Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baked Apples

So, in all of my years cooking, baking etc, I'd never made baked apples prior to last night. The apples this fall have been so great and I've been enjoying them straight up. I wanted to try a baked apple for a couple of reasons:
1) I'd never tried them
2) My sweet tooth has been CRAZY lately and I wanted something for after dinner that was (almost) guilt free - the recipe is Primal/Paleo

The recipe is easy. The first step is the hardest, and that is to core the apple, to about 3/4 of the way down, not all the way through. I don't have a corer, so I used a pairing knife to cut out most of the core and then a spoon to scoop the rest out. That's all the hard labor!

A filling is made and then the cavity of the apple is filled with it, and baked. Couldn't be easier, and couldn't be more tasty.
The apples tasted like apple pie, without all the guilt of the pie - warm, cinnamony, soft and delicious.

Baked Apples
Makes 4

4 Apples, cored as described above - apples good for baking such as Rome, Cortland, Granny Smith all work well
1/8 -1/4 cup coconut sugar (also called palm sugar)
Apples w.cores filled, topped w.grassfed butter, ready for the oven
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 chopped pistachios (roasted, unsalted) or use the nut of your choice
1 TBS grass fed butter, cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup boiling water

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees; place cored apples in an 8x8 baking pan.
2. In a separate bowl mix coconut sugar through pistachios.
3. Fill each core of the apple with the coconut sugar mix.
4. Top each apple with a piece of the butter.
5. Pour boiling water in pan around apples.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until soft, but not breaking apart.
Apples, right after coming out of the oven, soft and bubbly w.that delicious filling!

Just like apple pie filling - so delicious!

Definitely try this at home. If you don't have coconut sugar, you could use brown sugar, or another alternative sweetener. You could use coconut oil instead of grass fed butter as well. Using pumpkin pie spice would also work well instead of cinnamon.  Enjoy!  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sharon Shiner RKC

It's one week later, and I'm still reeling from my weekend at RKC. The weekend offered an experience beyond words, but I'm going to try to write about it anyways :)

I flew to Philly on Thursday filled with anxiety, nervousness and fear. Many things weighed on my mind: would I make my weight class? would I be able to keep up with the volume? had I done enough in my training? would my nerves get the best of me? would I be able to do the snatch test? what team would I be on? WOULD I PASS? WOULD I LET EVERYONE DOWN??
My mind was going a million miles an hour and it continued that way pretty much throughout the weekend, but settled down as I hit milestones, such as weighing in and doing flex arm hang w.ease on the morning of Day 1. My mind didn't completely turn itself down until after I got my certificate that indicated that I passed!

With excitement and anticipation, I entered the gym on the morning of Day 1 to find out I was on Team Heinz, with Assistants Holiner and Clark: John Heinz, Steve Holiner and Amanda Clark. I went to RKC knowing a handful of people who were also RKC hopefuls. I was lucky enough to be on the same team as Jay Krawczyk, who lives locally and trains at a gym down the street from where I live.  Jay also trained with my coach/trainer, Mike Perry, from Skill of Strength to prepare for RKC. After the team arrived we all gathered around for the strength tests and weigh ins and we were under way.

Amanda Clark, John Heinz and Steve Holiner
Day 1 started with deadlifts, swings, one arm swings and ended with cleans and presses. However, before we started, the entire group gathered around in a large circle and everyone introduced themselves. It was interesting to see so many different types of people, from doctors to trainers to physical therapists to moms, military and pro athlete hopefuls. We also learned that this RKC, for the first time, had more female candidates then male. Quite appropriate as Andrea DuCane, acting chief, was teaching the course.

What I noticed right off the bat was, the level of instructing was incredibly high. Andrea
DuCane, not only was an amazing teacher but she was an amazing mover, moving with fluidity and grace. The other instructors, John Heinz, Delaine Ross, Steve Friedes, Phil Scarito and Betsy Collie each brought a different flavor and style to the mix, but none that was of less quality.

Me and my HKC partner, Kate
The day was split into learning/lecture with movement mixed in, team practices and group workouts. Team leaders and assistants offered training tips and form tweaks as we practiced to ensure we were getting better at the exercises. I had an instant rapport with Steve and Amanda, and I was appreciative for their vision. I kept track of my volume for the weekend. Day 1 consisted of close to 25 deadlifts and 500 swings, nearly 100 cleans, over 20 presses, over 15 clean and presses, a number of planks, and some loaded carries. Not too bad. On this day I hit a personal record in my strict press, pressing the 18kg (39.6 lbs) on my right side. I have to give thanks to Steve for helping me through this. It was truly an amazing feeling to press that bell up, teammates watching and hearing them cheer for me. When the day was over, I left feeling happy about how the day went. I went to dinner w.a couple of my HKC friends, Kate Fiore and Christina DeVos. I came home not too dazed and took and epsom salt bath to get ready for Day 2.

Me and my HKC buddy, Christina
Day 2 proved to be MUCH more demanding, physically and mentally. Since we had already learned the deadlift, swing, clean and press the day before, all of those moves became part of our practice and group workouts for the day. I was a little fatigued from Day 1. Mentally, it became hard to break away from the thought that testing was only a day away. We covered the Turkish Get Up, Snatch and Squat on Day 2. Tally: Approximately 10 deadlifts, over 600 swings, close to 100 cleans and presses, about 25 TGUs, over 80 Goblet squats and over 80 Front squats, over 100 snatches and high pulls as well as some planks and overhead carries. By the end of the day I was tired for sure. We had planned to have a team dinner which we did, but not until 8pm (our training days ended at 6:30, so 8 was not unreasonable). By 8, I was a wreck. I was sore and I was starting to mentally implode. Thoughts of testing the next day were doing me in. It took all I had to go to the dinner and act like a human being. After dinner I went back to hotel and took another epsom salt bath. I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep and awoke every 2 hours. At 4am, I just got up since my mind was racing.

It was awesome to meet Tracy and Janelle!
There was an electricity in the air on Sunday. Everybody was buzzing. First off before testing, we had a marketing meeting with John DuCane. Having this meeting directly before testing was tough for me. I found it hard to pay attention since my mind continued to race. It was also held off site, and so after the meeting we had to then drive to the gym. I used this time to try and breathe and do some positive self talk. At the gym, after a nice Qijong warm up by John DuCane, testing got quickly underway. When we were told to get our snatch size bell, I walked over to where all the kettlebells were. My eyes laid upon a single 12kg (25lbs), and it spoke to me - I grabbed it out of the bunch and brought it over to test with. I was thankful to be testing with Steve. Testing the RKC 6 moves was less nerve wrecking than I thought it was going to be. I was with 3 other team mates and we all cheered each other on through the testing. I was fortunate enough to have 2 friends come to watch and support me, Tracy and Janelle. Both are HKCs. I am so thankful that they came and experienced it all with me!! Janelle is planning to go on to RKC in 2013!

Unfortunately a blurry pic of all of us, but still a great one!
Then it was time to do the snatch test, which we went outside to do. I just kept repeating to myself that I had done the snatch test in 4:05, so I knew I could do it. When it was my turn, Steve said, We'll start the timer when you hike it I took a breath and I just went for it. By rep 60 I was tired for sure. My forearms were sore from the volume we had done on the previous 2 days and the burn set it. I kept it going to 80 and my time was around 3 min. I knew I had plenty of time so reps 81-90 I took nice and slow. For reps 91-100, adrenaline kicked in and I decided to just smoke them. For some reason I put the bell down at 99 thinking I had done 100. Steve yelled, you still have 1 more!!! I don't what happened, I picked the bell up and did my last rep, coming down w.a nice hike pass back and sort of tossed the bell on the ground, not placing it down. Steve looked at me and said, I think I might have to fail you on a technicality since you didn't place the bell down. I was shocked and horrified. Are you joking, I asked him? He said no and that he needed to confer w.John Heinz about it. My heart sank. As he walked off to find John I felt the tears well up in my eyes. In what seemed like forever, I saw Steve and John walking towards me. I searched Steve's face for a sign when he gave me a thumbs up. 4:01 was my time!!!!!!! So you can see, the weekend was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows...a crazy emotional roller coaster.

During the snatch test
After testing and a short lunch, we then had our victim training. People volunteered to come for a free kettlebell lesson, taught by us, the RKC candidates. Its a way that the Team leaders and assistants could assess whether or not we could teach the exercises we just learned. Since there were only a few volunteers, we had to team up to teach. I was paired with a gentleman who didn't speak English very well to teach. This was challenging for me on a couple levels. One, it was tough to communicate with him about what to do with our victim and two, he had a different vision about what to do with our victim. So, the hour long lesson was definitely hard. Having said that, the person we worked with really did great. He started out not being able to hip hinge at all, and ended up being able to hip hinge and deadlift as well as do a great plank. The day after RKC I got a nice note from our victim's wife on Facebook. She is also an RKC and complemented me on being able to teach her husband how to hip hinge!! That was great feedback and it really made my day!

Team Heinz!!
The last part of our day and the last part of our weekend was our Grad workout. We were told to grab a bell one size lower than snatch size. All of the candidates then lined up at one end of the gym and Phil Scarito stood at the other end. He called out the exercises that we were to do and we followed them, making our way across the floor. It was an amazing feeling. Everyone was hooting and hollering, completing the workout, knowing that at the end, RKC weekend would be over. It was awesome because a number of people came to watch the testing and our grad workout - a number of HKCs, RKCs, family members and victims, all sat and stood opposite us, watching us and cheered us on. By the end of the workout I was so overcome with emotion, that the tears started flowing. We joined together in the middle of the gym, one hand in and we all shouted RKC! together.

For me, this weekend validated almost a year's worth of training. It was the opportunity for me to spend time with like minded people, who appreciated me for who I am, who offered support, acknowledging my strength and giving me positive feedback. Never before had I set such a physically and mentally demanding goal for myself. I questioned whether or not I was going to be able to do it, just a month shy of 43 years old. With each workout I logged in my training log, I knew I was getting stronger and closer to my goal. At RKC, I connected with my fellow candidates and made some new friends as well as strengthened old friendships. It was truly a life changing experience and one that I will never forget. I'm looking forward to when I can get together fellow RKCs again! In the mean time, in my training, the sky's the limit, and I'm ready to push myself even further to see how strong I can get. I'm also looking forward to bringing my knowledge to people to help them to move better and get stronger. Good stuff all around!

I'm certified!!!

 Thanks for reading :) Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This time next week

Wore my HKC shirt when teaching Spin this past Friday
This time next week I'll be on Day 3 of RKC!
It's been a long road to get here. Lots of hours logged training. Worth every minute. I totally changed my diet last January to support my training from veg/vegan to Paleo/Primal and boy am I glad I did. I've lost about 5lbs of fat of my body, am experiencing less inflammation in my back (I have arthritis in the joints of my lumbar spine), and overall, just feel better w.great energy.

A couple weeks back I did practice testing with Artemis from Iron Body Studios and did well - did my flex arm hang, 15 (s)....did my RKC 6 moves.....passed the RKC snatch test, 100 snatches in 5 min testing weight, 12kg (25lbs), in 4:05.
So, I know I can do it.
Will I be able to do it under pressure, in front of my peers, mentors and teachers? I certainly hope so.
TGU, 12kg, at Skill of Strength 09/21/12

This past Friday I went up to meet coach/trainer for the past 8 months or so, Mike Perry from Skill of Strength.  It was a good check in meeting and I'm glad we got to meet before I go on Thursday (I live 40 min from Mike and we've met about every 3 weeks or sometimes every 4, as I trained this past year). On our first meeting, I couldn't even snatch the bell! I've come a long way since then! Now, I'm snatching the 16kg.

It's been a life saving experience, setting this goal for myself. I happened to have the hardest and most challenging year of my life this year and training with RKC as my goal definitely was my savior. Training became something bigger than it was, giving me a life to have where things were (mostly) positive every time I practiced. I welcomed the community experience of having the support of fellow HKCs and RKCs; mostly everyone who I've encountered on this quest has been great and for that I am thankful. The community props me up when I'm down and makes it possible for me to believe in myself at a time when I feel totally lost, and for this I am thankful.
So bring it on and let's get this done!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

RKC Update and Amazeballs Lamb Curry w.Summer Squash "Noodles"

It's just shy of 3 weeks from RKC!!!!!!!!! Mildly freaking out. Mildly.
My training has been consistent and I feel like I've done all that I can. I know that over the course of the three 8-9 hour long days of training at the RKC, I will learn tweeks to my form and technique and I'll only get better. I'm looking forward to the camaraderie of my team and fellow RKC candidates. As I've blogged before, I've never undertaken anything this big in my life and I'm hoping that I will be successful. The support that I've gotten from RKCs and HKCs, both in person and virtually has been amazing; from tidbits about training to advice about what to do in my classes, everyone has been extremely welcoming. Through and through I have learned that the RKC is a family that I want to be a part of.

I've been eating a pretty clean diet - high in protein, healthy fat, veggies and fruit....oh, and dark chocolate, 85% to be exact....I've been able to keep my weight where I want it, though if I dropped another pound by the 27th, I'd be happy w.that as well. An example of a meal that I might eat is this amazing lamb curry I made, served over "noodles" made from summer squash.
The ground lamb, squash and peppers came from Stillman's Farm. The tomatoes and eggplant came from my garden.
I sauteed onion and garlic, with some mild hot peppers in some coconut oil until soft. I then added thyme, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and a small bit of turmeric. Here you can be as liberal as you want w.the spices - I used a little less cumin (2 tsp), more coriander (1 TBS) since that's what I like. I also didn't go nuts w.paprika (1/2 tsp) in case my daughter liked it and didn't want it too spicy. The turmeric can easily overpower so it's best to use a small amount, like 1/4-1/2 tsp. After the spices become fragrant, I added in lamb to brown. I added salt and pepper to season all along the way!!

To the browned meat I added a small chopped eggplant, a medium sized chopped sweet potato and a few diced tomatoes. I also added about 1/2 cup of coconut water. I usually would have used stock, but was out. The coconut water worked fine.
After cooking for about 10-15 min at a generous simmer, I wanted to fortify the dish a bit more. So I added in some coconut creme concentrate, which is basically whole coconut, pureed up into a creamy consistency - it's about 70% coconut oil so it's solid at temps lower than 75 degrees, and more creamy at higher temps.
The coconut put this dish over the top and made it creamy, thick and hearty. Alternatively you could use coconut milk instead of the coconut water and concentrate and get the same effect.
To finish the dish, I added fresh lime juice and fresh basil (also from my garden).
I served the curry over noodles made from summer squash. I made the noodles with my Paderno spiralizer, a tool that rotates the veggie or fruit over a series of blades to cut them into a spiral shape, which you can cut into noodles. I sauteed the noodles with some onion (from my garden) and added a small bit of water to steam them.
I loved every bite of this dish. It was hearty and flavorful, yet didn't feel heavy. The spices complemented the lamb, the tomatoes gave the acidity and the sweetness of the sweet potato rounded out the dish.
My only complaint is that I didn't make enough!!! I wish I had more leftovers!! :)
If you don't like lamb, try this dish w.a different ground meat - pork, beef, turkey, chicken would all work great.
And def try the noodles. You can also use a food peeler to make noodles - just shave off thin slices of the squash an cut into thin strips :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I got some press :) Read about my Pantry Raids :)

Please read this great article on Thyme To Cook! The article indicates that I'm a "former" Spinning instructor, but I do still teach, 2x a week :)

Click here to read: Pantry Raids!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Garden Tally! and a brief RKC training check in

All I have to say is WOAH! Our garden is quite prolific.
Here's the tally as of yesterday:

Broccoli 27.3 oz = 1.71 lb
Radishes 3.2 oz
Basil 13.1 oz
Beets/Greens 42.2 oz = 2.64 lb
Golden Beets/Greens 6.5 oz
Blueberries 1.5 oz
Lettuce 1.4 oz
Fennel 0.1 oz
Rainbow chard 17.1 oz
Sun Golds 219.6 oz = 13.7 lb
Onions 19.7 oz = 1.23 lb
Green Beans 22.7 oz = 1.42 lb
Strawberries 1.4 oz
Eggplant 20.8 oz = 1.3 lb
My Girl Tomatoes = 37.5 oz = 2.3 lb
Green Zebras = 218 oz = 13.6 lb
Black Cherry Tomatoes = 9.6 oz
Poblano Peppers = 7.6 oz
Carrots = 6 oz
Sweet Peppers = 8.7 oz
Lemon Balm = 0.3 oz
Raspberries = 0.1 oz
Heirloom Bean = 0.2 oz

Grand Total: 684.6 oz = 42.8 lb of produce!!!

We are swimming in tomatoes! They have been delicious! Here are some pics:

Green Zebras:
Tomato salad w/Green Zebras, Sun Golds and Black Cherry variety, w.a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic reduction:
We've gotten a couple beautiful Poblano peppers:
We got a lovely batch of carrots:

The Fairy Tale eggplant have been growing great too. I grilled some off, creating a delicious and buttery eggplant:

The chard continues to grow big and bold:

We have cabbage coming in as well....the cauliflower we planted hasn't really started to produce heads and I'm not sure they will. Our stalks of Brussels sprouts continue to get bigger and the sprouts are forming nicely.

Training update - RKC is in just 6 weeks, I can't believe it! My training has been going well. I'm starting to get more nervous and the anticipation of how the weekend is going to go is definitely growing. I will continue to train and train hard. I'm looking forward to being able to share the RKC experience with a couple of girls that I did my HKC with last September. At least we'll be able to take the ride together!

That's it for now. Hope you're eating well!!
Enjoy :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Egg Bowl and an RKC training update

All my life I was under the impression that I didn't like egg yolks. I would toss the yolk and make scrambled egg whites or get rid of the hard cooked yolk and just eat the white. Just recently however, in the wake of a deviled egg craze, I decided to try the yolk again, but this time, using local, farm fresh eggs from pastured hens. To my surprise, I liked the yolk! I was excited and disappointed at the same time  - what had I been missing all these years??? I quickly came up with this recipe for South Western Deviled Eggs and went about enjoying eating hard cooked eggs.

Most of you know that I have been training for my RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge), which is Sept 28-30. In January, I adopted a more "Paleo/Primal" style diet, cutting out grains and legumes in favor of lean, grass-fed and pastured meats, wild fish, eggs, healthy fats like coconut and avocado, fruits and veggies. I did this because I felt at that point, I wasn't progressing in my training. This move was a good move for me. I started to get stronger and my training took off. Food for me is fuel and something I fuel up with is what I've dubbed the Egg Bowl.

The Egg Bowl is made up of hard cooked eggs, avocado and your swing ingredients. The swing ingredients are whatever else you want to add: bacon, other meats or fish, and/or other veggies. I always add hot sauce as well. These egg bowls are delicious, filling and packed with nutrients. Let's review nutrition facts for 1 cup of hard cooked eggs: 211 cal, 14g fat (4g sat, 6g mono, 2g poly), 1.5g carb, 17g protein, a bunch of Vitamins/Minerals including Vit A, Riboflavin, Vit B12, Folate, Selenium and Phosphorus, to name a few. Also included are Sterols, but before you get all nuts about the cholesterol, understand that reports lead to the fact that egg consumption does not raise blood cholesterol levels - read more about that here: Eggs. I usually have 3-4 hard cooked eggs a day, and I feel good about it!

I LOVE my Egg Bowls! Here are a few that I have enjoyed:
Grass fed burgers, hard cooked egg, avocado, arugula, hot sauce, sea salt

 Smoked trout, hard cooked egg, avocado, hot sauce, sea salt
 Crumbled pastured bacon, hard cooked egg, avocado, hot sauce, sea salt

So, the possibilities are really endless....I usually have 2 hard cooked eggs, 1/2 med avocado and add the other ingredients to them....I'm addicted!!!

So back to RKC training. It's coming along! And I'm down to just about 2 months to go until the training. One thing I have been doing is an 80 count snatch test. I've talked about the snatch test before: it's 100 snatches in 5 minutes, w.your testing bell - for me, it should be the 12kg (~25lbs). 
I've done 3 rounds so far and here are my times: 
06/30/12: 80 snatches in 3:38
07/07/12: 80 snatches in 3:50
07/18/12: 80 snatches in 3:38
I'm feeling pretty good about those times. I will repeat again this week, but will push it out to 100 and see what the time is.
In the mean time, I've been working hard on my hip snap in my cleans, one arm swings and snatches - using the 14kg and 16kg so that the 12kg will feel manageable.
Good stuff!.
Give the egg bowl a try and let me know what you put in it!
Enjoy :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Awww yeah...Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate!

In my early adult years I was a total coffee snob and I didn't even try to pretend I wasn't. I stayed current on all the fancy brewing methods and designer beans that Starbucks would sell; my staple drink was a 4 shot wet cappuccino. When I traveled, I schlepped along my french press and beans to ensure I had suitable coffee to drink. You get the idea..... It wasn't that I lost my passion for the diesel...but when it became time to try to get pregnant, I realized that 4 shots of espresso each morning probably wasn't going to help. So, I gradually got off the brown stuff...I stepped down the number of shots to 2....then went 1/2 decaf....then went all decaf....and I never really went back to full caff.

Coffee just didn't appear so sexy to me anymore. The ritual of drinking it each morning still remained important to me but in a much more scaled back way. These days, I use Starbucks Via, their instant coffee. It's actually very tasty. There is a decaf Italian Roast which is dark and smokey.

It was just recently however, that Starbucks began selling a blend called Tribute, and for some reason it was appealing to me. It's a blend of an Aged Sumatra from Ethiopia, with beans from both Papua New Guinea and from Colombia. It's luscious. I tried it, and it was delicious! And caffeinated!! I reserved it for special days when I felt a bit of caffeine was in order.
When the July issue of Bon Appetit came in and featured an article on cold brewing coffee concentrate for iced coffee, I knew I had to try it, and use the Tribute blend beans.
When I went in to get the beans, low and behold, Starbucks was sold out and was not going to get any more in. The barista there made a custom blend for me, using a similar mix of beans to that in the Tribute blend. I was set to make my coffee concentrate....

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2012
Makes ~5 cups coffee concentrate, that lasts for up to 2 weeks in fridge
12 oz coarsely ground, fresh beans
8 cups water
Also needed: cheese cloth, fine mesh sieve and coffee filters

1. Place coarse ground beans in a container big enough to hold 8 cups water
 2. Pour 8 cups water (I used filtered water) over the grounds and stir them, ensuring that all of the grounds have been moistened
 3. Cover the container with cheesecloth and allow to sit for at least 15 hrs at room temperature - mine actually sat for 19 hrs
 4. After the steeping time is up, line a fine mesh sieve with the cheesecloth
 5. Carefully pour the steeped grounds over the cheesecloth and drain the coffee concentrate into another container - I had enough cheesecloth so I could pick up the grounds and squeeze out residual liquid; then compost or spread the grounds in your garden :)
 Here is the coffee concentrate before running it though a coffee filter:
 6. Take a coffee filter and pour the concentrate through it - there are fine coffee particles in the liquid that get filtered out - Filtration can take ~30 - 45 minutes - I had to complete this stepwise, as I only had small coffee filters, and it only held so much of the concentrate
 Check out the bottom of the filter- Like Mud!!
You're left with an amazingly dense, but not muddy, coffee concentrate that can be used to make iced coffee - Liquid gold!
Try out a ratio of concentrate/water that works for you. Here is an iced coffee with 4oz concentrate, 4oz water and 1oz half-half:
I'm totally hooked. It's a bit of work with the cheesecloth and filters etc, but it's totally worth it. What you won't get is a weak cup of iced coffee or an acidic cuppa w.a bitter finish....what you will get is a smooth, strong yet soft cup of iced coffee. Definitely worth giving it a go.

Quick Garden Tally

How's your garden growing?
Ours is really full tilt! We've been harvesting the Sun Gold tomatoes, every day picking over 1/2 pint each time!! Have you ever tried a Sun Gold??? It's a little yellow-orange tomato that bursts with sweetness when you bit into it...yummmmm! We are patiently waiting for the heirloom Green Zebra tomatoes to ripen up. We also have another heirloom variety, called My Girl, and those also are on the vine, but not yet ripe.

 The decorative gourds have started to grow.

Our first eggplants are coming in, as well as another round of Rainbow Chard, green beans and strawberries.

The peppers are really growing well now, both sweet and hot (jalapenos and poblanos).

We harvested our first few red onions - they are very little, but very tasty, and more will be ready quite soon (as well as the yellow onions).    

The cabbage is growing, but no head is forming...not sure why....maybe it will form in the near future?

Unfortunately, we continue to be taxed by critters that eat the Sun golds, as well as our blueberries. I think we've only gotten 10 or 15 blueberries off our 3 bushes!

Totals as of this morning:
Broccoli 27.3 oz
Radishes 3.2 oz
Basil 5.7 oz
Beets/Greens 42.2 oz
Golden Beets/Greens 6.5 oz
Blueberries 1.1 oz
Lettuce 1.4 oz
Fennel 0.1 oz
Rainbow chard 7.1 oz
Sun Golds 42.1 oz
Onions 2.0 oz
Green Beans  10.9 oz
Strawberries 1.3 oz
Eggplant 1.8 oz
Grand Total: 152.7 oz, 9.54 lbs of produce :)

Hope your garden is giving you a big bounty!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seared Scallops with an Asian Cucumber Salad

Living in the Boston area, I'm surrounded by fresh, local meats, eggs, fruits, veggies and seafood. Every Wednesday, a local fishhouse, Jordan Brother's Seafood, sets up at Allandale Farm and sells fish and shellfish that was caught just hours earlier. This past week, I got a pound of local sea scallops, caught in Provincetown, Ma, for 20$. That is a fair, competitive price considering 1) how fresh the scallops were and 2) how little the scallops had to travel from sea to plate. I am quite lucky to live where I do!
It's also smack dab in the middle of CSA season and the pick up each week is getting bigger and bigger. I got some great looking pickling cukes from Stillman's Farm, so I decided to make an Asian cucumber salad to accompany the scallops.
To prepare the scallops, first off, clean them by removing the little muscle off the side of the scallop. It will pull right off. You don't have to remove the muscle, but it's extremely chewy and not appetizing. Make sure your scallops are dry, season with salt and pepper and then sear off over medium-high heat in your fat of choice (I used coconut oil). Do not crowd the pan!! If there are too many scallops in the pan at one time, the temperature of the pan will drop and the scallops will not sear off, but will end up steaming. Flip scallops after a few minutes of cooking; they should be golden brown.
Repeat the cooking process until all of the scallops are done and reserve until ready to serve.

Typical Asian cucumber salad is usually loaded with sugar and rice vinegar. I went a different route, keeping it Paleo and used lemon and lime juice and a small bit of coconut nectar to sweeten. To flavor the salad, I used shallots, Red Boat Fish sauce, coconut aminos and cilantro. The key to the salad is to slice both the cukes and shallots nice and thin.
The acid of the lemon and lime juice will "cook" the cucumbers and shallots, softening them up and infusing them with flavor. The salad is best prepared a few hours prior to serving and is best served chilled.

Asian Cucumber Salad
3 pickling cucumbers, sliced thin
1 small shallot, sliced thin
3 TBS cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup mixed fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice
1/4 cup water
1 TBS fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
1 TBS coconut nectar (if you don't have coconut nectar, use honey or agave syrup)
1 tsp coconut aminos

1. In a medium bowl, mix the juices, water, fish sauce, coconut nectar and coconut aminos until well combined.
2. Add in cucumbers, shallots and cilantro; mix to combine and allow to sit for a couple hours before serving, stirring occasionally.