Monday, February 25, 2013

Making Mayo... sort of

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a foodie. I love everything about food; where it's grown, how it's grown, the history of regional favorites, nutrition, and especially HOW TO MAKE STUFF!

Starting this Friday, March 1st, I'm doing a Whole30 challenge. Whole30 is a dietary approach based on a paleolithic framework. The Whole30 Challenge is a kind of cleanse to reset your metabolism, flush your system of toxins, and discover what food(s) may be to blame for some of your "not so good" feelings (bloating, gas, chronic inflammation, headaches, constipation/diarrhea, fatigue... you get the idea). I am doing the Whole30 Challenge to get my insulin resistance in check. Assuming I feel as fantastic as others who have tried this feel, I will continue following a paleolithic diet.

In preparation for my Whole30 Challenge I bought a paleo cookbook (and bookmarked a BILLION paleo recipes and blogs). The cookbook I chose is Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso. I like that she has a nice introduction with some basics and an easy, no-fuss approach. One thing she suggests is to make some of the staples ahead of time, such as mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and BBQ sauce, as these will be used in recipes during the week. And thus my adventure into homemade mayo began...

I LOVE grocery shopping. Truly. If it were a profession, I'd do it. If I could find people to hire me to shop for them, I would. One thing I love to do while shopping is READ LABELS (what can I say... I'm naturally curious). Have you checked out the ingredients in mayonnaise? The jar in my fridge lists 20 ingredients... TWENTY!! Sure, it has eggs, oil, vinegar, and salt, but it also has modified food starch, sugar, beta carotene, lactic acid, potassium sorbate, phosphoric acid, water, soybean oil. No thank you! There is a nice easy looking recipe in Everyday Paleo for homemade mayo (I also happen to have a few friends who've made their own and they swear by it).

I bought an immersion blender (aka stick blender) because I thought it'd be the best tool for the job. Not sure if the one I bought was 1) cheap, therefore crappy 2) too powerful, therefore overheats or 3) not the right tool for the job. The first problem was that I have to hold the button on the stick blender (versus just pushing a button to turn it on/off), so my finger literally got a cramp and I couldn't hold the button long enough. The second (and more serious) problem was the issue of overheating. You have to blend this stuff for close to 30 minutes and this stick blender was HOT to the touch... no good. My oil and eggs did not emulsify and I ended up wasting a bunch olive oil and eggs... FAIL. I was also out of eggs and olive oil.

Little did I know, I could have attempted to save this batch. After my failed attempt I looked online to see if I could find a demo... and voila. I also discovered you can save "failed" mayo by re-emulsifying it.

The following day, I restocked my supplies and tried again. This time I used a hand blender, you know the kind you use to mix cake batter. I also made sure my eggs were room temperature. I started the process again, this time my eggs and oil did emulsify, however, the emulsion never thickened. Instead of tossing, yet another, batch of failed mayo I attempted to re-emulsify the batch. It got thicker, but more like really creamy dressing, not spreadable mayo. I saved this batch, if nothing else it'll make yummy salad dressing.

I also made a date with my friend, Cindy, who has been making homemade mayo for a while now and won't ever go back to store-bought.

Wish me luck on my Whole30!! I'll be making homemade beef jerky next week:)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who's Representing?!

I'm not one to write to my representatives/senators unless it's something that is super important to me. The GMO labeling bill is such an issue, so I wrote an email to my 2 representatives (one is a democrat one is a republican). I sent the EXACT same email. These were the responses I received... can you guess which response belongs to each?
Email: I am writing to you to URGE you to support the bill “An Act to Protect Maine Food Consumers Right to Know”. As I am sure you are aware, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are gaining a strong foothold in our food system and are present, in some form, in 80% of foods (mostly in the form of GMO corn products). The long term effects of these franken-foods are unknown. Help give Mainers the ability to make an INFORMED decision regarding their food choices by requiring disclosure of foods that are GMO or contain GMOs. I cannot even begin to express to you how important this issue is, not only to our food, but also to our health, and environment. WE NEED TO KNOW!


Response #1: Dear Tara,
Thanks for sharing your concerns and thoughts with me. Yesterday I signed on to Rep. Harvell's bill on GMO labeling; the bill is being promoted by Maine Organic Farmer's and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). I expect it will have strong bi-partisan support. If you would like to be on my email newsletter list I will add your name and it will allow you to keep up to date on issues such as this one. Please reply to this email with your permission to be added to that list.
I appreciate you taking the time to contact me.
Name of Rep

Response #2: Thanks. Name of Rep.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sugar Addiction

Confession time: Thursday February 7th I started a sugar detox. I'm committed to going sugar free (last summer I was diagnosed with insulin resistance... next stop diabetes!) I've tried this before with only short, limited success (that was BEFORE the diagnosis), now that it is a DO or DIE (pun totally intended) I have to get serious about my sugar issues. This is where my tale begins...
I seriously need help. I'm in the kitchen whipping up a batch of carrot-ginger soup (the epitome of healthy yummy goodness, right? carrots, onion, ginger, garlic, broth...). I'm searching the pantry hoping to find some chicken bouillon since I was 2 cups short on the chicken broth, and that's when it happened.

Behind the big bag of spices tucked in the corner was a half full bag of dark chocolate chips. I gave them to Andy earlier in the week to keep with his stuff for a sweet treat. I looked in his cupboard and THAT bag was still there... this was a SECOND bag. I must have missed them when I cleaned out all the sugar-laden stuff earlier this week. Like a true addict-in-recovery I panicked. Andy was outside shoveling... no one would EVER KNOW!! In a weak moment, I quickly inhaled two little handfuls, looking around as I chomped them down, hoping not to get caught! Lucy was the only witness and she just looked up at me with a quizzical look on her face. Shame and guilt immediately took over me and I THREW the rest in the trash!

WHY am I so weak!? This is ridiculous, it's SUGAR. It's LEGAL. It's IN EVERYTHING. I'm only on Day Fricken 3 of my detox!!!!

I need serious help. A 12-step program perhaps? A sugar therapist? Perhaps a sugar free sponsor?

This is going to be harder than I thought. If you see me with something containing sugar in it, grab it from me!!!