June 29, 2011

These Ain't My Mama's Fried Tomatoes...

...but they're close.  My mother's family was from the South and even though we grew up in "northern" Maryland, there was a definite southern influence in my mother's cooking.  That is probably how I managed to escape the ravages of gluten sensitivity until my early adulthood.  While southern cooking often included bread and baked goods, it also included at least 3-4 different vegetables at every meal along with a satisfying quantity of meat.  You didn't need to eat any bread to be full.  Most of our foods were not processed in any way unless you counted the canning that my mother did all summer long.  We had string beans, tomatoes, relishes, pickles, peaches, apples, jams, and other assorted summer bounty all winter long thanks to the rows of jars stored in the basement.  

My father planted a big garden - nearly an acre's worth of vegetables - 200 tomato plants and zucchini, beans, corn, onions, lettuce, and whatever else struck his fancy that year.  It wasn't organic - my father believed in ample supplies of Sevin dust and fertilizers, but it must have been fairly innocuous stuff.  The bounty from that garden certainly did not contain the industrial oils, added sugars, and preservatives and other chemicals that processed food contains today.  We sold the extra in a little roadside stand at the end of our driveway.  Our tomatoes were the sweetest around - Georgia Big Boys - and people came from all over to buy them.

Sometimes, orthodox paleos like to chastise people for creating dishes that mimic processed foods - paleo pizza, almond flour desserts, etc.  But, come on, who doesn't miss those foods once in a while?  I have long gotten over my desire for bread and most dessert substitutes.  I really just don't want them any more except for a few cookies at Christmas or the occasional gluten-free pizza (or meatza).  Everyday Paleo's lasagne is better than regular lasagne - really!  But when summer comes, I still crave this simple summer meal that my mother made:  fried tomatoes, fried squash, bacon, and tomato gravy.  Sure, she served it on toast, but I found that toast is not needed at all and the flour that was traditionally used is easily substituted.  So enjoy the pictures below - I certainly enjoyed the food tonight!
Fried zucchini and patty pan squash.  Just dip the squash in a tiny bit of almond flour and salt and pepper and fry in bacon grease or lard.  Drain on a paper towel.
Do the same with the tomatoes as with the squash.  Leave a couple in the pan for the gravy. We always fried red tomatoes, never green.
While you are cooking the squash and tomatoes, "fry" up some bacon in the oven.
Smash a couple of those fried tomatoes in the leftover bits from the squash and tomatoes, stir in some milk (I used raw goat milk, but you could certainly use coconut milk or almond milk).  Sprinkle just a tiny amount of arrowroot powder in there to thicken it.  You can also use the leftover almond flour if needed.  If you like, smash a couple of pieces of cooked bacon in there as well.  Salt and pepper are a must.  You have now made tomato gravy.
Traditionally, we served this over toast, but honestly, you will not miss the toast at all.  Place some fried tomatoes and squash on the plate, add some bacon, cover with gravy, eat and go to southern heaven.

June 22, 2011

Are Raspberries Primal?

     We have black raspberries coming in by the gallon, literally.  My daughter, now 23, has always been my raspberry picker.   For some reason, since she was a wee child, she has found a bit of zen following the hedge rows where the wild raspberries grow and filling up quart after quart container of the sweet black beauties.  This year has been an absolute banner year for the berries.  I have at least 2 gallons of black raspberries that she has picked so far this year in the freezer waiting for a cooler time when I can make seedless raspberry jam and syrup for primal pancakes this winter.  We always set a pint or so aside for salads and snacking.  They are fragile, lasting only a day, and turning to mold if not eaten quickly.  
     My raspberry picker will be off to grad school soon but by that time the berries will be done for the season and the next local fruit will be on the table - perhaps cherries or blueberries, then peaches.  You cannot tell me that primal man did not indulge in fruit when it was in season.  But the fact that the season of each fruit is so fleeting prevents too much indulgence, so enjoy them while you can.

June 15, 2011

Primal Strength

On June 1st, I started strength training at a very local (only 1 1/2 miles away!) gym (McKenna's).  I am a complete novice to the free weight world but Mike, the trainer, is patient and better yet, has the know-how and direct experience to teach anyone the correct way to strength train whether they are old, young, female, male, in shape, or out of shape.  He knows his stuff and knows how to communicate it.

So, what have I learned from this foray into this new world?  
   1.  I like how it varies from session to session, because I get bored easily with routine and Mike switches it up.  I lifted weights in several different forms (I won't list them because I am so new I will screw up the names), swung kettlebells, used some godawful machine that works your glutes and hamstrings, used rings to do body rows, smacked a medicine ball into the floor 100 times, lifted dumbbells and kettlebells over my head, and several other things I've probably forgotten by now.  All in three sessions so far.  Looking forward to whatever is next.  No mind-numbing cardio or machines.
   2.  DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) will set in.  First session, I felt the squats about 36 hours later in first my hamstrings, then my quads, then my glutes.  What is interesting is that the soreness travels from one area to another, which is fascinating to this Anatomy teacher as I try to identify the specific muscle that is affected.  My cervical vertebrae also let me know that I needed to lower that bar just a bit onto my trapezius muscles next time I did squats with a weighted bar.  Nice reinforcement.  Second session, my legs felt like I had been doing this for years (side benefit of DOMS, apparently) and my traps, deltoid, and latissimus dorsi muscles felt the brunt.  Again, in a sort of one-at-a-time progression.  Third session, the deltoids and biceps are feeling it, but I expect the triceps to kick in a bit later.  None of this has been bad. In fact, it's almost a good pain (that sounds kinky) but it's kind of cool how you can almost feel the muscles getting stronger.  By 48 hours, all pain will be gone and I'll be ready for the next session.   Doing stuff in between sessions definitely helps the process move along quicker.
   3. My left arm is weaker than my right.  Kind of knew that but the knowledge was reinforced when I could lift the kettlebell with my right arm for the complete set, but my left arm said no way about half way through and refused to budge.
   4.  My VFFs have been accepted so far.  They feel really stable to me as I work.  I really hate traditional athletic type shoes - they hurt my flexible feet and my toes like their freedom - but if I see a need, I will invest in a pair of weightlifting shoes if I have to.
   5.  I am pleasantly surprised to find that there are other people in the area who know paleo/primal eating.  That is a relief since I don't have to go through explaining what it is, why it works, that it is based on sound science and research, and how Conventional Wisdom has had it wrong for so long.
   6.  Going to a Mumford and Sons concert and spending 3 hours hopping up and down to the music without any tiredness in my legs proved that this strength training stuff has practical applications as well.

Speaking of Mumford and Sons, here's a little clip for your listening pleasure.  It's from an iPhone so please excuse the sound and picture quality. 

June 07, 2011

My Food Pyramid (uh, Plate)

The USDA came out this week with their usual nonsensical recommendations for a healthy diet.  Since this is the same organization, along with our illustrious FDA, that oversees what we feed our kids in schools, let's just say my faith in either of those government entities is nil.  This is what a typical school meal looks like (I know, I taught high school for 23+ years):

Brown, brown, and more brown.  Doesn't that look yummy?  Top that off with the HFCS powerade drink and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to post-lunch classes. 

This was my dinner tonight and what I recommend as a good sample of what a food plate should look like:
Fresh, local, chemical-free spinach, two local free-range eggs (look at those yolks!), nitrate-free bacon, an avocado, and water from my deep well.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper and drizzle some olive oil on that salad and baby, you have a real meal:  meat, veggies, good fats.

I wonder how our kids would perform at school if they were given this option for lunch instead of the Big Ag subsidized crap that we feed them?