EPIC Protein Bars & a News Item

For me, this is history in the making.  I’ve never eaten a protein bar ever.  I’ve heard about them, but they sounded dry and uninteresting, and when I got to the point in my life where I started reading food labels, those things were decidedly uninteresting in spades.

Epic Protein Bar Bison

Yes, I eat at the computer sometimes.

I just picked up this one yesterday.  The brand is EPIC, and this is their BISON bacon-cranberry bar.  Well, I could have chosen their bison bar with Habanero peppers in it, but wasn’t in the Habanero mood at the moment.  They also had a beef choice and a turkey choice at the health food store I patronized.

On a splurge, I bought it.  Though at first I mis-read the caption “100% Grass Fed Bison Used” to mean “100% Used Grass Fed Bison”, which has an entirely different connotation.  Um.

I noted that the package had some flex to it.  Ergo, not a hard bar.  Good.  Hate the sensation of ripping out my canines while eating something.

I read the ingredients:  “Bison, uncured bacon – no nitrates/nitrites added* (pork, water, brown sugar, salt, vinegar, celery powder*, sea salt), dried cranberries, (cranberries, apple juice concentrate), lactic acid, celery powder*, sea salt.”  Not perfect, but intriguing.  Relatively short.  No tree nuts (to which I’ve relatively recently discovered a serious food sensitivity that definitively spreads from pistachios to pine nuts. A shame, as I’d just at that time discovered I REALLY liked Trader Joe’s pre-shelled un-dyed pistachios, and I devoured way way too many on that occasion… so, NO tree nuts, please!).  Sugar doesn’t dominate the ingredient list on this package, and there’s not that long line-up of usual nasty suspects.

* – Just so manufacturers can add nitrites/nitrates to foods one usually finds them in, and not say they did so, they add the celery powder.  They all do that.  In the fine print, they have to say they did that.  Frankly, I’m not worried about occasional nitrites/nitrates in my food — I don’t subsist on bacon, much as I like it as an occasional treat.  And I just simply assume that regular celery must contain nitrites and nitrates since its powder is so often used, and we all (most of us) still eat celery!  

All right:  pulling the lid off the cover — as it were:

Epic Protein Bars - Bison


Smells like bacon mixed with sausage.


Hmm.  Not bad.  It’s more dry-sausage-like than (what I’d imagine) bar-like would be.  The seasonings work well.  It is not bland and it is not overpowering.  It is not greasy — I photographed the bar on a paper envelope for contrast, and there was absolutely no grease residue on the envelope after.  As a note, there’s a little “fresh pac” absorbent packet inside the wrapping.

Epic Protein Bar - Bison

I LIKE this.  I’ll get more.  This particular bar said “USE BY 10-18-14-4″, and I’m not entirely clear on what this means.  October 14th,  2018?  October 18th, 2014?  I suspect the latter.  But the additional 4?  Four AM?  And, that specific on a deadline date four years (or half a year) off, even if the -4 means something else?  (If someone could enlighten me here, I’d appreciate.)

If nothing else, this might be handy and nutritious enough to have hanging around for camping and hiking trips, for road trips where your other alternative is fast “food” (this is faster, and appears far better), for long-term power outages, or for your favorite Doomsday Prepper / Zombie Apocalypse scenario.  Unfortunately they’re not cheap, but after having spent all these years without consuming protein bars, I’m not apt to be buying that many.

For further info, their website is epicbar.com.  I have no connection with these folks, and I have no idea how these stack up taste-wise with other protein bars.  But — I liked it.  (Mikey would be proud!)


Marinating pork steaks in black beer for four hours proves to decimate (by more than half) the production of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons upon grilling.  These hydrocarbons occur in smoked or grilled meats, and are linked to cancers.   I think I will be buying some dark/black stout this week.

Links to the story are here and here.




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Pears and Gouda Two Ways

Pears and Gouda Two Ways

Pears and plums are my two favorite non-berry fruits.   (A case can also be made for avocado, but that’s a fruit in its own category.)  At any rate, after the complexities in the last post, I decided to go simple, and really wanted to savor pears and Gouda cheese together.

First:  Baked Pear with Gouda and Cardamom

Pears Gouda cheese

An appetizer for two, or a small lunch for one


1 pear
about 1 ounce Gouda cheese (or your favorite melting cheese), in small slices
Olive Oil
Sprinkle of ground cardamom (cinnamon would work as well)
Ground black pepper
Watercress or parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut the pear in half, and use a melon ball-er or a spoon to scoop out the core.  Cut off any stem or bad spots.

Wipe down the cut surfaces of the pear with olive oil on a paper towel.

Sprinkle with a little cardamom and just a pinch of the pepper.  Put the pear halves in a baking dish, and situate them so that they are boats, and so that nothing will roll out of them.  I used a little aluminum foil, rolled up, to position under their necks.  Can’t have the cheese drooling out and getting lost, can we??

Bake for about ten – fifteen minutes.  Remove from oven, add the cheese slices, especially to the center of the pear halves.  Bake another ten minutes, or until the cheese melts nicely.

Remove and serve, with a garnish of watercress (if you have) or parsley.


Second:  Pear and Gouda Salad

Pear Gouda cheese salad

Pear and Cheese salad

1 pear, cored and diced.  Remove any bad bits. 
About 2.5 ounces Gouda, diced.  (Or, your favorite cheese.)
A slice of onion, chopped – red or Vidalia would work best but I went with what I had.
A handful of greens (watercress shown here).
A slice of bell pepper, chopped (optional; I had some left over from a different dish)
About an ounce of vinaigrette
(you can use a little olive oil with a little apple cider vinegar, optionally made with about a 1/4 teaspoon or less of ground mustard, shaken together)
Salt and pepper to taste

Assemble and serve.  If made as a side for a meal, this could serve two.  As it was, it made a great lunch all on its own.

PS:  the WordPress spell checker does not know the word, “pear”.  It keeps trying to tell me I am eating pairs and Gouda.




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Whole Trout, Japanese Hot Pot Style

Whole Fish Hot Pot

I started writing this up about four months ago, and with one thing and another — mainly getting around to optimizing the photos as much as possible, as well as finding the time — this didn’t get posted until now!

Whole Fish Japanese Hot Pot

Whole fish Japanese-style Hot Pot, with trout

Of course, you can adapt this recipe to other fish.  I adapted trout to the recipe in the book, Japanese Hot Pots, by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, published April 2011.  They used a 2-3 pound red snapper; I used a 0.75 pound trout.  (I have also tested this with black sea bass, weighing in at almost a pound, and which is a recommended substitution for the snapper from the authors.) They use the entire fish (after scaling and gutting and gill-removal), but I was able to get this lovely trout pre-de-boned. All that I needed to do was remove the gills on both sides — reach hand in and yank out.  From all accounts, fish gills will make your dish bitter-tasting. The few bones that remain are those in the tail, head and fins.  It seems in Japan they don’t mind all the extra bones and eat around them, but I think I prefer the ease of the mostly de-boned trout to the usually un-boned sea bass I tested.

Store-deboned whole trout

Store-deboned whole trout

My version of their recipe made three servings.  If you have a larger fish, make sure you have the right size pot!

A note about the kombu, an Asian seaweed, is at the end.

Note concerning the recipe:  Japanese hot pots are all about timing — you put things into the pot in order depending on how long items have to cook.  If tossing everything in at once, and letting the pot have at it is what you supremely desire, this might not be the recipe for you.

Another note regards the recipe:  Japanese hot pots are all about arrangement.  You don’t mix everything together; food items have their own layers or corners in the pot.  And when people go and serve themselves — serving yourself is encouraged — this means they can choose bits from what they want.


A Whole Fish Hot Pot Recipe

About three servings.  

Napa cabbage, 6 or seven leaves (I used Swiss chard because I had a bunch lying around and couldn’t justify going to the supermarket for it this time, not while I had a whole pile of farmer’s market veggies in the fridge already.  But if you are making a shopping list, do consider the Napa cabbage.  I used regular cabbage with the black sea bass as Napa simply was unavailable.  (I am a hearty believer in substitutions when necessary!)

3-4 inches of kombu, sliced maybe an inch or so wide.  Kombu is kinda like Japanese bay leaves — it’s in there for seasoning, but too tough to actually eat.   But read the bottom of this post.  Rinse it.

1 whole fish, between 0.75 – 1.0 pounds.  You may also use a larger fish; scale up other ingredients in approximate levels.  De-gut, de-scale if your fish is a scaly fish (have THEM de-scale for you; I hate finding bits of scale adhering all over my kitchen for the next year…) ,  and de-gill.  The head and tail stay on for presentation — and yes, in Japan they eat the meat in the head.   (As do I, actually; I draw the line at eyes, however.)

Fresh mushrooms.  For me, loads of mushrooms.  It was probably close to eight ounces.  Choose among shiitake, oyster, regular button mushrooms.  If you see enoki, porcini or maitake, add those as well, as desired.  De-stem those that require de-stemming (that would be just about anything but the enoki and the regular).  Canned straw mushrooms would also work.

White bulb area of scallions.  Coarsely chop. (A shallot might make a good substitution.)

Greens.  Now, add just about anything that appeals and might be Japanese or of interest to people interested in Japanese flavorings, if it is something that will stand up to a short bit of cooking.  I used braising greens sold as a pack at my farmer’s market, which included mustard greens, tatsoi, mitusoi.  If you don’t have, spinach would work.  About 5-8 ounces would be good.

Eggs are optional.  I used a couple of raw quail eggs. For regular eggs, hard cook them then peel.  I figured the quail eggs, being small, could stay in their shells and cook along with dinner.  Besides, quail egg shells are purdy…

Shredded fresh ginger,  about a teaspoon.

Tamari sauce or coconut aminos.

Diced scallions (green part).

If you have:  bean sprouts would be lovely.
Fine sliced daikon, or perhaps a splash of color with fine-sliced red, yellow or orange bell pepper.

The Japanese use a special hot pot called a Donabe. — if you lack one (I lack one) use a good pot with a lid.  The authors recommend a good enameled cast iron pot with a lid, but I also lack one of those.  They say, don’t worry, just get something range-top ready.  With a lid.

Some of the vegetation ready and waiting...

Some of the vegetation & eggie things ready and waiting…


Layer the cabbage (or that Swiss chard!) into the bottom of the pot.  Add the kombu. Add some water, enough to poach things without being a real “drain”. Turn the heat on under the pot, medium high.

When it starts to boil, add your fish and the mushrooms, the white parts of the scallions, and the daikon — as the Japanese are a lot about presentation (noted above), you’ll want not to just mumble-jumble the mushrooms and the later ingredients all together.  Distinct clumps of each item decoratively arranged around apparently is the way to do this.

Anyhow, let your pot poach (covered but allow some steam to escape) with the underlying cabbage, the fish, the mushrooms and the daikon for about 6-7 minutes.

Whole Fish Japanese Hot Pot (If using the quail eggs, add them in, at about 4 minutes, then finish waiting for the next step — 3 more minutes).

Add the rest of the veggies, and any hard-cooked hen egg (halved), again making things layer out nicely.  Add a tablespoon or so of the tamari to the liquid, and cover again, for about another minute, or until the greens are lightly wilted.  This is when you should also add in the ginger — as you can see I added it in a bit too early in the photo above.  It lost a bit of the anticipated flavor!

I like my bell peppers au dente — if you are using, and you don’t like them au dente — most people seem not to — add them at the same timing as for the quail eggs.

Remove from range, place in the center of the dining table, and scatter the ginger and the scallions over.  People should serve themselves, although for convenience, since this one is based around a whole fish rather than slices, you could put it on a platter and arrange the vegetation in corners around it.  Discard the kombu when you reach it, and reserve the liquid as a broth which you may wish to spoon over your portion.

And, yes, don’t forget the DIPPING SAUCE.

Tamari (San-J makes a good gluten-free one) or coconut aminos.  This is your base, I poured a bit too heavy for the photo, and while I certainly didn’t use all, the photo seems to have worked out.

Fresh squeezed orange juice, or other citrus.  This is the main point behind Ponzu sauce.  (San-J also makes a gluten-free one, so just use this in place of the aforementioned ingredients, should you wish.)

Scallion greens from the scallion whites you cooked in the meal proper. And now you will understand why I went with that trout — since it’s pretty much de-boned, it is much easier to work with.  Especially with company.  If you have a good fishmonger who can de-bone for you, this will help keep your fish intact (seriously, you don’t want to see ME debone a fish!)  I did find that, with the black sea bass, taking the cooked fish and deboning it at the table did seem to get most of the bones out, without entirely destroying the aesthetics.

Whole fish Japanese hot pot

On a platter, before being portioned. My hand slipped with the sauce, but I saved the unused for something else.

KOMBU:  This is a seaweed which grows in the oceans off of Japan, Korea, and China.  I have to admit I’d hesitate to buy it now, considering that leaking nuclear reactor at Fukushima — and recently we learned in the news that the reactor is leaking into the ocean worse than we’d thought.  I did end up buying a whole stash of various seaweeds a month or two before the tsunami of March, 2011 — and as long as they remain dry, they will remain good fairly indefinitely.  Kombu does add an essential umami flavor to Japanese cooking.  Source yours wisely, and if you have the old stuff, stash in a cool, dry, dark location.

I think you could add a different taste of umami by using a splash or two of Thai fish sauce, if you choose.  I have also just read that a seaweed that is grown off the coast of Maine, Laminaria digitata, if you can find it, is similar enough in umami effect to kombu.   I will be looking for it online.   (Reference:  Sandor Ellix Katz, 2003, Wild Fermentation, Chelsea Green Publishing.)

If you are looking to find kombu, Asian markets, health food stores, and Whole Foods do stock it, dried.  I am sure it is also available over the internet.  I’d still read the label for sourcing, or use it sparingly.

I have tried a couple other recipes from this cookbook, and I am pleased with it.  Yes, I have had to adapt often to what is at hand, but I enjoy doing this, and consuming the results.

Tonight I am making a sliced salmon and a stewed mussel hot pot, since I’ve scored some Napa cabbage!   I’ll post that one if it turns out good, but not immediately on since there should be some variety between blog posts.

(PS:  The WordPress spell checker doesn’t recognize any of the Japanese words in this post, and wants me to hyphenate “hot pot”. )


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Mushrooms, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Catalina on My Mind (Artichokes with Catalina-like Dressing)

Okay, forget meatloaf, and mac and cheese, and chicken pot pies.  Those are other people’s comfort foods — although there was always something about the texture of that pie crust of a chicken pot pie,  when it met the starchy liquid contained within the pies.  (Something we ate when the parents went out to dinner and we were being sat — sometimes we liked the sitter and other times we didn’t, so chicken pot pie never really became a true comfort food.  You have to associate the childhood food with a comfortable environment, too.  And, actually, I’d prefer to disqualify food that wasn’t produced at home by the parents.  Yes, they made mac and cheese, and meatloaf, but those weren’t dishes I ever particularly liked.  Especially the meatloaf — until I learned to sub in sweet potato for the bread crumbs.)

Artichoke, Catalina style salad dressing

Catalina style dressing with a true comfort food (for me): Artichoke

Comfort food by definition is something you saw a lot of, while growing up, and also really craved.  Mother could make comfort food.  Dad could make great food, too, but he didn’t tend to repeat recipes as he loved to invent and try new flavors.  In a way, eating variety is also totally comfort food in my book, don’t get me wrong.  (Which fact you can probably appreciate just by reading this blog.)  What I’m instead getting at here in this post, is those specific recipes you had in the past, which were repeated and repeated, and which you adored.  And my comfort foods aren’t necessarily going to be YOUR comfort foods, gentle reader, or vice versa, so I am SO not adding “comfort food” to my tag list for this blog post, even though this it is…

Yes, for me, one of these dishes was artichokes, simmered in water, and served with Catalina salad dressing as a dipping sauce.

Catalina salad dressing was something you purchased at the grocery store.  Back in the day, say the seventies, it was pretty awesome.  Tart and tangy, it made the perfect accompaniment to artichoke leaves and hearts.  Pull off a leaf, and dip.  Take the de-feathered choke, and dip.

Somewhere in the late 80′s or early 90′s, or thereabouts, “they” (the powers that be) changed the recipe.  High Fructose Corn Syrup replaced the sugar.  Some other amendments were also apparently added.  This stuff had descended from heaven into (at the very best) purgatory.  It wasn’t just the additional sweetness that turned me away from this delight, but the overall new “bleah” to this dressing.  It really bothered me that I could no longer stand my fave dipping sauce for artichokes.  I tried other commercial dressings.  The only thing that sorta worked has been straight up lemon juice, from the lemon itself, but 1) it doesn’t stick to the leaf, and 2) it’s not good enough anyway.

Sourcing around for possible make at home variants this week, I get the sense from blogs I’ visited that Catalina might no longer be on the shelves.  I wouldn’t know — it has been at least three years since I last cruised the salad dressing aisle at my grocery.  I make my own.  Usually vinaigrettes.   But… vinaigrettes don’t cling to artichoke leaves all that convincingly…  They simply drool off.

At any rate, here is a source recipe I used to devise my own Catalina-style dressing.  If you don’t like mine, try theirs.   I halved the recipe and made further changes, since I’d rather not intake the sugar, as noted below:

Catalina Style Dressing

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ t. paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • grated onion to taste (I simply chopped up one large thin slice)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce, homemade suggested, but find something with decent ingredients otherwise
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

I ditched the sugar, and switched the ketchup to tomato sauce.   I haven’t bought ketchup in at least a decade, unless it came masquerading as shrimp cocktail sauce; and I do have some good quality tomato sauce which I canned myself this last autumn.  (The only added ingredients in it are vinegar, for safely canning pH requirements, and basil.)  I also halved the salt in the source recipe, figuring I could add in more if wanted.  It was fine.

Add all this to your blender/food processor, or use your immersion blender.   Blend well.  The tomato apparently keeps the oil from settling back out, so you don’t have to drizzle it in at the end, as for mayo.    Store in fridge for no more than a week.  This sounds like something that could be frozen to no detriment, but I haven’t tested this.

If I really think it needs a sweetener, I’ll test out a dab of maple syrup, which of course will likely alter flavor.  I was fine with this batch unsweetened, however.  Perhaps I’d came across inherently sweet tomatoes to can?  (If you can tolerate the taste of stevia, you could try that, too, if this is not sweet enough for you as is.  But, better to err by understatement than by over.)

Catalina Style Dressing, not sweetened

Catalina Style Dressing, not sweetened

Does it taste like Catalina?  Somewhat, but not really.  Less sweet for sure, but feel free to add in your sweeteners — but it tastes far better than the 1980′s – 1990′s reformulation.  It also seems a bit runnier, but it still has enough stick-it-to-it-ness enough for my dipping purposes.  Enough resemblance to keep this recipe in my To Make Again list.

And it is good enough to use both for salad dressing AND for artichoke dip!  YAY, Team!

(The artichokes?  I put them in water in a pot on the stove top, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.   Optionally, you can at first trim off the sharp tops and remove the stem.  The stem contains edible pith but is sometimes not worth the bother.  Depending on size, anywhere from 30 minutes for babies to a good hour and twenty for the mammoths.  Eat the bases of the leaves — as you get further into the artichoke, more of the leaf is edible.  Don’t eat the sharp fur covering the heart (except in the babies) because it prickles and will SO not feel good going down.  AND, savor the heart!  Artichokes are best served hot, but leftovers can be eaten cold.) 

If I have a couple mammoth ones, I can turn them into a full dinner, and have done that in my past.  You are eating slowly enough that satiety has a chance to kick in.  Now that I have a delectable dipping sauce, I’m much more likely to do this again!

PS, if you cook them in aluminum pots (I no longer have any), the water tends to turn green during the process.  I say “tends”, because the one time I attempted to impress friends by making green Easter eggs from artichoke water — this didn’t work…  Of course I’ve seen other artichokes turn the water green, without aluminum pots, but it is less frequent.  Who knows?

Posted in Commentary, Condiments, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini Sliders with Zucchini

Herein I give some of my more favorite hamburger thoughts.  I did post about burgers once before, but usually I take ground meat and do other things with it than burgers.

Ground Beef Mini Sliders Zucchini Paleo

Beef Mini Sliders, with zucchini “bread”

The thing is, I grew up in an era when my father could come home from the supermarket with “steak tartare” which was really ground meat tartare, and he’d put a raw egg on top of the pile of that (or perhaps enough piles of that so the family could each have an egg and the underlying meat, although I believe mother passed on this).  He’d do that, and I’m not sure what else went atop — scallions?  ground pepper?  Perhaps, capers?  Anyhow, this stuff was great!

And Mother would hand-form her own hamburger patties, incorporating onion, Worchestershire sauce, A-1 sauce, and seasonings depending upon what was in the kitchen and she felt appropriate.  Stores, to be honest, never had pre-formed, flattened into hockey puck patties back then.  You had to take the five or ten minutes to create these things, yourself.  She and my father cooked them medium rare, to bring out the flavor and tenderness.

Things proceeded along, and I didn’t pay attention, and suddenly in the early 1990′s the fast food chain Jack in the Box ended up with major food disease contamination, and several people lost their lives, and others have had to contend with food-related illnesses for like forever after.

Frankly, I didn’t believe our food sources could improve, so for at least several years after, I ate fake food hamburger, fake food breakfast sausage.  Not knowing to look at the number of ingredients on those packages, or knowing, for a while, what TVP (“textured” vegetable/soy protein) really is.  I still did eat meat, but nothing that was obtained from a GROUND-ED UP  source.  The TVP stuff was rubbery, but that’s not really the point.

The point is, it is NOT food.  It is chemically derived, hexane as a major component for its “purification”.  Whether “gone”, or not, is this Food we want to ingest?  The stuff has been around for a generation — not much longer. That is NOT enough time to have information on it.  If you want to play Russian Roulette on TVP because it contains no meat, don’t let me stand in your way.  (And yes, at some point I want to create a vegetarian burger recipe that contains… all food.)

Here we make ground beef mini-sliders, to nestle within zucchini slices (YES, getting the veggies in!) or in lettuce wraps.

Ground Beef from a reliable local farmer.  Good enough to be tartare.

Ground Beef from a reliable local farmer. Good enough to be tartare.


For the “bread”:

1 or two zucchinis, sliced in 1.4 inch “coins”, ends removed.  Two is advised if you want sandwich lids for all your mini sliders.
Olive oil, one or two teaspoons
Ground pepper
Rosemary (fresh is best, but I used what I had)

For the meat:

1/2 pound ground beef
1/8 of a large onion, 1/2 of a very small onion, finely diced
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric (optional.  It doesn’t add much flavor in this specific dish, but I’ve been cooking with it for health reasons.)
1 teaspoon coconut aminos (or tamari soy sauce)
Ground pepper and sea salt, to taste.

All the ingredients with the beef

All the ingredients with the beef

For garnish:

Sprouts, mustard, whatever floats your boat.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Layer zucchini on foil in a baking pan, add the rest of the zucchini ingredients, and mix around.  Your hands work best.  Cover with foil, and bake for about 25 minutes.  (Make sure they are spread out a bit.)

Remove and either put on warming tray until the patties are ready, or set aside to re-heat briefly in the skillet, when everything else is ready.

Heat your skillet to medium-medium high, add your oil, then your onions and the cumin seeds.  Allow the cumin to toast slightly, and the onions to go translucent.  I let them become somewhat carmelized, as well.

In a mixing bowl or separate large plate, combine all ingredients, again this works best with your hands.  (Yes, allow the onions and cumin to cool a bit before you mix everything.)  Make your mini-patties about the size of meatballs, only flat.  Perhaps half an inch max in thickness, and you can press in a dimple in the center before cooking.

Lucky thirteen?

Lucky thirteen?

At this point, you can reserve some of these to cook later (cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day).

The skillet shouldn’t need more oil.  Go ahead and pan fry your mini burgers to your choice of level of done-ness, at medium heat.  You shouldn’t need to press down on them while cooking — that extracts too much juice.  For medium rare, I seemed to need three to three and a half minutes a side.

At the end, remove sliders as they are done, add in the zucchini if it needs to be warmed (hey, unlike me, you might get your timing to coincide!)

In the initial photo in this post, I showed the sliders sitting on the bottom zucchini slices, topped with home grown daikon radish sprouts, with out the top lids, seen to the side, just for illustration purposes.  The top pieces of zucchini definitely went on top before serving.

These make great appetizers for company.  I would however, if having a party, make sure the zucchini and the meat stay attached by using toothpicks to hold them together.

Beef Slider Zucchini Paleo

A finished Mini Slider, begging to be devoured

I only had one zucchini in the house (worth eating; we won’t say what the other looked like), so the other mini sliders eventually ended up being in lettuce wraps.

beef sliders, lettuce

Mini sliders with mustard and lettuce

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Salad for Breakfast? Featuring: Tangelo.

Tangelo, Red Cabbage, Onion, Avocado

Salad, tangelo, avocado, cabbage, onion

The tangelo, in case you never heard of one, is allegedly a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit.  From the name, I am wondering if this is really a cross between tangerine and pomello, which is sort of a grapefruit without much of the flavor (in my experience).

Anyhow, these guys are about tangerine-sized, maybe a bit larger, and when you cut into them they are extremely juicy, and my urge to make nice little segments out of the half fell (literally) to pieces.  So, well, we have what we have, and appearances be forgotten.

Recipe:  (this is for breakfast for one.  Upscale for lunch or dinner salad, or for multiple people.)

Red Cabbage:  Approximately three slices, sliced thin and coarsely chopped further.
Onion:  1 slice from a large onion (white or yellow or Vidalia), two from a moderately-sized onion.  Dice coarsely , allowing some shreds and semi-circles to exist.
1/2 Tangelo, don’t waste the liquid you get when you cut into it.  Remove peel of course.  The fibrous sections holding the segments of tangelo “sort of” together are not remotely hard to eat.
1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced.

Layer things — cabbage then onion on top, then tangelo pieces on top of that, and then arrange the avocado around the salad artistically — or in this case, what might pass for same.  Drizzle some of the tangelo juices that you probably have, around the salad.  (Drink any extra…)

Optional condiments:

Cracked pepper.
Small splash of apple cider vinegar, with a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Pinch of nutmeg.
Fresh cilantro.

I didn’t do any of the above, since it was early in the day and I had to get moving.  Besides, brain probably wasn’t fully functional and inventive yet…  But I throw these out as ideas for you.


Anyhow, thoughts on tangelo:  The taste owes a lot to tangerine, but you can indeed catch an overlay of grapefruit in there.  It is a very watery fruit, and at least in my hands this one day, internal segmentation is hard to maintain for an aesthetic presentation.  Most of you, if you are interested in exploring this fruit, shouldn’t mind this property when doing  informal family gatherings, or personal meals.  Also, I don’t suspect many will do this for breakfast, but as a nutritious salad side this could be a welcome meal idea.

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Fresh Sardines and Salad – A Meal

Fresh sardines are nothing like the oily, salty things that come out of a tin (although there is a place for tinned sardines — more as an accent to salads, and perhaps, like anchovies, to pizza. Or, as a protein source for hiking and camping.)

This is a meal with sardines, a Brussels sprouts/shiitake stir fry, and some greens with quinoa.

Fresh Sardines

A Lunch of Sardines and Veggies (the apple was dessert)

To Prep a Sardine:

Get your fishmonger to scale them, although I am given to understand that the large scales are really quite thin and edible — but I don’t really want to eat them.  You can have him gut and clean the fish, too.

If you do it yourself — this is probably one of the few fish I’d scale indoors, in my kitchen, as the large scales (way out of proportion to the size of the fish!) are easy to find before they dry out and adhere to any neighboring surfaces within two yards, like other fish scales.  Use a paring knife and run it backwards from tail to head.  You can also buy a dedicated fish de-scaler; you may have to look on-line.

Now, I’m no stranger to finding yummy meat in fish heads, but, frankly, there’s nothing there to find on a sardine, so I cut them off, taking the lateral gill fins with it.  Using a pair of kitchen scissors (if your paring knife is super sharp, you can use that, as well), I cut the belly from neck to vent, pull out all the guts and dispose of them, rinse thoroughly, and then look inside.  If there is any dark brownish stuff, I scrape it out, gently.  This gets rid of all bitterness.  Rinse again, pat dry, and reserve.

Should you like to see a video of a variety of ways to go about sardine preparations, check this one out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTzJdF5dtFo&list=UU6jTyW7Oyic1PJwrFr7_2iw&feature=c4-overview

This is one meal where you want to get everything in place before you turn on the range.

For the Salad:

Greens, a mixture. You can optionally add in cuke, baby (salad) turnips, shallot, as you wish.
Extra virgin olive oil.  1/8 cup.
Apple cider vinegar.  1/8 cup.
Mediterranean herbs, optional

For the Quinoa:

Prepared white and/or red quinoa, about 1/4-1/3 cup.  More if you want.
Red cabbage as garnish, thinly sliced
Some of the above oil and vinegar and herbs

For the Brussels Sprouts and Shiitake Mushroom side:

Olive oil for the skillet
1/4 cup sliced Brussels sprouts
about an ounce of thinly slivered mushroom
Salt, garlic powder, and pepper to taste

For the Sardines:

Olive oil for the skillet
2 sardines, prepared as described above
1/4 lemon
Lemon pepper and garlic powder to taste.  No salt needed, it’s a salt water fish and comes with its own.

Meal Preparation:

Arrange the salad ingredients and the chilled quinoa on your serving plate.

Mix the oil, vinegar and optional herbs together.  You will have to shake or mix these again just before serving, as there is nothing here to keep the oil and vinegar from retreating from each other.

Saute the Brussels sprouts in a large hot skillet (medium high)  with the oil until they just start getting a hint of brown, stirring often.  Add in the shiitake and seasonings, and continue stirring for a minute.  Put the sardines (patted dry) into the skillet on the far side of the veggies, along with its seasonings, also in a little oil. Cook for a minute, then flip them and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir veggies again.  I cover with a screen.  The fish should cook at least three minutes on that side before you flip them again — remove veggies now if they look ready — roasted appearance to the sprouts and semi-translucent appearance to the shrooms.  If not, move them around a bit on their side of the skillet.  Cook the sardines for another three minutes on this side, and if the fish is beginning to flake on both sides, you are ready to serve.

Plate everything.  Splash the re-mixed oil and vinegar over the greens, quinoa, the cooked veggies, and, should you wish, the fish.  And enjoy.  Fresh sardines should not taste “fishy”, although if your idea of an optimal fish is something like flounder, it will have flavor.  It should not be bitter, either, if you have checked your (or your fishmonger’s) initial preparations. 

To Eat a Fresh Sardine:  YES, there are a lot of tiny little bones in there.  They are edible, cooked.  I remove the backbone and the upper fin, but all those little fish ribs are good sources for dietary calcium.  The tail at this point should be crunchy, and is thus edible as well.

Nutrition Notes:  The sardine is a fascinating little fish, usually found wild-caught, and filled with healthy Omega-3′s and dietary calcium, as well as being a great source of necessary protein.  It is a sustainable fish, and very prolific in its breeding habit.   As it is so small, and low in the oceanic food chain, that it is not a mercury accumulator and, so long as it is fished in clean waters, should have a minimal if any toxin burden.

Posted in Cooking, Mushrooms, Nutrition, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment