Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Not-So-Primal Evening

My friend, Debe, likes to go up to Nova Scotia every year for their blueberry festival. She's been going for years, but couldn't go this year. So she invited a bunch of friends to her house for her own blueberry festival. Everyone brought meat for the grill and something with blueberries in it. Everything was SO good. I know that almost everything had sugar and/or wheat in it, but I couldn't resist. I love blueberries and just had to try it.

But first things first, we brought a couple t-bone steaks and some kabobs for the grill. We picked up half of our 1/2 cow order a week or so ago and we wanted to try some of it. All we used for seasoning was Montreal Steak Seasoning. The kabobs had beef, red onion and red bell pepper and the steak seasoning. They were all so good. The meat really tasted beefy, unlike many steaks you buy at the supermarket. Just one dinner with this grass-fed beef and I'm convinced. It's more expensive at one time but cheaper by the pound if you buy locally and buy a 1/2 or full cow. Worth it!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mashed Turnips Are Amazing! And So Are Sweet Potato Chips

I don't think that I had ever tasted a turnip before tonight and they have just become my new favorite root vegetable. We have been steering clear of potatoes since going primal and I've missed them a bit. I was told that mashed turnips are a good substitute, so I thought I'd try them. I was also told that they don't taste like potatoes and to be prepared for them to be a little sweet. I'm not sure what I expected them to taste like, but they were awesome. I peeled them, chopped them and boiled them for about 20-25 minutes. Then (technically Eric did this) buzzed them in the food processor, added some butter, cream and salt and pepper. They were heavenly. Turnips have made their way onto my regular shopping list from now on. I served them with steamed asparagus and stuffed chicken breasts.

This weekend, we also tried sweet potato chips. Eric was wanting some nachos, but we don't eat corn so tortilla chips were out. After doing some searching online, he found that some primal folks like nachos made with pork rinds. So I ran to the store, bought some along with the sweet potato chips (cause I was hungry and they sounded tasty) and brought it all home.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Quick Tips for Cooking and Baking

I have spent a lot of time over the years bothering the internet with my problems when it comes to cooking and baking. I've looked up so many tips and tricks for getting my baked goods to turn out right, especially with regards to baking at high altitude. However, I tend to look the same things up over and over again because I forget. So rather than continue with that pattern, I figured I'd get all my helpful hints organized and posted here. Maybe next time I cook or bake and forgot an ingredient or rule for adjusting for the altitude, I'll remember that I've got all that info here on my blog. Maybe. More likely I'll forget about this post and look everything up again from the beginning. Here goes anyway. These are just general "rule of thumb" tips. Each recipe may need a bit of tweaking to get everything just right.


Baking Chocolate: For each ounce of unsweetened chocolate use 3 Tbsp cocoa powder and 1 Tbsp saturated fat such as coconut oil or butter.

Bittersweet Chocolate: 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp sugar for each ounce needed

Butter: Use an equal amount of coconut oil or lard

Buttermilk (for baking): Pour 1 Tbsp vinegar in measuring cup and add 1 c milk. Allow 5-10 min to sour.

Condensed Milk: For each 14 oz can needed, heat 1/3 c water, 1/2 c honey or maple syrup and 3 Tbsp butter to steaming. In heat-proof bowl whisk in 1 c dry milk powder. Allow to cool before using. Or, if you have the time, bring 6 c whole milk to boil, reduce heat and simmer 45 min, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 c honey or maple syrup and continue to simmer 10-15 min more or until reduced to 3 cups. Strain through mesh strainer and refrigerate up to one week.

Cornstarch: For each Tbsp needed use 2 tsp arrowroot, 2 Tbsp flour, 1 Tbsp potato flour or 4 tsp quick-cooking tapioca. (Using arrowroot in a milk-based sauce will cause the sauce to have a slimy mouth-feel, so use potato flour for those applications.)

Corn Syrup or Molasses: Substitute local raw honey equally or use equal amount of sugar and increase liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.

Cream of Tartar: Use an equal amount of baking soda

 - Baking - For each cup needed, use 3 oz almond meal and 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut flour
 - Thickening - For each Tbsp needed, use 1/2 Tbsp arrowroot or potato flour
 - Breading: Use an equal amount for almond meal

Half-and-Half: For 1 cup, use 1/2 c milk and 1/2 c heavy cream

Heavy Cream: Except for recipes calling for whipping the cream to either soft or stiff peaks, use equal amounts of regular coconut milk. Or use 2/3 c whole milk and 1/3 c melted butter for each cup needed.

Kosher Salt (coarse ground): For each tsp needed, use 1/2 tsp table salt

Maple Syrup: Use an equal amount of honey.

 - Baking - For every cup needed, use 3/4 c honey or maple syrup, reduce liquid by 3 Tbsp and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees F. (Honey causes baked goods to brown more quickly.)
 - Cooking - For each cup needed, use 3/4 c honey or maple syrup.

Vanilla bean: Use 2 tsp vanilla extract for each whole bean needed.

High Altitude Adjustments:
For Denver/Boulder altitude - around 5280ft

 - Increase oven temperature by 15 degrees F and reduce baking time by 20%
 - Reduce leavening by 1/8 to 1/4 tsp for each tsp needed
 - Decrease sugar by 1-2 Tbsp
 - Increase liquid by 2-4 Tbsp
 - Whip egg whites to soft peaks rather than stiff peaks
 - Thoroughly grease pans except when baking angel food cake
 - Consider using XL eggs instead of L
 - For cookies add up to 1/4 c flour

 - Increase boiling/simmering time (water boils at lower temp)
 - When making candy, reduce target temp by 1 degree F for each 500ft above sea level
 - When deep-frying, decrease temp 3 degrees for every 1000ft above sea level

So there you have it. As I remember more tips or substitutions that I've needed, I'll update the list. Hope this helps. StumbleUpon

Grain-Free Fudgy Brownies

Eric asked me to make brownies for him again, but the wasn't quite as impressed with the last batch as I was. So we tried the recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. I really wish we hadn't. They were awful! They smelled so good and looked pretty good, but they tasted nasty. So, we stuffed those down the disposal made another batch. They turned out wonderfully. We used Cook's Illustrated's Chewy Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies recipe and used almond and coconut flour instead of the regular flour. Not primal, but still grain-free.

5 oz Ghiradelli 86% dark chocolate
2 Tbsp coconut oil
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
9 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz almond flour
1-2 Tbsp coconut flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 8 x 8 pan with foil using the *sling method and butter the foil.
Melt chocolate, oil and butter together in double-boiler. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Whisk eggs and sugar together in small bowl. When chocolate mixture is slightly cooled, whisk egg mixture, vanilla and salt into chocolate. Fold or whisk in flours, using 1 Tbsp of coconut flour. If batter isn't as thick as you like, use the second Tbsp of coconut flour. (We used 2 Tbsp.)
Bake 35-40 min or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
These will cut much better when they are cool, so try to be patient. If you can't wait, lift the brownies out of the pan with the foil sling and cut into 1" cubes. Or just top the whole thing with some vanilla ice cream and chopped nuts and grab a spoon.

*Sling method: Fold a 12 x 12 piece of foil into a 7 x 12 rectangle. Press into pan leaving a handle on either side. Repeat with a second piece of foil laid perpendicular to the first piece. Your pan will be completely lined and the brownies will lift out for easy cooling and cutting. StumbleUpon

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We're Done Moving!!

We moved this week. Everything is finally at the new house and the old house is spotlessly clean. My family and I have been eating out for the last week and I'm so tired of it. I used to love going out to eat, but it's not so much fun when you really don't have a choice. And when your kitchen is so full of boxes that there is no way to get to the refrigerator or counter tops, you don't really have much of a choice when meal time comes around. And for a person who is trying to avoid grains, potatoes and excessive salt, it's difficult to eat out.

I'm so happy that we have unpacked our kitchen stuff, at least the cooking stuff. I still haven't found the plates, so paper will have to do for now. But at least I can start cooking again. We had some wonderful scrambled eggs this morning for breakfast. It may have been my favorite meal since last Sunday. I knew exactly what was in it and I knew for certain that it would be tasty. I was ecstatic.

Now that we're all moved and we have enough unpacked to have a functional house again, I'm going to be focusing my time (that isn't spent unpacking) on figuring out what I'm going to study in the fall. Eric and I were discussing it this morning and I had a bit of a revelation. Eric asked, "What is something that you could enjoy doing for 10 hours a day every day?" My answer: baking. I could spend every day baking up delicious treats for others and thoroughly enjoy it. I still really miss baking since switching to a Primal diet, even if I don't miss eating the results. So it is possible that I could be enrolling in pastry school in the fall. How fun would that be?! And I may actually learn how to bake a cake at high-altitude that doesn't fall and leave a big dent in the middle.

So that's all for now. Since my cookbooks are still all packed, I'll be searching the internet for recipes to cook. I'll post any winners. In the mean time, check out this recipe for Sweet and Salty Primal Trail Mix.

I made it last week so I could have an easy snack while I was packing. I just eyeballed everything, tripled the recipe and tweaked it to my liking. Here's about what I used:
1 1/2 to 2 c each walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c honey
1 1/2 c dried cranberries & dried apricots, cut into small pieces

Instead of following the directions, I toasted the nuts for 7 minutes and then broke them into smallish pieces. I toasted the seeds for about 3 minutes. Then I tossed the seeds and nuts together. I melted the honey and coconut oil together in a small pan and stirred in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. (I cut back on the nutmeg because I'm not a big fan of it.) I poured the honey mixture over the nuts and seeds, toasted it for another 5 minutes and then mixed the fruit in. It's absolutely delicious. I put it in my morning yogurt and cottage cheese (yum!) and just ate it right out of the storage container. I had to force myself to stop eating it when my stomach started feeling too full. Seriously, if I didn't practice self-control, I could eat the whole batch. In fact, our last batch is gone, so I think I'll make some more right now.

I followed the recipe this time to the letter, measuring everything. My first batch was SO much better. This last batch turned out too nutmeg-y and too salty. I prefer the first batch. I'll be going back to that "recipe." StumbleUpon