Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Semi-Primal Burgers with Semi-Primal Buns

A.K.A. the best freaking thing I have eaten it a long time! I devoured my burger like a wild primaly animal. Sadly I only had enough turkey to make two of these so we only got one each. I totally could have scarfed at least one more.

The buns I used followed this recipe that I originally found from a link on Mark's Daily Apple. In this application they were a revelation! I couldn't believe how perfect everything tasted together. Eaten alone though, or with just turkey bacon as I tried to do for breakfast yesterday, the buns get a big "Eh". They tasted too dry and eggy for me. For the burgers though, perfect. I actually cut the edges off the buns, where I thought they looked too dry.

Sometimes you just gotta have cheese, right? I mean unless you're vegan or 100% primal, or my friend Shana who had to give it up during her pregnancy. (You are all stronger than I.) I know cheese is not totally Primal, but it's not entirely cheating either. I was really craving a gooey cheese burger, with a little turkey bacon for good measure, and that's exactly what I got.

(Primal?) Bacon Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers

1 Pound Ground Turkey (7% fat)
4 Slices Turkey Bacon
1/2 Cup Grated Cheese
1 Onion
1-2 Teaspoons of your favorite Grill Seasoning or Seasoning Blend
A good squirt of Mustard and (Primal) Ketchup and (Primal) Worcestershire Sauce
Sea Salt and Pepper
A little Olive Oil for Cooking

Saute onion over low/medium heat. Cook until they start to smell sweet. You don't want to brown them, just cook them slowly to the point of carmelization. (About 10 minutes) About half way through the cooking add the grill seasoning to the onions, this will give the spices a chance to mellow.

Cook your bacon in the pan while the onions cool to the side.

Mix together turkey meat, condiments, salt & pepper, and onion mixture once cool. Don't over mix, it will mess up your burger texture. Good texture is a burger's friend.

Place crumbled bacon and grated cheese on a plate next to you, where you won't contaminate more than you need with your raw turkey hands.

Form turkey mixture into four equalish parts. Grab one part, form it into a ball, then flatten it with your hand. Take a good amount of cheese and crumbled bacon and stick it right in the middle of that flatten piece of turkey. Fold it over and pat into a burger-like shape. The less holes the better, unless you like a pool of runny cheese cooking under your burger, which you might!

Heat a little olive oil in your pan over medium-high heat, you want a fairly hot pan - burgers should sizzle when they hit it. Cook the burgers, lowering the heat to medium after about 5 minutes. Flip when browned on the bottom. Cook second side on Medium for about 5-10 minutes til cooked through. (burger will be sort of firm to the touch and juices will run clear) Let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Assemble your burgers.

Go, "YUM!"

All in all this was one of the most satisfying things I have had in a long time. I probably won't make them this decedent all the time, but there are a million variations to try, and now that I have a bun to use as a building block, I feel like the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Horsin' Around with Hair

In Touch Weekly did something very strange to some horses [Via Jezebel]...
I keep going between liking them in a "Oh! Look at the pretty pretty My Little Ponies!" sort of way, and laughing in disbelief. I would probably think it was less odd if a horse stylist had done this instead of a human. I supposed opposable thumbs are sort of a requirement for doing extensive braid work though.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Frak You and Your Fraking Pizza

Beware the nerdulence of this post. As of now we're not eating pizza in my house hold due to our primal cave-people like eating, but once upon a time (last month) we feasted on the sweet sweet cheesy doughiness of Nerddom. You see Battlestar Galactica was one of our most favoritest shows, and when the last episode aired last month we wanted to celebrate. We got some sort of alcoholic drink I believe, and set out to make the best pizzas in all the universe. Of course if you've never seen this show, this post will probably mean nothing to you, and the pizzas will just be confusing. I recommend catching up on all seasons of the show, and then coming back to bask in our cheestastic glutenous glory. Even if you have no idea what the giant robot head is (it's an original model cylon!) you can at least figure out what frak means, right?

Really more food should be Sci-Fi themed. What about a Dr. Who scarf fruit roll up?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Recipe: Primal Apple Crisp

I have had a severe lack of dessert since the start of my primal living experiment, which ended up lasting much longer than a week. I hopefully have broken through the wall of grumpiness and depression which may have been cause by sugar withdrawals, but that doesn't mean I have forsaken an after dinner treat completely. I've been eating a lot of fruit when I want a treat, but sometimes that just doesn't cut it.

I have been wanting to make apple crisp for a while. I think I did find a straight forward primal recipe for one at some point, but yesterday when I went to make it, I couldn't fine one recipe that didn't have something verboten in it. I basically dissected and picked apart several recipes from around the web, and used things I  had on hand already, creating something all my own.

Nina's Primal Apple Crisp

1 Cup Nuts (A lot of recipes call for all almonds, I used Almonds, Pecans, and some Macadamia)
3 Tablespoons Arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon Salt (I omitted this because some of my nuts were salted)
4 Tablespoons Cold Butter (sub coconut oil to Veganize!)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup Agave Nectar*

5-6 Apples (I used Granny Smiths, McIntoshs, and Galas)
Juice and Zest of 1 Lime & 1/2 Orange (most recipes called for lemon but I used what I had)
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot
2 Tablespoons Agave
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Nutmeg

*I use agave nectar in any recipe that calls for cooked honey. Cooked honey is considered poisonous in Ayurveda. Which my father has adamantly reminded me of my whole life. I'd rather not temp fate.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients of topping mixture in work bowl of food processor, pulse till nuts are small chunks. Add agave, butter in small pieces, and vanilla. Pulse until incorporated, butter may still be chunky.

Peel and chop apples in a separate bowl. Add juice, zest, arrowroot, agave, cinnamon, and nutmeg, mix.

In a sprayed or buttered baking dish, add apples, then top with blobs of topping mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes, til golden brown and bubbly.

This was good. Very very good. It's not as sweet as traditional apple crisp, but I thought you really got a feeling for a true sweetness of the apples without missing out on the sweet sweet goo that you have come to expect with a good apple crisp. The nuts got all toasty (be careful not to burn them) and made for almost a cookie tasting topping. We just wanted to eat only this for dinner when it came out of the oven. I will make this again.. and again.. and again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Map of Middle Earth

(This Lord of the Rings map belonged to my uncle in the '60s.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just the Funny Bits: Teabagging

You would have to be living in a cave (with no wifi) this week to not have heard the term "teabagging" at least 100 times. Fox News and some other right wing groups organized "tea parties" on tax day, to protest taxes and big government. Without barrels of loose tea around to dump into harbors, landlocked protesters took to throwing or wearing old tea bags. Many protesters talked about "teabagging Barack Obama" without knowledge of the terms common street (or bedroom) usage. 

(Ok, some of them knew.)

MSNBC got on board early with the mocking. Rachel Maddow and a guest spent a good ten minutes trying to cram the words "tea bagging" as many time as possible into one segment without giggling, and David Shuster quipped the winning pun, "if you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around the country, you're going to need a Dick Armey." Ahhh yes, that one was good. The Daily Show even mused that MSNBC was the new Daily Show, with Jon Stewart refusing to go back to waiting tables. I wouldn't worry Jon, your scrotal humor crown is in no danger, not with hilarious field reporting the likes of John Oliver's on Thursday night. (I have the full episode here, John Oliver's is the second segment.)

I thought for sure the Daily Show had put the tea bag to rest (it's had a busy week), but not so. Today I find people [BoingBoing] going to the tea bagging source, who is apparently John Waters, to ask where the term originates. 
JOHN WATERS: "Teabagging" is by my definition the act of dragging your testicles across your partner's forehead. In the UK it is dipping your testicles in your partner's mouth. I didn't invent the term or the act but DID introduce it to film in my movie "Pecker." "Teabagging" was a popular dance step that male go-go boys did to their customers for tips at The Atlantis, a now defunct bar in Baltimore. Hope this helps. -- John Waters
John Waters is always so full of helpful answers to sleazy questions! Here's a clip from what is one of our family favorites, Pecker [also BoingBoing], if you didn't make it to the protests, you get a chance to see some tea bagging in action. (See it's so hard not to make a bad joke!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In Local News: Fire

It's not anywhere near as interesting as when my actual building was on fire and we had to evacuate:

But the field next to our office is currently on fire. All I could get was a bad cell phone picture, I'm not really sure if you can tell there is fire there.

My on the scene reporting has gathered that they are just letting the fire burn itself out and that the fire truck isn't even going to do anything cool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bill O'Reilly Indroduces You to the World of Nintendo

This video is awesome for two reason, first it is insanely retro and brings me back to the early days of Nintendo, it's hilarious to see how adults found this newfangled contraption so bizarre. Even more bizarre, and the second reason this video is awesome, is that Bill O'Reilly is the guy introducing the segment! Also at the end he complains that "Lincoln Logs" are the way to go. It's nice to see that he hated newness even back then, it's really sort of frightening to watch him try and pretend to be nice though. He is lucky they invented Fox News as a home for people like him or his head might have exploded long ago.

Zooey Daschanel Makes Cotton More Cute

Usually I am trying to forgive or forget my favorite celebrity's shilling of some random product. Of course Zooey Deschenel has some sort of magic power where everything she does makes you love her more. This commercial for cotton is just one more of those things. I don't' really have anything against cotton either, in fact I would say it is my most worn, if not my favorite fabric. Watching Zooey prance around in adorable cotton outfits and sing a little ditty about it seems to put a big smile on my face. How is she so fricking cute?

Raw Talent: Susan Boyle

I didn't link this video yesterday because I figured it would be on every website imaginable by today. I am posting it now though because I really want to make sure that no one misses it. This woman, Susan Boyle, is amazing. When she walks on to the stage of Britain's Got Talent, everyone laughs at her, thinking she is one of the many freaks they take delight in mocking on these shows. Then, she opens her mouth to sing, and boy does she show them. I've watched this video about three times now, and I love this lady more every time. 

Enjoy! (YouTube)

Monday, April 13, 2009

How to Make a Night to Remember Even More Memorable:

Behold: The Vulva Prom Dress! The designers at Light in the Box were trying to make a heart shaped ruffle, but ended up with oh so much more. What say you? If a girl had walked into your high school prom wearing this, would you have thought she was so cool that she was in on the joke and doing it as an ironic nod to prom night, or was she just helping her date along with a handy visual aid?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Primal Week and Beyond

One week down. As of Tuesday my week experiment in primal living is complete. I've read lot, cooked and ate a lot, and lost a lot of weight without much effort. Ahh, it is that last part there that probably has me stuck on the primal living kick my friends. I mean there are not many among us not looking for that magic potion that makes the pounds fly off. I think going primal is probably closest thing to that potion that I have seen work on myself (Okay besides trying fen-phen back in the day, but permanent heart damage probably isn't a good trade off for weight loss).

I spent much of this week compiling information on what exactly the parameters of primal living were, then I stumbled upon a really good explanation and starting point at Mark Sisson's Daily Apple, one of the best sites all round for information on primal diet and fitness. 

Mike and I were doing great all week, especially Mike. He has been cooking and getting creative like nobodies business (cept mine!) and says he has more energy than he has had in years. He is really a true convert, he hasn't had an eating plan click with his physiology the way this one has ever before. I feel like it's been a little harder for me though, honestly my mind keep trying to think of excuses of why I need carbs, and my monthly chocolate cravings were leading me to the edge of insanity for a few nights there. 

Here is some pretty pictures of bunless burgers Mike made us, just to break up the Nina-rambles.

Saturday was our "cheat day" due to the fact that we were taking Mike's younger brother, and his girl friend, out to Chinese. We ate noodles, a little rice, and what I'm sure is a large about of sugar in the sauces. We both felt heavy and tired that night, and I've convinced myself that this cheat is also the reason I soon after got so deathly ill. I am usually the one person left standing while some awful cold or flu mows down my compatriots, this time though I was a casualty; it was bad. 

I was down for two whole days, only seeing the sun when Mike was nice enough to prop me on the couch and open the curtains so I could watch the sunset and the rainbows from my prism dance across the walls. The rest of my time since Monday night has been spent in bed, sleeping, coughing, or whining. Today though, I am back at work, still far from 100% but sometimes you just can't stay in bed any longer.

Since my week ended on such a sickly note, it's hard for me to take stock of how I am truly feeling. I do know that I seemed to have lost my low blood sugar crankiness from not eating. I just get sort of a general feeling of hunger in my stomach without the swimmy headed nauseous feeling that used to come with skipping meals or waiting too long to eat. This is good, now if the carb and chocolate cravings would go away, and the lingering sense that I am being deprived of the foodie world I love so dearly, I would be golden. Fucking golden. 

Bottom line? We're sticking with it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Paleo Update: Creativity in the Kitchen

Few things inspire me more than food. You can probably tell this by looking at me. I have never been able to, or willing to, sacrifice my fun in the kitchen for anything that I found limiting to my art. Trying the primal diet, I've learned that, as is the case with most of my other creative endeavors, having parameters to work within can actually makes things more fun. It gives you a sort of challenge that just have complete free reign doesn't offer.

For instance, cauliflower - I have always known that cauliflower is somewhat special. First of all it's white, and it's probably the only white food that is good for you. Of course now that I said that, someone will just come up with more foods chalked full of whitey goodness, but let's just say the usual suspects of sugar, flour, and shortening, we can live without. Mark Twain described cauliflower as, "cabbage with a college education," and with a little smarts of your own it can be your best friend, it's one of the most versatile veggies I know.

I've had three separate encounters with the fluffy cabbage cousin this week alone. It all started with my failed attempt at roast cauliflower that ended up blackened, and thankfully got much better from there. On Wednesday night, Mike made a really delicious cauliflower puree in the style of a mashed potato. He added little bits of turkey bacon to it, and the results were fantastic. I knew I had to try one more thing that I had been reading about on primal blogs though, cauliflower rice. It's so simple it's really a non-recipe. All you do it grate the cauliflower and steam it, or saute it if you like, and it is almost unrecognizable as an impostor! I ate it with some marinated mahi-mahi and even though my brain knew that what I was eating wasn't a grain, my taste buds told a different story, a story of fluffy almost al dente white rice. Cauliflower is a win my friends, and I get the feeling I am going to be eating a lot of it in the near future.

Our other creative endeavor last night was an apple and pear puree, apple sauce style, that Mike put on the pork roast he made for himself. It was so good that I had some as a dessert. All we did was boil peeled apples and pears in water with a little orange juice for some sweetness, until they were tender, then hit them with the handy-dandy stick blender. A regular blender would have worked just as well. We loved it. We'll be making a lot more very soon!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

There Was Life on Mars

"Life on Mars" is gone. Yes, the American version. According to it's Neilson ratings you probably didn't watch it, but it was a witty, well written, moving and deep show that I will miss. Last night's finale was a Freudian tempest. A whirl wind of daddy issues, unresolved love, fear, and hope for a better future. 

I can't really get into the specifics without giving too much away, but they resolved the plot in a interesting, boundary pushing way, and gave the characters I've grown so attached to the send off they deserved. Ray, Michael Imperioli of Sopranos fame, gave a particularly poignant monologue on why he believes their is no God. In one crashing, half drunken wave they gave us everything we've wanted to know about his background, and what shaped his life philosophy.

My only critique would be that things seemed a little rushed. They gave us lots of information and action for a one hour time chunk. I would have loved to have seen what they could have done with twice the time. Of course, I would have loved to have seen what they could have done with a few more seasons, but that just wasn't in the cards for Sam Tyler and his buddies this time around.

Here's to hoping all the fantastic actors on this show, Harvey Keitel, Gretchen Mol, Jason O'Mara and more,  find life somewhere new, Mars or otherwise.

Primal Recipe: Almond Crusted Zucchini

This is Mike's recipe transcribed by me, I hope I got everything right. By request, here is the recipe for Almond Crusted Zucchini from Wednesday.

Man Recipe: Almond Crusted Zucchini

2 Eggs
1 Shallow Bowl of Ground Almonds
1 Large Zucchini
2 to 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
A Pinch of Sea Salt (at your discretion)

Crack the eggs in a bowl and mix with pepper, combine with fork. Add sliced zucchini to egg mixture and coat all pieces. Let the zucchini soak in the eggs for a few minutes.

Heat olive oil on medium heat.

Remove one slice at a time from egg mixture and drop into bowl of ground almonds. Press the almonds into the zucchini, making sure they are coated on both sides. 

Place the coated zucchini in your pan and watch carefully, since it cooks very quickly.

Drain excess oil on paper towels. Season with a pinch of sea salt.


Paleo Update: Winner Dinner, and a Larabar

This morning for breakfast I didn't have time to do anything impressive, in fact I didn't have time to do anything at all. I grabbed a bar that I read about on Son of Grok, called a Larabar. They are made with only primal ingredients, though they do contain a lot of dates, which I guess are a little high in natural sugar. Because of this, I probably will not be eating the banana I also brought, since there is some debate on whether you can even tropical fruit at all on a Primal diet due to it's relatively high natural sugar content. Luckily I have a back-up green pear.

(Like Son of Grok, I will probably be trying to make my own primal type bars for quick grabbing, stay tuned.)

I'm not sweating my non-gourmet breakfast this morning. I think that has a lot to do with the amazing dinner I had last night that seemed to eradicate all carb cravings. My fiance, Mike, has been transformed into Primal Top Chef. When I came home from work he had already made a chicken meat loaf, made loafy with the addition of eggs, onions, and peppers. As a side, he created an amazing cauliflower puree, erasing all memory of my horribly failed cauliflower experiment from the night before. We also had a beautiful bright salad.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paleo Update: Feeling Full

Finally I am feeling full! I think it must take the expertise of home cooking to actually make me feel satisfied. I was thinking that I would just be putting together a simple salad for lunch today, then I came home to this:

Mike knew I had been craving carbs and went to work trying to find something that would scratch my itch. He came up with almond crusted zucchini! It really made me feel like I was snacking on something naughty, which is always a good thing. The shrimp though were the best part, they were chalked full of garlicky goodness! 

When I was driving home for lunch, I couldn't even look at the all the crappy restaurants on the way. I just kept picturing pizza, or bread, or french fries. Now though, I am feeling like I don't even need the steely resolve I was planning to muster. This is how I like things to be, easy.

Paleo Update: Sad Dinner and Happy Breakfast

The carb cravings started a little before 6pm last night. I went to Trader Joes, which was great place to pick up beef and turkey jerky, natural bacons, and veggies. Unfortunately they also have a great selection of starchy and sugary foods. Mmmmm... starchy and sugary. 

I ate some turkey jerky when I got in the car. It was good it helped, but by the time I got home and started cooking dinner I was starving again. I snacked on some pineapple, almonds, and strawberries while I was cooking dinner.

Dinner was a serious learning experience for me. I tried to make a chicken and potato dish that I love by substituting cauliflower for potatoes. Of course for some reason I didn't take into account that the cauliflower would not appreciate being cooked on the bottom rack of the oven the way potatoes do. Let me tell you, blackened cauliflower tastes even worse than it sounds. The chicken turned out pretty well though and I thought I would try to make some kale chips as a side to make up for my sad sad cauliflower char. The only kale I could find in my grocery store surprisingly was pre-washed chopped and bagged. Not really what I wanted and the kale chips suffered. The kale was cut in you very nonuniform pieces so some got overly browned while other were not even cooked through. Oh well, live and learn, it will all be better next time.

I woke up this morning craving carbs again. All I wanted was something starchy. Even typing the words now is slightly painful for me. By the time I got to work, I was starting to get a little discouraged. Then I opened the foil wrapped plate that my man had made for me:

What would I do without him? The sight was a saving grace. See? It's pretty and wonderful food! You love pretty and wonderful food! And I did. In case you are wondering, it's scrambled eggs topped with sauteed onions, resting on natural turkey bacon and seared red pepper. It was delicious and satisfied me for the most part. I still feel a slight nagging in my stomach, begging me to eat anything loaded with carbohydrates. I say nuts to that! It's only been one full day. I better start practicing my steely resolve.