Wednesday, September 29, 2010
At our recent "In the Paleo House Event" we served up several different Paleo party foods. This one was a little skewer of marinated lamb, heirloom cherry tomatoes and cracked green olives. Traditionally, a Middle Eastern lamb with lemon and oregano would be served with a yogurt sauce. Ours was served with a tahini sauce. When I make a tahini sauce I don't like to use lemon juice. The flavor is too harsh. I put some sesame tahini in my Vita-Mix. If I use 1c tahini, I add about 1/4c water and 1/4c olive oil. Then I add the grated zest of about 2-3 lemons. That is a nice powerful lemon flavor without the sharp acid sourness of lemon juice. Tahini and olive oil take quite a lot of salt as well, so I would add about 1T of grey, sun-dried sea salt.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
It seems that lots of people find themselves stuck in a rut when they start eating Paleo. I think there are a bunch of reasons for this. The first one is that many people want any old excuse to go back to eating the same cereal/bagels/toast they were eating for the previous twenty years (although they never complained about having to eat the same thing every day then?!?!). Another reason is that many people think that breakfast is supposed to look a certain way. For example, when I tell people I eat stew for breakfast they think that is CRAZY because stew is for dinner not for breakfast. Why?? There is no good reason for that at all. In fact we should eat our most nourishing food earlier in the day. Another reason people feel stuck in a rut with their food is because we are so ADHD and overstimulated that we no longer notice and appreciate subtle differences in flavors and textures. Let's talk asparagus. During asparagus season I like to have it a few times per week, but it is different every time. Sometimes I grill it and then drizzle it with olive oil. Other times I make a little Hollaindaise sauce for it. Sometimes I steam it and serve it with garlic butter. Once in awhile I steam it with matchsticked carrots and make a little chili/miso sauce for it. The photo shows lightly steamed asparagus sprinkled with truffle salt. The truffle salt was a beautiful gift. It tastes nothing like regular salt, and asparagus with truffle salt tastes nothing like asparagus with olive oil and lime juice. Allow yourself the opportunity to see your food in all its wide range of beauty. Develop an appreciation for the more refined and subtle nuances of your food. My Dad had a stock answer for my sisters and me when we whined about being bored, "Only boring people get bored." Hmmm, I won't go so far as to accuse you of being boring if you are complaining about being bored with your food, but my father would.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Hello again. The long hot Sonoran summers drain me of all zest for life and creativity. The end of this inferno is in sight and I'm ready to write here again! As I've mentioned before, my definition of "Paleo eating" always returns to the hunter-gatherers. During the Tucson summer my spirit creeps north where it hides in a mossy, shady spruce forest near a cold little splashy brook. In those parts of the world we have three hunted/gathered sweeteners: raw honey, maple syrup and birch syrup. Almost nobody has had a chance to taste birch syrup. You have to order it from Alaska or Canada. This is not as unreasonable as it sounds unless you have made a commitment to eating locally because I'm sure you eat many foods every day that come from that far away. It would be better to order birch syrup from Alaska than to eat unfinished honey imported from China (see this NPR story).
Birch syrup is more precious than maple syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap from a maple tree to make one gallon of syrup. It takes nearly 100 gallons of sap from birch trees to make 1 gallon of birch sap. It can be done sustainably and without harming the trees. Check out the management of the sugar bush that produces Kahiltna Gold birch syrup. They let the trees rest two years between tappings! Birch syrup is less sweet than maple syrup and tastes faintly of molasses. It has a similar nutrient profile to maple syrup including manganese, magnesium, iron and some B vitamins, but birch syrup has more than double the nutritional content. The one drawback, as far as I'm concerned, about birch syrup is that it is primarily fructose as opposed to maple syrup which is sucrose. Isn't it fascinating that trees have different types of sugars!
Birch syrup is delicious and pretty soon I'll give you a couple recipes. The basket in the picture is perhaps my favorite possession. It was made by a Penobscot man in Maine using the traditional brown ash. It is strong as an ox and beautiful. I grew up watching my grandfather use his Penobscot-made pack basket for all his hunting and fishing trips. No plastic, no fancy fishing bags. I feel honored to have this beautiful, utilitarian basket. Brown ash trees, birch trees and sugar maple trees are found in similar ecological zones.