companion blog to the e-book the 24/7 Low Carb Diner

Companion blog to the e-book
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Big ole' Pork Tenderloin

We were at Sam's Club the other day, and found they had pork tenderloin for  $1.99 a pound. It was big. Feed a crowd big. Feed the masses big. It went home with me. You see, I knew I need to feed a crowd. Afterall, I was begging help from my friends to get our house and property ready for the big afterstorm makeover. I had instructions to get all the undergrowth and debris from what was left of out privacy fence. We found all sort of things growing in the Vinca that lined the fence and house. Bad idea--don't let that stuff get out of hand like we did. That is another story. It was a tough job even before we found the neighbors had been dumping things in the space between our fences. Guess who got to clean that up? My friends. You really do know who your friends are when they show up for that job! They even took down our old swingset and hauled the pieces off for to be recycled. What a crew!

I wanted to be able to feed everyone, carbies and low carbers alike. So, I took that giant hunk of pork, cut it up and plopped it into my dual crockpot. With my kitchen less than workable, the crockpot did a fine job sitting on the concrete slab in the kitchen nook. The lid kept any remaining insulation at bay, and my guests dined in style--well, they dined in an emergency situation type style, anyway. I contend, that is a style of sorts. I made one side with the sugary barbecue sauce for the carbivores among them. I made one side with a homemade sauce for the low carbers and my GAPS boy. The sides were simple, fruit pickles and cheese. For the carbies, I had buns and chips too. Okay, so not gourmet, but I did manage to give them strength and keep them here working long into the evening hours. What troopers! I even had some leftovers. It was a huge ole piece of pork.

Sorry, this is another of those no real recipe, just a method posts. Just slow cook a 3-4 pound chunk of pork tenderloin with about of cup of low carb barbecue sauce. Cook 10 hours. Let cool a bit, shred the meat and let the liquid reabsorb. Stir in another cup of sauce and serve. On a good day, I would have some coconut flour buns ready, but these are difficult kitchen times, so we just ate a scoop on a plate. Just as good and less work. Not so easy to eat with your fingers, however.

Now my yard is clear and almost barren. The furniture is all moved into a pod in my driveway. It echoes in here.Trucks keep driving into my backyard. That takes some getting used to. My poor dogs are so confused. I am hoping the fence goes up soon because my neighbors have taken in some houseguests and  between them all, they have 7 dogs--with no side fence. That makes 10 dogs to be watched for potty breaks.Come on fence guys!

I kept my fridge and stove connected,  but those will have to be gone soon enough for the new floors to go in. My mom is trying to convince me to replace my leaky, non igniting burners stove. I dunno. Insurance won't pay for that, and cookbook sales are a little slow these days. Hoping a new project in the works will fix that soon.

So many difficult things have been happening to my family lately. There certainly have been trials. I do feel that our dark cloud is lifting. My home repairs are underway. My youngest son is feeling better now that he is not eating starches and additives on the SCD/GAPS diet. My oldest son just landed an amazing job! That is the best news ever. 2100 plus applications. Interviews. No calls. He was even willing to be a teller, but no one would hire him there. Thing sure can turn on dime. He got a call last Wednesday to come interview back in his college town in Arkansas. By yesterday, he was hired and asked to start work tomorrow.  One week and he is not only employed, but also second in command of an accounting department and over three people. He will earn more than his dad. Not that Christian radio, his dad's job, pays much, but still, for his first job out of college... We are so proud, not only that he got a great job, but of the strength and character he displayed through the year and three month job search. It is tough out there, but he never gave up.

We are persevering through some trials, and the blessings are now headed our way.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Balsamic Brats and Peppers

This was today's lunch. It was so delish, I made extra as freezer meals. We stopped by Sam's Club on the way home from church. I know my kitchen is a wreck and will just be getting worse, but I trying to prepare as many meals as I can. I just couldn't help buying some things for some homecooked foods. These we will have in the freezer so John can take them to work and grill them up on the George grill there. I am guessing we could even grill them up when we take refuge from the construction in the long as we take a grill in with us.

I also got some meats to cook in the crockpots. Those can travel to any room in the house, right? We are going to need some help from friends this week to empty all the damaged rooms. Furniture, wall decor--everything has to go. We are still not sure where it is going to go, but it can't stay here. Yikes! I am thinking I could feed my volunteer crew pretty easily with some barbecue pork. I can just set my crockpots up on the back patio and add buns and some salads from the deli for my friends. We can have pork and coleslaw. It has been raining here, so work may be delayed. But here's to hoping.

Back to this recipe. It is so easy and so delicious. I adore sauteed onions and peppers. They are a little carby, but if you are watching, throw some zucchini in there too and that will help. Today, I threw everything in the skillet because I only had the three of us to feed. No carby boys today. If I was adding them, I think I would serve these with some rice or on a crusty bread.

I used the long red peppers from Sam's Club. They are called Ancient Sweets. Odd name, and from Holland no less? Combined with Bratwurst, this really is an international dish. In my freezer packets, I also added a regular green bell pepper. The sausages are Zia brand. Only one carb per link, and they were really good. I would definitely buy them again. Of course, being at the wholesale club, I had to buy 5 pounds of them, so we will certainly be serving them again. With this hectic week, they are going into the freezer, but I am thinking an autumn inspired brats and cabbage dish will on the menu soon. My usual menu planning is difficult during construction.

I am going to include the instructions for the skillet dish, then the individual freezer packets.

Balsamic Brats and Peppers

5 bratwurst links
3 Ancient Sweet red peppers, or 1 regular red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup Asiago cheese 
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop vegetables into bite sized chunks. Cut sausages into 3/4 inch slices. Heat olive oil in skillet. Add garlic, sausage and vegetables. Saute until meat is cooked through. Season to taste. Sprinkle with grated Asiago cheese.

To make 4 freezer packets:
Dice 1 onion, 1 large green bell pepper and 3 Ancient Sweets red peppers (or 1 large red bell pepper)

Into a plastic sandwich bag, add
1 1/4 sliced bratwurst link
1/4 onion
1/4 green bell pepper
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
a sprinkle of garlic powder

Layer in the meat and vegetables. Add garlic, oil and vinegar. Squish with fingers to coat everything in the bag. Freeze.

I use the inexpensive fold over sandwich bags. Because these do not seal well, I put them inside a larger freezer bag. This keeps like food together, and saves money by using fewer of the costlier freezer bags. You can also seal them inside Foodsaver bags.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Barbecue Skillet Dinner

So it is nothing fancy, but it is one of the few dinners I have managed to make in my less than amazing surroundings. No repair work has started YET. More than a month since the storm, and all we have had is stop gap quick fixes. One check is in, but we can't spend it yet. How is it that funds instantly come out of my account when I use a debit card, but my 13,000 some dollars from the insurance needs a week? This is pretty amazing how it goes out but not in. The best news is a cool front. Even though I still have plastic sheeting everywhere and missing walls and ceilings, at least it is not 95 degrees in the kitchen. I grabbed some veggies at Aldi the other day, and I am taking advantage of the cooler temps. I know the rebuilding will be starting in earnest next week, and the house will be a major construction zone, certainly not a place to cook. Unless I could convince the guys that drywall dust is parmesan cheese, that is.

The other bad news is that my youngest is suffering through a relapse of his IBS issues. He is undergoing some major life stress with a new full time job, full time college hours, and a house that is...ummm..( guess I have complained enough there) I can't wonder how he is stressed. He is working as an assistant teacher at a Head Start program. Who would not be stressed with twenty 3 and 4 year old kids all day? Two teachers only. That is a stresser enough!

We are putting him back--on his own request--on the GAPS/SCD diet. It eliminates starches and most sugars while adding in healing bone broths and probiotics. That means mom has some major work ahead in the kitchen. Keeping up with an organic when possible, all home prepared regimen occupies a few hours in the day. I will probably have to move my food prep over to my mom's house during the home fix. Eating out at restaurants is such a gamble. Even small food additives lurk everywhere and can ruin his healing progress. Eating clean is a job in itself. I will share some of my recipes I prepare for him. Even though his diet is often more strict that the low carb routine we generally follow, they do often overlap. Tonight's skillet supper is an example. The ingredients are the same, he just needed his cooked longer for digestibility.

It is basically just a round up of vegetables, fried up with ground beef and seasoned with some garlic and home made barbecue sauce, a touch of mustard and some crumbled bacon. Embarrassing to post on a food blog, but it is what it is. Even the photo had to be taken on the stove because my only source of natural light is covered in a plastic tarp. Appetizing? Not so much.  It did taste like home cooking, though. We have missed those folksy meals.I won't make you laugh at the "recipe" so just know that we dined on cabbage, onion, zucchini, tomatoes and sauce. My sauce is wonderful made with Wright's liquid smoke and it is legal for my kiddo's plan. My friend Maria blogged about a prebiotic sweetener that will be good for Christian to use. I am buying that soon. I will bake up some goodies and let you know our review. Check out her post of fudge cookies. Mmm. Maria is a wealth of information...if only I knew half of what she does! Good to have friends, though.

Tired of chicken salads, I have cheated on my low carb more times than I care to admit lately. I have proven that the Diner system is fabulous, but a working kitchen is required to keep it up! My Mulitply Meals are all eaten up, as are many of my Freezer Favorites. I use my Babycakes machine for easy breakfast muffins before it gets too hot. I still have uncooked meat, waiting to become the next homecooked meal, but it only works when the kitchen is open. John found insulation in his tea the other day. Wonder how many cancers that can cause!?!

Can't wait for things to get back to normal. I have even been suffering the loss of my computer for a few days. It is back, although it is still an old hand me down from my oldest. Slow but connected at least. A normal home is still weeks away, but the roof will be going on soon...then the wall and ceilings, the fence, then painting, the flooring, then putting it all back together. We are still trying to figure out where to put all the furniture during the repairs. I have most of the new things chosen, but then I know it is going to make my old stuff look even worse. I have the most awful countertops and backsplash. They came with the house and can't seem to be registered on the color wheel. Next to gray, they look beige. Next to beige, they are gray. The wallpaper is coming down, no one wants to hang new paper, and I can't find a color to match. Such details are making me crazy--almost as nuts as I am trying to deal with the insurance company. Still, we are very grateful to have been covered, and to get some updates we could not otherwise afford. In the end it will be worth it...I think...If I keep finding more things that really need to be updated this could be an expensive storm indeed. Keep in touch, Diners. I will be back in force soon. Hope things are good for you.Maybe I will do a kitchen reveal like they do on the decorator blogs. Or maybe not. I will still have those countertops...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Berry Cobbler

Thank you Father for a break to our heatwave! It has been glorious the last few days here. I actually turned on the oven for the first time in a month. Not that my kitchen is back together. It is not. But I am making do on a small scale. We are getting rather accustomed to drooping plastic ceilings, concrete floors and old bedspreads over sheet rock free walls. Good news is, the check should be in the mail today. They are granting us about $20,000 in repairs. I am worried that is not enough--especially since our fence estimates alone are around $5000. We are DIY challenged, so I don't know how many short cuts we can take. The whole process with insurance is so confusing. I can't wait to get my house back in order.

Baking, even though it was just one little dish, was comforting. I really wasn't planning to make a cobbler, so this just kinda happened. My wonderful, talented and creative middle boy decided to come home from college over Labor Day for his birthday. My older son's girlfriend, a student at the same school, bribed him with the offer of a birthday cake if he would ride back with her. Now this was a pretty big sacrifice for the boy seeing that this was his 21st birthday--one you usually don't want to spend with your mom. But he is not your typical guy. No one would ever call him a wild party animal. So he chose to spend his special day with his family. Collective 'Awww' inserted here.

Kristen did make him a cake--well a pan of brownies. She was disappointed I didn't have any birthday candles. Too many years since the party era for us I guess. They family gobbled them up so fast! They were supposed to last for the day with Nana on Monday, but they didn't. We were left without a dessert for the family get together. Since Pearson is my insulin resistant son, I sure didn't want to put another dessert full of sugar and white flour in front of him. So, I made a low carb cobbler that we all could eat. Everyone liked it, low carb or not. There ya go! The texture is not quite the same as a traditional cobbler, but if you are a fan of coconut flour baked goods, this will delight you.

Feel free to play around with the sweeteners of choice. I used what was open and close at hand. Add more berries if you please, I used the end of my bag and didn't bother to measure them out. The amount or type of berries is not that important.

Brown "Sugar" Berry Cobbler
Berry base:
2-3 cups frozen berry blend or blueberries, blackberries or raspberries
1/2 cup Ideal sweetener (brown sugar blend optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon glucomannan  powder (xanthan gum will work too)
1/2 cup melted butter
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Ideal Sweetener (brown)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

In a sprayed baking dish, combine fruit, sweetener, spices and thickener.
In another bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, vanilla and sweetener. To this, quickly stir in coconut flour and baking powder. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. Spoon over the fruits. Bake at 375 until the top is golden, about 20 minutes.

If you look at the photo and think that I must have left mine in a little too long, I did. It is tricky to share my tiny, storm damaged kitchen with my future daughter in law. She is not a low carber, and makes her own carbivore breakfasts when she visits. To each his own, but I love that she is willing to get in there and make her own rather than expecting us to eat all that sugary stuff. Maybe we will win her over in time. So our cobbler got a little brown while the other breakfast was in the works, but it was still tasty. At mom's, we added some whipped cream. Home made vanilla ice cream would have been amazing. The coconut flour batter tastes buttery and stays cakey, not gooey like some traditional cobblers I have had in the past.

I can't wait to get my house back to normal. It is still a few weeks away, but with cooler weather, I can get a little more done in the kitchen. When the new ceiling floors and wallpaper goes in, though, it will be impossible again. Until then, I will do what I can with what I have.