with a few slices of fresh or frozen fruit.

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Then, I let the bottles condition in our cooler for two days before I stick them in the fridge. I’m still new to home brewing and flavoring, so I constantly find myself referring to my two favorite online resources: Kombucha Kamp and Food Renegade. My next kombucha-related project: Setting up a SCOBY hotel so I can share the yeasty, bacterial love with others.

Lunch was a simple affair: Paleo coleslaw and slider burgers. 

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After lunch, I grabbed a bag of apples from the fridge to make a batch of crunchy, cinnamon-dusted apple chips. I love my mother-in-law’s recipe for these treats — I’m kind of addicted to them — and I’ve been dying to make my own ever since my oven got fixed.

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Mission accomplished!

Because of the dreary weather, I was determined to make a hearty, comforting dinner — but not one that would take all afternoon. As a result, I broke out my pressure cookers (yes, plural) to make short ribs and mashed fauxtatoes. For an additional vegetable side dish, I roasted a tray of broccoli in the oven.

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Yep, it totally hit the spot — though using two pressure cookers mean more pots to clean.

As Christmas approaches, I’m feeling bummed out. Not because I have a ton of last-minute preparations — that’s a given — but because my vacation ends on the 26th. The day after Christmas also happens to be Lil-O’s birthday, and even though I’m not heading off to my shift at the hospital until after he goes to bed, it still bites. Plus, I’m now scheduled to work the nightshift for the next seven Christmases, as well as Lil-O’s next seven birthdays. Assuming I stay employed, I won’t have those days off again until both of my little boys are teenagers. I guess I’ll just have to make sure I savor every minute of family time before I start work on Wednesday night.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Paleo Eats: 12/16/12

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Ugh. It’s been a week, and I’m still under the weather. I guess it’s a good thing I took vacation this week, but this wasn’t exactly how I was hoping to spend it.

On the plus side, being housebound means I’ve had plenty of time to tinker in the kitchen — and sip on cup after cup of homemade bone broth.

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Frankly, after stuffing myself silly at our friends’ incredible Hanukkah dinner on Saturday night, I was inspired to get cooking once again.

We kick-started our Sunday with uova in purgatorio — eggs and sausage baked in a spicy tomato sauce.

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Even though my wall oven is (finally!) back in working order, I gotta say my countertop toaster oven sure comes in handy for baking off a set of mini-cocottes filled with saucy eggs and meat.

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I’ve been working on this recipe on-and-off for the past few months now, and I think I’ve finally landed on the right formula. (I know — it’s just eggs — but once in a blue moon, the perfectionist in me rears her ugly head.)

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Lil-O had a birthday party to attend, so at lunchtime, I grabbed a can of Vital Choice’s Wild Red Alaskan sockeye salmon and a PaleoKit

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…and a little cup of my home-brewed kombucha. This one’s flavored with cherries, and it’s one of my favorites:

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After hanging out with a bunch of preschoolers for a couple of hours, I was ready for more playtime in the kitchen. These recipes are still in development, so I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag just yet, but here’s a peek at what I worked on.

First, a honey-lemon sauce:

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And then, something to dip into the sauce…like chicken nuggets!

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Guess what we had for dinner?

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And before you freak out — no, we didn’t go an entire day without vegetables.

Paleo Eats: 11/25/12

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Still kicking yourself for veering off course over the Turkey Day weekend? Don’t fret. Just brush those pie crumbs off your shirt and get right back on the Paleo straight-and-narrow. After all, tomorrow is another day, right?

We had a lovely holiday weekend. (Thanks for asking.) On Thanksgiving, my sis drove up for the day and presented us with my brother-in-law’s incredible home-smoked turkey thighs, and we all gorged ourselves silly at my in-laws’. This year, almost all of the dishes were Paleo-friendly(!). My mother-in-law even made a point of declaring that the turkey au jus was “soy-and flour-free” — a pretty big deal in a Chinese household. And on Saturday, we celebrated my in-laws’ birthdays. Both are turning 70 this month. Mazel tov!

When I got up this morning, I heated up a smoked turkey thigh and some leftover vegetables for breakfast.

Man oh man, my brother-in-law’s turkey is goo-oood.

After breakfast, I finally had a chance to open up some packages that have been piling up next to our front door. I’m incredibly grateful for the terrific gifts I’ve received, like a sample of Choffy from Heather, one of my readers. I can’t wait to break out my French press and brew myself some chocolate. Yep, you read that right. Chocolate.

I also received a personalized WODbook from the fine folks at Sport Journals, who offered to design a custom cover using my Deadlift Girl image. I can’t wait to take it to the gym and start documenting my workouts.

As if these items weren’t cool enough, I also finally unpacked my kombucha continuous brewing system that I recently ordered from the Kombucha Kamp booth at the Weston A. Price Conference. Big-O and I were impatient to start brewing our first batch of kombucha, so we spent a good chunk of the morning glued to a series of online videos about how to assemble the kit. 

Big-O watched EVERY video, even the ones that describe steps we won’t get to for another week, like flavoring your finished ‘booch.

But unlike his big brother, Lil-O hates kombucha. As soon as he learned that the brewing system isn’t made of Legos, he wandered off in search of a ninja costume, Iron Man mask, and a pirate hat. (Because Pirate Superhero Ninjas > Pirates > Superheroes > Ninjas > Kombucha.) 

I’m no craft queen like Martha Stewart, so I appreciated (and relied heavily on) the videos’ simple step-by-step instructions. I followed ‘em all to a “T,” except the part about sending positive vibes and expressing my hopes and dreams to my kombucha. So if this batch doesn’t turn out, I’ll know why.

Okay — truth be told, I may have also scalded my scobys with too-hot tea. Whoops.

Guess I’ll find out in a week if everything’s okay. 

After setting up my ‘booch brewing system, I was famished for lunch. Luckily, I had leftover braised pork shoulder in the fridge. I tucked some in a Pure Wrap and doused it with homemade sriracha sauce.

Can you tell how happy I am to have sriracha back in my life?

Post-lunch, I went for a hike with my pals, though we probably gabbed more than we exercised as we ambled up and down the Stanford foothills.

By the time I came home, I had a little time before dinner to tinker with a new recipe: Paleo Walnut Prawns.

This has been one of my favorite dishes since I was a wee lass. My family would always order walnut prawns when celebrating a birthday or anniversary at a Chinese restaurant, and I could never resist the crunchy shrimp and candied nuts — all slathered in a sweet, creamy sauce. Unfortunately, it was also totally anti-Paleo. The walnut prawns you get in restaurants are loaded with corn starch, sugar, high-omega-6 mayonnaise, and condensed milk — and then fried in super-bad-for-you oils. 

The version I’m working on isn’t sugar-free (the sauce has a touch of honey)…

…but the batter’s grain-free…

…and the prawns are fried in coconut oil.

Plus, the whole dish takes only 15 minutes to make…

…and the “candied” walnuts add a touch of sweetness and crunch without too much guilt.

After comparing this recipe to the walnut prawns we sampled Saturday night at my in-laws’ birthday feast in Chinatown, I’m declaring this one a winner. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to create a healthier, tastier alternative.

(Before you start asking: I’m still tinkering with the recipe, so it’ll remain under wraps for now!)

By the time dinner rolled around, I was a little tired of cooking, and didn’t want to make anything too complicated. I tossed some baby bok choy in the pressure cooker with some garlic, bone broth, and Red Boat Fish Sauce

…fried burgers formed with 4505 Meats' famous grind…

…and baked portobello mushroom “buns.”

My burger looked somewhat naked…

…until I squirted on some sriracha and piled on my buddy’s homemade kraut.

I already need to make a new batch of sriracha. I know: First world Paleo problems.