I’m back. Hopefully for more than a minute, this time, too!
I’m not totally convinced I’ve mastered the line between myself, my thoughts, the information I share and the recipes. By and large, I consider this a blog about a specific way of eating. Anything outside of that is periodically peppered in for entertainment value; a spoonful of smappy, as it were. However, what I’m about to share falls somewhat outside the scope of even that.
I pulled another disappearing act. I did. Whoops. Sorry about that! It wasn’t intentional and certainly not something I planned for, but I confess: I got sidetracked.
This summer, I attempted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a 2560 mile walk across California, Oregon and Washington states. The idea is to walk from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, within a single hiking season. A faint window of opportunity opened, I saw the glimmer off in the distance and I started to dawdle towards it. Growing up outside Yosemite National Park, it’s just something I feel I’ve always wanted to do.
Somewhere, towards the end of 2017, I became absolutely fixated on it. I spent most all of my time studying the hike, the equipment, the people, the stories, techniques and on and on. The more I learned, the more I realized I knew nothing, and sought to learn more.
One common trend in researching thru-hiking (long distance hiking), it seems that most people eat a diet of Ramen noodles and Snickers bars. They arrive at the other end as gaunt skeletal shadows of the people they once were. My honest opinion is that this “diet” comes about due to the prevalence of Ramen and Snickers, but also the cost, weight and nutrient density of these food stuffs. It’s cheap, easy, light and you can “live” on it.
I had no intention of living on Ramen and Snickers. I cherish food too much and I wanted to finish the hike in spectacular shape, not a malnourished shape where I’ll need to recuperate for several months.
I set out to cook my own lightweight, nutrient dense meals, then formed a plan to have the meals mailed to me, as I slowly trek forward. From roughly November through March of this year, I spent enormous amounts of time in the kitchen cooking up a wide bulk variety of scrummy foodstuffs. I’d cool it all, then I would freeze-dry it. From there, I’d pack it all in silver mylar bags, label it and stash it. 550 space bags later, I was done!
Let’s just say that the preparation for such a trip was not small. All the while, it was taking me further from blogging and… I wasn’t even sure if there was any meaningful overlap. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t blog (although I wanted to). Alas, they’re very different animals. Urgh. I wanted to say something, but … it had nothing to do with low-carb/keto/primal. Plus, what if I don’t make it?! Why share that with thousands of people? Oh … the doubts …
In April, I started the hike, starting right at the Mexican border in Campo, California. One of the border patrol guys flashed me the peace sign. It was an amazing experience. Ultimately, I hiked a bit less than 300 miles, making it to Big Bear, California… Where I left the trail..
In all the preparations I’d made, not only did my blogging output turn to mud, but I also lacked the time to train. A 2650-mile hike isn’t easy. Ooph!
After roughly 6 weeks of hiking I was getting faster and stronger, but the hiker bubble was passing me by, leaving me in the dust and somewhat vulnerable. I feel enormously proud that I even showed up to hike on that first day. It’s not easy to tell friends and family that you’re about to do this crazy thing, then actually show up and stare down the barrel of near 3000 miles. I did that part and stand firmly by it!
Admittedly, I also feel somewhat cowardly for having left, but I also feel it was the smart move. I was alone. Even in retrospect, it was the smart move. I simply wasn’t ready. It could’ve been dangerous.
This brave chicken needs to move forward, train like the dickens, take these experiences, improve, learn, and simply demolish the PCT in 2019.
Anywhoo… I’m back. I’m settled in and want to get back to blogging. I never really know where to start. So… in no particular order… I’m just going to start!
~ musical interlude~
Ah, before I do, I wrote a long post about Ice Cream, a few months back. In it, I shared some information about a burgeoning Ice Cream Company, lovingly called Rebel Creamery. They do their ice cream in a manner VERY similar to my own, which is a first for an actual mainstream business (at least that I’m aware of). They ran a Kickstarter Campaign, which was more than 3 times as successful as their intended goal. Due to its success and popularity, it’s my understanding that they were able to roll out with an extra flavor!
They offered to send me some, but I’m still travelling. It would be tough to get the ice cream to me, but word on the street is, it’s fantastic! I’ve been sent many emails and messages from people thanking me for sharing them and touting its sweet tastiness.
I have no affiliation with Rebel Creamery, mind you. I just like to promote people, places and things out there doing good things. I also happen to like to turn people on to those things. I’m like a little low-carb cupid, who runs around making introductions. I hope it works out with you crazy kids! 😉
If you haven’t heard about them… learn more: Rebel Creamery
Also, I found a fun video by an Ice Cream Expert where she talks about the difference between expensive and inexpensive ice creams. She compares them and discusses the attributes of both. Some of the expensive ice creams actually lose muster for trying too hard. While she is (just pretend she isn’t) focused on sugar-laden ice creams, the lessons churned herein still apply.
I started working in restaurants at about 13 years old. I first worked in a fancy European Chateau, in the foothills below Yosemite National Park. From there, I attended Cooking School in New York, then continued on into a variety of different fancy restaurants for another 15 years. During that time, there was one thing that seemed to span all establishments: Family Meal
Family Meal or Staff Meal was a meal prepared by the kitchen, for the staff of the restaurant, hotel, gig, store, what-have-you. It was always cheap, filling, and of incredible variety in both regionality and quality. More often than not, it was presented by a grumpy chef who’s got better things to do.
When I cooked my first staff meal, I was just told “anything fast and cheap”. As a result, staff meal was often pasta. Pasta tossed with leftovers. However, staff isn’t always just peers, prep cooks and dishwashers. It’s often the waitstaff, management and even the owners. So, staff meal can carry with it certain opportunities. It’s a chance to make an impression. A dent. A chance to feed the movers and shakers!
I remember working at Wolfgang Puck’s second restaurant, the now defunct Postrio in San Francisco. A wee 18 years old, I was great at washing dishes and peeling potatoes, but I hadn’t quite earned my stripes as a cook, just yet. My first role was called “Hot Prep”. My job was to prepare hot cooked items for the real soldiers on the line. I made stocks and sauces. I blanched and shocked boxes of haricot vert. I made fancy hash browns called Galettes. It was a start. I was making hot food for customers! (sort of)
Hot Prep was also in charge of Family Meal. And, Family Meal at Postrio was no small feat. It was a massive restaurant with a huge sophisticated staff. I was also a baby in the industry and needed people on my team. It was important to feed them well!
I asked the purchasing agent what kinds of things I could use for Family Meal. Here came the first of the, redundant “anything cheap” responses I’d hear through the years.
“Anything cheap,” he said.
“Well? So, what’s cheap?”
“Turkey,” he offered. “And, pork loins. Want a pork loin?”
25 years ago, my fresh little culinary face looked dead in the eye of that purchasing agent on that foggy cold winter afternoon and determinedly said, “Yes. Yes, I do.”
And, I’ve been saying “Yes.” to pork loins, ever since!
(It should also be noted that many people get stuck in Hot Prep for months on end. It’s not considered a cherished position, it’s more where students or a bad egg would get stuck for months on end, rather than firing him/her. They’d just burn ’em out in Hot Prep. Due to my varied and creative family meal options, I impressed the powers that be and spent a mere 3 weeks in Hot Prep, before graduating up to Pizza Monkey. Thank you, Pork Loin!)
Pork Loin is found running along the back of swine. Each pig has 2 loins, one on either side of the spine, running from roughly between the shoulder blades, above the ribs, to the lower back. They are a very nice and easy piece of meat to work with.
The center-cut section of a pork loin is roughly the same cut of meat as the ribeye on a cow. Just as you have a ribeye steak, you may have a pork chop, for dinner.
There are a variety of different ways you can purchase a pork loin. You can purchase just the center. You can purchase the entire thing. You can purchase them cleaned or still with the ribs attached, etc. However, for the most part, I’ll be focusing on the very common boneless full pork loin.
This is the full pork loin, purchased from my local CostCo. It’s a big long log, weighing about 9 lbs. (4kg).
Pork loins fall well into how I cook in my own home. It’s a big inexpensive piece of meat which can be easily butchered and used for a wide variety of things. If you throw a stone around my website, there’s a good chance you’ll hit a pork loin recipe. Those that follow are far from the only ones.
Note that the packaging even showcases a variety of ways one can use a pork loin. They’re great for chops, over-the-top chops, roasts, stir-fries, and pounded out schnitzel-like meats. They’re quite varied! Usually, I’ll buy one, bring it home and use it for something. Then, I’ll cut up the rest into a variety of different cuts/purposes, then vacuum pack and freeze. One single pork loin can yield about 20 easy meals!
While a pork loin looks like a big perfect and clean piece of meat, it’s not without its issues. Likely the biggest issue it faces is a complete lack of marbling. Fat is what brings the smooth palatable moisture in a piece of meat. Without fat ribboning through the meat, an even barely overcooked pork loin can be like mawing on a mouthful of saw dust.
This is where it’s important to be careful how well a pork loin roast is cooked. Pork falls into this weird area where people want to overcook it, like poultry, for historical reasons. Like salmonella and poultry, undercooked pork was associated with trichinosis, resulting in everyone cooking every last drop of moisture out of their pork meat. However, in the 1950’s, there was a great effort to eliminate trichinosis. This included, but was not limited to, keeping pigs clean, in clean pens. Cleaning meat cutting tools and grinders, during production. Control and destruction of meat containing trichinae. And, probably the biggest factor in eliminating trichinosis was not allowing the pigs to eat the raw meat and carcasses of other animals.
So, while it’s been roughly 60 years since sincere efforts have gone into place to get rid of trichinosis, the fears associated with it have been handed down through the generations. A medium rare pork steak is still likely to be sneared at by most everyone. In 2011 (just 7 years ago), the USDA finally acknowledged trichinosis was no longer a problem. They officially lowered the recommended internal temperature of pork from 160 F to 145 F (71 C to 63 C), a fairly significant difference of 15 degrees F (8 C)! Even this change was only 7 years ago, which means that even many millennial hipster youth still want their free range organic pork… overcooked.
The official recommendation for a pork loin roast is to roast it until a thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the roast reads 145 F (63 C). Then, they require the meat rest for a further 3 minutes.
I personally roast my pork to 140 F (61 C), then rest it for about 10 minutes. This, in my opinion, ends up with very roughly the same range of temperature (the extra resting time allows for more carryover cooking). It’s a bit taboo and it’s a little bit outside the range of the recommendation, but… the end result is a more evenly cooked roast, with enough moisture to maintain delectable tenderness.
This, even, without brine!
What’s a brine, you ask? Basically, a brine is a salt water solution. Meat cuts, especially leaner cuts like pork loin and turkey breasts, are placed into the brine for a period of an hour to overnight. The salt does a variety of science-y things. The end result, however, is a slightly more tender cut of meat, which has absorbed a good amount of seasoned water. The light salt water opens up some channels in the protein, allowing it to sponge up some of that saline solution!
See, when you cook anything, much of its water is released. If you cook a pork loin, much of its water is released. Let’s say 8 oz. (227g) of water is removed and evaporates away. Now, let’s assume we roast a brined pork loin, swelling with extra salt water. As it roasts, the same 8 oz (227g) of water is removed and evaporates away. Because so much extra water was added, much more remains. Further, salt is a flavor enhancer, resulting in an enhanced flavor! I always brine pork roasts. It’s very common for me to do a quick brine on chops, as well.
Pork loin is also good for thin cuts of meat and stir-fries. Any meat cut thin is often perceived as tender, in the mouth. Typically, stir-fries and thinner cuts of meat have sauces and are cooked in fat, which adhere to the meat, which has a lot of surface area, related to the amount of internal meat. Because of this, pork loin is a fantastic option… no brine needed!
My suggestion would be to go grab a pork loin and enjoy. Varied, affordable, tasty and can feed a family for a week! ??
Now, before I get into the recipes…
More content than you could read!
Yep! If you were a member of my site about 6 months ago, the people that organized the 2018 Keto Bundle, worked with authors to put together a massive compilation of content. They offered it for a week, then … everyone breaks up and goes about their business. Apparently, it was so successful (I heard loads of rave reviews), that the organizers are running the same offer, this week. I wanted to share, especially to those of you who are new to my blog, or even those that just need a fresh kick in the rear … to get back to it!
If you need help, or need more information, need some deeper creative input, want a wider variety of recipes, or desire tips, hints, discounts and more… please read on.
I was truly honored to have been invited to participate in the 2018 Keto Bundle, presented by Jeremy and Louise Hendon. I still feel so honored! I mean, just look at the people participating…
That’s seriously like a massive who’s-who of the Keto/Low-Carb/Paleo community. And… look. Right there. In the circle on the right. It’s me! I’m a who, now, too!
In all seriousness, I’ve seen these bundle/collection things before and they’ve always seemed a bit scammy/spammy to me. However, I’m quite familiar with the Hendons and know well their reputation. I’m also very much aware of all the other people on this list. Not a slouch in the bunch! Finally, I also know that my own newest book can be found in and amongst the list. While I’m clearly biased, my new book is a fun, informative and solid read with quality photos, illustrations, a professionally frisky design and detailed editing. It’s not something I just whipped up in notepad and published. It was a major project; one I’m enormously proud of!
I know that many of the other books and pieces of content in this bundle are of comparable quality. My point? This sale is no joke…
Here’s the sales pitch: You Get 31 Keto Cookbooks, Meal Plans, Weight-Loss Guides, The Entire Keto Summit, and Much More (Plus 10 Bonuses)…
…at a Huge 96% Discount!
This runs for 5 1/2 more days. The basic idea is, each of us bloggers, writers, doctors and influencers all work together to promote this bundle, during this short collective window. It’s a fantastic way to help thousands of people, delivering them quality, informative and supportive information. From my perspective, it’s a great way to get noticed by audiences who may not know me, yet. So, I put my best foot forward. I’m sure it’s the same with the other authors. There’s a lot to love, here!
There’s something like 100 different elements to this bundle, from books and videos to discounts to products and more. It’s a massive MASSIVE chunk of quality content… for less than $40.00. Not to overmine its value, but the cost for this bundle is actually less than the cost of my first book.
I’m not your typically spammy guy (or at least, I hope not… ). If I promote it, I stand firmly behind it. This is a substantial amount of honest-to-goodness quality content at a fraction the cost to collect this independently. This collection will be available until 11:59pm EST on September 18th, 2018, at which time the sales page will disappear, and all the bloggers will go back to their regularly scheduled programs.
For now… grab it. Today! There’s no risk. You can always return it if you don’t like it (within 30 days), but… I highly doubt that’ll happen!
Finally, let’s all say YES to Pork Loin!
Pork Chop Italiano
This recipe was inspired by a combination of this recipe, from AllRecipes.com, and the ingredients lounging in my fridge (I must’ve been out of tomatoes!). My approach is kind of a cross between a pan-roasted pork chop and a stir-fry, with a tasty buttery broth. Same same, but different. I’m… More >
Cinnamon Pork Loin Roll with Carrots and Apples
Every once in a while, I get smacked upside the head with a bizarre idea, but … I’ll stick with it, mull it over and turn it into something tasty. This is just such an idea.
Believe it or not, this recipe came to me, while I was day dreaming … More >
Pork Pizza Parmesan
It’s always interesting to me the way ideas come about and clash into other ideas. This idea came about as a way to use a breaded pork cutlet as a base for a pizza. Ultimately, the plan was to suggest a variety of toppings, from pepperoni, to Hawaiian, to a … More >
Take a look at my books!
An Easy Guide to Grain-Free Quick Breads
Taking Out the Carbage
AKA The Big Book of Bacon
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