EGGS AND MARROW BONE….. “will make your old man blind”, so the song goes.

There was a guy I knew back in the days of guitars and coffee shops who loaned me a recording of old English folk tunes.  One of the songs has never quit hanging around in my memory.   It was sung in a minor key, and with gravity.  Preferably with a sort of pub voice and simple accompaniment. Here’s the link to lyrics, if you want to read about an old lady who was two timing her husband, and how it all worked out…

https://weightlessinwater.wordpress.com/paleo/eggseggs-and-marrow-bones/

It came to me today as I was making soup, of course.  Marrow bones.  And Eggs.

These two things are at the base of all my Paleo/primal activities.  Lots of eggs, and lots of bone broth.

Funny, isn’t it, that I am not getting blind?  I think that fellow in the song must have been getting sharper eyed and very smart with his paleo diet.

Hah.  MeJane

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PALEO: Is it Just Me, or Are Labels Getting Invisible?

Label Angst! Seniors, and even Middlers (Not Bette), are increasingly buying eyeware at the supermarket, I notice.  At least THIS Senior is.  I can never find my other ones I bought last marketing day, and I left my bifocals  on the kitchen table when I finished the shopping list. Really.. is it true, or am I just imagining that the food packing industry is skimping on ink on their labels?  Why don’t they realize that the fine print is very important to some of us? I notice that even the Pharmacy has warning labels that are in nearly invisible writing, and sometimes even hidden behind a label that pulls open, if you discover by chance that it works that way. (I won’t talk about child-proof lids at this time, even though I will mention that my three-year-old grandson was able to swiftly open one for me when I could not.) Back to labels.

Is it Me or is this Invisible?

Don’t the manufacturers of  bottled and canned foods want people to be able to read the contents and dietary scientific breakdowns on these labels?  If not, why not, I would like to know.?

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Aside:  Fellow paleo/primal enthusiasts, have you ever noticed what it says on our  current baby formula labels?  I can assure you that you will be hit in the eye with carbo-dust.  I’ll bet the ink on  the labels a is also made of soy and corn syrup –there’s plenty of those ingredients in the factory to be sure.  And so we teach our newborns to yearn for carbs from the get-go.  I suppose the babies, whose eyes are sharper than mine, are supposed to watch out for themselves, but they can’t read yet.  But sugar tastes wonderful, so the formula must be successfully feeding them, right? They certainly drink a lot of the stuff.

Ok, I want to talk next about the health drink my dear friend got for me… corn syrup.

No, I will not dwell on that…she was so apologetic when I read the label to her (with a magnifying glass I have in the kitchen.)

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There are wonderful magnifying gadgets for Seniors that can be put over the page of a book making it possible to read like we used  in the old days. They are made of a kind of optically skewed plastic sheet that can be slipped conveniently between the pages. I have a really cool idea for marketing paleo/primal foods at the supermarket. ANY Senior, even those not yet converted to Cave style living, would buy any can or jar of food if there were an attached plastic magnifying sheet on it for label-reading.  Paleo-friendly foods would fly off the shelves! HOW TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE WITH LABEL-READING: You have to love the produce department.  You go there with a much better chance of choosing– the broccoli and the carrots and the sweet potatoes don’t vary much from vendor to vendor.  What you see is what you buy. The main label is ORGANIC.  I like that. I mean I know a good avocado by squeezing it a little, and a cabbage is a cabbage.  No small print. Moving on… I wonder how much sugar do they put in those green”protein-drink” style spirulina smoothies? Oh, please don’t tell me…I love that stuff. Oh well…  I found over-ripe bananas for 10 cents a pound today!  Some for the freezer (for smoothies), and some for Paleo Banana Bread.   YUM. MeJane

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PALEO: Ummm…CHARD for breakfast ???

Rainbow Chard has to be the most artistically attractive leafy thing in the Organic Greens bin at my store.  How, when I enjoy chard anyway, can I resist?

This stuff is eye-delicious even before you eat it!!

But a day or so went by, and suddenly I realized the beauty would soon be limp if I didn’t snap to it and prepare it.

At first I thought of the old Dutch tradition in our family of steaming it in its own droplets from the rinsing, and then chopping it, returning it to the pot with some salt, pepper, nutmeg and a slosh of cream.  MMMMMmmmmm.   This is divine to my memory’s taste buds.

BUT, there was also this notion that I should do something with the overly tenderized (left the crock pot on low overnight-oops) chicken mélange that tasted marvelous, but was no longer any particular shape.  The bones were all distributed among the various veggies in the bone broth I had added.  What to do with THAT?

Aside:  Creating beautiful tastes in the kitchen is really very very like making a painting.  Many artists also revel in cookery I have found, and I have found out why over the years.  You keep nurturing the ingredients into more alluring arrangements, just as you do colors on a canvas.  You check all along the way to see how this works, and whether that would make it even better,  and then you decide it needs a dash of this or a squirt of that.  Same identical process, but you use your tastebuds and nose instead of your eyes.

So I began inventing by straining the juice out of my crockpot contents, and then weeded through the strainer finding as many bones as I could.  I took out veggies that were depleted, or otherwise not necessary, and saved the meat, shredding what was not already shredded.  There…I had shredded, savory chicken.

Then I looked up Stuffed Cabbage.   Wonderful recipes online, and I studied Jeff Nimoy’s great site carefully. His grandmother had some very good ideas.  (Jeff Nimoy’s  a pretty accomplished person, by the way. Check it out.)

So, would it work if I used Rainbow Chard instead of Cabbage?  And chicken instead of beef?  And did a few more maverick changes to fit the contents of fridge and cabinets?  I wrote to Nimoy to ask, but couldn’t wait for an answer.  Just went out and DID IT!

It did work, I am delighted to report, and the result was a sublime mess of chicken and freshly added onion and herbs and some curry and a few chopped tomatoes, and an egg… turned into a sort of meat loaf by squishing with my bare (washed) hands!  (like Nimoy’s grandma).

Then I blanched the chard,  snipped out the hard part of the stem so I could wrap easily, and just rolled meat blobs up like babies in the lovely limp chard leaves and nested them snugly like babies into a greased loaf pan.

I made a sauce from the juices I had strained out of the crock pot.

Aside:  STOCK OF STOCKS AND BROTHS:

. Did I mention that the juices were comprised of delicious broth from some session or other that I pried out of my freezer?  The very best thing I learned in the past twelve months is that home-made broth/stock is the most wonderful thing in the whole kitchen. Always there if you keep that stock pot faithfully simmering carcasses of meat meals. I just jam baggies of broth into the freezer knowing I will use them freely as I need them, and they never seem to last all that long. My favorites are the bone broths I wrote about earlier in this blog, but simply simmering any carcass, or even a combo of meat and/or chicken and/or pork and/or bacon with some great greens and turnips and celery and onions and garlic….you get the idea…. makes wonderful stock that is at the ready for gravies, clay pot creations, crock pot creations, and spiking up a sauce.

SO:

Turn on the oven to 375F and then  I mix a tablespoon of arrowroot powder with about a quarter cup of the cold juice in a cup, and set aside.

With the left-over bacon fat from this morning with some olive oil added, I lightly sauté some chopped onions and garlic, throwing in my favorite savory dry spices and a bit of grated ginger.

When the herbs are wakened up, I splash in about a quarter cup of my favorite Vendage Pino Grigio dry white wine and scrape up the scrimptums.  Then I follow with the juice I had strained, and stir it in and bring to a simmer.

Then I add some diced tomatoes and juice (I’d have used sun dried tomatoes if only I had ‘em), and the juice with arrowroot powder mix.   Stir, and watch to a simmer, and then watch a while longer while it begins to thicken.

Taste, correct seasoning, and then you have sauce to dip over your lovely little stuffed chards.  Pour it all in.

Aside: I impulsively tucked in lumps of fresh mozzarella that I happened to have.  Any cheese would be a nice touch, but no cheese would be necessary.

Covered the dish with foil, and placed it in a larger baking pan with a rack in it putting about a half inch of water in the bottom pan.  This was to temper the heat so no tender chards would burn.

About half an hour later, I turned off the heat.  Left it in there to settle until the housemate turned up, and we feasted with groans of delight.

About the chard for breakfast?  Hey, I was famished this morning when I got up, and I seized upon two of those babies to have with my breakfast coffee.  Wonderful!!  Really such a wonderful thing. Heated in the microwave in a bowl, it was even better than my usual meaty, cheesy omelet.

MeJane

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PALEO: About Exercise and Sugar Substitutes… an eye opening article in mainstream press!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/how-exercise-benefits-the-brain/

Choosing a Sugar Substitute:

Just a share.  MeJane

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PALEO: Dim Sum is the Total of Dim Parts (groan)

Just a silly pun, but I have been thinking of things served in various dishes at the same meal, and was again reminded recently of the kind of eating-out that entails lovely Asian specialties that come in different colors of serving vessels which are then shared by everyone at the table, and the bill is calculated after the meal by counting up how many of each colored dishes have been accumulated.

I always thought, as a child, that eating hors d’oevres all day would be much better than sitting down for a meat, veggie and starch typical dinner.

Well I am totally amazed that what I wished for  is accessible and acceptable for me!  Paleo lends itself to canapé style delivery, and the ingredients lend themselves to making various small savory treasures that can be lifted from the plate and popped into the mouth, often in one bite.

Celery boat with herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon

Several nights ago I raided the fridge.  What was in there?  Well not a whole lot of anything, but plenty of small left-over parts and pieces.  Paleo Dim-sum just waiting to be served!

Half a cup of smoked salmon,  half a package of creamed cheese,  a few slightly tired celery stalks, three semi-fresh scallions, part of a packet of baby spinach, part of a packet of Chinese pea-pods,  bits of green pepper, a few olives, — you know the kind of thing I am talking about.

So I was instantly in Inventor-mode.

What would be the most wonderful substance to mount a morsel of smoked salmon on?  Creamed cheese mixed with herbs and scallions and maybe some dill and/or celery seed, that’s what!  What to put it on that’s NOT a cracker?  How about some celery boats?  How about adorning each boat with a dash of paprika and a sprig of that parsley that volunteered in a planter on the porch? Or a slice of brined cucumber. ( Cucumber that is slightly past crisp can be revived in a salt and vinegar brine and be delightful. Add some dill, or celery seed.)

Okay.  Put it together and arrange it on a dish—wow, how fun is that? Finger food.

Then there were the lovely peapods (legal because they are mostly pod), and some leftover asparagus, some onion, and some other bits and pieces of this and that… all of which I had successfully stir fried in the past.  Put black olives into that dish right at the end and it’s really quite nice. Put a bit of Wasabi or horseradish on the side for a nod toward the taste of Asia without resorting to soy sauce.  A fork or chopsticks should be supplied.

My third dish was a stab at Brussels sprouts pan roasted up with tart apple slices—a great combo, even if (like me) you are not rhapsodic about Brussels sprouts.  My housemate is, and she raved about this dish.  I used simple salt and pepper seasonings on this, but gave it a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a dash of paprika.  You want a fork for this bite sized treat.

The point is, we had enormously satisfying canapés for dinner (and beyond), and were not at all feeling deprived of starches and sweets because our tummies were very very content.  I put a small dish of those currently seasonal Bing cherries from Eastern Washington on the table, just for color.  Of course they were perfect for dessert.

Think what you “snip” while going by, or while making a meal and visiting the fridge, simply because you happen to really love it.  I snip pickling cukes very often—can’t resist snagging one while getting out the salad greens.  And I adore things like avocado slices and artichoke hearts, and olives, and yes, a piece of “crispy” from yesterday’s roast beef or chicken.

These ARE dim-sum, if you think about it.  Smorgasbord, buffet, appetizers, there are a bunch of names for this sort of gastronomical gem.

And if your fridge is getting full of odds and ends, think canapés for dinner!  Might work!  Sour cream or yoghurt makes for a saucier backdrop for savory bits of meat and vegetables. Dice bacon and fry crisp and incorporate into a spinach leaf rolled around some paté.  Roasted bits of carrots and celery and parsnip and pepper are so very luscious when you have added surprise herbs or vinegar, or some spicy mustard or fresh ginger slices to the mix.  And they are COLORFUL and appetizing.  Think antipasto, and think crudité and think — I love the Other French Word that is seldom used but so perfect for epicurean treats: amuse-bouches .

And people think Paleo/primal foodies are deprived!   Sillies.

MeJane

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PALEO: Nose to No’s

NOSE TO NO’s

© SC Holland 2012

CROSS (fit)

The OTHER part of Paleo/primal seems to be the cross-fit part. So my daughter purposefully reminds me as she goes out the door with her weights and cute walking clothes on, usually accompanied by her husband or her niece. The husband explains that he walks ahead of her, more or less, so people won’t really think they are related. He just walks, but she does all sorts of funny walks and swings those weights around in strange ways. The niece is fine with that, doing backward walking, and strutting and other sorts of bizarre behaviors without shame or self-consciousness all around the neighborhood slopes and flat places.

I am not cross training, no matter how good an example they all are.

There is a ceiling to my docility when it comes to doing what my daughter says. She is sure of herself, and looks at me with a look she doubtless learned from me, and tells me what any reasonable person should do.

I have not yet run out of reasons. Excuses. Whatever.

Truth is, I am out of shape. Not fat, and not really lazy. But it has been a winter of sudden aging for me, with months of real illness that set me back. A nasty infection hid in my gum under a tooth causing really bad trouble. The dentist found it, though a bunch of doctors could not. Tooth out, it took a long time to heal, and it took a big dose of antibiotics to kill the bugs that had weakened me in pretty much of my whole gestalt! Then I had a “routine” colonoscopy. That was a hit to my already exhausted bod, wiping out my whole internal plumbing so that it still is not quite settled down.

The good news is that I am much improved with a good dose of pro-biotic and the introduction of Paleo / Primal eating, thanks to my persistently uber-persuasive daughter. The bad news is that she keeps telling me I really should do weight bearing exercises.

I keep telling her that I have a body that must not over-exert itself because of long-term fibromyalgia and possible Post Polio Syndrome. These are both things my regular MD folks have said I should pay attention to and listen to… and not to over-fatigue myself because it will make matters worse.

They recommend swimming, my past sport of choice, so as not to stress joints. Yes I have joint problems in my left knee and neck and back. It’s not that I have ever been inactive by choice. Before this recent illness I was single-handedly putting up and taking down two canopy Easy-Up’s each weekend at a Farmer’s Market and toting around all kinds of weights in the form of wood objects carved from large and small chunks of wood. Not child’s play for someone 74. My weight has been pretty steady at 138 for years, and I am currently wearing size 10-12 jeans, not out of line for a person my size.

So I may be soft right now, but not totally blob-like. It will take a while, and likely some swimming, to get me back to normal function. Or have I passed the place of no return?

It’s bugging me, but don’t tell my daughter.

Saturday I loaded and unloaded equipment from my wood shop up to a new location (closer to my daughter’s place.)  I had a helper, thank goodness, because I kept getting very light-headed and my back really acted up with pain. I was dizzy and short of breath and shakey with the effort Not good at all. Scarey.

So this is why I am rebelling when I have these nose-to-nose confrontations about cross-fit training. This is my beloved daughter standing up to her mom, and I am trying to hold my ground and take it easy on my aching back.

Who will win? What IS winning? And when do you choose to be proactive and take your health into your own hands and when do you take your MD’s advice ? Surely I can choose to “do no harm”, like Hippocrates? I mean that’s pro-active, isn’t it?

It’s a stand-off for now. Whose cave is it anyway?

And who do you think taught my daughter to be so stubborn! And who is thankful that she taught me paleo?

MeJane

PS:   THIS JUST IN on the PRO-EXERCISE side:   PALEO: a New York Times Article about Exercise and Sugar Substitutes…just a share.

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PALEO: “HEY, NOT SO FAST, SHORTY! ” (Thanks, Dad)


My Dad called me Shorty. My Mom objected; why, she wondered, would anyone nickname a cute little girl something like that? Sounded like a “tough guy” sort of name, my Mom said.

“Shorty” and “Tally”, a Team

I loved being called Shorty. My Dad and I were a team; he was he tall one and I was the short one. Yes, I even called him “Tall-y” now and then, or “Long-y” when he was sitting down with his feet up on an ottoman. It was so much fun to try to match my Dad’s long strides and copy his skills as much as he would allow. And it felt just wonderful to the teen-aged me to be told, “Wow, you look terrific in that dress, Shorty. Have a good time.” It sounded like a term of endearment to me, and I never minded it at all.

He was the boss, of course, but looking back I realize that he was more like a coach than a pontiff — in other words he taught me by letting me try things and then honing my skills when the time was right.

Because I had and have an impulsive nature, I heard him quite often tell me to slow down and take my time. I learned most things through fast guesswork that usually failed until I found the right guess. He let me do it that way simply to allow questions to arise in my mind and then when I was in a receptive mode (frustration), he would coach by suggestion. Slowly. Methodically.

Playing Pingpong? “Not so fast, Shorty. Wait for the ball.” Writing ABC’s? “Not so fast, Shorty. You missed a letter. ” Later on, driving? “Not so fast, Shorty. Let the clutch up slowly.”

It was his way of saying “look before you leap”, or “think before you act,” or “let the whole process play out fully.”

It applied to a lot of things. Swimming at a slow but steady pace in a long-distance race turned out to be a wise idea. I learned that I could sprint the last ten yards if I had budgeted my energies during the long race. Other contenders might be too tired to sprint. I did win races, and often at the final sprint.

KITCHEN SCIENCE:  THE POINT OF THE STORY:

Taking time for a process to finish properly in the kitchen is a rule of thumb that prevents  blah, slap-dash cookery. There is science behind fast and slow; chemistry and physics apply to foodstuffs, and anyone who has ever played with silly putty knows that fast and slow can make a huge difference in certain substances. Yank silly putty fast and it snaps like ice. Pull it slowly and it stretches like taffy.

Here’s the point visàvis cooking protein foods:

Cook eggs on a low heat and they will not become tough or stick to the pan. Cook meat slowly and the protein in them will not get rubbery. PROTEIN gets tough and stringy when it is subjected to high heat for a period of time. Think about overcooked liver, for instance, leathery and bouncy. Think about those strings of cheese in a pizza. Overheated protein molecules!

FAST FOOD? WHAT??

Quality proteinfast foodis possible when you have first slow-cooked it Meat simmered long at low heat in a sauce and allowed to cool, will easily reheat  into a tenderly delicious state when warmed gently in microwave or oven. Stews cooked slowly for a long time and then allowed to sit overnight are amazingly better when reheated the next day. Gently, slowly reheating a simmered dish very often gives it added dimension. The juices have been mixed and then reabsorbed by cooling and then recombined with reheating. It’s a sort of magic. There is a magic moment when the perfection happens. BE THERE! WOW!  Put some in your freezer for “fast food” later in the week.

Everyone knows what a perfectly tree-ripened fruit is like. Heaven!  Tree-ripe peaches are called “leaners” in New Jersey. You lean over and eat them out of hand, then go ahead and groan with pleasure. All basic growing things have an optimal development process, and there is a perfect time when they reach their peak of ripeness.  Not so fast…just at the perfect speed.

~~

If I had a nickel for every time I have bumped my nose (both literally and figuratively) by going too fast, I would be a very wealthy old lady. Some bumps are useful for learning. Some are disasters.  It’s good my late father’s voice still pipes up in memory when I am pushing too hard and forcing issues saying ,” Not so fast, Shorty.”

Thanks, Dad.

MeJane

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