The most beautiful slow cooker book ever--and it's Paleo-friendly!

5.31.2013

I'm super excited about the deliciousness included in this post... and the incredible ease in cooking delicious, nourishing, whole foods. (Little background--a while back I posted about my change from a mostly raw vegan diet to a version of the Paleo Diet. It's been nearly 6 months now and I'm still absolutely enthralled and feeling great. I've seriously never felt this healthy before and am so grateful that we've found this lifestyle and resources.) I'm super stoked that Arsy, of the blog Rubies and Radishes, sent me a copy of her gorgeous new book to review for you all!\

You definitely don't have to eat a Paleo diet to enjoy the delish recipes, gorgeous photos, and whole ingredients featured in this book. Anyone who wants to eat nutrient-dense, quality nourishment without irritants and inflammatory foods (so, most of us in theory, right?) will appreciate these!

So here's my review of The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way!




The book has several different chapters and features, including a nice intro to what the Paleo diet is and how we aspire to eat the most nutrient-dense, high quality, nourishing foods.

Arsy dramatically improved her health through her Paleo diet and through care from a favorite alternative health practitioner, Chris Kresser. (So jealous. My husband and I are such fans of this guy, always blown away by his podcast and presentations.) Chris Kresser also wrote the intro to the book, and Amy Kubal, a registered dietitian, wrote some of the summaries about glucose metabolism, insulin, carbohydrates, all that stuff I find fascinating... (another thing I've loved about our new diet is learning more about how the body works. Can't believe I didn't know this stuff before but am always learning more and feel so enlightened and empowered when I do!) So I love the brief facts and intro pieces Arsy included.

After the appetizers/finger food chapter is the beef chapter. Pretty much my fave right now. After 13+ years of vegetarian and vegan eating, I know nothing about cooking meat, so have been learning a ton the past few months. We've bought shares of grassfed cows from a local farm (my husband's done a post about that), and  grassfed beef is our most common protein source since I know a lot about it, I like it, and it's the best source of a lot of essential fats and vitamins we know we need. So I liked the beef chapter a lot!

Ropa Vieja...

Thai Red Beef Curry...

Bulgogi! Korean Beef...

Then the lamb chapter. Pretty amazing when you find a cookbook and there's an entire lamb chapter. Grassfed lamb is the other common source of super high quality ruminant meat, and I really want to try lamb but haven't found a great local source yet.

Arsy is Armenian, and grew up in California around a lot of different food cultures. I love how many international cuisine recipes there are. I never would have imagined so many combinations you can make in a slow cooker. ;)

Armenian lamb and apricot stew...

Onto the poultry chapter (an area I know even less about... no idea how to cook a chicken and don't like it much, usually...). Got me excited to try duck sometime!

Duck legs with yams (perfect Paleo meal for after a workout! Great carb source...)

There's even a seafood chapter! Who knew you could make fish in a crock pot?

Slow-Cooked Salmon and Seafood Bouillabaisse...

There's a veggie dish chapter, too. Slow cookers are great for side dishes and soups that are heavy on the veggies.

More good stuff mixed through the back--a piece about making your own bone broth in the crock pot (we've never tried that, but have been experimenting! Another of my husband's posts, on bone broth, here), and some more pearls of wisdom from the resident dietician...

Those are some of my fave pages of The Paleo Slow Cooker!

As you can see, gorgeous book, TONS of delicious recipes that are almost all as easy as, "Sear meat. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook 6-8 hours." That, I can do. Pretty photography, varied cuisines, yum yum! And I didn't even show the finger food and dessert recipes!

So I tried the Thai Red Beef Curry--beef and eggplant and delish Thai spices. I actually cut up everything the night before and put it in the fridge. Before I left for work, I put it in the cooker appliance and set the timer.

I came home to a delicious smell and this! Kept warm for me and all ready to eat. Oh, so wonderful to get home from work and have dinner all ready. Whew. Seriously, wish I could do this for us every day so I don't have to cook when I'm tired and hungry. ;)

It was delicious. Had two helpings, then brought another big serving for my lunch the next day. Husband had some too, and he [says he] doesn't like eggplant. (But he totally eats it when I put it in something yummy.) Mmmm!

Can't wait to try more recipes from the book! With the ease and foolproof-ness of a slow cooker, maybe I could even tackle a poultry recipe. (Terrified.) I'll definitely be trying some of the Paleo, slow cooker-friendly versions of beef classics with our next beef share!!

Check out the book on Amazon and check out Arsy's blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

(If you're curious, you can read my transition-to-Paleo story here, some fave Paleo recipes and food posts here, and my husband's blog, Grassfed Geek, about our adventures with quality local beef, fueling with grassfed butter, optimum fitness and mental performance, and lots of other good stuff. Also, I'm super duper proud of him for blogging. ;) )

Little living room makeover and much-needed pillow update

5.30.2013

As I mentioned Tuesday, I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday weekend and did lots of fun projects around the house. Some of those projects are not yet finished, unfortunately... you'll have to give me a hand on some of the pillow recovering dilemmas I'm having. Switching up throw pillows seems to be a never-ending project for me!

I've been collecting cool fabrics, some of which I have visions for and others I don't know what to do with, but it sometimes helps to drape fabric over pillows and squint at it. So follow along with me...

I'm dying for bright, print pillows but haven't found the right fabric. But I pulled out these pink patterned pillows and tried to get some color from the curtains I made for the dining room (I took them down a while ago, but I still like the teal). They go with my zigzag painting, but I'm still wishing for more color...

(Also still hanging around the couch: the DIY applique crux/cross pillow and these black and white striped pillows)

One of the biggest challenges for the living room has been recovering the big tan vintage wingback chair in the corner. I've had this thing for ages, picked it up for $5 at Goodwill Outlet, but it's a classic and I'd love to make a new cover for it. (Let's see, uh, here's a pic of it as it is now, here's another.) But, after quite a lot of back-and-forth at the fabric store this weekend, I finally chose a fabric for its new slipcover, a basic lightly textured upholstery fabric in black. I also got some fun colored accents at Goodwill. Not sure where they go yet, just playing. But, what pillow color will go on this whenever I get it done?!

I also need to buy fabric to recover these basic vintage slipper chairs, since currently they're these white slipcovers I made, and this is a big challenge... I like having them white, keeps them from getting lost in the shadows and they're a nice bright part of the living room, but the white is not going to stay clean long, and the fabric they are currently isn't heavy enough. So what on earth should they be?!!?

I'm also having pillow problems on them. Adi once suggested hot pink bolsters, and I just bought these bolster pillow forms, but then I realized there's no actual hot pink in the living room--just light pink (curtains) and red (in the art,). So, uh.....? (But I am in love with that pink/pink/orange stripe. Maybe it would work.)


Okay, so that was all part 1 of this post/rant. Part 2 is, I actually did make some new pillows for the living room. ;)

I guess I'm so used to sewing clothing that I forget how easy some home dec projects are to make. Yikes. These little pillow covers took me about 30 minutes and less than 1 episode of mid-2000's SNL on Hulu (how I spend my time when husband is away... ;) ), and yet totally refreshed our slipper chairs in the living room.

I had this really nice, sturdy cotton denim/twill print from Spoonflower--they sent it to me as one of the choices for me to use in my book, but I didn't end up needing it. But, it's an absolutely amazing stripey tribal print and I loooooove it, and couldn't wait to use it for something else but didn't know what!

So for now it's two pillow covers on the (still-white) slipper chairs. If I ever recover them in a print, the pillows will have to move! Also not sure if I can realistically put these plus the bright bolsters on these chairs... too much pillow-age?

Well, for now they brighten my mood. Love the grey and white stripe print!

Okay, so what's your two cents on my living room pillow and slipcover dilemma?!? I've got lots to recover, and don't know where to start!

Because I needed another off-white lace dress...

5.28.2013

Wow, that weekend was amazing. Husband was out of town Thursday through this evening, so I had a lot of time on my hands. Saw two friends plus my mom, did some furniture renovating (can't wait to share that one...), cooked up a storm last night, and finished several sewing projects while watching old SNLs on Hulu Plus and dramatic Ryan Gosling movies. 

One of my completed projects is this lovely lace dress! I got this awesome off-white allover floral lace c/o Wholeport and figured I'd make a simple fit-n-flare dress out of it. Even flipping through my May and June magazines, I saw some similar inspirations! Both of these...

I was imagining something like this...
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Or this, minus the sparkles and sheer panels...
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Then I realized I already have two lovely ivory lace dresses I've made... this one, the polka dot stretch net (they still have this at JoAnn, btw, in ivory and light mauve), and this one, a more retro sheath dress style which I wore for our anniversary pics.

Oh, well. This one's different. I gave it a circle skirt but didn't have enough lining to do a circle skirt lining, so gave it a basic gathered skirt. Oh, I used Simplicity 1873 for the bodice. Super basic, classic shape. Net/stretchy ivory lace c/o Wholeport, and it's way softer than the scratchy stuff they have at cheaper fabric stores. I like the pattern more, too.


Circle skirts are so fun! Hope I find more places to wear this to differentiate it from my other lace dresses! ;)

How to Wear DIY: The soft peplum top on errand date night

5.24.2013

Happy, happy Friday before the long weekend! I have some big ideas for projects to do this weekend, but am not going anywhere and hope to spend some quality time relaxing around the house. I need it.

Here's a How to Wear DIY from last Friday's [extremely thrilling] date night--Home Depot for replacement faucet supplies, then Trader Joe's, woot woot! Wore the loose peplum top I made earlier this year, with my new fave big tote bag and some black skinnies.

I think I could seriously use another of those loose woven tops this spring/summer. Super comfy, like a tee, but more structured and suitable for wearing with other cute pieces! I have a harder time dressing up a tee. So here I am rockin' it at Home Depot.


Jacket: Nordstrom Rack. Bag: Target. Jeans: Goodwill. Shoes: Target via Goodwill. 
Sunglasses: Dollar Tree, not ashamed to admit! ;) Peplum top: DIY, here!

Looking at that lovely evening last week, and then looking out the window at the rain... siiiigh. Weather for Memorial Day weekend is always such a crapshoot here--I distinctly remember a couple of them where it was super sunny one minute, raining the next. My prediction is my weekend will involve more jeans than shorts. Oh, well.

Dining room update: gallery wall and fun lighting!

5.22.2013

Ah, the art of the gallery wall... I know there are tons of "how to make a gallery wall" tips, from Apartment Therapy to Design Crush, and yet it's always tricky for me. I've had gallery wall areas in our home before, on the staircase at our old house and then our last rental, but the pictures were all pretty crappy quality little photo frames of actually pretty terrible photos, and when we moved into our new house last year I decided I wanted to up the quality.

But, I didn't have enough pictures to make it worth assembling, and worried they would just look random without some pro decorator arranging. The tutorials on how to hang photos in a gallery wall tend to tell you to cut brown paper in the sizes of your frames and tape it around, which does sound very smart, but I wanted to do it without any extra work... my laziness took over. So I opted for the make-your-husband-stand-there-holding-frames-while-you-stand-back-and-squint method.

So anyway, over the weekend we finally hung up some more art in the dining room, in a gallery wall-type of mishmash of frames. I guess I've been leaning toward the funkier, more varied look of a bunch of different shapes and frames, rather than nine Ikea Ribba frames of the same size or whatever. I like that look, too, but am glad I could make the random look work for us!

You'll see a TON of gallery wall inspiration images on my home dec pinboard, collected over quite a while... I guess it's a look I go for a lot. Maybe because it's practical? I mean, who doesn't have more art than we know what to do with, and not enough perfect places to hang just one or two frames. Here's just a few inspiration images of what I'm talking about.






So here it is!!

Oh, I also added another fun touch to the dining room... not sure how long these will last, but I hung some white Christmas lights with little white cuphooks, just along the wide back wall of the dining room. It gets sort of dark over there sometimes (which is why I like the mirror in the center of the wall to reflect light), so I figured it could use some help with some cheery little lights. They don't look fab in this photo, with the conflicting blue of the natural light from the windows at 10 in the morning on Saturday clashing with the warm bulbs, but... just so you can see them on.

Always feels good to get a lingering project done! Now that my book manuscript is in I've been shifting back into decorating mode, and have a few more projects in the works around the house! Hint: they involve super classy stenciling and plumbing. Not together. Just sayin'.

That blue lace dress update--I took your advice!

5.20.2013

You all were totally right about this dress I made out of vintage blue lace... (without even thinking about it as I cut it out, I made the skirt length the whole width of the fabric, since it had that nice scalloped edge woven in... and it ended up way longer than I was expecting. I asked what you all thought about it, and the primary response was, yes, it should be shorter!) So I hung it in the sewing room closet as I wrapped up my book sewing and writing, and finally had a chance to get to it over the weekend. It's no fun to redo something that you've already finished once, but I had some time plus some Mindy Project to watch while I unpicked, cut, and re-sewed.

Remember it? There it is on the left, and on the right the shortened version!

Much, much better!

So thanks for the feedback on the original dress! Now it's much more wearable and trendy for a springy/summery party, plus a little edgier!

How to Wear DIY: The striped dress I love

5.17.2013

Loving this navy and white striped dress I made earlier this spring. It's finally warm enough to wear it out, like I did last weekend with a bright necklace and some wedges that have been in the out-of-season clothing closet for ages.

Jacket: Necessary Objects via Goodwill. Necklace: F21. Shoes: Goodwill.
Bag: Target. Belt: Target via Goodwill. Dress: DIY, here!

Sure do love classic navy and white stripes. And that knit is so comfy! I hardly ever sew on knits, but I give five stars to this version of a fitted dress, zipper and all, but made with a 100% cotton knit (this one). Makes for a better fit, too! I lined the bodice with self-fabric, so it all moves the same way.

I highly recommend a stripe/natural leather/bright accessory combo this weekend, too! Have a great one!

New home project, new ugly mirror for the sewing room

5.15.2013

It's been quite a while since I did a spray paint project... I guess winter gets that way. But now it's spray-painting weather, and I was megaproductive last weekend and made over a super ugly mirror I got at Goodwill a while back. It's been sitting in my garage while I used a tiny square mirror from my closet in the sewing room, and I was so ready for a new one.

Here's the before... pretty dated, as you see. (There's actually a stamp on the back that says, no brand or anything, just "MARCH 9 1988." So we know for sure it's not from a great era for home decorating style. ;) )

Pretty proud of myself on this one--I actually pulled out the sandpaper and sanded. Such an important step for something with a heavy grain, and with thin peeling varnish...

Then I gave it a light coat of the rest of my spray primer. Love that stuff.

I debated, but since I haven't really decorated the sewing room much yet, figured a neutral would be best, even though I love the bold spray paint colors. So I went with a matte black spray paint.

After!

I'm working on dressing the space up even more, maybe with some art on one side or some other colorful touches in the rest of the room, but for now it serves its purpose and reminds me of some pretty Glitter Guide-worthy office spaces. =) Here are a couple inspirations so you see what I mean.




Until I get to decorating the sewing room/office!

Oh, another thing I did this weekend--finally made a page for our home tour. Goes through almost all the rooms of the house, with names and links to all the oodles of sewing and DIY projects I've done everywhere. Check it out here or linked from my linkbar!

Yes, make your own ketchup. Easy DIY recipe, Paleo-friendly version!

5.13.2013

I sort of hate to admit it, but I really like ketchup. I almost never have any reason to eat it, but I've always really liked the sweet/tangy taste, whether on fried things or not... but I don't think my mom has ever bought ketchup and it's not something I ever included as part of fancy or healthy meal planning. We have some (the high fructose corn syrup-free kind) but I always felt guilty using it.

But, when I read this incredible book (Pure Beef) about grassfed beef, by an Oregon author, actually, I read the recipe that the chef at Lardo, a trendy high quality sandwich place in downtown PDX, uses for their house-made ketchup and it gave me an idea. Sure, why not try making my own at home?? Leave out the bad stuff from the processed store version, and know exactly what goes into it! Almost like a gourmet version of a very not gourmet food! ;)

So I tried the recipe, with a few variations, and shared it here. People were interested, so I thought I'd share the process with photos and the recipe, and make another batch! I made it again this weekend, with a few modifications, and ended up with a Paleo Diet-friendly version (more about our diet here). I'm sure there are a million ketchup recipes out there (so I'd love to hear about yours if you have one!), but for my first few attempts I'm very satisfied with this stuff. (I've also heard of cultured ketchup, like this recipe, for people who want to eat more fermented foods, but I'm pretty sure I'm sensitive to dairy proteins so am avoiding whey for the time being.)
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Anyway! Here's my twist on the Lardo ketchup recipe, a real food/Paleo version!

Ketchup recipe


1 tablespoon lard, bacon fat, or coconut oil
1 small onion and/or clove of garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1 tbsp xylitol and 1 tbsp molasses OR 1.5 tbsp xylitol
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 (14.5 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, strained

Instructions


Cook the onion and/or garlic on low heat until translucent.

Stir in the spices and salt.

Add in the strained tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, and sweetener/s and cook on low until it becomes a thick sauce (about 45-50 minutes). Yeah, I know, takes forever... have to plan ahead with this stuff. Worth it!!

Let cool, then blend in a blender until smooth. (If you have an immersion blender, puree by hand in the pan.)

Pour it into jars and can it if you know how, or do what I did with the ketchup in this Instagram and store it in jars and freeze them (leaving the lid open so the jars don't break when the liquid freezes and expands).

Let cool for at least 2 hours. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

That's it! Summer is coming, and you may find yourself grilling something or picnicking and really needing some ketchup!

What do you think?! Totally worth the effort, in my book!! Do you have a favorite ketchup or condiment recipe?

Hooray for real food! P.S. The post is part of Unprocessed Fridays on Girl Meets Nourishment!
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