Paleo on a budget

Edit (15 April 2014): I lost interest in the paelo diet and abandoned this post about half way through the experiment. I was doing some reading online and came across some interesting articles. This blog post talks about how grains are historically part of the human diet and references this article which summarises a study from the University of Utah. It seems that whatever you choose to believe regarding the human diet, you can find resources to support those beliefs. Classic confirmation bias.

Regardless of whether humans have evolved to eat grains or not, doing the paleo diet (or any diet for that matter) is a great exercise because it puts constrictions on your cooking and forces you to get creative and try new things. One of the biggest takeaways from this paleo exercise was the recipe for vegetables slowly cooked in butter. I regularly cook this now and it has become my go to meal when I don’t know what else to do. It is also a delicious way to eat vegetables and so is perfect for anyone who doesn’t get enough of them. I know that Rob gained an appreciation for brussels sprouts cooked this way. I think I’ll do a separate blog post on this recipe.

Photo 5-02-2014 16 36 43

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Roocipes – 80 of Australia’s Best Kangaroo Recipes

Aussie Silhouette
Roocipes – 80 of Australia’s best Kangaroo recipes.pdf

“This land is cursed; the animals hop not run, birds run, not fly and the swans are black not white”. SO WROTE one of the first Europeans to set foot on Australia, Dirk Hartog, as he sailed away from the west coast in 1688.

I can’t wait to get home and embrace the native foods of my home country, something I hardly did when I lived in Australia.  I recently found this PDF floating around the internet and it looks like it’s got some pretty interesting recipes.  It’s mostly fusion food, but exciting none the less.

Poached Eggs, Harvard Style

Eggsplosion II

To me the poached egg has always been the most delicious, but also most annoying form of the egg. I like the egg whites to be only just cooked so they are still soft, and the egg yolk to be just runny enough for me to spread it over my toast like soft butter. The only problem with poached eggs is that they are a pain to cook. There is a downside to every recipe, and good advice on cooking a poached egg is hard to find.

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Fat Fat Fatty!

Brie fondant aux pommes et sirop d'érable :)

Everyone knows that olive oil is good for you, but no one actually seems to believe it.  I hear a lot of people comment on the amount of olive oil I use (think Jamie Oliver).

The reason olive oil – extra virgin olive oil in particular – is said to be good for you is because it increases HDL (“good” cholesterol).  But, it turns out that saturated fats increase HDL more than LDL (“bad” cholesterol).  Maybe saturated fats aren’t as bad as most people think.  I don’t want to turn into a science bozo, so I’ll just skip to the point, where I quote Nathan Myhrvold1 in Modernist Cuisine:

A meta-analysis of all prospective cohort studies published before 2009 finds no significant evidence linking saturated fat consumption to cardiovascular disease.

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There’s no such thing as too much garlic

I bought too many...

I’ve heard it many times, but is it true?  I’ve made it my latest mission to find out.  Raiding the few ingredients in my food box, I came up with the following recipe to see if I could find the limit on garlic:

Saute in 1 sprig thyme, 4 medium carrots diced, and 2 large onions diced until soft.  +7 cloves garlic finely chopped, saute 2-3 mins.  +1 can chopped tomatoes, 1 cube vege stock. Simmer. Serve with pasta.

As it turns out, 7 cloves of garlic is not too much at all as I really enjoyed this meal.  It was kind of sweet and I’m not sure if that was more due to the garlic or the carrots.  The next day I decided to cook up a whole head of garlic.  It was similar to the recipe above but with courgettes instead of carrots, and add 3 marinated chicken breasts and 4 large mushrooms.  It was only after eating it that I realised that though I put more garlic in, there was more of everything else, so percentage wise, there was actually less garlic.

This time when I ate the meal I felt like less garlic would’ve been better.  It just didn’t seem to go with the rest of the ingredients.  In the first recipe, garlic was the feature ingredient, but in this one I’m not sure if it was garlic or chicen or mushrooms.

So I guess the moral of the story is that there is such a thing as too much garlic and the amount depends on the context of the dish.  For some dishes, any garlic at all it too much, but for others it’s never enough.

Pig Trotters and Roast Veg

Yesterday Rob and I tried to cook pigs trotters (aka hooves / feet). It was partially unsuccessful. I say partially because it was only the trotters that were horrible. The vegetables were amazing. We followed just the trotters part of this recipe: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/tv-show/come-dine-with-me-recipes/honey-roasted-pigs-trotters-recipe

The most confusing part was step 2: You will know when they are ready when the meat starts to fall away from the bone when you prod them… What meat?!? There was no meat on this thing. I ripped it appart – caveman style, as is tradition – and in the very centre of fat, gristle, and bone was a tiny strand of meat. It may have even been something else, I’m not quite sure. It didn’t even taste that good. I should have known that this isn’t what trotters are best used for because the results of googleing “pig trotters recipe” mostly featured simmering.

After the disappointing dinner, some of the Spaniards at the hostel told us that they usually use trotters to flavour broth for lentils. I think if used this way, trotters could be really good. One day I will get around to testing this.

The upside of the meal was the vegetables. I got Heston’s In Search of Total Perfection (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Total-Perfection-Search/dp/1408802449) from the library and we used part of the recipe for roast chicken. This book is Heston’s search of the perfect version of a few common dishes. Usually the recipes are too cumbersome to do regularly, but sometimes you can find little gems that you can use regularly, like the carrots in this recipe. Basically, roughly chop carrots and fry in butter on a low heat for 30 mins. Salt. Serve. We also followed the recipe for broccoli, which was also probably as good as broccoli gets, and also roast potatoes. The secret to the potatoes is to boil them in salted water first, then roast them in lots of oil until they are crispy. Next time I do roast potatoes I will follow this recipe, except using less oil. Stand by for results.