Tag Archives: food

The Best Way to Season Your Cast Iron? Don’t!

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There are only two reasons why you would need to season your cast iron: you have low-quality cast iron or you are cooking with industrial seed oils (also known as “vegetable” oils) like corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and canola (rapeseed) oil. Most of the lower priced cast iron today is much more porous than the cast iron of yesteryear; back in the day the cast iron was denser and milled smooth and slick.

If you run your finger across the cooking surface of your pan, is there a pebbly feel? If so you have a low quality pan. I highly suggest going to rummage sales, estate sales, flea markets, and the like and find some old cast iron. When you look at the cooking surface of the pan, you should see faint concentric rings in the bottom and it will feel slick to the touch.

Even if you have the porous, pebbly cheap stuff, if you cook with saturated fat like animal fat or coconut oil, your food will stick much less than if you used the highly processed vegetable oils. Saturated fat is less susceptible to oxidation than vegetable oils, so it is less likely to allow your cast iron to rust. You know that crusty black stuff that is so revered in the cast iron world as “seasoning”? It is gross and unnecessary; it is a buildup of old food and old, oxidized industrial seed oil that has turned into a hard plastic coating. Example (ewwww):
gross residue

A good pan, properly used with saturated fat remains slick and smooth with no buildup of residue. It will turn a pleasing dark brown with use. When you use saturated fats with your pan, you clean your pan either by wiping it out with a paper towel if it is very clean oil (frying eggs in coconut oil), or by using very hot water and a stainless steel scouring pad (after removing all fat – you don’t want to put that down your drain), and for the really tough jobs you can even *GASP!* use dishwashing soap. I know, blasphemy!

After cleaning and drying your pan, simply rub a little coconut oil or bacon fat into the pan and it is good to go. I have gone from using the new cheap cookware with vegetable oil and accumulating that gross stuck on crusty surface in an attempt to make my pans nonstick, to using the old quality pans with saturated fat and no “seasoning” and the way I cook now is so much better. The only times I have to wash the pans beyond a simple scrubbing with steel is when I cook something thick and sticky like chili.

There are a lot of makers of the good old pans, including Griswold (who also made Victor, ERIE and Iron Mountain), Wagner, Lodge (old Lodge is unmarked – look for 3 notches in the heat ring on the underside of the pan), Wapak, Favorite Piqua, and Birmingham. There are also a lot of really good unmarked pans, so just look for the slick cooking surface with milling marks.

Examples:
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My favorite cast iron pan came with our house when we bought it abandoned. I have looked at hundreds of pictures of old cast iron and haven’t seen a handle configuration like mine yet. I have no clue what brand it is but it is very light-weight, slick, and the handle doesn’t get hot. I have another unmarked pan that was my grandmother’s and its handle doesn’t get hot either. It is warm to the touch, but you can cook in it for an hour and still pick it up without using a hot pad. That’s a well designed pan!

Edited to add that here is a vintage Lodge pan for $10.50!

Fat Burner

Fat-Burners-For-Women

I am absolutely addicted to the raw heavy cream that we get at this adorable little dairy in a town near us. It’s not even worth drinking coffee without it; I’m only drinking coffee right now to keep in practice for Friday, when I will be reunited with my cream. Not only does it taste so good, creamy, smooth, and sweet, but my brain really seems to need the fat.

Every once in a while, I’ll try life without cream, usually trying to skinny up for a meetup like Vegas and now Mardi Gras. The jury is out on whether or not reducing my calories by 350-400 per day and fat intake of 35-40 grams a day does any good at all in skinnying me up because frankly, I haven’t noticed any difference in the past few weeks of any sort of size change.

I have noticed a huge difference in my brain function. I noticed this the last time I tried it in late September, but the change wasn’t as noticeable for some reason, perhaps because I’ve been eating a lot of resistant starch in the form of cooked (in bone broth) and cooled parboiled white rice and properly soaked and fermented lentils cooked in broth with ham. These meals are higher carb and have a lot lower fat than I usually eat.

A few days after I quit the heavy cream, I got really manic. Really manic, like bouncing off the walls manic. Gibbering, mind and mouth going a million miles an hour manic. Then my moods started swinging: thrill, angst, doom, excitement, and the roller-coaster of emotions zooming up and down. Now, there aren’t so many emotions but I feel like I’m getting a migraine, and I haven’t had one of those in a long time.

I’ve been eating coconut oil to try to soothe my brain, and it sort of works, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as cream. I was going to use butter in my coffee, but the only butter I had around was salted. Luckily, Thursdays and Mondays are the days to go on a cream run, so I’ll have some for my coffee Friday. Whew!

Frankly, I’m done trying to get resistant starch. I haven’t noticed any differences there either. I’m not sure what to look for either, but I’m willing to bet that if I take Deep Strength’s advice and let my diet stabilize, I will be a lot better off. So, I’m done with resistant starch. It’s something that I will acknowledge and store in the back of my mind, but I’m going back to high saturated fat with meat, broth, whatever veggies that don’t hurt me, and the occasional carb or two.

Fungus Among Us

fungus among us

So, I’m off on another gut flora biofilm tangent. After writing my post on rice beer, I was wondering exactly what the beneficial mold did for a person’s health & Then I started wondering if mold or fungi was every bit as important to gut health as bacteria. I was reading Dr. Art Ayers’ new post & he mentioned in passing:

I have previously discussed the gut flora (bacteria and fungi) as the source of most vitamins. […] The human gut actively communicates with the biofilms of bacteria and fungi that form a lining for the healthy gut.  The aggressive cells of the immune system that attack invading pathogens, develop in response to chemical signals from filamentous gut bacteria, and the suppressive cells of the other half of the immune system, which prevents attack on innocuous food antigens (to avoid allergies) or the human body itself (autoimmunity), develop in response to Clostridium ssp.  Thus, the immune system can be highly compromised, if the gut flora bacteria are damaged, e.g. by antibiotics.

Which was a big Whoa! Back up! I searched all mentions of fungi on his blog, and frankly there are a bunch. I’m still trying to get through it all. There is very little other information online about the beneficial molds & fungi & how they interact with the biofilms that line your gut.

Specifically, I want to know how to decrease the pathogenic biofilms & increase the beneficial ones, but even Dr Ayers says:

Oh, it is so embarrassing. I don’t know how to control gut flora/biofilms with diet. Clearly communication between gut and flora are important and this is all perturbed by food. Prebiotics/probiotics can alter gut flora, e.g. the monoculture (Bifidobacteria) of exclusively breastfed babies. Reciprocal fecal transplants can make obese lose weight and lean gain. Transplants of whole guts survive if maintained by retaining the gut contents.

The immune system is developed and maintained by secondary school in the gut. The gut holds reserve bacteria in the appendix to reseed the gut after diarrhea sheds biofilms and all.

Unfortunately we don’t know the requisite bacteria stored in a healthy appendix. Otherwise, at any time we could reset the gut by pushing the diarrhea button and return to health.

I think that pre and probiotics are a hedge to shift the meaningful biofilms toward health. I don’t understand the whole gut community and it may include unsavory characters such as H. pylori and parasitic worms. Some of these characters, such as Hp and Klebsiella may cause ulcers or cancer when the body gets out of whack. So we may have to make some unnatural adjustments. Little is known.

So there’s that. I’m still sorting through information & trying to get it to meld in my mind, but the problem is that there is so little information on the subject of beneficial molds, look at the tiny amount of info wikipedia has.

I guess what I’m trying to figure out is: will eating blue cheese, drinking rice beer & etc. help populate my gut with beneficial fungi? When I was taking ginger, turmeric & digestive enzymes to disrupt the pathogenic biofilms, was I also disrupting the beneficial ones? Should I try disrupting ALL biofilms while eating a ton of fermented foods?

Or, as Dr Ayers says, should I quit eating a diverse diet in favor of a constant diet:

The hundred of different species of bacteria in the gut change in proportions to adapt to different foods in each meal.  If the diet is fairly constant, then the diversity of the population gradually increases, just as the diversity of species in a tropical rain forest is greater than in a temperate forest.  This also explains why gut flora diversity is far less in the USA than in other parts of the world.  Americans are encouraged to eat diverse diets in the search for vitamins and superfoods.  Each dramatic change in diet makes it hard for the gut flora to adapt and the remaining bacteria are those that are generalists.  It might also be expected that early sailors who changed their diets dramatically when they went to sea, ended up with a highly compromised ship-board gut flora (and fauna.)

Anyway, this is what I’m doing instead of entertaining you (or working, lol). I do plan on ordering some kefir grains & a kumbucha mother & I plan on starting a batch of homemade sauerkraut to get some extra bacteria in my system.

The question is, will this help or hurt? If a diverse diet is harmful to gut flora, does that mean that eating a diverse diet of fermented foods is harmful too?

Attractive Privilege

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Perusing Twitter I saw this:

So there’s this really, really cool tumblr that points out why you bitches who take care of your weight & hair & clothing are privileged. So stop it. Why don’t you gain a million pounds & quit washing your hair already. Those heels & that makeup are only compounding the problem; try eating a carton of ice cream every once in a while, gah. Figure it out already; if you are attractive you are as bad as a racist or a person with thin privilege. Stupid hotties.

Attractive privilege is having one of your best friends like a guy and see him give off signals that he may too, only to find out from one of his guy friends he wants someone who is “pretty” that he could “have sex” with, someone who is “attractive”, which is code for not ugly apparently. As if ugly women can’t do any of those things, as if the only way to know if you’re attractive is by your face…disgusting.

Attractive privilege is being able to feel good about your body.

Attractive privilege is being able to go into a restaurant without people giving you strange looks.

Attractive privilege is not having entire campaigns dedicated to eradicating your face type.

Attractive privilege is knowing boys would rather have sex with you.

Attractive privilege is getting tips when you work at a strip club. I used to work at a strip club in Los Angeles. At most strip clubs, strippers work as independent contractors that earn their pay through tips, lap dances, private dances, the works. When I worked there for a month, I barely got any tips. Was this because I was the only fat stripper there? Felt like it. I feel like the club should have been more active in making sure I got a fair pay while I worked there. Fat people should have just as much of a chance as earning money in stripping as their thin counterparts.

If you have trouble overcoming your attractive privilege, I have a few handy tips for you to try:

1.) Cut your hair really short – make it look “edgy” like it was cut with a weedwacker.
2.) Get a lot of really cool tattoos of famous peoples’ faces. Chest tattoos are best.
3.) Eat a little more; no one wants to date a stick, get yer curve on, girl!
4.) Dresses are fussy & tight jeans are uncomfortable; sweatpants are juuuust right!
5.) Don’t look fake & wear makeup. Try the natural look, heck, don’t even wash your face.
6.) Throw that razor away; boys should love you for you, armpit hair included.
7.) Working out is a hassle & there are all those D-bags at the gym. Boycott the gym!
8.) Heels are uncomfortable & make it hard to walk; flip-flops are cheap & easy.

So don’t be privilegists & tip your fat strippers ‘cuz they need $$$ too!

What a Drag it is Getting Old

getting-older

Ugh, so in the last week I noticed that I have a bad spot on my thumb that got pretty inflamed & after complaining about it, I was told it was a bone spur. Off to the computer I go to see what the hell I can do about it. Of course, hundreds & hundreds of links from spinal/orthopedic clinics recommend surgery because, you know, they need the money! Offices are expensive!

After reading up on bone spurs, I realized that I have one on my left foot that I thought was caused by the clutch in my little 5-speed. Dang, bone spurs are probably the cause of the pain in my elbow & my husband’s shoulder & lower back. Crap, if we both have the same thing, our diets are probably the cause. I would really, really like to keep my 5-speed because it is incredibly fun to drive (& it’s a rocket!), but if it continues to be painful I will have to get a boring old automatic.

At the risk of boring the ever-loving crap out of you, I will report my findings here because; well, this is what I’m obsessed with this week, so it has all my concentration. Besides, my thumb & the ball of my foot HURT! And there is no way I’m letting some money hungry (or other) doctor cut into my flesh when I haven’t explored every other avenue. Besides, if I am boring, think how exciting everything else you read will seem 🙂

I do need to state that we had a lot of these problems way before we happened upon the paleo diet, & whereas the paleo diet has helped us immensely, our diet is very loosely based on it. We mainly eat the best, cleanest, real food diet that we can, comprised of foods that do not cause us pain. Having said that, we have been eating/drinking foods that cause pain recently – time to clean up the diet!

I figure that something that is caused by diet (inflammation, etc) can be cured by diet. I looked for an anti-inflammatory diet & found this one & realized that we were already doing all of that. I looked & looked & made a list of all the offerings the internet had for natural remedies for bone spurs & this is what I came up with (in no particular order):

Kelp
Curcumin – turmeric 500-1000mg 3x on empty stomach
Proteolytic Digestive enzymes – bromelain (sinuses) betain HCI / 3x on empty stomach
Vitamin C to extreme
Vitamin D to extreme
Omega 3
K-2 MK-4 menatetrenome
Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfates
Apple cider vinegar – unfiltered
Ginger 5g daily
Gelatin
Magnesium
Feverfew
Celery
DMSO – local application
Epsom Salts – local application
Flaxseed oil on bandaid on spur – local application
Linseed oil – local application

We already have a lot of this stuff, so I will continue to do those, but there were a lot of them that stood out. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar might be a good one – some of the articles said that irregular calcium deposits were caused by an alkaline system, so ACV might acidify it a bit. I’ll try to take a little in water in the morning. Oh, and for all you conspiracy theorists out there, about a third of the natural health sites I went to gave the fluoride in tap water as a leading cause of bone spurs. So, who knows.

K-2 MK-4 (menatetrenome) is another; evidently there is a synergy between K-2 & D3. Richard at Free the Animal has an article about K-2 & his teeth, which is very interesting. After taking it for a while, he noticed that he didn’t get deposits on his teeth any more. I get those hard white deposits on the inside lower teeth that have to be scraped each dentist visit. Once again, irregular deposits that are also probably calcifying my arteries & my bone spurs. Yay!

A lot of the sites recommended proteolytic digestive enzymes, which if you look on the label, contain bromelain . Reading up on them, ding ding ding! These enzymes are also important in dissolving fibroids. I totally had fibroids until they mysteriously went away when I started on paleo (or maybe the onset of menopause). The plot thickens! It is recommended that they be taken 3x daily on an empty stomach.

It is also recommended that curcumin be taken 3x daily on an empty stomach, so off I went to search & I found this article & read it 3x & have no idea what the hell it says, but it looks official. There are a ton of supplements that combine curcumin & proteolytic enzymes, so I’m going to assume that there are no contraindications taking them together.

I will also try using Epsom salts locally & flaxseed oil on a bandaid. The gelatin, glucosamine & chondroitin (& MSM, which is gelatin) would probably be good. So yes, I am taking the shotgun approach to this problem, which is the way I naturally do EVERYTHING, so that I never know what cured me, I just want a cure, any cure. Now!

I think what made my thumb flare up is that we tried a little foray into local craft beer, which caused us pain & inflammation (we tried just the IPA later & still had pain) then on Saturday we each ate a piece of pizza, which led to us ordering a whole pizza & eating it. We will have to clean up our act & quit hurting ourselves. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Anyway, I’ll try to update with any results from my latest experiment.

[Note: Looking further into the items on the list, it looks like a lot of them are used for candida overgrowth – maybe the bone spurs are a just a symptom of that. I’m going to start with the “mother” unfiltered ACV, bromelain, betain HCI, Vitamin C & curcumin turmeric for a while & see how that goes before trying a bunch of other stuff. Maybe I’ll try the topical ones also, haven’t decided.]

Adventures in Freezing Meat

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While I’m fermenting my next introvert girl (care & feeding) post for a couple more days (in me braiin), I thought I’d talk about what I’ve been doing lately: dealing with a lot of meat. I’m talking a LOT of meat. We bought a chest deep-freezer a couple of months ago & have been slowly filling it with meaty sale items (also 90% dark chocolate & grassfed butter).

Not too long ago there was a sale on “extra meaty” baby back ribs (a rack for about $6), so we got a ton of them. Now there is a sale on T-bones & strip steaks for $4.99 lb, so we are cornering the market on those. The thing is that I’m new at this freezing thing, so I’m looking up a lot of stuff on ye olde interwebs.

There is a lot of conflicting info out there! My main concerns were BPA in plastics & freezer burn. I like the vacuum sealed meats because they deal with freezing pretty well & the ribs we bought came frozen, so it was easy enough to put them directly in the freezer, but do they leach BPA? You would think that this would be an easy search, but you would be mistaken.

After quite a bit of searching  I got this from from Wikipedia (so, grain of salt this info), which says that whereas there is no labeling requirements for BPA,

“In general, plastics that are marked with Resin Identification Codes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are very unlikely to contain BPA. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with the Resin Identification Code 7 may be made with BPA.”

Another site, Diapers, Etc, says:

“Choose plastics that use polyethylene (#1, #2, and #4) and polypropylene (#5), which require the use of less toxic additives. They also are non-chlorinated. Avoid choosing products that use polyvinyl chloride (#3), polystyrene (#6), and polycarbonate (#7) which often are found in clear, hard plastics used for water, baby bottles or sippy cups.”

Then there is this alarming, but thorough article from Chris Kresser that basically states that absolutely no plastics are safe. Yikes. Whatever. I’ve already quit using all plastics for preparation & storage of foods, but the meats I’m buying are already packaged in plastic & already exposed. I can’t be THAT concerned or I’ll starve to death. I’m trying to limit exposure, not go nuts trying to eliminate it altogether.

The T-bones, strip steaks & ground beef I’ve been freezing aren’t vacuum sealed, so I’ve been double-wrapping them in freezer paper. The freezer paper is coated with plastic on one side, so I went a huntin’ for info on the type of plastic used. Holy crap, this info is stupid hard to find! Finally I found this forum that said:

“Freezer paper is coated with polyethylene, the same stuff that plastic bags and milk jugs are made of. PE is not quite as inert as Teflon but it’s fairly close. No, it will not cause bisphenol offgassing because bisphenol is not used to make PE.”

Now all I need to figure out is an easy way to implement the FIFO (first in first out) method of inventory. Frozen meat is heavy & cold & unloading the whole freezer to get to the old stuff on the bottom is crazy. I started freezing a few months ago, so I have already done this once & it was no fun. As for freezer burn, I will just have to see how well my wrapped stuff lasts. I think this is something I will only know with time & experimentation.

[Note: as You So Would states in this excellent comment:

“Interesting. Reading further from that same study, it goes on to say that “The relative proliferative effects ranged from 19.8 to 50.2% corresponding to an estrogenic activity of 1.9 – 12.2 pg estradiol equivalents per liter bottled water”.

According to the Wikipedia article on Estradiol, the average male naturally has anything between 14 – 55 pg (picogram – trillionth of a gram) of Estradiol per millilitre of blood. Assuming an adult male has roughly 5 litres of blood, then this corresponds to a minimum total amount of 70,000 pg.

Therefore, at worst, each litre of bottled water can increase your overall Estradiol level by only 0.017%, which would subside again over time – I’m not sure this is anything to be concerned over?”

So, this is just another instance of me buying into “conventional wisdom”. I should know better!]

Adventures in the Kitchen

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I’ve become really good at pan frying T-bones in coconut oil. The first one I did was a major fail because I followed instructions & cooked the crap out of it. The T-bones I am able to get are just shy of an inch thick & I’ve finally perfected the cooking process.

We always split them & I like more rare & my husband likes medium to a little more well-done, so we compromise. Let the steak come to room temperature & slather with melted coconut oil. Sprinkle one side liberally with salt & pepper & put that side down in a hot, dry skillet.

I use cast iron & heat on medium heat until you toss water into the pan & it sizzles for a second before evaporating. Let the steak sizzle for 4 minutes without touching it. Then you might have to scrape it off with your spatula, salt & pepper the other side & turn & cook for another 4 minutes. Only do 3 minutes per side if you like it less done. Then I deglaze the pan with some butter, scrape up all the browned bits & fry up a mess of eggs.

Last week I started a batch of rice wine, and now I’m afraid to try it. It’s fermenting & smells alcoholic, but I did have to scoop some fuzzy mold-looking stuff off the top. Lol, do you think it will harm me? I followed some instructions that said to boil rice & water, cover & ignore for 7-10 days. I’ll don my big girl panties & try it (in a day or two). I’m going to try making it again, but this time I’m going to use Ben The Urban Farmer’s recipe.

I have also been experimenting with trying to make yogurt with raw milk. I made one batch & it got kind of funky really fast. I don’t think the naturally occuring bacteria in the raw milk liked the added bacteria from the culture much. So, off I went to the store for some new yogurt to use as starter.

I decided that I was going to go ahead & pasturize (heat) the raw milk to make yogurt. Here’s my thinking on that: I drink the raw milk & put the raw cream in my coffee, so I’m getting plenty of that bacteria in my system. I want yogurt to use as sour cream & etc, but I’m not willing to go to extreme lengths to do so. Also, the yogurt will have its own cultures, so I am getting that benefit.

The raw milk is made grassfed without antibiotics or additives & isn’t UHT like store-bought, so even though I’m destroying most of the bacteria, at least I’M doing it & not some nameless, faceless corporation that really, really wants to put aspertame in it but not in the list of ingredients. Anyway I made some yogurt last night & it looked fine this morning.