current addictions

29 Feb

For this post, I want to share a few things that I’m totally addicted to. First off, I’m currently addicted to listening to the Paleo Summit, that’s going on from now til March 4th. It’s a series of radio interviews with varios experts in Paleo lifestyles. Each day, there is a different set of audio interviews that are posted. These interviews are available for only twenty-four hours. When the summit is done, the interviews and transcripts will be available for sale. I’m loving the plethora of information because the organizer has set up a diverse set of speakers, some who contradict each other. If you have the time, check it out!

As I probably mentioned before (maybe not), I’m currently addicted to Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Admittedly, I own quite a few paleo cookbooks, but this is the one that I use ALL THE TIME.

There are several reasons why I love Well Fed so much. First, there’s a ton of variety. I’m never bored with the recipes because she lists ways to vary the them so that you can potentially make two to four different dishes using the same components. Second, it’s a true paleo cookbook. I like that Joulwan shows that paleo cooking can be strict, yet delicious. Third, she introduces some simple, but effective cooking techniques such as brining chicken to make sure it stays moist and emphasizing that chili needs to simmer for two hours to ensure deliciousness. Take it from me, she’s TOTALLY RIGHT! Third, her recipes are really easy. Fourth, she has a section where she shows how you can cook/prep for the week, making paleo eating very do-able. (Yes. Treating cooking like a CrossFit WOD definitely helps with making home-cooked meals manageable and efficient!) Fifth, she has a cooking style that I can relate to. I’m someone who isn’t good at following strict recipes. I don’t trust recipes. I take for granted that most cooks won’t share their secrets. Therefore, cooking is about 10% recipe and 90% instinct and soul. Luckily, Joulwan’s directions are great! But they also give you room to experiment. She provides the base ideas and you, the budding paleo cook can run wild. Pretty awesome!

Finally, the reason why I’m addicted to Well Fed is because it introduced me to my next addiction: Penzeys Spices! OMG!OMG!OMG!HOLYJEEBUS!OMG! For those of you who don’t know, Penzeys is a store (and website) that sells spices. That’s it. Just spices. Thing is, it sells deliciously fresh and totally inspiring spices! Luckily, there’s a Penzeys in Menlo Park. At my last visit, I picked up a few things. Aren’t these things just beautiful?

I have to say that shopping at Penzeys has totally inspired my inner chef. First off, it prompted me to re-organize my spice cabinet. Check it out, y’all! Isn’t she gorgeous? FYI – I get my spices in various places. As long as there is a Penzeys nearby, I’ll always go there first. However, I also shop for spices at Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus World Market. Though I have some stuff from Costco, I’m going to stop that because there’s no reason for me to have two pounds of cinnamon. Really. There isn’t.

With my spice rack all revamped, I’ve been really inspired in the kitchen. Here are a few results of this weekend’s cooking adventures. After a conversation with the Manpanion about my eating goals, I told him that I respect his love for carbs and such. Just because I’m trying to be better at a paleo/primal diet doesn’t mean he has to suffer. However, I do want to know that I’m feeding him well. (Yes. I pack him lunch everyday. I’m awesome like that.) I explained that he would see a few changes in his meals. Primarily, I’m cutting out bread, noodles, and pasta. Instead, I’m packing him potatoes (the colored ones, not the Idaho ones), yams, squash, and other friendly starches. He trusts my cooking senses, but will miss the rice. I cooked these seasoned red potatoes to pair with the pot of chili I made.

I swear this next dish tastes better than the photo looks. I wanted to make a creamy Italian-inspired dish. I make a mean alfredo, but I wanted to create something that had those sensibilities, but was (mostly) dairy free. Using coconut milk and two different cheese-flavored spices (they have minimal amounts of cheese, so this dish isn’t 100% paleo), I created this creamy chicken and vegetable dish. It turned out fantastic! Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact recipe. Let me think about this and I’ll post the “recipe” of this dish soon.

And there you have it. A few of my current addictions…

Live deliciously!


5 Responses to “current addictions”

  1. GladysN February 29, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    i’m loving the “well fed” book as well (thank you, dear!), and what definitely sets it apart from other cookbooks is that special section on how to pre-prep everything, especially the veggies, so that the rest of the eating week goes more smoothly. given that i get a CSA farm box every weekend, it’s so much better to semi-cook as many veggies as possible and place them in the tupperware so that they don’t take up so much fridge space. also, they’re more likely to get eaten during the week that way instead of spoiling in the back of the fridge somewhere. (the only thing i haven’t been able to figure out how to eat are the rutabagas…seriously, if you find a great recipe including several pounds of rutabagas, send it my way, will you?)

    also, when you get a chance, can you share a list of your top 5 favorite spice mixes from penzeys? i want to go online spice shopping. 🙂 hugs and keep these posts coming!

    • jlrondilla February 29, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      As soon as I figure out what a rutabaga is, I’ll pass on some ideas:)

      As for Penzeys, I like them as a general spice store because overall, their spices are high quality and fresher than what you get at typical stores. Having made a few trips, I’ll pass on some important advice. (Note: Yes. I’ve given my spices this much thought!)

      1) Regarding your current spices, don’t throw away the bottles. You can re-fill them using Penzeys stuff. For example, if you’re out of red chili flakes, hold on to the bottle and refill with red chili flakes from Penzeys (I recommend the Aleppo Pepper. Delicious!)

      2) Another thing you can do with your current bottles is throw out any spices that are old or unused. Re-fill them with whatever Penzeys spices you like and label accordingly. With points #1 and #2, this means you can buy spices in the bag which are generally cheaper (wa-hoo!). I keep the excess spices in the bags and store them in a handy box and re-fill as needed. When you start really getting into your spices, you’ll be surprised at how fast you go through them.

      3) Anything you don’t have bottles for, go ahead and just spring for the bottled spices. When you run low, then buy the bagged ones.

      4) When you’re at the “all I need to buy are bagged spices” stage, I think it’s best to round up friends and buy the 8oz or 16oz bags. When split, they’re a great value. (I haven’t done this, but I hope to organize a spice club at some point.)

      5) Now on to my favorite spices. This will vary from person to person. With respect to their blends, I like (and will likely refill): Rocky Mountain, Brady Street, Sunny Paris, Sicilian, and Chicago Steak. I found the Buttermilk Dressing just meh (won’t refill). In terms of essentials, I think every cabinet should have: Shallot Salt (pricey, but so delicious); Parsley; Chives; Cilantro (These last three ideally should be fresh, but when I buy them, they end up rotting. Since Penzeys freeze dries these spices, they retain a vibrant color and flavor.). As mentioned, I think Aleppo Pepper is fantastic because it’s more robust than your standard red chili flakes. I’m loving their chili powder. They have several varieties, but I like the standard chili powder, med-hot. Also, I love the smokiness of the Spanish Paprika. They sell several varieties of paprika, but I’m glad I got the Spanish style one. They also sell the arrowroot starch, which is perfect for the paleo crepes! I just picked up lemon peel and cracked ginger. I’ll give my feedback as soon as I use them:)

      6) If you can, definitely go to a store and buy your spices there. Penzeys is an experience. They provide “sample” jars for you to smell. That way, you get a better sense of what the spices are. I should warn you that your nose will kind of hurt the first time around. Perhaps bring some coffee beans with you to clean your nose palate. There are two Penzeys in the LA area:

      Los Angeles Area
      21301 Hawthorne Blvd
      Torrance, CA
      (310) 406-3877

      1347 4th St
      Santa Monica, CA
      (310) 917-5577

      Okay. I hope you found this helpful:)

  2. Melissa Joulwan (@melicious11) February 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    JOANNE! You are the sweetest. Thank you so much for the sweet words about Well Fed. I’m eating them up with a spoon — who needs coconut butter when there are words like this?!

    I’m so glad that you’re enjoying Well Fed, and I’m sorry/you’re welcome for introducing you to the magic that is Penzeys. Happy cooking to you!

    • jlrondilla March 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      (Gasp.) OH.MY.GOD. Melissa, when I approved your comment, my inner fangirl let out a series of high-pitched squeals that rivals this little girl meeting Katy Perry (fast forward to 3:40 in this video: Note: My face is now beet red in that omg-i-can’t-believe-i-just-admitted-that kind of way).

      That you compared my sweet words to coconut butter makes this island gal do her happy island dance (sorry, no you tube video of that one). Many thanks for stopping by and writing such an awesome book! Yes, thank you for the Penzeys tip!

      Finally, if you’re ever in the San Francisco bay area, feel free to contact me. I shall make you a delicious batch of chicken kelaguen, a traditional dish from the island of Guam that is paleo and super delicious!

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