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The Paleo Starter Kit, Part II: "The Paleo Scramble", A Basic Technique For Real-World Cooking
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January 2, 2012
7:14 pm
Deb
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A friend linked to several of your posts for a bunch of us working on New Year's Resolutions involving Paleo, so I'm enjoying some of these for the first time today.

Seems to me that any of these could be adapted to a nice frittata: I'd start with the onions and other long-cooking veg, add in the meat, then the eggs, and once it starts to set up, put the whole big cast-iron pan right into the oven till it's done while I get the kids ready for school, and breakfast! (and lunch, if I make a big enough one, which I usually do *grin*)

January 3, 2012
12:44 am
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Deb:

Frittatas are a great idea!  Feel free to share any recipes you like.

I like skillet cooking in general, because it minimizes prep and cleanup -- leaving only a cutting board, a knife, and a skillet to clean.

I hope your Paleo New Year goes well.  Feel free to stick around!  I'm on a temporary hiatus right now, but the index is full of great articles for you to catch up on, and I'll be back on my regular updates soon.

JS

January 21, 2012
2:17 pm
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Gnoll
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My paleo scramble: Living In The Ice Age- Paleo, Just Paleo

Paleo eating for fun, not for food blogs!

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

March 8, 2012
4:20 pm
Heather C
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I have a similar sort of thing, I start off with onions, then I go cut up mushrooms or zuccini if I have them, then the meat, next is either the sauce/spices or sliced carrot and broccoli (I like these lightly done), finally any silverbeet or lighter greens go last so they don't get slimy.
Common sauces are a sprinkling of cayenne pepper on anything, possibly a stock cube dissolved and mixed through, curry paste (tandoori, green or red)or curry powder mixed with hot water, peanut butter and cayenne pepper(good with chicken, improved with coconut milk). This week I had pork with soy sauce and homemade jam (family and neibours have large orchards/berry patches) which was delicious.
That makes the main dish, then I cook up a pot of roughly cut potatoes, sometimes with carrots and cabbage (cutting it fine annoys me) and a half dozen servings worth of cooked lentils which I keep in the fridge, so whenever I make or reheat food I just add some of both.
I've just moved out of home for uni and am finding this pretty cheap, less than ~$40au per week so far (didn't have to buy all my spices though.
Also if you ever get the chance; cooking duck hearts in butter and adding balsamic vinegar, then reducing it to a sauce is incredibly good!

March 8, 2012
4:58 pm
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Paul:

So long as you have some meat and some veggies, you can usually find some combination of spices that makes them work.

Heather:

Skillet cooking for the win!  It's all about having a 'library' of spices and sauce bases to mix and match with the meat and veggies you have available.

I don't know how it is in Australia, but in America spices are much cheaper at the Mexican supermarket...or even in the Mexican aisle of the supermarket.  Instead of US$4-6 per jar, they come in a plastic envelope for US$1 or less.  They won't have every spice you need, but you'll be able to stock up on most of them for much less.

In America, Grocery Outlet and dollar stores can also be a good source for spices.  Again, they won't have everything, but you can minimize the number of $4 jars you need.

I've never tried to cook duck hearts...maybe I should try it!

JS

March 28, 2012
7:08 am
Tracy
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All sound delicious! Bonus points for skillet meals - so easy and quick.

Reminded me of a recipe I love and use a lot: Joe's Special:
http://italianfood.about.com/od/savoryeggdishes/r/Joes_Special.htm

But to that, I add olives and either crushed tomatoes or tomato paste for some zing. I can (and often do) eat that for days! I think ground beef + veg + herbs/spices can take you anywhere.

March 28, 2012
5:53 pm
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Tracy:

Oregano and nutmeg...I'll have to try that.  I bet sun-dried tomatoes would be excellent, too!

JS

April 20, 2012
1:47 pm
Mauricio
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Where's part 3? 😀

April 23, 2012
3:58 pm
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Mauricio:

It's among the many articles I haven't written yet.  Meanwhile, here's my prime rib recipe to get you started!

JS

July 8, 2012
7:32 am
Elin
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Thank you so much for this blog. Although I've been eating paleo for awhile, my husband is just now getting on board. It's his responsibility to make dinner on Wednesdays but he's been having a hard time of it ("Remind me again. Can you eat this?"). This is a perfect starting point, and the variations should give him some ideas for next week.

I read him your "Eat Like A Predator" blog earlier today and, for the first time, paleo makes sense. Your blogs are easy to read and explain things well. The tongue-in-cheek comments are a plus. The one that got his attention: "...if you can put it in a truck and the truck starts, it's not food."

Just FYI: I got your web site from a friend's positive post about your book. I'll eventually read it but am enjoying catching up on your blogs first.

July 8, 2012
4:54 pm
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Elin:

I'm glad you find my articles useful!  There is a surplus of books explaining how to eat paleo, and they all say basically the same things.  We're not short of information -- we're short of explanation, and we're short of motivation.  So if I've helped your husband understand paleo on a gut level, I've succeeded.

Since you enjoy my articles, I'm sure you'll enjoy The Gnoll Credo...read it whenever you're moved to.  (And if you buy it direct from the publisher, you'll get a signed copy at no extra charge.)  May I ask where you heard about it?

JS

October 17, 2012
7:07 pm
KCElliott
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Great site!
Well Done, J Stanton.
Thanx!
Here is what I do. More like an oven bake that a skillet scramble. Think beef roasts, fat ones like blades, thick too. Put anything you want in the bottom of the right size oven, roast on top. Cook it til you like it. Tomorrow, on top of re-heated left-overs, cover those with 3 fried eggs.
VIOLA!
KCElliott

October 22, 2012
10:35 am
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KCElliott:

I'm glad you find my work useful.  And I agree with you: as I said in Eat Like A Predator, "Few foods remain unimproved by the addition of a fried egg."  Even leftovers!

JS

October 22, 2012
1:13 pm
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Gnoll
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... fried in butter, naturally. I endorse that.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

April 5, 2013
11:49 am
eddie watts
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woo just noticed more recipes here now, may have to return to pilfer some of them!

meanwhile i will share my pork ribs recipe which was adapted from MDA admittedly. i use this for two racks of ribs.
put oven on easy cook or slow cook (dunno what it might be called in USA or non-UK but i assume there is a version)
put the two racks in for 2-3 hours in a baking tray covered with foil

i make up the spice mix around now, it is quite a lot but i'm still playing with ratios at present:
5g black pepper, 5g cinnamon, 10g garlic powder, 5g allspice, 3g salt, 5g cumin, 30g paprika(or smoked or a mix). i either add water or some pasata and water to this and stir it into a paste-like consistency.
slather on aggressively!
i put it on light under the ribs where there is less meat and most on top where there is plenty: probably a rough 20/80 ratio.

then put ribs back in oven on gas mark 6 for 20-30 minutes or until spice rub mix is dry.
we also normally have side salad of leaves, plum tomatoes, some cheese and hard boiled eggs too.

April 6, 2013
1:04 am
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eddie:

Can you translate terms like "gas mark 6" into degrees?  Celsius is fine, but you'll get bonus points for including their equivalent in Fahrenheit.

JS

June 22, 2013
8:15 am
Eric
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I never had much of a problem with leftover ingredients, especially not spices. The problem is when you try to to make random recipes from very different traditions that require special ingredients and they don't come out very well because it's your first attempt so you never try to make it again. Recipes are not magic, cooking is an art, with a lot of science, and you need to practice making a dish, or range of similar dishes from a certain tradition a number of times until you get it 'right' and many more until you really master it. Since you're already on the internet you can find many recipe variations for the same dish that you can experiment with until you develop your own style which may have as much to do with availability of ingredients as it does with your personal taste.

Another issue with 'spices' is that you're actually talking about 2 very different things, herbs and spices. For most people using a prepared mixture of herbs and spices is going to be the easiest way to make a dish taste good but I think you're better off simplifying your seasoning. I challenge you to follow this rule of thumb for any dish: use only one herb, one spice, usually some kind of pepper, and either garlic or onions, not both! This way you to get a lot more variety out of a very limited set of ingredients and you can really get to know what each spice and herb tastes like and appreciate the distinction between garlic and different kind of onions, shallots, etc... If you still think your food tastes too simple the problem is probably that you're not using enough salt. Don't over do it but you should really make it a point to recognize the difference between too little seasoning and tool little salt.

Now there are many exceptions to that rule of thumb but I recommend sticking to it unless you really know what you're doing, either on expert authority or as part of your own experimentation as you learn to appreciate how simple combinations of ingredients work together. People generally put too much emphasis on seasoning anyway, the most important part of good meal is to base it on real high quality food: meat, fish, vegetables, etc... and of course you need to have enough good fat, the more the better I think, up to a point. So many people love real traditional Italian food which is based on good fresh ingredients and usually a generous dose of olive oil and always enough salt and very little garlic if any. People then have a very hard time replicating these things at home because they're afraid to use too much oil and salt and rely on a nasty combination of so-called "italian spices" and way too much garlic. Traditional Mexican cuisine is very simple also. Of course these tradition rely on a lot of carbs mainly because good, real food is expensive and most people in the world are poor. If you can afford the best meat, fish and veg in every meal then you could easily skip herbs all together as long as you use enough salt and a little pepper but of course herbs are nice, and they're fun, and it's awesome to rub fresh rosemary on your rack of lamb before you roast it!

June 24, 2013
4:34 pm
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Eric:

I agree that simple food, made with fresh ingredients, is delicious...I believe pico de gallo and basil pesto both contain only one herb and one spice.  You also make a good point that traditional Italian cooking will have usually have a lot more salt (and olive oil, and butter) and a lot less "Italian spices" than people think.

However, I find that oversimplification can drive away people new to cooking just as much as skimping on fat and salt...grocery store produce often isn't as flavorful as you'd like, and needs a bit of help from the spice rack, most sauces need more than one herb to taste right, and I challenge anyone to make a pot roast taste right without using both rosemary and thyme.  Simplify as much as you can, but no more.

JS

July 1, 2013
11:40 am
Rashida Frevert
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I am so anxious to try some of these dishes! I have heard so many great things about this diet.

July 28, 2013
5:55 pm
Adara
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Hi J, you cook a lot the way I do. However, as I have gotten older I really don't like how cooking everything together in one pan means some things are overcooked and some are undercooked, so I spend no more time cooking some separately, with tremendously better results and eating enjoyment. For instance, I will roast baby broccoli with olive oil and potatoes in bacon fat, separately in the oven at 450 degrees F while I prepare my other ingredients, then I can add them in or eat the separately, as my mood dictates. Sometimes is tastes and looks better separate. My favorite mix is leftover meat with broccoli, potatoes, caramelized onions and poblano with a touch of creamy white cheese in a scramble or like a frittata, which just means you don't scramble and let it cook like a Spanish Tortilla.

Speaking of Spanish Tortillas, Chorizo is also a great choice with potatoes, onions, olives and peppers, which works fine all cooked in one skillet. Are capers and peppercorns (ground pepper of any kind) permissible?

For an Chinese/Japanese style omelet I make a flat thin egg pancake with eggs, garlic chives, fat (it used to be toasted sesame oil, now bacon fat), and tiny amounts of fish sauce and oyster sauce, salt and pepper. Then I will fill it with vegetables sautéed or stir-fried with added spices and sauces like Tamari. You can also use this as an alternative to those flour pancakes with Mu Shu Chicken or Pork, if you make it thin enough, which is easy to do.

A Thai Potato Green Curry is out of this world! It can have chicken or Shrimp or even Mussels. It generally has carrots and a green or two, and of course, basil and coriander. Lemongrass makes everything better!

I make my own spice blends and most importantly Honk Kong Chili Sauce...OMG deeply complex flavor profile of hot heaven. I use it even on Tacos sometimes. It is excellent in an omelet with a tiny bit of cheese and nothing else. It is that good.

A fantastic filling soup is boiling chicken thighs and dicing them. Reduce the broth, add coconut milk, Hong Kong Chili Sauce, crushed ginger, lemongrass, a few dashes of 5-Spice, diced carrot and green bean or long bean (it used to be corn), and chopped coriander. The more the liquids are reduced, then thicker it will be. Amazing flavor!

For the person talking about Stroganoff, use potatoes instead of noodles for this diet, unless you use rice noodles.

Thank You J, you have helped to move towards health again. My health declined rapidly when I became Vegan, supposedly, for health. HA! It only improved slightly when I became Pescatarian, gluten-free. It gets confusing. Your plan makes sense to me in light of what I have gone through.

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