Saturday, April 28, 2012

The booze thing, from the paleo/primal perspective

I come from a long line of regular drinkers. Some, but not by any means most, of those regular drinkers were not only consistent; they were excessive... pretty significantly excessive -- like, in at least one instance that I know of (an "uncle" a few generations removed or something), fall-down-drunk, fracture-your-skull and die-in-a-holding-cell excessive.

So, knowing the stories, I have always had a sort of, er, respect for what the hootch might do to me if allowed to ramble unchecked through my life with wanton abandon. And, mind you, in my twenties, there was just enough alcohol-fueled wanton abandon at times to raise at least small levels of concern. But, other than that pretty brief period, it's never been an issue of addiction.

But for years you could set a clock to my daily evening beer -- just one, maybe two. Hell, I *brewed* some pretty impressive beers back then. I could kick your ass with the taste of a fancy Belgian, or amuse you with the simplicity of an American lager, and everything in between. Eventually, some red wine replaced the beer. Then, many years later, I went primal/paleo and discovered the joys of single-malt scotch.

It's delicious, smoky and peaty, by the way.

So, basically for the last 30 years or so, I have been a one-or-two/day guy in the drink department. Rarely excessive, except for those few bad days in my twenties, but regular as all hell. The drink of choice has varied, but the steadiness of the consumption has not.

And, by and large, traditionally I have a pretty long fuse in the anger department. It takes a *lot* to set me off. But, conversely, *if* I go off, there are caves in Afghanistan where you'd rather be than near me. I have always been a pretty fundamentally happy person -- but get to know me well and there's always been, way down in there somewhere, a nasty, caustic motherfucker who really should not see the light of day. And, fortunately, he almost never comes out to, um, play.

So.... What's the connection, you might ask? Y'know, between booze and *that* guy.

Honestly, I don't *know* if there is one. It is never as simple as the classic "get drunk and turn into a different person" that you see in the movies. I don't *get* drunk at this juncture of my life. But I still think there is a chemical relationship, some sort of cumulative buildup of toxins from the regular nature of the drinking that, to use a technical medical term, fucks me up in the subtlest of ways.

See, lately I haven't been drinking at all. About three weeks before my recent elbow surgery, I stopped entirely as part of more global strategy to eliminate every last piece of pro-inflammatory food from my diet. I figured that, at age 49, not only should I do that *post*-surgery for obvious anti-inflammatory reasons, but also that it wouldn't hurt to go *into* surgery in as non-inflamed of a state as possible.

There was one slip-up -- a pair of freaking horrible, sweet, disgusting margaritas at a gathering of CrossFit friends a few days before the elbow got cut open. It was gross. And it is the last drink I have had.

So, that was five weeks ago yesterday, and, well, I feel fucking fantastic. I have told you previously here and here just how amazing my mood has been.

Is it the complete lack of booze? I don't know, and, if you know anything about my fundamentally libertarian nature, you know that, really, I do not care what *you* choose to do in your personal life. There is no crusade here.

But I have to wonder about how the drinks affect me long-term in the mood department. Christ, there are just *no* lows in my mood right now. People who usually annoy the living shit out of me are nothing but a small dandruff flake to be brushed away. And, meanwhile, the good times aren't just good. They vary between full-on amazing and just a small blip below that.

I am a firm believer that, fundamentally, we are mostly just a giant series of chemical reactions going on. Brain chemistry, body chemistry.... It's all chemistry. And, just like a paleo/primal approach to eating more generally gets your body off of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of hormonal spikes and crashes, could it be that knocking out the booze has a fundamentally profound mood-smoothing/elevating affect?

I don't know, but I have my suspicions. And those "suspicions" are strong enough at the moment that you could put a bottle of Laphroaig 10, or even Lagavulin 16 (or their "distiller's edition".... Good lord) in front of me right now and, no matter how much Ron Swanson digs that stuff, I wouldn't touch it. Pass the seltzer with lime, or the coffee. And make sure it's awesome.

I suspect that the militancy of my own personal position will mellow. But I also think that, at most, I am going to approach booze like I approach dessert. I don't care about dessert. It fucks me up. I almost never eat it. But every now and then, as I have told you, a duck-egg creme brûlée makes everything more delicious.

I am betting that someday I will feel the same way about Scotland's finest.

But not right now. For the moment, I am riding the crest of a wave of awesome.

And it's fucking fantastic up here. But if you are pulling shots of espresso, I'll take three. No, make it four.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Paleo "ice cream" (coconut milk and frozen fruit)

I hope we have firmly established that very few, if any, of my "recipes" are really recipes at all. They are so stupidly simple that they better qualify as just
"good ideas." Fortunately, deliciousness is not compromised significantly in the process of simplification. In fact, if anything, it is enhanced because the food ends up in my gaping maw faster this way.

(Although I should digress for a moment and say that if someone who actually knew what he or she was doing with food -- other than shoving it in -- did just a few modifications/additions to this one, said chef-like person could have a desserty concoction that could rival the duck-egg creme brûlée at The Pickled Heron. Get on that, please).

This time, I may be pushing the envelope from "simple" to "just plain dumb."

But, holy jebus, it's delicious.

See, I don't have a sweet tooth that controls my life. I like barely-sweet-at-all dark chocolate much better than milk chocolate. I don't really crave desserts, the aforementioned creme brûlée being the exception. And I don't find paleo/primal eating to be a drag or a challenge because I am sugar-deprived. But I know many of you are in hardcore sugar/sweets withdrawal at the moment.

And,yeah, ice cream *is* delicious.

But ice cream is not paleo. Ice cream is not even primal. Ice cream is, frankly, a pretty effed-up thing to eat with any regularity. But coconut milk is good for you. It has lauric acid in it -- an amino acid you can otherwise only get from breast milk -- and, every time I check, my local Whole Foods is out of breast milk. (In fact, did you know they have security guards at Whole Foods that handle certain questions from customers?) So eat this instead, and feel all righteous about it while you're doing it. I swear that this may be the paleo "recipe" that most makes you think, "You have got to be effing kidding me.... How can this possibly be good for me *and* so damn delicious?"

Do this:

Buy a bag of frozen fruit that has no added sugar. In fact, it should have no added *anything*. Wegmans has a store brand called "Just Picked" that has one ingredient: fruit. It looks like this:

Put some of the fruit, still frozen, in a bowl. Pour coconut milk over it. (Canned coconut milk. Full-fat canned coconut milk. Not some low-fat slop. And not the crap in the crappy carton that has crappy ingredients.... Did you know that even a new thesaurus will spontaneously explode if you don't use it?). The coconut milk instantly freezes into a mushy concoction that, when mixed with the fruit even a little, resembles super-fatty beautiful ice cream in more than just a small way. Except it is good for you. I just had it with cherries:

And if you want to get wild sometimes and throw in some chunks of super-high (like 86%) cacao dark chocolate, as long as you are not trying to comply with the rules of a paleo challenge you will be even happier.

Oh, and one small caveat: stick with small fruits, like cherries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. if you try this stunt with frozen peaches, your dentist will be the first person you call.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yum Yum, Team 1

This is utterly personal, has nothing to do with music or paleo eating, and probably doesn't belong on this blog, but, screw it. I'm the only one here and I am in such a good mood over this. Skip it if you choose.

See, for the last five years, from January through April, I have played in a rec co-ed "non-competitive" volleyball league in Philly called SLAM. Our teams don't have clever names, just numbers. All along I have been on Team 1. It is a group of 11 funny, smart people, and I think I have previously made it clear that I love funny, smart people. I really love my teammates. They make me laugh. I sometimes make them laugh, and they always put up with my burning (it's a bit much, really) desire to win. Some of them even share it, truth be told (but yeah.... It's a bit much, really).

You would not, however, pick us out of a photo lineup as stud volleyball players. We have some great players, mind you, but we don't really look the part. One of us is in his sixties, three (me being one of them) about to turn 50 over the next few months; no one's going to mistake us for the Olympic team based on looks. In fact, I suspect that we are older -- on average -- than most of the league.

But, damn, we play well together, and we have fun. We have stupid, goofball cheers to start each game, and from each restart from a time-out ("Yum, yum, Team 1" being the stupidest and, consequently, the most-used).

But some of us (me being one) also have a sort-of annoying tendency towards self-loathing -- really beating ourselves up over bad plays. And you know how that goes.... It's a downward spiral of Suck once it begins, and oh-so-hard to extract yourself from.

We also have an equally annoying tendency to do very very well in the regular season, and then lose in either the semifinals or the finals of the playoffs. (Yeah, why does a "non-competitive" league have playoffs? I dunno. I would be fine without them, but if we have 'em, I would like to try and win them, y'know). Three seasons in a row we have done just that -- great regular season, and lose in the semis or the finals.

So, this season, playoffs on paper just didn't scream: "Team 1 championship." Not only did we have the precedent of three years in a row of disappointing playoff performances, but we also lost more regular-season matches, and individual games, than we had in four years. We finished in second place, but it was a sloppy season, fraught with non-volleyball complications. Alan and his wife had their first kid together in February. Scott's work schedule made him miss a lot of games. Various kids got sick a lot at one point. Jim was going to miss most of playoffs. I had super-invasive elbow surgery, and thought March 20 was my last game, but, three weeks later (15 days after surgery) decided to give a comeback a shot. And then Team 8 pummeled us twice during the season and I never even knew who was on their team because I missed both games. In fact, a lot of us missed a bunch of regular-season games. We seemed a little unfocused.

It all was adding up to another disappointing playoff run.

But something told me not to be like that.

So we won the first two rounds of the playoffs relatively easily. But then we drew the dreaded Team 8 in the semis, and I think everyone wondered what the deal would be. So, in my role as amateur giver of stupid pre-game speeches, on the drive to the game, I thought of three possibilities to rally the troops. All were intended to "keep it light" but through vastly different methods.

The first idea was a (fairly predictable) faux take on my over-competitiveness, something along the lines of a Patton-esque growl, through gritted teeth, ala Dick Cheney: "Team 1, I ask only two things of you: a total commitment to victory, and a burning desire to feast on the steaming entrails of your vanquished foes. Who's with me? Yum, yum, Team 1."

I nixed it. Too predictable, and maybe too scary even as a joke.

Idea two made me laugh: "As the most wasted talent in rock and roll once sang, 'Make the best out of the bad, just laugh it off. Ha! You didn't have to come here anyway.' Yum, yum?"

I nixed that too. Only the old people like me would get the Rod Stewart reference. The rest were born long after he hit the skids (which was about 1976 if you are keeping score).

So I opted for not terribly funny at all, just sorta honest: "Um, we are better than the other three teams that are left. We have the ability to run away with this, but, the way things usually go, we won't. We will hit bumps in the road, and it's how we handle those bumps that will make the difference. You have to promise to yourself and everyone that you won't get down on yourself or your teammates. I promise to you that at no point during this evening will you be able to mistake me for an angry dictator of a small third-world country. Keep laughing. Keep joking. Have a blast. Shake off the bad stuff, and we win."

I have no idea whether that helped, but we won. We demolished Team 8 in the first game of that semifinal match, and then -- causing me to beam with pride over my teammates' joyful intensity -- we came back from 11-0 down in the second game to win it. We have never, ever overcome that kind of deficit in a playoff game. It was truly inspiring. We giggled our way through it, even at 11-0 down.

And then we won the championship match, and the Robert Wisdom Cup** fairly anti-climactically against a tough, but tired Team 10 that had no subs.

All night long, everyone was awesome. Amanda set us brilliantly, as always, and she and I did our always-annoying/always-funny stupid dances as we waited to switch positions so she could set and I could hit. The Robot was a popular one last night, the Low Robot doubly so. Sung and Scott flew through the air blocking and killing like part of a goddamn circus act. Matt and MJ were solid, stable and awesome, making great plays whenever we needed 'em. Alan was his usual mix of leader, goofball and great player. Devra gets her typical Toughest Woman in the League/Do Not Eff With Her/She *Will* Block You Even If She Is Not Tall award, as well as the Wants to Win Almost As Much As Steve badge of honor (shame?). And Tyler showed up as some sort of Shaolin/Zen warrior trickster, dazzling everyone with blocked shots and perfect, yet rarely high-speed, kills. I believe at one point he levitated through three straight points, returning to earth only to consume some strange pre-mixed cocktail of ginseng, taurine and caffeine that he said, "Shone the light on the *real* truth, Steve. Want some?" (And Tammy and Jim couldn't play, and that's a shame because they missed the party).

We were awesome. And I am so damn proud of my teammates. We were nothing but positive all night, even down 11-0, and, yes, I may have finally learned *that* lesson. There may be some teams that respond well to rousing calls to victory from despotic dictators, but Team 1 is not one of them, and it's much more fun not to act like that, anyway. You guys are amazing, funny, smart and I am proud to be your teammate.

Oh, and I will never ever again go to pose for a "pretending to drink out of the championship trophy" photo without first checking to see if there is actually already beer in the trophy bowl. Wow, that was a tidal wave of malt and hops that cascaded down the front of me. Well played, whoever set that up.

Let the summer games begin....

**Robert Wisdom (1963-2008). We miss you, man. You will always be on the honor roll.

The whole team (sans Jim, our oldest member).

Me and Alan, mugging with the trophy and our victory medals.

Me, in the most-accurate photo ever taken, soaked in cold, malty goodness, saying, "Duuuuuuude!? There was *beer* in the trophy when you told me to *pretend* to drink from it!?"

Matt hoists the cup.

Sung drinks from the cup and it is good.

Alan drains the cup.

Tyler finds the cup within the cup.

Amanda clutches the spoils of victory.

Alan and Amanda smooch the cup.

Matt, Alan, Amanda and Scott eschew the wings in favor of playing with the trophy.

Devra drinks the trophy beer.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Ten things. That's it.

Hmmm, there appears to be a small amount of confusion in our gym regarding what food is cool for the 30-day paleo challenge and what is not.

Rather than spout 1000 paleo rules at you, I just want you to think: "I can eat/drink ten things."

Not eleven. Not 35. Ten. They are:
1. Animal protein/fat (meat, fish, eggs, grassfed butter (e.g., Kerrygold) and ghee... no other dairy)
2. Veggies (sweet and white potatoes are OK, but and corn is a grain, not a veggie)
3. Fruit, including the oil/milk from coconuts, the oil from olives and vinegars of all types.
4. Any spice you want
5. Nuts, but not peanuts
6. Seeds
7. Coffee
8. Tea
9. Water
10. Seltzer.

Hint: if you aren't sure whether a food is OK, check the "ten things" list. As sad as that may make you, the answer should be clear.

An example: Ben and Jerry's double-chocolate, low-carb health-bomb ice cream. No.

A peach. Yes.

This was easy, right?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

To kick start your Monday....

You know all that stuff I just wrote about how Levon could "quarterback" a song from behind the drums -- controlling all the tempo and dynamic with subtle shifts? This is the substantially more aggressive version of that, with one of the best drummers on the planet, Janet Weiss. Around the two-minute mark, it all gets awesome, and she takes total control from there on. Your Monday just got better. You're welcome.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Levon Helm was an American original

Levon Helm, known principally as the drummer for The Band, died earlier this week after a long battle with throat cancer. A lot of beautiful tributes are out there, and I am not even going to try and match those. I also won't pretend that I was an ardent follower of Levon through every twist and turn of his career, but his work with The Band, particularly on those first two albums -- Music From Big Pink and The Band -- influenced me mightily, as a listener, but also as a drummer. And it's the "as a drummer" part that I wanted to mention briefly, because this man was a monster of subtlety, swing, technique, precision and groove.

Here is the single most loaded, yet concise, and therefore greatest, explanation I have ever read of drumming and its importance to rock:

"There are many useful approaches to rock drumming. What can't be dispensed with is that it must be apparent when listening to the music that the drummer feels the rhythm and is swinging with it, or sinking into it, or toying aggressively with it, or crushing it relentlessly. This talent can be developed, but not quite learned, by a drummer. The drummer must come already wired for music. Think of the responsibility invested in who sits behind the drum kit. He must be stable enough to hammer together a musical framework for the others to confidently build from, yet he must also be a responsive enough listener to engage at least the bassist in an ongoing musical mind meld in which each party is trying to match up his particular part of the language with that of the other so that music rather than noisy gibberish results.... Great drummers usually have small kits... because they make their music between the kick drum and the snare. The high-hat is a set-up tool from which the placement of kick then snare is determined. Toms and cymbals are for accenting changes and climaxing. It's so simple that it can't be faked.... It's the purposeful imprecision of the drummer in response to the purposeful imprecision of the bassist and guitarist as the three of them chase down a song-ritual's particular spirit incarnation that excites the listener." -- Joe Carducci ("Rock and the Pop Narcotic")

I grew up first on classic rock, but it was arena rock -- Zeppelin, Floyd, Aerosmith, etc -- and then punk broke in 1977 and I never looked back, jumping headlong first into the British end of that scene (Clash, Jam, Buzzcocks, etc.) and then, later, into the American wave of the early '80s, particularly SST label bands like the Minutemen, Black Flag and Hüsker Dü. It wasn't until Rolling Stone put out a 20th Anniversary issue in 1987 where they named the best albums of the preceding 20 years that I went back in time to catch up on The Band and numerous other American artists, mostly of the late '60s and early '70s that were lauded in that issue (Sly Stone, Moby Grape, the Dead, CCR, etc.). Previously, my only real foray into Americana-laced rock had been Neil Young (with and without Crazy Horse), and I always have loved Neil, but, in terms of an influence on my drumming, it was Levon on The Band's first two albums -- the ones listed in the "best of" -- which was the real game-changer for me.

I have been in a bunch of bands over the years playing everything from gothy Brit stuff to shitkicking Americana to garage punk to the metallic K.O. sound of Detroit, but I can draw the line in the sand -- and it was honestly a number of years after '87, probably as much as ten years later; this was not a fast lesson -- when I finally absorbed all that Levon taught me about "quarterbacking" the music.

See, a drummer is in charge, not in a hierarchical sense, but in a tension-and-release sort of way. He (or she ... don't accuse me of sexism... shit, Janet Weiss is one of my absolute faves) holds the reins of tempo, swing and groove, and can control all of that, or wreck it completely. I hear recordings that I played on in the '80s and, by and large, I hate them. They are impressive from a speed standpoint, often lightning fast, but I sound like a buzzsaw set on "kill." There's no soul, no bottom end to speak of, no purposeful lockdown with the bass player. Whereas if I go to a recording from, say, '97 onwards, I don't always hear genius, but I do hear a drummer who is feeling the song, not just playing it. Locking that bastard down and toying with tension and release. It's a blast and it is noticeable when it's a blast.

Which brings us, again, to Levon. The man played with joy, first of all, but listen to this -- listen to all of it. It is my favorte thing he ever did, and it is simple as all get-out. And it's fucking perfect. He swings when it needs to swing, and then, just when it is needed, he holds the reins *so* tight, like every time the main riff kicks back in. The rest of the band (you know, The Band) wants to take off a bit right there, but Levon gets out the lead pipe and whacks 'em hard. And they snap back into place like soldiers on the march.

It is fucking perfect -- I repeat -- and it is called Chest Fever:

Now listen to this one, Life is a Carnival. It's a good song, not one of my favorites of theirs, but knowing it helps understand the video that follows.

Then watch this, where Levon explains, in detail, what he is doing.

That's a level of genius, including singing it while accompanying himself on the drums without anyone else playing along, that I can never hope to achieve. All I can do is try, though. Thanks, Brother Levon. The ride was amazing, and the groove is eternal.

How in the hell am I going to do this? Welcome to the challenge

Today our gym starts a 30-day paleo challenge. I am not participating because I already eat primal all the time anyway. But a bunch of folks are all-in, and good for them. This post is aimed at a particular group of those people -- the total newbies to paleo eating who are starting their first 30-day paleo challenge.

If you are already a paleo or primal person, or have done (or even failed) a previous challenge, I am not worried about you for today. You *know* what you have to do to do this thing right. You have been here before. Whether your return for another challenge is because you have slipped a bit and want to tighten things up, or you just want to really take it to another level and keep it there.... Again, you know the deal. I don't want to sound too harsh about this, but, as a fellow paleo blogger once tweeted, "Harden the eff up." This isn't cancer. This is food. Just do what you need to do.

However... the first time through, especially if you are jumping straight off the ten-meter diving platform that is the Standard American Diet (SAD), can be rough.

Let's be blunt: you are going to have cravings for things you should not eat. That will suck. But, you know what? You will survive. Let's put this in context....

Without *actually* discussing my job here -- which we never do, by the way -- part of that job is attempting to persuade official-type people in positions of power that my client's point of view is correct. This is not always easy. In fact, one can encounter a hostile reaction. A friend in the same job has a good Zen perspective on the occasional unpleasantness of those proceedings: "What's the worst thing they can do to you? They can't hit you. All they can do is yell at you. Anyone can survive that. As long as there's no hitting -- and there won't be -- we'll all be fine."

Let's be clear, newbies. No one is going to hit you. No one is even going to yell at you. You'll be fine.

Now, "fine" is a relative term. You can have a vaguely miserable experience here, or not. And guess what? Most of that is up to you. A little bit of it is simple biology and chemistry, but most of it is planning.

The single most important thing you can do is make sure you have enough (paleo) food around at all times.

Let's repeat that:
The single most important thing you can do is make sure you have enough (paleo) food around at all times.

Remember, this is not a "diet" and you are not here with the principal goal of weight loss.

Wait, what?!?!?

Right. You heard me correctly. You *will* lose weight, love your body composition more, have beautiful people start conversations with you in public when they never did before....all of that *will* happen. But it is all a secondary result. The principal goal here is simple: eat real (paleo) food.

And -- imagine! -- the way to eat real paleo food is to, um, eat real paleo food.

Conversely, the way to fail and collapse into a sobbing Twinkie full of self-loathing is to, um, *not* eat paleo food.

Hmmm, you'd swear I am trying to make this easy.

So... *always* have food at hand, ready to be eaten. Yes, always. At home that's easy. Your first thought when you wake up in the morning should be, "Is there enough food in the house?" Then, it should be, "Is there *really* enough food in the house." If the answer is no, fix the damn problem by going grocery shopping. Spend a lot of money there. Buy more food than you think you should. (You can afford it because you aren't spending money on booze and french fries this month).

You might have quickly realized that home really isn't the problem. If you can't make time to buy groceries, then I don't think a paleo challenge is your biggest problem. It's when you leave the house that the potential clouds of the shitstorm begin to coalesce.

So what are you going to do about it? (really, you got this....)

Yup, make sure you have paleo food with you. A lot of it. Then a little more. I don't care what it is as long as it is paleo. Fat and protein are going to keep you full longer, so I wouldn't suggest a banana or an apple as the way to satiate yourself. Avocado, bacon, jerky, meat, veggies, olive oil.... That all works well. Even nuts. Whatever. Shove it in and keep shoving.

It is as simple as this: if you are miserable because you are hungry, EAT SOMETHING!!!!

That something just needs to be paleo.

Because if it isn't, or if you haven't eaten enough food, that Little Debbie's snack cake on the shelf at Wawa is going to start talking to you like David Berkowitz's neighbor's dog.

So, I have just spent eight zillion words, and four hundred paragraphs telling you that, yes, the way to keep from getting hungry is to eat, and the way to eat is to make sure you have food.

You could pay for this kind of high-level advice, but it's free here, kids.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

30-day paleo challenge.... 3,2,1...go!

Our gym is kicking off a 30-day paleo-eating challenge this weekend. So they asked me to do a "guest post" on their nutrition page. It is right here if you want to check it out.

And good luck to all the challengers. You got this. Really.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Pickled Heron .... Yowzers!

I generally don't find it difficult to stay the paleo/primal course when eating out. Meat, veggies and fruit is a pretty standard part of any meal. Menu items involving breads and pasta can be ignored, or even pushed aside to the edge of the plate (the "non-delicious zone" we call it) when they arrive. Just the other night I was in a bar with my volleyball teammates post-game and ordered a burger and a side salad, ditched the bun, chopped up the burger meat into the salad and paleo awesomeness was easily achieved.

But every now and then, you will come across, on the moderately fancier, mildly more upscale end of things, a place that makes it tough for us cavepeople. You might find that the sauces all have offending items, particularly gluten, soy or gross processed seed oils, or maybe that the upscale place still has employed their deep fryer more than you would have guessed, or put polenta or pasta into most of the dishes.

Fear not, (Philly) friends, I have the place for you. No, every food item there is not paleo-approved (this isn't the vaunted Sauvage in Berlin, mind you) but The Pickled Heron at 2218 Frankford Avenue (just a couple blocks south of York) in Philadelphia, can make a paleo/primal person very very happy.

My wife and I went to a friend's art opening last Friday night, and then made our way to The Pickled Heron at about 8:15 or so. I am, by and large, not a Center City eater. Parking sucks down there. We tend to head for the furry fringes, like Northern Liberties or Fishtown, and, once again, we were glad we did. We parked half a block away from the restaurant, on Susquehanna, and made our way in, sans reservation, and got a table, despite the fact that the Philadelphia Inquirer had just recently raved about the place.

A few things to remember, if you make the smart decision to eat at TPH: (1) it is cash only; your plastic life is not valid here. (2) It is BYOB, so stop with the kvetching and BYO effing B, please, or, like us, dig the simplicity of their cheap bottles of San Pellegrino mineral water (with lime if you ask for it) as a palate cleanser (highly recommended); and (3) apparently we lucked out when we got a table without reservations.

Reservations are recommended. We were told by our server that we got there just after a very busy spell, and it is true that, when we walked in, there were only two free tables. It is a small place, a former row house, and I could imagine the line going out the door very easily.

You know... Especially when a *highly* influential blog like this steps up to the plate and raves about them. (Cough, cough; sorry... I appear to be choking on a combination of meat, and blatant deception).

Where was I?

Oh, and yes, the whole place, food and otherwise, is meant to convey a sense of France. It's been a while since I have been to France, and the cutesy-isms of listing the address as "2218 Rue de Frankford," and the phone number as "21 56 34 56 66," were (mostly) lost on me. I am a caveman, and know little about Francophilia, and, while I am no xenophobe, yeah I even admit that I laughed when that joker put a white sheet tied to a stick on EBay a few years back and labeled it: "genuine French battle flag." I like funny stuff.

But god, the food is effing fantastic, so embrace or reject the Gallic orientation as you wish. Just make sure you eat there.

This is the menu we had that night (hope that link works when the menu changes). We started with two small plates. The first was assorted charcuterie. That's French for meat snacks. Duck breast (yowzers), foie gras smeared with duck fat (double yowzers), a grainy mustard that you could (OK, I did) eat with a spoon, homemade salami that had a fancier name than "salami." It was stunning. The salami was richly marbled, the mustard so mustardy and grainy that it made you want to swear off that supermarket crap (yes, even the "good" stuff), the duck-fat-encrusted foie gras so creamy and delicious/quack-o-licious that my wife *almost* gave me the go ahead to run my finger through the last little bit in the bottom of the fancypants little bowl/container that it came in (I believe her exact words were: " Wait a minute, you are *not* going to stick your finger right into that just to get the last bit out, are you?" She was about to crack, I tell ya), and the duck breast so gloriously, well, *ducky* that my only regret was that there was not more.

It was all a fleshy wonderland of flavor, and it was only the first plate.

Oh wait, here you go.... Just to maintain my objectivity (more coughing, sorry), I will say one critical thing about The Pickled Heron: the baby gherkins on the charcuterie plate were stupid at worst and distracting at best. My wife liked 'em fine, but I thought they were silly. Ditch the pickles, folks. Add more meat.

But, I swear, I nearly forgot about the charcuterie when I dug into the *other* small plate that we ordered: seared foie gras on a bed of raisin/black-pepper jam, to which I added a dollop of butter.

Holy shit. The server came by, interrupted me from making the orgasmic noises that I was grunting, and asked, "How do you like that dish?" I said something like, "Oooga!" or, more exactly, "Dude, I don't want to sound over-excited about this, but this may be the single greatest food item I have ever tasted in my life." His pleased response, "You and me both, man. You and me both."

Really, it was unspeakably amazing, so amazing that I actually savored every morsel, rather than devouring it like the famous Neanderthal, Grog the Dyspeptic.

I am, by and large, not a savor-er. Really, this was The Best Menu Item Ever.

Being kind, I even let my wife have some of it. After all, it was her idea to eat there.

Honestly, I wanted to walk out then. I mean, imagine if The Who, circa 1971 were the opening act for someone else of that era. With minimal exception (Hendrix, Stooges, MC5, the Stones?) it is hard to imagine the other band not being a disappointment after that thunderfest. How could anything else measure up to that foie-gras party?

OK, it couldn't. But it took its best shot.

My wife ordered sea bass for her main course. She says it was "perfectly cooked and the sunchoke/baby-carrot vegetable medley was delicious." I ordered the lamb which sat on top of an au-gratin-y potato cake and was served with pomegranate awesomesauce, baby micropeas, and greens. It was wonderful. In fact, it was so wonderful that I would be raving about it with ferocious intensity here were I not all worn out from mentally reliving the foie-gras second plate. Just trust me.... It was great.

Oh, and a small paleo diversion. Yes, au gratin potatoes, pomegranate awesomesauce and raisin/black-pepper jam all are technically non-paleo. You can take your technicality into the corner with a bag of beef jerky and pout (with a sense of purity, superiority, and, I hope, deep painful hunger) while I enjoy this place. I didn't eat bread. Yes, there is a little sugar in those things and white potatoes are an iffy source of paleo debate.

I don't care, and yes, lighten up, Francis. It is all a matter of degree.

That said, what happened next was a paleo war crime.

But I don't care.

Sometimes you have to let your freak flag fly, dance around the room in a state of undress and say, "Fuck *yes*, we are ordering the (are you ready?) DUCK EGG CREME BRÛLÉE!"

I know... I'm yelling, and I am vaguely sorry.

It was unspeakable. Fatty, sugary, amazing. it was, truth be told, a little too sugary for me, because I ingested so much more sugar in ten minutes with that dessert than I normally do that it took, no lie, *four days* for the joints in the fingers of my right hand to stop hurting (that began on the ride home... Really... Still don't think it matters what you eat?).

I ate all of mine plus the half of my wife's that she couldn't finish. I then nearly died laughing when the waiter looked at what he did not know was *my* empty plate in front of her (I had switched them when I dug into hers by invitation) and saw me eating a still-half-full plate and said, "Wow. Usually it's the guy who tears through the creme brûlée and the woman savors. This is such a refreshing change."

Fortunately, for him, I was paying. His tip went *up* for that unintentionally funny line. My wife feigned outrage, but actually found it pretty amusing. She even laughed when I said, out of earshot of anyone (in an English accent, mind you), "Maybe, fatty, next time you should eat more at your husband's speed instead of cramming that dessert in."

She really is a remarkable human being to not only put up with me, but to swear this is all making her laugh.

(Oh, and let's be clear: she is in *amazing* physical shape from CrossFit and paleo, and I am a lucky guy to be her guy).

Oh, and the decaf (what?! It was late, people) French-press coffee was astounding as well.

I could give you a well-thought-out conclusory paragraph, but, really, why start thinking now? Let's leave it at this: The Pickled Heron is, to use a phrase that no one actually uses anymore, The Bomb. Go eat there.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So, you gotta tell me, doc. Seriously, did I die?

My life is more amazing, by several exponential levels, in the last ten days, than it has ever been. Beautiful women, and occasionally men, are starting great conversations with me in the most otherwise mundane of places. My mood is so simultaneously Zen and sparkling that nothing bad in it seems like more than a speck of dust to be swept away, and all the good, and there is so much of it, is blowing my mind. I have a "new lease on life," and if you know me at all, the old lease was pretty damn great.

The dividing line in all this is about a week after my surgery. All the evil anesthesia drugs and chemicals and awful things were out of my body and they were replaced with a simultaneous feeling of calm and awesome that is utterly impossible to explain.

The best theory I have is that, with one exception, I haven't had a drink of alcohol in six weeks. And that isn't a ploy to get you to quit drinking. I am not a crusader, and I don't care what anyone else does.

And I like that theory, but it seemed, I dunno, *insufficient* as an explanation, because, really, I am in an off-the-scale great mood. (Oh, and Sara, if you are reading this, I am really sorry for bowling you over last night at that art opening with the bulldozer that is my current good mood. You looked justifiably terrified.)

So I started theorizing -- a dangerous sport for anyone, double dangerous for me. Me with a theory is like a chimp with a loaded handgun.

And I thought, "Hey! What if...."

Um, what if I died, you know, on the operating table.

Right, yes, I just said that.


Here is the theory; I am not prone to believe in higher powers, gods, etc. I don't mind at all if you do, but it just doesn't move me. You may also think that Journey was a great band and that Billy Joel was, in some sense, a "rock" artist rather than a vomit-worthy purveyor of schmaltzy show tunes.

Everybody has their thing.

It's all good. We can agree to disagree on that and move on, still liking each other. (But if you turn down the radio while *that* is on, I'll love you more).

So, I don't believe in an afterlife, and I totally dismiss all those tales of "dying" and white lights at ends of tunnels, and meetups with Uncle Ira who died in a hang-gliding accident before anyone knew about hang-gliding. But there has been a demonstrable behavior in some people whose heart stops: when they get resuscitated successfully, they feel like I feel now -- amazing, no worries. Life is their surfboard and they can ride it on land, sea or air.

So I called the doc's assistant and asked if I had died and been resuscitated.

She must have completely lost her shit, because she has always called me back personally in the past -- "always" being twice -- and instead the doc called me back, told me it was a fascinating question, and told me, "Uh, sorry. No. We didn't need to resuscitate you."

Hey bartender, would you pour me another theory? My glass is empty. And no, dude, I won't sing along with Steve Perry.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The best Friday ever? The ego says, "Oh hell, yes."

It was a *really* good day. Let's cut to the chase: I had the most productive/conversational visit with my dementia-riddled father in a long time, I helped save a dog from getting crushed in traffic, an absurdly beautiful woman who could not have been more than 25 years old gave me her phone number, and my surgery elbow keeps getting better.

What the hell?

(Insert "*very* Good Friday" joke here if you must; I just did, didn't I?).

(Oh, and before you start cranking up to any level of outrage, I gave the phone number back. Yes, you correctly recall that I am happily married. But let's be serious.... I am not going to pretend that being handed that number with its accompanying adoring gaze wasn't the single greatest ego boost ever. More on all that in a bit).

I've told you before about my elderly dad's struggles with dementia and his ultimate placement against his will into a (really wonderful) dementia-oriented nursing home. Lately, it's been.... Well, I think the medical term is "super fucked up." He has been refusing food, water, etc., and staying in bed all day. It looks like he is winding down, and I am fine with that; he is old, unhappy, and, well, mostly, but not entirely, crazy. I firmly believe in a person's aggressive right to die under these circumstances, and he seems to be asserting that right. I am not a sugar-coater kinda guy. He's dying. But it's OK because he is old and wants to.

But I really want him to check out smooth/easy when he does. Of course, no tubes, hospitals, and other extraneous nonsensical bullshit. But I also want there to be more than just an absence of crap; I would like there to be some level of comfort. So, after much consultation with the nursing home, I agreed to put him in hospice care. It doesn't change anything -- he is still in the same room at the same place -- except two things: (1) if he refuses food, water, etc., they are now officially cool with that; previously, legal liabilities being what they are, they considered it a problem to have a non-hospice patient who wasn't eating; the hospice designation changes all that; (2) they will go the extra mile to make him comfortable from here on out. It's very cool, and has been a huge relief to me. (In many ways -- trust me, *many* ways -- I do not understand or even *like* my dad, but I still love him and want him to have what anyone would want at this point: a seamless, peaceful exit off the planet when he is ready).

Since the move to hospice care, he has been a bit better. No, not great, but not totally miserable either, and (finally getting back to the point of my really Good Friday -- oh, hell, I did it again, didn't I?) on Friday for the first time in almost two months, he actually had a conversation with me that was more than one-word answers. I didn't use the word "hospice," but I was able to fully explain to him that I hired new people to make him comfortable, and that none of the old rules apply. No need to go to the dining room at meals if you don't want to eat. Let your freak flag fly, dad. And these nice hospice people will do whatever you want to help you out with that.

It was awesome. He seemed really cool with it -- and, let's be really effing clear -- the words "really cool" have rarely, if ever, been applied to my dad or his demeanor. It was a moment of Zen calm in a very non-Zen relationship.

Next scheduled stop -- Philly to pick up my son who was coming home for the
weekend. But I wanted that beautiful cerebral massage that caffeine gives me (or at least that's what it tells me it does), so I stopped at Starbucks and got a venti (Italian for "big-ass") Americano. Black, 'cause that's how I roll when I am not at home to bulletproof it.

Deliciousness was procured and I got into my car, heading out the driveway when....

A medium/large dog, leash attached, comes flying out of an SUV that just parked. Totally distressed owner follows, in pursuit, but Fido (I forget the name that was being ineffectively called out) is having none of it. He (she?) is zooming around like a nut and this parking lot is busy, and, even worse, Lancaster Avenue, full of stupid people driving stupidly in stupidly large numbers (my thesaurus just exploded from non-use), is only feet away.

I really love dogs. I really love big dogs. Really big dogs love me too. I have previously been able to corral sprinting escaped large dogs when their owners could not, just by showing my face (dog appears to say: "Hey! It's youuuuuuuuu, and I love you!") and squatting down to the dog's level, whereupon Rover mugs me with affection and I snag the collar and hold him/her for the owner.

But this freaked me out. This dog looked really stupid -- sorry, dog -- and confused, yet was still sprinting laps. Dumb and fast is a terrible combo near traffic. So I just stopped my car in the middle of the driveway, thinking, "The person behind me (who almost hit the dog, mind you) can wait." And I jumped out, and did my squat-down-to-the-dog's-level trick. And Scooby Doo headed straight for me, and, then, less than ten feet away, just walked to his (her?) running owner instead. The guy said to me, "Thank you *so* much, man," and carefully put Lassie into his vehicle. I started to get back in my car when a very pretty woman, who was exiting the building, said to me, "That was *so* cool." I just kinda laughed and said, "Thanks," and drove off, attempting to unclog the now-cloggier driveway where I had stopped.

I *do* remember thinking, "Wow, if I were single, I think I just could have had a date."

But that encounter was so fast, and the coffee so distracting delicious, that I didn't really absorb the ego massage as I could have. (Before you hate me, BTW, I am just being honest; I am male and, as Zaphod Beeblebrox -- look it up -- once said, although I am paraphrasing out of laziness, "If there's anything more important than my ego here, then I want it captured and shot.")

Anyway.... Onwards to Philly I rolled. I took a hypercircuitous back way there, because the traffic reports were referencing Sodom, Gomorrah *and* even Soul Asylum's decision in 1993 to add a keyboard player and suck from then on as metaphors for the state of the major highways. I got to very near my son's place, and I saw my fuel light was on.

Fuck me. Gas is *so* much cheaper in New Jersey than in PA. Gas and booze are the only things NJ doesn't overtax, and I don't really drink very often anymore. So I try to avail myself of NJ gas pricing at all times, never ever ever purchasing gas in PA.

But I am also firmly against running out of gas, and, good moods and shiny things of the day so far (but really, who could have imagined what was about to happen still?) being what they were, I really had no idea how long that fuel light had been on. So, in a line of traffic, I texted my son that I had to buy gas, and I headed for the nearest station. He, unflappable as always, said, "It's all good."

The price was ridiculous, way way way over four bucks a gallon. Somehow the station was really busy, though (desperation?), and it isn't a terribly well-designed place anyway. Lots of people are there for the attached Dunkin' Donuts, and the pumps were full, except for the one I snagged. I got out to put in just a few gallons.

Angelina Jolie pulled into the station.

OK, it wasn't really her, but it was her younger cousin, or, if they aren't actually related, they should be. She was sitting in her car, mostly concealed from view, but I just kind of *knew* she was was gorgeous from head to toe.

I need to digress for a second -- I am not a pig. I don't ogle women. Sure, I notice them, but I am just not the tongue-hanging-out jerkweed that populates local bars. But there is a special level of crazy off-the-scale beautiful that can make me stop and think, "Boom. She seriously won the genetic lottery."

Angelina then pulls in at an angle that wasn't quite right behind me, but it looked like she was headed that way. I thought two things: (1) "Good lord, she is so effortlessly beautiful that it is really amazing, and, frankly unfair to all of us," and (2) "Oh, for fuck's sake, she is about to block the only way I have out of this crazy crazy madhouse of a station."

So, I made a motion that somehow was intended to convey the question, "Are you headed here, i.e., right behind my car?" and when she smiled (in a soul-melting way, mind you, that made me think, "Wow. Just effing wow") and nodded, I abandoned the filling process for a moment, and went up to her window and said, "Hey, I don't want you to lose this spot, but I have to go that way [pointing]. Can you let me kinda slide past you and drive out before you pull in?" She put on the soul-melting smile again, and said, "Yeah, sure."

I went back to my car, put a couple drops more gas in to get it to six gallons total, and when I turned to put the pump handle thingy back, she was standing there, smiling, holding a piece of paper.

She could not have been a day over 25 years old.

Angelina: "Hey again. I know I just met you, but my name is Kate and this is my phone number and I *really* think you should use it."

Me (picking up dislocated jaw from the ground and just effing glowing otherwise): "Oh Kate.... you just made my day. But.... I am really *so* married, and I can't do this."

And I gave her the paper back. And then I reiterated: "But really, you have *no* idea how you just made my day You are really beautiful and this sort of thing just doesn't happen to me."

She kept smiling for a second, and then *really* didn't. And then she looked a little annoyed/puzzled, as if I was being a jerk somehow. I was thinking, "What the hell, how much more nicely can I say no thanks?" and she then cleared up the confusion, nodding down at my left hand: "You are really cute, and say you're married, but you're not wearing a ring?"

Me: "Oh Jesus.... It's at the jeweler's getting resized!!!" (I have lost enough weight that my ring comes flying off my finger way too easily, and we took it in for resizing -- - actually a trade down to a smaller size via shipping it back to the manufacturer -- a couple weeks back. It's in, but I haven't gotten there to pick it up).

She (finally) smiled again, and shook her head in the most (beautifully) resigned way ever, and said, " I am having the worst day in the world."

I said the only thing I could say, in the most stupidly (but genuine) enthusiastic voice I could: "Oh no you're not. Because I am having the best day ever all of a sudden because an insanely beautiful woman just gave me her phone number. And there is no way that that insanely beautiful woman is allowed to have a bad day. *Please* do not take a single negative from any of this. You're awesome."

And she kinda squeezed my arm, smiled a little sadly, and went back to her car.

And I as I reversed my car, did a wacky K-turn to get out of there, and looked over at her as she pulled past to get to the pump, she gave me the goddamn sweetest smile I have been given in years.

That was the third time my soul melted in five minutes.

I was, truth be told, completely freaked out, vaguely (OK, more than vaguely) proud of myself, and utterly unable to figure out how to tell this story to my son. So I didn't (heh, although I just did, eh?). He got into the car and I asked him, "Music, or Penn Jillette's podcast?"

Somehow -- I guess because the universe was set on "Steve" that day -- he said, "Podcast," and my response was, "Cool, although we really can't talk *and* listen then, but that's cool."

Inside my head, I thought, to quote the Rolling Stones, in a southern accent no less, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord." I love shooting the shit with my sons, but this was no time for that because I was still processing the madness of the Greatest Ego Friday Ever.

I didn't tell my wife either when I got home. I fucking hate people who try to make their partners jealous, and, at first, I couldn't figure out a way to tell it without raising that specter.

So, instead, I woke up four or five times in the middle of the night, shook my head, smiled, thought, "That was just the most fucking insane day ever," and vaguely rolled off back to sleep.

The next morning, I was just bursting to tell this sorry to someone, so I told my buddy Justin, who is also my CrossFit trainer. He laughed his ass off at the madness of it all, and responded, "Sure you can! Just tell her. It's awesome!" when I mentioned that I wanted to tell my wife -- 'cause no one is more awesome than my wife -- but wasn't sure if I could/should.
And so I did, and we, um, celebrated the Awesomeness of Us in a very nice way.

Oh yeah, and my elbow feels a lot better too. More on that in the next post.

Fuck yeah. Eat paleo. (That's the only reasonable conclusion, isn't it?)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, April 6, 2012

Paleo eating as the way to beat the surgery blues. Really.

I am not an "athlete" of any sort, other than a guy who goes to a CrossFit gym three times a week, and plays a little volleyball. I am not particularly strong. I am not unusually fit. I will never be a competitor at the CrossFit Games. I am a 49-year-old guy in good shape to have fun, but not to conquer the world.

I tell you these things so you don't reach the end of this post and say, "Yeah, but *you* are (or must be) some kind of high-level athlete."


Here's the deal. Eleven days ago, I had pretty heavy-duty elbow surgery. I was told it involved an overnight hospital stay and the pain would be pretty awful, and very limiting for a long while. Full recovery would be four to five months, partially because the ulnar nerve was moved during the procedure and would have to get used to its new "home," but also because so much was being done that it was a full slice -- "open" surgery, rather than arthroscopic.

Um, I went to CrossFit last night. Then I just emailed my volleyball team captain to tell him that I can play in the playoffs next week if they need me.

What the hell!? (In a very good way, mind you).

I think it is *partially* because the surgeon scared the living bejeezus out of me so badly with dire predictions of sturm, drang and pain that I went into combat/HenryRollins mode of some sort where I attempted to do every last little thing possible to toughen-up/prepare for the oncoming shitstorm.

That meant every mundane thing you could possibly imagine, like practicing doing *everything* left-handed under the assumption that my right arm was going to be useless for a while. I cooked left-handed; I showered left-handed, and yes, even worked on perfecting the, er, conclusory aspects of Old #2 left-handed. (It's TMI Friday, kids; hang on tight, and the ride will be over soon).

And that all helped, but it's not the *real* explanation, because -- get this -- I ended up being truly one-armed for only 36 hours or so, and even ditched the Percocet in less than 48 hours. I was a bit overprepared, it turned out.

So what was it? A NASA-level surgeon who didn't know his own superpower? The direct result of incantations to Baal? Governmental intervention/subsidies on my behalf?

No. Nyet. Nein.

I have no scientific proof, obviously, because it is the classic case of N=1, but I have to think it was a low-inflammation paleo/primal diet that promoted super-healing.

Here is what I did. About two to three weeks prior to surgery, I went hardcore. I mean, I am pretty tight with what I eat anyway, but this was tighter. I bounced a couple ideas off my FB pal at Cave Girl Eats, and she was helpful with some strategies that I hadn't considered, like lots of wild-caught sardines (for the O-3s, ya know), for instance.

But overall, she affirmed that my previously developed plan was a good one to keep the demon inflammation at bay as best as possible: eat strict /primal; no booze at all (slipped once on this and coulda whopped myself upside the haid for it in retrospect); go easy/nonexistent on nuts and other (admittedly paleo, but not perfect) sources of good fat that also have inflammatory O-6s in them; keep stress at an absolute minimum (so clean up all lingering projects in advance and settle in for the ride, cowboy), and eat and eat and eat and eat all that good food that I normally do. Grassfed ruminants out the wazoo, loads of veggies, eggseseses, good fats, some fruit, but low-glycemic stuff like blueberries and peaches, as opposed to bananas or apples. And extra offal too, kids. The nasty bits are so good for you.

The only thing I ate from a pre-made package (you know, that shit in the supermarket with ingredients listed....right, all that) during that time was: coconut milk, pretty clean beef jerky and dried Turkish apricots. Everything else was real food that either once had a face, or that you pick off a tree/plant and eat.

Mmmm, face.

Oh, and I ate a metric shit ton (look it up; it's a lot) of coconut milk during that time. I figured if momma gave me all that lauric acid way back when the old-fashioned way, and its biggest downside was that it seemed to overmutate my sarcasm gene, *and* the only source of lauric acid beyond the old-fashioned way is coconut milk, sign me up on the Coconut Express in one of the special "anti-inflammation" coaches.

Then.... Right after the surgery, I was able to resume my daily two pills of that wonderful fermented cod-liver oil/butter-oil blend from Green Pasture that
I have told you about before. They tell you not to take that stuff in the 14 days prior to surgery, but I was right back on the FCLO wagon right afterwards.

And it has really been great in the grand scheme of things. OK, my elbow is still swollen and sore, but that is mostly from the medieval torture regimen that is my PT program, and how I get distracted by the shiny things in life and forget to ice it after doing my PT work. But otherwise, I get a little stronger every day. Pathetically, I could not even open a pill bottle the day after surgery, not even lefthanded, because the gentle torque of bracing it with my right hand was too painful. (Envision how much I enjoyed this frustration while it lasted; words beginning with F were more prominent in my house than usual). But now I am an ambidextrous beast.

And I repeat.... I went to CrossFit and back-squatted last night, and I am playing volleyball next week!!!!! It's awesome and surprising, and, well, yeah....awesome. No, I can't really lift a barbell with my right arm yet (I am also not supposed to... yet), and my volleyball skills will likely be more shot-blocking than offense, but I am so *not* incapacitated like I expected to be based on the dire predictions of surgeons.

I can only reach one conclusion: paleo is even more awesome than I thought.

However.... before you think I won the lottery or something, it's gonna be months of medieval PT from here on out. Watch this if you wanna see some of what I have to do to myself with a squat rack and a giant rubberband thingy four to five times a day. Surgeon says to take the pain levels to 6 or 7 each time, or I am not working hard enough.

Whoo boy. Pass the ice, but not the booze.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 2, 2012

Until I get around to reviewing that amazing new Lee Ranaldo album.... happy Monday

Lee Ranaldo, the secret weapon amidst the three vocalists for Sonic Youth, has a new solo album out. It's, well, freaking awesome, and I will do a full review later this week, but in the meantime, wrap your Monday brain around this mindblow: Lee, plus Yo La Tengo, plus Steve Shelley (the other secret weapon of SY), last December, smoking their way through "Mote":

You're welcome.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Paleo bone broth -- get yer minerals on; special bonus easy version

If you have even dabbled at all in the land of paleo eating, you have undoubtedly come across references to the wonders of bone broth. It is a wonderful, ancestral way to get calcium and minerals in an easily-absorbed, real-food form, not by means of a vitamin/supplement pill that is going to pass through your system without bestowing its benefits on you.

And recipes for it abound. Type "paleo bone broth" into yer Google Machine and the damn GM nearly melts down with joy as it spits out lists of ingredients and cooking methods. Diane at Balanced Bites has a good 'un. So does that über-amusing gal at
Nom Nom Paleo. She is the one who today posted what may just be The Best April Fools Joke Ever.

So why bother with another bone-broth recipe, you might ask? Just one reason: mine is even easier than theirs. Not better, not more delicious, just easier.

And, let's be serious and consider something: this Is bone broth we are talking about here. Not rocket science. Not a bacon, dark-chocolate, balsamic reduction. Not a carefully assembled strategy for gently sautéing the innards of an emu.

It's just bone broth, and I'm already really fucking busy. I bet you might be too. So let's go....


Water (filtered/clean is (durrrrrrr) better)
Garlic (a lot of it)
Bones (a couple really good beef marrow bones are usually my weapon of choice.... Frozen is fine, and easy, by the way)

Do this:

--Nearly fill your crockpot with water.
--Mince the garlic.
--Put the bones and garlic into the water. Turn the crockpot on high and bring the whole thing to a boil. If the bones were frozen, this could take a while (durrrrr, again).
--Then turn the crockpot to low.
--Let it cook for 24 hours.

Yes. 24 hours.

--Pour the contents into another pot, through a strainer. A pretty wide one is fine.
--Now do that again, through a pretty narrow strainer to get all the bits out.
--Store in freezeable containers (I like a whole lot of ice-cube trays for this job).


I find the mind-numbing simplicity of this recipe to be beneficial for one other reason beyond the obvious timesaver angle: all I do with this stuff is put some of the frozen cubes in a mug, heat it in the microwave and drink it. It doesn't have to be special or even something you would want to cook something else in, or turn into a soup. The minerals are coming from the bones, not all the other ingredients that you might add.

Or you can take a little more time and make one of the other recipes. They are a little less econo/punk-rock, and probably even a hair (or more) delicious than mine. Me? I am sticking with this one.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad