Category Archives: Secrets of a Primal Cook

Secrets: Brining meat

When it comes to ultra-lean cuts of meat, or meats that must be cooked to higher temperatures to be considered “done” or “safe,” there is always an increased risk of them ending up dry and bland.  The larger and thicker the cut, the greater that risk because of the time it takes for the center to reach the required temperature.  And the extended cooking times associated with smoking meats can also cause cuts of meat to dry out.  That’s when it is time to discover the advantages of brining.

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Food on the Go


While on vacation, it definitely can be a challenge to eat well.  Stopping at restaurants for meals can get old.  You never know what will be available when you are hungry, plus the pocketbook takes a beating.  Our trip took us through Nevada, a state with a lot of lonely roads (and in case you are wondering, we didn’t see any UFOs although we did look for some.  I did see Elvis, however). 

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Get Organized – Grocery Shopping

One of the questions/complaints/excuses we hear most often about making the lifestyle change to exclude processed and grain-containing ingredients relates to what you can eat…or more specifically what you should buy when you go to the store.  The typical excuse starts out with something like, “But I just don’t know what to get…”  Even people that fully embrace the concept of changing the way they eat can get hung up on the idea of revising their shopping strategies a bit.

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Bakin’ Bacon

If you were to ask me what the number one benefit of purchasing a half or whole pasture-raised hog, my answer would be, without a doubt, the bacon.  Now almost any bacon is good under normal circumstances, but thick-cut bacon from a pastured hog elevates bacon to a whole new level of awesomeness.  The sort of thing that inspires one to wear a t-shirt such as this…maybe even with a pair of Underoos and a cape?

Unfortunately, there is a downside to how good this bacon is; there isn’t enough!  A whole pig yields only about 10 pounds of this delectable treat, so we’ve got to hoard it, savor it, and serve it only to very distinguished guests (or just keep it for ourselves).  We’ll serve everyone else the hams, chops, and roasts.  Don’t get me wrong, those are good too…but they’re not bacon. So now you know how to tell if you’re special when you have breakfast at our house…

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Making Stock

A lot of recipes call for the use of “stock,” “broth,” or “bouillon” (dehydrated stock) for flavor – and not just when making soups.  Sure, you can always go buy packaged stock at the store (even we do) – but you don’t have any control over what exactly is in it when you do that.  Even the best organic stock contains things like cane juice (sugar), higher (than I prefer at least) salt, and ingredients labeled merely as “flavor” (what exactly is “organic chicken flavor” ???).  And if you get your hands on a “quality” gluten-free bouillon, you’re still going to see things like soybean powder, yeast extract, and “natural” corn syrup crystals.

If you made the pot roast this past weekend, or did a traditional oven-roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, you know that when you had carved all of the meat and removed all of the veggies from the roasting pan or crock, you were left with a bunch of water, juices, fat, and little bits of herbs and veggies, along with an assortment of bones with little bits of meat still attached (or lots of marrow inside of the roast bones).  The more resourceful of you may have taken some of the liquid and added a bit of arrowroot powder to make a nice primal gravy, but most people end up dumping the majority of it down the drain and out in the trash… Continue reading

Canning Tomatoes or Why I Love Aunt Donna

Effective food storage and a well-stocked pantry are important secrets for success as a Primal Cook.  In the last few years I have learned how to do some canning.  I used to help my mom as a kid, but did not know all the particulars.  Peaches and apples are my favorite to can, not just because of the end result, but because I can spend some good quality time with my mom doing some “old-fashioned” work!  I remember helping my mom can tomatoes, but didn’t remember how.  So, since Aunt Donna was ready to can tomatoes the other day and needed help, I jumped at the chance (just as she would do!).

My Aunt Donna is the very best!   She loves all things vintage as I do, and so I feel we are kindred spirits.  She is that person in your life who will do anything for anyone and has the biggest heart of anyone that I know.   So not to get all sappy, but I am very thankful for her and to be able to learn so much from her.

Aunt Donna on the Farm

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Secrets of a Primal Cook: Leftovers

I’m a pretty busy person.  I’m up around 4:30 on week days, and average 12 to 13 hours away from home between work and my commute (Karen, as a mother, trainer, and medical transcriptionist, has an even longer work day, since hers is basically from when she wakes up to when she crawls into bed).  During that time away, I have to fend and forage for myself.  Now, even if my schedule allowed, I never was a fan of spending money to go out for lunch every day.  And after making the switch to Primal, it became even more difficult to justify, given the less-than-ideal food choices out there at most “lunch” places.
So, if I don’t eat bread (goodbye bologna and American cheese sandwiches on Wonder bread), and I don’t go out to eat (goodbye Big Mac’s and pepperoni pizza by-the-slice), and I don’t take more than about 25 minutes in the morning to shower, get dressed, and gather up a whole 12-hour day’s worth of nutrition, what do I eat for lunch?! Continue reading