Monthly Archives: September 2014

Plum Rhubarb Panna Cotta

Plum Rhubarb Panna Cotta |Paleo + Life

My mother-in-law, J., is a story teller. That is not the sum of her, naturally — she is an interesting, complex woman to be sure — but when I think of her, the first thing that springs to mind are her wonderful tales of growing up out here in the West with her dad, an extraordinary scientist. Pet ravens, bones boiling in the back yard, lamps made of elephant bones … it all sounds like a scene out of a novel. If I hadn’t actually seen the lamp, I don’t know that I’d believe it.

Besides keeping the family stories, J. is also keeper of family mementos. Her home is full of unexpected treasures like antique Native American rugs, and such: every so often, she passes some of those on to us.

We have a sweet set of tea cups, for example, that J. inherited from her grandmother. They are not especially valuable, but I love them dearly. They are dainty enough to be charming, without being so delicate that I’m afraid to touch them. We never use them for tea — the cups are far too small for the vats of tea both Husband and I like to drink — but they are a wonderful size for desserts like panna cotta.

Plum Rhu V Blog

I consider panna cotta (Italian for cooked cream) to be the ultimate in fancy jello. I know that sounds crazy, but really, that’s all it is: milk mixed with gelatin (I use Great Lakes*) and whatever flavoring you want.
Panna cotta is so lusciously creamy, and so easy, that I want to make it all the time. I think it works for every season, too. My husband has a summer birthday, so for him, I made one with an apple mint. When the autumn started, these beautiful plums just spoke to me. For my birthday, I’ll probably do lemon, since I love citru. around springtime, I can’t wait to try lavender honey. Then next summer, maybe lemongrass, and in the fall again there’ll be apples…The possibilities are endless.

Getting back to this fall’s dish: I wanted a treat, with a deep, fruity flavor, that I could have even on a Whole30. I wasn’t looking for a traditional dessert, because I don’t believe that’s in the spirit of Whole30, but I wanted something that would be like having a fancied up piece of fruit after dinner. I think this sticks to the rules of the challenge while still being a little bit special; something tasty you could share when swapping stories with friends after dinner.

This is not a traditional panna cotta, being much more fruit than milk, but it sets up similarly. Rhubarb is quite tangy, so use the sweetest plums you can for contrast; the grapes add an extra boost of natural sweetness as well. If you are on a whole30 or a 21-Day Sugar Detox, that should be all you need: it really will be fine to leave out the sweetener. Heck, you could leave out the rhubarb if it isn’t your thing; double the amount of grapes instead. Plum and grape panna cotta would be brilliant, too.

If you are having sweetener, do try adding the maple syrup and honey; it adds some depth that emphasizes the hint of anise from the star anise and the smoothness of vanilla. Of course, use the best vanilla you can find; it really does make a difference.
Finally: vegetarian friends, I have not tried this, but I hear agar agar works well as a substitute for gelatin. Do let me know if you try it!

Plum Rhubarb Panna Cotta

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds plums, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 pound red seedless grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 small piece star anise
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional; skip if doing whole30)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional; skip if doing whole30)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons gelatin

Instructions

  1. In medium saute pan, combine plums, rhubarb, star anise, vanilla, maple syrup, and honey. Stew over medium-low heat for approximately 30 minutes, or until the fruits have softened enough to give when poked with a fork. Remove star anise; rinse, dry and reserve for another use.
  2. Pour the fruit into a high speed blender and puree 15-20 seconds, or until mixture is smooth. (If you do not have a high-speed blender, an immersion blender will also work. The texture will be somewhat less fine.) Set aside.
  3. In a separate sauce pan, pour the milk and gelatin. Allow gelatin to absorb liquid for a few moments, then stir to dissolve. Briefly warm the mixture over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
  4. Combine the gelatin and milk with the fruit mixture.
  5. Pour the panna cotta mixture into the molds of your choice. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until soft set; for a firmer set, refrigerate for at least one hour.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/plum-rhubarb-panna-cotta/

IFBC 2014: Traveling While Paleo

Page and Dornenburg, Foodie Royalty | Paleo + Life

Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page giving the Keynote @ IFBC. Just *thinking* about their travel schedule exhausts me.

Note to my readers: This is a subsidized post, as detailed below. In exchange for a reduced conference fee, I agreed to write three posts about the event: this is the third of those posts. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Traveling while paleo is a whole new experience. I am something of a homebody, of course, and I can obviously ensure that my food is paleo if I make it myself. But sometimes, even a woman who adores cooking needs to step out of the kitchen. Here are a few tips I found handy while on the road:

Eat a good breakfast. I know, I know. I hear the dramatic teenaged scoff in your voice. But I’m here to tell you: your mom was right. Having a good chunk of protein at breakfast helped keep me going for a surprisingly long time. Since I didn’t stay at the conference hotel, I made sure to book a place that served breakfast. Both days, I had hard-boiled eggs which I wrapped in slices of meat, and fresh fruit on the side.

Don’t be afraid to leave and get what you need. My breakfast held me over for several hours – through the keynote and most of the second speaker’s presentation. Along about the time we broke for the third session, I was ready to gnaw my own arm off. Unfortunately, I had left my amazing, snack-filled “swag bag” at our hotel. When I learned that there was a Whole Foods Market near the conference, I left a cloud of dust in my wake. I made it back in time to catch most of the third session (a cooking demo by The Chef In the Hat that smelled divine).

Conference Snacks

Paleo-friendly snacks from WFM SLU

Think outside the box. Conferences and expositions tend to be absolutely filled with muffins, quick breads, doughnuts… y’all get the idea. I picked up a fruit & nut mix, some jerky, and (cough*two flavors of*cough) macaroons, which all helped to tide me over.

New school snacks are awesome, too. Many of the vendors who came to IFBC had perfect paleo snacks: Rainier Fruit Company carries pears, apples, cherries and blueberries; Pearls makes Olives to Go*(these are like fruit cups, but with olives); and Santé Nuts has really fresh-tasting roasted salted pecans*. Nutiva has a new macaroon-like O’Coconut* treat; I loved Zico pineapple–flavored coconut water*; GimMe Organic has roasted seaweed snacks* (my daughter likes the teriyaki flavor, but I prefer sea salt). If you tolerate beans, The Better Bean Company has some tasty varieties. And I can’t forget my beloved Theo Chocolate* which I’m certain is the taste of heaven.

Stay hydrated and stretch. I am a fiend about this, because I am stil nursing my youngest, but don’t forget to keep up your fluid intake. This will also have the value of forcing you out of a chair for bathroom breaks. Do a little stretch on your way; check out Paleo Secret’s Sitting Solution for tips on how to move and feel better.

We are definitely still learning how to manage paleo on the go, but overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this trip went. We talked about packing a cooler with cold snack foods that we might take next time; feel free to share any advice on that in the comments. What are your best travel tips?

 

* = Affliliate link.

Apple Sassy Applesauce

Apple Sassy (Applesauce) | Paleo + LifeFour days ago, miniature rivers of sweat ran down my back as I squinted into the Seattle sun. Smooshing crusty shrimp foccacia into my mouth with one hand and wrestling my nursing toddler with the other I watched my girl rolling across the grass, giddy with sun and silliness. I tried to take a deep breath, fixing this second in my mind, ordering myself to remember, to savor this last gasp of summer. It seemed impossible that it would end.

But this morning, the patter of rain roused me from the sloppy swirl of blankets covering my bed. The breeze coming in from our open window nipped at our skin and raised taut goosebumps on arms and legs. The littlest girl was grumpy, the tot would not leave my arms, and husband and teens were all bleary-eyed slugs. Fall, such as it is in the Northwest, seems to have come.

I wanted to make something warm and soothing. Something thick and rich that would help us all embrace the change of season, instead of resenting it for not being summer.
Applesauce, I thought. I should make applesauce.

Apple Sassy Applesauce | Paleo + Life

While we were up north, we paid a quick visit to my husband’s aunt and uncle, who treated us to a generous bagful of apples from their garden. Apples that fresh don’t really need anything except mashing, but a hint of ginger and a dash of cinnamon brightens and deepens the apples’ flavor. When my little taste tester tried this, the wee bit of heat from the ginger is the reason she declared this not applesauce, but Apple Sassy.

When I’m making applesauce for the little ones, I just add the spices and blend; it is super fast, and we all like the fresh flavor of raw apple. However, if you have the time, I recommend that you give your applesauce a turn in the slow cooker. Some of the water in the apples will cook off, which concentrates the flavor wonderfully, without going as far turning into apple butter.
Of course, you can do that, too: just let it cook longer until the volume reduces to about half and the texture has thickened even further. A good apple butter sticks to the spoon the same way nut butter does.

However you choose to make it, homemade applesauce is a real treat. Serve this over pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes, stir it into plain yogurt, make gelatin gummies with it … or just enjoy it by the spoonful. A batch of this will warm your spirit, whatever the weather.

Apple Sassy (Apple Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 16 small to medium apples
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2" square piece of ginger, peeled

Instructions

  1. Wash, core and roughly chop apples. Place the cinnamon, ginger, and about one-third of the apples into a high-speed blender. Blend for 30-60 seconds, or until apples have been pulverized and only tiny flecks of apple peel can be seen. Pour mixture into large bowl and set aside.
  2. Blend remaining apples into a pulp. Add to the mixture in the bowl, stirring well. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until ready to eat.
  3. Optional: If you desire a thicker applesauce, pour the mixture into a slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on HIGH.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/apple-sassy-applesauce/

IFBC 2014 Debrief

Gluten-Free Girl & Me | Paleo + Life

Note to my readers: This is a subsidized post, as detailed below. In exchange for a reduced conference fee, I agreed to write three posts about the event: this is the second of those posts. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Traveling is not my strong suit.

It used to be something I longed for and adored. When I was a girl, my ideas about travel were decidedly romantic. As a kid on a steady diet of soap operas and “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” I dreamed of jetting off at a moment’s notice to exotic places like Paris and Rome. There was no need to worry about a language barrier – somehow, my travel would magically make me a sophisticate able to communicate wherever I went.
As a young woman, responsible for fewer things and people than now, I might have swapped Paris for Manhattan and Rome for, say, Phoenix, but spontaneity was possible.

Nowadays, with children in school and a husband who has a regular career, my reality is more structured. We just don’t do spontaneous trips. Yet, when I learned about the International Food Bloggers Conference, just about two weeks before the event, I knew I had to try to make it. So I moved a few things around, booked a kennel for the dog, convinced the husband to take a day off, and the family piled into the minivan to cruise up I-5 to gorgeous, gloriously sunny Seattle, WA.**

I am so very glad we did. While no event could be perfect, the highlights of this one were quite close to perfection for me. They include:

  • The keynote with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg: these folks have written a slew of brilliant books about the fine food world. Becoming a Chef*, their first, nearly sent me to culinary school. Culinary Artistry*, with its food and flavor pairings, was sheer genius. I am excited to check out their next book, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible*. I am certain it will be just as amazing as their previous books.
  • Editor Dianne Jacob’s presentation on writing. Ironically, I was actually in another session, but the students in Dianne’s class kept sending tweets that made me laugh out loud. I had no choice — I had to come hear this clever lady for myself. Very glad that I did so. She really emphasized that we experience food with all of our senses, not just taste, and that we should use those senses to give our readers the most complete experience of whatever we talk about and taste.
  • Shauna James Ahern, known as The Gluten Free Girl, gave the final presentation I attended on Sunday. Ostensibly, her talk was about recipe development, but the heart of her session was really about finding and being your own, authentic, warm self.
    Shauna is a phenomenal writer. Her writing always touches me: she makes me laugh, think, cry — if I can be half as good I will be more than satisfied.

Those are my top three sessions from IFBC. If you were there, give a shout in the comments with a link to your blog — I’d love to virtually “meet” you.

 

* = Affiliate link.

** Seriously: this was the most beautiful weather I’ve ever seen in Seattle. We had two perfect, hot, sunny days in the Evergreen State.

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Duxelles (Sauteed Mushrooms)

Mushroom Duxelles | Paleo + Life

Food Lovers’ Fridays: I’m a big fan of bringing classical cooking methods and recipes into the home kitchen. Today’s post is the start of a series meant to highlight those traditional techniques and recipes that can be used or adapted to paleo cooking.

Have y’all ever read Fancy Nancy*? If you know any little girls under the age of eight or so, I’m sure the answer is yes.
If not, I’ll just tell you briefly that it’s a pretty adorable series of books about a girl who enjoys being fancy. I especially love the way the author gives definitions of ‘fancy’ words to her readers: fuschia is fancy for purple; plume is fancy for feather, and so on.

Why is fancy relevant today? Because this dish has a lovely name that sounds fancier than it is. Just think of “duxelles” as fancy for “sauteed mushrooms with shallots, garlic, and herbs.”

Mushroom Duxelles | Paleo + LifeDuxelles really is as simple as fancy cooking gets. The dicing is the hardest part, and that’s only because it takes time to do. When I am making this, I tend to do a less precise cut — more of a rough chop than a proper dice. In a hurry? Chop the mushrooms and alliums (fancy for onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and other related plants) in a good processor. Any way you slice it (ha ha), it is just as delicious.

Note that mushrooms are full of liquid, and will release their moisture as they cook; be sure to let all of this liquid cook off. The end result is concentrated, deep, ‘shroomy goodness that is excellent in omelets or scrambles, as filling in a casserole, stuffing for roasted poultry, or just as a fabulous side dish all on its own.

Variations abound: use a variety of mushrooms, instead of just one; substitute sweet onions for shallots; use thyme or sage instead of parsley — make it as plain or fancy as you please.

Duxelles (Sauteed Mushrooms)

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds white button mushrooms
  • 2 shallots (for this batch, I substituted 1/2 large sweet onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fat (ghee, butter or olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (1-1/2 tablespoons fresh, minced)

Instructions

  1. Wash mushrooms; pat dry. Dice and set aside.
  2. Peel shallots and garlic. Dice these -- mince, if you want to be extra fancy -- and set aside.
  3. In large skillet, warm the fat. When melted, add shallots and garlic to the pot. Saute until shallots are just tender (6-8 minutes; if subbing onions, note that they tend to take a minute or two longer).
  4. Add mushrooms to the skillet. Saute until mushrooms have given up their liquid and it has cooked off (8-10 minutes); the mixture should be dry.
  5. Remove skillet from the heat. To serve, season with salt, pepper and parsley.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/duxelles-sauteed-mushrooms/

* = Affiliate link.

Going Paleo with Kids

no thank youMy youngest girl, who is in elementary school, is the joy and the challenge of my life. This, of course, is because she is so much like me. She has my determination (and stubbornness), my love of knowledge (and habit of sharing in an “oh, doesn’t everyone know that?” sort of way), and my need for structure (and tendency toward dictatorship). For better or worse, while she is physically her dad’s mini-me, her personality is generally mine.

This personality redux leads to some of the biggest frustrations in my paleo journey.
Frankly, the teenagers have been much easier to convert than the little one. I suspect it is because they still have some control over their food, since they can cook for themselves, whereas the grade schooler is pretty much stuck with whatever I choose to make.
After I have spent time working hard on dinner, only to be greeted by “ugh!” when I bring it to the table —  “I don’t care for it” if she remembers her manners — it’s infuriating.
More than once I have had to sternly remind myself that it is not about me, I am not my food, and she is not being a pill just because she can. Furthermore, it’s not as if she will starve: we offer a bowl of plain yogurt as the alternative if she doesn’t want what is being served for dinner.  Sometimes, we go through a lot of yogurt.

My girl also loves mac and cheese the way I loved cinnamon toast at her age. I can’t fault her for that – she has a kid’s palate, and it’s pretty much the perfect combination for a kid’s tastes. I continue trying new things, aiming to keep her diet more paleo/primal than not, and that is good enough for now. *

Still, there have been some dinner successes, and I cherish those. Our top ones are:

I’m sure there are more, but at this moment, my little cave baby is trying to rip a chunk of my flesh away with every single one of his six teeth; a sign to stop if ever there were one.

I will revisit this list as more things come to me.

What about you? If you have any sure-fire recipes for picky kids, what are they?

*If you have a really sensitive, picky kid, check out this great guest post on PaleoParents; it’s all about feeding a child with sensory processing disorder and autism.

Cinnamon Spice Nut Butter

Cinnamon Spice Nut Butter | Paleo + Life

When I was a kid, I loved cinnamon toast. Loved. And when I say loved, I mean that if there had been a choice between cinnamon toast and some of the relatives, well, let’s just say that my family might have been considerably smaller.
It was one of the first dishes I ever learned to make. We’d butter pieces of white bread, sprinkle tons of cinnamon and sugar on top, and stick it under the broiler. Impatiently, we ‘d check on it about every twenty seconds. This was practical as well: our toast would go from pale white to crusted black in the blink of an eye.
When it was finally done, we’d cram every last bite into our mouths, still piping hot, not caring even a little bit that it was just shy of burnt on the top and rare on the bottom. It was hot, sweet, cinnamon-flavored bliss.

As an adult who chooses to eat paleo, toast has not been on the menu. But I still adore the sweet, spicy flavor of toasted cinnamon. This spiced nut butter, with a subtle touch of heat from Aleppo pepper, is a more sophisticated way to get my cinnamon fix. Feel free to skip the pepper if making this for children or those with sensitive palates. Bananas, covered in this, and frozen, are a fabulous treat.

A general hint on nut butter: unless you are having an emergency (no, I don’t know what a nut butter emergency would be, but I’m sure it happens), buy raw nuts that you can soak and dehydrate yourself. Until I tried it, I was skeptical about the difference, but now I am a believer. Soaking and then dehydrating the nuts is like alchemy. Somehow, the flavors blossom in a stronger, more intense way: the difference is night and day.
The brilliant and thorough Beth of Tasty Yummies offers an absolutely excellent tutorial on the process. Follow it, then come back here and make this. I promise, it will be delightful.

Cinnamon Nut Butter

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds soaked and dehydrated nuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or other sweetener (optional; skip if you are doing a whole30)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Place soaked, dehydrated nuts in food processor. Process for 10-15 minutes, or until nut mixture becomes smooth and creamy. (The food processor and the nut butter may be quite warm; this is expected.)
  2. Add remaining ingredients and process 2-5 minutes, until thoroughly blended in. Pour the mixture into glass jars and refrigerate.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/cinnamon-nut-butter/

From the Caterer’s Kitchen: How to Measure

Utensils | Paleo + Life

 

For those just tuning in, From the Caterer’s Kitchen is an occasional series of kitchen tips, tricks and advice from my mother, a professional caterer for over 30 years. Interested? Start here.

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother was a fabulous cook. Holidays weren’t holidays unless we left her place with big smiles, rounded bellies and plates piled high with leftovers.

I rarely recall seeing her measure anything. She always seemed to just know when the food was done. She’d add a pinch of this, a smidgen of that, until it tasted right. My mother cooks in the same bold way,  though her professional training allows her to flex back and forth between confident improvisation and precise recipes. As a novice cook, however, this kind of confidence was a mystery to me. I didn’t understand how you could just “know.”

But as I gathered more experience, and learned to ‘taste’ in my head, I’ve begun to cook by instinct, too. By playing around with different ingredients, and making more than a few spectacular mistakes (crunchy pasta casserole, I’m looking at you), I learned where I can improvise and where I need to follow the rules. Measuring is one of those areas where a few simple rules can make a big difference.

Use the right tools.
Measuring cups for liquids are different from those for solids — do not mix them up. Measuring spoons can be used for either liquid or dry ingredients.

When measuring liquids, hold the cup at eye level.
For the most accurate reading, make sure your eye and the measuring line are on a level. It is easy to end up with too much or too little liquid and a ruined dish if not.

Level your dry measures.
After scooping up your dry ingredients, use the flat side of a butter knife to scrape off the excess and leave a smooth, flat surface. This is a favorite job for little kitchen assistants, by the way.

The sifter is your friend. 
You know how your hair can seem shorter on a humid day, because your curls are tighter? Well, flours do a similar thing. When flour has been sitting around, just hanging out, it tends to clump up, forming little lumps and nuggets. This means the scoop of flour you thought was 1/4 cup may be closer to 1/3 of a cup. In gluten-free/paleo baking, it’s particularly important to get these right. Some flours are more absorbent than others, and all have different characteristics than wheat flour does.
Use the sifter to get rid of these annoying bumps in your flour. Then when you put it into the cup, rather than dipping the measuring cup into the flour, use a spoon to scoop the sifted flour into the measuring cup. Then level it off, as above.

If you need to be precise, measure by weight.

I confess: this is more of a “do as I say, not as I do.” I don’t tend to do much baking, so I rarely ever encounter this concern.  But among professional bakers, weight (pounds, grams, kilos, and the like) is considered much more accurate than volume (cups, tablespoons, etc.). Kitchen scales can be quite inexpensive, but I recommend you spend a wee bit more to get an accurate one. Don’t forget to zero out your scale with your measuring implement on it, so that you are only weighing the amount of ingredients, not the ingredients plus the container.

Well there you have it. Five simple tips to improve your measurement accuracy. Drop a line in the comments if there’s something you think I should add, or anything I’ve forgotten.

Fennel Scented Pulled Pork

Fennel Scented Pork Loin | Paleo + Life

Some days I know are going to be ridiculously hectic before they even start. The baby wakes up on the wrong side of bed and won’t be put down, the youngest girl gets jealous at all the attention we’re paying to the baby and throws a fit, the teenagers thrust paperwork they forgot to have us sign in our faces, and oh by the way, it’s back-to-school night and we two parents need to be at three different schools all at once. These are the days when I need a miracle.

That miracle frequently comes in the form of pulled pork in the slow cooker. When I just can’t even think, I know this will work. Ten minutes of prep time — choose some herbs, slice the onion, and season the meat — yields a delicious main dish. When we finally make it home, it is easy peasy to put together the meal: shred the pork, zap some sweet potatoes in the microwave, quickly add a green salad, and dinner is ready to go.
Quick, fast and in a yesterday hurry, as my mama says.

Fennel Scented Pulled Pork | Paleo + Life

Fennel is a big favorite of mine; its licorice-y flavor goes beautifully with bacon and other fatty meats. While I used the greens from Italian-style bulb fennel, those from bronze fennel are equally tasty, if a bit milder. Of course, if you can’t stand the thought of fennel, try sage or rosemary instead.

Pork loin is a delicious, inexpensive cut of meat that stands up to prolonged cooking and is mild enough that it lets the herbs’ flavor shine. I love its versatility and affordability; with two hungry teens to feed, our food budget can use all the help it can get.
This recipe makes enough for plenty of leftovers. Pulled pork is great on its own the first day, but is even better the next day when the flavors have really settled. Use the meat in salads, lettuce or veggie wraps, and casseroles.

Pulled Pork with Fennel

Ingredients

  • 1 bulb fennel with greens attached
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 pounds pork loin
  • 5-10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground

Instructions

  1. Wash the fennel and shake it dry. Chop off the greens from one or two stalks (this is roughly two tablespoons of greens); lay them in the bottom of a slow cooker. Reserve remainder of fennel for another use.
  2. Peel onion; slice into rings. Place them atop the fennel greens.
  3. Rinse the pork loin and pat dry with a paper towel. Insert the garlic cloves into the pork loin (use more or fewer cloves according to your taste). Salt and pepper the meat until it is lightly coated with seasonings.
  4. Set the slow cooker to cook for 8-10 hours on low. The meat is done when it falls apart at a touch.
  5. Using two forks, gently separate the pieces of pork into small chunks. Plate and serve.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/fennel-pulled-pork/

Road Tripping: IFBC 2014

Note to my readers: This is a subsidized post, as detailed below. In exchange for a reduced conference fee, I agreed to write three posts about the event: this is the first of those posts. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Z's Car

My youngest girl, circa 2010, driving her ‘car’

If you’ve read my first post on Paleo + Life, from waaaay back in the day (aka early summer), you will recall that my goal in returning to the blogosphere was a search for community. I wanted to find ‘my people’ — folks who are crazy about food and/or interested in gluten- and grain-free cooking and/or who talk and think about food all the time and want to make it an integral part of their days/work/life. 

As part of that effort, I will be attending the 2014 International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in just a couple of weeks. It’s being held in Seattle, a few hours up the highway from us, and I am giddy with anticipation.

International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

I can’t say what I am looking forward to most at IFBC: the workshops on food, photography, and writing; the food I’ll get to taste while I am there (every review of this conference I have seen says the food is always fantastic); or just the chance to visit one of my favorite cities and catch up with our family who live up there. The conference is held quite close to Pike Place Market, too, so a pilgrimage to my favorite Seattle destination at some point during the weekend is a must.

I am already brushing up on my conference dos and don’ts (click here for general tips from The Curried Nut and Inspiration Kitchen; wine aficionados, check out One Girl One Glass One World). I’m also ordering business cards to exchange with other bloggers and setting reminders in my phone to stop, be still and enjoy myself. To take a moment to breathe and to know, really know, how very lucky I am to be in this place and have the chance to think deeply about something so dear to my heart.  

If anyone is going to attend, let me know — I would love to meet you! I am sometimes a wee bit shy (stop laughing, husband) but my inner extrovert is raring to go and I respond well to smiles, waves, and “hey, aren’t you…?”
If you are on the fence about going, note that bloggers receive a reduced price for the conference in exchange for writing three posts about it — a screaming good deal, in my opinion: the blogger price is a 76% discount off the regular cost.
I am so excited to make connections, to learn some new skills and get inspiration to make Paleo + Life better and better. Hope to see you there!

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