The Turtle Traverse

Source: The Turtle Traverse


6 months of Paleo at the Constant Kitchen…

… and here are my findings so far.

One: There is no such thing as too much bacon.

Two: There is such a thing as too much country ham, especially if you don’t want the nurse to think her blood pressure monitor is broken.

Three: Paleo food costs more. But it’s offset by the money I’m not spending on juice, snacks, etc. So it kind of works out. Incidentally, I have yet to switch to grass-fed beef. But I do get antibiotic/hormone free meat.

Four: I’ve lost twenty pounds. But I still have thirty to go, so I’m not breaking out the party hats just yet.

Five: Eating large paleo breakfasts in front of civilians freaks them out.

Six: This is fun to do.

All in all, I can say that I feel better, my skin seems better (my hair, sadly, will never be in a Pantene commercial) and my blood pressure is down from 172/108 to 134/80 – from borderline medical issue to normal (albeit on the high edge of normal). I eat much, much more vegetables – in fact I crave them when I take a “cheat day” and eat a lot of processed food – and a lot a lot of eggs. My biggest frustration is that I’ve plateaued with weight loss for about 12 weeks – I keep losing and gaining the same four pounds, which is annoying as hell. Best insight so far is that my “ideal” window for carbs is about 70 grams a day – more than that and I don’t lose weight, less than that and I feel run down and tired. I use the Mark Sisson “Carbohydrate Curve” to plot my daily intake. (Please note that that does not imply whole-hearted endorsement of Mr. Sisson; I have his book and I read his site, but I don’t agree with all of it. Also, please ease up on the pimping of the damn vitamins, Mark.)

Conclusion: Never going back to the Standard American Diet, no way. You can have my bacon when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers… and then my zombie will bite youūüôā

And if you’re in the mood for some giggles, check out this paleo Tumblr, or this youtube video. And if you’d like a really great explanation of paleo from one of my favorite bloggers – seriously, Jay, get off the bike and write more stuff! – check out J. Stanton’s “How to Eat Like a Predator” here.

Recipes coming! I think. If I can get it together this weekūüôā

P.S. one additional note from the significant other: “Tell them that you have more energy and your mood is better, and you smile all the time now. I can really tell the difference.”

And that may be the best improvement of all.

 

 


Greek Zucchini Saute and Honey-Bay Pork Roast

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Zucchini! It is the low-carb paleo’s best friend. Want to make fake lasagne with delicious tomato sauce and gooey cheese? ¬†Thinly sliced zucchini. Want to make stuffed peppers or tomatoes without rice? Diced zucchini. Want to threaten your noisy teenage neighbors with something that resembles a club but can be eaten to destroy the evidence? GIANT ZUCCHINI.

This dish is a quick dish that expands on the “zoodles” theme to make a nice vegetable side instead of rice or potatoes, both low-carb no-no’s. This is just a tangent, but in my vegetarian days I used to make a dish called Cavatappi with baby potatoes, which was – wait for it – pasta with potatoes and cream sauce. Jesus. No wonder I have weight issues.

Back to tasty, tasty Greek zucchini.  Ingredients:

2-3 zucchini

1-2 carrots

about 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

about 10 olives ( I like Kalamatas), also sliced in half

1/2 tablespoon of a “greek” seasoning – I use this one, even though it’s technically for pasta¬†– or an equivalent mix of basil, oregano, and thyme. Heavier on the oregano is best for me, but it’s a taste thing. Plan to saute a garlic clove if you’re making a mix on your own.

Olive oil (duh)

feta cheese – 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on how cheesy you like your dish. I love cheese, so I go for a bit more than a third of a cup.

Optional: a splash of white wine. Feel free to just use a glug of whatever you’re planning to drink at dinner, unless it’s kool-aid.

Directions:

Use a vegetable peeler (I use this one, which was a $5 upgrade from the 99 cent one I had for years) to peel the zucchini and the carrots, and then use the peeler to slice them thinly into ribbons. You’re looking for a wide, parpardelle kind of effect. With the zucchini, do about six slices and then rotate it, so you skip the seedy core.¬†

Warm the olive oil in your favorite saute pan. I use about 1/2 a tablespoon, but I have a ceramic non-stick pan (see photo) that doesn’t, well, stick. You may need a bit more if you’re using cast-iron or a non-nonstick.

Toss all the veggie ribbons in the pan and give a toss, to coat with the oil. Drizzle a bit more oil if needed. Saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until the ribbons start to look cooked – I really don’t know a better way to describe that, they’ll be shiny and slightly translucent. Lower the heat a bit if they start to burn at the edges.

Add the sliced tomatoes, and stir for a minute.

Add the olives, and sprinkle the whole pan with the seasoning.

Add the splash of wine, if using. When I say “a splash” I mean about 2 tablespoons. You want to moisten the veggies and give them some liquid to absorb, not get them hammered. Too much wine will make them soggy.

Let the whole thing simmer for another minute or so, until most of the wine is absorbed. Turn out onto a serving plate, and sprinkle with the feta. The heat of the vegetables will soften the feta slightly, and make the flavors blend, which is nice.

Serve:

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In retrospect, that is the loudest plate known to man. I should have gone with something a tad simpler. But obnoxious dishware aside (it’s even plastic, GOD!) this is a tasty and delicious go-to recipe. I make it at least once a week. If I’m feeling really luxe I’ll add a few artichoke hearts (from a jar) sliced lengthwise. Yum.

Since I I didn’t post anything last week you get an extra recipe this time, you lucky devils. Alex picked up a pork roast at the Kroger on sale and it was languishing in the freezer, so I tossed it in the crockpot:

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I wanted something sort of complex and Mediterranean, rather than spicy, so I added:

A cup of white wine

A cup of water (you could also use broth; we were out)

A mix – about 1/4 cup total – of dried basil and oregano. More oregano than basil is my preference.

3 Star Anise¬†(full disclosure: this turned out to be WAY to much anise. Next time I’ll use only one star, or two at the most.)

I layered about 5 bay leaves on top of the roast, and topped it all off with about a tablespoon of honey – I wanted a slightly sweet effect. Turn the crockpot on low, slap on the lid, and walk away. God, I love my crockpot. I gave it about ¬†6 hours and it came out perfect – I think I checked it at about 5 hours and it needed a bit more time, so six it was. Except for the excessive anise flavor – again, next time only one star – it was great. I’m still trying to devise a good way to thicken the juices in the crockpot down to a gravy (or at least a sauce) so if you have any suggestions….

 

 

 

 


Kickstarter update

 

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By the way, if you haven’t checked out my Kickstarter for the film I am trying to make this summer, please do! My two co-conspiritors and I are trying to raise money to make a documentary about the south Georgia coast. And you know it will include food! We’re hoping to do some interviews with both a shrimp fisherman and the owners of a local mom-n-pop restaurant, to show how people can sustainably make a living from the sea. So please check us out, and you can donate to help us make our project a reality here.¬†


Honey-Roasted Vegetable Salad

This is a perfect dish for Summer, as it only takes a few minutes in the oven (or on the grill) and is a bit more substantial than just a green salad. You can vary the vegetables, but I like the yellow squash and tomatoes for the bright colors against the green.

 

I am ridiculously proud of the fact that all the lettuce in this salad came from our garden. Zucchinis and tomatoes are still holding back, but I expect to start getting some victuals from them soon as well (if the bunnies and birds don’t beat us to it)

Recipe! here you go:

2 yellow crookneck squash

10 cherry or grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon italian seasoning of your choice

olive oil 

1 teaspoon honey

Lettuce of choice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Super easy, you could do this in your sleep: Cut the tomatoes in half, and cut the squash into “coins” (see photos). I usually just use the neck portion of the squash – down to where the seeds start – because I don’t like the seedy bits, but I’m uppity like that. You could certainly use the whole thing. I save it for another use or feed it to the goldfish, who go wild over it.

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Put all the veggies in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, the seasoning and the honey. If you do the oil first the honey won’t stick to your measuring spoon, by the way. Toss everything so it’s all coated evenly with goodness.

Put it all on a foil lined pan, like this:

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And stick it in your preheated oven for 10 minutes. SET THE TIMER. It does not take a lot to cook these and you don’t want your dinner to be carbon.¬†

When the timer goes off, turn off the oven ¬†but LEAVE THE PAN IN THERE for another ten minutes. This is a huge step so don’t skip it. I stole this idea from Nigella Lawson, who makes slow roasted tomatoes this way. The heat of the oven, slowly declining, lets the veggies carmelize and become extra delicious, but if you try to cook them for the extra time they will surely burn. Trust me on this. Set the timer for the additional 10 minutes and make the green bit of the salad while you are waiting.

When your second ten minutes is up, strew the squash and tomatoes, which will be soft and slightly collapsed, across your salad. I try to be artistic, but it never quite looks like the magazines. It’s still really pretty:¬†

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And viola! This is one of my favorites for summer. The honey gives just the right note of sweet with the tomatoes and squash, especially if you’re using a slightly bitter green like arugula. I usually use a baby lettuce mix (or whatever’s in the garden) so I’m not looking for a super sweet contrast.

Dressing note: You could use any simple vinigrette with this, or even a lightly creamy dressing (say, something you made with a spoonful of sour cream). I think a heavy ranch-style or blue cheese dressing would be overkill, though. I tried to make a roasted peach vinegrette the last time I made this (you can just see the peaches on the pan in the middle photo) but it really wasn’t all that great, so I’ll hold off on that recipe for now.¬†

 


Almost Famous

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I’m putting this identical post on both my blogs, because it’s very exciting, so bear with me if you are an amazing person who reads BOTH of my brain ramblings. I do apologize.¬†

But – I’m published! With the lovely and talented Amy Herr, who is a food photographer in Atlanta and a good friend of mine, and the person who took the photo above. We got accepted as contributors to the blog “The Kitchn“, for their Kitchen Tour column, and our first tour went up on the site yesterday. Amy took all the photos and I wrote the text, and you can see it here.¬†


Paleo Baked Oysters

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These are sort of a work in progress; I’ve made them a couple of times and I’m still perfecting the recipe. As it stands, for four oysters, you’ll want:

a slice or two of canned artichoke heart

1/4 cup finely diced onion

a few cashews

salt, pepper

1/8 teaspoon of lemon zest

a sprinkle of italian seasoning.

(sorry about the weirdly small quantities; I’ve just made them for myself so far.)

 

The hardest part fo this recipe, of course, is getting the oysters open. Those little guys are not giving up the fight easily. I had to text my old roommate Adam, who used to work at an oyster bar in Florida, for directions. The conversation went like this:

“How do I open these bloody things?”

“You don’t. Unless you want 6 stitches in your left hand.”

“C’mon, man, I’m hungry.”

“Okay… take your oyster knife – you do have an oyster knife?”

“I have a flat bladed screwdriver.”

“Jesus… Okay, program 911 on your cell phone and then take a THICK towel….”

With his Mr. Miyagi-like wisdom, I triumphed. I was mightier than the mollusks! And I did not need stitches (although the barnacles on the oysters oozed snot all over me, which I could have done without).

So! On to the actual recipe. Most recipes tell you to put a bed of kosher or rock salt in a pan to support the oysters. We aren’t making that many margaritas at the Possum Jump Ranch to have that much salt around, so I just used my small cast iron pan – the four oysters fit perfectly and held each other up.

Take all the ingredients, above, and blitz them in the blender (I have one of those bullet mini-blenders, which is awesome for this, and salad dressing too). Turn into a pan with a teaspoon or so of butter (you could do olive oil if you like), and saute for a couple of minutes until the artichoke and onion are soft. Scoop a bit on top of each (opened) oyster. Pop in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

The cashews give the topping the crunch that would normally be provided by breadcrumbs and have a nice nutty taste, subtle but interesting. I squeezed some more lemon on them at the table, but you don’t have to.

Next time I do these I’m going to try them on the grill, because it’s entirely to hot now to turn on the oven just for oysters. So that should be interesting. Might get an actual oyster knife too, just to be properly armed…


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