Articles

Organic Week 2013 by Alex Boake

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It's Organic Week in Canada! It's the perfect opportunity to find a local event and educate yourself about the benefits of buying organic produce and products. Generally, I try to buy mostly organic produce, especially on things where I'm going to eat the skin, however sometimes the budget just doesn't allow for buying everything organic. In that scenario, you just have to do the best you can...and follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fourteen! Yes, I know it's Clean Fifteen technically, but Sweet Corn is on that list and due to GMO concerns, I believe only organic corn should be consumed, if any. Last year I did up some illustrations to give a visual representation of these lists, but I never posted them on my blog. To remedy that fact, here they are!

 If you're in Canada, make sure you check out the Organic Week website to see if there's an event near you.

Beyond Bacon Book Review by Alex Boake

For a lot of people pork falls into two categories: Torturous dry pork chops and delicious crispy bacon. However, pork is so much more than that, as Stacy and Matt show in their wonderful new book, Beyond Bacon. It takes the focus off of one part of the animal and shows you how to take each and every part, cook it properly and make it delightful! You can learn how to render your own lard, make porchetta, cure bacon, smoke pork belly, break down a head for head cheese and even make brownies, biscotti and ice cream. Holy pig!

There was much anticipation surrounding the release of this book, and I have to say it's very justified. Beyond Bacon is a complete package looks-wise; from the lovely design work, including the hand-rendered chalk typography and illustrated cover by CJ Hughes, to the yummy food styling (seriously, they make head cheese look DAMN GOOD!), captured by the lovely photography of Aimee Buxton. However, it's not just about looks here: Stacy and Matt walk you through everything you need to know to order your own pastured hog! How to pick the right parts and decipher a cut sheet are essential tools that are included in this book. They show you how to talk the talk and walk the walk in the land of pastured pork goodness. This book could successfully change peoples' perception of pork for the better!

I was overwhelmed by the number of recipes I wanted to try, and managed to select a few to start with. Rendering my own lard was super simple when following the instructions in the book. The Bacon Salted Caramel Sauce was a hit with my family, when drizzled over ice cream-topped 'The Best Brownies'! Plus, I know I'll never again have to suffer a dry pork chop after learning the foolproof cooking technique as described in Stacy and Matt's excellent cookbook.

This delicious photo is courtesy of my sister who blogs over at Sweet Boake, and is an expert at baking and food photography!

Even if you're not interested in ordering a whole pig, this book could still be for you! There's plenty of chops, belly and bacon to tide over less adventurous eaters, PLUS a robust treats section. Hey, once you're hooked on the basics, who knows if you'll be wanting to check out the more adventurous bits pretty soon...hey, it can't be that offal! ; )

In short; if you like pork, and you like cookbooks that are well-designed and thoughtful, you should DEFINITELY order this book!

The Art of Keeping Real Food Fun! by Alex Boake

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A couple of months ago I was kindly invited to do a guest post for the infamous Paleo Parents! I have major respect for their parenting abilities and the way they make ancestral eating so accessible for kids and families. They have a super cool cookbook, Eat Like a Dinosaur, and a ton of recipes available on their blog as well. I was super thankful for the opportunity to do this post, since it was a lot of fun, and gave me a good excuse to try something a little bit different.

The Art of Keeping Real Food Fun

There are many people who get put off and confused by the so-called restrictions of ancestral health diets such as Paleo. They are confused and daunted, thinking to themselves, "If I eliminate grains and processed foods...what is left for me to eat?!" Of course, you and I seasoned Paleo eaters know that there are still a world of possibilities when you 'limit' yourself to Real Food. However, even when you know the ropes, sometimes you get into a little bit of a rut. Steak and salad are beautiful things, but it's nice to mix it up every once and while. This is especially true when you are cooking for a family and cooking for kids! So, what can we do to keep Real Food fun? Here are a few tips and tricks that I like to bust out to keep my spectrum full!

Eat Local

Summer time is here, and that means that all of your local Farmers' Markets are opening up for business. In my city I'm lucky enough to have a Market open in a different area of town almost every day of the week. Check online to find out if there is one in your area. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know people in your food producing community. Talk to the people who are growing the fruits and vegetables that you are bringing to the table. You may learn a thing or two that you didn't know, and returning to the market to do your shopping can create strong friendships—a much more human experience than foraging at a Big Box Store.

 

Spice Up Your Life

Ah, Salt and Pepper--what more do you need? Well, need, perhaps isn't the right word. We are talking about keeping Real Food fun, and a fantastic way to change things up in your meal plan is to put a flavour injection by way of your spice cabinet. Cinnamon goes well with just about anything. Turmeric is an under-used spice with anti inflammatory properties. Fresh Basil is blissful! Once a week, pick a new spice or herb to try—good things will happen, I promise!

 

Meat Someone New

Always have grilled Chicken Breasts? Are you a slave to Stewing cuts of Beef? Plagued by Pork Chops? Break out of your deeply carved habits! Even changing the cut of meat will change things up! Different parts of the animal take better to different types of cooking, which will open up your recipe repertoire to more variation.

Eat Seasonal

This one, to me, goes hand in hand with Eating Local. Sure, you can get Strawberries all year round. However, do those giant berries that have spent forever in transit actually have any flavour? Even if they did, isn't there something to be said about absence making the heart grow fonder? Making use of local produce seasonally will naturally bring variety to your cooking, and encourage you to use the full range of the Real Food bounty that there is to eat.

Tongue Traveling

Thailand...India...Mexico..Japan...Spain...no, I'm not on an incredibly expensive world tour, folks. I'm still at home in my kitchen...but my tongue sure is on a trip! You don't even have to eat out to try international cuisine. A little Internet research will provide you will a ton of recipes that diverge from your standard Meat and Potatoes approach. If you live in a big city, you may also have access to ethnic grocery stores where you can source unusual ingredients. Make substitutions where you must, but allow your tastebuds to soar to new places!

 

Strange Fruits (and Vegetables)

Ever go to the grocery store, wander through the produce isles and say to yourself..."What the heck is that thing?!" Yes, there are Apples and Sweet Potatoes, but there are also Dragonfruit and Kohlrabi, Durian and Jicama, Longan and Cassava...! Those strange fruits and vegetables aren't just there for decoration, they're there for you to expand your horizons! Do a little bit of research and find out how to cook a new ingredient, or grab a different fruit to add to your salad. Don't be daunted by different.

Swap Recipe Cards

There is a fantastic Paleo and Real Food community online, and everyone has amazingly creative recipes. Make a point to try something from someone else's recipe box—and let them know how it turned out! Us food bloggers love feedback, and hearing about modifications and tweaks to our recipes often leads to inspiration for new dishes to share.

 

Eat The Rainbow

When all else fails, try and eat a Real Food Rainbow. Colourful fruits and vegetables add variety and vitamins to your meals. Plus, who can argue with a colourful and lovely plate of Real Food? Not me!

Hopefully now there will be no excuses for food boredom! I've also got a fix for wardrobe boredom as well with some new T-Shirt designs, available through my Spreadshirt store. Check 'em out! Kid and Adult sizes are available for ordering.