Paleo Christmas Menu and Christmas in NYC

Bryant Park Christmas Tree

New York City is a magical place at Christmas time. This was not the first year I have ventured in from the ‘burbs to partake of the festive atmosphere.

*Static Noises*

STOP!

Ben-time.

Mwahahahahahahaha! My mom was going to write about her paleo Christmas recipes but I have taken her computer hostage to write about MY day in NYC. I write this on an airplane, with a dying macbook pro, my mom is looking over my shoulder at the progress window as we back up the whole computer onto a hard drive. I am super tech savvy, so I helped her use it even though it is meant for Microsoft Windows machines. SO there. Ha!

Oh, you wan’t me to stay on-topic? Where do I start? Well… I’ll break our day up into small segments, (in chronological order) that have titles that sum-up the segment.

Enjoy!

Boys with Empire State Building

  • Take the train, he said. It will be fun, he said.

The first memorable part of my day was waiting for the train to arrive at the station. Because NJ transit is pretty much the worst commuter train ever, we literally had about 45 minutes in delays. Fun! :|

  • Omnamnomnomnomamnomnom-munch-munchnomnomnomnomnomnom. Nom.

Bareburger. Yum. Best burgers. Ever. Not sure if I get the bear theme, but you know, BURGERS! By the time we got there we were pretty tired out from walking for such a long time, so I was ready for some epic omnom time. The food was ready almost immediately after we ordered, which was awesome, because it usually takes longer based on past experiences. Gluten-free bun + bison patty + bacon = heaven in a burger.  I’m completely serious. It was delicious. My mouth waters at the thought of such deliciousness.

  • Hat

I got a new hat. I guess you could say that I am a “smurf.” See photo below!

  • WhoahAhhhhhhh!

We went Ice skating next, which was a nightmare at first but got better as I got the hang of skating, Nathaniel, on the other hand, never quite got it, but he had fun regardless of his skill level. We both fell over like 700 million times, and the zamboni took like 300 years, but like I said, we had fun. Afterwards we got hot chocolate which tasted SOOOOO good.


Boys at Bryant Park Rink-2

  • OOOOOH! AHHHHH!

We walked to the Rockefeller tree afterwards. It was pretty amazing but then we realized that it lined up with angelic statues, when you looked at it from a certain angle it was absolutely stunning. It was quite literally breathtaking. The amount of work that must have gone into making it look like that is crazy if you think about it. The Saks 5th avenue show ON THE SIDE of the building was pretty incredible too.

  • The ride home

Of course, not everything can be perfect. That’s why our day unfortunately ended with my worst experience I’ve ever had on a train, ever. It was a double-decker train, but it was packed. We didn’t get a seat until much later in the train ride, but that was almost immediately before we got off the train, so it didn’t really help. Whatever, the day as a whole was great, so it made up for the bad train ride.

Radio City Music Hall

Now my mom will take it from here. Bye!

Lea’s Paleo Christmas Menu Continue reading

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Paleo Spirit in Brooklyn: Botanic Garden, Fatty ‘Cue and OddFellows

Brooklyn Bridge

It’s been decided. Brooklyn is where I want to live.

Of course, I also want to live in Costa Rica, Tuscany and New Zealand. Well, then there’s Hawaii, Sardinia and Austin. Okay, so maybe I’m a little fickle when it comes to places I have visited or wish to visit. But seriously, Brooklyn does have its charms. Having lived in the New York City area for many years it is a bit of a travesty we had never visited Brooklyn. So one Saturday in August we ventured to Brooklyn to take in a few sites and enjoy some tasty (hopefully paleo-friendly food). We tackled the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a couple of establishments serving cutting edge, high-quality eats: Fatty ‘Cue and OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The gardens were recommended by an artist friend, Graydon Parrish, who lived in Brooklyn during his early art-school days. He knows I like flowers and did not steer me wrong because the gardens are absolutely stunning.

The BBG has a lot of educational sections for kids. I love how it provides an area for city kids to learn a lot about gardening and just have plain old fun interacting with nature.

Boys playing with watercompostingNat gardening

The flowers in the garden are amazing, astounding, astonishing!

Wisdom in a flowerBotanic Garden triple sign #2Sunflowers

Butterflies and flowers #2Butterfly and flowers

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden left us spellbound with all the natural beauty from the ponds with lilies to the Shakespeare Garden, Japanese garden, Gingko Tree Alley and more.

Botanic Garden Collage #1

Asian garden double #2

Fatty ‘Cue Restaurant

After our visit to the gardens we ventured to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn for dinner at Fatty ‘Cue. Continue reading

Beyond Bacon Book Release Party

A few weeks ago, G and I attended the book release party for Beyond Bacon, the amazing cookbook by our friends Matt and Stacy from Paleo Parents. At the time, we were vacationing at G’s parents’ home in Ocean City, Maryland. After deciding to leave the boys with their grandparents, we proceeded to drive across the Chesapeake Bay (via a rather scary bridge*) to Virginia. Our destination was the Red Apron Butchery for a party celebrating the book release.

Red Apron is just about the coolest butcher shop ever, filled with delicious, pastured meat products and much more.

Beyond Bacon Red Apron

G and I enjoyed the meat-themed ambiance of the venue. Pastured pork products celebrated in abundance! Check out G eyeing me with skepticism while trying to peek at his phone. We spied a few tongue-in-cheek album cover recreations and sampled the “Original Sin” hard cider. (Don’t tell my mom. She once photoshopped out a beer I was holding in a photo because she didn’t think it was becoming. Oh Mom.)

4 pics Lea and Gav red apron

After waiting in a fairly substantial line of folks wanting to congratulate Matt and Stacy, I took my turn posing with the couple of hour. Stacy looked beautiful and glowing and Matt was quite the buff Crossfit guy. They were both justifiably proud of their creation!

Paleo Spirit and Paleo Parents Continue reading

Uncle Bill’s Farm: Our First CSA

Uncle Bill's sign

Even though we’ve frequented farmer’s markets for years, this is our first year joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). This past Saturday was the first weekend for pick-up and I took my camera to capture the occasion. Our local CSA is Uncle Bill’s Farm which is owned and operated by Sarah Carden and Alex Cookfair. The farm is right smack in the middle of New Jersey horse country. In fact, the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters is practically around the corner. Given that we’re in horse country, it should come as no surprise  the 40 acre property is a former horse farm which has been slowly converted over the last few years to a small scale produce and poultry farm.

After visiting the Uncle Bill’s Farm in April for a tour I have been anxiously awaiting opening day of the CSA. And because I was so excited to feast my eyes on the veggie bounty I was one of the first to arrive. (Well, that and I was getting nagged to hurry so we could drive down to Philly for Comic Con.)

Upon entering Uncle Bill’s Farm, the first thing I encountered was the veggie washing station that included a groovy claw-foot tub.

washing station

Getting closer to the pick-up area, I spied a cool table holding some herbs and veggie plants for sale. Those are some serious table legs.

Herbs

The first step was to sign in.  Sarah verified my purchase of one full share (one bushel basket) and one full egg share (one dozen eggs) per week.

Sign in sheet

Now it was time to check out what was available for the week – all picked fresh that morning.

First up, wild garlic. I swear this is the stuff I have been weeding out of my yard! I had no idea it was actually edible.

Wild Garlic

Next up – beautiful, fresh radishes in different varieties and baby turnips. Lovely.

Radish

And then my favorite – beets! It never ceases to amaze me how many people have never eaten fresh beets. Beets and their greens are both wonderful. I’ve posted several beet recipes because I love them dearly. (Links at the bottom of this post).

Beets

The freshly picked greens were in abundance, delighting the early members. The offerings included common curly kale, lacinato (dinosaur) kale, mixed greens, arugula, butter lettuce and chard.

GreensShoppers

The rainbow chard was especially spectacular. (I’ll be posting a recipe for rainbow chard in a day or two.) Continue reading

Duck Confit Sweet Potato Hash and a Day in New York City

Paleo Breakfast HashMy husband G works in New York City. He had to work late on Friday night and all day Saturday so his company put him up in a hotel. The boys and I tagged along for moral support. The fact that we could enjoy some of the greatness that NYC has to offer had NOTHING to do with it. Nope. Nothing. It was purely sacrificial on our part. ;-)

Since we were there early Saturday morning, the boys and I made our way to The Breslin which is a restaurant in the Ace Hotel. We ordered the “Full English Breakfast”  – one for me and one for the boys to split (plus an extra side of sausage, of course!)

Breslin English Breakfast

The breakfast came with blood pudding, also known as black pudding or blood sausage. It is a popular dish in many parts of the world but not something Americans tend to eat. No matter how paleo-esque it might be, the thought of eating blood pudding did not fill me with glee. The restaurant would not allow for substitutions so I did try the pudding. But while it essentially tasted like breakfast sausage, I could not get past the IDEA of eating blood.

Here’s a photo of the pudding – it’s a terrible shot but you get the idea.

Not appetizing. Sorry all you blood pudding fans…

Everything else was delicious but I made the mistake of letting the boys sit next to each other so it ended up being one of the most expensive and frustrating breakfasts I have ever had. My intention of taking lots of photos did not pan out partly because it was very dark in the restaurant but mostly because I was just so aggravated. The boys were far more manageable after they stuffed themselves with lots of pork products and eggs. Whew! (For more info and photos of The Breslin you can check out Nom Nom Paleo’s recent post.)

The High Line Park

After breakfast we headed to The High Line which is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It was opened in 2009  and is owned by the City of New York. It was saved from demolition by the community and is an amazing example of how to use a historic site as public space.

Here’s our view of the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building from The High Line: PaleoSpirit.com

And some of the interesting architecture visible from The High Line.

Buildings from The High Line: PaleoSpirit.com

Nathaniel enjoyed pretending to be a giant standing in the middle of the street grabbing (literally) a cab.

Moving along The High Line trail we happened upon a dashing cellist.

Cellist on The High Line: PaleoSpirit.com

Then Benjamin bounded down some of the seats lining a street overlook when disaster struck. This shot was taken about ten seconds before he fell and broke (we suspect) his arm. (And just by the way, I HATE that sign in the background.)

So that was the end of our walk. We headed back to the hotel to decide what to do with the poor little guy. Before driving back home we made a final stop at Grom for some gelato. For some reason this made Ben feel much better. Hmm.

One of our other fun experiences in New York, albeit Long Island, was referenced in my last post. For brunch in the village of Southampton I experienced duck confit sweet potato hash. It made enough of an impression that I determined to make a version of it at home. The hash uses sweet potatoes instead of the standard white potatoes which are generally eschewed on the paleo diet. But aside from that, the taste of sweet potatoes with the fatty, rich duck meat is exquisite and it’s far more beautiful than white potatoes anyway.

Duck Confit Sweet Potato Hash: PaleoSpirit.com

Duck confit is prepared by salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. The meat is rubbed with salt, garlic, and herbs then covered and refrigerated for up to 36 hours. Duck confit is often sold in cans but I was only able to find the individual legs in a local grocery store.

Duck Confit

Once you have some duck confit you can begin the process of making the duck confit sweet potato hash.

First you will need to find some sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes: paleo duck confit sweet potato hash

Then peel them.

peeling a sweet potato

Then dice them.

diced sweet potato for paleo duck confit hash

Grab a red onion, dice it up, chop some fresh parsley and congratulate yourself on being an ace sous chef.

Duck confit sweet potato hash ingredients: Paleo Spirit

Now it’s time to get serious about cooking the duck confit sweet potato hash. Continue reading

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Sunday in Southampton: Duck Confit Hash, Goat Milk Fudge and More

My husband’s boss had a party on Long Island this past weekend. You never turn down an invitation to your boss’ house…ever. And in this case his boss is awesome so we happily trekked to Long Island for the Saturday party and stayed the night with the intention of doing a little exploring the following day. The location we chose was the village of Southampton on the eastern end of Long Island. For years I have heard about “The Hamptons” and the crowds of New Yorkers who brave the traffic to spend luxurious weekends in this storied area.

The Village of Southampton

We spent a little time wandering around the downtown area drinking in the sites on that gorgeous, sunny and cool day. As you can see from this sign, the Village of Southampton has been around for a while.

In fact, the Village of Southampton was settled in 1640 and incorporated in 1894. It began with a small group of English Puritans who set sail from Lynn, Massachusetts and landed on June 12, 1640 at what is now known as Conscience Point. It is the oldest English settlement in the state of New York and is named after the British Earl of Southampton.

We passed by the Presbyterian Church building.

We said hello to a dog on the top of a car.

We happened upon a seriously cool car. A Dual Ghia.

According to Wikipedia, the Dual Ghia is a rare, short-lived, automobile make, produced in the United States between 1956 and 1958. It was a joint venture between American and Italian car makers.

Out of the 117 cars produced, 32 still existed as of 2006. The cars were mostly bought by American celebrities, such as Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, Richard Nixon and Desi Arnaz. Ronald Reagan owned one, but lost it in a high-stakes poker game with then-President Lyndon Johnson. Dean Martin can be seen driving his Dual-Ghia in the film Kiss Me, Stupid.

After gawking at the Dual Ghia – hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity owner – we visited a few unique stores in town including a cheese shop. It has some amazing selections and I noticed their deli offers gluten-free bread. Not paleo, but at least a step in the right direction.

village cheese shop

We investigated a fudge shop but managed to avoid indulging in the sweet treats. Such willpower!

The Fudge Company

Our willpower did not hold out long… Continue reading

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Assateague Island in the Morning

Assateague morning sky with gull

It’s a holiday weekend and right now I should be at the beach! But, alas, it is raining unrelentingly and we are consigned to the indoors. Fortunately, prior to the arrival of the rain, I managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to make a trip to the shore for some photographs. Assateague Island on the Maryland shore is a favorite summer destination. The natural beach there is especially beautiful in the morning before the crowds arrive.

The dose of beauty is enough to make one wax poetic.

Lifeguard chair on beach

Sand Scribblings

by Carl Sandburg

THE WIND stops, the wind begins.
The wind says stop, begin.

A sea shovel scrapes the sand floor.
The shovel changes, the floor changes.

The sandpipers, maybe they know.
Maybe a three-pointed foot can tell.
Maybe the fog moon they fly to, guesses.

The sandpipers cheep “Here” and get away.
Five of them fly and keep together flying.

Night hair of some sea woman
Curls on the sand when the sea leaves
The salt tide without a good-by.

Boxes on the beach are empty.
Shake ’em and the nails loosen.
They have been somewhere

sandpiper

Sandpipers

by Carl Sandburg

TEN miles of flat land along the sea.
Sandland where the salt water kills the sweet potatoes.
Homes for sandpipers—the script of their feet is on the sea shingles—they write in the morning, it is gone at
noon—they write at noon, it is gone at night.
Pity the land, the sea, the ten mile flats, pity anything but the sandpiper’s wire legs and feet.
Sea waves are green and wet,
But up from where they die,
Rise others vaster yet,
And those are brown and dry.

Assateague Dunes

Sand Dunes

by Robert Frost

Sea waves are green and wet,
But up from where they die,
Rise others vaster yet,
And those are brown and dry.

They are the sea made land
To come at the fisher town,
And bury in solid sand
The men she could not drown.

She may know cove and cape,
But she does not know mankind
If by any change of shape,
She hopes to cut off mind.

Men left her a ship to sink:
They can leave her a hut as well;
And be but more free to think
For the one more cast-off shell.

Assateague Dunes and Seagull

Devotion

by Robert Frost

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean–
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

Assateague beach

Thank you for stopping by. Have a beautiful day!

[Photo editing done via iPad apps: 100Cameras, SimplyHDR HD, Dynamic Light, Pic Grunger.]

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Paleo and the City: Bareburger (New York City)

When the boys are out of school in the summer we like to take a few trips into nearby New York City. We always have fun adventures. Recently, we trekked to Bareburger, a restaurant I have been interested in trying ever since hearing about it from a friend at Paleo FX in Austin. We journeyed to the heart of Midtown Manhattan to find this Paleo-friendly burger joint.

It was well worth the trip.

Benjamin was excited. He gave me his best suave look.

B at Bareburger

Bareburger’s Food

Bareburger offers organic, all natural, free-range, grass-fed meats; organic and all-natural cheeses; and organic vegetables. They partner with local artisans and sustainable farmers and emphasize old-fashioned quality.

Here’s a description of some of the ingredients they use:

Meats:
Beef: 100% organic, grass-fed, 85% lean
Bison: 100% organic, grass-fed, 91% lean
Turkey: 100% organic, free-range, 94% lean
Elk: 100% all-natural, pasture raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, 92% lean
Wild Boar: 100% all-natural, pasture raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free
Ostrich: 100% all-natural, pasture raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, 95% lean
Lamb: 100% all-natural, pasture raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, 90% lean
Chicken: 100% all-natural, free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free
Portabella Cap: 100% organic
Veggie Burger: Made with organic grains and local vegetables
Bacons: 100% all-natural, hormone-free and nitrate free
Sausage: 100% organic

Cheeses: 100% all-natural, made from pasture raised cows, rbgh-free (growth hormone)

Vegetables and Fruits: 100% organic, pesticide, herbicide and ammonia free

Dairy and Eggs: 100% organic, made from grass-fed cows

Pretty impressive.

Gluten-Free Options at Bareburger

Continue reading

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Book Review and Giveaway: “Eat Like A Dinosaur”

(The Giveaway is over now. We have a lucky winner! See below)

The recipe and guidebook for gluten-free kids called “Eat Like a Dinosaur” by Paleo Parents has been our kitchen companion for a few months now. Our family has been following a paleo way of eating for quite a while. I buy and prepare the food and pack the school lunches so Benjamin and Nathaniel have not had much choice in the matter. We work hard to make sure eating this way is fun, tasty, and not a constant battle. And while they may put up a fuss about certain dishes now and then, for the most part, the boys have been on board. But Eat Like A Dinosaur has made getting my kids to enjoy eating whole, healthful foods even easier. Reading about and seeing photos of Stacy and Matt’s kids, Cole, Finian and Wesley has helped my boys understand they are not the only kids eating a paleo diet. It has given them more confidence when talking to their friends about their food choices. Nathaniel especially liked the illustrated children’s story that makes up chapter two and has read it several times. Most of all, my boys have enjoyed the recipes in the book. They have fun going through Eat Like a Dinosaur on their own, letting me know what they want to make and then helping me make it.

I think girls as well as boys would enjoy and benefit from this book. But one reason it has gone over especially well with our family is the general love of all things dinosaur. Here are my guys at the newly opened Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus, New Jersey just last week. The 30 animatronic dinosaurs were super cool and, not surprisingly, the T-Rex (with the Empire State Building in the background) was the favorite. (We enjoyed ourselves there in spite of the 95 degree temperature!)T-Rex with Empire State BuildingBack to the book….

Here is a summary of the key features of “Eat Like A Dinosaur”

  • 288 pages – more than recipes, includes a “how to” chapter for parents and “projects” to get the family spending time together
  • illustrated kids story aims to get kids excited and thinking positively about embracing food changes
  • over 100 recipes and projects which are grain-, dairy-, legume- and refined sugar-free, but not lacking in flavor or fun!
  • all recipes have full color, bright, fun layout with corresponding photo – enticing to kids
  • allergy-friendly book has top 8 allergens on each page and easy index in the back
  • written & photographed by normal suburban family who turned their health around with switching to a “real foods” diet (lost over 200lbs, kids no longer have asthma, eczema, allergies, behavioral issues, etc.)
  • All recipes are Paleo, but it’s not a Paleo specific book – it’s for all kinds of families with a wide range of food habits – including those with allergies, WAPF, GFCF or simply trying to eat better.

 

 A few of our favorite recipes from Eat Like a Dinosaur:

  • 50/50 Bacon Burgers
  • Apple Bacon Slaw
  • Deviled Bacony Eggs
  • Baconnaise
  • Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

 

Notice a pattern?

Well, the Banana Bread doesn’t have bacon in it….although I’m sure we could find a way to work it in somehow…

Just yesterday we made Deviled Bacony Eggs. Here’s what they looked like. Continue reading

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Paleo in Maryland: Steamed Crabs

I’m a very crabby guy.

But when I say crabby, I don’t mean curmudgeonly or cantankerous, although I’ve occasionally been accused of both.

I mean I love to eat crabs. Steamed crabs.

Maryland steamed crabServe’em up with some ice-cold beer on a picnic table covered with old newspaper and in my humble opinion, you’ve pretty much achieved Nirvana.

But that’s because I’m from Maryland, where steamed crabs are more than food – they’re a way of life. Marylanders have been gorging themselves on steamed crabs since the first settlers paddled up the Chesapeake Bay in 1634, and even before that if you consider Native American tribes like the Nanticoke and the Powhatan.

There was a time when hardly anyone outside of the Delmarva Peninsula – that’s where Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia all collide on the eastern side of the Chesapeake – ate much crabs, but that’s changed in recent years. It’s not hard to get a decent crab cake in most American cities nowadays, but steamed crabs? That’s a different story!

So whenever Lea and I visit my Mom & Dad on Maryland’s eastern shore, we make a point to have steamed crabs. Lea, a native Texan, had never had steamed crabs before she met me, but after 15 years of marriage she can tear into them with gusto! She also likes that eating steamed crabs fits in well with her lower-carb, paleo diet.

Now…a little bit about the crabs, themselves. The ones that we eat in Maryland are called Callinectes sappidus, which means “tasty beautiful swimmer” in Latin. But that’s a mouthful for a Marylander, so we just call them “Blue crabs,” which makes sense because before they get tossed in the pot they actually are…blue.

We like to think of blue crabs as our own, but the truth is they’re found all the way from Nova Scotia down into the Gulf of Mexico and even as far south as Argentina! Good thing, too, because due to over-fishing, most of the crabs we eat are imported from Louisiana! No matter, they’re still blue crabs, and nobody does them like they’re done in Maryland…sorry, Virginia! Continue reading

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