Preparedness Pays: Biltong Edition

Air drying meat done right is delicious, safe, and not all that hard. Done wrong, however, it can be sickening or even deadly. Just like home canning. There is risk in everything, the key is to finding what works and making use of best practices.

This post got started last week (I think) when I found out that Aldi is now carrying an American-made commercial version of biltong. For an American commercial product, it is surprisingly good. I shared the news elsewhere, and some nice discussions took place.

Biltong packages
Original and Smoked Biltong via Aldi

Biltong is often described as South African beef jerky. I get the comparison, but despite some similarities it is so much better than beef jerky and healthier (IMO) too. The closer link is to the air-dried cured/smoked meats of Central and Eastern Europe, which is no surprise since the Dutch knew of them and Dutch foods comprise a lot of the historical food of South Africa.

If you’ve ever had any of the Central/Eastern meats and sausages, you know what a treat they can be. Times like this I really miss the Ukrainian deli that used to be up in Lafayette. Not only good sausages, but also more than one variety of smoked/dried beef you could slice with ease. Tasty, shelf-stable, and never in any danger of hitting the sell-by date.

American beef jerky is made from sliced (far too often chopped, shaped, processed and formed) meat that is then cured in a mix that includes a lot of sugar and often other chemicals and preservatives. It is then dried over heat to some extent. While it can be quite tasty, it is often full of carbs, chemicals, and a bit chewy. If you make your own you can avoid a lot of issues, and frankly I’ve used Alton Brown’s furnace filter jerky recipe to good success. The hardest part of the recipe is finding paper filters these days.

Biltong is made from whole chunks of meat, usually carved off a silverside or other roast. Better the meat, the better the biltong. Think steaks for the chunks, as the roasts are often sliced about an inch thick. It is cured with vinegar (usually malt/brown or cider), spices added, then air-dried. The air drying is very much like dry aging beef: it is going to intensify the flavor of the meat, so it’s another reason to use good meat (no need to stick to just beef, as game, lamb, etc. work well).

Now, you can get quite fancy with things and there are those who are really into things, such as The Greedy Ferret. Then there’s this guy and this guy. They each have decent methods and you will get good product. That said, even though I want to try more of the Travel Gigolo’s recipes, I am going with the late Ben Kruger.

While known as an actor, he apparently had a real passion for historical food and did a number of videos looking at traditional cooking, most of it from the Dutch. Thankfully, that included his take on biltong.

How to make biltong Ben Kruger’s way

Particularly if I’m having to do an emergency batch to save meat because of a power outage, I want to use this recipe. Vinegar is a great cure, antimicrobial, and relatively inexpensive. Good cleaner. Good for pickling veggies and more. You really should have a fair bit on hand for emergencies. Honey, while not inexpensive, is another great antimicrobial cure. As an aside, honey buried in tombs in the BC have been found that are still quite good and edible. Just don’t feed any honey to small children.

As he points out, you can air dry it anywhere — the Biltonginator 3000 just speeds things up. Love that his grandfather hung it under the bed to air dry. That’s thinking outside the box. The 1/3 recipe is great and keeps things simple. As others have noted, you can (and should) play with proportions. Just don’t cut out your key antimicrobials.

Right now, I’m going to look into making my version of the Biltonginator (4000 model?) as it is very simple. Storage box, wooden dowels, and a muffin fan. If memory serves, you can even set up the fan to run off flashlight batteries and it will do so for a long time given the low draw. Very useful in an emergency.

Then, to make a good batch. Maybe add smoked paprika to a couple of the chunks, chipotle to a couple, and maybe used smoked salt in part of it. Oooh, maybe add some berbere or peri-peri to a couple. Thing is, have fun but be sure to make at least some “original” recipe as it is a very distinct (and tasty) flavor.

I love good jerky. If I have a choice, though, I will go for almost any variety of biltong or European dried beef hands down. The difference in flavor, tenderness, and healthiness makes that almost a no-brainer for me. My advice is try them out, see what you like, and go for it. Meantime, particularly in an emergency, biltong is your friend and a great way to save meat. Especially as it does have fat, and you are going to need that tasty, tasty, nutritious fat more than you may realize.


Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Even if I could have afforded it, I would not have done the “traditional” meal yesterday. First, it’s just me and the traditional meal is a bit much even with how much I enjoy eating. Second, it’s a labor of love that needs to be shared. The last time I cooked the full meal was for a military unit, and it wasn’t that much more effort and ingredients than some past family gatherings.

Besides, I do try to keep Keto though I did go off it yesterday rather thoroughly. Most of my favorites growing up don’t qualify these days: rice and gravy, sweet potato casserole with pecan crust, a green congealed salad with cream cheese and pecans, and the stuffing. I do miss a good pecan pie, and while she was not a part of the Thanksgiving crowd, my cousin Ann was a baker who could hold her own against some professional chefs, and her pies and cakes were amazing.

Also, I have to admit, that after the lightning strike and all that happened, I don’t eat as much as I used to. Even a normal meal can make me feel bloated and uncomfortable for hours. Dinner can be as much a snack as anything else these days.

So, I opted for a full meal but with reduced portions. I have salmon in the freezer because I needed a couple of portions a while back for a recipe, which meant I had to get a package of the thankfully individually shrink-wrapped portions. Salmon was a luxury growing up, a rarity, and I will have to give my mother props for her salmon croquettes. I don’t think I had fresh salmon until I was in high school. So, luxury meat I bought when prices were much, much better it is. Grilled with a smokey bourbon glaze.

At the doctor’s recommendation after the open heart surgery, I went off Keto a bit and discovered I don’t miss a lot of the standard carbs. Exceptions are pecan waffles, mashed potatoes (real is better than instant, but…), and crackers and corn chips. Since I had decided to have a waffle for breakfast, I opted to go for mashed cauliflower instead of potato. With additional butter and cheese, not bad and filled that spot. Did cheat and buy it on sale.

The veggie was another treat from childhood, asparagus. Rare treat growing up was canned asparagus (you almost never saw fresh in the store back then) with mayo. Bit of dill maybe. So, Aldi had some fresh in and on sale, and while I prefer to grill, our little porch grill is not good for that. So, I did a sautee with a bit of white wine, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and a hint of smoked paprika.

I had a can of the green ripe olives in the emergency stash. Growing up, the black ripe olives were a huge hit with pretty much everyone. Not sure if it is true, but heard a tale of one alleged adult getting into a fist fight with two or three of the toddlers, and not coming out ahead. I may or may not have been one of the toddlers involved. Toddlers tend to punch out and up. Male or female adult groins are quite sensitive and make a good target. Enough said. For all that I do still enjoy the black olives, I found the tree-ripened olives many years back and have not looked back. Amazing flavor. Second major comfort food niche filled.

For those who want to try it, the glaze for the salmon is easy to do. In a bowl, I put a dollop (precise measurements people, precise measurements!) of raw local honey, about a half a teaspoon of bourbon, a couple of drops of lime juice, chipotle, smoked salt, fresh ground pepper, and a bit of hot smoked paprika. Don’t drink? Leave the bourbon out. Want to double down on the smokey flavor? Use a good Islay Scotch instead. Mix well, place on top of the salmon, and cook. Yesterday, I fashioned a container around the salmon with aluminum foil to ensure that when the glaze melted it stuck around to give max flavor.

Desert was a slice of Key Lime Pie. It was okay, though I wish I could have gotten it from Publix, as that chain does amazing Key Lime pies! The white wine I used with the asparagus was not quite a two-buck-chuck, but close enough that I had wondered if it would even be good. It was, with some wonderful citrus notes that worked well with the asparagus and tasted good when drinking. Pro Tip: if you would not drink the wine, do not cook with it. Later, I did have some bourbon as I relaxed in my chair.

So, I hope your day was filled with love as well as good and tasty things. I got started on my giving thanks ahead of time as on the day things can get hectic.

Oh, and nice thing about my meal was that I had everything prepared and cooked in right around an hour. Clean-up took maybe 15-30 minutes. Not bad for Thanksgiving.

A Chili Weekend


My breakfast this morning. Plating not perfect, but I was hungry.

It’s cold, I’m dragging, so it’s time for chili. Didn’t hurt that I found some beef (steak) that had gotten lost in the freezer and needed to be used. So, seared (sorta) on the grill, and made a cowboy-style chili. Basic recipe is at the link above. Let it cook at 250 for quite a while (3pm-5am), pulled it out this morning, stirred, and had it with egg over diced avocado for breakfast.


It was a riff on a favorite Japanese breakfast, where there was smoked fish in hot rice, and they would crack an egg over the mixture. The heat and steam from the rice cooked the egg. For today, I cracked an egg into a bowl, put hot chili over it, then put some shredded cheese on top of the chili. After waiting a minute or two, stirred and put it over the avocado.

For camping, or just for fun, another way to do it is using a real mug (not some small thing), crack an egg into the bottom, put hot chili over it to about two thirds full, then put shredded cheese. Wait a couple of minutes, stir, then top with sour cream. You can use some guacamole with the sour cream even. If the egg is not cooked to your taste, nuke for a few seconds if at home.

Before I forget, two quick ways to change-up your standard chili. First, throw in an ounce or two of unsweetened dark chocolate. It adds some depth and works well with the various peppers in chili powder as well as cumin and other spices. Think how it works in a mole sauce.

The other is to add some strong black coffee. I know people who just add the ground coffee, but I prefer to go with the liquid. Again, adds to the range of flavors.

Enjoy your weekend!

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Kroger Update & More

If the site is slow loading or you’ve had trouble getting through, my apologies. We are experiencing growing pains as I move from regular blog to high-traffic blog. Working on it, feel free to hit the tip jar to help me keep going and upgrade the site. Your gifts truly do make the difference. Working on adding a mail-in option, GabPay, others; if interested in mail-in for now drop me a line.

A few weeks ago, I had a most unexpected and unpleasant experience with Kroger Fuel. Since then, I’ve neither gotten fuel there nor shopped at Kroger.

Funny thing is, I’ve been finding some much better deals elsewhere. The eggs I prefer (and yes, trying to stay brand specific as started them for nutrition profile and right now because my bloodwork is so good! Changing as little as possible given how good) I’ve found elsewhere for less. Excellent and even better sour cream to replace the Kroger Natural? Yes indeed and for about the same price.

I am having to make a few more stops, but have been able to keep mileage pretty close to what I was doing. Interesting thing is finding some neat things along the way.

I also need to note that the Aldi near me has much better produce than the one I used to shop. At the previous, that section could literally stink. At this one, it looks like it is worked daily and I’ve been finding some wonderful stuff including avocados which I use every day. Their avocados beat all the other stores easily on price and quality.

As I noted on Twitter earlier, I got some New Orleans French Roast coffee beans (with chicory) from The Fresh Market yesterday. Tried them this morning and while it is not the same as sitting at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans (and eating things I’m not supposed to eat), but it is a good second. The Fresh Market does bulk coffees, and the price works out close to what most stores charge. Pro tip: whole beans last longer, just like whole grains, and are better for prep (and coffee in my highly biased opinion). Also, before buying from that bulk bin, check those beans out. If dry and dull, skip. Good fresh beans will have an oily sheen to them. That said, you really need to buy the sealed and pre-done bags of whole bean for prep. They also have some amazing deals each day of the week.

I was buying Seattle’s Best Post Alley beans, but that is one of the few things I’ve not been able to find at other stores. In fact, most stores have even less a selection of whole bean coffees than Kroger these days. May have to save up and see about ordering direct. Sadly, I was paying $4.99 a bag before the election. Now, $7-$8 is not unusual for it. That’s one reason the bulk at The Fresh Market works out about the same, or even less if careful.

The other thing are supplements. I had switched some to Kroger brand, but will switch to others of similar quality or even higher if the price is right. Going to have to explore that a bit more here soon, time to stock up again. May be one of the things I get from the big box (WallyWorld, Meijer, etc.) stores.

Fresh Thyme does have some bulk (no coffee) and a number of products that are hard to find elsewhere. I also love the bulk meats, especially bacon. They have sold me as little as three slices (needed for cooking) and when I can I like to splurge and get six or so pieces to have Saturday morning. Yes, I do save my bacon drippings. 🙂

Even without all the coupons I used to get and use, coming out a bit cheaper on my boycott. That said, if you are on Twitter and want to save, follow The Crazy Coupon Lady for a lot of good tips and bargains.


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo or drop me a line to discuss other methods. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Something Different

Don’t know about you, but I could use a break from the super serious today. Nuclear war, the state of the Republic (no, we are NOT a democracy, thank goodness), and all else that is going on can get one down and/or raise BP to bad levels. So, something different.

I’ve always had interesting and vivid dreams. Last night, I swear I did NOT have Welsh rarebit for dinner. Yes, having eaten the real deal, I do subscribe to it giving strange/horrible/other dreams. Let’s just say that in my dreams last night my bathroom suddenly expanded to ten times its current size, began flooding, and the newborn ponies (!) turned into something else as the waters rose. Yeah. No idea. None.

While I didn’t have Welsh rarebit, what I did have last night was an amazing Murgh Makhani, better know to many as Butter Chicken.

The basic recipe is here, and was shared with me by an author and editor I know down in Chattanooga. It is a little involved, but well worth the time and effort. I will also get three to five meals out of it. My major mods to the recipe were: I used plain Greek yoghurt instead of regular, may choose regular next time just to try it; where it called for red chili powder I used a mix of chipotle and red pepper; and, where it called for salt I went 50/50 on Himalayan and hickory smoked salt. The pepper mix did kick the heat up somewhat but also helped add to the richness via the smokiness of the chipotle. This was enhanced by the smoked salt.

I also marinated the chicken for 48 hours instead of just overnight. Part of that was time issues and part was curiosity.

The result was a rich (do use the heavy cream) dish with layers of flavor, intense spice, and a nice level of heat. I used chicken thighs this time, but probably will use breast next time to try for more uniform-sized pieces. I do try to keep keto, but will recommend garlic naan with this dish, and basmati rice should work well too.



If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Wild Food

This started yesterday with a thread on Twitter about the wildest game you had eaten. Now, this was more of a challenge than I would like thanks to the stupid lightning. There are 5 or so areas of cognition, and in testing I still come in above average in all. That said, there is one area where there are issues, which include fun with short term memory, issues working through things when there are distractions, and the fact that memories and data are scrambled. I’ve been told that most of them are still there, but that it will be three years before the brain heals and we can fully access what, if anything, has been lost. I’ve likened it to reaching for something in the drawer where it used to be, and it not being there.

So, the challenge has allowed me to do some exploration and I’m delighted with some of the results. I grew up eating venison, love quail, not so fond of dove, brown and rainbow trout, and have had bream, perch, and a variety of fish. I’ve eaten elk, bison, kangaroo, wild boar, octopus in various forms, squid, whelks, eel, alligator, rattlesnake (I think), goat, lamb, mutton, squirrel, rabbit, snail, brains of various types, and I know I am forgetting some. Now, for some fun.

I’ve always been a foodie, and even worked in a nationally rated restaurant for a while to learn more about cooking. Long before the Food Network existed, I watched cooking and food shows on PBS, which led me to two excellent restaurants in Seattle when I first visited there. I can’t remember the names, and it is frustrating because at one place my compliments earned me a standing invitation to eat at the Chef’s table in the kitchen.

I can still remember that table, and a bit about the layout of the kitchen. I also remember that when you ate at his table, there was no menu. Instead, the Chef and his line cooks prepared things based off of what was fresh, etc. It might start with a golden mouthful of deliciousness or three, or be a larger portion. No set number of courses, and everything was delicious. Sadly, I also seem to remember that the restaurant is no longer there as the Chef passed away.

Seattle was the site of several tasty adventures. The Athenian in Pike Place Market was amazing. When I traveled, I tried to avoid eating at the same place twice. After my first breakfast there, I went back the next day — it was that good. Not only tasty, but huge portions and great coffee. I didn’t feel like eating again until dinner. When I arrived that next morning, I was disappointed to see a reserved sign on the booth where I had eaten the day before, as it had a great view of the harbor. The waitress who had waited on me just smiled, told me not to worry, she had known I would be back and had reserved it for me.

Some of the best Russian food I’ve had outside of Russia was at Kaleenka in Seattle. The best Russian food I’ve had in Russia was at Podvorye in St. Petersburg. I had my driver and translator join myself and a young lady, and we feasted family style there, trying many different things. My inner Hobbit was delighted at the Russian love for mushrooms. Pity I’ll never be allowed to go back to Russia, as would not mind eating there again.

I had heard that it was one of Vladimir’s favorite places, and then either Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern went there and ate for their show. While I enjoyed both shows, it seems that I’ve gotten more good steers from Mr. Zimmern. I love him for introducing me to a cheese monger in Paris, though my wallet continues to curse him every time I go there. Yes, I did indeed meet Anthony Bourdain. The man had his demons, and I ask you to pray for his soul. I can’t remember the name of the cheese monger, but pretty sure I can look it up if needed, and that I may even remember how to get to his shop.

Paris. Ah, Paris. Two quick rules for eating well anywhere in the world. First, if the restaurant has a busker, run. There’s a reason they don’t have repeat business. Second, follow your nose. I’ve had a number of excellent meals in Paris that came from myself or a companion going “That smells good” and tracking down the source of the smells. I remember one night doing that and ending up sitting at a counter watching the mad ballet that is restaurant cooking and having the chef working about two feet away from me. We got to talking and he gave me his list (sadly lost) of the top ten places to eat in Paris.

His name and the list got me into Le Pantruche for lunch the next day. Absolutely the best sweetbreads I’ve ever had. Would love to eat there again one day. The best mussels I’ve had were in Paris. Again, can’t remember the name of the place though I do remember quite well how we ended up eating there. The rule against buskers does not apply to having a companion all but tackled by a member of the restaurant staff because they are wandering around Paris with an antique film camera and the staff member is a photography buff. After a nice discussion on photography, we decided that we would just eat dinner there. Mussels with a bleu cheese sauce was my choice, and they were delicious. Best mussels I’ve had in the U.S. were in Baltimore at a place called Bertha’s.

I also have to admit that one of the worst restaurant meals I’ve ever had was in Paris. I have no desire to remember the name of the place in question, since the meal was not only not good, I had to go back to where I was staying and brush not only my teeth, but my tongue, cheeks, etc. to get the taste out of my mouth. Went to a good place and had oysters from Brittany to have a last good meal before leaving Paris that time.

I remember a LOT of good meals on the local in Iraq. Both embeds saw me eating on the local a fair bit, from Ramadan feasts to one of the most amazing Christmas dinners I’ve ever had. An Iraqi family had adopted some of our troops, and told them that since they were giving up their homes, holidays, and families that they would give them their holidays back. I’m told Thanksgiving had no turkey, but great food. I was invited along for the Christmas dinner, and have photos of the feast in one of my photo books. Pro tip: If in the Middle East, don’t drink three cups of the concentrated coffee and eighteen chais and expect to sleep anytime soon.

Japan was an adventure. When traveling somewhere, I try to learn to say please, thank you, and ‘what would you have’ in the local language. In Japan, I also had to include no shellfish as I am unfortunately allergic to shrimp, crab, and lobster (actually the iodine in them, makes imaging contrast fun). In Tokyo, I wandered into an area that didn’t see many tourists and found my way into a restaurant where if they could get it on a skewer, they would grill it for you. We went from ‘we don’t get many tourists (gaijin) here’ to ‘oooh, try this’ in near record time.

At another establishment, also well off the tourist path in another city, I had either the strangest fowl I’ve ever had or roof rabbit (cat). I decided I didn’t really want to know, and instead focused on the fact it was tasty. Don’t know what it was marinated in, but the smell when it cooked on a small grill at my place was amazing and it delicious. The owner spoke zero English, and my Japanese was/is limited, with a fair bit of it technical from working a joint American/Japanese shuttle mission. Probably for the best.

I also did something on that trip I didn’t think was possible: I unagi’d out. Unagi is a sushi featuring grilled/smoked eel. I probably ate my body weight in it while there. I have not eaten it again, ever, since that trip.

The final restaurant adventure I remember from Japan was eating sushi at a place not too far from the conference where we were presenting papers. The sushi chef was a character, with being grumpy a trademark. Challenge accepted. As soon as he could, he moved me from the side to directly in front of the fish case. I would point and hold up one or two fingers, to indicate how many pieces I wanted. Sometimes, he would shake his head, and point to something else in the case and hold up one or two fingers. Not a clue what they were, but his suggestions were amazing. By the time I was done, he had his hand up more than once to cover a smile.

Best Korean I’ve had was at the much missed Seoul House in Chicago. A nice older Korean couple ran it, and she admitted to me that they served American-Korean until they got to know you (or you were part of the Korean community). Once they knew you, and they knew you could handle it, you would get Korean-Korean. As she put it ‘When we open, we fixed Korean-Korean — customer never come back. We make American-Korean, much business.’ I can’t remember the name of the dish, but it was fire meat with pickled veggies and marinated buckwheat noodles. Seem to remember that there was an egg in there too.

Best Mexican, so far, was at the Cafe Florida in Juarez, Mexico, many, many years ago. It was my first taste of real Mexican cooking, though my real (not official) godmother could do a great job cooking Mexican.

Most interesting food I’ve had recently was at Smoke’N Ash BBQ in Arlington, Texas. American BBQ, Ethiopian cuisine, and some amazing fusions between the two. She’s from Ethiopia, he’s from here, and between them they do some truly amazing food. Highly recommended.

Best pulled pork barbecue is Bar-B-Cuties in Nashville; best ribs belong to Fresh Aire barbecue in Jackson, Georgia; and, honorable mention to Fincher’s Bar-B-Que in my hometown of Macon, Georgia who saw it’s work fly in space as the late Sonny Carter’s special meal. Not sure about now, but back in the day the astronauts got to request one meal per flight, and Sonny wanted Fincher’s — and got it.

Best Indian I’ve had was in Pitlochry, Scotland at a mom&pop place who’s name I can’t remember. Best German is split between two places in/near Landstuhl, Germany. Best Greek was a mom&pop who’s name I can’t remember in Salt Lake City. If you ever head to Normandy, can recommend a couple of places near/on Omaha Beach.

This has been fun, and while not remembering all the names, I’m delighted with how much I do remember. Thinking back on this has made me smile more than once. Good way to start the day.


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Two Variations On Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The Final Product

Sunday, I made a batch of broccoli cheddar soup. New recipe, designed for those on Keto, and to do one batch, I had to get enough ingredients to do two batches. Works for me on more than one level, and it gave me the chance to experiment. The first batch was okay, but not quite where I wanted to be. Today, I made a batch with a slightly modified recipe, and then I added a Morroccan-style chicken to it.


1/4 white onion, finely diced

2 stalks of celery, finely diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 cups chicken stock

4 cups chopped fresh broccoli

2 cups heavy cream

16 oz. block of extra sharp cheddar, grated

8 oz. block of sharp cheddar, grated


smoked salt


sweet and hot smoked paprika (optional)

1t Zanthan gum (optional)


Sweat the onion, celery, and garlic (add salt and pepper to it as you start, I use a bit of smoked salt to add to the flavor) over medium heat until soft. Add the two cups of stock, put lid in place, and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then, add in the broccoli, re-cover, and simmer over medium heat for an additional 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream, stir, re-cover, and simmer an additional 10 minutes on slightly reduced heat. Add grated cheddar a handful at a time, stirring until dissolved, repeat step many times. If you are going to use the Zanthan Gum to thicken, take some of the soup and use it to make a slurry with it, then add it to the soup. Re-cover and let simmer for another ten minutes. Taste, adjust as needed, and add smoked paprika at this point.

Halfway There
Halfway there

PRO TIP: don’t try to use pre-shredded cheese from the store. The agents they use to keep it from caking will prevent it from dissolving. If you are melting cheese, always grate it yourself.

Pre-cooked Chicken Awaiting Its Time To Join In

Today, I used the above, and added to it with the broccoli some diced chicken thighs that I had coated with olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked pepper, and Ras El Hanout, then cooked up before I started the soup. Plan to experiment more with chicken and Ras as I really liked how it tasted. The chicken I did today really seems to work very well with the soup, making it into a complete meal (IMO).


Moroccan Stew

I’ve bought a pressure canner to do some canning this summer, and one of the things I want to can are what I call complete meals. That is, they have everything in them for a complete meal. I’ve also been wanting to play around with some spice mixes that came my way: berbere and Ras El Hanout.

Berbere is Ethiopian and there are possibly thousands of variations. The one I got is not as hot as some, but does pack some nice warmth if not heat on top of some interesting flavors. Ras El Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend (though an Algerian-born acquaintance swears it is Algerian). It has a little bit of warmth to it, and some amazing and exotic (to American palates) flavors.

I’d experimented a small bit with them, when the idea of doing a stew popped into my head. Thus, I did a trial run this weekend and have very much enjoyed the results.

I started by cutting chicken thighs up into cubes, coating them with olive oil, then hitting them with salt, pepper, and a healthy dose of the berbere mix. They went on skewers and into my smoker at 350 degrees to roast.

While that was going on, I diced up a yellow onion and began sweating it in the pot. Once it got where I wanted it (translucent for the most part, bit of caramelization), I added in dice portobello mushrooms, diced zucchini, and diced fire-roasted tomatoes. I then added salt, pepper, and several tablespoons of the Ras El Hanout mix.

Most of the chicken then came off the skewers and into the pot. No, not all of it as I did some quality control, in fact a bit more than normal as it was very, very good. Once in, I let it simmer for a while.

I had it for dinner last night, and it was delicious. Rich, full of flavor, and a decent amount of heat that helped the other flavors pop without being too hot if I share any of it. Three containers (potentially up to six single servings) in the freezer.

The only thing I think I would do differently is to add crushed/minced garlic to the onion as it was sweating. The garlic should work well with both spice blends, and add a bit more depth to an already rich dish.

For now I’m calling it Moroccan stew, but since it is a blend of Moroccan and Ethiopian, need to come up with a better name. Maybe next time inspiration will strike with a name to go with the recipe.

Paleo Pancakes

So I don’t lose it, here’s my current recipe for paleo pancakes.

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup packed almond flour
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar
  • water
  • coconut oil
  • Options: almond extract, vanilla, nuts, cinnamon, ground clove, ground nutmeg

In a bowl, beat the 8 eggs until well blended. Then add honey, any extracts or spices or nuts, salt, and the baking soda and beat until thoroughly mixed. Then, add the almond flour and beat until smooth. Then add the arrowroot and beat until the mixture is smooth. Then add the coconut flour and repeat. Add water to get the desired consistency.

Cook in a skillet on the stove in coconut oil. Makes 10-12 pancakes.