Pot Roast in the Instant Pot. Yes, it’s possible for dinner tonight. I tried one from a fellow blogger and it’s pretty good.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
So, piggybacking on the last post about the Instant Pot, I’m reporting on a recipe that a), I actually made, and b) BF actually liked.
If you ask him about what he’d like for dinner, the answer is usually “meat & ‘taters.” Just like that. I’ve made many variations on the theme, but this time, it was strict. Pot roast with carrots and potatoes, and one surprise ingredient. Amazingly, for a change, he actually liked it.
Lots to tell, so let’s get started.
RIP Alvin Calhoun
A couple of years ago I was fortunate to be able to introduce you to this nice man when we went to Mr. Earl’s Awesome New Year’s Party:
Alvin Calhoun made some awesome barbecue, and you would not be looking for sauce, either. (Read the previous post to find out what I mean by that.)
We found out a few days ago that Mr. Calhoun had advanced-stage prostate cancer. He passed away the very next day. His children announced it on Facebook.
BF had tried to contact Mr. Calhoun this week, because he was going to bring some motor parts over to him to work on. That’s when BF found out about it. We had no idea he was ill, nor that he was in ICU at the time. I only got to chant for him once, because I had no idea he needed me to.
Although BF saw him again after the party, I didn’t, but never forgot him. He remembered me (and my red hair) and sent home some delicious ribs and things for us to enjoy for dinner one night. I thanked him later, I think on FB Messenger.
This picture will be printed up and framed soon.
Son Davin Calhoun will continue their company Calhoun Performance that’s based in Baton Rouge.
This was a very nice man, and we are both saddened at the news. Mr. Calhoun was well-liked by so many, and won’t be forgotten. Thank you for the delicious memories, sir.
No, not that stuff in the can–the digital kind.
If you were the unfortunate recipient of this site directing you to one where you “won a prize,” I apologize. Somehow, the site got hacked, but it’s fixed now. Seems that somehow there were extra plugins I wasn’t aware of, but are now gone. The ever-vigilant Banana Rat found them and removed them quickly, and you shouldn’t see that again.
Don’t worry, I changed the website’s password too.
I subscribe to a number of food as well as other types of blogs, many of which I mentioned last time. Blue Kitchen is written by Terry Boyd and his wife Marion, longer than me–since 2006. While my theme is:
Because good food deserves to be passed around.
Terry & Marion’s is:
Good Food. Great Stories. I Swear.
As you’ll read in their About section, when things go off the rails–like they do here–the air “turns blue” with, shall we say, colorful language. It happens more often than I admit to. The Boyds haven’t–to my knowledge–detailed the “blue” thrown about in their kitchen in any blog I’ve seen. Just know that I’m being polite when I don’t discuss what is occasionally said in the HeatCageKitchen. I don’t want to get blocked by my own hosting provider.
Based in St. Louis, Terry describes himself as I do, as an “amateur chef.” There’s the fabulous and complicated recipes you see in books by famous chefs, and then there’s dinner you’re making this evening. Terry and Marion focus on the latter, because you always have time to think about the former another time.
Pot Roast In The Instant Pot
As I alluded to last time, pot roast is one of the things that an Instant Pot, other pressure cooker, or a slow cooker works well to create. The super-heated water cooks things much faster, so even a larger cut will cook in less time. This smaller cut cooks in under an hour if it’s not frozen.
When their post landed in my email, I figured this would be a good thing to try. I have a new habit of *not* telling him what I’m making for dinner, but that eventually backfires.
When I said “pot roast,” BF was interested, so I made some. Unlike Terry & Marion, we are *not* trying to consume less red meat. But this was just right for us and one guest, another car-guy.
I know, it’s a lot of ingredients. However, much of it goes into seasoning the meat ahead of time.
So I bought a big roast and cut it in half. One half is still in the freezer.
Cut it in half and freeze the other:
Now season it.
Making The Dry Rub
Just like barbecue, there’s a dry-rub involved.
Note that this is onion and garlic POWDER, not SALT. Big difference, and you’ll notice it if you make that mistake. Mix them up:
Now just sprinkle it on:
Don’t forget the other side, of course.
Terry says you’ll have more seasoning than you need, but I ended up using the whole thing. That’s OK. Onto the next step.
As I always say, READ THE RECIPE FIRST. Always. Or your kitchen will be turning blue as well. Ask me how I know.
So I measured all the liquids first:
Yes, that’s actually fish sauce, and yes, I used it. Obviously, it’s not much. That bottle is in that place in the fridge where BF won’t see it.
Chop Your Veg
And get everything ready for the pot.
Potatoes, of course;
There’s also some onion involved:
Now on with the show!
Cooking The Pot Roast
Using the saute’ function, heat the oil:
Now sear the meat on both sides:
Take out the roast and set it aside on a plate (and in the microwave if you have hungry dogs.) Now cook the onion and garlic, adding more oil if you need it.
Cook it long enough to come out like this:
Add the garlic in right at the end:
Once the veg is cooked, shut off the saute’ function. Add in the liquids, which I mixed in the big cup to add at once:
Scrape the browned bits off the bottom–that’s where the flavor is. Now add the pot roast, the bay leaves, and any liquid on the plate into the IP:
Finish the Pot Roast
Now add the carrots and potatoes:
Use the pressure cook function to cook it for 40 minutes. When the cooking is done, leave it alone for ten minutes and then pop the pressure out.
Of course, I had company and forgot to take a picture of the end result. But if you read Terry’s page, you’ll see the finished product.
Marion describes the beautiful platter it’s presented on. I just took out the pot and brought it to the table. It was gobbled in short order, and there is one more “winner” recipe I can use.
Mississippi Pot Roast
When discussing “pot roast” and “Instant Pot” together, you will probably hear about a recipe called “Mississippi Pot Roast.” There are multiple variations of this recipe from wherever you find it, including:
- Corrie Cook’s version, which I suppose is somewhat a standard
- Jill Nystul’s version, “Vegas Meets Mississippi” pot roast
- Berge Central’s version, the inspiration for Jill Nystul’s
- Jen Fisch’s keto version, called Double Mustard–Dill Pickle Pot Roast
I have no idea if this is any kind of “Mississippi authentic.” Never lived in Mississippi and never heard of it until people started telling me about the IP. The thing is, these recipes all have one thing in common: pickles or pickled peppers.
And as I’ve mentioned before, that’s the one thing BF hates.
Serve him anything sour, tart, with lemon or lime, vinegar, sour cream, or tastes anything like pickles is an absolute “no” vote, every time. That lentil salad I made in Houston? He said if I’d served that on a first date, there wouldn’t have been a second one. (Had I known this. . . .) If he goes to a drive-through window and gets a burger, he requests “no pickles.” Frequently, he gets them anyway or the pickles were removed later and he can still taste them.
I told him last night that if his IP-enthusiast sister-in-law brought up MS pot roast yet again, he now had a reason to tell her “no thanks.”
In Terry’s version, there aren’t any pickle-y things. The fish sauce is very mild, it’s a small amount, so it’s not “fishy tasting.” That’s why I knew this would work.
Real Texas Chili In The Instant Pot
Last weekend I also used the IP for some real Texas chili.
Texas Granola Girl, to whom I also subscribe, has a recipe for Texas Keto Venison Chili on her website. (I have her book, and will review it soon.) I’d forgotten about it, and when I found the ground deer meat in the freezer, I remembered it. (Even commented on it, if you scroll far enough.) Well, I made it last weekend. And I liked it, he didn’t–no beans. I’ll have it all week.
First alteration: I cooked it in the IP for 20 minutes. Perfect.
Second alteration: NO BEER. It’s awful if you don’t actually like beer. I just addeed three cups of organic bone broth instead. Everything else was the same, half ground venison and half ground beef. No beans.
And BF didn’t like it, because it’s not what he thinks is “real chili.” I’ll explain.
Last year, we went to BF’s Dad’s place up the road, where they were making what they called “chili.” They’ve been making it the same way since he was a kid.
To “pump up” the flavor even more, his Dad added BEER. (It wasn’t a fancy pilsner, either–it was cheap Michelob Light.) People here do not realize that beer is made from wheat. I always hope that when I tell people I don’t eat wheat that they mention it. But I nearly always get ignored, even when we go out to dinner.
When I questioned the chili’s unusual taste, I was told, “it’s beer; that’s his ‘secret’ ingredient.” Had no idea beforehand, or I would have had dinner at home. Thank heavens I had plenty of Tums on hand.
I just don’t eat over there anymore because I don’t like being sick all night. It happens way too often.
McCormick actually makes this organic version that is gluten-free. We’ve bought it many times, but of course, now we can’t find it locally anymore. He insists that making our own chili and taco seasoning isn’t as good as the packets.
I used to enjoy cooking.
Until Next Time
Alternately, you could let this slow cook all day and come home to a nice dinner, but the veg might be a bit mushy. Cooking becomes easier once you get used to using the Instant Pot. I’m always looking for new ways to make dinner, and this one happened to fit the bill.
Oh, and if you like eggplant, Terry & Marion’s latest post is all about it. YUCK! You can have mine, and BF’s too.
Whatever’s for dinner, Enjoy!
Hi, again, Dear Readers!
Bet you’re surprised to hear from me again this soon. Me too. But I had an adventure, and you know me, I gotta write about it. I didn’t plan on going to Trader Joe’s today, but I did. I was supposed to be going for a job interview with a major hospital system here, for a job in Baytown. Guess what? Ten minutes into the interview, the guy said, “Oh, no! Who told you that? Oh, really? Oh, sorry.” After one curt comment without swear words, I picked up my stuff and left as fast as I could. Had I not done that, I would have let the entire floor know I was not happy with wasting my time going into town for no reason. In a suit.
If you believe in angels, I think they’re pointing me somewhere. But that’s all I’ll say about that for now.
Yes, I’m still in a bad mood. But I’m getting there.
I had been thinking about a post-interview stop at Trader Joe’s on the way to town, since it was just a couple of miles away from the building I was in. I even brought a change of clothes so I’d blend in a little. Turns out I don’t blend in at the store in the Montrose area at all, that’s probably the main reason I prefer the store in The Woodlands. There’s nobody in The Woodlands with nearly floor-length red dreadlocks over the age of 65, not that I’ve ever seen. (It was a female.) But if you’re not in Houston, you might not understand that going to The Woodlands from the center of town would make for a very long trip home.
Oh, wait–I could have gotten a gluten free cupcake at Frost. AAAAHHH!! See? I told you I was in a bad mood. But I made it home safely, and didn’t have any crashes or “road rage” incidents, since I didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway.
Since I knew I was going to be hungry on the way home, I went next door to Whole Earth Provisions so I could get a couple of the delicious Epic bars. I can’t get them down in Clear Lake anymore, not that I can find, so this was just a one time thing. Guess what I found? New Lamb bar with currants and mint, no foolin’:
Yes, it was quite tasty. Both the lamb and bison were fresh, since they were slightly moist, much like a Larabar would be. However, unlike Larabars, these have less than 10 grams of sugar, mostly from the dried fruit. Larabars, and Energetica’s other product, Thunderbird bars, are all dried fruit with nuts, so they have much more sugar in them, and fat from the nuts. However, I know that some folks are not wild about mint, so if you’re one of those, avoid the delicious new lamb bar.
I stashed those on the front seat, then went to Trader Joe’s next door. I got some of this fancier bottled water, it’s right across the aisle from the olive oil, which is less expensive than HEB’s and comes in glass, not plastic bottles
.See? It was fancier than the standard stuff:
Their regular bottled water is 17 cents a bottle. However, this was a bigger bottle at 99 cents, and since I was going to have two Epic bars, I needed plenty of water.
I may have shown you this before, but I have a shelf hung by the stove, with a knife bar underneath, to make the heavy-duty cooking easier. I refilled that little bottle with olive oil so that I can just use that instead of going to the pantry to get a bigger bottle and mess with that. Also, that’s a sugar shaker from IKEA with kosher salt in it. Easier than going for the square box, too.
As you can see, I have been coping with this morning’s disaster with some, ah, creature comforts. Now, if you’re not familiar with Trader Joe’s, one of the things they’re famous for is their cheap wine. Those bottles are $3 each; they used to be $2, and they’re well loved by TJ devotees. I got another can of those New Mexico hatch green chiles; I used one can recently, which is will be in a future blog post (like maybe this afternoon if I’m in the mood.) Delicious cannellini beans, and tasty little tomatoes to go with the rest of the lettuce sealed up in the fridge:
Yum. Now, that can of cat food on top the beans is a treat for the cat beast, and not included as part of any human food created or consumed in the HeatCageKitchen–despite the jokes I may make about doing such a thing on occasion.
Take a closer look at the tomatoes:
More comfort food, Trader Joe’s style:
Admittedly, those went into the freezer, because I could eat both the entire package of sausage and that 4 ounce round of cheese at once. OK, maybe half the cheese and two sausages today, the rest tomorrow. I found some of the sausages recently in the freezer and enjoyed them; this is just a replacement. Still, it’s really good, and both are the same price, $2.99. If you haven’t had goat milk brie, try it sometime–you’re in for a treat.
I was going to buy some tahini, that sesame paste you make hummus with. Guess what? That little refrigerated container had. . .WHEAT! No joke. I thanked the man for finding it for me; he didn’t think twice when he said, ‘Oh, you’re looking for gluten free?” Yes. That’s the one thing nobody seemed to blink at.
From the toiletries section, some lavender soap for my nighttime shower, and some tea tree oil soap just because it was cheaper and smells nice. That’s actually a package of two bars of tea tree oil soap, and all of their stuff is cruelty free, that is, not tested on animals. To me, looking at the cat beast sitting by the patio door, and thinking about all the little furry animals in the world, I appreciate that a lot.
OK, so I took it by the toaster oven. I ran out of room by the microwave.
I have been a fan of Chocolate Cherry Kind bars for a while, and they are the only ones I want. However, while I had two in my hand, I passed on them in favor of something less expensive:
I don’t know why the picture loaded up sideways. But I will tell you that there are two servings in that bag, and they were both delicious. Still,one serving has 13 grams of sugar, which is not bad for candy. Ice cream can vary from 19 to 30 grams of sugar, but you have to read the label. Yogurt with fruit on the bottom can run 40 grams of sugar for the little cup, all while being touted as “healthy.” Which would YOU rather have?
All in all, I spent about what I’d get at HEB, although I just realized that my checker, “Matty,” neglected to ring up the 4 tins of Vanilla Mynts I put with my order, although I’m not sure why. I have some for now, I’ll just get more another time, I guess.
Well, anyway, I’ve got that out of my system, and I’ll have a couple of gluten free stories coming soon. And a cookbook review if I think about it.
Good evening Dear Readers:
I haven’t written since March 10, and for that I apologize. Even WordPress started nagging me about it! I’m still not working, but working ON it. I have some more gluten-free stuff to share, and I may have a big decision to make soon. But more on that as it happens, since I haven’t been offered anything in the top hiring state in the nation in the 8 months I have been actively looking for a job. Nuffin’.
Enough of that.
Remember the blog post I did on lunch bags a while back? Updates: I’ve got more sewing done, and the last of the lunch bags is complete. I have decided to retire the book Lunch Bags, at least for a while, until I have more inspiration or someone asks for one. This interesting lunch bag is the reason I bought that darn book in the first place. I even found the same fabric used in the book, but kept getting vexed by the directions. Finally, I finished it, more or less just like the book, even though I’m not carrying a lunch bag around anymore.
A triumph over. . .oh, heck, it’s finished.
There ended up being three of these Zipper-top Lunch Bags on page 71, two of which looked like this:
I gave one to my SGI-USA District Leader, and this last one went to faithful reader Aunt Kathy. Surprisingly, I had enough materials left to make a third, although I kept thinking this was a fourth. (I went to Tulane at night, so I can’t count.) I hate wasting fabric and supplies, so Neighbor K got this version:
If you’re wondering why I call it that, it’s because I used black on the bottom and for whatever reason, I’d previously cut more Insul-Fleece with this fabric to line it with:
I forgot to take a picture before I gave it to her, so yes, if you’re reading this, K, these pictures were taken in your kitchen when I brought the pug back in. (K also was the recipient of the first bicycle lunch bag.)
A note about Insul-Fleece–it won’t keep lunch icy cold for a long period of time, you’ll have to stash the bag in the fridge at work, or at least carry something that won’t spoil easily.
I’m not sewing that much, mostly on the weekend. I’ve got a couple of things to stitch up this weekend and I hope I get them all finished on time.
OK, now through the bedroom to the HeatCageKitchen garden on the back patio. NOTE: I am NOT making escargot from the snails I keep finding. Yuck. I just toss them over the fence and tell them to go find a new life.
So the gardening is, well, it’s going, and if you remember the little tomato survivor, it finally turned red and became part of a garden salad.
Incidentally, that plant is starting to come back, as you can see from the greenery at the bottom. Need to trim off the brown parts so the green can thrive. I think I waited a bit too long to use the tomato, because it became a bit, oh, you know, odd, like it was over-ripened, but not too far. Hate to toss that hardy plant after the multiple freezes it went through.
I also had my computer in the shop for a few days, and before I picked it up yesterday I ducked into Garden Ridge a couple of doors down. I saw lots of hanging planters for both tomatoes and strawberries, including one that you plant bell peppers on one end and tomatoes on the other. A hanging salsa grower? I’m game.
So I gathered up a few ingredients including mint, lettuce, Italian flat-leaf parsley, two garlic shoots, and one hardy tomato and made a gourmet salad. Ready? Here it is.
Those dark colored leaves are lettuce from the “city mix” I planted several months ago. For whatever reason, that was pretty much everything I harvested, and a little has grown back. Oh, boy.
Sure, I put a bit of salt and fresh-mixed dressing on it–who wouldn’t? Of course it was tasty, but I put too many mint leaves in it. Not earth-shattering, just a little potent.
Speaking of salads, I have gone back to doing the lettuce-in-a-jar thing after a few months of not doing it, mostly because of the very cold weather. While we didn’t get any snow this time around, not many folks are interested in cool, crisp lettuce when the heater is on and the fireplace is lit. You want warm. . .much as I love salads, this winter, I gave it up for a while.
So you probably know my penchant for seeking out stuff on sale, particularly meat on sale, and at SuperTarget, I can definitely get lucky.
This particular steak was a good flank steak, and the kind that’s organic grass fed and all that. But what to do with it?
When I had a “regular” job (that is, one I knew I was going to every day) my favorite single-girl payday meal was a steak salad I created with the usual lettuce/tomato/cucumber, and added either sugar snap peas, avocado, or some other veggie that looked real good that day. My preferred steak was the Flat Iron Steak, which I’d never heard of before but eagerly tried and loved.
The dressing is one of my favorites from Suzanne Somers’ Get Skinny On Fabulous Food, (page 149) with six tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, two tablespoons lemon juice, two cloves of garlic, and salt with freshly ground black pepper. Whiz that together with your hand blender or mini blender, and set that aside.
I discovered flat iron steaks while prowling in Kroger’s meat department one day. They were, at the time, relatively inexpensive, although the price has gone up considerably in the last couple of years. I would get a big one, use my little meat tenderizer tool thingy and get it cooking. Of course I wouldn’t eat the ENTIRE steak at one time; they are usually as long as my forearm. Depending on the size of the steak, I would have one third to one fourth on the salad, and then cut up the rest for more delicious salad later. Sliced thinly and against the grain, the steak and the accompanying salad veggies are wonderful together with that simple vinaigrette.
Yum. I need to make that dressing again soon. Shaking oil & vinegar in a jar is easy, but that one is fantastic.
My method for cooking just about any kind of steak is simple: stash it under the broiler in the toaster oven. Oh, wait, you want to do it on top the stove? OK, here you go: cast iron pan, a little olive oil, heat on high while you prep your steak (salt/pepper, whatever.) Once you know it’s screaming hot, toss that steak in and IMMEDIATELY turn down the heat to medium. DO NOT go check Facebook because you will ruin a good steak. Do not do that, either.
After a few minutes, when you can easily pick up the steak with tongs, a fork or other implement, flip it. Don’t pull or scrape the steak from the pan–if it’s stuck, leave it until it’s not stuck anymore, which shouldn’t be more than a few minutes, like 5 to 7. (You did put oil in the pan, right?) Cook on the second side until it’s done to your liking–red, pink, completely cooked through, whatever. I prefer some red/pink in the middle, because I will microwave the leftovers later and I don’t want to overcook them.
Really, you should leave a steak to rest for five minutes before you cut into it. Some of us are impatient, but I do it most of the time.
This particular steak I cooked on top of the stove, but because I have more time on my hands than most, I decided to marinate it before hand.
I’ve said this before, I love the garlic shoots, and if you’ve never tried growing garlic, it’s not difficult. I haven’t yet harvested any, because I don’t think it’s time, but I’ll keep you posted.
To the chopped stuff, I tossed in some olive oil–I didn’t measure, but I’d say it was between a quarter cup and an eighth of a cup. Mixed it all together, along with some salt and pepper, dropped the steak in and coated both sides, put some plastic wrap on top and stashed it in the fridge.
The next day I just used my steak-cooking method and it came out wonderful:
After the requisite rest period, it looks like this when you slice it:
Yes, it was a really good steak. Twice. The lemon, mild garlic and rosemary infused the meat with a mild but distinct flavor that was tasty, but not overpowering like some marinades and flavorings can do. I don’t mind a stronger flavor, but this was certainly worth the time and effort. I’ll do this again sometime, maybe with garlic cloves rather than the shoots (which I probably won’t have much longer anyway once I harvest.)
It’s gluten free! (By virtue of having no bread/wheat around, of course.)
You could always do this on a grill, too. . .I just didn’t. Feel free to grill and let me know how it turns out, please.
It was a good night, and I even had a glass of wine after dinner. With more sewing done and projects given away, it was a pretty good weekend.
More to come in upcoming blog posts.
Afternoon, Dear Readers:
Here in Houston, the weather has warmed up, the clouds are gone and it’s a lovely day. I say that not to make anyone jealous, but to remind you that winter always turns to spring. Eventually.
Y’all, it just dawned on me that I didn’t recommend anything for Valentine’s Day dinner. DUH.
Sure, you could go out to dinner. Have you ever tried to get a reservation for Valentine’s Day? No, I don’t mean Golden Corral. . . Jack In The Box is usually open. So is Carl’s Jr., if you have one in your area–they have sweet potato fries!
Or just go out and find a place to eat. You’ll be elbow-to-elbow with all the other star-crossed lovers. Forget that! Make dinner for your sweetie–but don’t go overboard. You need something easy that won’t take long. So here you go.
One of my newest favorite foods is cannellini beans. You know, the white kidney beans, usually from Italy. They are SOOOO good. I have a number of recipes calling for them, but my absolute favorite is, once again, from Nigella Lawson. It’s a simple white bean mash that can take the place of mashed potatoes and tastes so much better.
Thing is, you have to do it exactly as the recipe states. However, I’ve fiddled with it a bit to make it just for lunch. I’ll explain that in a minute.
Tonight, if you can get some nice little steaks and three cans of cannellini beans, (don’t forget olive oil, lemon and garlic) you’re all set–just make sure dessert is delicious, too. (It does not have to be chocolate, OK?) You make the beans first, then cook up the steaks and squeeze the lemon into the hot pan to deglaze it. The most time it takes is for making the bean mash. You can find the entire recipe here.
A steak dinner on Valentine’s Day? Of course!
Now, I have, on a couple of occasions, accidentally bought those little great white beans, or whatever they are called, because I simply grabbed the wrong can. This is easy when you buy Goya, because the cans all look alike. Darnit. They work, but are not as tasty as the cannellini.
Since my job ended on January 31, I’ve been eating white bean mash nearly every day. Why? I love it! With turkey, meatloaf, or whatever I feel like cooking up, it’s simple. And I also figured out how to make it in the microwave.
Rinse one can of beans and dump it in a microwave safe bowl; preferably one like a Grab-It with rounded sides and wide. Add to it a goodly amount of olive oil (maybe 1/8 cup, just eyeball it), and grate in a clove of garlic and some lemon zest (one small or half a large.) Microwave it until it’s hot. Take it out (put it on something heat-safe) and get a wide, flat spoon (a round wooden one works great) and mash to your heart’s content. Taste, and dd a bit of salt if you think you need it (mine always do) and mash until you get the same nubbly consistency, or it’s good enough for one person to devour.
I took that to work many times. Now that I’m not working, I just need to make sure I keep cannellini beans in the pantry.
That’s all for now.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and Enjoy!
Good Evening, Dear Readers:
This blog post is dedicated to my friend BigJoel, who passed away last Sunday afternoon (9/8/2013) at the age of 89. He was a friend, a cheerleader, an ally and an all around nice man. I found another soul who loved and appreciated British comedy, while most folks watch whatever is on. He read every one of my humble blog posts here and enjoyed them, and I sent him video emails nearly every day for the last few years. I told him about the content of this post a few days before he passed, but unfortunately, he won’t get to read it.
BigJoel belonged to Mensa, an organization of people who make mistakes faster than everyone else. That’s what he told me. He also had a sly sense of humor. I always told him he ought to eat healthier and take some vitamins, but I think he didn’t take me too seriously. But at 89, well, maybe you don’t take anyone too seriously. BigJoel’s input and humor will be missed by a great swath of folks, including me.
When he visited Texas I tried very hard to make a delicious and Martha Stewart-esque dinner, complete with a healthy, delicious dessert. He was a sweetie, and enjoyed all of it. At least, I hope he did. I’d hoped to get him some gluten-free baked goods recently, but connections were missed, and it didn’t happen; they wouldn’t have lasted the shipment in the warm southern May weather we had. But I did send him some Larabars a couple of times, which he enjoyed. The first time, I had to shop all over town to get the variety I wanted to send; the second time, the company introduced the variety packs, so it was much easier then, and they were fresh from the factory, too.
This one’s for you, BigJoel, and I hope to get to cook for you when I see you again.
Now. . . .
I have long told people that I’m a cat. A Human Feline. When you’ve had the same cats for long periods of time, (in my case,19 years) your DNA is altered. You knew that, right?
OK, seriously–my blood type indicates that I should avoid grains and stick with protein, so my doctor tells me. So, see? CARNIVORE=CAT. That’s me. I love tigers, too–but not parked on my living room futon.
So the news comes a few weeks ago that something akin to “beef” was grown in a lab and pan-fried at a press conference in London a few weeks ago. Yes, they added (ugh) beet juice and saffron to make it look like the real thing. Grown from a beef muscle cell using gene-splicing and other freakish GMO procedures, it’s a start on a highly experimental method of growing beef without using cows. Vegetarians like the idea of not having to raise cows in order to make beef. (Vegetarian: old Indian word meaning “Bad Hunter.”) The “climate change” crowd believes it will feed the masses without excessive methane gas (read: cow farts) in the atmosphere. No, I don’t believe them, but they have some lobbying power, so people listen to them.
Ok, let’s get real.
At a cost of $334,450.60 for a single 4 ounce patty, or $1,337,802.4 per pound, this “vegetarian beef” muck is currently more expensive than organic grass-fed beef and Japanese Waygu beef, so most people aren’t going to shell out for it. The inconvenient truth is that it really does *not* taste like beef, chicken, or anything else you’re accustomed to eating, despite what they said at the press conference. There was a lot of money invested in this ridiculous experiment, so they had to say nice things about it. Of course, they had to doctor it up to make it taste similar to real beef, and nobody would admit it to what really it tasted like. In some media outlets, the taste was praised; in others, told for what it really was.
I get that it’s scientists using science to do new things that were not possible before, stretching their expertise and really using their skills. But couldn’t they use this technology for something more useful, like say, cancer treatment or preventing birth defects?
My professional gourmet blogger’s opinion: Yuck.
Listen, y’all, most folks are going to stick with what they get now, which in my case is the occasional packet of 4 patties from Target with a red markdown sticker on it. Wal-Mart has bags of frozen burger patties for a good price. Cows run wild in India; ship them over here and we’ll eat those cows, fight “climate change” and make the streets of Mumbai safe again. (Nevermind that the seasons come around quarterly.)
And just this week, word of a plant-based egg substitute. WHAT? Do we REALLY need this new thing? OK, admittedly, I have a friend who is highly allergic to eggs, so this would be great for him, since he could use mayo made from it. Maybe folks allergic to eggs like my friend can benefit from this creation. But in my everyday life? NO.
If you’re like me, the whole idea of lab-made food—like the GMO wheat before it—brings one word to mind. Say it with me, will you?
And that’s enough of that.
So, I bring that up, mostly to amuse, but also to point out the lengths that some people will go to make a point. I think there is more to it than just scientific advancement, but I won’t say anything beyond that. What I will say is:
Just say NO to lab grown beef, OK? Lab grown chicken and eggs, too. Heck, lab grown anything. How are these artificially created frankenfoods any different than chemical-filled processed foods like evaporated milk and Velveeta cheese?
REAL food rocks. Eat real food.
Speaking of real food, I recently discovered something new and tasty. (Well, it was new to me.). I was doing my usual Sunday errands and stopped in a place that, well, let’s just say it’s not a place one would normally stop for a quick nibble, but I found one. I was REALLY hungry, and after I finished in this establishment I was going to the SuperTarget across the parking lot. An iced decaf coffee at Starbucks and maybe a couple of Larabars and I would be fine, right?
Oh, no. I FOUND something. And it was delicious enough to write about.
Whilst waiting my turn, I noticed a box next to some candy. Epic Bars, they’re called. About the size of a candy bar, but completely different. They’re designed for outdoor activities, to toss in your bag with a couple of bottles of water and hold you over until you can get some lunch. Sound familiar? There have been many incarnations of “meal replacement bars” over the years, but most are sweet, and loaded with sugar and other toxic rubbish. Have you looked at a can of Ultra Slim Fast? (Yes, they still make that stuff.)
You MUST drink plenty of water with Epic Bars. Why? Keep reading.
The difference with Epic is that they are made with meat. Yes, MEAT. No kidding. But like Larabars, they do have some nuts, although not as many. The first time I went I found beef and turkey. The second time, all they had was turkey. No complaints outta me! Both are equally delicious, although I was told by one of the owners that everyone loves the beef bar. Really, they are both equally good, but I guess the guys want beef. (And every time I go back, all they have is turkey.) They also have bison, but keep reading.
The meat is dried, and similar to Larabars, they have nuts and some dried cranberries in them—but they are not sweet like a Larabar. The beef has a bit of chipotle in it, so there is also a slight touch of heat. I don’t like burning hot food myself, but this was just fine with me. Since it’s dried beef, the water makes it swell in your stomach, giving you a full feeling during a long stretch. That’s why you gotta drink the water.
When the man told me that, I didn’t believe him. I bit into the beef, and later went to Starbucks for the iced coffee. And you know what? I really didn’t think about food for a good 3 or 4 hours. I really wasn’t hungry at all. Cool, huh?
That made me think about dieters—would they work? It’s got me thinking, and I’ll let you know if I decide to try doing that. Admittedly, I’ve bought more and keep them tucked into my lunch bag. See, if I get on the bus on an empty stomach, I get really nauseated. Houston Metro has some great buses, built a little like a Boeing 737, but the buses do not have a) lavatories and b) barf bags. So I gotta nibble something before I leave the office so I don’t test the sensibilities of my fellow commuters. Epic Bars have been fitting that bill for a couple of weeks now.
Epic comes in turkey, beef, and, um, bison. Yes, BISON. I think I’ve had bison once or twice, but not regularly. Epic Bars are made from vegetarian fed animals, are gluten free and, thank you, FREE OF SOY. They even come with a little freshness packet so they’re good longer term. If you see these, consider it:
They are about $3 each—not cheap like a candy bar, but healthier than what you can get at fast food, and fits in a pocket, purse or bag.
I also got three different explanations of what these bars are for from three different sellers when I was out and about on my recent Sunday adventure trip with my debit card.
The first place I found them is called The Arms Room, an upscale gun store and indoor shooting range in League City, Texas (a Houston suburb close to Galveston) with, ironically, a SuperTarget across the car park. Really, do you go in a place like that for a bite to eat? It was a lucky find, and that’s not listed on the Epic website, either. The second place was Snap Kitchen, where I stopped in and ended up getting some lunch. But they only had turkey and bison, so I headed to my third place, Whole Earth Provision Company, next to Trader Joe’s on South Shepherd.
The Arms Room guy said that they were for people who go out shooting and don’t want to stop for lunch or leave and go back out. Toss one in your backpack with a couple of bottles of water, and go. You’ll be good until you’re done, and you go home or go get a bite somewhere. Can’t complain about the iced coffee with one, either—it really hit the spot.
The Snap Kitchen folks I talked to were horrified that I went into a place like The Arms Room, but hey—I’m over 21, I’ll shop where I like. They don’t sell the beef bars because “their customers don’t eat red meat.” Something like that. I’m sure there are at least a few tofu-scarfing folks that will down a burger or fried chicken if they’re far enough away from anyone who will recognize them, but I left that part unsaid.
The dude in Whole Earth Provision said that they were designed for outdoor sportsmen like campers and hikers who wanted something grain free and Paleo. He, too, was horrified that I bought some in The Arms Room. (I enjoyed that part twice.)
So, three different explanations for these bars, but they really are good, healthy and convenient. I’ve got one left.
You can find a place to buy these lovely items at their website, and you can buy them online if you can’t find them locally. And because they are made in Austin, TX, you know they are the best! (My opinion, of course.) The company also makes something called Thunderbird Energetica, the fruit-based kinds of energy bars that are gluten free but sweet. I’ve sampled them in my local HEB, and they’re good and sticky, but since it’s dried fruit, they’re higher in sugar, making them a little higher in calories (and diabetics need to pay attention to that part.)
One of my writer friends tells me that there is another company that makes much the same thing, called Tanka Bars. I’ve never seen them, but if I find some I’ll try them and report back to you on it.
So, if you’re in need of something to eat on the go, you’re in luck–healthy food is available, even for us carnivores, real food, in bar form.
BigJoel would have enjoyed one, too.
Good night, Dear Readers.