Chard, Pumpkin and White Bean Soup

Perhaps I'm a backwards cook - I see a lot of menu plans on blogs and sites, but rather than start with a wish list and shop for it I work from what's available, what called to me in the produce aisle, what appeared in my weekly veggie box delivery, and develop the meals from that. Google is my friend in this too, offering up recipes and flavour combinations for the most seemingly random crisper contents.


Link Roundup 23.12.11

Clearly I'm not too focussed on blogging lately. I suspect that most people aren't too focussed on blog reading right now either, so hopefully I'll be forgiven for failure to post. I have, incredibly, only three tabs are open in my browser as I prepare to shut down for a holiday hiatus, and I think they say a lot about how I spend my on-line time at the moment:


Link Roundup 08.12.11

Yeah, I haven't blogged in ages. I'm distracted by life, and not finding time in which to work on personal projects without interruption or nagging from my superego. That's not to say that I've stopped surfing or thinking about the fun stuff that turns up, just that I haven't had time to mentally digest it and regurgitate it as a post or three. My stats are shrivelling, the visitors graph wilting, yet I'm still distracted and time-poor, so here are the undigested tabs that have been open in my browser for so long that I want them to go away (but don't want to lose their contents to the endless flow of the internet's inforiver):


Fried Banana Fondue

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posting to bring you what some Paleo Hacks hack disparagingly referred  to as a "what I just ate for dinner" post. To be more accurate, this is a what we ate after dinner post, since no one in their right mind would feed a 2yo bananas and chocolate before getting something "real" into them, right? (I guess it depends on what kind of day it was. And this is super-delicious and home made. I promise not to judge.)

So, yeah; bone broth from ruminants will have to wait.


Stock: frugal delicious nutrition

Holy frugal delicious nutritiousness, Batman, it’s time to stock up!

This is a companion post to a guest post at Kitchen Stewardship. For instructions on how to make chicken stock from either raw ingredients or the carcass of a roasted bird, hop on over there and check it out. Don’t forget to read the comments; blog readers are clever people and I learn more in the comments of some posts than the text itself!

Fun Stuff About Diabetes

No, diabetes is NOT fun; I'm not suggesting it is. I had two family members with the disease, and now I have one. No, the other was not cured. However (how's THAT for a depressing blog intro!?) I am a geek, and I find facts that connect dots to be fun. So when I recently went googling about for academic articles on the science of diabetes, and came up with some results I hadn't expected, I was so excited I had to share. Perhaps you will be surprised too, and perhaps that will trigger some rabbit-hole reserach of your own. If so, let me know what you find! I'm always good for an "oooh! Cool!" when another tidbit falls into place and a picture grows more complete - or a whole new panel opens up.


Solitude and Obscurity

I was reminded of A Little Learning (is a Dangerous Thing) the other day, and went looking for the text.  Once located, I of course clicked around and refreshed my acquaintance with some of Pope's other famous work. I'm a linguaphile like that.  Anyhow, I was enjoying the zen-like effects of reading his Ode on Solitude until I got to the last stanza:


Recipe Roundup 5.11.11

Here's a reverse food blog carnival: all the tabs with recipes I've had open on my desktop for ages.


Day Book: Dailies Page

As a result of some chatting going on over at Steady Mom, I thought I'd put up a quick post with some specifics about the Dailies page of my day book. This is not about to win any prizes, but I hope it's a useful jumping-off point for someone who - like me - benefits from a visual representation of an organised day and week. Perhaps these things grow into a sense of an organised life, but I'm not there yet!


Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Late last week we had a total temperature crash here; we went from beautiful late summer weather to horrible, wet, windy and cold literally overnight. Fortunately sunshine has returned to our days now, though the frost has come and I hear we're in for a snowsuit Halloween (if only we had Halloween here!). This is just the soup to warm you from the inside on a wet day, bringing nourishing fats and aromatics together in a bowl of sunshine.


Go Stoneage in the Fast Lane

Another guest post, of sorts, today.  Again it's something I believe in - or else I'd never subject you to it! I don't make a cent off this blog, so you can be sure I'm only passing on information that I think is worthwhile.

Real food and primal/paleo eating are something I truly think are valuable for many reasons. The most common reason I hear from people as to why this lifestyle "can't" work for them is the stress and inconvenience of the learning curve invloved in taking it on. So when Mark Sisson, guru of primal living, announced the launch of The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and asked for bloggers to spread the word, I offered to help. The book is a practical, action-oriented guide for how to eat, exercise and live Primally – a step-by-step, “cut to the chase” resource to make a smooth and quick transition into a Primal lifestyle. In it he tells you exactly what to do every day for 21 days to take control of your health for the rest of your life.


The Health Hydra (3 of series): Chelation

This is part 3 of a 3-part series. The other posts are here and here.

Most people give their advice and then remind us that they are not a doctor and we should seek qualified help before applying thier suggestions. I'm going to put that right up front. DO NOT attempt to self-diagnose a heavy metal toxicity via Google; get tested, get advice, by all means check that advice against what is said on the web, including here. As with the previous post in this series, this article on heavy metal chelation is a collection of information  that I have gleaned with personal research on websites of various types. I am not a doctor; I haven't even spoken to a health professional of any stripe about ths stuff. I just find it fascinating, and thought you might agree.


Baked Salmon

Sometimes it's just this easy.

Whole Alaskan salmon, from frozen:     3,90 Euros
1/2 pkg dill, 1/2 pkg parsley, frozen:     0,69
1-2 Tbsp (clarified) butter                      0,30?
Mixed salad: probably                           4,50 all up.

Stuff herbs B into cavity A.
Dot fish with butter. Package in tinfoil.
Bake 25 minutes @  175C
Prep salad and dress in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 This fed three people. Remaining salad and the last fish filet as lunch leftovers lowered the cost per serving even further.

So you can't tell me that eating real, paleo food is expensive or complicated.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet and Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health.

The Health Hydra (2 of series): Hormonal Roulette

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. The other posts are here and here.
The more I read, in search of illumination on my path to better health, the more I encounter the same words: Hormones. Gut flora. Toxins. Thyroid. One leads to the other, and back again, a hydra chasing its tails.


The Health Hydra (1 of series): Common Environmental Hazards. Like Doctors

This is part 1 of a 3-part series. The other posts are here and here.

I'm always cruising the web, looking up this or that, falling down link wormholes into wonderous new worlds, and generally looking for concise, clear, supported statements on things of interest to me. In a comment string somewhere paleo-diet-related, I came across a reference to Bee Wilder and her Natural Healing Diet. I'd never heard of it. Now you have.


Autumn Muffins (grain- and dairy-free)

I can deal with dietary restrictions; I've had them most of my life. I can walk past whole stores and grocery aisles without a quiver of regret or longing. What sneaks up on me sometimes is a craving for a certain mouthfeel - malted milkshake, for example, or cakey brownie. Being dairy- and grain-free makes it a bit hard to cater to those whims without causing serious and lasting ill-effects that totally negate the pleasure of the indulgence. (The next time someone asks me if I can't just "lighten up" and have something "just this once" I'm going to give them a details run-down of why, no, I can't. Those of you reading this now have fair warning!)


Grilled Skirt Steak Swirls and Pumpkin Custard

Ah, autumn! Crisp, foggy mornings with somewhere to go, watery blue skies to snooze under at naptime, rustling leaves to stroll through before dinner. And the dinner foods - oh, the foods of fall! Apples and peppers appear in bags in the shops and baskets at the market next to the muted jewel-tones of fresh nuts, figs, and chestnuts, and the earthy lusciousness of various mushrooms and braids of garlic. As far as I'm concerned you can take any two from that list and have a foolproof start on a delicious meal. Add fine weather and a firepit, and you really can't fail.


Ask 5 for 5

Friends and readers, today I'm turning this page over to someone else because I think that the message she is sharing is important. I have considered blogging about this independently, but this guest post - mirrored on 99 other blogs this week - is better; it is an example of how, in the face of something so awesome, so awful as occurs at the nexus of environmental and politial catastrophe can be addressed. By individuals, no matter where.

By you.


Daybook 2011/12 is Done!

Call me Dr. Frankenstein if you will but in my humbly biased opinion I've birthed a beauty! I grabbed a few print-outs here and there, spent more than I wanted to on stationary, and a slim yet substantial blue book now waits to absorb the overflow of my cranium.


Cauliflower and bacon soup

The end of summer is upon us. The sky's blue is a little thinner, the treetops are burnished with rust as exhausted green slides back into the earth, berries peek from bush and tree with red and purple juiciness, and a hedgehog loudly helped itself to the neighbour-cat's dish late last night, building up stores for the winter from whatever is at hand. But this biggest tip-off for me is that the air is warm but the breeze is cool. The sun can only warm what it can touch. Evenings come earlier, and the light above the kitchen table is on at dinner.

This, and what is so inevitably coming, is my favourite time of year. I love caf├ęs in the weakening sunshine, the sweaters and leather boots, the foliage swan song, and the soups. This cauliflower and bacon soup came about because of some lingering items in the fridge, but will return because we all enjoyed it so much that I'll plan for it the next time cauliflower appears in our weekly veggie box and nighttime temperatures are in the single (celcius) digits.


Chocolate banana brownie pie

I hope this is the last banana recipe for a while. I'm a little over bananas at this point, to be honest.

This dessert is also probably the banana-est of the recipes I've posted lately, in that the fruit is a dominant flavour here. One person I served this to considered it "borderline" for banana overload. You are warned.

That said, it's easy, legal on pretty much any but the most stringent diet, and looks good. I'll even give it to you in two versions - brownie, and pie. How's that for a finale?


Daybook 2011/12

You know how things kind of creep up on you, peeking from around unexpected corners until you realise you're surrounded and might as well surrender? Just me?


Banana Panna Cotta

We're drowning in bananas over here. First was the grocery bag full for one Euro, then the local fair trade shop had a box of over ripe, unsellable bananas out front with a sign "FREE! Take some".  I was feeling both cheap and compliant, so I did.

Did I mention that I don't actually like bananas? My mother reckons I ate my lifetime supply in my first three years of life, because they used to have to buy them by the flat to keep me in my banana habit.  5 kilos of less-than-favourite fruit for almost nothing is not an offer I can pass up, but I did need to be creative about using them. Many (oh. so. many!) were sliced and flash frozen before being dumped in to a freezer bag for later. The rest became desserts like ice cream, a chocolate meringue pie to be blogged later, and this panna cotta.


Banana Ice Cream (almost wordless tutorial)

This recipe is not mine, I got it from the always-inspiring Mummy I Can Cook! recently. Unlike the original, my bananas did not come from a tree in my backyard but rather a grocery-bag-for-a-euro deal at the market. In future iterations (and I will be doing this again), I will quarter the bananas lengthwise before slicing to make it easier on my blender.


What We Are Not Eating

It's not just about recipe successes; we all know that there's a lot of good-enough cooking going on at suppertime, and some that doesn't even make that cut. Here's some of mine from those pathetic categories to add to the sole in walnut crust.


What We've Been Eating

Do you ever wonder whether people who blog about food actually eat how they say they eat? I can promise that we don't eat as these pictures show every day, but it is a very rare evening that we don't sit down together to eat, and that means a proper meal one way or the other. On Tuesday, faced with a cabin-fevered child and a forecast of good weather to end soon, I packed a picnic and decamped to the lake for the evening. The only thing made by me at that meal was an improvised spinach-artichoke dip leftover from a barbecue party the previous weekend, but everything else in the basket was a "real food", with three ingredients or less (and most with none). We ate it in shifts, but we were all there.

As promised, the weather has turned again and there'll be no more lakeside picnics for a while. Tonight will be my favourite high-return/low-input meal: roast chicken. But promises of future foods are less revealing than pictures of past foods, right?


Molesque Stew

Habaneros showed up in my grocery store this weekend. Exactly what thought process put them in my basket I'll never know, but now I've got 7 extremely spicy little peppers to deal with. Enter Google.


Webinar notes: Dr. Sara Gottfried with Dr. Alejandro Junger

On Monday I got a message from Lisa Byrne's The Ripple entitled "This is why it's hard for you to ask for help". I can recommend Lisa's newsletter and blog content in and of itself, but of particular note that day was this notice, below her text about the "specific reasons why [and] specific steps we need to take in order to strengthen our "receiving" muscles":

I clicked. I never click, but this time I did.


Just to clarify

I've had a few people contact me privately to say that they were unable to comment on a blog post here. That is frustrating for the reader and discouraging for me, because I won't know that you even stopped by. Turns out, I couldn't comment - or reply to comments - either, so I did a bit of Googling and may have a solution. Let me know.

There's something else that needs clarifying around here: butter. For the longest time I wondered why so many videos and tutorials existed on how to make ghee, since I was making it with no trouble. Turns out I wasn't.


Get up, stand up

There’s this thought that I saw first out of the corner of my mind’s eye that has now grown to the point that it’s drawn itself up directly in front of me. I have to crane my neck to see past it. I’m getting a bit of a crick, so I’ve decided to look it in the eye and stare it down.


Chauvinism is bad for your health

There’s been a debate raging on various Paleo blogs lately regarding the amount of fat we should eat. Anytime the S word gets tossed around I sort of shift in my seat. Macronutrient ratios are always a topic for debate amongst armchair nutritionists, Cross Fitters, primal eaters and the like; frankly it smacks of chest-beating gym-junkie stuff and doesn’t interest me much, except that I’ve been feeling some niggling discontent with the broad shape that my diet has taken of late. I took the WAPF food pyramid and removed all grains but, as the weather warmed, found it left a heavy feeling. In my case vegetables need to take up that foundation niche, pushing animal foods up a spot and leaving fruit at the tip.


Only stand and wait

I shouldn’t be a blogger. I’m not a blogger, really, in that I can’t be counted on for consistent content or its timely provision. I have nothing to give a reader except a glimpse into my day. This feels like a bad deal but I remind myself that I said up front I was here to vent, and of how much comfort I find in other people’s blogs about nothing, and that I feel in need but do not know of what and some of you lovely people often do know, or don’t but manage to find the right thing anyhow, accidentally on purpose.


Coconut Milk Chai Marsala

Call it a failure of resolve, or a pitfall of stay-at-home parenting, or injudicious selection of lunch foods, but I like a snack at about 3pm. I don't stock snack foods in the house. I'm off gluten and dairy, so a sandwich or cup of yogurt are out. I'm not a big fresh fruit eater (I can hear your gasps and rumbles from here) and if I'm the least bit peckish it's not a good idea to get into preparing something if that involves a knife. All of which is to say that pre-made chai syrup is a precursor to a great fill-you-up snack.


The Easy Way

Generally it is assumed that doing right is more difficult than doing wrong, that taking the road more travelled is a sign of sloth and thus of sin. Taking the easy way out is always a pejorative accusation, is it not? The high road, the good fight, slow and steady, the Force is strong within you (okay, maybe not that one) - these common phrases remind us that the right thing to do takes gumption and effort. The first two little pigs and the city mouse slacked off and, well, died, so to save yourself you must have to strive and plan and endure. But what if sometimes the easy way is the right way?


One fainting robin

Upfront and really clear: I'm thinking out loud. This is a shoot-from-the-hip post, so don't expect coherence. And it's not about food.


Creamy Celeriac Soup with Chantrelles

We've had some good eating around here the last few days, if I do say so myself. Saturday was spicy lamb liver with these creamed onions (more or less). Yesterday I started from this braised pork butt recipe and got somewhere else entirely, which was delicious anyway. Today I had one celeriac bulb in my crisper next to a whole lot of chilled air, language school at supper time, and our veg/milk/egg delivery at 8pm, and that turned out even better than I expected too.

Not bad for nothing in the house there, Mother Hubbard.


Grace in service is missing in action

After feeding the Short Person this morning I brought two cups of coffee and climbed back into bed for some family time, and fell asleep. I dreamed that we moved, I'd told my husband to choose the new place without me, I hated it (it was sort of an attic crawl-space and our furniture wouldn't fit, for crying out loud!) but no one thought there was anything amiss and ignored my tears and distress. Dreams often present ridiculous situations, but the essence of this one revisited a conversation I'd had with my husband the afternoon prior. He said, I don't feel in control of my day or my week, so I feel out of control of my life. I said I felt the same, that I'd made all the decisions that got me here but now it feels like I'm living the wrong life while, from the outside, it looks pretty ideal.

Does anyone else feel this way?


I'm not the only one

Good to know, isn't it? Community, even the idea of it, can feel like such a bolster when you're slumping. I don't know if there's been a New Year's effect in the collective blogosphere diet, but here's another example of people going gluten free: Whole Health Source asked a whack of people to try three versions of a GF diet for the month of January, and his first group's results are in. They're not going to get into Nature with this, but it sure trends to the positive. As I've obliquely mentioned, I'm off the wagon lately. I feel it. I know what I've got to do but I'm stalling until after our mini-holiday this weekend.


Better late than never

Why didn't this Wellness Mama post on going grain-free for Lent pop up in my feed 2 weeks ago when I needed it? Okay, I still need it. Maybe someone else does too, so instead of reinventing the blogwheel here is a rundown at Kitchen Stewardship on the main grain-free diets and some resources on implementing such a thing in your own kitchen, and an on-line course with Cheeseslave on how to live through the transition to eating that way. The navel-gazing is, in my case, needed right now, but there are other demands on my attention and they're not being met well as I get up to speed in the kitchen. Here's a course at Well Grounded Life that combines a kick-start body cleanse with a bit of priority coaching and household cleanse. For cheap and easy you can't beat Real Food Whole Health's giveaway of a 3 month subscription to grain-free meal plans from Health, Home and Happiness.


Lent as a Heathen

I have to start here with a disclaimer: I'm not Catholic. I'm not even Christian. But I live in a very Catholic area, and I like the rhythm of the seasons and observances of the liturgical calendar that are celebrated here, much of which occurs outside the church. Accordingly, the sweet, greasy baked goods of Fasching punctually disappeared from the bakeries between Tuesday and Wednesday with the start of Lent. Many will forgo coffee, meat, or grains for the next 40 days. Their sacrifice is an exercise of devotion for Jesus' suffering, but also one of humility, simplicity, and concentration. The former cannot apply to me - at least in its intended sense - but the latter three could do me some good.


Love chocolate? Got a food processor?

I've been dying for chocolate lately. Not Snickers crappy chocolate-esque stuff, but real, dark, bitter chocolate. However, as Nourishing Days recently pointed out, if I crave sugar I'm probably not ready to add it back to my diet yet so I figured even my 3-ingredient fudge was out for now. Considering that I'm only halfway through my (admittedly wobbly) 30 days that's not surprising, but still sad for me. BUT! The rule is no added sugar of any kind. Reading a Slightly Indulgent post I was reminded of this panforte nero recipe I've been meaning to make for ages, and subsequently how sweet natural figs can be.


Whole 30 Days 6-11

We've been away, visiting my in-laws. My father-in-law looked pale but not too bad at all, considering his situation. He sounded awful though; the radiation treatments gave him a sunburn on his back and his esophagus. His esophagus. There is no after-burn ointment for the inside of your throat. He nibbles almost hourly but has no meal-sized appetite, so I am reassured to see that one of his favourite snacks is fresh beef broth with an egg from the neighbour's farm stirred through. He absented himself often from the usual kitchen-table visits to doze in his chair. I am grateful that his stretches of sleep are once again lengthening. The chemo is beginning to make him ill. Into this undiscussed direness hopped one blond two-year-old who spontaneously gives big little hugs, to say endearing things, dump toys hither and yon, and gleefully accept cake at all mealtimes and often in between. The generations need each other always, but it is never more obvious than in times of trouble.


Whole 30 Day 5, the stumble

Call it a failing, but I think social grace is important. Important enough that I've been known to drink well water in rural Ghana when it was offered to me by a family that had nothing else to offer. Important enough that today I accepted honey-sweetened tea and a slice of freezer-case torte from someone newly-arrived who provided them as a gesture of hospitality in the hopes of founding a friendship.

I didn't feel well afterwards, and I still don't, but I'd probably feel worse if I'd refused the food.


Whole 30 Day 4

I'm curious to know if I'm having die-off symptoms or if I'm just training to be an old fart, but man am I noticing a smorgasbord of symptoms!


Whole 30 Day 3

I saw in the Saturday flyer avalanche that a grocery store I don't usually frequent will have piglet belly this week. Intriguing. Then I stumbled over this post about brining your own uncured bacon. Serendipity is a funny thing; now I have to go get some of that piglet belly to try this out! I`ve missed bacon since leaving Anglo culture - there are more than enough pork alternatives in Germany, of course, but food is a primal thing and I was raised with bacon, not schnitzel.


Whole 30 Day 2

My child, at 2 years, 1 month and 3 weeks of age, spontaneously told me she loved me last night! Parenting is the only relationship where you'd tolerate being physically stressed, your life inverted and sleep deprived, and hang around for more than two years before you get that big high. Or is it? How's your relationship with your body lately?


Whole 30 Day 1

My blogging time is while A is sleeping after lunch, so all daily menus will be dinner-breakfast-lunch. As Cheeseslave recently pointed out, families don't tend to appreciate it when dinner is held/cooled off so photos can be taken. I also don't want to be judged on my presentation, so you'll have to imagine what it all looks like!


Whole 30

I just found a food challenge on someone else's blog that, for once, looks interesting to me. Maybe signing up for something with a large following (which contributes support and - more importantly - tips and recipes) will keep me on this d@mned bandwagon. Maybe a full-coloured banner in my sidebar will intrigue others to join up so we can support each other. I've GOT to kick the yeasties to the curb, and that means NO grains, NO starch, NO milk. A year ago I would have given them up in the reverse order, but these days I love my SOLE cheese. What's stopping you from giving the Whole 30 diet re-boot a go?


Giving our power away

I've noticed a mini-trend in posts around the blog trapline lately. Maybe it's an end-of-winter rally against apathy, or maybe a reaction to whining about failed New Years resolutions. Either way, the idea of taking back responsibility for our choices and regaining the power that this confers is cropping up here and there like croci, and seems to respond to recent events in my life too.


Food freak

I've always been rather medicine-wary. I grew up in a family where pill-popping was scorned, and I've always felt that pharmacological intervention was emergency intervention.


for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion

Some of you will be aware that my father-in-law was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer immediately before Christmas. He is a determined man, and he is determined that allopathic medicine will provide his only treatment. Allopathic medicine gives him unimaginably long odds of seeing another Christmas.


Recipe execution fail - sole in walnut crumb

I've been having a run of recipe fails this week. It's getting discouraging, I must say. Partway through prepping macarons yesterday the egg whites wouldn't whip. They just went all glossy goopy and stayed that way, no matter what I did. I can honestly say I've never seen that before. But with the oven preheated and a toddler expecting cookies any second, plus the fact that I was making the damned things to use up 8 egg whites I had leftover after making this molasses custard, I just dumped them in and hoped for the best. Bad move.

In the beginning

Post Number One; how momentous. Or not, considering that I'm writing to myself.