A Paleo Conversation : From CST to PST, a bi-regional take on living paleo.
  • Ghee Willikers


    As you well know, feeding a house full of men is a costly proposition.  Especially when you try and focus on high quality, primarily paleo foods.  We buy in bulk, prioritize well, do our best, and we still spend a lot on food.  One of the best things we started doing was shopping at Costco.

    For years, we’d eat at various friends and family dinners and compliment the food only to find, shared in hushed tones, that it was all from Costco.  Yeah yeah yeah.  We scoffed.  Just a bit.

    Then we went to Costco.  Now, when people come over, we share (in hushed tones) that all the food is from Costco.  Their prepared foods are pretty good, we love the veggies, but my favorite thing is the Kerry Gold butter for almost half the grocery store price.  We splash it around lavishly.

    Partly, because it is delicious, and partly because it’s mostly grass-fed, meaning that it’s full of CLA and Vitamin K2.  I’m a big fan of Vitamin K2, especially since I learned that this is the vaunted Activator X that Weston A. Price theorized in his Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Kate Rheaume-Bleue has written an excellent book on the subject.

    John had some issues with his teeth demineralizing, and my own teeth were weak and soft.  A few months on K2 (supplement and diet, with cofactors D3 and A), and both of our situations resolved themselves completely.  Anecdote, I know, but it’s part of our story.

    My favorite thing to do with butter is turn it into ghee!  At Costco prices it is way cheaper than buying the Pure Indian Foods stuff.  Delicious, but costly.

    Making ghee is very easy – but I’m wondering if this method would work for you and your famed dairy sensitivity?

    You start by inserting butter in pan.  Two pounds here.

    I use medium/low heat, and watching it melt is fairly meditative.  The color is magnificent.


    I’m being very indulgent here, with so many images.  This really is representative of how much time I spend hovering over the pan when this is in progress.







    This is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of the proceedings.  At this point, skimmed and drained, it’s clarified butter. Toast it for a while, let the water cook off, let the proteins brown, and it turns into liquid savory caramel.  That’s ghee.  I’m not sure if you share the caramel love that dairy-eaters have, but Roman and I can eat it by the spoonful at this stage.

    I skim the skunge off the top, and carefully pour off the golden ghee into a jar.  The salty, brown proteins at the bottom of the pan go into a special pot for Roman in the fridge for him to shave infinitesimally into eggs and onto steaks. He loves it, it’s salt caramel.  I’m not such a fan.


    It gets very spitty and ends up all over the stove.  This lets the water cook off, but keeps most of the butter in the pan.


    An hour later you get this.  Let it set on the countertop and it ends up pebbly like the storebought stuff.  Lovely, of course, but my favorite is to put this straight in the fridge to let it cool quickly.  That keeps the fat crystals small and makes it smooth and delectable.

    What do we do with ghee?  I’ll get into that in another post.

    In the meantime, best of luck with baby scoby!

    Hugs and Misses,


  • The Spice of Life

    J- I’m excited for Baby SCOBY to arrive to Redlands, so thanks for the Resurrection post. I’ve been rereading Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation for all kinds of ideas about foods to ferment and ways to incorporate probiotics into my daily diet. I think I recall telling you how I once sent him fan mail and then a few months later I had a dream where he considered me one of his best friends…I’m hoping in some way that I might be slightly clairvoyant.

    Anyway, buried deep in the chapter entitled “Fermenting Vegetables (and Some Fruits Too),” he talks about how he discovered cultured cabbage juice in the 1990s. He had been developing an interest in fermentation in hopes of reversing the immune dysfunction that the HIV virus had been causing both in him and other friends. A short paragraph follows about kaanji, what he calls “a delicious spicy Punjabi beverage made by fermenting carrots and mustard seeds in water and salt.” The traditional recipe calls for burgundy/red/black carrots and gives this glorious hue to the mustardy concoction.  I felt slightly obsessed by the recipe and felt determined to figure out more about the history of this beverage.

    This led me to this lovely blog by an Indian gal living in Las Vegas (my home town) called sinfullyspicy.com. The author is named Tanvi and calls herself a “writer, cook, photographer, and spice lover.” I just adore her. She has a post about kaanji that is both delightful and informative. As a spice lover, her recipe includes a whole host of exotic spices that I had never heard of.

    So, here’s what I did. First, I dredged up some of the spices that I bought during a mission trip I took to Bangladesh back in 2009. Then, I found a local store (incidentally owned by a Bangladeshi) and picked up a few of the other previously unknown spices. I couldn’t find the burgundy carrots, so I substituted beets for color and flavor.


    We peeled and chopped up the carrots and beets. I’m not sure you need to peel them because that is where a lot of the aerobic bacteria live.


    For every carrot I cut up, Henry ate at least half of each one.  I ended up with 6 carrots and two beets.

             IMG_2374    IMG_2376


    We tossed everything into an open air glass container, added in the spices, and then poured in water that we had dissolved sea salt in.  I used sinfullyspicy’s basic recipe and spice list, except for the fenugreek (because I forgot to buy it).


    Kaanji ferment, aka Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O’Toole)- strikingly similar in appearance

    I left it covered with the headdress to prevent flies from getting in and we waited about 7 days. It started to bubble and emit a spicy aroma.  It wasn’t funky like the sauerkraut that’s percolating on my counter, but a pleasant and curious scent. I made sure to stir it up every day just to rotate some of the floating spices.

    While waiting for the final product, I thumbed through some of my pictures from when I was in Bangladesh. Although India (where kaanji hails from) and Bangladesh are really two strikingly different countries, I still thought a lot about my trip. Many of the spices used are ubiquitous in both nations. Here are a few pictures that I thought you’d enjoy.


    Morning sun over one of the many rice paddies



    Me and many children from Madaripur


    My colleagues and me in front of the hospital in Dumki, Bangladesh. Over 90% of the country is Muslim, but there are these little foci throughout the country where you would find Christians.  Dumki was one such place. The locals in town used to laugh at me because they thought that I looked like Jesus. I guess the height and long curly hair threw them for a loop.


    Here I am with the only OB/Gyn for the hospital (and probably for a 100-mile radius) performing a C-section

    Okay, I digress. Back to kaanji.


    After a good week, I think the ferment was just right. I had a glass last night. The flavor is like an aromatic beet kvass. I would say a 4-ounce glass is probably just right for drinking every night. I had a good 8-ounces as I reminisced over my time in Bangladesh and how great Peter O’Toole was in Lawrence of Arabia, all while listening to Bob Marley…

    Lots of love from Redlands. Say hi to all your boys!


  • Resurrection

    Dearest E,

    Perhaps we are a bit delusional, but perhaps it is just the persistence of hope.  I’m forever making lofty goals, and then watching them recede backwards to the horizon as others come looming up.  I suppose I don’t mind terribly as long as I understand why things are slipping.  I’m not okay with things slipping out of laziness, but busy-ness (as opposed to business?) is at least, in my book, forgivable.

    Babies, careers, families, projects… I truly couldn’t be happier!  Well… you could live three doors down again, that would be nice 😉

    Speaking of pets, projects, and neglected dear friends, meet the monster.

    Monster Kombucha Mama

    That’s a gallon jar, by the way.  This wee beastie is my kombucha mother.  Hoisted out from her regal repose at the back of the countertop by your plea for a new mother (kombucha, of course) of your own.  I’ve got a baby scoby for you, lounging on the countertop with a bit of fresh, sweet tea, recovering from long neglect before a quick trip over to your house.

    I’m not sure if her immensity is truly coming through.  Perhaps the addition of a banana for scale would help?


    That doesn’t help at all.  That’s a huge banana.

    By way of introduction, I thought I’d post extremely briefly on my own personal Kombucha Practice.  It’s not so much a beverage as a hobby and friend.

    You’ll remember the winter I started with Kombucha, I think, I pestered you with questions and you encouraged me to dive right in. Dive, I did.  I ordered a dried up scoby from Cultures for Health and promptly completely failed to resurrect it in the appropriate manner.  I think I cooked it, inadvertently, with tea a bit too hot. Weeks of having a strange jar on the countertop followed, and Roman kept asking me what it was.  Tea, but vinegary, I explained.  He failed (and still does) to see the appeal.  He likes kvass though.

    Desperate, I went to Kowalski’s, got a bottle of GT’s Kombucha and tipped that in.  Voila!  Within a week I had a diaphanous whisper of a scoby at the top, and the (dead?) one halfheartedly hovering in the middle of the jar.  I was enchanted.

    I like my ‘booch sweeter than you do, and I sometimes do a secondary ferment with tasty additions to get a bit of fizz.  I always come back to flat semi-sour kombucha though.

    Couldn’t bear it while I was pregnant, and while I’m still breastfeeding, it’s got too much caffeine to drink.  Hence, the neglect.

    These days I make it with Yorkshire Gold, but I prefer PG Tips.


    Five teabags plus four cups of water.  Six minutes in the microwave together to get them boiling.


    Half an hour on the countertop to mash (or steep), squish out the teabags, add a cup of sugar.


    [Side note: Feeling very fancy here.  Was worried I was going to drop my phone into the tea, attempting this VERY EXCITING action shot.]

    Pour it over ice.


    [Another action shot!! Didn’t drop the phone this time either.]

    Fill it up the rest of the way with water.  I use filtered water from the fridge.  Not sure how the scoby would cope with our well water and its full complement of minerals


    [I’m just showing off now.  Didn’t even spill!]

    Back in the jar with the scoby.  Speaking of the scoby.  Way too thick – very hard to peel apart, so I just bunged the whole thing in.  You’re getting the one peeling I could get off it.


    Then back in the pickle jar, and snugly tucked back in the corner of the kitchen.  It’s winter, so it might take a couple of weeks to get going.  I have a little jar heater I can dredge up, if I get impatient.

    We’re having a cold snap right now.  I was texting my cousins and was able to tell them it was -24 outside.  Bit more impressive when you’re talking Celsius.


    That’s your scoby in the pyrex on the right.

    Speaking of resurrection – working on my Primal Cert again!  Got one more module done last week, and am hoping for two more this week.

    That oxtail broth looks amazing!  How was it?

    Love and hugs to you both and the kids,

    J and the boys

  • An Oxtail of Two Cities

    Jo-Jo…Were we crazy to think that we could keep up this bi-coastal blogging…having both had new babies last year…and going back to working more than full-time? Not to mention that our family moved to California, lived in a rental house, then a hotel-motel, and now a more permanent domicile… Crazy, not really.  Ambitious…a little. Perhaps we needed to take too much on our plates before we figured out what to put back and what to eat?

    Well, it’s 2016 and I’m reinvigorated to do a little scribbling, a little gardening, a little cooking and a whole bunch of FERMENTING! More on that later.

    Here’s what was on the docket for the first weekend of the year.


    A big batch of bone broth made with beef knuckles and oxtail.  It’s funny.  Oxtail soup sounds so Bon Appetit, so Saveur. The reality is that it is very common soup made in Indonesia (sop buntut), China, and in the UK. And it’s made with the leftover parts of the cow, literally the tails. And we’re not using the tail of an exotic species…oxtail is just cow tail. Legit snout to tail cuisine.

    Here’s the recipe in bulletpoints:

    -In a crockpot, add:

    -Roughly chopped up yellow onions, carrots, and celery.

    -Two bay leaves.

    -A couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Helps with the demineralization of the bones.

    -About 3-4 lbs. of bones. Beef knuckles, oxtail, chicken bones/feet, ham bones.  Whatever you want and whatever you have.

    -Water to cover the contents. Salt and pepper.

    Now, slow cook it on low for 12-24 hours. You choose how long you want to cook it. Taste it after awhile and decide when it’s ready.

    A few considerations…

    -Make sure to check your water level. I woke up this morning and there had been a fair amount of evaporation. I added another 4 cups of water.

    -Turn the crockpot down to keep warm instead of low after 8 hours or so. It will still be bubbling and will evaporate less quickly.


    I’m waiting for it to cool down. Then I’ll put it into Mason jars. The plan is to freeze some and keep some in the refrigerator. The second part of the plan is to start drinking it on a regular basis. I think I could use a good dose of iron and collagen as a daily supplement.

    Maybe a piping hot cup in the morning…perfect for dunking a Paleo doughnut?


    Yours truly,