The Terrible Dinner That Wasn’t

It seemed like a great dinner tonight wasn’t meant to be.  It started with a great workout yesterday morning with my husband – I was able to do 8 squats at 95 lbs with pretty good form for all of them.  Then, he was up in the middle of the night…so I was up in the middle of the night (I’m a light sleeper) and couldn’t get back to sleep.  But I had thawed a lovely eye of round roast from US Wellness Meats and by golly I was going to cook it!  The recipe I was determined to use is from The Domestic Man, and it appealed to me because you zap it in a 500 degree oven, turn it off, and let the oven work its magic over the course of a couple of hours.

Well, the roast cooked a lot faster than I anticipated and in 45 minutes the thermometer read 169 degrees.  Great.  So I thought we were going to be eating some expensive shoe leather for dinner.  Guess I’d better make some delightful sides to offset that.  So I set about making a hybrid Hollandaise/Bearnaise sauce using the beautiful fresh eggs I had picked up this afternoon.  I served this sauce over the two pounds of roasted asparagus I had fixed at the last minute.  I also shelled some fresh peas we had gotten for the last two weeks in our veggie basket.  I have never made fresh peas and was fresh out of energy to look one up on the internet, so I decided to wing it.  I steam-sauteed the peas in a lump of butter with a splash of water until they were tender and then sprinkled a little fresh tarragon on top.

So I had some yummy sides that I hoped would redeem my poor performance, and it was time to try to salvage the meat.  There was lots of yummy junk left in the bottom of the roasting pan, so I decided to deglaze it with two ice-cube sized lumps of double-strength bone broth I had made over the course of three days last week.  I cooked the broth until it was thick and syrupy in consistency.  Because it was a reduction of a stock I had already salted, I did not add any further salt or spice.  It was wonderful and full of that lovely umami flavor I love.

And guess what!  Even though the roast was beyond well-done, it was still edible and even tasty when amended with the beef sauce or a little of the hybrid Hollandaise sauce!  It would have been divine if I had taken the roast out at about 135 degrees, and I will pay better attention next time I invest the money in quality grass-fed beef!

I apologize for the lack of photographs tonight, and then inexact recipes.  If you are like me, you usually don’t measure much while cooking – you cook by the seat of your pants (it’s not all scientific like baking).  That is exactly what I did tonight, and (for once) the results were almost exceptional, so I wanted to share my process with you.

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At least it’s still April…

OK, almost every post I have made I have made the (not lame) excuse that things have been crazy-busy around here.  Allow me to give a little more detail, if you will.  I am married to a man who makes his living in the military – he has so for the last 18.5 years.  I knew it when I married him (he was already a first lieutenant) and have gone along for the ride ever since.  A year ago, we had to pull up stakes and move across the country to an area we’d already lived in once, and we weren’t thrilled with returning.  Not when our teenagers were thriving in school and activities, not when I was adjusting to life with CaveBaby, not with the knowledge that the military would likely deploy him at some point before retirement at 20 years.  And so the time is coming – we are far from home and this fall my husband will be sent overseas.  We are electing to move ourselves back home (his deployment will only be for 6 months so the military won’t pay to move us) so we have about 12,000 lbs of household goods to sort through, decide what will be needed immediately and what can sit in storage for 9 months.  On top of that, we are driving 45+ miles/day 4+ days a week to keep the teenagers busy in their activities (and my husband already commutes 80+ miles/day roundtrip to work and back!) so we have been pretty much in survival mode as far as meal preparation and execution!

I usually make a large quantity of protein (3-4 lbs at a time, something with grassfed ground beef or a kalua-style pork roast) and let the side flow naturally from that using the weekly veggie basket.  About once every other week I cry “uncle!” and my husband takes me to a nice little Japanese restaurant with AMAZING sushi/sashimi and we gorge on some good stuff.  And I eat a little rice.  My weight has been pretty much stable, I have made some good strength gains at the gym, and am approaching my goal of an unassisted chin up – slowly, though.

The area of growth I am experiencing is in my education and philosophy development.  Earlier this month I read Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan, MD.  It is an easy-to-read book with a lot of practical advice as to how to increase the use of traditional foods in your diet.  I have started making my own homemade bone broth from grassfed beef bones as a result of what I learned in this book.  I highly recommend it for women who are of childbearing age – her recommendations on maternal nutrition and pregnancy spacing to optimize the health and well-being of your children are insightful.  I wish I had read this book prior to having children!  It’s not too late to incorporate her dietary philosophies into the family’s practice though – it is helpful to keep our teenagers at peak health and performance, should they chose to take our advice.

I am currently reading Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes.  It’s definitely more interesting reading than the dry and scientific Good Calories, Bad Calories and it’s meant to be that way.  Gary Taubes is blowing my mind with facts and scientific studies and well-documented information.  He handily fisks the calories in/out paradigm that the dietary and medical establishment, backed by the government and large corporations, have promoted for the last 60 years.  Even the title of the book is loaded with an opportunity to share this – “What are you reading?”  “Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes.”  “So what’s the answer?”  “Carbohydrates.”  Insert a long discussion in which the inquisitive party begins to defend every carbohydrate they have consumed in their day.  You know what?  I don’t give a crap.  Oh, now I am starting to sound like Richard in Free the Animal.  Two important takeaway items from this book:

  • Science has never been able to prove that a reduction in caloric intake or an increase in caloric expenditure results in fat loss
  • Gluttony and sloth do not CAUSE obesity; rather, they are EFFECTS of obesity

Those two points have enormous implications for the treatment of obesity, which is epidemic in our country.  For the last 60 years the dietary establishment has tried to make correcting obesity a character issue – that of obesity being a result of poor nutritional choices – rather than being a physiological issue.  I think the character issue comes into play when an individual KNOWS what causes obesity and chooses to consume carbohydrates anyway.  The problem is that the establishment is telling people the wrong things to eat and do to cure their obesity (and with it, diabetes and heart disease and AI disease and…) so they will never improve their health.

Speaking of health improvement, I read Jack Kruse’s Cold Thermogenesis 11 the other night and it blew my mind as well.  Read it for yourself and start thinking of the implications of our current medical/agricultural/governmental establishment if we are inching toward a unified theory of diseases of civilization.  I was heading down the path of thinking “The root cause of modern disease is inflammation!” and, somewhere in the first 25 comments or so, that is exactly what Dr. Kruse says.  Our current medical system is focused on finding out WHAT is wrong with us.  Then their solutions are to either a) wait and see if the problem needs drugs, or b) prescribe drugs to counteract WHAT is wrong with us.  Our system never asks WHY something is wrong with us.  There is no root cause analysis as to why we are sick or hurting or have an imbalance in one or more internal systems!  I believe that is what is fundamentally wrong with our system as it currently stands.  How do we change this?  How do we go against the medical system, our government, and large corporations that all have an active interest in keeping us unhealthy and dependent?

Doesn’t this revelation change the “health care” debate entirely?

I am doing what I can to ensure my family can “opt out” of the current system of what passes for health (sick) care in our country.  I think that is what a lot of paleo-minded people are trying to do as well.

What are you doing?

It’s been awhile…

…and my creativity is hiding somewhere.  Really, I haven’t cooked anything new and exciting since I made that awesome rutabaga recipe.  I have spent at least three nights a week driving 45-60 miles each way to get the older kids to their activities of choice, so it has left little time for reading, researching, and trying new things.  Most weeks I make sure to cook up a slow cooker full of pulled/kalua style pork and either a ton of meatballs or Well Fed’s Chocolate Chili.  Add in a steak night and a chicken night – oh, don’t forget, a fish night (it’s Lent!) and somehow I have managed to walk the primal/paleo path the last several weeks.

Where I have been making gains the last few weeks has been in the gym.  On Sundays my husband and I have a date at the local Anytime Fitness, during naptime for the little one.  I have finally screwed up the nerve to wear my goofy looking Vibrams to the gym.  What took me so long?!  My squats were so…balanced, grounded, powerful.  I love them so much.  Also, I am slowly getting closer to an unassisted pullup.  The key word there is slooooowly.  I also do the leg press machine, but I begin each workout with a 10 minute walk at a moderate pace to get the blood pumping to all my muscles.

During a good week I am also able to sneak in another quick workout at the gym.  This workout is usually entirely machine based, and that is where I have had enormous gains over the last four months.  My leg press has gone from 95 lbs to 195 lbs.  My lat pulldown has improved from 86 lbs to 113 lbs, and I have increased from 50 to 75 lbs on the chest press.  I am probably the strongest I have ever been in my life, yet my little Cavebaby is so strong I can hardly handle him sometimes!  He is eating what we eat – his favorite is Chocolate Chili with a side of sweet potatoes, but he loves any form of meat and vegetable I give him.

The only other interesting thing I have added to my regimen has been cold baths.  I have been reading the blog of Jack Kruse with interest the last several months.  He’s a pretty polarizing figure in the paleo world.  I can’t debunk his biochemistry, but from a thermodynamics standpoint it stands to reason one would burn some fat in the process.  The first plunge was bracing, but there is a certain zen-like quality you achieve sitting in a cold bath for 30 or more minutes.  I don’t know if I have lost any weight – the BF scale I shelled out some bucks for a couple of years ago has wild mood swings – but my body composition seems to be changing along with my strength increase.

So that’s what I have been up to.  Please accept my apologies for not having anything new or interesting to post in the last month!