Our First Paleo Thanksgiving #TBT

 This will be our 4th Paleo Thanksgiving… My, how time flies when you’re having fun.
Once again, we will roast a local pastured Ferndale Farms turkey and serve it with sweet
potatoes, veggies and something pumpkin or apple for dessert.  Let the feasting begin!
Lego Feast
We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house for the first time in a few years, which meant NO TRAVEL (Yeah!) and we were not required to navigate a buffet avoiding sugars, grains, legumes, dairy and nightshades, resulting in a pile of dry turkey and small spoonful of squash.
Our menu was much more satisfying: a 15-pound local, pastured roast turkey with gravy made from drippings and bone broth stock; baked sweet potatoes; acorn and delicata squash; haricot verts sauteed with bacon, onions and mushrooms; chocolate coconut milk “pudding” and pumpkin coconut milk “pudding”  sweetened with maple syrup
Mmm…drooling just remembering it…
.
That turkey fed the five of us for Thanksgiving and was so good it lasted (the 3 of us) only another 2 days, including a batch of turkey stock.
We used America’s Test Kitchen’s turkey roasting technique, which involves a 1/2 sheet pan and cooling rack, with mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) and broth under the rack, and the turkey parts on top for roasting.  Drippings and added bone broth reduced to make the gravy.
Baked the squash and sweet potatoes, sautéed the beans and made no-bake custards using coconut cream (separated from coconut milk).  [I highly recommend Lake Champlain’s Organic Cocoa for excellent chocolate flavor!]
Sorry, but there are no photos this time – I was too busy enjoying the meal!  😀

New Kittens!

Regular readers will do a double-take when they see our new furbabies!

A week ago they arrived at our house courtesy of a friend that rescued them from feral living.  After some adjustment, they’ve become quite at home here with us.  Panda was rather accepting from the beginning, but Raven still has to be won over completely.  She will tolerate them up to a distance of about 2 feet, but any closer = hissy-fit time.

It’s so ironic that the cats look alike – it was fate!

Remi 11-14-2015

Mr. Remi(ington)

Ella 11-14-2015b

Miss Ella

Panda

Panda

Raven

Raven

feeding kittens 1a

Who needs a dog when you have two growing kittens in the house?! Max has already learned to feed them off his tray – and has a grand time doing it.

MN BlogCon 2015

mnblogcon15-attendee

The 6th annual Minnesota Blogger Conference was held last Saturday in St. Paul, MN.

Highly informative breakout sessions and a great opportunity to meet fellow (local) bloggers made the event worthwhile.  WordPress and Securi were there to answer our most pressing questions, and there was even a professional photographer providing discounted headshots.

BlogCon 3

Twin Cities public relations operative Arik Hanson speaks to a jam-packed room at the Minnesota Bloggers Conference in St. Paul on Saturday, Nov. 14. Hanson spoke about seven new trends in blogging. (Pioneer Press: Julio Ojeda-Zapata) Standing room only! An excellent presentation on blog trends. That’s me in the upper left corner in white!

All considered, it was definitely worth the price of admission!

BlogCon 2a

I think I need to practice my selfie skills. LOL

MNBlogCon-Keynote-2015-760x200

#MNBlogCon

Red Apple Lipstick’s Winter Collection is Coming 11/16!

Red Apple Lipstick makes the BEST gluten-free, paraben-free safe makeup!  I’ve been a devoted fan for years and look forward to each season’s new colors.  Here they are for Winter!

RAL Winter

These gorgeous shades of lipsticks, glosses and eyeliners go on sale November 16th.  
Click this image to sign up to get access to the sale and a 20% VIP discount.

Check out all of their products, including eyeshadows and mascara – all gluten-free and safe!

RAL Winter eyeliners

RAL logo-1-8-14

*oink oink* Piggy Fat! (Rendering Lard in the Instant Pot)

berkshire hogs 3

Pastured Berkshire Hogs

Finding pastured pork/bacon can be challenging – even here in (agricultural) Minnesota.
Once finding a source, the supply is NOT guaranteed either!   

At a recent Farmers’ Market, I located a farm that produces pastured beef, pork, poultry and eggs (which happens to be near where I grew up in Central MN) and was so excited!  The initial sampling of beef and eggs were outstanding, so you can imagine my disappointment when told they were out of bacon for the season.  *sob*  Oh, The Horror!

Pastured piggy fat is one of the few food sources with any appreciable amount of vitamin D, which we really need here in the Northland winters.  So, after a moment to calm myself, I perused the menu and saw pork organ/back fat on the list.  Did they still have some in stock?  Yes, one package in the trailer.   Score!  Only I had to render it myself.  Sure, I could buy a jar on Thrive Market, but it wouldn’t be local or as fresh.

How hard could it be?  I took to the Paleosphere and read a few blog posts and decided to do it crockpot-style in my Instant Pot.  [This appliance has been an incredible help in the kitchen as a pressure cooker, and I’ve used it for beef, poultry, root veggies and curcurbits with great success.  As an aside, if you have little ones with hands that reach the stovetop like I do, it’s a huge help safety-wise as it can be kept on the counter out of reach and is insulated should it be touched.]

I cut up the slabs of back fat into cubes and set the Instant Pot to Slow Cook (vented, of course!)

It took much longer than expected on the slow cooker setting, so I opened the pot and continued on the Meat/Stew setting, stirring occasionally.  Once most of the fat was melted, I strained it, removed the pot from the base and finished rendering on the stovetop for better heat control.  Apparently it is better to take the time to cut up the fat into really small pieces.

Lard 4

It’s getting there!

All told, I got 3x the amount of lard at 30% less cost than buying it finished.
And got a jar of tasty cracklings to boot!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Halloween 2008a

Boo!

Another food-centered holiday – a minefeld for those of us with celiac and/or food allergies.
We will again be distributing an allergy-friendly treat for Halloween (Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops) and participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

Teal Pumpkin

Teal Pumpkin Project

Trick-or-Treating is fun, so we let our son(s) do the rounds in the neighborhood with Daddy and bring home their stash for sorting (minus a few safe bites).  We use the Gluten-Free Candy List 2015 to verify GF safety and have ourselves a little gorge-fest (and ensuing sugar coma), then buy the rest of it from the kiddo(s) to send with Daddy to the office the next day.  All unsafe candy automatically goes into that pile from the get-go.

The boys got to wear their costumes last weekend at the Arboretum’s Ghouls & Giggles Event.
There was a Teddy Bear Band and Trick-or-Treating along a trail in the woods.  The maples were gorgeous, and everythign smelled like Fall.

I chose the astronaut costume for baby, and older brother decided to match.  Daddy is always telling people that Big Bro will invent the first Warp-Core Engine and double-dog dare Baby to fly it.  Gotta be an astronaut to do that, right?!

All that sugar impairs immunity.  And every year like clockwork, all the kids at school get sick right after Halloween.  One year, poor Alex even developed pneumonia.  Oy, that was scary!
This year we are prepared – above and beyond eating nutrient-dense foods and vitamin D.
I armed myself with a bottle of Young Living’s Thieves essential oil.  Legend has it, this oil protected four thieves from the Black Plague back in the Dark Ages.  It really seems to work!  If there is a hint of illness approaching, I place a few drops in a diffuser at bedtime (only for those of us older than 6!) and it works its magic.  Science has verified the power of essential oil medicinal compounds.  They are often superior to conventional antimicrobials and they do not develop resistant strains of pathogens.  Lavender and Frankincense are safe for (conservative) use on babies, while peppermint should never be used on anyone under the age of 6.

I have been learning about and using essential oils for a few months now, and I must say I am impressed.  Veriditas Botanicals (local Minneapolis company) have been my favorite products, although I also use Aura Cacia, Young Living and Mercola (all organic versions only!)

Here’s wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween!

National Cat Day

Someone posted on Facebook that it’s National Cat Day.

Around here, every day is Cat Day!  LOL    *meow*