Home In Disarray

June 30, 2014

Digging in and doing Whole 30 – or something similar – Meal Plan, Week 1

Whole 30 meal planning

We keep floundering between a couple weeks of eating really well and then a couple weeks of binging on chips and macaroni & cheese.  A friend of ours just finished a Whole 30 and has said great things about it.  I figure our diet could  use a kick start, and as I’ve noticed in the past, the only real way I will commit to following something 100% is if it’s strict.  And Whole 30 is strict.  It’s easier to list the things that you can eat: Meats(grassfed, organic, pastured, etc), Fish(wild-caught, sustainable), Fruit(preferably organic), Vegetables(preferably organic), Healthy Fats(not chemically extracted).  Now here’s for the quick rundown of things you’re not supposed to eat: grains, legumes, processed anything, added sugars (even natural ones, like honey), dairy, corn, alcohol, chemically extracted fats (think canola, etc), white potatoes.  The white potatoes thing seems fairly arbitrary, but they’re not all that full of vitamins and minerals, and they’re super starchy.  Plus, if you could eat white potatoes, I’m willing to bet most people would just subsist on french fries and potato chips fried in tallow or lard.  Not ideal for one’s health.

As someone who has done pretty restrictive diets in the past, not following the diet plan is not an option.  You just need to do it.  As such, it needs to be well thought-out and planned thoroughly.  For me, following a plan that someone else has come up with that works for them doesn’t usually work for me, as Craig is a little finicky in terms of things that he will NOT eat.  Those include: leftover chicken (this is primarily related to the catfood like flavor that leftover chicken develops – things that are very heavily spiced or in sauces are generally not problematic for him), coconut milk, oil, or flour (he abhors the flavor, so any time I use it, I have to be sure that there’s enough other stuff in the dish that will overpower the flavor), more than 1-2 salads a week (something other than salad is always preferred), anything with connective tissue that hasn’t been thoroughly broken down.  That leaves us with limited options meat-wise.  For some reason, turkey meatballs and sausages of any kind are generally well-received (although meat loaf and standard Italian-type meatballs are no-goes).  I have gotten accustomed to Craig’s dietary preferences, and for the most part, put up with them. He puts up with much worse from me!
prepping day for Whole30
I’m gonna try posting most days with quick little updates or photos of what we ate.  I have a freakin’ spreadsheet prepared for the entire month, with nightly dinners, lists of what I need to prep, lists of ingredients, links to recipes, and grocery lists.  I hope that it helps to keep me organized.  Breakfasts and lunches will be leftovers, bacon that I’ve precooked and stuck in the fridge, hard boiled eggs that have been boiled and peeled, eggs that we cook “to order” and canned tuna with homemade avocado oil mayo.
Meal Plan, Week 1
Sunday & Monday don’t REALLY count(they’re not July), we are trying to burn through the last of our greek yogurt, cottage cheese & hummus, plus I’m getting my hair done tonight, so won’t be home til late.  I’ll probably grab our favorite takeout meal as a “goodbye” for the month.
Tuesday Beef & Broccoli Slaw Burrito Bowls
Wednesday –Sous Vide Pork Carnitas in lettuce boats w/ pico, avocado, & lime aioli
Thursday – Spaghetti Squash “Carbonara”
Friday – Rogan Josh – (Kashmiri Lamb Curry)
Saturday – Curry Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps w/ lime aioli (I’ll share the recipe for these – they’re delicious)
Baked bacon
Now here are a couple places where I expect to depart from the “standard” Whole 30.
Bacon – We are not giving up bacon.  I know it has nitrates, oh well.
Butter – People see the milk-solids in butter as an issue with the “dairy thing” so they use clarified butter, or ghee.  Neither of us having issues in processing dairy, and it’s just too much effort.  I will be using normal butter, especially because Craig won’t eat coconut oil.
Caffeine – I have successfully transitioned from coffee to black tea, but I only have a cup a day of either, and frankly, I just like it too much.  Plus, there’s no real evidence that consuming organic coffee or tea is bad for you unless you have medical problems.
Ok, so yesterday (Sunday) was my big shopping and prep day.  Shopping got a little out of control because I was stocking up on some stuff for the entire month.  Also, we needed things like dishwasher detergent, bleach, etc.  Total came in at $225 between Costco and QFC.  But I also am making a double batch of the Rogan Josh and freezing half for later this month, and I have a pound of grassfed ground beef and a grassfed ribeye in the freezer for later as well.  Oh, and a huge bottle of avocado oil.  And a huge amount of charcoal for the grill.  So that makes the effective grocery bill somewhere in the neighborhood of $175.  Not cheap, but also organic, healthy animals, no fillers, and from scratch.  Grains & beans tend to be a m easy and cheap way to add bulk to any meal, and are not something we have the “luxury” of eating this month.
We still have a few things to take out of the fridge, most notably, cheap beer, feta, lemon curd
Prep involved was boiling eggs, cooking bacon, chopping and measuring ingredients for everything.  All that’s left to do is the actual cooking/assembly of everything, which cuts down the time and effort involved in getting dinner on the table every night.
Posted in: Clean Eating, Cooking, Paleo
June 26, 2014

Duckingham Palace is habitable!

Duckingham Palace is habitable!

I conned my father in law into coming over and helping us make a final push towards getting Duckingham Palace safe for the ducks. This included moving the ceiling joists, building doors, and putting up the “belting” where the large holed wire meets the small holed wire.  He got that and more done!  They also installed the valve on the pond outlet so it will hold water, and we put the ducks in their enclosure.  I still have a little bit of grading to do, both inside and outside the pen, and we need to get the upright boards stained for the remaining 2/3s of the enclosure and then install them.  Just little things right now that aren’t affecting the quality of life of the duckies. My biggest project right now is excavating a bigger drainage hole for this duck pond water.  After 5 days, it has begun getting a little rank.

duck enclosure

duck enclosure

duck enclosure

the duck house

ducks enjoying a swim in their pond

door stop for duck enclosure

welded wire over the top of a duck enclosure

Posted in: Ducks
June 26, 2014

And we have ducklings!

And we have ducklings!

I am a solid week late on this update.  We bought our ducklings 7 full days ago.  They are fucking hilarious.  The woman we bought them from (they were $5 each, if you’re curious what ducklings go for) had done a pretty incredible job of taming them, despite having the moms overseeing their upbringing.  The batch we got was 2x 6 week old ducklings, and 3x 4 week old ducklings.  The size difference is really only 2 weeks of growth.  Ducks grow like weeds!  Since we can’t yet tell which ducklings are going to end up being males, and which ones are going to end up being females, I’m giving them ALL female names, then as they begin showing signs of being male, change the males names to foods.  So far, their names are Allison, Ina, Audrey, Martha, and Katniss.  Katniss had her name changed.  She was Marilyn initially, but once I saw how adept she is at both hunting flies, and evading my capture, she got the name of the famous huntress from Hunger Games.  And no, I’m not super into that movie.  All of this first group of photos is day 1.  The dogs WANT to eat the ducklings.

Also, videos.  I am not generally the kind of person who appreciates videos on blogs, so please feel free not to watch them.  But if you are, and ducklings are hilarious, watch them making funny noises while they drink water, and then go for a swim.

They are seriously ridiculousness.  The little one with the black markings on her back is named Allison, and I expected to like her best, but the big one with the markings on her back (named Audrey) has proven to be my favorite so far.  She has become the leader, pecks at the dogs through the wire.  Also, the black feathers that are coming in on her tail and teen tiny little wings are an incredible green iridescent.  I am hoping that she’s not a boy, but I fear that she may be the first to get a food name.  If that’s the case, she’ll be a l’orange.
3 days later, we got them in the actual enclosure after finishing the doors and installing wire fencing over the top to prevent air-attack.  They were already much larger.  These suckers grow like weeds!  

They go everywhere together.  They do this ridiculous thing where they hang out in the pond for like an hour, then they all get out, sprint to the food, decide they’re done eating collectively, sprint to the pond, hop in, lather rinse repeat.  They do this ALL DAY.  It’s so ridiculous!  And I have been keeping a heating pad in their house and turning it on during the night.  The first few nights, I have locked them in there, but now they have begun going inside on their own, which is kind of great. It’s something that I was hoping to get them to do, but wasn’t sure how the execution of that would work out.
Posted in: Ducks
June 17, 2014

Teriyaki Beef Sliders

Teriyaki Beef Sliders

Last summer, my friend Ivana and I entered the Sutter Home’s “Build a Better Burger” competition.  Our arrangement was that we would each submit the same number of recipes, then if either of us got chosen as finalists, we would take the other along as our sous chef, and split whatever winnings we got.  Unfortunately, Sutter Home wasn’t as impressed by our burgers as we were, and none of them were finalists.  But Sutter Home was wrong, and our burgers were awesome.  Since part of the contest rules were that none of the recipes had been published, I wasn’t able to post about them on my blog until now.  But here is the first burger.  It’s not incredibly original, but it was delicious, and had some interesting components that made it better than the average teriyaki burger… you know…  because I made it.  Contrary to my regular cooking style, every amount, instruction, and variable had to be accounted for and written down, so the ingredients list, and instructions are uncharacteristically detailed.  Enjoy it now, because it’s not gonna become a regular thing!  Photos are bad cell phone pics that are a year old.  Oh well.  These were delicious.

teriyaki beef sliders

Teriyaki Beef Burger 

Pickled Carrots: 
1/4 cup distilled white or rice wine vinegar 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp kosher salt 
lg or 2 med. carrots, peeled (about 2 oz) 

Teriyaki Glaze: 
1/2 cup organic tamari 
Juice of 1 lime 
1/4 cup low or no sodium chicken stock 
2T granulated sugar 
lg cloves garlic, grated (2 tsp) 
1″ or 2 tsp fresh ginger root, grated 
1 tablespoon chicken stock 
1 tablespoon cold water 

Wasabi Mayo: 
4oz (1/2 cup) Mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellmans or Homemade) 
2 tablespoons green wasabi powder 
2 tablespoons kikkoman ponzu sauce 

Remaining ingredients: 
3lbs ground grass fed chuck, or 85/15 prepackaged grass fed ground beef 
6 leaves boston/butterhead lettuce 
5 slices of fresh pineapple, 1/4″ thick, cored 
18 total Original Hawaiian 12-Pack dinner rolls 

teriyaki slider ingredients

For Quick-Pickled Carrots: 
*Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium fire.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you prep your carrot(s). 
*Peel carrot, then use vegetable peeler to create 4-6″ long ribbons.  Place into medium heatproof bowl 
*Pour warm vinegar mixture over carrots and let sit 10-15 minutes, until carrots begin to go limp. 
*Pour off excess vinegar and pat carrots dry with paper towel. 
*Set aside for plating 
For Teriyaki Glaze: 
*Combine tamari, lime juice, sugar, and chicken stock in a small saucepan(you could reuse your carrot brine pan for this to save dishes). 
*Using a microplane or rasp-style grater, grate your 2 large cloves garlic and 1″ peeled fresh ginger root, and add it to the tamari mixture. 
*Combine cornstarch and cool water in a very small bowl, such as a ramekin 
*Stir and cook tamari mixture over medium heat until simmering 
*When tamari mixture has begun simmering, whisk in cornstarch mixture, and bring back to a simmer.  When cornstarch mixture is added, the sauce will cloud up, when it comes back up to a simmer and thickens, the cloudiness should dissipate. 
*Remove from heat and set aside 

Heat up your grill: 
*I use charcoal, so fill a standard Weber chimney with Kingsford Competition briquets, and using half of a paper grocery bag, start the chimney. 
*When the edges of the briquets on top have begun ashing over, dump chimney into grill. 
*Put 3/4 of the coals on one half of the grill(hot zone), and 1/4 of the coals on the other half (warm zone). 
*With both vents open, place grate on grill and allow to preheat for at least 5 minutes. 

Wasabi Mayo: 
*While grill is preheating, mix up your wasabi mayonnaise.  In small bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons dry wasabi powder, and 2 tablespoons kikkoman ponzu sauce.  
*Mix well 

Burger Patties: 
*While grill is preheating, divide your ground beef into 18 equal parts(each 2.6oz if using a scale) 
*shape into rectangular patties about 3×2.5″, and poke a divot into the center of each with your finger 

Slice your buns: 
*Slice your rolls in half to make buns 

teriyaki beef sliders

Grill your burgers: 
*When grill has preheated and has been cleaned, place a batch of burger patties on the hot side of the grill. 
*Grill 1 minute, flip, and baste with glaze 
*Grill 2 more minutes, flip to cool zone of grill, baste with glaze 
*Grill additional 2 minutes on cool side, flip, baste with glaze, and remove to a plate or rimmed baking sheet 

Cook remaining items: 
*Add pineapple rings to hot size of grill, cook for 2 minutes. 
*Flip to cool side of grill, and baste with glaze, cook 1 minute, turn 45 degrees, then cook additional minute. 
*Flip, baste with glaze, and cook additional 2 minutes before removing to a plate. 
*Place split buns on grill and remove when they begin to develop grill marks or deep browning, before they burn.

Prep and assemble burgers: 
*Tear each piece of lettuce into 3 pieces, either long to be folded over, or burger shaped. 
*Cut each slice of pineapple into 4 wedges 
*Spread approx. 1 tsp of wasabi mayo on inside of each toasted bun half(total 2 tsp wasabi mayo per burger) 
*Layer: Bottom bun, wasabi mayo, burger Patty, 1 section grilled pineapple, 2-3 strips of pickled carrot, lettuce, wasabi mayo, top bun. 
Posted in: Cooking, Food
June 13, 2014

We are on the home stretch of the duck project

We are on the home stretch of the duck project

I still haven’t gotten the pond up and running.  And by up and running, I mean gluing the valve onto the end of the drain pipe.  That is literally all it needs to hold water.  Unfortunately, I went out there with part of my plumbing fitting assortment, put teflon tape on the threads, tightened everything down, then realized that I put the wrong fittings on the fucking valve.  And the best part is that I can’t get them off.  I am a weakling, and I can’t find a strap wrench the right size.  I have also not told Craig this, so I’m sure when he reads this, he’ll give me a hard time, then maybe help me get them off and I can try again with the right fittings. Damn it, Laurel!

Ok.  So I had to use a week of vacation before I lost it at the end of the month, so I took the week off and decided to put some effort into the duck pen and finally FINISH IT.  I haven’t entirely finished it, but I have done everything that I am capable of doing on my own.  When Craig winds down after the match he is going to this weekend, hopefully he can get together with his buddy and move the roof supports (so I can put the “lid” of more welded wire fencing on the pen), and build my 2 doors (one of the 4 foot openings is going to have 2x 2ft wide doors) so I can put the wire on them as well.  That’ll make it predator resistant.  I am hesitant to call it predator proof before we have any evidence of anything trying to get inside.  Either way, once those things are done, all we need to do is carry the dog house inside and put it on the already leveled area and get some food. I can take my time making the auto filling waterer and getting the pond filled (however this is literally a 10 minute fix once I get the fucking fittings off the valve) as they are not essential to the short term health and well-being of the duckies. We will also need to get up the outer fascia (sandwiching the wire fencing between the posts and it) and cross-supports.  Those probably need to be done before the ducks move in, I hear they tend to be skittish, and loud hammering/screwing/tons of strangers probably isn’t the ideal way to make friends/encourage egg laying.  Luckily, I have already stained most of the lumber that’s going up, so it’ll be pretty plug and play.

Regardless… Here’s what I got done on the duck enclosure this week….  I finished adding the fencing to the rest of the walls.  It is also buried to prevent digging predators.  I dug out and levelled the flat area in front of the duck enclosure.  Its dimensions are approximately 4×16.  This gives me a nice little “patio” to keep bins of food, some sort of straw bale storage solution that I still haven’t worked out, and maybe a little adirondack chair to chill in and watch the ducks hang out. It also gives the doors a flat area to swing open, and looks nice.  We lucked out and my in-laws had some really fancy retaining wall blocks leftover from a project that they gave to us for another much larger future project, so I stole some of them to build a retaining wall around the patio area. They look way nicer than the rocks that I was planning on using.

Digging on this portion of the project took probably 5 hours, plus an additional 2 hours of carrying 80lb blocks, setting, and leveling them.  My body hurts.  My arms are all scratched up from carrying the blocks, I got a sweet sunburn, and I have several mystery bug bites (even one in the middle of my back…) that I don’t entirely understand.  But you know what?  It feels damn good knowing that we are really getting much closer to being done!  I’d love to be the slavedriver wife and make Craig just get his portion of the project completed, but he has been reloading every night trying to prepare for a match this weekend, and I’m not quite in all out shrew mode yet.

Posted in: Ducks
June 5, 2014

The Great Hummus Showdown®

The Great Hummus Showdown®

A few weeks ago, we had a small bbq.  I made hummus.  But I didn’t make just any hummus, I made Smitten Kitchen’s Ethereally Smooth Hummus.  It was pretty good.  In fact, I got a lot of compliments on it when I have never had hummus-related compliments before.  That got me to wondering… if the defining characteristic of the hummus – the time consuming part, of course is what makes it great, or the rest of the recipe is.  You see, Ethereally Smooth Hummus’ shtick is that all of the hulls are removed from the chickpeas before you blend up the hummus.  Deb proclaims that it took her 10 minutes to pop a can’s worth of chickpeas out of their hulls.  I doubled the recipe (we can eat a lot of hummus!) and it took me nearly 2 hours.  Of course, I was camped out on the sofa and watching TV while I did it, so it wasn’t really that much of a bother, but it was markedly more time than one playing of Inna Gadda Da Vida.  Regardless, I was supposing to Ivana that it would be interesting to see if the marked difference was the composition of the recipe, or the removal of the husks.  So began The Great Hummus Showdown®.


Please excuse these photos.  They were taken with a cell phone in bad lighting at a friend’s house(yes, I took a container of chickpeas with me to peel at a friend’s house.  What?).

peeling chickpeas

I wanted this to be as fair as possible, so I used the same batch of dried beans, the same jar of tahini, the same head of garlic, and squeezed all of my lemons in to one container so that their juice would mix. I am pretty serious.

garlic skins

Hummus ingredients

I just wanted to show you the strange thing that happens to peeled chickpeas when you grind them….  The turn into the texture of brown sugar.  Unpeeled chickpeas are similar to a natural peanut butter, but the peeled ones get powdery.

peeled ground chickpeas

peeled ground chickpeas

Then I didn’t take any more photos.  That’s how I roll.  Regardless, I made both batches identically.  Then I made a batch of pitas, and brought it all to work.

traditional hummus

peeled chickpea hummus

Then I did a blind taste test and asked everyone which was superior.  Most people paused, or retasted.  When pushed, all but one said that the peeled chickpea hummus was better.  Many of them, without prompting, also said that if it was any more effort, they’d definitely go for the other one though, because they were that close.  So there you go.  I will not be peeling chickpeas anymore.  There really was an almost imperceptible difference – definitely not the time expenditure, at least in my experience.

Link to the recipe here, on Smitten Kitchen.

June 3, 2014

Helo has been shedding

Helo has been shedding

Fairly lightly for the last few months.  This is not consistent with the all-out coat blow that he did the first year or so that we owned him, but according to my research, it’s not uncommon for malamutes to shed more gradually as they get older.  Regardless, it’s been obnoxious.  And I’ve been patiently waiting for things to thin out a bit before I gave him a bath.  But the situation hasn’t resolved itself, so, knowing we’d have a few days of nice hot weather to look forward to (he takes a full 24 hours to dry fully), I just did it.  And then we went to a friend’s house for 4 hours or so.  And when we returned… there was hair everywhere.  Even after owning malamutes for this long, it was the most surprising amount of hair I’ve ever seen.  And his fur was falling out.  Not in mats, but in smears.  He would walk by you and leave a full handful stuck to your pants. The best part of this is the near constant fight that we’ve been having about brushing?  Over.  He was very itchy after the bath (this is normal, and not indicative of poor rinsing, he just doesn’t like being wet/clean), so he let me go to town on brushing him.  We were able to forego the usual antics of him running away, hiding under the coffee table, standing coyly out of my reach, flopping around like a toddler on a sugar high, booping me, snarling, groaning, whining, grumbling, and trying to fit my whole hand (with the brush) in his mouth while also vocalizing, and get straight down to business.  Some spots even felt so good he did the leg shaky thing when I went over them.  As is evidenced in the photo, he is still quite fluffy.  He has a lot more fur to go, but this is what accumulated on the floor over the course of the 30 hours post-bath.

shedding malamute

Posted in: Dogs, The Creatures