A rainbow of chard

I’m qualifying this as prep, because a good side of veggies is mandatory. After all, meat should add up to only one third of your plate, no more. But sometimes salads can be boring (or repetitive!).

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Chard is in bloom right now. Every store I go has chard. Always. Even the Farmer’s Market has chard, so let’s cook chard. I’m using Melissa’s method of steam-sauteeing, but with a little oil: first I wash the chard, and let it drip for a little while. Then I chop it. In the meantime, I fry a clove of garlic in oil (either coconut or avocado) so it realeases its flavors.

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When you can smell the garlic, that’s when you add back the chard and then cover it so it steams. Every couple mintues I stir it so it doesn’t burn off. If it’s getting too dry you can always add a little bit of water.

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When done, you add salt and pepper. That’s it. Great complement for meats1

Hello Mr. Piggy

One of the things I usually don’t buy is pork, since at least all the pork I’ve seen has as the highest rating just “organic”, and just like several sources have pointed out, that can be a bit misleading (or flat out hiding other problems) I’ve never felt that comfortable buying it. However, every once in a while a change of food in the menu is in order, so I decided to do it this week.

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Pork chops are probably not the cheapest cut, but they are quite easy to make. In this case, I rubbed both sides with salt and pepper, and fried them in coconut oil until both sides were seared, and they had started to cook inside.

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When cooked (but not done), I removed them from the fire, and in the mixture of grease that was rendered and coconut oil I fried onions and mushrooms.

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Then with some sour cream the mushrooms morphed into a creamy thick sauce.

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When thick and rich I put the chops back in place. Since they were already salted I didn’t add salt to the sauce, but you can do that while it’s thickening if you think it’s lacking flavor. I let them boil in a low fire until the meat was done.

Bits and PIeces

One of the commitments I’ve made to myself since I started eating Paleo/Primal is that I should include organ meats more often, and I’ve come from a standard “Ew” to a “At least every two weeks”. It definitely helps that I can buy pastured lamb liver for about $2.00 a pound.

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However, I actually do not know many ways to cook liver. So I decided to “combine it” this time. I cooked the liver in coconut oil, having seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme, until it was cooked but not leathery, and then mixed it (including the grease from the pan) with greens that included kale, spinach and arugula. The result was a warm salad that could be eaten right there, or saved in the fridge for later consumption (in my case, as lunch).
I wanted to talk a bit about the trick of cooking liver (although I don’t have more pictures of liver being cooked). I’ve found that the best way to cook it is to fry it in butter or coconut oil, which had to be pre warmed to a decent temperature. I’ve never done it but apparently a good trick is to introduce a chopstick (wood) in the oil and if it bubbles, is ready. And when you are frying it, first you have to wait for a while – let’s say, three to five minutes; then flip it, wait a bit more, and THEN start moving it. Why? Well, liver is soft, so its outer portion can burn even if the inside is not cooked yet. Moving it prevents it from burning, but it allows it to finish cooking – after all, we don’t want a bloody liver. And yes, always try and split a piece just to make sure that the liver is cooked through. I usually like to keep it cooking for 30 seconds after seeing it cooked just to ensure everything is cooked (and not just that one bit).

Cooking engineering, pt. II

I’ve already talked a lot about how great crockpots are, particularly when you are busy and you want something simple that will yield delicious results. However, while the crockpot does not need supervision to give you an amazing dish, it does require one thing: to mind the time. And while yes, you won’t burn your food if you let it go overtime, you might end up with really dry chicken.

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Now, there are crockpots that come with their timer, and that’s awesome! However, mine was a gift from my roommate (he didn’t know how to use it) and it’s a pretty old model. Really solid, but you can tell it has been around for a while.

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The solution was pretty simple, I’m not even sure I can call it engineering: use a christmas light timer. So I prepped it for the amount of hours I wanted, and went to bed without any worries in my mind. When I woke up, my almond meal was ready.

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The recipe was from Chrissy’s book, Paleo Slow Cooking: shaved apple (to provide humidity), almond flour (I actually used almond meal for coarseness – it’s an oatmeal substitute!) and water, and cooked for six hours. Strawberries for sweetness in the end. =)

Cooking engineering

I’m back! Well, that depends on how much I manage to stabilize my working schedule, but I should be back into writing something a bit more periodical and not that far apart.

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Jerky is one of the things I’ve been wanting to make on my own for a while because it’s a good snack. It has protein, it has fat, it is portable and it tastes delicious, depending on what was used to marinate it. However, most storebought jerkys include a lot of ingredients that are not compliant with the Ancestral Health or Paleo diets, which means they are usually off the list.

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The concept of this dehydrator (from The Dirty Carnivore is actually a pretty simple one: a lamp in a box. The idea is to create a warm environment, hot enough to drive air out and with it the humidity of the meat inside. Against what most people would think, you don’t need the air inside (or the meat) to reach 212F: just like a puddle of water ends up evaporating due to the air taking the water away, so does this system work. Therefore, you only need a lamp to create the movement.

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This was cheap. Really cheap. The most expensive bits were the worklight and the PVC pipes. It was also really easy to make: it took me most of thirty minutes, and that was mostly because I’m rubbish with a pair of scissors. And the jerky was friends and roommates approved!

Garlic. Garlic everywhere.

I’ve made Bill and Haley’s Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic before when I just wanted to experiment with the idea of using so much garlic to cook a dish. In this case I did it because it’s simple, and all it requires is to baby sit the over (which you can do while doing other things in the kitchen anyways).

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Just like the previous time the hardest thing to do is to cut up the chicken. Every time I do it, though, the easier it becomes, and I’ve gone from 30 minutes “I have no Idea what I am doing” to 5 minutes “I’m also chopping some shallot and other stuff at the same time”.

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Besides that, everything is even sequential: fry the chicken, fry the garlic, fry the shallot, put everything together and bake for 1.5 hours.

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One thing I forgot to buy were the fresh herbs, lemon thyme and rosemary. I will try my hand at herb growing again, but I need to stick it in my calendar that I have to water my herbs. I somehow managed to kill mint, which is basically a weed, so yeah, I suck.

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However, a good bunch of dried herbs were a good substitute.

A different kind of liver

My roommate, Nick, has been working in a farm for a couple months now. One afternoon he called me and since I still have problems understanding English over the phone I only got that I’d be getting some free organ meats from a grass-fed cow. YES!

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I considered first doing just liver and onions but I realized I didn’t have enough onions, so I moved onto the next easiest thing you can do with liver: liver with bay and onions. The idea is to fry some onions, then fry the liver, then add some wine and let the liver stew in it. Ah, and some bay leaves, obviously.

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I have to admit that since the liver was presliced I found it easier to cook, since it was stewed more uniform. If you don’t have wine (like I did that night) you can always use broth as a substitute. Surprisingly enough, this is a dish that requires very little salt when using broth since that has a fair amount of it – but if you are using wine you may need to add a bit more just to bring out the flavors.

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Also, I found the taste to be milder than my usual lamb liver. I have to admit I like lamb liver more, but this was definitely tasty. Now, if I can convince my roommate to give me more free meat…