Summertime chai tea popsicles

Summertime chai tea popsicles from my sister Glennis. Dairy and refined-sugar free, made with Chocolate Chai tea!

Summertime chai tea popsicles from my sister Glennis. Dairy and refined-sugar free, made with Chocolate Chai tea!

My sister Glennis is the best maker-of-desserts I know. They are seriously awesome. I mention this for the billionth time because we just lucked out: she just made up a recipe for a summer dessert using my all time favourite tea, President's Choice Chocolatey Chai (for those of you outside of the range of President's Choice products, which I assume are sold all over Canada, 1) I am so sorry, and 2) this will probably work like gang-busters with any chai).

Glennie says:

Hey Robin!
I made some popsicles out of that chocolate chai tea we both like and I thought I would send you the recipe. You could make ice cream out of it too if you want :] I dont remember the exact measurements of stuff I put in it but I tried to guesstimate as best I could. There is probably not that much honey in them because I just dipped my wooden spoon in some honey a couple of times and let it drip into the mixture but 1/4 a cup is pretty close i think? 

Summertime chai tea popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 400 mL/14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 bags chai tea

Directions

  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in saucepan while stirring occasionally.
  2. Squeeze tea bags by pressing with a wooden spoon (or whatever you are using to stir) against side of pot to add more flavour and color to the mixture.
  3. Let mixture cool a bit and then put into popsicle mould and freeze overnight.
PS - my sister sent me a better picture of the sublime carrot cake she made for my birthday; drool worthy.

PS - my sister sent me a better picture of the sublime carrot cake she made for my birthday; drool worthy.

Bacon and cauliflower cabbage mash, aka Caulcannon, salad

Cauliflower colcannon, aka "caulcannon", was great with sausage, but awesome with bacon.

Cauliflower colcannon with Thatcher Farms thick sliced bacon and Paleo Mayo 2.0 cooking away in a cast iron skillet.

Cauliflower colcannon with Thatcher Farms thick sliced bacon and Paleo Mayo 2.0 cooking away in a cast iron skillet.

I know that dressing salad greens and steamed broccoli with bacon and mayonnaise might seem a bit counterproductive, but hey - fat is the most maligned nutrient and fatty pork is totally yummy.

I'm never quite certain where I stand on the Whole30 program - dramatically changing everything in your diet all at once seems to overwhelm most of us - but I definitely love their meal building rubric (super-simplified version: 1-2 palm sized servings of protein rich food dressed with 1-2 thumb sized servings of fat and the rest of your plate or bowl with veggies) and find meals "built" that way perfectly satisfying. And this is one of them, which is probably why I make it over and over again!

Bacon and caulcannon on mixed greens and steamed broccoli, a perfectly balanced and perfectly simple meal.

Bacon and caulcannon on mixed greens and steamed broccoli, a perfectly balanced and perfectly simple meal.

Fake-out potato- and dairy-free "Caulcannon"

Blurry birthday pictures mean everyone is celebrating correctly: the most delicious cake I have ever eaten, full stop: my sister Glennis made the "Breaking bad with carrot cake" Paleo+cream cheese carrot cake from Cavewoman Cafe.

Blurry birthday pictures mean everyone is celebrating correctly: the most delicious cake I have ever eaten, full stop: my sister Glennis made the "Breaking bad with carrot cake" Paleo+cream cheese carrot cake from Cavewoman Cafe.

Well, I just had the most fantastic week. I've been dreading my birthday a little bit and was worried I'd wake up feeling very old - as you can see from the candles in the picture above, I turned 11...

Right.

At any rate, I was totally wrong. I am feeling stronger than I have in awhile now that I am coming off of a shoulder injury and finally able to do light presses and banded pull-ups again at the gym, and I was treated to not one but TWO surprise birthday parties with TWO surprise mostly-Paleo cakes made by my wonderful sister Glennis. I'm posting the super blurry photo above because it is the only documentation of her Paleo+cream cheese carrot cake, as it was promptly devoured. Note to those wanting to make this totally dairy free: I had good luck with this creamy cashew faux-cream cheese icing. I'm hoping to gather up more photos and recipes of some of the other food at these events - it was mind-blowing. I feel very loved, and not at all as ancient as I should.

The other wonderful birthday surprise was that I noticed I had a whack of new subscribers! Welcome, hello! I am so happy you are here! I went to investigate where you were coming from, and saw that the original "Healthy Skeptic", frequent Paleo Solution Podcast guest, and all around internet superstar Chris Kresser had included my slow cooker recipe for ratatouille meatball soup in his bi-weekly "best-of" links roundup! And that is just beyond exciting. Thank you. And now, on to the cooking!

"Caulcannon" with sausage on salad greens and steamed brussels sprouts: fake-out, dairy- and potato-free, Paleo cauliflower colcannon 

"Caulcannon" with sausage on salad greens and steamed brussels sprouts: fake-out, dairy- and potato-free, Paleo cauliflower colcannon 

I had colcannon a few years back during brunch at an English pub in Montreal. I can't remember the name of the pub, but do remember my friend Amanda requiring very little peer pressure to order a "hair of the dog" Bloody Mary with a raw egg sitting at the bottom; I was still a bit squeamish about novel foods at the time and didn't follow suit, but that sounds like the perfect cocktail to me at this point.

Colcannon is a mixture of cabbage and mashed potatoes, and it was darned good. I remember it being served along with bubble and squeak (fried leftover roast veggies) and bangers (a better name for sausages). I've been loving making a way too easy, non-starchy, dairy- and potato-free version; you could do this on the stovetop, but it has been hot - and for those of us without air conditioning, microwave recipes suddenly seem like totally legit cooking. Now, I enjoy mashed cauliflower a lot, but the folks claiming it is indistinguishable from mashed potatoes do not remember mashed potatoes. However, in this instance, I like this lighter "Caulcannon" even better than the original; especially during the summer.

This fake-out colcannon is great on top of salad greens or steamed veggies, with sliced sausage on top. Mine was the red wine and garlic sausage we got as loot from our sausage making class at Thatcher Farms - totally delicious. I like to mix a heaping tablespoon of Paleo Mayo 2.0 into each serving.

Fake-out cauliflower "Caulcannon"

Makes about 10 heaping 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, skin removed and chopped in half
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 green or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons
  • Lots of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, I love salt and used maybe 1 Tbsp of each
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp Paleo Mayo 2.0 per serving

Directions

  1. Steam the cabbage, I used a microwave safe bowl with a plate on top, until tender - about 10 minutes.
  2. Steam the cauliflower and onion together.
  3. Puree the cauliflower, onion, coconut milk, salt, and pepper together using an immersion blender or food processor.
  4. Stir in the cabbage.

Pork crackling under the broiler

Fresh pork crackling

Fresh pork crackling

It doesn't happen too often, but sometimes I have a pork roast or belly where I've peeled off the skin. It is a pretty hefty hunk of meat, and it would be a terrible shame to chuck it because it can be used to make the best snack in the world - fresh pork crackling! Crackling is a great substitute for potato or corn chips, and also packs a fair bit of protein.

Making these is so awesomely easy.

Fresh broiled pork crackling

Ingredients

  • Pork skin
  • Sea salt and pepper or all purpose seasoning (I like ones that have cumin and garlic)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your broiler to high and place a rack about six inches below the top of the oven.
  2. Rub a fair bit of salt and pepper or seasoning into the pork skin.
  3. Put the pork on a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet and put it into the oven.
  4. When the skin puffs up (as above) and the pork belly is crispy, it is ready to eat!

I love to use these like you would tortilla chips with dips like guacamole or salsa.

Egg-tomato-avocado stack dressed with balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and sea salt

Fried egg, sliced tomato, and avocado stack with a big splash of balsamic vinegar and a bit of sea salt and black pepper is a super easy, super satisfying snack or small meal.

Fried egg, sliced tomato, and avocado stack with a big splash of balsamic vinegar and a bit of sea salt and black pepper is a super easy, super satisfying snack or small meal.

As I've been running around like wild the last few weeks, I've been thinking a bit on how many of the folks I know find themselves in a bind, stuck without good food options when they are desperate to eat. This is a recipe for my very favourite lazy meal of the moment:

Balsamic egg-tomato-avocado stack

Serves one

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 avocado, pit removed
  • Thick slice of tomato
  • Sea salt, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a pan and add oil; when oil is slightly smoking, add egg and fry to your liking.
  2. Put egg on a plate and stack tomato and avocado on top.
  3. Dress with a big splash of balsamic vinegar and big pinch each of sea salt and black pepper.

Sweet Spanish fruit sausages: sausage-fest with Bailey & Co.

Sausage-fest: Bailey and me enjoying the fruits of our (wildly easy) labour.

Sausage-fest: Bailey and me enjoying the fruits of our (wildly easy) labour.

It has been all bustling and (ineffective) hustling for me, lately.  I am loving seeing everyone smiling huge again now that the leaves are on the trees!

A few months ago I went to a butchery class at Thatcher Farms in Rockwood, Ontario.  The class was "Nose to Tail: Pig Butchering and the Art of Sausage Making", and was a super thoughtful and amazing Christmas present from the gorgeous Caitlin and her family.

I loved the class; beyond the fact that we got to eat our weight in meat, the butcher, Jim, took an entire pork side apart in front of us and showed us where all the different roasts, chops, and ribs come from.  We also tried our hand at making sausages and it was pretty relaxing, really, though the speed of our stuffing and linking pained Jim slightly I think; you can see the results of my effort below!  Ours had to sit for a day to firm up the links, so I took home some Jim and his crew had prepared - red wine and garlic!  Totally delicious, and I have a recipe to post in the near future featuring the Thatcher sausages.  

I'd been chatting about how great the class was ever since, and am glad I did, because it resulted in a message from the beautiful Bailey saying a colleague of hers was getting rid of his sausage casings and freezer stash of pork in preparation for a cross-border move, and he would like to know if we would like to borrow his sausage maker and take the meat off his hands?  Oh yes, yes we would.

We ended up using the following recipe, which I either outright copied or tweaked from one online, but my google skills are failing me and I can't find the original! Here she is, I will update with a link if I track down the source. Based on directions we found online, we just cubed our pork belly and froze it for a little while to firm it up, then pulsed it in the food processor. A meat grinder would be faster, but this method worked perfectly! If you ask around I suspect you can find a friend with a sausage stuffer they'd let you borrow, I was shocked by how many folks I know who own this particular piece of equipment. All in all, this was dead easy, and resulted in both the best and cheapest sausages I've ever had. Thank you, thank you, thank you Bailey & Co.!

P.S. A few folks expressed concern over the raisins, but after cooking they melded right in and the whole mixture was just gorgeously yummy!

Sweet Spanish fruit sausages

For every 5 lbs ground pork

add:

  • 2.5 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 cup white raisins
  • 2 tsp honey

Bailey's linking!

Bailey's linking!

The boys tuck in.

The boys tuck in.

Sweet Spanish fruit sausages: close-up.

Sweet Spanish fruit sausages: close-up.