Friday, August 17, 2012


I bought some grass fed hamburger patties from Wegman's the other day on sale because it was the last day they could sell them.  I'm sure the culinary schooled folks who read this would be appalled that the sell by date was the 14th and I'm using them three days later, and cooking them medium rare to boot.  But for us normal people out there who stretch the limits of what's safe to eat in our kitchens (I can't be the only one who has stood there, pondering whether or not to risk food poisoning, and then deciding the risk is worth it...), I cooked up these babies today with one of my absolute favorite condiments EVER: worcestershire sauce.  I love this not just for the impossible-to-consistently-pronounce name (unless you've ever listened to "Tollbooth Willie" (nsfw) you probably pronounce all those letters), but also for its spicy and tart kick that makes meat and mushrooms pop.  So let's see what havoc we can wreak on my kitchen today.

Here are our ingredients: ground beef patties, onion, green beans, yellow squash, shallots, bacon fat (!), artichoke hearts and worcestershire sauce.  There are many reasons why a paleo lifestyle pairs well with the prescriptions of the Zone Diet but in this picture we have a fairly good example of eating a variety of colors and kinds of foods.  I think one of the pitfalls of most "diets" is that it's too monotonous.  But once you get the legos of paleo down, you can build everything from TIE Fighters to a seaside getaway complete with crabs. So, we have meat, fats and veggies as carbs. A little worcestershire sauce and a dash of salt and pepper to round out some flavors, but really, the stars are the real foods.

First, let's chop up half the onion and a shallot and put in a hot pan of bacon fat or duck fat. I used both. Because duck fat is delicious, and is only bested by bacon grease.  Sweat them out, get 'em all nice and clear and a little toasty. They get all caramelly (totally a word) and sweet and defreakinglicious, but only if you have patience and don't try to fry the living crap out of them in a hurry.  Like I said yesterday, don't be a jerk, love your food.

Next, let's put some water on to boil to steam those green beans and artichoke hearts. I like my green beans crisp, and what better way to keep 'em that way than to steam them in their own stovetop sauna. I like to get the water to a full boil, throw in the beans for about 3-4 minutes, cover it up (already made that joke) and then throw the artichokes and turn off the heat.  This lets them simmer while you cook the rest of the meal and makes it less likely that you'll cook the ever living green out of them by forgetting to turn off the heat later. Trial by error folks...

Going back to the squash, cover that up too and let that stuff sweat it out on medium heat until the squash is tender. Maybe 4-5 minutes? I don't know how hot your stove is, but if it's anything like my electric stove, which decides when and if it will actually work, then your guess is as good as mine. After said indeterminate amount of time, you want them fairly cooked through so that when you slap that hamburger in there, you can leave the cover off and let the hamburger fat and worcestershire sauce mingle with their new squashy friends.

Now, one thing I hate is when you follow a recipe, and it literally requires you to use every freaking pot and pan you own.  At the end you look at your kitchen and go "WTF was I thinking!?"  I'd rather you say "WTF Am I eating? It's so awesome!"  So here we have a one-pan wonder, where hamburgers and squash can coexist happily.  Just throw that hamburger in the pan and turn up the heat a bit to get it nice and toasty.  I put some worcestershire sauce directly onto the hamburger patty.  Best. Idea. Ever.  Marinating it makes it a little too potent. Worcestershire sauce after cooking doesn't do it for me flavor wise. So this works best for me.  Just enough flavor to let the grass fed beef be the star but also tasting AWESOME. When it's close to being done, hopefully it will look kinda like this. 

Crispy edges, cooked squash. Not well-done. Maybe 5 minutes tops on high heat, but again, depends on if your stove is bipolar or not. What the hell, throw on some salt and pepper too. Couldn't hurt.

As I mentioned before, I like to eat a variety of things. And one of the main tenants of the Zone diet in addition to this is to consume healthy fats in the form of nuts (nut jokes never get old btw).  But pecans and cashews and almonds just did not seem like they'd do much for this dish. So, while cooking, I just ate a handful instead. 
Problem solved.

Anyway, once the hamburger is cooked to your liking (which is hopefully  not well done because cooking the sh*t out of grass fed beef is a travesty), take 'er out and make sure the squash soaks up the juices, fat and crispies undoubtedly left by said hamburger.  Waste not, want not.

Now, put all of your cooked goodness on a plate and admire your work.  You're about to consume a gustatory masterpiece, and it maybe took you 30 minutes of your time.  That's probably less time than you'll have in the day that was undoubtedly wasted by talking to some of the idiots you work with.  And I'm not just projecting my job situation onto others.  There are always moments when people around you make you question your place in the world, and why these particular idiots happened onto your path...

I contemplated putting bacon into this dish too. Because really. Bacon. But I abstained... for now... Feel free to give in to the guilty pleasure, though, if worcestershire sauce is not your thing.  (I really love typing worcestershire sauce...)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bacon Cures Many Ills

Today was a horrible day at work.  It was busy.  I got yelled at by patients and coworkers alike. I finally got to lunch 6 hours after my shift started (makes eating proper paleo really difficult when people don't understand that eating every 3-4 hours and WHEN YOU'RE HUNGRY is a normal thing...). I stepped up and fixed a lot of problems with extra care, and no one probably will ever notice, much less care.  I got teary eyed as I sat in my car in the parking garage, not because I was necessarily sad, but because I was so overwhelmed.  Today was an epic FML. In fact, I think I may have said that a few times...

But, I woke up today telling a friend to remember to make today a good day.  And so, I made my time outside of work count. Mostly by cooking, but also by purchasing a few things for a project in the wings.  (More on that if anything comes of it...)

"What did you cook?" you ask.


Bacon-ated Steak with Portabella, Asparagus and Yellow Squash


Here we have everything we need: meat, awesome cutting knife, pecans, asparagus, portabella mushroom, yellow squash, shallots and some fats (duck fat and coconut oil, which I ended up not using). There's only one thing that could make this better, and I'll get to that in a minute.

Again, order of operations being key, I photographed pretty much the whole cooking process this time.  It took me probably 45 minutes from start to finish, but I can eat this meal for probably 2 dinners with how much food it made. So not bad in the grand scheme of time.

Heat up your non-stick or cast iron skillet and throw in : duck fat and shallots and chopped up portabella mushroom. I cut mine in big chunks. Let these babies fry up, and get mellow. I like to throw mushrooms in at the beginning because they get browned and soak up the flavors of other stuff in the pan. Takes about 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Don't burn these guys on high heat if you're in a hurry. This dish is too good to be a jerk to your food.
Then throw in : your sliced up squash and 2 inch pieces of asparagus.  Cover it up! Good life lesson. But mostly to keep the moisture in and steam the newb veggies you just threw in there.  This should also be on medium heat.  Just put the cover on the pan and leave for a few minutes at a time so the sides of the squash have time to brown.
It was at this point, as these veggies were cooking, that I was thinking "Damn, this really could be amazing... But really.  Only one thing could make it better..." and so then we ended up with this:  bacon. 

I put in probably about 3-4 big slices worth of bacon, chopped up into little squares with my nifty red knife that literally cuts through everything (clearly frozen bacon was no match, and thank goodness). Here we have the other pan, all steamed and cooking and mixed together, preparing itself mentally for the amazing baconness that will soon arrive.  In all, cooking this down probably took about 15-20 minutes total, and once it was done, I put it into a casserole dish to hang out til the end. So now, I decided to throw the pecans into the same pan as the bacon.  Because pecans and bacon sound heavenly.  Let those cook down a bit more (I added the pecans half way through cooking the bacon) and then drain. But save that fat, because unlike most ways of eating, paleo actually lets you eat things in bacon fat, duck fat, all kinds of yummy fats. My gram would be so proud.

So now, we come to "Bacon-ated" steak.  I used some bacon fat and bits from the cast iron pan in the same frying pan that cooked the veggies, turned up the heat a bit, and then pretty much just let the steak do its thing. It splutters a lot of grease, so get that cover handy, and a wooden spoon to help keep the cover slightly off kilter and let the moisture escape. We don't want to steam it, but I'd rather keep my stove from looking like BP took over my kitchen. 
I threw on a little bit of "Molasses and Bacon" seasoning from Grill Mates (picked it up at Sam's Club) for good measure.  You can't have too much bacon. And here's the finished product, resting for about 5 minutes so all the juices don't run away.
Last up, put some veggies on that plate, cut that steak, and add something good for dessert, like a handful of raspberries. and voila. You will totally make your neighbor jealous... unless he's vegan and absolutely hammered right now... like my neighbor...

De-freaking-licious. That looks like it came out of a freaking magazine, doesn't it? I've thoroughly impressed myself.

And so, while I'm still working out the mechanics of portions and ratios as suggested in the paleo lifestyle (I Zoned for a good 7 months prior to paleo, and thus have an OCD attention to measuring things out for each meal and serving), I kinda ate until I was full.  And that was a pretty good way to get lost in the joy of cooking and eating after a crappy day at work.

What do you think? I don't claim my dishes to be the result of rocket-science-like-recipe-making, in fact I pretty much use the same order of operations for all of my cooking and just vary the ingredients.  Tried a similar dish? What combination of veggies and spices did you use?

And remember. Bacon makes everything better.  Especially crappy days at work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 2

I feel like most blogs are supposed to start on Day 1 of some awesome personal journey that is meant to inspire and encourage others to do the same.  But, really, I’m just here to post about some really awesome stuff in my life. Recipes, WODs, you know... regular things in the life of someone who strives to "eat like an animal, train like a beast."  So, that said, this blog begins on Day 2 of my journey to a paleo “eat like an animal” way of life.  And really, it’s well into the “train like a beast” phase (I started CrossFit in May 2012).  Here's the earliest pic I could find of myself (I'm on the right with the crazy red hair and ridiculously huge mug of vodka) prior to changing my life around. I figure we have lots of time to go into the who, what, when, where, why, and how of "paleo," so let's skip that now and move on to why this blog is here (and what I ate for lunch today).

I should also start off by saying that allopathic medicine is not my favorite thing, despite (because of?) the fact that I work in a hospital.  I look at some of the folks who come in there and think, “Hey, I’m 27, I better get cracking on this taking care of my body thing.  I want to be able to pick up my dentures when they fall on the ground.”  This blog is an attempt to hold myself accountable to noting benchmarks in my diet and my level of fitness, and to keep track of how I'm going to use food and fitness to combat some of the chronic health issues I have so I don't end up like the people who come to my hospital.

And yes, I'm a girl, despite the Carl thing.  My in-laws call me Carl for short... short for Carly... don't ask.

So, after that brief introduction about why I'm here and what I want to do, here’s my first “recipe.” I’m not really in to reading and following recipes. I just kinda throw stuff in the pan and hope for the best.  I will say, however, that order of operations is key, and so for that reason, I’ve decided to write this down. (Also I’m tired of trying to tell people how to make things at the office, and have them say “Just email it to me!”… don’t think I’ve remembered to do that even once…).

Moroccan Slaw with Shrimp and Cashews

mmmmmmmm yummy
You will need:  1.5 tsp of coconut oil, 1 diced shallot – fry these babies up til they turn translucent (not on high heat)

then add: 1 bag of broccoli slaw (could sub cabbage slaw I guess, but make sure it’s plain old veggies, no mayo or other stuff) and cook til it’s a little wilty but still crisp, and while still cooking…

throw on top: 2 tsp of moroccan spices, available at most grocery stores.

mix it up, toss it around, put a lid on the frying pan for a few minutes and keep some moisture in there.  After about 5 minutes of cooking, VOILA INSTANT AMAZING EASY DISH!

For the shrimp: bring a pot of water to boil, add a bit of salt or other spices to taste, cook for about 4 minutes or until they turn super pink.

Throw cashews on top. Or wherever, or whatever nuts you please (I'm gonna leave that one alone...)

And literally you’re done.  Now eat that tasty dish, and make all the people in your office jealous that you’re eating a ridiculously awesome lunch… Paleo style "Lean Cuisine" mmmm, so much better than that frozen crap in the community office refrigerator.