Summer in Iowa

How do you know it’s summer in Iowa?  Well, I just spent 30 minutes cutting up kale, zucchini, summer squash, potatoes, onions, and watermelon.  Tim is grilling the potatoes and onions (check me out on Instagram for picture proof), and the rest of the menagerie is going into the fridge for eatin’ later on.  We joined a CSA this summer, and several batches of wilted greens and shriveled squash has taught me that if I don’t cut up the veggies IMMEDIATELY, they are a lost cause.

It’s amazing that I am actually accomplishing anything today.  We returned home from Fort Collins, Co last night around 8:30PM, so today is our recup day. Does everyone need a recup day after vacation, or is that just me?  Regardless, I did some Heather self-care today to prepare myself for my strenuous one-day work week tomorrow.  Self-care for me looks like rolling out my abdominals with the Corgeous ball, taking an epsom salt bath, and listening to the Design of the Body podcast whilst walking along Duck Creek.  Oh, and shopping online. 🙂  We didn’t get to do much shopping in Ft Collins, so I made up for it once I got home.

If you are like me, you are always interested in what other people are buying, so I will fill you in on the details.  For the past several months I have been looking for a wristlet that will fit the essentials – cards, ID, phone, chapstick, pen, and keys.  My sister-in-law introduced to me to Haiku. I really like their designs and their philosophy, so I ordered the Stride wristlet. I will let you know what I think once I receive it and put it through its paces. I know you are on pins and needles.

I’m going to another Yoga Tune Up® class next week – Breath and Bliss, taught by Jill Miller.  We are supposed to bring our own yoga mats, but I don’t want to travel with my full size Manduka (although I totally love it), so I bought the travel version. It’s so light and thin that you can fold it up!  Hopefully it works well.

I also bought 3 different versions of wire-free bras. I love underwires, but some experts say they can cause a variety of issues, so I am widening my horizons and checking out some wire-free bras from Wacoal.  You can find a TON of wire-free options at Kohl’s and Target, but I tried on TEN different ones today, and they all gave me wide, pointy boobs.  Boo to wide, pointy boobs.  Wacoal bras are pricey, but they last forever, and they give a great shape.  Hopefully that hold true for their non-underwire versions.

That is my day back.  Riveting, isn’t it!?

Adventures in Kefir

If you read any articles or blogs about the paleo or primal lifestyle, you no doubt have read about the benefits of fermented foods.  They are the bees knees for the gut and therefore for the brain.  In an effort to get more of these beneficial probiotics into my system, over the past year I have experimented with jun, water kefir and milk kefir.

I received a jun scoby from a YTT friend of mine.  It looked very alien – an amorphous, white blob with floating tendrils.  I made some green tea, added some honey, and the blob went to work. It produced a lightly sweet, mostly tangy, slightly fizzy concoction.  The flavor of it was good, especially initially. However, the scoby grew faster than the size of my container.  Pretty soon the scoby was fermenting the jun so quickly that by the time I got around to drinking it, it was VERY tart and tasted more like apple cider vinegar than green tea with honey.

However, I kept drinking it, convinced by everything that I’ve read that I was doing my body good.  Then I started to notice that I was getting rough, dry patches on my upper lips.  At first I thought it was just dry skin, but then I noticed it was EXACTLY in the place where a glass meets my lips. I tossed my ancient Sigg bottle, assuming that the lining had failed and was aggravating my lips.  Nothing changed.  I bought some Abreva, thinking maybe I was getting cold sores.  Nothing changed.  Finally I stopped drinking the jun.  Problem solved!

In my unscientific experiment of n = 1, here is what I think happened.  The jun was SO vinegary that it was burning my lips!  I can only imagine what it was doing to my stomach. I ended up giving my monster jun scoby away and moved on to something more familiar  – water kefir.

A couple of years ago, I had experimented with water kefir grains from Cultures for Health.  I guess I should back up.  To make water kefir, you take filtered water, add sugar, add water kefir grains, and a day or two later, you have a fermented water beverage.  You can then add some juice to that fermentation (after you filter out the grains) to make an even fizzier second fermentation.

My first experiment with water kefir was frustrating and did not consistently produce tasty water kefir.  However, after my jun experience, I decided to try again.  This time I bought grains from Amazon, a reseller for poseymom.com.

These grains were amazing!  In the beginning I followed the instructions on poseymom’s website and added A LOT of black strap molasses to the water. The grains loved the minerals and doubled in size with every batch. However, even though the grains were healthy, neither Tim nor I were huge fans of the molasses flavor in the kefir.  So I cut down the molasses to about 1/2.  The grains still did well, but the taste was much more mild.  I started to produce super fizzy, very delicious water kefir.

After several months of creating water kefir, I ran out of my Brer Rabbit Blackstrap Molasses and could not find any bottles anywhere, so I bought a different brand.  I *think* that is what caused my issue, but I’m not sure. The grains started to fall apart and change color.  They were not fermenting like they used to. I didn’t like the smell, so I tossed them, intending to buy a fresh batch.

However, I soon noticed that within a few days of not drinking water kefir, I lost about 3 stubborn pounds.  Despite eating the same way I have for the past 3.5 years, I had put on a few pounds. I had attributed it to getting older and maybe allowing more non-paleo cheats.  But once that weight came off, my second very unscientific conclusion is that the water kefir must have still had quite a bit of sugar/carbs in it, and that’s what was pushing my weight up.  I did some research on the internet, and it sounds as if water kefir can drive up yeast in the body.  So not all people react well to it.  Some women even reported getting more yeast infections when they drank water kefir.

So I decided to move on to milk kefir.  I had also tried making that several years ago with powdered grains from Greatest Grains.  It did not turn out AT ALL.  So I went back to poseymom.com, since I had such good results from her grains.

When I got the little pouch (6.99 from Amazon), I was a little disappointed in the tiny amount of grains in the package.  But I followed the instructions on the website and added them to about 2 cups of cheap milk.  After 12 hours, I poured the milk out and put the grains in a fresh batch.  I did this maybe one or 2 more times before putting the grains in some whole fat organic milk. I set the jar on a seeding mat to speed up the fermentation process.

Every 12 hours now I have a batch of tangy, slightly fizzy, thick milk kefir.  It is super delicious and filling.  Our only complaint is, is it so thick that you waste a lot of product on the inside of the jar and glass.

The process is incredibly easy.  Every 12 hours, I get out a clean glass jar and add 2 cups of whole milk. I then get the fermented milk off the seeding mat and give it a good stir with a plastic chop stick (you can’t use metal with milk kefir).  The kefir needs to be stirred because it starts to separate into curds and whey when it ferments.

Then I get out a plastic strainer and strain the milk kefir into a clean, empty jar.  The kefir is quite thick, so I use the chop stick to stir the milk in the strainer, being careful to not break up the kefir grains.  I then dump the grains into the fresh milk.  I have a pretty small strainer, so I have to repeat this process 3 or 4 times to process all the kefir.

I then use a rubber band to attach a coffee filter to the top of the jar with the new milk and grains in it, and set it on the seeding mat.  I give the kefir in the other jar a good stir, cap it with a plastic lid, and put it in the fridge.

We’ve been drinking the kefir for 2 or 3 weeks now, and so far I have not noticed any weight, skin, or stomach issues.  Tim and I both really love the taste and consistency.  We will see how long these grains last before I end up accidentally killing them.  Oh!  And one more thing I should mention.  If you need to go out-of-town, or if you are just producing more kefir than you can handle, you can put the grains in milk in the fridge, and the grains will basically hibernate.  When you return home, give the milk a stir, set the jar on the seeding mat, and 12 hours later you will be back in business.

I may get adventurous and make a little video showing the process because I know that would have been helpful to me.

Hope you have a fabulous Monday!! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. 🙂

YTT – Observations

To obtain our YTT 200 Hour certificates we have to practice teach for 10 hours, and we also have to observe other certified teachers for 10 hours.  I began my observation hours today by watching Shannon, one of the co-owners of Indigo, the studio at which I’m doing my YTT training.

I go to Shannon’s vinyasa class almost every Wednesday night and Saturday morning.  These classes are very energetic and challenging – exactly the kind of yoga on which I thrive.  However, during YTT Shannon talks often about his lunch-time class, and it sounded like a totally different ball game – a bit slower paced and not quite as intense. As a beginner teacher, I think I will feel most comfortable teaching a slower-paced, more beginners-type class, so I wanted to check this out.

I took today off since I had YTT this weekend – I needed a catch-up day.  So I went to the noon class at Indigo and watched Shannon. I learned so much!

1.  First of all, I was amazed by the capabilities of the crowd.  I would say that at least 50%-75% of the class was past 60 years-old, but Man!  They were a flexible, sociable, impressive bunch of yogis.  Several of them were way more bendy than me, and they had flawless form.

2.  The “feel yourself grown taller through the crown of the head” cue is amazing.  Whenever Shannon used it (in Mountain Pose or Vira I or II), I literally saw everyone grow an inch taller.  Take that, gravity!

3.  People are happy doing yoga.  Everyone seemed happy to be in that space, there with their friends, taking care of their bodies, doing something good for their flesh and spirit.

4.  It’s easier to see bad alignment when you are looking at a group of people versus just one person.  It provides comparison, which is very helpful.

5. I at least have *some* good instincts.  One woman looked as if her knee was bothering her. I wanted to give her a blanket for some extra padding, but I didn’t want to interfere with the class.  Eventually Shannon came over and gave her a blanket.  Validation!  I was right. 🙂

6. I wrote down all the asanas that Shannon used, and I’m going to borrow his sequence and use it as a template for some practice teaching.  The sequence I have been using is made up of poses I am very comfortable with – asanas that are pretty easy for me to explain. I’ve been shying away from using poses that are a bit more complicated. Borrowing Shannon’s sequence will help bust me out of that comfort zone.

So one hour down, 9 to go. I plan on observing at least 5 different teachers.  I think it will be really interesting to examine everyone’s styles.

Next Wednesday I start practice teaching a real class at Indigo – eeeeeeek!  Technically one of my co-YTTers will be the primary teacher, and I will be the assistant. It’s still nerve-wracking though!  I’m excited and super nervous.  I hope I don’t pass out. 🙂

Take care, have a most excellent evening. 🙂

An experiment with Sprinting

Everywhere I turn, I see an article about the benefits of interval training.  Off and on I will do some sprint intervals, but I haven’t gotten very focused with it.  I’ll do maybe one interval session per month.  Well, my monthly interval session came due on Wednesday, so Tim and I and a friend headed out to the bike bath.

We walked about 10 minutes before our first sprint.  For the first sprint we ran all-out for 15 seconds.  We walked until we got our breath back and then repeated the 15 second sprints 5 more times.  I think we were back home within 30-40 minutes.

I did not warm up as I should, and with my first sprint, I felt a knot in the top of my quad.  But I powered through, which could have been really stupid. By the time I got home, it felt like a rock was lodged in my leg. I spent the rest of the evening rolling it out with the foam roller.

The next day I felt pretty good.  The day after that was PAINFUL.  My quads!  Oh my God, my quads!  So sore.  But day 3 hit, which was Saturday.  I was on fire!  Just look at all this stuff I did: 1 hr 15 minute vinyasa yoga class, made home-made beef bone broth, rendered 2 quarts of tallow, baked Chunky Monkey muffins, roasted root veggies, walked 3.5 miles while listening to the The One you Feed podcast, cleaned up all the leaves from the front yard, cut all the stalks from last year’s prairie grasses, cleaned out the herb bed, took a shower, tried to go shopping for clothes (the stores were annoyingly busy), stocked up on staples from Target, and then went out with Tim for supper at Brix (they have a pretty good gluten-free pizza crust).  Let me see….yep. I think that’s about everything.

So maybe it’s because it’s Spring, and it’s actually warm and sunny. Or maybe it’s because I was full of human growth hormone from the sprints on Wednesday! I need to monitor my energy levels on Day 3 next time we do sprints and see if the pattern repeats.

And there you have my sprint story. Riveting, eh??

Moving on to a little recipe review – I tried two new ones this week:

Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Meatballs –  These were pretty good, but we used Habanero Louisiana Hot Sauce.  As a result, they were literally insanely spicy.  They gave me a stomach ache the first night I ate them, and they gave Tim a stomach ache when he ate them for leftovers.  I want to try them again though, but use a much milder hot sauce.

Pork Chops with Apples – I have always loved pork chops and applesauce, so I had to try this recipe. I would say it turned out good, but it’s not as good as my favorite pork chop recipe.  Plus, this dish is just not that pretty!  It’s very beige. I won’t make this again.

The roasted root veggie recipe I linked to above is a definite keeper though. This makes a huge pan of roasted veggies which is great for easy leftovers. We sautéed some of the leftovers for breakfast yesterday and topped them with crispy over-easy eggs, then we had more leftovers for supper last night. I bloomed some spices (marjoram, coconut sugar, salt, sage, red pepper flakes, cloves) in olive oil and then added ground pork. Once the pork was browned, we mixed it with the leftovers. So tasty yet easy.  I’m going to have some of that for breakfast this morning. 🙂

Hope you had a good, healthy weekend and were able to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather. Tim and I made up for our insanely productive Saturday by having a very relaxing Sunday.  We did a little 12 mile bike ride, had a couple of drinks, and then sat outside by a fire for a few hours.  It was perfect.

Final Chili of the Season

It’s March. It should be warmish and sunny. Instead it’s been cold and cloudy.  We actually had snow on Monday.  Ridiculous.  To counteract the dreariness of this month, I tried out a new recipe:  Paleo Crockpot Chili.  It’s AMAZING!!  I think this is one of my favorite crockpot recipes ever.  The chili is super thick and very spicy.  I didn’t have any tomato paste or stewed tomatoes, so I used 3 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes.  Also instead of a fresh jalapeño, I used the jalapeño slices that Tim fermented last summer. Muy bueno. Make this chili post haste.

I also tried another new recipe this week:  Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie.  This one was pretty tasty as well.  My only complaint with this recipe is that is takes a loooong time to make. You have to bake the spaghetti squash, and then you have to mix the spaghetti squash with the meat and veggies and bake it for another hour.  So next time I make this, I would cook the spaghetti squash the night before. I would also add more spices, as my version turned out a little bland.  Overall this recipe is a keeper though.

So why I am cooking so much, you ask?  Well, I will answer you.  Tim and I went to Denver and Boulder last week, so we ate out 3 meals a day for 6 days.  We ate a lot of super delicious food, but I was really looking forward to eating at home again – so much cheaper, and you actually know what you are eating.

So, Colorado. I love her.  I want to move there.  It was so beautiful.  Everywhere you turn there are nice people, gorgeous mountains, paleo restaurants, and excellent breweries.  Denver and Boulder are both super bike friendly too. It’s like Tim and Heather heaven.

So, what did we do?  We rode the Cog Railway to the (almost) top of Pikes Peak.  We couldn’t go all the way to the top because it was blocked by a 75 foot wall of ice.  The views at 12K feet were super beautiful though. We also met some really interesting guys who work for the US Wheelchair Basketball Team.  Let’s see.  We did 2 trail runs, hiked the Flat Irons, rode our bikes up a mountain 2,000 feet and froze our faces off on the coast down, hiked on Mt. Falcon and saw the ruins of an old mansion on the mountain top, took advantage of the local breweries (Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Avery), and got some amazing paleo food at Blooming Beets and Cuban food at Cuba Cuba.  And we watched cable in the hotel room.  We don’t have cable at home, so whenever we travel we take advantage – Jaws and Seinfeld re-runs filled our sleepy evenings.  Even when we are on vacation we tend to wake up insanely early, so we are pretty beat by 8PM.  We are some wild and crazy folk.

And that’s our trip in a paragraph. It was totally awesome.  We’ll definitely go back for another visit.

And that’s my update. I know it’s been a super long time since I’ve written, but my excuse is the same as always – busy busy busy. I had YTT again last weekend.  I absolutely love it.  I’m still not 100% sure I will ever teach, but the YTT program is totally worth the time and money investment.  I am learning so much. We learned about pre-natal yoga and yin yoga on Saturday.  Yin yoga, if you don’t know, is a form of yoga where you hold certain poses for 3-5 minutes each.  They get pretty intense in that time period. I was wicked sore on Sunday. I found it very calming though.  There is a yin class at Indigo on Sundays, and I think I’m going to go. It’s a great way to get your ligaments and tendons stretched out.

Sunday we did A LOT of yoga. I learned 2 new arm balances – firefly and side crow.  I really like arm balances although they scare me.  I’m afraid of landing on my face and knocking all my teeth out.  We also had some more beginners come to class on Sunday so we could teach them poses.  Timmy Tee came and did awesomely!!  I taught the class wide legged forward bend.  Tim said I did good. It was definitely less scary than the first time we taught a pose.  We don’t have class again for month, but I have a TON of practicing and reading and practice teaching to do!  If anyone wants some one-on-one lessons, let me know!!  And you have to give me constructive criticism back.

Speaking of being busy, I really need to take a sabbatical from watching TV!  I have too many books to read, walks to take, yoga to do. I don’t have TIME to watch TV, but when I get home from work in the evenings, it’s so much easier to sit down and watch a hilarious Archer than to pull out my mat and start practicing. I just need to form the new habit.

Ok. I’m done for real this time. Hope you are having a great evening and are being more productive than me tonight. 🙂

Red Food, Magic Tea, and Rendering

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, which is why I again have been so lax in posting!  It’s ridiculous, I know.  And I apologize.  Now that that is out of the way, let’s get started.

1. I made a super tasty recipe yesterday:  Roasted Root Vegetable with Sausage.  This turned out amazingly tasty!  I used the tallow that I rendered (more to come on that later) to roast the veggies.  We ate it for supper yesterday, breakfast/lunch today, and for supper tonight. For tonight I cooked two over-easy eggs and put that on top.  Awesome.  This recipe is super easy, makes a ton, and has loads of stuff that is good for you in it.  And it’s red.  The beets make everything red.  Including your poop.

2.  One of the girls in my YTT program gave me a Jun scoby.  Jun is a fermented beverage, made with green tea and honey.  It’s called the “champagne” of kombuchas. It’s very easy to make, as long as you have the scoby.  You bring water to 165 degrees, brew 2 teaspoons of green tea in it for 2 minutes, add 1/4 cup of honey, and let the mixture come to room temp.  Then you add the scoby (which looks like an alien life form).  Three days later, you have Jun!  You can also do a second ferment, which makes the Jun less sweet and more fizzy. It’s a very delicate flavor.  From what I’ve read, Jun is very mystical/magical.  Some people who brew it meditate with their Jun and also play music for it.  I don’t go that far, but I do tell people not to say anything bad about the Jun within the Jun’s hearing.

3. Tallow!  We received several pounds of beef fat from the 1/8 of a cow we bought, so I tried my hand at rendering it, using this recipe.  It turned out fantastic!  It smells slightly beefy, but not overpowering at all.  When in liquid form, it’s a very bright yellow color, but it cools to a milky cream color.  I’ve given 2 jars of it away already and am already 1/2 way through my remaining 3rd jar, so I’m going to have to go on a rendering spree this weekend.

4.  Porridge!  Sometimes a hot, oatmeally type breakfast just sounds super tasty. So I decided to try this recipe.  It turned out very delicious, but I’m not planning on making it again.  It’s pretty carb heavy, for one thing (it has a banana, apple, and raisins in it). Also, with all the nuts, it’s a pretty expensive breakfast.  It made a ton, but due to how carb-heavy it is, it’s not something I would want to eat for breakfast several days in a row.  I keep reading articles that emphasize that you should eat carbs at night for better hormone balance, better sleep, and better body comp.  If I did make this again, I would make it for supper, not breakfast.

5.  And lastly, a quick update on my yoga-ing.  I’ve been going to a hot yoga class at 5:30 AM, and much to my surprise, I LOVE it!  It gives me a ton of energy for the day, and it’s so nice to know that I don’t have to worry about working out when I get off work. My hard work is already done for the day!  It’s also much easier for me to control my schedule at 5:30 AM than it is later in the day, so I’ve actually been able to make it to a yoga class 3 times a week!  I can’t believe what a big difference that makes in my abilities.  I felt so much stronger and more focused in my class on Saturday, after going to class Wednesday and Friday.  The only down side is, once my free classes run out (we get a year’s worth of free classes as part of the YTT program), I’m going to have to sign up for the $100 monthly plan at my studio, so I can keep up with practicing!!

And that’s my update!  That’s a lot to throw out there, but I’m behind on writing for 2015.  I gotta catch up!

Hope you are having a fabulous February so far. 🙂

 

YTT and Miscellaneous Update

I know it’s been ages since I’ve written anything.  This is a function of two things:

1. Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I’ve been through two weekend sessions so far.  The class started in January and ends in June.  We meet Saturdays 12-6 and Sundays 9-3 once or twice per month.  The first class was seriously awesome, albeit seriously exhausting.  We learned A TON.  We learned about chanting, anatomy, pranayama (breathing exercises) yoga philosophy, yoga history, the 8 limbs of yoga (asanas are just one small part), etc.  We also spent lots of time practicing asanas and learning how to adjust our fellow students.

The second class (this weekend) covered a lot of the same general topics, but the specifics were different.  We spent time this weekend learning about the major joints in the body, and then we spent several hours learning more about specific postures and how to modify them and adjust them.  We did a lot of work with shoulder stand, double pigeon, side angle stretch, and several others that I can’t even remember.  Then we spent about 3 hours today covering yoga philosophy in more detail.

I’m a little freaked out by the fact that a lot of the reading and self-exploration I have been doing over the past 3 years is all tornadoing together and striking the same spot.  From varied bloggers I follow, I’ve been introduced to the philosophy of stoicism and Eckhart Tolle’s works.  The subjects/books really resonated with me, and now as I learn more about yoga philosophy (something I knew NOTHING  about when I signed up for YTT), I realize that stoicism and The Power of Now are both just reiterations of this yoga philosophy that is thousands of years old.  Not to get mystical, but it seems as if the various currents of my life are all drawing me down the same path.  It’s a comforting feeling – receiving confirmation that you are moving in the right direction.

Anyway, I could write reams and reams about what I’ve learned at YTT, but I don’t want to bore you to death, so I’ll move on to my second excuse for being vacant on hlodecello.

2.  I’ve been participating in a 21-Day Primal Challenge with several friends.  I set up a Facebook Group for us to all communicate. It’s been working really well, but it means that I share my recipes and meal ideas on there instead of here.

Oh, and a 3rd thing. I got a promotion at work, which means I’m managing our programmers.  They are all awesome people who I love to work with, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around managing people for the first time. I want to do a good job, even though from what I’ve read, that’s almost impossible when you first start out.  But I’ve been putting a lot of mental energy and time into figuring that whole situation out.

So that’s why I’ve been silent lately. Once the challenge is over, I will write more.

Take care, and have an excellent Sunday evening. 😉

A Moroccan New Year’s Eve – Get it???

Did you get my joke there?  Instead of a “Rockin'” NYE, I said a “Moroccan” NYE!  Tim has already declared 2015 the year of the bad joke after I made some comment this morning about, “If this kitchen’s Moroccan, don’t come a knockin.”

So, yes, I made a Moroccan dish last night – Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs, to be precise.  They turned out pretty tasty (the sauce especially) but my favorite lamb meatball recipe is still this one.  These meatballs weren’t a lot of work, per say, but they did take a sh!tload of spices – thirteen to be exact.  And when it was all said and done, you couldn’t really taste them in the end product.  The meatballs might be more flavorful today though.

That’s how we celebrated our New Year’s Eve. I found a NYE Dance Party mix on iTunes radio, and Tim and I cleaned the kitchen, cooked, cleaned the kitchen again, made a drink, watched Gilmore Girls while crocheting a scarf, made another drink, watched The Labyrinth, and then went to bed at like 11PM.  It was actually a really enjoyable night (from the perspective of two complete homebodies).  And as a bonus, I feel great today!

I tried another new recipe this week:  Oven Baked Chowder.  Although this recipe is expensive (1.5 lbs of tilapia was about $15), this one is a definite keeper.  The chowder turned out super flavorful and delicious.  Next time I make it, however, I will cook it in our dutch oven.  We ran out of room in the 8 X 11 pan.  Also, I would add a whole cup of coconut milk to make the sauce even more creamy.

How was your New Year’s Eve?  Any big plans or goals for 2015?  Tim and I discussed last night that we are going to try to reign in our eating out to only 2 times per week. It will help us save money and calories.  That’s about it for us!

Hope you are having a great January 1, 2015.  The future is now, Man!!

PORKIN!

Ha – gotchya! This post isn’t about what you thought it was about. You pervert.

One of the benefits and drawbacks of buying a whole hog is that you have tons of pork to eat.  I love pork, but we probably eat too much of it.  We need to widen our horizons as far as meat is concerned, but it’s hard to do when you have 100 pounds of pork chilling in the freezer.

I used a few pounds of it this week in a couple of new recipes:

1.  Beyond the Bite Hawaiian Pork Roast.  This recipe was very easy to make, and the flavor of the roast was delicious!  However, the cabbage got a little overcooked, so its texture and color were a little unappetizing; although, the actual taste of it was good.  Even though the recipe only calls for 3 T of ginger, the whole roast had a really nice ginger tone to it.

2. Easy Glazed Pork Chops.  This introduced me to a new way of cooking pork chops. We usually either grill them or fry them on the stove.  With this recipe, however, you cook them on the stove for 4 minutes on each side and then bake them for 6 minutes.   They end up cooked perfectly!  I would definitely make pork chops this way again, but I would not make the glaze.  Tim HATES vinegar, and this sauce was super vinegary and made the whole house smell like vinegar. I personally liked the flavor, but I won’t subject Tim to the vinegar scent again.

And today is Christmas.  Tim and I are going to head out for a run shortly, and then we’re going to play some cribbage, eat some homemade stew, draw, bake cookies, watch some Lord of the Rings, and crochet some slippers.  Sounds like a perfect Thursday in my opinion!

Oh!  And one more thing to note.  Some friends of mine and I decided to do another Primal Challenge in January. It’s kind of become a tradition at this point. I originally started the primal diet 3 years ago in January, and for the past 2 years, I have re-done the challenge to help myself get back on track and to help introduce some friends to the diet.  This year we are making it a little more official. I set up a Facebook Group here for us to communicate and encourage each other.  We are doing it 1/11 to 1/31.  If you are interested in joining up, hit me up on Facebook. I’m excited to see how it goes (and I’m excited to have a strong excuse to turn down delicious (but super unhealthy) treats at work!).

I hope you are enjoying your day off and can get outside and revel in the cold sunshine.  Thanks for reading!!

 

Swedish meatballs, yoga pants, and crocheted slippers.

Chris Kresser links to the best recipes!  I found this recipe for Paleo Swedish Meatballs last weekend in one of his posts.  Holy cow.  These turned out sooooo delicious!  They were a lot of work for a weeknight meal, as you need to cook the meatballs in batches on the stove top until they are all done.  But they are so worth the effort.  Here are a couple of notes – I used a 2 inch scoop for the first batch of meatballs, and I had a really hard time turning them without them falling apart. I scaled down to a 1.5″ scoop after that, and those meatballs were much easier to handle, and they cooked much more evenly.  Also, I was 85% sure that the “gravy” would not turn into gravy.  It was super runny all the way up until I added the 3rd tablespoon of tapioca starch. Then, magically, it started to firm up to gravy consistency.  So rich and tasty.

For a side dish I made roasted brussel sprouts because I found some local ones at The Food Hub for 2.99/lb.  I used this recipe as a guide; however, instead of making the glaze, we poured the gravy over the cooked sprouts.  I have to say, we were not super happy with how these turned out.  They were very dry (maybe I didn’t add enough oil?).  So, when we stored the leftovers, we mixed the sprouts and the meatballs and gravy together. The sprouts marinated in that rich gravy overnight and were super moist and tasty when re-heated.

I also tried this recipe last week: Crockpot Ropa Viega with Cuban Style Rice.  This turned out OK.  Tim and I both thought the dish was a little over-spiced, and the meat didn’t turn out as tender as I hoped.  Tim ate the leftovers with white rice, however, which cut down the spice level a bit, and he said that was really good. However, this recipe did provide us with supper and enough leftovers for two more meals.

So on to my next piece of news.  For our anniversary Tim got me an amazing pair of yoga capri leggings from Onzie.  I wore them to an hour and 15 minute yoga class, and they kept me very cool (the fabric is really thin). I also wore them running, and they were very comfortable.  He got me the Prizm print.  It a cacophony of patterns, and it gives you something really interesting to look at while in downward dog. I don’t know if yoga pants are the proper dristi for yoga, but looking at them made me happy, so I think Yoga would approve.

I start my yoga teacher training class on 1/9, and I feel as if I really need at least one more pair of yoga pants for the class. Unfortunately the prints I really love at Onzie are all sold out of my size.  I’m going to keep my eye on it though.

And finally, the last topic of my post.  Ever since we were little, my mom has made us awesome crocheted slippers (the slippers are courtesy of Mom – the hair is courtesy of Lucent):

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Mom has shown me a couple of times how to make them, but once she is not next to me, I forget how.  So I found this YouTube video on granny squares (the slippers are basically 3 small granny squares stitched into one big granny square).  With his help and a few texts back and forth to Mom, I was able to successfully make all the pieces for a pair of slippers:

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And this is currently where I am stuck. Over the phone, Mom walked me through how to stitch the pieces together, but my first attempt ended very poorly. I was distracted by David Bowie’s hair and other things in The Labyrinth and didn’t have the pieces lined up well enough, so they didn’t connect where they should connect.  I’m going to try it one more time, and if that doesn’t work, make Mammacita sew them together for me. 🙂

So that’s my week in a nutshell.  Hope you are having a great Sunday and can get out and enjoy this 40 degree day.  Take some Vitamin D and eat some salmon, and you won’t even miss the sun!