We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Whole30 Challenge: Michelle's Paleo Journal—Days 5-7

by Michelle

"What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing." ~ Pablo Picasso

Linda captured this photo of local produce at the Thursday afternoon farmers market at the Mercado San Agustin near downtown Tucson.
Continued from my Whole30 Challenge Journal.

Day 5
Breakfast: Fried eggs in coconut oil
Lunch: Cobb Salad (no cheese) with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dinner: Pork Chop with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Warm Bacon Salad

On the agenda today—arriving at the Phoenix office for an 8:00 a.m. meeting. This means leaving the house by 6:15 a.m. before the sun breaks the horizon. My alarm is set for 4:30 but I awake from a pleasant dream at 4:10. Why must this happen? I would have very much appreciated twenty minutes more of sleep. I lay in bed even though I know I should just get up. But my bed is warm and toasty and the room is frigid. I turn my alarm off at 4:28 a.m. to avoid waking my husband and my day starts.
   I have no problem with the fried eggs the morning before, but today the eggs rumble around in my stomach causing quite the commotion while I make the drive in the dark from Tucson to Phoenix. Fewer things are worse in the realm of food than burping eggs for two hours. I think it is the coconut oil. I have no such problems with butter. There is a rare layer of fog that is clinging low to the ground stretching for miles atop the cotton fields which provides an air of mystery across the land. On this particular morning the heavy fog reminds me of growing up in Solvang, located in the Central Coast of California, and I reflect back across time to my morning commutes in high school, the visibility through the windshield limited, while I navigated the country roads made eerie by the creeping, opaque gray mist.

The village in which I grew up on the Central Coast of California—Solvang.

   A bunch of co-workers decide to head to Smashburger for lunch. I hold up the ordering line while I request multiple changes to a Cobb Salad. I despise it when places offer a Cobb salad, but they decide to make their own version of a classic. Now I know why Italy and France get so pissed off when chef's try to put their own stamp on famous regional dishes. Stay the line. Innovate elsewhere, or else...
   The burger chain's version the Cobb Salad includes cheddar cheese and buttermilk dressing and deletes the avocado (what?) and fries the egg (ummm... no). The girl at the register pokes around on the Point-of Sale in an effort to accommodate my requested changes. She deletes the Gorgonzola and shredded cheeses, swaps balsamic vinaigrette for the buttermilk dressing, and adds avocado. The egg stays. I always error on the side of protein. My co-workers, who are lined up behind me, begin hazing me, wanting to know what's taking so long with my order. I feel as if I'm channeling the ingredient-swapping character, Sally, played by Meg Ryan in When Sally Meet Harry. I call back to the line of people and explain that I'm high maintenance, but worth it. I refrain from carrying out the fake orgasm scene while we are all sitting at the very long table, although the team probably would have gotten a kick out of it. Or not.
   I arrive home at 6:00 p.m. I rejoice that we are eating out to celebrate my daughter receiving an offer letter from one of the top universities on her target list. As a reward for a job well done, where we eat is of Maddie's choosing. The winner is Union, an upscale pub at St. Phillip's Plaza. When we are seated at our booth, I cave and order red wine. Truly, it is the liquid of the Gods. We order chicken wings as an appetizer, to keep it at least somewhat Paleo friendly. I do my best to avoid the dips, but my chicken wing "slips" into the bleu cheese dressing two or three times. Creamy and delicious. I'll miss it until next time, whenever that might be. I debate between two entrées—Pot Roast or Pork Chop. The server pushes me towards the chop. The bone-in pork chop is served with a drizzle of gravy, warm bacon salad and mashed potatoes that are flavored with goat cheese. I figured if I'm going to cheat, I would at least keep my choice in the Paleo realm.
   After we finish our entrées, Maddie orders a dessert that is comprised of mascarpone cheese, a pistachio tuille and topped with a Luxoro cherry and cherry syrup. At Christmas I made an Old Fashioned with a Luxordo cherry, so I know just how delicious the cherries and syrup taste. I reminded myself that I had to draw the line somewhere, so I drew it at dessert. I watch and sip the last of my wine as Jay and Maddie methodically whittle away the creamy, crispy, sweet dessert until there are just pink streaks of cherry syrup on the white plate punctuated with a couple tiny crumbs of cookie. Truthfully, even though I love cherry-flavored desserts, I was still happily basking in the afterglow of mashed potato heaven.

Chicken Curry Salad with pineapple over shredded romaine lettuce. 
Day 6
Breakfast: Coffee and nothing else (my bad)
Lunch: Leftover Fried Cauliflower Rice with Pulled Pork, Sauteed Vegetables and Pineapple Chunks
Dinner: Curried Chicken Salad with Pineapple over Shredded Romaine Lettuce

   While sipping my "no-no" coffee, I page through the cookbook Against All Grains by Danielle Walker, seeking inspiration. I disparagingly comment to my husband, who is seated at the head of the table reading the newspaper, that Danielle is high on cauliflower as the basis for faux-rice and faux-totatoes. Jay detected from my tone that my newly minted fascination with cauliflower seemed to be finished. "Game over," I said. "Thank God," he replied. Jay's never been a fan of the cruciferous vegetable, although he has declared roasted cauliflower edible and even went so far as to call it quite good. So, I have to say, while not a fan, Jay's been quite game to try all the various versions of cooked cauliflower that I've put before him in the last week.
   I find that I am starving at 1:00 p.m. because I "forgot" to eat breakfast. The "forgetting" is an inside joke between my husband and me. Once upon a time, we had a friend who would "forget" to eat lunch. Since she is rail thin, I think it was just an excuse for her to skip lunch and instead scarf a big bag of kettle potato chips. Since I'm a person who enjoys eating three square meals a day, I never quite bought in to her "forgetting" to eat. However, every once in awhile it happens to me, like this morning, so I can't completely dismiss "forgetting" to eat, but it always seemed like a ridiculous excuse coming from her potato chip dusted lips.
   In my urgency to eat food, now that I'm starving, I resort to eating some of the leftover fried faux-rice. I actually like it better cold. The texture of the "rice" is better chilled. Maybe I was just so hungry I didn't care. Jay saw me eating the cold leftovers and remarked that I must really be enjoying my meal. Liberal use of sarcasm unites us in the game of life.
   Time to boil two chickens. Additionally, I have grand plans of making Thai Shrimp Bisque for dinner since I promised Linda it would be next week's post until I run up against a timing issue. I run behind preparing the ingredients for the chicken broth and then one thing leads to another and it's getting late and I will not be making Bisque for dinner. What to do, what to do. I decide to use the gently simmered chicken breasts to make Chicken Curry Salad. I already have homemade curry powder in the cupboard. And whaddya know, I have one apple and golden raisins. So, there I go again, breaking the Whole30 rules by adding honey to the dressing. I feel vindicated though because I make my own mayonnaise, which is our Paleo Aïoli recipe made without the garlic, capers or parsley. I've managed to stay Paleo, but not Whole30. 'Tis difficult.

The chicken looks prepared to try out for Riverdance. I swapped white wine for the beer in our Beer-Butt Chicken recipe and the hens are ready to go on the grill. I also like to coat the chickens with a smoked paprika rub and then drizzle with Frank's Hot Sauce.
Cauli-Rice Cous Cous Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette featuring vegetables and Kalamata olives.
Day 7
Breakfast: No-No Coffee and Scrambled Eggs with Diced Sausage and Salsa Garnish
Lunch: Leftover chicken curry salad
Dinner: Roasted "Wine Butt" Chicken, Half a Baked Potato and Cauli-Rice Cous Cous Salad

You should have seen my grocery shopping list for today. Vegetable after vegetable after vegetable and some fruit thrown in for good measure. My husband shops for the groceries and I cook. That's how we divide the duties of the business of feeding ourselves and our daughter. Over our many years together of wedded bliss, we determined through hard won experience that I spend more money grocery shopping than Jay. I'll spy a new food item and think, oh I need to try that. Maybe I can do X, Y or Z with this fun find. Jay, on the other hand, doesn't care about the hunt for new food. He only buys what's on the list. Nothing more and nothing less.
   When he brought in all the grocery bags I unloaded all the fruits and vegetables onto the kitchen table. I marveled at all the produce and wondered where I would store it all. It wasn't too big of a concern considering I have three refrigerators. I know, I know. Don't get me started. I have one refrigerator that is dedicated to bread making, but as my co-workers can attest, I haven't been
baking bread lately, even though they regularly pester me for a loaf of sourdough deliciousness. As the saying goes, get them hooked by giving away the first loaf for free and then it's the gravy train after that. Oh wait, I don't get paid for baking bread. If they lived closer they could buy loaves from our sister, Juliette. She is owner and chief baker of Guadalupe Baking Company in Bisbee, Arizona. If nothing else, it's a great excuse for a road trip from Phoenix to Bisbee to pick up an order of Juliette's almost famous wild yeast sourdough bread.

I have miles of fruits and veggies to put away after Jay
completes the weekly grocery shipping.
   I busily make sauerkraut today and store it in my new 5 Liter fermenting crock that Linda gave to me as a present. I feel pretty stoked to finally be fermenting vegetables. It has been a goal for a very long time so I'm starting the year off right. I snack on some of the ingredients as I prepare them. I like raw cabbage. I nibble on a carrot and a celery stick. When my daughter comes into the room, I feign a British accent and repeat the line that we love from Devil Wear's Prada. In the film, Emily Blunt's character, Emily, is perpetually trying to lose weight even though she is model thin. Emily laments, "...I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight." In my reciting of the line I swap a celery stick for the cube of cheese. Maddie repeats the line one more time for good measure. We laugh in unison. Maddie and I always laugh at the same jokes. I'm always thankful we share the same sense of humor.

My daughter, Maddie—the apple of my eye.
   My intention is to make Thai Shrimp Bisque for dinner. Between finishing the sauerkraut mixture and making Cauli-Rice, I fall behind. Fortunately, I have two chickens on the grill. The plan is to eat the chickens throughout the week, by adding protein to lunch or dinner entrées, such as Jay's favorite chicken salad. Instead I switch gears and the chickens quickly become the star of tonight's meal. Thankfully, I popped potatoes in the oven earlier as a proactive measure against Maddie not caring for the Bisque. She doesn't really like shrimp, and I did not want to push it on her 'cause I'm not one of those parents that insist that my child adore everything I make food-wise. That would be great, but not realistic. I try to deal in reality whenever possible. My fantasy life is not rich.
   After all my experiments with cauliflower this last week, I think blanching the processed cauliflower for 90 seconds and then plunging it into an ice bath is the way to go. One medium head of cauliflower makes about 4.5 cups of "rice". Now, the question becomes what to do with it. I grab The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs for inspiration. If you don't have this book sitting on the shelf next to your cook books, and you like to cook, I highly recommend that you buy it post haste. I scroll through the index until I find the subject, and then flip to pages 97 and 98 to review the various "chef approved" ingredients that complement cauliflower. I note that flavor affinities include lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil and parsley. Since Jay just completed this weeks shopping, I have all the ingredients readily available.
   While watching The Golden Globes from the pass through window between the kitchen and family room, I make the salad on the fly. We all like the cauliflower cous cous salad a lot, even Jay, who dishes himself three helpings as the meal progresses. I root for Michael Keaton and Kevin Spacey, both winners, even though they have been the underdogs for years. I root for Frances McDormand who played the title character of the book that I'm reading, Olive Kitteridge. When I read the book, I picture Frances in my mind, although I have not seen the mini series on HBO. Everyone prattled on and on about Amal looking bored with George's "office party", but Frances looked even more disenchanted than Mrs. Clooney. I thought, that's how I must look after a fight with my husband. Maybe Frances wants to wring Joel's neck. It's so much fun to speculate about something I know absolutely nothing about. Back to more important matters than Hollywood royalty.
   Ironically, I notice later, as I'm putting The Flavor Bible back on the shelf, that those ingredients are the flavor affinities for carrots. Now I know that those ingredients also work well with Cauli-Rice Cous Cous Salad a la Michelle. Whole30 wise, where I went down hill was with the potato. I slathered it with sour cream, just enough not to feel cheated, and then sprinkled a wee bit of shredded cheddar cheese. Paul Jaminet would pat me on the head and say I'm doing a-okay.

Stay tuned... there's more in the days ahead from my Paleo Journal.
Linda takes a surprise "cheap shot" of me at my local farmer's market when I was picking
up salad greens for Maddie's 18th birthday in Tucson this past December. 

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