This is the archive for August, 2011.
- Homemade Primal Kits
A few days after I started the primal challenge, I was on the look-out for a quick snack idea that could double as a light lunch. I saw that a few websites recommend Paleo Kits from Steve’s Original, so I ordered a sample pack of Steve’s products to give them a try. I was a huge fan of the Original Paleo Kit and the Coconut Paleo Kit. I almost ordered more, then I thought, “Why can’t I make this myself?”. I went home for a week between my internship at the Foundation for Economic Education and heading back to Hillsdale, so I teamed up with my parents and made some goodies of my own. Since they are a mix between Paleo Kits and Primal Pacs, I am dubbing them Primal Kits for the time being.
Though we used some specialized equipment, there are some alternative ways of making these, so try it out!
What are in the kits:
A few dried Apricots
The Grimmett Household is no stranger to making jerky, so we marinated some beef in our favorite batch of seasonings, put it in the smoker for a few hours, then finished it in the dehydrator. If you don’t have a smoker, you can make it entirely in a dehydrator, but it takes much longer. If you have neither of these things, an oven or a grill works just as well. Search Google for methods. Also, search Google for jerky recipes…there are thousands. Like I’ve mentioned before, I am not a big fan of measuring things out, so I just mixed together a few different sauces and spices for the marinade. That is what I’ve always done and it always turns out to be delicious. Don’t fret over exact recipes.
We also dried the strawberries in the dehydrator. I store-bought the rest. I bought the dried berries with the least amount of added sugar and preservatives in the store. If I could do this over again, I would have dried everything myself, but I simply did not have enough time. I was leaving for Hillsdale in two days and needed to finish these up. I figured this would be okay, given the 80/20 rule and the fact that a tiny bit of extra sugar is still better than the massive amounts of bread, pasta, and candy I was eating earlier this summer. I know this is less than ideal, but again, I was short on time. The next batch will all be dried at home and preservative/added sugar-free.
To finish things up, we Seal-a-Meal’d everything in convenient portions. If you don’t have one of these nifty machines, use zip-loc bags. (The shelf-life might not be as long as their vacuum-sealed twins’, though.) We didn’t measure anything out…we just put in what we thought was a good relative ratio of nuts, berries, and jerky and didn’t lose sleep over it.
These are quite tasty and keep me going throughout the day. Try your hand at making some!
- A Year Ago… Longs Peak
A year ago today I summited Longs Peak in Estes Park, CO with a wonderful group of people from the RMNP Forums. We took the Keyhole Route. At 14,259 ft, Longs Peak was the first “fourteener” I’ve ever climbed. Here are a few photos by John Swadley. Click to enlarge. I will post some of my photos from the hike this coming week.
Lora, Allen, Ed, and me (I am at the bottom of the photos) making our way across the Narrows.
The group at the Boulderfield around 7 a.m. (after 3.5 hours of hiking already)
Me on the Ledges
At the summit!
More photos to come soon! Stay tuned!
- Canna Leaf
I am home for a week and my Mom has some Canna plants in both our back and front yards. The leaves look absolutely brilliant when the sun shines through them.
ISO 100; f/13; 1/60. Only natural light on this shot.
I am going to experiment with some strobist tricks on the leaves soon. Stay tuned.
- Eggplant Dish
Strobist info: Canon 430EX in a shoot-through umbrella camera right on 1/4 power. Fired via a Cactus V5 trigger.
Inspired by the delicious food I ate in Turkey and the primal challenge, I made an eggplant and meat dish for dinner last week. I took a stroll through the Irvington Farmer’s Market that meets every Wednesday and saw the eggplant a local farmer had at his booth. I’ve never cooked eggplant before, but I thought, why not? So I bought some. It turns out to be pretty simple to prepare.
First, I cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and soaked it in cold salt water for 30 minutes to take away the bitterness. Our fabulous Turkish tour guide Mehmet told me to do this. As I let the eggplant soak, I cut up some steak into small pieces and browned it with some onions. I also cut up a few large tomatoes and finely chopped some garlic and one of the hot peppers. I mixed this all together in a casserole dish with the browned meat and onions, and put the eggplant in the dish flesh-side up. I cut some slits in the eggplant and put in chopped garlic, then drizzled quite a bit of olive oil over the whole dish. I also cut the remaining pepper in half and put it in the dish as well. I baked everything (with the casserole dish covered!) on 400 for an hour.
Here is a shot of the dish when it came out of the oven:
I have two other ways I’d like to prepare eggplant, including stuffing one, so check back!
- Zucchini “Pasta”
First off, I apologize for the low quality cell phone photo. I was pressed for time tonight and didn’t bring my rig out like I usually do. As I wrote about in the last post, I am taking the 30-day Primal Challenge, so no grains or processed sugars for me for the rest of the month. This includes one of my favorite foods: Pasta.
A few weeks ago I came across an article somewhere on the internet about zucchini “pasta” so I decided to give it a try.
Let me tell you, it was simple to make and delicious. I used to be quite the skeptic when it comes to foods outside of my comfort zone (I am getting better though, right Mom?) but this was so delicious I would eat it even if I was not taking the Primal Challenge.
To make it, all I did was take two slightly larger than medium zucchini, make “noodles” using a vegetable peeler (a julienne peeler would have worked great for this, but I do not have one), and throw them in the microwave for two minutes. (If you boil them, watch them closely. They will turn brown and soft quickly, which is not what you want. You want them still translucent and al dente. When I took them out of the microwave, I drained the excess liquid out of the bowl, lightly seasoned them with salt and pepper, then put half on a plate and kept the other half in the bowl. I put the marinara sauce I had left over from the last post on that half and I put garlic and olive oil on the half still in the bowl.
I personally enjoyed the half with garlic and olive oil more than the half with marinara, but that is merely because of my personal preferences. I enjoyed both quite a bit, though.
If you have a ton of zucchini from your garden this summer that you don’t know what to do with, give this a try! Or, if you are just looking for a change from the same old, same old, try it!
Let me know what you think. Post a comment if you make it!
- Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Strobist info: I tried the Strobist method of using the ceiling as a light mod in this shot. Canon 430EX at 1/2 power bounced off of the ceiling. Fired via a Cactus V5 trigger.
I’ve been doing quite a bit on diet and nutrition this summer and last Sunday I decided to take the 30 Day Primal Challenge. (Learn about the primal lifestyle at Mark’s Daily Apple.) For those of you unfamiliar with this, at the most basic level, I am not consuming any grains or refined sugar for the next thirty days. I am tracking my weight and measurements, as well as writing down everything I eat, how much I exercise, and my sleep patterns, so I will post about my experience with the challenge and the results at the end of the 30 days.
I love to cook, so here is the primal-compatible (also gluten-free!) dinner I made tonight:
Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Serving size: 3 stuffed mushrooms
- 3 medium portobello mushrooms
- 1 chicken breast, butterflied, grilled, and diced up into small pieces
- ¼-⅓ lb cooked spinach
- ¼ medium onion
- 1 14.5oz can of plain diced tomatoes
- 1 egg
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Dried Basil
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
Butterfly and grill the chicken breast, then dice it up into small pieces. (Spice it however you like. I prefer salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.)
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the portobello mushrooms by washing them and scooping out the gills and discarding them along with the stem. Brush the outsides of the portobellos with olive oil and put some of the chopped garlic on the inside of each one, but leave some to saute the spinach with. Then line a casserole dish with aluminum foil, put the mushrooms in it, and roast them for 10-15 minutes on each side.
While the mushrooms are roasting, open the can of tomatoes and cook them in a small saucepan on high until 4/5 of the original liquid is gone. Be sure to add the parsley, oregano, basil, and a little bit of garlic to the sauce while it is cooking. I like spicy sauces, so I also added crushed red pepper. Once 4/5 of the liquid is gone, put the tomato mixture into a blender or food processor and puree it to your desired consistency. I suppose you could go out and buy your favorite marinara sauce, but what fun is that? This is a cheap, easy way to make your own. I hesitate to call this a real marinara sauce…my wonderful Italian girlfriend Amanda might object. Regardless, this was delicious, so I suggest you give it a try.
Next, the spinach mixture. If you have frozen spinach, heat it up in a pan and saute the diced onions with it. Or, if you have fresh spinach like I did, put 1/4-1/2 cup of water into a pan and add the fresh spinach and diced onions, turn the heat on medium, cover the pan, and wait until it looks like something Popeye would eat. (Or, in other words, it looks done.)
Digression: Notice I have been putting ranges for the measurements and cooking times. I eyeball measurements and estimate the cooking times. Meticulously measuring and setting timers is a waste of my time. If I cut into it and it looks done, I call it done.
(Go check on the chicken! You don’t want it to burn!)
When your chicken and spinach are done and your mushrooms have been sufficiently roasted, pull the mushrooms out of the oven. Mix the chicken with the spinach and onions, then crack the egg over top. Mix everything thoroughly. Divide the mixture into thirds, then mound it on top of the portobellos. I found my hands worked best for this (though I am a little biased because I like to do the least amount of dishes possible.) Turn on the broiler and put the stuffed mushrooms back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until evenly browned. The industrial stove I was using does not have a broiler, so I just turned the oven up as high as it would go, left the mushrooms in for 10 minutes, and called it good.
After the stuffed mushrooms are done, pull them out of the oven, plate them, and spoon some of the “marinara sauce” on top. This is where the aluminum foil will help quite a bit. You can pull the foil out of the pan with the mushrooms still on it, making them much easier to move onto a plate with a spatula. They don’t stick to aluminum foil as well as they would stick to the pan. Furthermore, it makes for easy clean up!
Other suggestions: You can try this recipe with a variety of other things, depending on your preferences and dietary requirements. Other combinations I recommend trying are sausage and spinach, sausage and broccoli, chicken and cheese, steak and blue cheese or goat cheese, or chicken, red peppers, and spinach.
Here is a shot of the stuffed portobellos without the sauce on top:
Strobist info: Same as above
If you try this recipe, leave a comment with your results! I am always open to recommendations. Also, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. I love hearing from people!