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The Paleo Starter Kit, Part I: A Functional Paleo Kitchen
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February 22, 2011
12:18 pm
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So you've been inspired to eat real food: a paleo diet.

Great! You're taking a big step towards better health and more energy.

But as you survey your kitchen, you realize that your refrigerator contains only beer and condiments, your freezer is full of precooked industrial products, your pantry is full of bread and pasta, you're eating out all the time anyway—and suddenly you're expected to instantly know how to cook all your own food from scratch when you can't even use the few recipes you know?

Fear not! We are eating like predators, but that doesn't mean we have to eat raw…

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February 22, 2011
12:27 pm
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Wati:

Thank you!  One of the unintended consequences of decades of terrible health advice (eat 'low-fat' foods, avoid red meat and saturated fat, do endless 'cardio' on machines while indoors) is that being healthy becomes miserable drudgery.  Good health and diet should be joyous and life-affirming!  If it isn't, we're doing it wrong.

Jake:

That's a good hint for people who have got serious about their cooking, but I don't think it's the first thing you buy.  Since you're obviously into cooking, I look forward to your input on Part II!

JS

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February 22, 2011
3:43 pm
Jessi Hance
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I've always steered clear of non-stick cookware, so I'm glad to see your recommendation for a covered cast-iron skillet. Your links are very useful. Hope they're affiliate links so you can get a few pennies.

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February 22, 2011
5:53 pm
Jake
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Since I am new to cooking I follow the recipes exactly so that takes a lot of measuring spoons.

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February 22, 2011
6:16 pm
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Jessi:

I personally find non-stick to be much easier and more practical for everyday cooking -- but since people have very strong beliefs on the subject, I prefer to give multiple options.  

And there are those people who repeatedly turn the burner up to HIGH and get distracted by the television, or who can't resist using that metal spatula "just this once" because they don't feel like scrubbing off the plastic one.  Reseasoning a skillet is a PITA, but it's cheaper than buying a new one.

Jake:

That makes sense.  Maybe I don't mind because my sink is right next to my stove.

JS

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March 1, 2011
10:39 am
Alex
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Is there any reason lard isn't on your list of acceptable fats?

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March 1, 2011
5:05 pm
Kenny Younger
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Alex - exactly. When you eat 1/3 lb of bacon each morning, you end up with a ton of the best cooking fat in the world. I probably have 20 lbs of it stored in cans in my freezer. Not sure why, really, other than it seems like a waste to throw out :)

Other great options: duck fat, lardo (cured pork fat), and honestly a little cold-pressed organic olive oil is a tasty option once in a while.

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March 1, 2011
6:36 pm
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Alex, Kenny:

I use much of the bacon fat when I cook bacon...but for cooking, I prefer tallow to lard because of the substantially lower n-6 PUFA content of tallow, and because store-bought lard is inevitably partially hydrogenated.  I wrote about this in more detail last time the subject came up, over here.

That being said, I'd love to try leaf lard someday!

JS

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March 19, 2011
5:44 am
Cheese
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Not sure where you got the idea that cast iron heats less evenly. In my experience, and that of family knowledge is that iron distributes heat the best, although unwieldy in other ways.

And these days you can buy pre-seasoned iron. Though I've never given it a go since I've inherited my set from my grandparents.

Of course, I'm not a newbie to cooking and I've got my own zealotry -- plus my big iron skillet is the only pan I have that's large enough to cook an entire pound of bacon in one go. Good intro for other folks definitely.

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April 25, 2011
10:55 pm
042611 – Tuesd
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[...] next step is to read my “Paleo Starter Kit”, so you’ll know what to do with all that [...]

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April 27, 2011
10:25 am
Againstthegrain
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For a lot of reasons, I ditched plastic food storage containers a few years ago (except for a few I keep around that can be given away without need for returning). The final straw was when my new dishwasher flipped every plastic container upright, filling them with dirty water, no matter how I positioned and weighed them down when loading the racks.

I replaced with glasslock tempered clear glass storage containers. These clear tempered glass containers have air-tight and leak-proof silicone gasket sealed plastic lids that lock down securely. They are great for freezer and fridge food storage, as well as storing dry foods in the cabinet. I think glasslock containers look nicer on the table than plastic, too. My husband packs his lunch in glasslock. The tempered glass is microwave safe, but not oven safe like Pyrex (though I've safely used the glass containers (covered with foil, not the plastic lids) in the oven at very low temp to keep food warm). Many of the newer container versions have sloped sides so they can "nest" with other containers when empty, saving storage space.

Glasslock containers are sold individually at some grocery stores (see importer's website below). Plus I've seen them at Bed, Bath & Beyond; The Container Store; Target (plus some two container sets that nest); on Amazon.com and other online retailers (Kinetic). Costco has been selling very good starter sets at an excellent price (occasionally with an instant or coupon discount).

While tempered glass containers cost a bit more than the quality plastic storage containers, I've found with reasonable care, they are quite durable and economical in the long run (even with a grumbling and often careless 6th grader unloading the d/w most days). The company even replaced one of my lids for free when I inquired about obtaining a replacement lid for one that was inadvertently thrown out at a potluck party.

This is a link for the importer-distributer for the US: http://www.dooilusa.com/2product/product.html

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April 29, 2011
12:09 am
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Againstthegrain:

I agree that the Glasslock containers are great, and I might get a few of them for regular refrigerator-leftover duty.  

I'm a bit nervous about freezing glass containers, though, like when I make a big pot of chili and freeze individual servings.  Also, I don't think the largest size is big enough for a tri-tip, which is critical for me.  But I'll check them out next time I'm at Costco.

Thanks for the sourcing information!  You can get most things from Amazon, but small kitchen stuff is usually much more expensive there than it is locally.

JS

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May 2, 2011
10:09 am
Carol
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I recently bought a Earth Chef, ceramic skillet. Non stick, safe in the oven to 1000 degrees and contains no toxic or hazardous materials (at least that is what it says on the packaging.)

Since I purchased it, it's pretty much been the only frying pan I've used. Much lighter than the cast iron pan, you won't get an arm workout, but if you are using other non-stick pans you'll love being able to crank the heat and not worry about what kind of chemical essense you're adding to your food.

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May 2, 2011
2:35 pm
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Carol:

Interesting!  I'm looking into the ceramic and porcelain coated stuff: I'm seeing mixed reviews depending on the type and manufacturer.  If I find one that works reliably I'll add it to the list.

JS

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May 13, 2011
1:41 am
Edward
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I am surprised you did not mention Stainless Steel skillet! I loathe nonstick skillet! they wear out fast even if I used nylon spatula and I don't overheat. I don't know why I own nonstick and lately I have learned they are not MOST SAFEST, but can become dangerous toxic over the time due to wear and tear. you don't want that!

Cast Iron skillets has been used by people over hundred decades and are very safest cookware and you get some iron as nutrient when cooking in them. I just bought Lodge cast iron skillet couple weeks after my nonstick finally show signs of wear and tears after 2 yrs probably cheap brand Cucina?

Yes, it's PITA to season the cast iron every time after cooking. Also buying new one prevent you from cooking anything that is acidic like tomatoes, lemons such like that till it is well seasoned over the time before cooking them.

I have fond memories of using 12" Revere copper-clad stainless steel that my mother owned and has been in the family for decades. That memories has me considering getting Revere copper-clad SS cookware set for sure. Stainless Steel cookware is easy to care and is ready to cook anything including acidic foods! http://www.shopworldkitchen.com/revere

I am also considering stoneware for baking: http://www.traditionalcook.com/stoneware.shtml

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May 18, 2011
9:53 am
John P
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I good cast iron skilled properly seasoned and cared for can last a lifetime...and you can cave in a skull with one if you need to. Just sayin.

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June 16, 2011
5:54 pm
Dave RN
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I keep a seperate smaller cast iron skillet just for cooking eggs. Once seasoned with tallow, it's as non stick as any of the non stick pans. Back when I though vegitable oils were the way to go I tried to season with that, but it just doens't work. You gotta use tallow.
You can get suet (the fat from around the cows kidneys) when you order your half a beef for your freezer. I took 11 lbs of it, rendered half of it and still have lots left. I put some chuncks in a little glass jar and keep it by the stove...

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June 16, 2011
8:21 pm
Dana
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Ditto what Dave said. When I was growing up we used soybean oil on our cast iron. Don't ask me why. Both my dad and my stepmother came from farming families. Dad still uses soybean oil for seasoning, to this day. The finish on his cast iron is sticky and unpleasant. I'd heard it was supposed to be mirrorlike but had NEVER been able to achieve that. Then I started cooking in butter, and later coconut oil. Bingo. Animal fat probably works a bit better than coconut oil, but if you're going to use a plant oil it needs to be mostly saturated. (I find pork fat works pretty OK too, even though it's less than fifty percent saturated!)

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June 17, 2011
2:57 am
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Edward:

Stainless is great, and it does last forever...it's just a bother to keep clean.

John, Dave, Dana:

Apparently there are two schools of thought on the seasoning: the "use heavily polyunsaturated oil and cook it until it turns to varnish" school, and the "just keep a lot of saturated fat on there" school.  I don't have enough experience to have an opinion.

JS

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June 18, 2011
11:30 am
Paul Lee
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Reading Kenny's comment earlier about storing fat reminded me of my Grandma's fat pot in her fridge, which was constantly topped up for roasts. As kids (in the UK) we were fed "dripping" bread which was beef dripping spread on bread, sometimes with a little salt. Just a shame about the bread!

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