Stock it to me, baby

Bone broth.

In the good ol’ days, it was simply called stock. Bone broth is a way cooler. Makes you sound tough. You drink liquid made from steeping animal bones. Yeah, bone tea.

Modern life and our self imposed sense of being “too busy” to make food for ourselves, saw the creation of stock powders and concentrates. Flip a cap or crumble a cube and voila! Stock is made. The flavour is there but often a long list of ingredients is on the label. Plus, have you ever noticed how salty store-bought stuff is?

On my Leaky Gut journey, I learned that quality stock, rich in collagen, is very healing. So I’m all for drinking it on its own and using it as a soup base. Buying good, ready made stock in the store can be a bit pricey, so a quick bit of research on the big beautiful world wide web (aka: google that shi!t) and I figured it was something I could do.

There are many iterations of crafting this liquid. Some methods will have you roast the bones in the oven first. Others will call for damn near every vegetable in the fridge. Both of these versions sounded way too complicated and involved for me. Remember, this is a lll about being easy and tasty. If it ain’t easy, I’m not likely to do it ever again.


Dig out your big crockpot for this.

Easy bone broth:

  • Couple pounds of quality beef bones
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (you won’t taste it)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Ready for this? Dump everything into your crockpot and put on high for 10 hours. Turn it to low for another 14 hours.

Strain and portion to freeze. Repeat the 24 hour cycle with fresh water, fish sauce, ACV, garlic, salt and pepper.

Don’t chuck the bones yet! Some folks like to freeze stock in glass jars, some prefer big plastic containers. I freeze mine in my silicone muffin pan. This gives me 1/4 cup measures of broth, perfect for recipes. Once they are frozen, I pop out the golden pucks of goodness and store them in heavy duty freezer bags.

The type of bones I use will dictate if I can run them through a second or sometimes third time. Beef bones with marrow and knuckles should be good to run through three times before they are tapped out. Pork bones are usually good for two runs. Turkey and chicken bones tend to be much finer in composition and usually give up all their collagen-y goodness after the first 24 hour run.

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Lard have mercy

I bought half a pastured pig earlier this year from a local farmer.

After placing my order, my first thought was, “Ohmygosh! What have I done? That is a ton of meat! I’ll never get through all of it without being sick and tired of pork.” Then, there was the money I was going to shell out at one go. I was getting panicky. I almost called to cancel my order.

I have learned over time, that what something costs and what it is worth are often two vastly different things. After my journey to heal my Leaky Gut, I learned how much food quality matters. I decided I was willing to make this investment. I am so happy I did. She asked what cuts of roast I wanted, how thick I wanted my chops, what size packs of ground pork would work for me. The quality of meat is above and beyond what you buy in the meat aisle. The fat in the meat is divine. Everything just melts in your mouth. The money I spent went into the pocket of an actual person that I know, not a faceless corporate conglomerate. Investing in local farms helps support your local economy too. It cuts down on the carbon footprint needed to move goods across the country. Win-win.

To honour and respect the animal I was going to consume, I asked to be given bones for pork stock (which produced really good flavour in case you were wondering. Lighter than a beef stock but more depth than chicken or turkey stock) and some leaf fat so I could try my hand at rendering lard. Working my way up to nose-to-tail.

Making lard was really easy to do and I am pleased with how well it turned out.

I cut the sheets of raw fat into smaller strips and pieces to help speed up the cooking process. In hindsight, I should have run it through the meat grinder attachment on my Kitchenaid stand mixer to get smaller, uniform pieces of fat. Next time. . . (and yes, there will be a next time)

All the fat went into my large, oval crockpot. The lid went on, temperature set to high and walk away for 8-10 hours. I gave it the occasional stir if I found myself in the kitchen. As the fat cooks down, the pieces darken and begin to settle to the bottom of the crockpot. To quote Porky Pig, “that’s all folks.” (sans stutter)

I let the hot lard cool slightly and then strained it through a cheesecloth covered sieve. Don’t throw those bits out! You’ll see why soon. The lard is a deep, honey colour when it is hot. I set my glass mason jars on a wire rack to help the liquid cool. Once it was room temperature, I put the lids on and popped them in the fridge to finish solidifying. The finished lard is a beautiful, creamy white bit of heaven.

What do I use it for? The question is, what don’t I use it for? This takes my fried eggs to a whole new level. Kale chips get kicked up a notch. Sautéed meat and veggies never had it so good.

Let’s get back to those little porky bits in the cheesecloth. I threw mine in the cast iron skillet to really crisp them up. You want those bad boys to be crunchy. Be sure to season them well with some salt and pepper or whatever your go-to spice blend may be. These made for some happy snacking while they lasted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ultimate un-recipe recipe

Truth time.

The first time I tried coconut butter or coconut manna, I was seriously underwhelmed. I had read so many testimonials about how good it was, how creamy and tasty it was. People ate it by the spoonful. They spread it on apple slices. How it satisfied a sweet craving, blah, blah, blah. It sounded like it was right up my alley.

I bought some of this “magic”. I grabbed a small spoon and tried to dig into the jar I had shelled out some pretty hefty coins for. The spoon stopped dead without making a dint in the product. It was rock hard.  Nothing smooth and spreadable here. Out came a pointed knife to get some chippings to sample. The expensive white stuff flew all over the counter and I damn near lost a fingertip (if anyone has ever seen me wield a knife ~ it ain’t pretty).  After some cursing and swearing and collecting the scattered debris from the counter and possibly a few crumbles from the floor (5 second rule), I got enough to put on my spoon. My heart and mouth were experiencing great anticipation. Drumroll please. . .

Meh.

There was a lot of swallowing to try to get it down. You’ve seen videos of dogs eating peanut butter and all the lip smacking and chop licking that goes on, well, that was the situation I found myself in. It felt like it was stuck in my throat. My palate felt coated. I grabbed my water. Nope. That did not really help things much. Time eventually helped clear the pasty feel from my mouth. Hmmm. I looked at the jar again and thought, well, I won’t be buying that again anytime soon. The jar sat in the cupboard a long while after that day. I eventually found a few recipes that used most of it up.

Even though I was eating a pretty decent template, I was still eating a lot of sugar in the treats I was baking. I have since learned gluten free does not equal healthy. There are a lot of crappy things that are labelled gluten free. Ahhh, marketing and all the sexy buzz words.

Diving into the deep end of the  Paleosphere was probably one of the best things I have done for myself. I refined my food template to be simple, real food. There have been lots of benefits. I have noticed I sleep much better. I experience fewer headaches. My energy is great. I am clear minded. Dare I say, I feel more confident? Yes, yes I do.

My clear and focussed mind reflected back to the coconut manna in the cupboard. I grabbed a spoon and retrieved the jar from behind the butter dish. The warm weather had softened it to a much more thick and spreadable consistency. I was able to actually scoop a spoonful instead of hacking it out.

It was divine. It was smooth and creamy. It was decadent. I savoured it. I had to stop myself from double dipping into the jar to get a second spoonful. Yeah, I’m a believer.

 

I’m also a little on the stingy side, so doling out a lot of money for something I can make at home with a little effort, drives me crazy. Yes, the consistency of the homemade manna is not the same as a store bought one, but, the cash in my pocket is ok with that. Go grab your food processor. You know, that appliance you bought and now store under the counter because you don’t know what to do with it.

Coconut butter/manna:

  • 4 cups of shredded unsweetened coconut (yup, only one ingredient)

Place the coconut in the food processor with the S-blade. Process the coconut, stopping to scrape the sides frequently. After a while, the magic will happen. The shreds will break down and release their fat and oil. The coconut will begin to liquefy slightly. Think of quicksand. This can take a bit of time. The first time I made it, it took close to 45 minutes. The quickest time was 25 minutes. You could add vanilla or cocoa powder if you wanted to change the flavour, but, I am a bit of a purist, so I keep mine as is.

One thing to note, this stuff sets up hard, like concrete. That is the nature of coconut oil and cool temperatures. Cool weather = hard coconut oil/butter/manna. Need it softer? Immerse your jar in a bath of warm water or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.

When lazy grabs you by the throat

We all have been there.

A day of doing nothing easily becomes two because it seems like so long since you had nothing on your agenda. Day three gently taps you on the shoulder and whispers you back to the comfy chair and another cup of coffee. Days four, five and six of sluggishness coax your hand to the potato chip bag and perhaps a cider or two in the evening. We arrive at the weekend and seven, eight and nine beg you to wring every drop of relaxation out of the weekend. This time, they lead you to the deep freeze for some ice cream. Maybe the evening involves tequila? Suddenly, you fall on your head from your sloth-like perch and realize you have not been productive for weeks. I also blame Netflix, for it too plays a huge role in the distraction game.

Ugh. . . such is my situation.

Lists. Yes. Put pen or pencil to actual paper and write down what you need to do. Write everything down. Don’t be overwhelmed by what you write. Be specific in your tasks though. Don’t just write “clean”. Break it all into manageable tasks. Clean ensuite. Clean downstairs bathroom. Sweep kitchen floor. The Devil is in the details. Then as you knock off a task, tick it off. Scratch it out. Give yourself the credit for completing a chore.

That’s what I did today. I feel so much more in control of my day off. I got a lot of stuff done. Dinner made for tonight. Marinade prepped for dinner tomorrow. Breakfast hash in the fridge for the morning. House vacuumed. Floors washed. Empty bottles and cans collected into large recycling bags. All this completed before 2:00 and I didn’t start until 10:30 this morning.

Having the drudge work done today, will free up my weekend for funner stuff. (Yes, I am aware funner isn’t really a word, but as I have mentioned before, I like to break the grammar rules as I see fit.)

After writing out my list of things to do, I prioritized them. Food first. It had to be in the crockpot for 8 hours, so dinner was task numero uno. After getting food in the crockpot completed, I whipped up a marinade for dinner tomorrow. The chicken has to marinade for up to 12 hours and I did not want to be running my Blendtec at 6:00am. Come morning, I only need to dump the marinade on the chicken and pop it back into the fridge. When I get home from work, into the oven it goes. Boom! While I had all my stuff out, I figured I’d throw a breakfast hash together. Just a little something different to go with my eggs. Or, it may be part of breakfast for the weekend. Oh who am I kidding? This will likely be lunch at work tomorrow.

This definitely fit the criteria of easy and tasty.

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Breakfast hash:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (the white ones, the orange ones are yams)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of green beans, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon Nom Nom Paleo Magic Mushroom Powder (this is indeed magical stuff, you owe it to yourself to make it)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lard, ghee, coconut oil or whatever good fat floats your boat

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, breaking it into small pieces. Add your fat to the pan. Toss in the diced sweet potato and carrots. Try to chop your potato and carrot the same size for even cooking. Season with the Magic Mushroom Powder and coconut aminos. When the sweet potato and carrots are just fork tender, add the green beans. They will cook quickly and if you add them too soon, they lose their bright colour and get all wilty. No one likes a soggy green bean. Add salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add a nice poached or fried egg on top. Mmmmm, I can picture the yolk oozing all over this. . .

 

 

Let’s talk about manners and some grown up fruit chews

Manners.

Not everyone has them. Ok, maybe that statement is incorrect. Everyone has them, however, not everyone has good manners. Some folks have downright bad ones.

Why?

What sense of entitlement provides folks with the self-proclaimed right to treat others poorly? The art of communication is falling by the wayside. We are so self-absorbed, we no longer hold doors open for the folks behind us. People don’t say “good morning” anymore. Speaking in complete and coherent sentences is a dying art. (Please remember the disclaimer that the grammar manipulations in my posts are intentional. I love me my frags and the occasional made-up word.)

When someone asks how you are, do you answer them and thank them for asking? Or do you steamroll your thoughts out without hearing or listening to the other person? Or worse yet, do you talk over the top of them? Keep it up and pretty soon, folks will stop talking to you.

Texting, swiping, scrolling, tweeting, snapping and storying during a conversation is just plain rude. For goodness sake, put the phone down when you are with another person.

Alright, my disjointed rant is over. Deep breath in, let it out slowly. Let’s move on to more pleasant things.

Berry season is a magical time. Mother Nature supplies us with a beautiful, colourful bounty of bite sized, sweet treats. We gorge ourselves until we start looking like them. (I’m picturing Violet Beauregard, aren’t you? Such a prefect specimen of a spoiled, petulant individual.) Then one day, we have a fridge full, and we aren’t devouring them with the same ferocity we did at the start of the season. Now what? Some folks freeze surplus berries with the intention of making smoothies. Hands up, how many have a freezer full of bags of frozen, freezer-burnt fruit that is biding its time until garbage day?

I have a better idea for using the berries that are getting past the point of tasty snacking. Grown up fruit chews. These definitely meet the criteria of being easy and tasty. Think of jello, but with made real food instead of a box of chemicals and food dye.

Strawberry mango chews:

  • 3 cups quartered strawberries
  • 1 cup chopped mango
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup gelatin ( I use Vital Proteins)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water to dissolve the gelatin

Puree the strawberries, mango and lemon juice in a high powered blender. Pour the fruit mixture into a saucepan and heat over medium low. In a small bowl, whisk the gelatin in the boiling water to dissolve. Slowly whisk the dissolved gelatin into the fruit puree and heat to a simmer (approximately 5 minutes).

Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8″ baking dish. I use a glass dish and do not need to grease it. If you want thinner chews, use a larger dish. You could also use a silicone gummy mold to make fun shapes. Pop it in the fridge for several hours or overnight. I cut mine into squares and keep them in an airtight container for about 5 days. Honestly though, they never last that long in my fridge.

Three words that can make your blood run cold, oh and crockpot chicken for days

What’s for dinner?

I’m pretty sure that phrase is said all over the world. It may come over the phone, via text or you may be bombarded by those words the minute you walk in the door from work. It doesn’t matter what language you speak either. The question is always the same. Oftentimes the knee-jerk reaction is anger and frustration because we didn’t prepare in advance.

We know we are going to eat every day, right? Why don’t we plan for it?

If you have mental roadblocks and struggle to create dinner ideas out of thin air, then you need to start adding structure your eating reperatoire. Get some paper and a pen (or pencil if you feel ink is too scary and permanent and smacks of commitment). Grab some cookbooks or grab your mouse and start cruising for meal inspirations. Throw cookbooks at your family and ask them what they feel like helping you make. Food is a two-way street, people. If you eat, you need to help make it or help clean up at the very least. Every cookbook I own has a multitude of post-it notes sticking out from recipes I think sound appealing. Some of my post-its include hand-written notes such as ‘make again’ or ‘this was awful, do not make ever again’. Write out the recipes that spark interest and jot down the ingredients. Remember to write out the quantities needed too. You don’t want to have to run out again for something you forgot. In our technology infused world, I suppose the easiest thing to do is to snap a picture of the ingredient list with your phone camera and you are away to the store.

This summer has been stupidly hot. Plus, parts of our province have been ravaged by wildfires, so the smoke has held the heat in and made it worse. Who wants to spend hours in the kitchen cooking in the heat? Not me! Out comes the crockpot and my life is happy once again. Remember the BBQ sauce from a few posts back? We are going to use that as a base for this chicken dish.

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BBQ crockpot chicken:

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8)
  • 1 batch of BBQ sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

Whisk the oil and spices into the BBQ sauce. Layer the chopped onion into the bottom of the crockpot. Place the chicken on the onion and cover everything with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Take the chicken out, shred with two forks and stir in as much sauce as you like.

I like to put this on spaghetti squash as an alternative to a traditional meat sauce. It is also fantastic in a paleo-style wrap like the recipe by Otto’s Cassava Flour or in butter lettuce cups. The leftover chicken and sauce also makes for a damn fine pizza that does not need cheese. Add some leftover chicken to a breakfast casserole or savoury egg muffins. This one minimal effort prep can give you at least 4 totally different meal ideas. If you still have some sauce leftover after the chicken is gone, use it on roasted cauliflower or coat chicken wings with it.

Lazy girl out for now.

Thoughts on the evolution of the modern family and how our eating habits and health declined soon after

SPOILER ALERT! There are no recipes to tips or hacks in this post. No nugget at the end. This shall be strictly words. A rant if you will. If you choose to read anyway, thank you, I appreciate that. If you decide to close the tab, I understand, and hope to see you again on another post.

Health is like an RRSP.

You gotta buy into it. It’s best to make small, continual investments to see the gains. Start young. You can’t invest everything at the eleventh hour and think things will be ok.

In the not-so-distant past, households, could be sustained comfortably on a single income. This enabled one of the adults in the family to prepare meals for the rest. Shopping was done several times a week and with trips to the butcher shop and green grocer almost daily. You knew the butcher and he knew your name. The green grocer would let you know there were lots of squash coming in the fall as the crop was good this year. You supported one another in the community by purchasing from their shops.

Someone decided that we needed more. No, we more than needed more. We wanted it. Not wanted. Deserved. Yes, that’s it. We deserved it. We deserved more. We deserved bigger, better, faster and stronger. We devised ways to do more with less effort. We wanted a bigger tv, another car, a boat would be nice, Janey wears XYZ brand of jeans, why can’t I, primary school kids have to have the latest iPhone. We needed more money to get these things faster than our parents, so dual income houses became the norm. Meal time became a chore because both parents weren’t getting home until late afternoon/early evening and the kids were starving. We fixed this problem. We created instant food. Not instant like the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Acme Instant Martian ~ just add 1 drop of water, kind of instant, but food you can have it ready in an instant, or fraction of the time it would have taken to prepare from scratch.

We took our double income family and decided our kid was going to be the next hockey player/football star/doctor/lawyer/dancer/singer/ultimate fighter so we scheduled every waking moment with activities and lessons. We began placing a lot of importance of what our kid was rather than how or who our kid was. This over scheduling compounded our time problems too. Modern kids are more stressed than ever trying to do all the things we have them signed up for. Some training starts early in the morning for ice time, pool time, then a day of class, lunch bag filled with everything in a colourful package and wrappers, then after school care and more training sessions until dinner. Some more practices in the evening and weekends are reserved for games, tryouts, festivals and recitals. School work was supposed to be done in there somewhere. Meals on these nights are often on the fly. It is not uncommon to see a child with take-out coffee, whipped up coffee milkshakes and energy drinks to keep them going during their day. Those poor bodies. The justification is that it is a half-fat latte or a diet pop. We now recognize and are recognized by the drive-thru employees, pizza and chinese food delivery drivers. Weird thought: we tip these folks for bringing us sub-standard food. Why?

 

More and more of our meals came wrapped in plastic or in a cardboard box. We only need add water, oil or margarine. Occasionally there would be a sectioned meal covered in foil and frozen. These icy meals allowed everyone to choose something different for dinner and all could be popped into the oven at the same time. The family could still eat together but with personal choice satisfied. Of course, each choice came with the mandatory dessert of either apple spice cake or chocolate brownie. Inevitably, in the processing/handling stages, one or two of the veg would work their way into the dessert square. This was modern cooking.

Food products now come with extended expiration dates. Food is supposed to spoil, isn’t it. It is not meant to last indefinitely on a shelf. We are meant to get what we need for a short period of time, consume it within its window of readiness and then repeat. This constant replenishing of food allows us the opportunity for different vitamins, minerals and nutrients from our next selection. Variety baby!

Is it any coincidence our health issues have increased in alarming rates in this same time period? Type II Diabetes, or Adult-Onset as it used to be coined, is now becoming common in younger children. We all know cancer stats are rising. More children are battling cancers. I believe the rates are around 1 in 7 for breast cancer. I recall back when I was in school, it was 1 n 20. Increased numbers and varieties of auto-immune diseases. Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other cognitive function challenges are pretty common. As if Alzheimer’s Disease wasn’t enough, we now have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This is being labelled as Type III Diabetes. The list seems endless.

What have we done to ourselves? Is it too late? Can humans be saved?

I think so. We are drowning but someone has chucked us a rope. We need to grab it and haul our sorry carcasses out of the water. No one is jumping in to save us.

Is it difficult to read every label? Yes. Is it time consuming? Yes. Can you avoid it? Yes, you can. Buy things that do not come with labels. Shop the aisles of the grocery store. Buy vegetables that are still vegetables. Buy fruit that is actually real fruit. Not crap like blue-raspberry flavoured gummies. Choose proteins like fish, chicken, pork, red meat, and organ meats (if you are game) that are ready for your personal flavour profiles. Write out meals for the week. Buy what is on your list. Prep it. Cook on the weekend. Use crockpots, pressure cookers and batch cooking to your advantage. Get others to help in the kitchen. Teach a child how to snap asparagus. You are teaching life-skills. Talk about the ingredients while you work. Taste things raw if appropriate.

The question is, how badly do you want to feel better?

 

The creator of Pili Nuts and why you want, nay, need them

Meet Jason Thomas. The man behind Hunter Gatherer.

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You can probably guess by his t-shirt and the banner behind him, what he was representing at PaleoFx 2017. You guessed it. Pili Nuts.

First, let’s make sure you are pronouncing it correctly. “Pee-lee” not “pill-ee” or “pill-lie”.

Over the years, I had heard various bloggers and podcasters talk about them and how addicting they were. As soon as I saw the Hunter Gatherer name on the exhibitor list for PFX17. I plotted my course to Jason’s booth. Ok, truthfully, I jumped up and down once or twice, I was so excited at the prospect of meeting him. As with many folks at PFX17, there is a real person with a real story behind each product. Jason was no exception.

But first, the nuts.

He smiled as he handed over my first sample. Coconut oil and Himalayan salt. His smile was almost smug. He knew what would happen. I would be hooked. The offer of the Turmeric and Black Pepper came next. Again, that knowing smile. Spicy Chili? Yes please. The final sample offered was the Raw Cacao. Done. That was it. My eyes closed and I think I may have swooned on my feet. To say I needed a moment alone with a bag of Pili Nuts would have been an understatement. The mouth-feel of each flavour is incredibly satisfying. This very humble looking nut hides a deep, rich and buttery taste with a silky smooth composure. Think macadamia nut, but smoother. Much smoother. Smoother than Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra kinda smooth. Yeah, that smooth.

I had the chance to chat with Jason while I was in Texas. This was no easy feat, as his is a very popular booth. Jason very graciously allowed me to monopolize his time for an interview and let me rearrange his demonstration table for some pictures. Don’t worry, I put everything back when I was done.

He told me about his days as a crossfit athlete, how a cycling injury derailed him for weeks and how a pili nut tree in the Philippines changed his life.

 

 

 

“The pili nut starts out as a green fruit. As it ripens, it goes very dark. Once it is ready, the fruit is harvested by knocking the tree and the ripe fruit falls to the ground. The outer fruit is removed and an ultra-hard nut is revealed. It is so hard, each pili nut is opened by hand using a machete. There are machines that can do the job, but the guys with the machetes are much faster.

“Once you open the pili nut, there is a brown covering, a testa, similar to the covering on a peanut that needs to be removed. We soak them for a minimum of 8-10 hours, usually overnight to remove that coating. The nuts are then cooked low and slow for 24 hours. Finally, we package them and ship them to the United States.”

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These little flavour bombs pack a huge nutritional punch too. They are naturally extremely high in fat and low in carbohydrates. The soaking and spouting process Jason uses enables your body to access the minerals and vitamins more readily. The high fat content also makes them very satisfying. Not only do I snack on them right from the bag, I like adding them to my salads as a topper. Not the raw cacao ones obviously. Those have occasionally found their way onto my chocolate avocado pudding and chocolate chia puddings.

If you want to read Jason’s complete story, check out his site www.eatpilinuts.com and be sure to order some of all the flavours. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on these.

Let’s chat about Gary Oldman, Sid Vicious, Beethoven, doing things My Way, oh, and tzatziki too

Those of you with good knowledge of “useless information” will already know how Ludwig van Beethoven, Sid Vicious and Gary Oldman are related.

Ludwig and Sid couldn’t be more opposite in terms of musicality. Mr. Oldman portrayed each of these musical men with incredible depth. He also gave us Sirius Black but we aren’t going to be talking about anything Harry Potter here. Maybe another day.

Immortal Beloved provides a fictitious account of Beethoven and some of the women he is rumoured to have loved. A will and letter made out to his unnamed “Immortal Beloved” alludes to many potential identities. In the end, it really is just speculation to this chapter of his life and whom he loved. If Beethoven did not pine for an unrequited love, would he have composed the beautiful pieces we know and love today? Or perhaps, she was his muse and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for the inspiration she provided.

In the film Sid and Nancy, we see the toxic relationship between these two take root and ultimately cause the destruction of their young lives. Did Nancy love him? Perhaps in her own insecure and possessive way she did. If Sid were still alive, would the Sex Pistols still be releasing new material and touring in their 60’s and 70’s like the Stones and KISS? We will never know, so Sid Vicious shall remain skinny, pale and shirtless with a padlock chain around his neck for eternity. Perhaps that was the inspiration for the Tiffany Lock? Unlikely as that Love Lock debuted in 1969 as a keyring. Maybe the padlock was his version of that Tiffany piece.

Cue the wavy dream sequence. Sid is performing My Way. Cheering audience. Bright lights. White dinner jacket. Lyrics adapted to his own taste. Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra would have been suitably appalled at the creative license taken with the poetry. I shan’t pull a spoiler. Wanna know how that ends? Watch the movie. This is probably one of my favourite scenes of all times.

In the end, it’s all about what works for you.

If you know the rules of grammar, you are allowed to break them. That’s how I roll. I apply that same principle to pretty much everything I do. Take this tzatziki. A friend was recently told to stay away from dairy at the advice of a Naturopath. She asked if I had a dairy free version in any of my books. The creative gauntlet was thrown down and I went to work. I may or may not have rubbed my hands together like a mad-scientist, complete with evil cackle. The first two versions never made it to public taste testing. The third was ok but not nearly enough oomph. This final one seemed to do the trick.

 

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Tzatziki my way:

  •  1/4 cup Paleo mayo
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1″ piece English cucumber grated

Mix it all together and let sit a bit to allow the garlic to release its flavour. Get your veg, cue the tv and tuck in.

If you were so inclined, you could use roasted garlic for a deeper flavour but, laziness prevails over here and, well, that’s My Way.

Appreciation for things in the past and easy weeknight Greek salmon

The beauty of hindsight is 20/20.

Growing up, one of my dad’s friends/work associates was a fisherman. He was a big man, probably 6’6″ or so. He spoke many languages (read: 6 or 7) including Japanese and German. The knowledge of many languages came in handy when selling his catch on the public docks. He would show up at our door, often unannounced, with a garbage bag of surplus whatever he had caught. Sometimes he brought shrimp, other times it was sockeye salmon. At the time, I didn’t eat either of these things and would retch inwardly at the sight and smell of these “gifts”. The polite me would say thank you as a well raised child will do.

I have memories of my mom canning salmon for what seemed like forever. Boiling and peeling shrimp consumed entire weekends. There was one salmon that was so big, it took my mom, older brother and myself to hold the body still while my dad used, possibly, a hacksaw to cut off the head. We placed that behemoth on the empty kitchen table, covered the entire floor and table in newspaper to catch the gore and had some family time beheading the beast. Scales were flying in every direction. The cats were sharking all around the kitchen trying to claim a prize.

Flash forward many years and the knowledge of the health benefits of wild caught fatty fish. Oh and the appreciation for well prepared seafood. Living on the west coast, seafood is readily available here. Want to be a real hunter/gatherer? You can be at the water, go out in your wee boat, throw in a line and if luck is smiling on you, catch your dinner all in an afternoon.

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Hot weather means I don’t want the oven on for extended periods of time. I don’t want to heat the house any more than I have to. Hello broiler!

Easy Greek salmon:

  • 1 side fillet of salmon, approximately 1 pound, cut into 4-6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 tablespoons Greek salad dressing

Cover a rimmed cookie sheet in foil. (easy clean up here) Grease the foil with the ghee in the area you will be placing the salmon fillets.

Place oven rack to the highest position and set the broiler on high.

Cook the salmon for approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove and baste with the Greek salad dressing. Return the fish to the broiler for another 2 minutes. Test for doneness.

Serve this with a big chunky salad drizzled in the same dressing.

Wasn’t that easy? You seriously can’t use the “I don’t have time” excuse to whip this up for dinner. Start to finish takes around 20-30 minutes and that includes cleaning up.