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

    Is this thing on?

    Dearest E-Bet,

    They say that life is what happens when you’re making other plans.  I think they’re right.  Voila “other plans”.

    Since we last blogged back and forth Jeffrey has started walking, and just a bit of talking.  John’s achieved that peculiar age when teeth falling out is to be celebrated, and he’s learned to ride a bike.  We are all well and hale and hearty.  Busy enough, but not too busy.  It’s a nice balance.

    I’ve got kombucha burping away on the countertop and a failure in planning resulted in a hasty meal tonight of scrambled eggs.  We’ll do better tomorrow.

    We’ve had adventures though!  I tried a new old thing called kava and loved it, but gave it up again.  Perhaps again one day. There’s a fun story in that that I’ll delight in telling you soon. We’re eating paleo, but relaxedly. I’ve been reading, and thinking, and learning and I’ve got ideas I want to run by you.  I want to hear how you’re doing and how your own wee ones are growing.

    I’ve missed you, so let’s please consider this one step back to our strange PST/CST friendship.

    All the best,


    PS. The giant photo of the top is of Krusteez gluten-free cornbread for our cornbread sausage stuffing on Thanksgiving.  All agreed it was a hit! Will post recipe later. The Krusteez was very good, but quite sweet, and though it wasn’t paleo, didn’t result in rumbly tumblies.


  • Viva La Kiva

    Dearest E!

    Go, Grandma, Go!  100??  WOW.  Let’s plan on having an epic cocktail party when we reach that eminent age.  What a great way to celebrate!  Looks like you made some wonderful connections, and fabulous food too. What did you use to wrap those enchiladas?  I myself do indulge in the occasional corn tortilla, but a better wrapper might put this on the weekly rotation, rather than every few months.

    As for us, it’s been a busy month, as usual.  Sure beats being bored.  A round of influenza and ear infections knocked the stuffing out of us for a couple of weeks, and then we found ourselves in a mad scramble to prepare for, go on, then recover from a trip to Texas.  I took John down for a week with my parents, my brother, and his family.  We were a roiling mass of humanity for  a week together.  It was awesome, and I can’t wait to take you there!

    My parents, as you know, are taking a wee vacation from retirement to rehabilitate a derelict restaurant and bar in the mountains of west Texas, in the erstwhile mining village / ghosttown / tourist trap of Terlingua, just west of Big Bend National Park and east of Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Their place is called La Kiva (Instagram here!) and though it is currently a bar, it is likely only days away from being a restaurant and bar.  It’s lovely there, surrounded by mountains and desert, and dug into the bank of Terlingua Creek.  It’s mostly built out of rock, and possesses a naughty imagined big cat fossil in the wall, named *ahem* the Penisaurus Erectus.

    The patio at La Kiva on the banks of Terlingua Creek.
    The patio at La Kiva on the banks of Terlingua Creek.
    Skipping stones to Mexico.
    The patio really is lovely.
    The desert in the park.
    The desert in the park.
    Santa Elena Canyon. That's Mexico right there!
    Santa Elena Canyon. That’s Mexico right there!
    In the side room at La Kiva, with a creek view.
    In the side room at La Kiva, with a creek view.
    The bar, with P. Erectus in all its glory.
    The bar, with P. Erectus in all its glory.

    I’m pushing hard on management to help make the place Paleo-friendly.  Not exactly trying to get the menu Whole-30 compliant, but trying to have a menu that doesn’t involve going completely off the rails, if you don’t want to.  Efforts are also being made in the direction of vegetarian-, vegan-, and gluten-free friendly too.  I’ll also push to get a good allergy statement letting people know where the dairy, soy, etc. is.  The kitchen team, so far, are fabulous – on board with the idea of cooking food from ingredients, not just tipped out of ready-made bags.

    I also made the acquaintance of a good friend of my parents’, a one Jeff Leach.  As in Jeff Leach from the American Gut Project and Human Food Project.  I told him a bit about us, and some ideas we have for projects, and he was very interested, very encouraging, and wanted to hear more.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to chat for very long – I had a minivan full of kids and siblings to contend with, and they weren’t in a place where I could ask them to hang on for an hour or two while I talked about poo with the nice man.

    In other news, Jeffrey is 11 months old today.  It’s hard to believe our babies are growing up so fast – I remember when your wee Henry was this size.  John is just about to turn six.  Today, Roman and I did some math and figured out that we have enough frozen breast-milk to make it to the end of the month, so as of today, I’m officially done pumping!  We did exclusive pumping / bottlefeeding for Jeffrey for various reasons that make me fascinating to talk to at cocktail parties, and I’m both excited and a bit bereft to be done.  12 months on breast milk for the baby – that was the goal!

    Much love to all of you and yours,


    PS.  Snowed this morning.

  • All in the Paleo Family

    Mojo Jo-Jo-

    I’ve been slow to get a new post up as we have just returned from a trip to Northern California to visit family. My grandmother turned 100 years old this year and we feted her with a high-end cocktail party. Thank goodness for a convenient Whole Foods in Sacramento, as you know the perils of travel and maintaining a paleoesque diet.

    One of the greatest aspects to the trip, besides visiting with my grandmother, was reconnecting with two of my cousins. Ryan, the kids, and I spent one morning with my cousin Emily and her two daughters down on the banks of the American River. Emily, a self-described “ex-vegan and vegetarian, now conscious carnivore,” is the blog author of Recipes to Nourish, a gorgeous blog that features primal and Paleo recipes. Please spend some time perusing her stellar site!

    My other cousin, Jack, has a very curious profession.  Hands down one of the cleverest people I have ever known, Jack is a former Army Ranger and martial arts fanatic who started a gunsmithing business called Into the Breech. We spent our final afternoon in Sac with him and his wife Megan (affectionately called Meeps). Wanting to revolutionize their diets and see the benefits of their daily exercise, they were exceptionally interested in learning about a low carb, Paleo diet. We began our regular proselytizing and turned them on to a couple of big name paleo websites: Mark’s Daily Apple, Nom Nom Paleo, and PaleOMG. The following day, they rushed off to the bookstore and surprised me with a texted photo of their new purchases, Julie Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook, The Paleo Cupboard Cookbook and The Bulletproof Diet Cookbook. This entire week has been a text-fest of photographs, back and forth, of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners from our mutual kitchens.

    Here’s a few from my kitchen this week…

    Egg scramble with Italian sausage
    Italian sausage with homemade sauerkraut, paleo ketchup and dijon mustard.


    Baby back ribs with a mixed berry compote and sweet potato fries
    Baby back ribs with a mixed berry compote and sweet potato fries.


    Fried eggs with Cholula, avocado, sausage, and raspberries
    Fried eggs with Cholula, avocado, sausage, and raspberries. Coffee with coconut cream.


    Chorizo and sweet potato enchiladas
    Chorizo and sweet potato enchiladas

    Chicken nuggets with almond/coconut flour and sweet potato fries

    Buffalo chicken meatballs with paleo bleu cheese and roasted carrots. And Stuart.


    Taco salad with ground beef topped with an avocado-lime-jalapeno dressing. I added a spare buffalo chicken meatball and a plastic turtle for garnish.


    Veggie egg scramble with avocado, uncured bacon, and more Cholula

    Veggie egg scramble with avocado, uncured bacon, and more Cholula

    I just touched base with Jack last night and he said that he had been “hard core Paleo” for two weeks straight. He and his wife cleaned out their pantry and said good-bye to the Ranch Fritos and Blazing Hot Cheetos.  He said it wasn’t as hard as he thought.  Last night, a piece of pizza tried to beckon him to the dark side while at Whole Foods, like the sirens to Odysseus.  My guess is that he had his wife tie him to the grocery cart while she stuffed her ears with beeswax to escape…


  • 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,


  • Poulet Vert

    Welcome back to Earth, Redlandling!

    Its wonderful to hear that you’re settling in.  I can only too easily imagine Ryan at the Crossfit gym – seems to be a great fit for him. Got any hints on how to squat well?  I tore a ligament in my knee once when squatting – though to be fair, I had 50 pounds of wiggling five-year-old on my back at the time. 🙂

    I’m sad to tell you that we are now dogless.  Our poor Dirk took a turn for the worse last weekend, and left us with only one compassionate choice.  This is the worst part of having dogs, as you well know.  Upon reflection, we realized that we don’t have many funny stories about him because he was such a good boy.  The worst of his hi-jinx involved wandering down to visit you, and happily walking back to us with Ryan.  I’m thrilled to hear that Zoe was such a trooper and travelled well.

    Dirk, The Wonder Dog
    Dirk, The Wonder Dog

    Stillwater is still where you left it, only a bit cooler and rainier. The prairie is filthy with yellow blossoms, but that’s nothing on our wildflower patch back by the firepit.  It’s a ten-foot tall bedlam of wildflowers, humming and buzzing with bees and butterflies.  We’ve seen a fair few monarch and yellow swallowtail butterflies back there, as well as bumblebees which we, of course, call Dumbledores.

    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea),  Grey-Headed Coneflower, and Common Ox-Eye (I think)
    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Grey-Headed Coneflower, Common Ox-Eye, and Prairie Sunflower (I think)

    As you know, a couple of weeks ago I tried making Nom Nom Paleo’s Green Chicken.  We loved the recipe, and have since made it again.  John thought it was a bit spicy, which was surprising since as a baby his first favorite food was Carroll Shelby’s Terlingua Chili and frequently ate his teething crackers with a drop of Sriracha on them.  Tastes change, and I backed off on the pepper flakes the second time around.

    Green Gunge.  Smells better than it looks.
    Green Gunge. Smells better than it looks.
    Looks like I scraped it out of the mower.
    Looks like I scraped it out of the mower.
    Ready to go!
    Ready to go!
    Come here, my wee beauties.
    Come here, my wee beauties.
    To gunge, or not to gunge?
    To gunge, or not to gunge?
    Tasty Roasted Gunge
    Tasty Roasted Gunge

    I was a bit slapdash (read: generous) with the greenery in the recipe, and once it was all whizzed up it looked like nothing so much as that green gunge that gets stuck in the lawnmower after mowing the lawn.  We also had a little family debate as to whether or not to leave said green gunge on the chicken or remove it for cooking.  We left it, and it browned into the most delicious crust.  Spectacular!  I’ve rarely seen the boys eat quite so much chicken in one sitting, despite protestations from John re: the spiciness.

    On calling it Poulet Vert; I was feeling particularly inspired by Julia Childs that day, and thought it was a bit more elegant than calling it Lawnmower Chicken, which was my runner-up title.

    Much love to you all, so glad you’re settling in!

    Joanne and the Boys

  • Bacon and Auspicious Beginnings

    Dear Elizabeth,

    We are still neighbors for three more days!  The move, looming for so very long, is now upon us and you’re about to embark on a brand new adventure.  You and your family will be sorely missed, but I shall comfort myself with bacon. Is there any better way?

    Homemade bacon!

    [NOTE: There is no photo of cooked bacon. It tends to evaporate too quickly.]

    It was surprisingly easy to make, and in fact, I hesitate to explain here what I did.  It will seem so much less impressive.

    This started when we embarked upon a Whole30 on July 12th, my fifth and Roman’s first.  We both sorely regretted the lack of bacon, but couldn’t quite stand to spend the money necessary for the Paleo sugar-free, heritage-breed, organic, pasture-fed bacons.  At the rate we eat the stuff, I’d have to take an extra job just to afford it.

    I followed the instructions over at PaleoLeap for Homemade Bacon.  Almost.

    I substituted Herbes de Provence for thyme due to deficiencies in household provisioning.  I omitted the honey, since the whole point of this endeavor was to get sugar-free bacon.  Also, I have concerns about the salt I used – I only had giant sea salt crystals to work with, and I’m not sure that the measurements worked out correctly.  Still, it worked.  I baconed.

    It ended up a bit too salty, but not viciously so.  Very nice flavor from the seasonings, reminiscent of good European ham.  Everyone seems to enjoy it, and my mother loved it.  She has no love for smoky food and liked that it was unsmoked.  Next batch gets smoked though.  I’ll also use different salt and I’ll try and use a bit less (and weigh it!!).  I might use thyme instead of Herbes de Provence, but frankly I loved the flavor so that might not change.

    I hang my head in shame that I did not procure a pasture-fed, organic, heritage breed pork belly.  One day the finances will stretch that far, but this is not that day.  I just went to Brine’s and dug around in the freezer case.

    Baconing away,