Spiced Blackberry Crisp

6 Oct

This is a very simple crisp, and came as a result of my desperate attempt to salvage my precious homegrown blackberries, after my fridge/freezer developed an attitude problem last night.    Delicious and healthy as it is, this dish is definitely a “comfort food” or “treat.”  Even though all the ingredients are “primal approved” (even the tapioca — I checked, and Mark Sisson says so), the dish is pretty high in carbs and thus probably a good idea to save for special occasions or as a reaction to appliance malfunctions.  🙂  If you allow dairy, this is delicious served with a dollop of plain full-fat whipped ceam or a drizzle of heavy cream.

Spiced Blackberry Crisp
Makes 1 9-inch pie pan of crisp

5-6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain first)
1/4 cup Minute tapioca
2 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

Crumble topping:
2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flakes
4 raw dates, pits removed
1/4 cup macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with butter or coconut oil.  Set pan aside.  In large bowl, combine all filling ingredients until well mixed (honey may clump a little, that’s okay) and set aside for several minutes.  Meanwhile, place all the topping ingredients in food processor and pulse until mixture has the texture of coarse, wet sand (will be clumpy).  Pour filling mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle clumps of the topping mixture over the filling.  Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool to room temp.  Filling will thicken as it cools.


Grokcakes (Primal Almond-Flour Pancakes)

29 Sep

Okay, so obviously Grok never ate these.  But “Grokcakes” sounds more interesting than “Gluten-Free Almond Meal Pancakes,” and it’s my blog about primal living, so.  Grokcakes it is.

Almond-meal pancakes with fresh local blueberries, butter, and a side of chive scrambled eggs.

Saturday mornings I am home alone, and pancakes have been The Saturday Morning Thing for me for a long, long time.  Before going primal, I enjoyed whole grain or oat pancakes made with Greek yogurt and flaxmeal with all kinds of adventurous mix-ins and toppings.  For the first 6wks of my primal lifestyle, I was pancake-free because I was afraid I would be terribly, terribly disappointed in primal-friendly almond-meal pancakes.  Surely the flavor would be icky!  Surely the texture would be off!  Eventually I missed them too much and started doing some research.  Once I got up the courage to try a promising recipe, I was hooked.  I’ve since made them plain, with blueberries, and with chocolate and bananas; each has been completely delicious on its own or with a little butter.  They don’t even need maple syrup or honey.  Pancake Saturdays are back!  🙂

Almond-meal pancakes with chocolate chunks, sliced bananas, a side of bacon, and a mug of Green Mountain Wild Blueberry coffee.

Almond-Flour Pancakes
Serves 2, 6-8 pancakes (recipe can be halved to serve 1)
Adapted from Low Carb Dude

1 cup almond flour (“almond meal” is the same thing)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (or coconut milk, or water)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
2 Tbs melted coconut oil
Fat for frying (I prefer bacon fat or coconut oil, but butter works too)

Fresh berries (small handful)
Chopped chocolate (use 70%+ to keep it primal)
Nuts, dried fruit, dessicated coconut, spices, crumbled cooked bacon (!) etc.

Fresh banana slices
Other sliced fruit (apples, strawberries, etc.)

In large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon until well combined and no clumps of almond flour remain.  Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla (if using) all at once.  Whisk to combine well.  While whisking, slowly add the melted coconut oil in a steady stream and whisk until well combined.  Add any mix-ins now if using, starting with a little and adding until it looks right; stir well to combine.  Set batter aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Heat griddle or frying pan until hot and melt the fat on it for frying.  Pour the batter by 1/4 – 1/3 cupfuls onto the hot griddle.  Add any toppers now if using.  When edges appear dry and small bubbles form in batter, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown on the other side.  If using toppers like sliced banana, be careful when flipping and removing from griddle, as banana can stick and cause pancake to tear.  Serve immediately.

Baked Eggs with Sausage-Zuke Saute

22 Sep

Baked Eggs with Sausage-Zuke Saute (Eggs adapted from the Complete Tassajara Cookbook)
Serves 2

Organic ketchup (or tomato sauce, or salsa)
4-6 eggs (2-3 per person)
Salt and pepper
2 oz shredded cheese of choice (I use Bergenost)
8 oz sausage of choice (casings removed if it’s in link form)
1 medium zucchini, washed and chopped (no need to peel or seed)

Heat oven to 325F.  Butter as many wells in a muffin tin as you need, 1 for each egg you’re using.  Put about a teaspoon of ketchup in the bottom of each well.  Crack your raw eggs on top of the ketchup (don’t be a show-off…crack ’em into a cup first, so you don’t have to fish shell bits out of egg white AND ketchup goo).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Snip some chives over each egg and top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese, about 1 oz per person.  Bake in preheated oven until just set (may still jiggle very slightly in the center); cooking time will vary by oven.  For me, this is 13-15 minutes.

While your eggs are baking, heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Brown  your sausage and break it up with a spoon.  When the sausage is fully cooked, stir in your chopped zuke.  Saute until the zuke is tender.  If you’ve got a lot of delicious brown bits on the bottom of your pan, pour in a couple tablespoons of water and stir it around; as it boils off, it’ll loosen all those delicious brown bits.  If your zuke saute is done before your eggs, just pull it off the heat and set it aside.  Mine were done just about the same time.  Serve them up together, perhaps with a mug of tea and an apple on the side like I do, and enjoy!  🙂

Sambie’s Challenge – Level 2: Claiming the Clave

22 Sep

It’s almost time for my second NF Challenge.  I know I fell off posting updates here, but I have some supportive strategies in the works for this challenge that I hope will foster more regular posting.  Without further ado, here is the narrative and goal breakdown for the upcoming challenge (challenge dates 9/24/12 – 11/5/12).

“You’re trying too hard, you know.”

I stood up from my crouched position over the rock borderwall and wiped a sheen of sweat off my face. “Yeah?”

The Claver shifted out of his squat and stood up.
“Yup. Trying too hard. You’ve been coming here, what, 8 weeks? You think piling a few rocks along the Wall or bringing down our nutri rations is going to make us trust you?”

Who knows how long he’d been there, watching. I’m out here on the borderwall alone, attempting to patch up the gaps where the earth has been trying to reclaim the rocks. That’s been my strategy so far – pitch in and hope the Clavers eventually start to trust me. Sure, I could continue to bring them their nutri rations and their sanctioned moss and then just make my way home, but for some reason I can’t. Maybe it’s the Gelfling blood in my veins, but I feel invested in this dungheap of a community. There are plenty of Gelflings and halfies here, along with all the other social refuse, but my Gelfling blood alone hasn’t been the ace I’d hoped it would be. They still don’t trust me.

An exasperated sigh escapes my lips. “So what am I supposed to do?”

He leaned over and plucked a long stem of sweetgrass and turned back to face me, his eyes pale green where they should have been white, a sure sign of his history as a moss druggie.

“You need to chill the h*ll out. Stop trying to fix everything.”

I realized I’d been holding one of the borderwall rocks this whole time, and now I was irritated and tired and the rock was heavy. I heaved it against the crumbling gap with a curse. “I’m just trying to help. You do realize I’m the only person who gives enough of a s**t to take this job voluntarily, right? I’m the only one who gives a crap about you people.”

He looked at me out of those greenish eyes and gnawed on the end of his grass stem. “That’s where you’re wrong. We give a crap about each other.”

“I know that, but I’m just trying to…”

“Gods, shut up!” he interrupted. He flung the grass stem away. “You think you can just come in here, claim Gelfling blood, get a little dirty in the daily runnings of this place, and we’re gonna just open our arms and thank the gods the Staties finally sent us a good one?”

I just looked at him, my face not belying that that’s exactly what I’d thought.

“Take some advice from me. Why don’t you hang out around here because you actually want to be here, not because you feel sorry for us? If you’re so proud of that Gelfling blood you hide from the Statie ‘crats, then why don’t you actually do something for yourself out here. Until you claim a piece of the Clave as your own, ain’t nobody here going to trust you the way you want us to, not really. So far, all they know is you get involved in their business every day and then drive your SUV back into City Proper, away from us and our problems, every night.”

That was 3 days ago, and I haven’t been able to get that conversation out of my head. Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong. Maybe I assumed too much. Sure, being a halfie and being willing to get dirty with the Clavers was helpful at the beginning, but it only got me so far. It only told them that I’m not quite as bad as the other Social Service Unit workers who’ve been sent out here, most of whom refused to go beyond the loading dock. While it ensured that the Clavers don’t hate my guts, it sure didn’t make them trust me. And who can blame them? If I were them, I wouldn’t trust me either. Maybe I haven’t made it clear on which side of the line in the sand I fall: on the side with Clavers’ right to exist, or with the City Proper Staties who would like nothing more than to blot the Enclave out of City memory. Right now I’m the only link between the Clave and the City, the conduit for information to pass both ways. Trusting me is a risk that, so far, none of the Clave has been willing to take.

So, Jenko tells me I need to lay claim to the Clave if I really want them to trust me. Gods! I don’t even know why I want it so bad, but all right then. I’ll start by finishing this wall repair, and then I’m headed to Gridley’s storehouse to sign up for one of the upcoming Clave games. Only Clavers participate, but there’s no rule saying outsiders can’t be contenders. It’s just that, so far, no one from the outside has dared.

Sambie’s Challenge – Level 2: Claiming the Clave

If I’m going to participate in the Clave games –a series of underground endurance and strength challenges– I have to continue getting lean, strong, and fast. I also have to take a different approach to getting my head on straight. Idealist views and Gelfling blood aren’t enough here; I’m going to be up against Clavers who can run, lift, and move like they’ve got nothing to lose. Because they don’t. Gods know why, but I want to fit here. I will lay my claim, and this is how I’m going to do it.

Goal 1: Core/Strength – Handstand Progression – Master the 1st level in the hollow-body progression (legs bent, 1 minute mastery) +4 STR
Practice the hollow body progression 3x/wk.
Continue my beginner bodyweight circuit 3x/wk (weighted squats and lunges, incline pushups, assisted pullups, rows, plank, and jacks)

Goal 2: Endurance – Running – Increase distance; achieve a 7-mile distance at any speed +5 STA
Run (indoor/outdoor) 2x/wk minimum, preferably 3x/wk
Put intention into working on good barefoot/minimalist form

Goal 3: Flexibility- Yoga – Learn one new pose to mastery +2 DEX
Practice yoga 2x/wk.
Practice GMB handstand wrist prep every day.

Goal 4: Getcha Head in the Game (for reals this time) +2 WIS +2 CHA
Meditate every day – Any length of time, but no timer. Come up with some way to log this. The point is, get on the dang cushion.

Sunday October 7 – Mountain RAID Obstacle 4-miler
Sunday November 4 – Mt Diablo Trail Adventure 10k
Misc Dates – Weekend Berserker Mini-Challenges

Spicy Chili-Garlic Stir-Fry

18 Aug

This dish is by far one of my favorite paleo creations yet.  It is simple, easy, and deliciously SPICY.  I used 1 rounded tablespoon of chili garlic sauce and found the dish to be delightfully zingy in that good almost-painful-but-not-quite kind of way; if you prefer less heat, use less.  You could also make this dish with thinly sliced pork or beef.  Or, with shrimp — though if you use shrimp, I’d cook all the veggies and the chili sauce first, then add the shrimp at the end to cook through as they will only take a few minutes.  One of my favorite parts of this dish was the shrooms.  J does not eat shrooms so I almost never get to have them.  When he is gone working his overnights, I sometimes splurge on a shroomy dish I can have all to myself in his absence.  If you don’t like shrooms, just leave them out!  (How many times can I say “shrooms” in this paragraph?  SHROOMS!)  Also, I used frozen vegetables, and I did not thaw them before cooking.  I just threw them in frozen, put a lid on, and the steam cooked them to perfection.  This will serve two hungry people; I made it when I was home alone, ate half for dinner that night and split the remaining half over lunch and dinner the next day.  Yum!  🙂

Spicy Chili-Garlic Stir Fry
Serves 2

2 Tbs coconut oil
3/4lb to 1lb raw boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/3 cup whole raw almonds
2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables (I used broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower from the freezer section)
1/2 cup mixed bell pepper strips
6oz baby button mushrooms, stems removed and schrooms sliced
1-2 Tbs chili garlic sauce (I use Huy Fond Foods brand)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat coconut oil over medium heat in large saute pan until hot (a bit of moisture flicked in the oil will sizzle.  BE CAREFUL.)  Add sliced chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.  Add almonds and cook about 3 minutes.  Add frozen mixed vegetables, bell peppers, button mushrooms, and chili garlic sauce.  Put a lid on the pan and cook until vegetables are heated through and mushrooms are tender, a few minutes.  Check frequently and stir as needed to prevent sticking/burning.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

2-week Challenge Check-in

18 Aug

Sambie here, to check in after week two of the NF 6-week challenge.  One of the main components of my challenge is the player-v-player competition between me and my new online pal WesB from Georgia.  Don’t know him from Adam, but man, we’re challenging each other by laying down some great bodyweight workouts!  We are counting total reps over all, and at the end of 6wks whichever one of us has clocked the most reps wins a NF t-shirt, courtesy of the other.  Note: we are tallying all reps, so doing 15 dumbbell rows each arm means 30 reps total for that circuit, and each second of plank holds counts as a rep.

Today’s PvP Challenge Workout:

Date: 18 Aug 2012
Warm-up: burpees, high-knees
Cool-down: Um. Dancing to Thriller. Shut up.

Squats: 90 (30 + 30 +30)
Pushups: 39 (13 + 13 + 13)
Lunges: 90 (30 + 30 + 30)
Rows: 78 (26 + 26 + 26)
Plank: 44s + 49s + 55s
Jacks: 160 (50 + 50 + 60)
Between circuits: 60 second brisk walk around yard

Today’s Reps: 605
Total Reps So Far: 3001

Just tried to maintain most of my reps today. I went up to 20lbs for the rows, and it was really hard to get 13 reps each arm each circuit without sacrificing form. I didn’t push it. That last plank and last set of jacks brought to you by the song “Thriller” and the letters W, T, and F.

Mini-Challenge Workout

As NF Rebel forces have taken the castle Arcadea, we now are faced with the task of clearing enemy munitions and battle debris out of the many halls and rooms.  We also have to bring in our own munitions, our supplies, and our wounded for shelter; we’re gonna be here for awhile.  In other words, move and carry stuff!

For this mini-challenge, today I tacked on the following after the PvP bodyweight circuits above:

4x 40 meters farmer’s carry with 20# each hand
2x 40 meters tire flips (the first quarter of that, my tire was filled with rainwater AND I was going uphill)

Challenge completed!  Reward: 1XP (+1 STR)

Needless to say, my arms are Jell-o!

And so it begins…

3 Aug

Sambie’s Challenge: Level I

     At first glance, you’d think a half-Gelfling Ranger in my position wouldn’t need much strength to get through the day. If you’re a City person, chances are you’d think my job at the Social Service Unit is mostly cushy, State-funded desk work that lets me get fat on government pensions and undisclosed perks. I guarantee that if you walk a 10-hour shift in my shoes, you’ll see why you’d be wrong. Sure, I guess you could say I’m one of those pigs who works for the State. Granted, it’s the signature of a Statie ‘crat none of us have ever seen that graces the corner of my pay waiver every two weeks. And sure, I occasionally get stuck behind the desk in the State office at City Center, cranking out all the forms I neglected to “complete timely.”Mostly, though, I’m out here, coaxing my old SUV down these gods-forgotten, pocked roads to “deal with” the Enclave. That’s the gist of my job, as far as the State is concerned: keep the Clavers quiet, keep ’em high if I have to, just do whatever it takes to keep them from bleeding out of their compound into Proper Society. Sounds like a real peach of a job, right? I bet you’re wondering what crime I committed to get stuck with this gig.
     Actually, nothing. I chose this job as quick as it came up on the social services Roster wheel downtown. Prior to, I’d been suffocating as a desk jockey, a backup sidekick to some ego-inflated ‘crat whose primary goal in life is to do as little as possible and wallow in his status as an “elite” Statie, fat on money and power and State-funded hedonism. Basically, whenever he got stuck with a piece of grit work, anything that required the slightest mental or physical exertion, he and his #1 sidekick would find some crafty, bulletproof way to pawn it off on me and then take all the credit. So yeah, when Clave duty came up on the Roster, I jumped at the chance. Nobody else wanted the job, which meant I got to be assigned solo. Nobody really even wants to know how I’m doing; they’d know if I was dead because Clave duty’d come up on the Roster again, and as long as that doesn’t happen they’re all happy to leave me out here to work alone.
     The Enclave is a huge heavily-forested compound on the outskirts of the outskirts of City Proper where all the social refuse collects, like trash in the corner of an alley. There’s a lot of moss druggies here, thieves, political insurrectionists, union boys, and young kids who failed–by genetics or on purpose–to survive some element of the City’s strict culling system. In other words, it’s intense out here; these people are as real as it gets because life saw them for who they are and spit in their faces. I’m the liason between City and Clave, because as the State found out after its most recent failed attempt to starve them out, Clavers are here to stay. Clavers didn’t trust me when I got here a few months ago, till they found out I had Gelfling blood in me. Oh yeah; there’s a lot of Gelfings and Gelfling halfies out here too. Few things’ll land you in Clave quicker than Gelfling DNA; City folk can’t seem to stomach us. When it comes to my genetic history, what the State doesn’t know keeps me safe, for now. Somehow I managed to have almost no Gelfing traits in my appearance, though I can manage a decent dreamfast and I’m unnaturally quick on my feet. Clavers still aren’t sold on me, but seems like I’m breaking through a little bit. Best way to do that? Get dirty. When I’m out here checking the water and nutri rations or dropping off a load of sanctioned moss, I keep my ears open for what’s going on and jump in. Hunting some wood cat? I’m there. Moving rock in the steam tunnel? I’m there. Climbing the crumbling scaffold to collect coveted barred finch eggs? Yep, I’m there too. All that running, chucking, and climbing means I’m starting to look a little bit like a Claver…that City flab is slowly being replaced by hard muscle that I have to keep carefully hidden under my dress uniform at the State office. This is life on the boundary lines of power, and I find I love walking that tightrope. I live alone, I prefer to work alone, and in the Clave nobody cares who you are as long as you don’t flinch when a raging, green-eyed moss junkie comes at you with a stonehammer. Clave duty means getting Clavers to trust me enough to let me keep them safe from the State. I can do that, but first, I have to be able to prove I’m strong enough, physically and mentally, to bear the responsibility.

Name: Sambie
Half-Gelfling Ranger, Clave duty
Level 1
STR 2 / DEX 1 / STA 3 / CON 3 / WIS 4 / CHA 2
Weight: 197lbs
Height: 5’8.5″
Body fat % – ?


–Run 1 mile at 4.0mph or higher on the treadmill without stopping or walking STA +3 DEX +1
–Perform a 2-minute plank with good form STR +3
–Eat true paleo all day, one day each week CON +2 CHA +1

–Meditate for 25 min/day 6 days/wk and 45min 7th day (weekend day) WIS +3 CHA +2

Personal bonuses:
Extra gold stars if I can run 1mile on both the treadmill and my trail loop without stopping/walking; trail loop includes two moderately death-inducing hills, a row of crabapple trees that require ducking under, slippery grass, and the potential for neighborhood animals to eat me.

Extra gold stars if I add true paleo meals to days of the week besides my all-day-paleo day.

Extra gold stars if I add in a weekly dharma study session to supplement the meditation practice.