This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
Eating Paleo in NYC had a lovely picnic last month and it was featured on Mark's Daily Apple yesterday. I suggest you check it out. It has a couple of really good recipes, including my own duck confit/lardo salad.
I have much to blog about and have been writing several posts, but I've also been traveling, starting a new job, and enjoying life ;)
Yes, it is possible to have too many Norcal Margarita's, as I did at the AMAZING Robb Wolf party last night. It was an awesome group of people and I wish it had been longer so I could have talked to everyone.
I didn't realize how strong they were until I had four of them. Admittedly it was the first time I had a margarita in years and I'm not really used to drinking much. Even the delicious speck from Wooly Pigs and the delicious Thai food from my paleo!date beforehand couldn't save me from waking up this morning with a bit of a stomach ache and just feeling grumpy in general.
I frustrate some of my friends because I seemingly recover magically from such circumstances. Maybe it's because I'm paleo, but maybe it's because of my magical hangover soup that restores electrolytes and soothes the stomach. And it's easy enough for even a groggy idiot to make.
You just need a can of pumpkin, which does a great job calming my stomach down for some reason.
and some stock. If you don't have any homemade on hand, store-bought stuff is generally fine. All you have to do is mix them together and boil. The result is a restorative soup that's even a little tasty. Robb Wolf suggested adding ginger.
Overall it's probably better not to be in this situation in the first place, but sometimes it's worth it. And with this soup I was able to go to the park and run around in my Vibrams.
I live in the land of expensive food boutiques that sell absolutely nothing practical and can only exist in a place that is wealthy enough to view food as mere entertainment. Either way, some of them actually have some decent house-made cured meats and other delights. One of my favorites is BKLYN Larder and what they have that is truly outstanding is gelato made with high-quality dairy and very little sugar. Occasionally other shoppers have remarked to me that they are not fans of flavors like Fior De Latte, which tastes mainly of bright fresh cream, or honey-mascarpone, because they don't taste much like desserts. That's obviously OK with me since my usually low-sugar diet has made my tastebuds more sensitive to sweet. I also like the fact that the dairy, rather than the sugar, is the showpiece here. Good dairy by itself isn't appreciated enough, which is sad because there is a massive taste advantage for quality fresh dairy like milk, ricotta, mascarpone, sour cream, or yogurt. I don't do dairy very often, but when I do I made sure it tastes like grassy fields speckled with yellow wildflowers.
I unfortunately got the idea to do Panna Cotta because there is something wrong with my freezer and it won't freeze my ice cream cylinder very well, leaving me with some very cold slush when I last attempted a batch. I had another batch to do and decided to just eat it as it was in the fridge. I use gelatin in my ice creams and it had become a very nice jelly. If you believe the Weston A. Price foundation, gelatin is also very good for your skin and digestion.
At a local restaurant, Thistle Hill, I had a goat's milk pannacotta recently and decided to attempt one myself. It was fairly easy and also allowed me to use up some crappy nectarines that weren't ripening. The texture of the pannacotta allows the creamy dairy flavor to linger on your tongue enough to really taste the butterfat. It's a delight to eat.
1 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups good whole milk or coconut milk
.5 cup heavy cream or coconut cream
a few drops of stevia or a little maple syrup/honey to taste, plus a dash of vanilla
1. Place 1/4 cup water in a bowl, sprinkle with gelatin, let set for 5 minutes
2. Heat up dairy in saucepan until just about to boil, turn off heat, flavor with sweet and vanilla to taste, add gelatin mixture and let dissolve for 5 minutes
3. Pour through sieve into a bowl set in ice water bath (i'm not sure this actually does anything...)
4. Set in fridge
I just made this up myself with the fruit I had on hand. I boiled some sliced nectarines until the flesh broke down (about 15 minutes), blended them, and added a gelatin mixture described in step one of the panna cotta. Then I set up the jelly in fridge. Thankfully gelatin is pretty forgiving.
Yeah, it's my party and I get to be a dessert-making paleo deviant if I want to. For my birthday I decided to make some ice cream from The Ice Dream Cookbook. I first heard about this cookbook on The Healthy Cooking Coach, a blog by chef Rachel Albert-Matesz. Her husband Don writes another excellent blog called Primal Wisdom.
Yes, I know paleolithic humans didn't have ice cream, but sometimes we need to indulge. When I started doing paleo I tried a handful of paleo dessert recipes, with uniformly terrible results. It mostly involved dumping a bag of $12 nut flour in with some eggs and a pitiful amount of honey. The results were uniformly like insipid heavy omelettes. Maybe I just can't follow recipes to save my life. That coupled with the fact that I'm not exactly the best photographer in the world contribute to me posting relatively little on the subject.
But I tried Ice Dream and it's very good and while it might not be perfect, for those of us with non-paleo family and friends, it's better than serving up some Haagan Daaz. The basic idea is it's coconut milk made creamy and custardy with gelatin or agar and then sweetened with a variety of sweetener options coupled with stevia.
I hadn't liked stevia before this. Stevia, for the uninitiated, is a non-caloric sweetner made from the leaves of a shrub. It's sweet....but it also has a bit of a bitter aftertaste, especially to a super-taster like me. By itself, it tastes kind of horrible to me. But now that I've made some of the recipes from the Ice Dream cookbook I realize the secret it to pair it with small amounts of more delicious sweet things and other strong flavors. I've only made a few flavors from the book, but mango was one of the best. I couldn't taste the stevia at all.
The other sweeteners you pair stevia with are fruit, honey, maple syrup, or the less-preferable agave (because it's basically HFCS and has now been banished from the health foodie community). Yes, that does mean that there are carbs, but nearly half of commercial coconut milk ice creams and without nasty additives like carraggean.
A great thing about this dessert for me at least is that it's really satisfying. I didn't feel the need to eat much. It's sweet enough to be a birthday treat, but not too sweet.
The seminal cookbook on cooking offal. Many of the recipes are perfectly easy for the home cook- particular those for heart and bone marrow.
Yesterday I face two cooking fears: small fish and frying. I was at the Union Square Farmer's market with a paleo friend yesterday. At the Blue Moon fishery booth I was about to get some sort of inoffensive seafood, maybe scallops. But then I saw my friend order something that was an unappetizing pinkish grey. It was monkfish liver. Not to be outdone in the adventurous eating department, I looked for something slightly more appetizing. My eyes alighted on a barrel of small iridescent blue fish with pearly eggs spilling out of their guts.
"What are those?" I asked. The fisherman answered "sparing." I had no idea what that was, but I ordered half a pound. It was a mere $2, but instantly I felt regret. What would I do with those? I'd never even heard of sparing.
Apparently they are smelt. Which I'd heard of, but never tasted. When I visited Madrid last year I had many fresh delicious sardines and anchovies, which I found much tastier than the canned varieties, but since then I haven't eaten many tiny fish.
I didn't eat fish until I was 18 or so and didn't cook it until I was 19. My family always ate fish, but I thought it was absolutely disgusting and only fit for cats. I forced myself to eat fish when I went paleo because of the convincing literature on the health benefits. I definitely didn't like it and pretty much did my best to drown it in heavily-spiced sauces. Since then I've tried different types of fish slowly and always with trepidation. I've fallen in love with shellfish, but my relationship with oily fish is a little less stable. I usually try fish for the first time at restaurants, because at least they sort of know what they are doing...right?
Either way, I was stuck with these smelt and wasn't about to waste them. According to my Google searches...eating the whole thing was recommended. Pretty scary...the thought of eyeballs and brains and ugh.
Per some tips on paleohacks, I washed and dried the smelt, then dipped then in egg, and then in a mixture of coconut flour, almond meal, and my favorite spices. I'm pretty cautious about frying, but a good method I've found is just to use lots of heat, but protect yourself with a lid from the popping oil. I fried the fish in a couple of tablespoons of ghee until they were crispy. Then I seasoned then with a dash of salt and a pinch of lime.
And I ate them. I'd never eaten a whole entire fish before, but these were delicious. I totally forgot about eyeballs and other nasty bits. They were crispy and mild. I dipped some in my delicious homemade mayo and they were perfect. It's great to add another healthy, cheap, and fairly easy food to my recipe box!