What’s For Dinner? Slow-Cooked Smoked Babyback Ribs


SlowCookedSmokedBabybackRibs

UPC’s Slow-Cooked Smoked Babyback Ribs

I’ve been slowly but surely refining my basic process for cooking up a “Smoked” meat dish, in the comfort of your own home using a slow-cooker or crock pot. I consider these ribs to be the final proof of the process for that. So the good news (other than that I had a delicious dinner, and loved every minute of it) is that I can finally document my “Slow-Cooker Smoked” process and start to build some recipes around it. Keep your eyes peeled for this in the future as I intend to be sharing many of these recipes with you!

As far as this recipe is concerned, you could do this using the “Smoked” process which I will document separately, or you could do these in a more “traditional” slow-cooker process. In fact, this recipe will work well for a grilled meal as well. All you would do is change this recipe slightly to do the final cooking on the grill rather than in a slow-cooker. Also, since a grill is quite a bit hotter than a slow-cooker, the cook time for grilling these will be somewhere in the neighborhood of between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the temperature you use. A higher cook-time will give you a faster turn around. It will also sear the outside of the ribs more, which may be preferable. A lower temperature and longer cook time will encourage the use of sauces and other flavors to change the flavor of the ribs.

Slow-Cooked Smoked Babyback Ribs; What you’ll need:

  • 1 large rack Babyback Ribs
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar (you can use a flavored one too, if you have one)
  • 1 cup water (filtered, please!)
  • Spices: Turmeric, Sage, Sea Salt

Serves: 2 (depending on the size of the rib rack; and how good it is!)
Cook and Prep time: 1.5 days.

1. In a pan or on a griddle, thoroughly brown the ribs on both sides. Do this using high heat – you want the outside to be browned, but you don’t want to cook the meat on the inside much, if any.

BabybackRibs_Browning

See the red showing on the edge of the ribs? Brown the outside quickly, but don’t cook the slab of ribs.

2. Put the ribs, spices, and oil and vinegar in a marinating container and put it away for a day.

3. About 6-8 hours before meal time, dump the ribs and marinade all in to a slow cooker or crock pot and turn it on to low.

4. Serve and enjoy!!

BabybackRibs_Spiced

For Grilling:
Instead of slow-cooking for 6-8 hours, slow cook for 1 hour. Then finish cooking on the grill on high heat for 20-40 minutes, brushing the marinade onto the ribs to keep them moist.

To do the “Smoked Slow-Cooked” Version:

  1. BabybackRibs_SmokingPlatformSave the bones from your last ribs in the freezer (or you can buy some bones from your local butcher – most have some for sale; If you buy, I’d cook these up at least once for some Bone Broth first!).
  2. Follow the slow-cooker instructions steps 1 and 2 above.
  3. Before above step 3: Thaw and arrange the bones across the bottom of the slow-cooker so that the meat will be lifted up above the marinade liquid.
  4. Return to the slow-cooker step 3 instructions, though this time drizzle the marinade over the top of the meat several times during the 8-hours of cook time.

This is a fascinating idea that I’ve been playing around with since this post, many months ago. What happens is the marinade will heat up, evaporating the liquids, and will effectively steam the meat slab suspended above it. If that were all that happened, this would be somewhat different than it ends up being. At the same time, the oils in the marinade allow the slow-cooker to over-cook the bones that were left in the bottom of the pan, letting them caramelize and smoke the meat above it. The intentional overcooking of the bones making the smoke, along with the flavors in the marinade, combine to create the same effect as using a smoker, while allowing you to do the whole thing relatively safely in your own kitchen.
As a note on this: I did recently find a crack in my crock pot, and it’s entirely possible that it was doing this that ruined it. Even using the Low heat setting will result in a lot of heat being funneled in to the slow-cooker, and since there’s not a lot of liquid in there to absorb the heat (that’s kind of our intention) it will end up causing the pot itself to heat up quite a lot. Of course, the benefit to this is that the bones on the bottom, since they’re touching the pot, will heat up a lot and smoke the meat. And it’s delicious! On the other hand, I suggest paying extra attention to the crock pot; keep it away from walls and potentially flammable stuff on the counter, and only do this when you’re home to monitor it regularly.

Questions:

  • Do you like smoked/cured meat?
  • Have you ever smoked your own meat?
  • Will you be trying the slow-cooker smoked meat steps/process that I’ve outlined above?
  • What kinds of meat would you be most interested in smoking?
  • Do you have a smoker? How often do you use it?
  • What kinds of sides would you serve with this meal?
  • What kind of dessert would you serve with this meal?

About Paleo: Am I Really Allergic To Wheat?


One of the things that I love the most about blogging, and the blogging community, is that I am often in a position where you will challenge my position in one way or another. I really enjoy this, mostly because it helps me to remember to evaluate my position from time to time. It’s an amazing part of being surrounded (digitally surrounded) by smart, articulate people with their own strident opinions on the subjects that I choose to write about. Without the opportunity that you readers afford me, by challenging my ideas and asking me (as is your right, since I’ve gone and made my opinions public) to carefully consider and elaborate on my position, is perhaps one of the things that I am the most excited about when I share an idea in my posts. I need your thoughts, comments, and challenges, so that I can test my stance against other intelligent people.

Here is one such challenge, and one of the best that I’ve received to date:

As a newbie to paleo and a person who loves eating at restaurants I was excited to read your posts. I’m however very disappointed. As a person with an actual life threatening allergy (eggs) I can’t believe you would encourage people to lie about such things. Most restaurants will take your request for no soy etc with the seriousness that a preference deserves. Kitchens know that people with “allergies” often lie about it and as such take requests for “allergy” exclusions less serious. They might not sanitize a surface, or coortiz the same grill when they shouldn’t be. Your preference is not an allergy, and you make it hazardous for people like me to eat.

– Suzanne

So, the operative question here is this: Am I allergic to soy and wheat? Clearly anyone who has been Paleo for anything longer than a few months will state something along the lines of “Well, my body sure thinks so!” And my body is no exception to that. The few times that I’ve had the misfortune of eating something which is contaminated with soy or wheat (or any grain for that matter) I’ve had rather severe digestive distress. Anaphalaxes? Not so much, thankfully…
Suzanne’s comment comes from a position of fear, and she (and others like her) have a right to a thoughtful and rational response. I’m intending for this post to give Suzanne, and all of us Paleo people a complete response to when people question their statement that they’re allergic to wheat and soy.
See, here’s the thing. With 67% of America overweight, and half of them are obese, most of us Ancestral Health people have come to the general belief that there’s something seriously wrong with the general dietary proscriptions. The rate of leisure activity has not changed significantly over the past 30+ years, so while moving more will help us to control our weight, the answer to the severe overweight crisis is clearly not jogging. Us Ancestral Health people (yes, Paleo is Ancestral Health) have concluded, and most of us have significant personal “Success Stories” to support this conclusion, that the problem is dietary. So, let’s take a shot at figuring out whether I am personally allergic to wheat and soy.

First, let’s take a look at the definition of an allergy. The Wiki page on Allergy starts out with several lines of description. The first of which is this:

An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system.

Ok, got it. But what kinds of symptoms might I expect to see from that?

Symptoms of food allergy include abdominal painbloating, vomiting, diarrheaitchy skin, and swelling of the skin during hives.

And the wiki doesn’t stop there. The actual definition of an allergy, it would seem, is quite indicative of exactly the sort of digestive distress that I experience (and all of the Paleo people I know) every time I am unfortunate enough to ingest wheat or soy. Fortunately for me, and all of you Paleo people, the wiki actually directs specific attention to this in particular.

A wide variety of foods can cause allergic reactions, but 90% of allergic responses to foods are caused by cow’s milksoyeggswheatpeanuttree nutsfish and shellfish.

Hmm. Alright. A lot of Paleo people don’t necessarily know that they’re allergic. Is there a definitive way to test that, just to be sure it’s actually an allergy?

Elimination/Challenge tests: This testing method is used most often with foods or medicines. A patient with a suspected allergen is instructed to modify his/her diet to totally avoid that allergen for determined time. If the patient experiences significant improvement, he/she may then be “challenged” by reintroducing the allergen to see if symptoms can be reproduced.

So this makes it quite clear. When you’re going on a strict Paleo diet, you’re beginning the “Elimination” phase of the above diagnostic test. Then, when someone contaminates your food (or you just decide to eat some cake at some point…) and you have an adverse reaction, that confirms the diagnosis. To paraphrase the Wiki on Allergies, you have an allergy when: You have an issue, it gets better with elimination, and you can then reproduce those adverse symptomatic affects with reintroduction.
There’s little doubt in my mind at this point that the sorts of symptoms that I experience as a result of ingesting contaminated food definitely do qualify as an allergy. So in response to Suzanne’s statement, I’m clearly really allergic to soy and wheat. This isn’t one of those “little white lies” that people often tell in order to keep their life easier. This isn’t just a dietary preference. This is a full-blown allergy.

But I think I want to take this one step further. The follow up question, now, could be this: Isn’t it reasonable to assume that EVERYONE who follows an Ancestral Health diet is ALSO allergic to wheat and soy? I’d like to go one step further, even, than that. I’d like to be the one who toes the line, and states that EVERY single human is allergic to wheat and soy. But I can’t. Not today. There are some very smart people with very impressive labs who are working on that very question. And they’ll come out with an answer in the next several years. Of that I am confident. So, while I’m not going to be the guy who toes the line and states, definitively, that we’re all allergic to soy, I am perfectly comfortable to redirect us to some of the experts on the matter.

What do the experts think?

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/11-ways-gluten-and-wheat-can-damage-your-health/
T
he Paleo Diet Lifestyle is an impressively well-kept repository for many of the Ancestral Health seeds of wisdom over the years. In the above article, they state that wheat causes gut inflammation in at least 80% of the population. Goodness… That’s a LOT more than just the people who are in the Ancestral Health community! But to circle back a bit: it’s fair to say that if you’ve come to Paleo, you’re very likely one of those above 80%.

http://www.eat-real-food-paleodietitian.com/Paleo-diet-reasons-to-avoid-grains.html
What a Paleo Dietitian has to say on the subject: Gluten is very hard to digest, can cause damage to your intestines, and can lead to GI issues, autoimmune diseases, skin problems, mental health issues, among other symptoms of a food allergy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if these were potential side effects of a drug that a doctor prescribed me, I would simply not take it. Autoimmune disease and mental health issues? No thank you!!

In Summary:

I want to first re-state that I really appreciate Suzanne’s comment. She has done me, and all of you who read this a favor. She’s challenged me in a way that helped me to consider my position, take a look at the research out there, and reaffirm my stance on the matter. Dietary science is not a “set thing” yet – it’s constantly changing! Loren Cordain, the godfather of Ancestral Health himself, has changed his position on fats over the past several years, and subsequently updated and reprinted his book. I will be the first one to admit that, while I keep current on the information out there, it’s never a bad thing to take a step back and reconsider everything.

Also, as a result of my research to respond to Suzanne, I have discovered that it’s perfectly appropriate for you all to state that you’re allergic to wheat and soy. In fact, if you’re coming to Paleo with health issues that you hope cleaning up your diet of wheat (and all grains) and soy will cure, you’re most likely in that 80% group who is allergic to them. Please, do us all a favor and start to help the restaurants around you recognize that they need to be prepared for that. Tell your waiters: “I’m allergic to wheat and soy.” But even more important than that, if they ignore you and contaminate your food, GIVE THEM HELL!!
Suzanne’s point was a valid one, albeit misdirected. We’re too willing to simply not go back to a restaurant who served us bad food. But that’s just not going to help the rest of the Ancestral Health community anymore. You’re all going to need to stand up for your rights. The restaurant who contaminated your food, against your wishes, has effectively assaulted you. They’ve caused you damage, and they’ve done it directly, and possibly intentionally. If this were to cause you to go into anaphylactic shock, it would be considered poisoning. You owe it to me, Suzanne, and all of the other Paleo people out there to tell them so. Tell them angrily, and loudly. Make sure that they know that they’ve caused you harm, and that it’s simply not OK. Put it on the internet so that I can see it in their reviews. Write a post about it on your blog. And then don’t go back.

Reblog: Running 52.4 Miles for Research


Running 52.4 Miles for Research.

No recipe today… Instead, I would like to invite you to drop by runningforbostonmass.com at the link below and take a look at what Emily is up to. I am a huge fan of charities, volunteering, and supporting other people in their endeavors, and Emily is putting time and effort in to helping a lot of people. Take a look, give her some blog-luv. If you can spare some change, make sure to donate a few bucks to help her reach her charity goal!

And she’s running in vibrams, so how could I not pitch in here and help out!?

liverinthemoment

Grabbed this straight from her site at the below link

via Running 52.4 Miles for Research.

Restaurant Review: Saigon Cafe, Jersey City, NJ


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http://www.saigoncafejc.com/

Eating out is always an interesting scenario. I know, intellectually, that I can eat a salad almost anywhere. Obviously, there are places that I choose to shy away from intentionally… But for the most part, finding a decent place to eat out, at this point in my diet, is more about whether or not the restaurant is going to serve me anything other than a salad that I’ll want. That’s the big question. There are some issues, that I’ve discussed in previous posts, that need to be carefully considered before eating out. Just keep these in mind when you’re eating out:

  1. All cooking surfaces are almost certainly greased with a soy oil or soy derivative oil.
  2. All dressings, sauces, and other flavorings (except spices, so far) almost certainly have soy and wheat in them.
  3. The meat is almost certainly CAFO meat-factory meat.

So, keeping in mind that I really enjoy cooking, and the fruits of those labors, it turns out to be fairly irregular that I eat out. Mostly, I make all of my own food, and I eat only things that came out of my kitchen. It’s the simple and delicious solution. And when I do go out, I keep notes.

Saigon Cafe, Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ

My first impression of the Saigon Cafe restaurant was a pleasant surprise. This looked like it would count as one of those “Local Hole-In-The-Wall” places, where you encounter some really top quality food. I was hoping that their menu would be packed to the brim with seriously traditional Vietnamese food. We were seated in a small dining area, with about 10 tables. The waiter was ancient, and my guess is that he was the proprietor of the place. I like that about a place. I usually assume that the food is more likely to be lovingly crafted when the proprietor is the person seating me at the tables. It’s a pride thing for them, not just a paycheck.

The menu was a little challenging for me, but that was not surprising. Keeping in mind that soy and rice are deeply ingrained in the various Asian cultures, I didn’t expect the menu to be teeming with meals that were soy free. But I did expect that I would be able to mix-n-match my way to a well conceived soy-free meal.

The waiter came over to take our order. He spoke passably good English, and had no trouble guiding my through my options as soon as I told him that I’m allergic to soy. He stood over my shoulder, pointing at menu items as I flipped the page. “You can eat that one, or that one.” He would say. And “No, no, not that one.” When I tried to order the slow-cooked beef short ribs. Short ribs are very Vietnamese, and I really enjoy the way they cook them. Except for the soy sauce part.

With the proprietor’s help, I settled on a meal in no time. I love seafood, and they were serving something they called Claypot Seafood Curry. I like curry, seafood, and the “Claypot” meals were supposedly slow-cooked stews – and I love things that are slow-cooked!

Claypot Seafood Curry

It was full of flavor! There was clearly some sweetener in the dish, as well as some coconut milk or cream. But the over-all flavor was strong, yet well balanced. The curry was a yellow-curry, as you can see in the picture, and was delightful. The seafood all seemed quite fresh, and was slow-cooked to perfection.

All told, my experience in Saigon Cafe was quite satisfactory! I definitely recommend it for anyone in the Grove Street area of Jersey City, NJ.

UPC’s 2013 NY 5th Avenue Mile


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5th Avenue Mile Start

UPC at 5th Avenue Mile

I think it’s important to set goals. I always have a short-list of goals that I keep track of, I have a list of 5-year goals which I work toward with the long-view of time, a list of 1-year goals that I hope to accomplish that year, and I keep a list of short term goals, somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-months or less. My 1-mile race was a 3-month goal, which I officially started training for on June 10th (if you care to, you can find my first Workout and Diet post on the subject on that day). So I’ve been training for my 1-mile race for 3 months. 3 whole months of focused, dedicated training.

The weather was absolutely perfect!

If you’re going to be doing a performance race outdoors, you want it to be a low-wind, mildly chilly day with the sun shining. You need the air temperature to be low enough that you have no real fear of performance loss because of heat. Obviously, you need it to be warm enough so that you have no fear of performance loss due to cold… The two should work together, right?
Well, the weather was exactly what you would hope for! It was in the mid 60s with a light side wind. The wind was just enough so that you would feel the cooling effect on your face, but not enough that there would be any performance loss due to it. The sun was shining, and the street was lined with crowds of screaming fans. It was great!

The race went off without a hitch!

The coral for the 5th Avenue Mile fills up fast, and since there’s no time-based corals, it’s important to get there early enough that you’re not tripping over anyone once the race starts. Mostly people are polite enough to line up more-or-less where they should be relative to the speed of the pack. After all, no one wants to have people running in to them from behind. And no one wants to be tripping over the slower guy in front of them. But there are always a few people who are new to the race, or for some reason chose to line up on the line to run a 7:30 mile pace. And they’ll wish they hadn’t done that after the race is over. There’s nothing worse than being passed by hundreds of people in the first 100 yards…
I was not early. Fortunately, the people in the middle and back of the coral were in a “giving” mood of sorts, and made way for me to move to the front. Again, it’s no fun being passed like you’re not moving. And I knew that I shouldn’t be in the back of the pack – that would cause me a lot of extra work, and the people in front of me wouldn’t gain anything by being there. I worked my way up to near the front of the line where I was closer to people who would be running my speed, then spent a bit of time doing some deep breathing, and a bit of hopping about to warm up my muscles.

As the starting gun went off, I felt that long-familiar surge of adrenaline. It’s exciting to line up at the starting line. It’s exciting to be near the front of the pack, and to know that I’m going to perform at that level. And it’s exciting to be surrounded by a bunch of people who are as fast, or faster, then I am! I held back just enough, keeping myself to the pace that I was looking to hit.

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First Quarter Mile!

The first quarter mile of the race is a downhill stretch, very mild. It’s misleading, and can set people up for a really painful second quarter mile. I knew this, since I’ve done this race in each of the past 4 years, and am well familiar with the course. I kept to my pace, hoping that the mild downhill would help me store some energy for the rest of the race, while letting me be right on pace. I crossed the first Quarter Mile marker with a 73 second split.
“Yes! Right on pace!” I thought, smiling.

I still felt pretty good, and I was right on with my first split. Not too fast is definitely important when you’re going for a personal best!

The second quarter is the toughest quarter mile of any mile course anywhere! Obviously, someone could set up a 1-mile race on a 15% grade hill somewhere, but you know what I mean. In terms of a hill, it’s not that steep, and it’s not that long. In terms of a 1-mile race pace, any uphill is a killer, and a 1/4 mile of it is really rough!
I came in to the hill feeling like I was in control. My legs felt pretty good. I hadn’t started to lose my breath yet. All told, I was confident. And then the hill really settled in. In short order, the hill had me wheezing for breath, I was getting passed on both sides, and my legs were burning.
“Woah!” I said to myself, wondering what was going on. This was not the feeling I was hoping to have had. I expected to lose some time on the hill – maybe even a lot of time. What I didn’t expect was to be forcibly slowed down to a 6-minute pace, and complete that quarter mile in 90 seconds. It was brutal!

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Half Mile Marker

I crossed the half-mile marker feeling like I had just completed my third 800 hill sprint on an 800-hills day! There is a short space of flat ground at the top of the hill, and I was actually stumbling slightly as I came across it. My 6-minute pace almost felt like I couldn’t even manage to hold that up for the rest of the race!!
Fortunately, the 3rd quarter mile is a downhill again, and it allowed me to cruise a bit and get some oxygen back in to my muscles. I know what I wanted to be doing there: I wanted to be surging forward with a final-800 in mind. I wanted to be tapping in to my speed, after powering up the hill, and flying down the backside. But I wasn’t anywhere near there…

5thAveMile-3QMM

Final Quarter Mile!

I crossed the Final Quarter Mile marker with a 3rd split of 86 seconds. That was more than 10 seconds slower than I’d been hoping for. That hill had really eaten me up, chewed me thoroughly, and spit me out! But I was still in the race, and there was still a chance that I could beat my time from the previous year, though arriving anywhere near my goal time would be impossible at this point. It was theoretically possible to recover from the 90-second split on my previous 1/4, but there was no way to recover from the pounding that the hill gave me in making that 90-second split! I was hurting.

5thAveMile-200MM

Last 200!

I reached deep, looking for any last reserves that I might have. I was looking for some strength that I could dredge up from my training, some fortitude that I could lean on to crush this final 1/4 mile in good form. And I found some. Just a bit, but some. Enough.

5thAveMileSprintingCollage1

UPC Sprinting in toward the Finish Chute

As I neared the finish-chute, and the orange cones directed me and my fellow racers to funnel in to the finish line, I knew that I was coming down on my final kick to make a new Personal Record. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the stunning record that I was looking for, a new major milestone to crow with excitement. But there was still a PR in there, somewhere. So I reached down a dug, even deeper, to find something for myself.

5thAveMile-MeFinishChute

UPC in the Finish Chute

I crossed the finish line with a time of 5:28, exactly 2 seconds faster than my race the year before. It’s a PR!!

5thAveMile-MeAfterFinish

Exhaustion is not uncommon after a race…

And no one could claim that I didn’t give it my all. I stumbled through the crowds, working my way over to where my wife and parents were waiting with excited faces to see what my results would be. They all knew that I’d been working toward this for months, and were as excited as I was to see my results.

Another race done.

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UPC and my wife!

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UPC and parents!

 

What’s For Lunch? Balsamic Pulled Chicken Bento Box


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Balsamic Pulled Chicken Bento Box with Salad Eggs and a Green Salad

I changed jobs about 2 months ago. There are a couple of things that happen to me when I change jobs. My sources of stress change (not more, and usually less, but it’s quite different). There are always the early questions in any new job that everyone asks themselves; questions like “Am I going to get along with my boss/co-workers?” keep coming back over the first several weeks. More importantly than those questions, though, are the changes in your habits. You may no longer have the same people to spend time with during the day, the same lunch spots that you’re used to, and your commute might be different. These each are sources of stress to your system, and while the euphoria of a new job typically masks them, that will wear off eventually.

I mention this all because when I change a job, that means that I stop running to work. Why? Because I wear my work shoes on the commute for the first several weeks of any job. I don’t want my new boss or new co-workers to see me walk in to work with my Vibram Fivefingers while my First Impression is still being formed – it’s much easier to change later and start to use them after a few weeks than it is to convince someone that, while I am weird, it won’t negatively affect my performance. So, I don’t run to work for the first several weeks. No big deal, right? 5 miles is less than 20% of even a low week of my running miles. And in terms of time, it’s probably even less significant than that: maybe accounting for 5-10% of my workout time. I shouldn’t worry about it, right?
Wrong. Let’s keep in mind that workouts are not just quantitative, they should also be qualitative. And each workout has a specific purpose. I have strength days 1-2 times each week, where the purpose of the workout is to seriously stress my muscles, causing strength to build. I have speed workouts, where I run as fast as I can over a specific distance, stressing my muscles to build more speed. And I have endurance workouts, where I run for a long time, or do planks or wall-sits for a long time, to build my endurance capacity. And then there are meditative and stress workouts. You’ve had a tough day, and to let that stress go, you pound on a heavy bag for a while, or you go out for a bike ride for an hour. These are just as important, in a very different way, as strength, speed, and endurance workouts are. And my morning 1-mile is a meditative workout. It’s as important to me as eating breakfast. Do I skip breakfast occasionally? Yes. Should I skip my morning 1-mile occasionally? Yes. But there are always adverse affects when I skip it for several days, or more. It adds to my stress levels. Or, rather, skipping it reduces my capacity to handle stress.

So I’ve just settled in enough to start running to work again, and I feel GREAT! I started last week, but hadn’t had a chance to mention it until today. I couldn’t be happier!! My work shirts are groaning in distress, knowing that their brief respite from my morning runs to work have ended, and that they’re going to have to deal with my sweaty neck again. I know, it’s no fun to get to work with sweat inside the collar of your shirt. But it’s so worth it for my 1 mile stress preparation runs every day! Welcome back morning 1-milers!

Balsamic Pulled Chicken Bento Box; What you’ll need:

  • Balsamic Pulled Chicken:
  • 1/2 Chicken, pulled (skin on, slow-cooked, spiced)
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Spices: Turmeric, Sea Salt, Ground Pepper
  • Bento Box:
  • Salad Eggs (I used Fennel instead of basil)
  • Favorite Salad Greens (I used Baby Arugula)
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Basil, chopped (use fresh basil; it’s a leafy green along with a herb)
  • 1/2 cup Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium Yellow Squash, sliced (Zucchini works too)
  • 2 medium Carrots, chipped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 60 minutes (I did it all the morning of; extra cook time will be better!)

1. In a pot, add the chicken, several cups of water (so that the chicken is fully submerged) and the spices.
Note: I started the chicken even before my coffee in the morning, and let it cook for as long as I could.

2. Cook the chicken on Medium heat, about 5 out of 10, covered for as long as you can – but at least 45 minutes.

3. Prepare the Salad Eggs and the salad. Add these to the bento box (or lunch container of choice).

4. After at least 45 minutes of cook time, using a pair of tongs and a fork, shred the chicken thoroughly, leaving the shredded chicken in a separate bowl.

5. Add the balsamic vinegar to the bowl and mix the chicken thoroughly. Add this to the bento box (or other) lunch container. And enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you have some daily (or most days) stress relief activity?
  • Do you have a meditative workout?
  • Do you have different kinds of workouts that you do on different days?
  • Do you eat pulled-chicken?
  • When you do a 3-piece meal for lunch, how do you keep them separate?
  • What’s your favorite chicken meal?

Chicken Soup for the… Just Chicken Vegetable Soup


ChickenVegetableSoup

Just Chicken Vegetable Soup

I hope you enjoyed the post title! I had fun with that. I also had a short story all thought up to go with the title, and I thought it was pretty funny at the time. Unfortunately, all I can remember right now is that I thought up a story and thought it was pretty funny. Sometimes writing does that to me. Sometimes it clears my mind of all other things, and something surprising comes out of my fingers (yes, I write with my fingers, not a pen). Almost like magic. And sometimes I don’t forget the story, and I can relay it back to you all with a humored grin on my face, despite that there’s a pretty good chance that no one else thinks I’m funny…

Just chicken vegetable soup. I really enjoy soup season. Fall, winter, and spring here in NYC is prime soup season for me and my wife. And we always know that soup season has kicked off with aplomb once I’ve made the first chicken soup of the season. It’s almost a “Soup Season Tradition” for us. Perhaps we should call it that.
One of the things that I like the most about Soup Season is the use of spices. I do a lot of steak with nothing but turmeric or pepper. I like the flavor of steak, and only really want to hide that flavor with spices when I’m making something “fancy”. But when it comes to soups, it’s all about the spices! Of course, you don’t just grab a random handful of spice jars and just use them. You carefully, artfully choose the spices you’re going to include in order to maximize your enjoyment, and the specific flavors, of the dish. Today’s key players are: fresh sliced lemongrass, fresh chopped rosemary, and turmeric (sorry, not fresh).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Chicken Thigh Meat
  • 2 medium Yellow Squashes, sliced
  • 10 oz Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 medium Carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced Fennel Bulb
  • 1 cup sliced Celery
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh Rosemary, sliced
  • 4-6 tablespoons sliced fresh Lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons Turmeric
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Serves: 6-8 (I always make plenty for leftovers)
Cook and Prep time: 60 minutes (I prep the spices and vegetables while the soup cooks)

1. In the soup pot, add the chicken and several cups of water and cook on high, covered.

2. Slice the lemongrass first, and add it to the soup as it is ready, followed by adding the turmeric, then chopping up the rosemary and adding it to the pot.

3. Let the chicken and spices cook for 5-10 minutes, on high heat, before adding anything else to the pot.
Note: This is a good time to prepare the other vegetables.

4. After the chicken has had some time to cook through, add the carrots, fennel, and mushrooms to the soup, as well as refreshing the water. Always make sure that there is more than enough water to fully submerge all of the ingredients (keeping in mind, of course, that the vegetables float…).

5. Allow another 5-10 minutes of cook time, then uncover the pot and using a serving fork and some tongs, fish out the chicken chunks, and shred the chicken back in to the pot, leaving it as shredded as you have the patience to make it. I do this instead of cutting it in to chunks, because I like the texture of the shredded chicken much better than chunks of it.

6. About 15 minutes before meal time add the remaining ingredients to the soup. Again, refresh the water in the soup so that there is plenty of water to cover all of the vegetables.

7. Just before serving, add the salt and pepper, and increase the water of the soup to the point that there’s the right amount of broth to suit your tastes (some people like a lot of broth, some people like less…). And serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you ever forget something right as you’re about to say it? Or write it?
  • What is your favorite kind of soup?
  • When you do chicken soup, which spices do you use?
  • Do you prefer your chicken soup to be a “slow-cooked” meal, or something you throw together in a quick 30-minute prep session, just before dinner time?
  • What meal really personifies the beginning of soup season for you?