Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pig in a Pickle

The aroma of wood smoke fires up your senses when you walk into the new restaurant at Town Center, Pig in a Pickle.  It is obvious that something exciting is going on here.

The chef, Damon Stainbrook, has worked as a chef since the early 90's at Lark Creek Inn, the French Laundry, and other high end restaurants in the city.  He has now become proprietor of his own restaurant specializing in BBQ sandwiches and dishes smoked on the premises. 

We ordered the pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw, and one order of collard greens with ham hocks.  I could have been back in southern Maryland eating lunch at my grandmother's farm.


As one reviewer on Yelp said:  "Run, don't walk to this restaurant,"  and I agree.  

Check out the website at for a menu.

*photograph from Pig in a Pickle website

Monday, July 28, 2014

Salt & Pepper Crackers

A delicious gluten-free snack can quickly be made from this simple recipe for Salt & Pepper Crackers (

  • 2 cups raw almonds, whole or slivered
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Grind the almonds in a food processor; add the other ingredients until mixed.

Roll out dough between two layers of parchment paper, and cut into desired size.

Bake separated crackers on parchment paper on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes (until edges are brown).

Optional:  Add more salt and pepper to the top of crackers before baking.

What Foods are Gluten-Free?

An overview of ingredients not containing grains is listed below:
  • Almond
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat (also called Kasha)
  • Cassava
  • Chickpeas (made into flour)
  • Coconut (used in flour)
  • Cottonseed
  • Dal
  • Fava Beans
  • Flaxseed
  • Gram flour (chickpea)
  • Lentils
  • Manoic
  • Potato Starch/Flour
  • Quinoa
  • Sago
  • Sesame
  • Taro Flour
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Glucose made from tapioca
  • Yam (iyan) flour
  • Mesquite flour
Dairy products do not contain grains.  Fruits and vegetables (except for corn) are not grains.

Note:  Not all of these are recommended on the Paleo diet.  See the previous post:  "What is the Paleo Diet?"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Paleo Strawberry Coconut Cream

This easy recipe from the nom nom paleo cookbook was the perfect antidote to the sweltering temperatures outside.

1.  Freeze 3 ripe bananas and a cup of strawberries.

2.  Place these ingredients in a blender; add 1 tsp. of vanilla and 1/2 cup of coconut cream (thickest part of coconut milk can).

3.  Blend for 1 -2 minutes.


Non-Dairy Cheese

What better place to find non-dairy cheese than the Berkeley Bowl Market?

I circled the cheese counter looking for the vegan section.  I was directed to an adjacent display over on the aisle.

My hope was to find a vegan cheese and a non-grain bread to replace my usual breakfast of a Rustic Bakery bread slice with sharp cheddar cheese on top.

The cheddar made from almonds seemed the best choice both for ingredients and color ($$).  I also bought another cheddar made from soy milk ($).

The almond-based cheese was inedible - weird texture and bitter taste.  The second one, maybe not so bad if it was shredded and melted on a vegetable.  I will process this one and freeze it for a later date.

I did find a cheese I have heard so much about - Grana Padano - "Italy's finest."  This is an alternative to Reggio parmesan.  It was affordable and tasted so much better.  Imagine a texture of firm butter with a mild delicious flavor.  Paleo? No. Non-Diary? No. Delicious? Yes. 

Stone Soup

The New Yorker Magazine

Stone Soup

How the Paleolithic life style got trendy.

“The first day I put my family on a Paleolithic diet, I made my kids fried eggs and sausage for breakfast... It was like some weird, unexpected holiday - Passover in July. “

This begins Elizabeth Kolbert’s article for The Atlantic Monthly as she follows the paleo diet for one week and writes an in-depth article on her experiences and research on the subject.

She points out that while the paleo diet “turns the familiar food pyramid on its point,” it also is an environmental disaster:  increased water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and higher energy usage are all  side effects of more meat consumption.

She does concede that the transition to agriculture, while it allowed civilizations to settle down, caused a decline not only in the height of the average person by more than three inches, but also caused higher rates of tooth decay and anemia.

In sum, she found that most of the paleo recipes she tried from books and the internet for baked goods were inedible.  However, her kids loved the diet.  When she asked them what they had learned from the week’s experiment, one of them said, “We should eat more liver.”

For the full article, see this link.

What is the Paleo Diet?

If you are new to paleo foods, there is an easy outline in the nom nom paleo cookbook about what is on the diet and what is not:

Image downloaded from

Sugar + Artificial Sweeteners
Legumes (beans, peas, peanuts "which aren't technically nuts")
Processed Vegetable + Seed Oils (too much Omega-6)

Fruit, too much, avoid dried
Nuts + Seeds
Starches (beets, sweet potatoes, chestnuts ok)
Dairy - eat full fat, grass fed, pasture raised
Natural Sweeteners - maple syrup or raw honey in moderation - no agave

Animal Protein - grass fed, fully pasteurized, wild caught
Healthy Cooking Fats - ghee, lard, tallow, bacon drippings, duck fat, coconut oil, Macadamia nut oil, extra virgin olive oil + grape seed oil
Fermented Foods