Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bye Bye

When I thought about adding in a third blog for a different category of posts, I decided that maintaining a bunch of separate blogs for separate-but-related life projects was dumb. I'll continue making Paleo/TF/Chocolate related posts, but over at Look for the "food" or "recipes" tag if the food is all you're interested in.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dandelion Root Beer, Day 3 - Bubbles!

The instructions for creating the starter said that it would take about a week for the fermentation to start.

Yet here we are, on Day 3 of the Great Dandelion Experiment, and we have bubbles!


See all that little foamy stuff up around the top? That's what we want!

It smells right, too (kind of a sweet/sour yogurty smell).

I had my doubts about whether this would work, between using spring dandelion root and having fake maple syrup with preservatives in it as the sweetener, but it appears to be doing what it's supposed to be doing!

I decided to cover it with plastic wrap instead of closing the lid, just in case it became too pressurized.

I think we're going to give it at least another day or two, because I have a bit of a hard time believing it's actually all ready that fast.

Today's root was neat - the single taproot branched into three separate-appearing dandelions.

For those concerned about the time investment, so far this has taken approximately 10 minutes per day. It would take 2 minutes if I was using ginger, not digging up dandelions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dandelion Root Beer, Day 1

(Crossposted to my homeschool blog)

I've become a little obsessed with the idea of lacto-fermented soda. It's soda that's good for you!!! Not only can you make it out of fresh fruit or herbs (preserving some of their nutritional benefits) and include as little (or as much) sweetener of your choice as you want, but you get a dose of probiotics with each serving!

We've made homemade soda before using yeast, so this isn't a totally new venture. In fact, we have spruce beer and sasparilla soda flavoring sitting in the fridge from our last batch. I think we're going to try sasparilla first.

Most of the lacto-fermented soda recipes out there call for ginger root for the starter. This is because ginger, along with many other roots, has a high inulin content. Inulin is a form of starch which is a preferred food source for various forms of Lactobacillus. These are the bacteria that make yogurt and pickles and grow in our intestines, displacing harmful bacteria.

(In a glowing example of the sort of synchronicity which creates naturally occurring unit studies, we recently read The Magic School Bus In A Pickle, which discusses the role of microbes in pickle formation, so this fits right in!)

As far as I can tell, the reason ginger is recommended for this is because it's widely recognized as an edible substance and you can buy it at the store. But it's certainly not the only inulin-containing root, and when "buy it at the store" means a 10 mile round trip that you weren't really planning to do today, you look for more readily available alternatives. And a very readily available alternative is dandelion root, which contain up to 40% inulin. From what I'm reading, this percentage is much lower in the spring than in autumn, as the plant uses the energy stored in the root as inulin to grow new shoots. So we'll see if it works as intended. If not, no big loss - we've weeded the lawn a bit.

Note: In addition to the more variable inulin content, another reason for recommending ginger root may be that dandelions are likely to have been exposed to pesticides and other environmental contaminants (we were careful not to pick ours in the dog yard, for example!), especially in more urban areas. If using dandelions or other wild-growing sources instead of store-bought ginger, make sure that you're reasonable certain your dandelions aren't contaminated. Also, people with ragweed (and, according to CaveMan, salicylate) allergies should be careful with dandelions, as they're common co-allergens. I'm not sure how big a deal that will be for the finished product, as the roots will be removed prior to making the actual soda, but I don't think CaveMan will risk trying this one.

I sent the kids out to dig up some dandelions, not realizing that this isn't exactly a simple task, especially given that MediumGirl has been picking the flowers for her bouquets, making them a little difficult to identify. MediumGirl brought in a few dandelion flowers, and Boy ended up digging out a few root sections about an inch or so long and decided he was done, so I went out, located one, and dug up a good root about 8 inches long.

I washed the roots well, then Boy chopped them up into little pieces. I put them in a jar that had previously been used to store sugar, and still had a bit caked onto the sides (recipes say to add some sugar along with the root). Cover the jar (some places say cheesecloth - maybe to let in airborne culture? I just closed the lid, because my understanding is that an anaerobic environment is what we're going for, and that leaving it covered with cheesecloth would be more about letting in wild occurring yeast). Let sit somewhere that maintains a temperature around 75F. Every day, add a little more chopped root and a little more sugar until you start to see bubbles appear (supposedly around 6 days). If mold occurs, skim it off the top, but if it keeps coming back you have to try again with cleaner supplies.


To Be Continued... (when something interesting happens, so possibly not for several days)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chicken Bacon Apple Hash

Inspired by this post on, I decided to use up our leftover chicken and make a slightly more creative than usual lunch.

Chicken Bacon Apple Hash:

Leftover chicken (I used 3 drumsticks)
Apples (I used 2 very small red delicious. 1 normal apple would probably do)
Bacon (Approximately 2 strips? I dunno. We use the Daily's Ends and Pieces, which are inexpensive, thick cut, and delicious, but don't lend themselves to accurate measuring)
Cinnamon, garlic powder, sage (or whatever other spices you desire)

Chop onion and bacon into small bits, toss into the pan with your oil of choice, and fry for a bit. I just used about a tablespoon of the onion that I'll be frying up to throw in our soup for dinner - I'd have preferred a bit more, but the kids don't like onion. While the onions and bacon are frying, chop the apple into thin slices and the chicken into bite sized chunks. Throw them in the pan along with the bacon and onions. Sprinkle with spices, and stir around until the chicken is adequately reheated and the apples are a bit soft.

This made not really enough for two kids and one adult, but could easily be scaled up (or down).

They both loved it. Boy asked if I could make it for dinner sometime (I can, but it might make for a better breakfast, as originally suggested), and declared it one of his three best dinners. Pretty impressive, seeing as it was lunch. I thought it was good, but would have been way better with a more flavorful variety of apple. I'll definitely make it again!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More not necessarily Paleo chocolate recipes

Ok, no promises on the perfect Paleo-ness of these, though they're overall healthier than the Jello. They're for a friend with breastfeeding food restrictions similar to mine. They contain cocoa and sugar. You can replace sugar with whatever sweetener you feel is most appropriate.

But everyone knows mamas need their chocolate sometimes. Even, perhaps especially, those with babies with food intolerances!

I often use half cocoa, half carob, simply because I like the taste of carob, especially combined with chocolate. If you do this (or use all carob), you may need to use less sweetener, as carob is naturally sweet.

These are all peanut/gluten free (assuming you use safe ingredients). I mention clarified butter a few times - this is butter with the milk solids removed. Many people with dairy sensitivities can tolerate it, but if your issue with dairy is serious (or you're vegan), just use coconut oil instead, as it's impossible to guarantee all milk protein has been removed. They behave similarly - solidish at room temperature, quite solid when refrigerated. If using coconut oil, be sure you're using good quality, unrefined coconut oil, and definitely not the stuff from the body care aisle. Egg is included in one recipe (I copied and pasted it before realizing it had egg and decided to leave it), but you should be able to replace it with one of the standard vegan egg replacements (banana, applesauce, flax seed...).

Quick and easy chocolate fix:
I usually use this in my coffee, but have been known to eat it plain, too. It's about the consistency of whipped cream.

Refrigerate coconut milk to thicken. Or, if you use a brand that separates into water and cream, don't bother with the refrigeration and just use the cream. Take a quarter cup or so. Stir in a spoonful of sugar and a spoonful of cocoa. Stir until well-mixed. Taste and adjust quantities as desired. Eat.

Quick and easy fudge (single serving):
1 tablespoon coconut oil or clarified butter
1 teaspoon cocoa
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt (optional - I didn't need it with my clarified butter version, but it might be necessary for coconut oil)

Mix ingredients together until well blended. Adjust quantities until it tastes right, isn't too dry, and isn't too wet. Chill until solid - this took about 1/2 hour for me. It's very rich - I can't eat the "single serving" all at once.

I shouldn't have invented this recipe. It's a little too easy and tasty.

Avocado-based Chocolate Pudding:
(Are avocados available at reasonable price and quality in the Great Frozen North? I apologize if not.)

1 Avocado
1 tbsp - 1/4 cup cocoa powder (adjust amount to taste based on size of avocado, strength of flavor, and how much you want to hide the avocado flavor)
Sweetener to taste (for sugar, about the same amount sugar as cocoa powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)
A few slices of apple or some raisins (optional, but I feel it improves the flavor and texture. I've seen cooked sweet potato used for this, too.)
Non-dairy milk

Combine all ingredients except milk in food processor or blender (or you can mix by hand if you're leaving out the apple). Process/blend until smooth. If too thick, add non-dairy milk a tablespoonful or so at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add more cocoa and/or sweetener until you have the flavor you want - if you're saying, "Eww, this tastes like avocado," you probably haven't added enough.

This evolved into...

Spicy Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream:

2 avocados
Approximately equal amounts of cocoa powder and sweetener to taste (I used about 1/4 cup of each. I find plain sugar works best for me - honey doesn't work well with the avocado IMO).
A touch of vanilla
A little salt
1 apple, sliced (I actually used a pear this time, as we were out of apples.)
1 handful of raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
Cayenne pepper to taste (No really, I have no clue how much I used. Start conservative.)

Food process everything together until smooth (if you do the apples and raisins first, then add the avocado, then add the rest, it will probably get smoothest. On the other hand, the slight raisin chunks work for me). Add a little milk (I use coconut milk) to thin to ice cream batter consistency. Put in ice cream maker. If you don't thin it, it works well as a pudding, but it was really hot on the day I tried it, so I made ice cream.

(If you don't have an ice-cream maker, you might be able to freeze it in a thin layer, then break it up and food process once frozen.)

At first taste, the cayenne isn't apparent at all. Then the heat builds up :) I think I got it pretty much perfect, for my tastes anyways - there's definite heat, but it isn't painfully hot, or so hot that it overwhelms the rest of the flavors. I'm very happy with how it turned out, even though spicy chocolate isn't usually my favorite combo.

The cayenne is entirely optional if you don't like hot stuff.

The texture of this ice cream (whether spicy or not) is totally, utterly, amazing. Totally gourmet.

Sesame-raisin fudge:
Based on the recipe at I used to make these to take on my 20 mile round trip bike ride to school.

1 and 1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp cocoa powder (original recipe called for carob or mesquite flour)
2 handfuls dried raisins
2 tbsp agave syrup or 1 tbsp honey in a little warm water
juice of one orange
2 tbsp water
cocoa powder for coating

Grind up the sesame seeds in grinder until very fine.
Add cocoa and mix in with your hands rubbing out any lumps.
Add the raisins, agave and orange juice. Mix in well.
Add 1 tablespoon water at a time until you have a dough that can easily be formed into shape. Roll small pieces into balls and place in a box with cocoa powder. Roll balls around until coated.

Birthday Cake:
I made this to accommodate some GF/CF guests at one of Boy's birthday parties. IMO, it turned out way better than the standard wheat-based cake. I make no claims that this is healthy.

1 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
1/3 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs (Oops, this has eggs. Try replacing them with some mashed bananas, or a bit more flax seed)
1/3 cup oil (I actually used 1/2 cup, and think it was a bit too much, but it contributed to the wonderful fudgyness. 1/3 cup might still be too much, or might be too little. I think 1/4 cup, as I originally put, would be too little. Might be able to successfully do half and half applesauce or something and oil)
2/3 cup bean puree (can of beans thrown in the food processor)
3/4 cup coconut milk

Combine wet ingredients. Combine dry ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it looks done. Makes two 8-inch round pans.

Coconut Fudge:
5 cups dried coconut
1/2 cup honey (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
2-3 tablespoons water (coffee would probably taste good, too, or maybe non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Blend coconut in high-powered blender until butter-like (do small batches at a time - keep blending until the contents are no longer in contact with the blender baldes, then shake back down to the bottom and blend some more). Add honey, vanilla, cocoa and mix well. Stir in nuts if using. Spoon into greased pan. Cover with plastic wrap and smooth into a slab about 1/2 inch (1cm) thick. Chill before cutting - if it is hard to cut, let it de-chill a little.

And, of course... my Delicious Chocolate Jello.

Other recipes that look good but that I haven't personally tried: - I've made the egg-containing version of these, and this is the recipe that is closest to my standard recipe. She replaces the egg with banana. They're especially good with a tsp of instant coffee powder. You could use a GF brand of oats, or presumably replace that with your favorite GF flour alternative. Or possibly leave it out entirely - the egg-containing version didn't use any sort of flour, and was fine that way.

If the batter tastes anything like the egg-containing version, it would work well as a milkshake, too (Uncooked, obviously. Possibly with a little added non-dairy milk if needed). is another version that suggests applesauce as the egg replacement, which might be a bit more flavor-neutral.

Halvah -
This is also a good bet for store-bought (try a middle-eastern food store) - just be sure to check the ingredients, as some types of halvah are made with butter, semolina, or other things you don't want.

Coconut oil fudge: (I'm going to guess this would be improved by a bit of salt)
I also want to try something like this with clarified butter.

Easy Clarified Butter

Clarified butter is butter oil from which all milk solids have been removed. It keeps longer than normal butter, and has a higher burning point, making it better for frying. It is becoming my new favorite thing, as the milk solids are what most people with problems with dairy are sensitive to, including Baby.

Most methods of making clarified butter involve cooking it on the stovetop. This requires attention, which I often have in relatively short supply. However, it's dead easy to do in a slow cooker.

Take some butter. Put it in a jar (you may be able to add some more once the first bit melts, if you can't fit multiple solid sticks in the jar). Put the jar in a crock pot, and fill the crock pot with water until at least half full (obviously, don't cover the mouth of the jar). Turn on low overnight or longer. The milk solids will rise to the top and be all foamy, or (depending on how long you cook it) settle to the bottom.

(I've seen instructions for doing this by putting butter straight into one of those little 1-2 qt crock pots, but we don't have one, so the water bath works for us.)

In the morning, spoon any foam off the top, then pour the butter oil through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into another container. If you want to be extra safe, do this very gently, and don't pour the last bit with the settled milk solids.

Baby tolerates the results without any obvious issue. I wouldn't suggest someone with a more serious allergy try it. Particularly not a life-threatening one.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

You know you homeschool when... make smoothies out of the grape juice (pressed from homegrown grapes, apples, coconut milk, and the boiled cabbage used to make pH indicator fluid so that it won't go to waste.

Bonus: Since the grape juice (hand-pressed from grapes grown in our backyard) is rather brown, the cabbage gives it a lovely artificial-but-totally-natural purple color.

Verdict: Medium Girl declared it better than grape soda.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mexican Beef Stuff with Cauliflower Couscous

This was the biggest hit yet, I think. Other than the pi pie, that is. Probably because I didn't attempt to season it myself.

* A Chuck roast. I supplemented ours with about a pound of ground beef
* 1/2 cup broth
* 1 jar salsa (mine was 16 oz. Larger wouldn't be a bad thing)

Put roast in crock pot - on low if it's properly defrosted and you're doing it in the morning. On high if you do it like me and stick it in there straight out of the freezer. Dump broth on roast. Dump salsa on roast. Cook until falling apart.

If you use a larger jar of salsa, you can probably skip the broth. I used the broth because we didn't have salsa at the time I started it. I added some extra water, as well, and it was a bit excessively wet, so I left the lid off for the last hour or so to let it cook down.


This was supposed to be "rice", but I over-processed it, so it was couscous. Oh well. I also made too much - cutting it in half would have been fine.

* 1 head cauliflower
* 1 onion
* several cloves of garlic
* Black pepper and cumin to taste

Dice onion, and fry in a bit of whatever you prefer to fry things in until transparent. While it is frying, food process the cauliflower and garlic until approximately the consistency of rice (or couscous). Toss in with the onion and fry it a bit.

Put meat mixture on top of couscous. Or mix them together, or whatever. Eat.

Everyone ate this. Caveman said he liked the couscous better than normal rice, but didn't eat much of that part, as he wasn't sure how it was for the low-carb thing (as far as I can tell, it's fine - it's presented as "low carb" rice replacement at least as often as paleo). So did Housemate. Caveboy said it was awesome (with cheese and sour cream). Middle girl ate up most of the meat part, anyways. I liked it. Housemate and AutisticGirl liked it.

We'll see how Baby does with the salsa.

I think we'll make it again if Baby can deal ok.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Delicious Chocolate Jello

1 package (4 serving size) Jello, in the flavor of your choice. I used orange this time. Cherry is also good. Sugar-free is probably fine.
1 cup boiling water
1 cup coconut milk (dairy milk, cream, soy milk, or whatever you prefer would probably work)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Mix Jello with boiling water as directed.

Mix cocoa powder into coconut milk until smooth. Pour coconut milk into liquid Jello in place of additional water. Stir well. Refrigerate four hours or so.

This has a tendency to separate into layers. If this is not desired, stir after 2-3 hours - when it has some form, but isn't quite set.

It's also tasty this way without the cocoa powder.

If you use a different size of Jello, just adjust amounts appropriately - the milk replaces the cold water.

I admit, I really did just prepared this. That part is not April Fools.

Posting it here, on the other hand...

Should you want to make this in a vaguely more paleo-friendly manner, or at least a healthier manner, use plain gelatin (you could even make it yourself with your leftover bones, but I'm not clear on how to do that and have it not taste like meat) or agar mixed with fruit juice for the gel part.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cranberry Beef Stew, Um... Potatoes, and Beef Hearts

Caveman had suggested beef stew for dinner, so I made that.

We had a beef bone left over from our St. Patrick's Day Not-Corned Beef (that's what we get for not planning ahead!), so I tossed that, along with a soup bone and some water, into the crock pot on low overnight. In the morning, I chopped up some beef (probably 3ish lbs), browned it in the skillet with some bacon grease and spices (black pepper, cumin, and garlic powder I think), and tossed that in the crock-pot, too, along with some chopped up celery and root vegetables - 2 carrots and half a rutabaga (if I'm not mistaken). I chopped up and fried an onion and some garlic in the same pan I'd used for the beef, and tossed that in as well. At some point I added some more black pepper, cumin, hot sauce, a dash of basalmic vinegar, and worchestire sauce.

I kept feeling that it needed something more, and eventually, I hit on the bag of cranberries that was sitting in the freezer. Googling the idea to ensure I wasn't totally crazy, I found that other people had, in fact, had the same inspiration (this should not be a surprise. Not much is unique on the internet. I found, for example, that I'm not the only person who has literally dreamed up a recipe for Avocado Pie). So I tossed in the cranberries. Caveman wasn't be crazy about that addition, but I told him to pick out the meat bits. The stew was already full of root veggies since I wanted it to be more than chunks of beef in broth, so he'd have to do that anyways.

* B said it was good.
* Autistic Girl ate it without comment or complaint.
* Boy ate a bit, but didn't like it.
* I think Caveman liked the meaty bits ok.
* Medium Girl was very happy eating the carrots and the pieces of meat with fat on them. She loves the fatty bits, and is always asking for more fat, which makes me cringe a little from a standard Western medicine point of view. But she's a child whose brain is still growing, so I try not to get too worked up about it. She asked for another piece with fat as a treat before bed.
* Me... eh. It was good-ish, but I'd imagined the cranberries as providing nice little plump bursts of tartness, when they actually provided little mushy bits of sour. They may not have been the best quality cranberries, and I probably would have gotten results more in line with my imagination if I'd used dried cranberries. I also should have removed some of the broth from the pot in the morning and saved it for something else before adding the ingredients. Without any paleo-appropriate thickener (most stew recipes use flour and/or cornstarch), it was way too brothy for a stew.

Baby tried out her new high chair for the first time, and I was able to actually eat dinner with both hands free until she got too fussy and had to be held. Very unusual these days, that.

Um... Potatoes. That's our new name for parsnips around these parts. Medium Girl adores potatoes, but they have a noticable effect on her behavior, so we don't do them anymore. But she'll happily accept cooked parsnips as potatoes. So we call them Um... Potatoes. Then send Boy to his room if he tries to insist that "Actually, they're Bunicula'd carrots".

Last night's recipe was an organ meat curry that, unfortunately, is really not worth writing about. Definitely not as good as the chili. Even the beef heart was a disappointment. I got it out all ready to totally do Anatomy Lesson with Boy before chopping it up for curry, and discovered that the heart was actually a half a heart, and not cut along a particularly useful plane. Someone else got most of the valves.

I did get to stick my finger through the hole between the right atrium and inferior vena cava, though. That was kind of cool.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pi Day

Since yesterday was Pi Day (3/14), I was obligated to make pie. For the kids, of course.

I followed the inspiration of, and made a frozen berry "ice cream" pie.

1.5ish cups almonds (hazelnuts, pecans, or coconut would be good too, or a picture)
a few spoonfuls of clarified butter (plain butter or coconut oil would work, too)
It would probably taste and hold together a little better with a few dates or something thrown in, but it was fine. The clarified butter was a good choice, flavor-wise.
A dash of cinammon

1 lb berries (I used frozen blackberries because that's what was least expensive.)
1 apple
Coconut milk. 1 cupish? Less than a full can.
A few spoonfuls lime marmalade (not paleo - lime juice/zest and a little honey or something would probably do fine, or you could probably skip the sweetener if you were using good, fresh, ripe in-season berries.
Good big dashes of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.

I also drizzled some syrup (the fake-maple pancake stuff) on top. That was good, but could easily be left out or replaced with something else. What can I say? We have this stuff that needs using up and I hate wasting food, even if it's actually "food".

Process nuts in food processor until coursely ground. Add butter or oil and cinnamon and process a bit more. Press mixture into bottom of pie pan, about 1/4" thick.

Process apple and about 1/2 to 2/3 of the berries together. Add coconut milk, marmalade (or lime) and spices and process a bit more, until it's like a thick smoothie. You could do this in a blender, in fact, but why get more than one appliance dirty? Pour mixture over crust.

Arrange remaining berries artfully across the top of the pie. Or just scatter them around if you're unartistic like me.

I should have arranged them in a Pi symbol. Darnit.


You probably want to take it out 5-10 minutes before attempting to cut to let it thaw a bit.

The kids, B, and I really enjoyed it. It was a bit too high on the glycemic index for everyone else. Warning: This is energy food! No one was tired after eating it, which is a problem at near-bedtime. I served the rest to the kids this afternoon before sending them to play outside.

I'm kind of surprised the kids enjoyed it so much - between the nuts, lime, cardamom, and low sugar content (relative to most SAD desserts, that is), the taste seems a bit more adult-oriented. But like it they did.

I think it would have been excellent with a spoonful of cocoa thrown in somewhere. In fact, I meant to include some cocoa or carob in the crust (probably carob, since it's naturally sweet), but forgot. Dark cocoa chips/chunks mixed into the filling would have been even better.

As far as I can tell, the baby did ok with the clarified butter, and that provided a good flavor for the crust. I've done similar pies before when we were eating a raw diet, and I think this crust was by far the tastiest.

Dinner was fish. I didn't make it, but it was just basic catfish fillets. I believe they just had some spices sprinkled on top, and were baked for 15-20 minutes at 385F.

The kids love fish, and ate it all up, leaving no seconds for the adults.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A SAD Kid's Nightmare Chili

When I was a kid, I didn't like liver.

I had a Sesame Street book including a princess character who loved liverwurst sandwiches, and my mom convinced me to try liverwurst on the basis of that. I liked liverwurst ok, but I still didn't like liver.

In college, one of my dormmates was originally from India. Her mother sent her back to the dorm after a weekend at home with a container of Indian-spiced chicken livers. I gingerly tried one. It was really good, prepared that way. But I still didn't like plain liver.

I had liverwurst again as an adult, and still liked it.

Then one day our housemate threw some sliced up liver in the soup. It was good. It was better than good. It fulfilled a hunger I didn't even know I had.

And I realized that I'd always liked liver. I'd just been told by various media that I didn't.

Tonight, I was a little stuck on what to eat for dinner, so I looked in the freezer. We had a pound of ground beef (too little to do much with in a house with 6 eaters), a similar quantity of pork labeled "for chili", and 3 lbs of steaks. I took the ground beef and pork and threw them in the crock pot, along with a cup or so of the chicken stock I made from the chicken stock a few nights ago. Half of a pepper from the stuffed peppers remained, and some carrots in beef broth from last nights dinner, so I threw them in, too.

SAD Kid Nightmare #1 - Leftovers.

I processed an onion and some garlic and threw them in, spiced it up (cumin, garlic powder, a bit of dried mustard, a bit of cinnamon, a half spoonful of sage, a spoonful of cocoa powder (see?), and a small small amount of chili powder so the pickies wouldn't be put off. Everyone else can add more hot if needed), and left it for a while.

I tasted it, and it seemed a bit flat. I spiced it up a bit more. Caveman finally sent a message saying he would be eating at home, and I thought it wasn't quite a big enough chili considering that, so I went poking around to see what else I could add.

I found SAD Kid Nightmare #2 - liver.

Looking around at chili recipes online while it cooked, I found one that included spinach. We had spinach, so Sad Kid Nightmare #3 got added.


* Caveman is out, and may or may not eat some when he returns (the tomato paste is probably a bit high Glycemic Index)
* B says it is her new favorite way to do liver.
* Autistic Girl ate it without comment or complaint.
* Medium Girl at first refused, but deigned to eat all the carrot bits I picked out for her, and was, in fact, quite enthusiastic about them. As they were coated in chili, that's a win.
* Boy says he liked it, but ate 4 slices of pizza at a birthday party earlier, and said he wasn't hungry. I'm not sure if this was the truth (I'm sure the pizza part was true, not so sure about the like part), or a white lie. (Edit: Seems to have been a white lie - he said the next day that he didn't like it very much and didn't want his leftovers for lunch.)
* I loved it. It tasted just right. The liver added a creaminess and flavor that had been missing, and it really tasted like chili.

We'll see how Baby reacts. I'm not sure she tolerates tomatoes.

(Yesterday's dinner was nothing worth writing about. A pork roast thrown in the crock pots with some carrots and a cup of beef broth. It turned out kinda dry. The only win was that Medium Girl happily ate it because I was able to give her a piece with lots of fat on it. I still shudder at this, even though I'm supposed to get over the whole "fat is bad" thing.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Roast chicken

When I was little, my mom would make us the dinner of our choice for our birthdays. I always chose roasted chicken.

Then I grew up, moved away, asked her how to make it, and felt a little dumb for letting her off the hook so easy all those years.

Preheat oven to 375F. Stick chicken parts in pan. Drizzle with olive oil (or oil of your choice). Sprinkle with whatever seasonings you happen to feel like using (garlic and dill was her standard. Tonight I used garlic, Old Bay, and something else that I can't remember now. And salt, but that's a paleo no-no, so pretend you didn't see that. I did not add cocoa powder). Stick in oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until juices run clear.

You can stick chopped up veggies in the pan with it before doing all the oil and seasoning. Many do fine with the 45 minutes, but brocolli only needs about 20.

* Caveman wasn't home.
* Autistic Girl ate it without comment or complaint.
* B ate it without comment or complaint.
* I thought I totally nailed the seasonings this time. It was tasty.
* The picky kids gobbled it. Medium Girl got upset that hers wasn't cool right away and she had to wait a few minutes. She only ate one drumstick, but that's a hit compared to most dinners these days. Boy ate two drumsticks.

With a prep time of about 2 minutes and it being about the only thing both pickies will happily eat, I'm not sure why I don't make this more often.

Bones are being saved for stock once we finish with the leftovers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stuffed Bell Pepper Boats

The other day I got the sudden urge to make stuffed bell peppers. I'm not sure why. I don't know if it's something I've ever had before. It just seemed something that might be visually appealing to the pickies and a good use way of integrating veggies.


3 bell peppers (we have agreed to wait until they're in season to get them again, because they're expensive now)
3 lbs ground beef
1 zucchini (standard grocery store size, not mondo garden size)
A few handfuls of grated cheese
One onion
A bunch of cloves of garlic
A few handfuls of spinach
Some bacon
Cumin (probably about 1 tsp)
Garlic powder to taste (we like garlic around here)
Lemon Pepper to taste
Leftover beef/pork drippings from a previous dinner

Preheat oven to 375F. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise (you can also just cut the tops off, but this way stretched the three peppers across six people), clean out the seeds. Grate cheese and zucchini. Peel garlic and onion, and food process along with the spinach into smallish chunks (probably could have just thrown the zucchini in there, too). Chop bacon. Mix veggies, cheese, bacon, and spices with meat. Stuff meat mixture into peppers. Pour leftover drippings (or broth, or tomato sauce) over the top. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

I actually made half of these with cheese and the other half not (no cheese for me, AutisticGirl, or MediumGirl, who likes cheese but not melted in stuff). I meant to leave the zucchini out of part of it for low-carbing Caveman, but the baby was fussing up a storm, and I got mixed up and didn't manage that.

This actually made enough for two small loaf pans of meatloaf in addition to the stuff peppers, which is interesting, since I thought I used the same amount of meat to make two just slightly larger pans of meatloaf the other day. I imagine the zucchini added significantly to the bulk.


* Caveman liked it, but doesn't want that much in the way of veggies right now.
* B thought the bacon and cheese made for an excellent combination, and that the peppers were very good. I'm sure I would agree if I could do cheese.
* AutisticGirl ate it without comment or complaint, as usual.
* Boy loved the meat, said the broth smelled good, had seconds of the meat, and wants it for lunch tomorrow, but didn't eat the pepper.
* I thought I might have a winner for MediumGirl. I called them boats, and cunningly offered to trade my "prettier" red boat for her yellow boat. She enthusiastically accepted, talked about how pretty they were... then refused to eat more than her requisite bite. And then wouldn't let anyone else eat her pepper because it was pretty.
* I thought it was very tasty. The broth inside the pepper was absolutely amazing and I wish there was more of it. I'll be eating MediumGirl's for breakfast tomorrow.

Obligatory Intro

Our household (two families) consists of two picky kids (a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl, hereafter referred to as Boy and Medium Girl), my husband (Caveman) who is working at losing weight via a low-carb diet, a breastfeeding BabyGirl who is sensitive to many things (dairy for sure, probably eggs, wheat, legumes, and possibly tomatoes or something else), a formerly-picky autistic teenager who has been on a gluten and casein free, low carbohydrate diet for several years, her mother B who is neither picky nor on any particular diet, and me. I'm not picky (Caveman would argue with that, but really, I'm not particularly), and if it weren't for the baby wouldn't need any sort of special diet. I'm losing weight a bit more than I probably should be while breastfeeding.

That Baby is awfully lucky she's so cute.

Anyways, we started the paleo diet as a household a few months ago, as it both seemed to make a lot of sense and fit well with our varying dietary needs. Even the non-autistic members of the household have noticed negative reactions to grains - tiredness, grumpiness, behavior problems from the kids (and adults!), weight gain... There seemed to be no reason to keep it as part of our diet.

Except sometimes it's really hard to find things everyone is willing and able to eat. Hence this blog.

We're not perfect at the paleo thing. We do our best with a limited budget, but our best sometimes includes excessively processed meats and such. Everyone but Autistic Girl and I (and, by extension, the baby) still eats dairy. I eat chocolate. Yummy yummy chocolate. I find myself saying "This would be better with a spoonful of cocoa powder to just about everything. I considered naming the blog that, actually. I like carob, too. I especially like carob and chocolate together, which may defeat the purpose, but tastes great.

I also have a bit of a sugar problem, in case that isn't obvious from the past few sentences (as I'm not eating straight unsweeteed cocoa, you know), but I've cut way down recently and that's improving. Paleo helped with that, I think. A few weeks after we started the diet, I woke up one day and didn't particularly feel the need for sugar in my coffee (though I still do it sometimes, such as when I stick a spoonfull of cocoa in it). Now, I tend to have a hard time turning it down if it's there, but I don't go out of my way for it either, and a lot of the processed stuff is just not seeming that appealing.

Also, when you eat a piece of cake and the baby starts in on inconsolable screaming a few hours later, it gets less appealing. Especially since it wasn't that great, anyways.

We hope to get a cow or two soon, as we have about an acre of pasture that needs chewing up through the summer. We're also working on chickens, possibly pigs and/or goats, and a garden. That could be interesting.