There are times when city dwellers need a break from the concrete. So our group, formed from members of the Primal Chicagoans Meetup group , headed to the edge of the suburbs to a neighborhood surrounded by forest preserves. There was grass! Trees! Insects! It was a great change for many of us and the perfect background for a Grokfeast. Our hostesses turned her house into a temple of food and good times. Her yoga studio held a table of Grok-approved cookbooks that members brought to browse during the afternoon. Another room, dubbed a “man cave,” played the Chicago Bears game (which nobody sat down to watch, of course). Mostly we spent our time outside in a backyard perfect for playing with several four-legged friends.
Tree climbing: We had been eying that tree since lunch started. It was just asking to be scaled.
Memory card game: We wanted to jumpstart our brains as well as our bodies. A card game that involved matching pictures in a game of speed had people jumping out of their chairs with competitive spirit.
Disc: Enough said.
General rough-housing with dogs: Members brought their furry companions, who, when no one was looking, ate a stick of our Kerrygold butter off the counter. They ran around with yellow mustaches for the rest of the day! That didn’t stop us from playing a buttery disc keep-away game with them.
Coconut water blind taste test: We compared six brands of coconut water in a blind taste test, ranking them from 1 to 5. We even cracked a real coconut! (See video) But found no juice inside (wrong kind for that).
Some were great, some were like licking a sweaty basketball player. “Tastes like sweat, but kind of nice for sweat,” one member said. The all-around favorite turned out to be the 100% raw brand, Harmless Harvest.
85% vs. 90% chocolate test: This was an important comparison to make. We could be saying we’re kidding, but the difference between 85% and 90% dark chocolate was huge! And you could have almost twice as much of the 90% with the lower sugar/carb content! We also learned how to eat dark chocolate and enjoyed every crumb.
Cookbook display: Sometimes you just don’t know if you want to spring for that cookbook until you see it in person. Members brought books from their libraries for people to preview. We had more than a dozen cookbooks!
You put your right foot in…
- Steamed kale/broccoli salad
- Marinated grilled veggies
- Braised red cabbage and duck
- Cashew and banana bars
- Raw veggies
- Bacon wrapped dates and pineapple
- Pork rinds from a local maker
- Fruit salad with local apples
- Local grass-fed steaks (grilled)
- Dark chocolate
- Zucchini and butternut squash muffins
- Coconut and dark chocolate muffins
- Tuna and olive salad
The best recipe… it’s purple!
Braised Red Cabbage and Duck
- 2 pans—nonstick for the duck, big one for the cabbage
- Duck breasts with fat
- 1 red cabbage
- 1 medium onion
- Olive oil (a few tbsp.)
- Dry red wine—like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir (1 cup)
- Red wine vinegar (2 tbsp.)
- Salt and pepper
- Jelly (preferably sugar free) (optional)
- Thaw the duck if frozen.
- Cut the onion and cabbage into small bits and keep them separate.
- Fry the duck to render the fat. Keep it on medium-low heat, fat side down, until the fat starts to release. Cook on that side for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil in the other (bigger) pan and start to sauté the onions. Let them brown but not burn.
- Dump the cabbage into the big pan. Then pour the duck fat into the big pan, add the red wine and red wine vinegar, and stir. Keep on medium heat. Add some salt and pepper and cover. Meanwhile, flip the duck and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes.
- Take the duck out and cut it lengthwise into strips about a half of an inch thick. Or cut into small pieces if you’re serving this as a side dish. Add the duck back to the pan and cook to the point you’re comfortable with. (We did 3-4 minutes max).
- Pour the contents of the duck pan — fat and all — into the cabbage pan. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve with the jelly to taste.
A note from the maker: This is a great side dish or a great meal. The key to the taste is duck fat. Most people know cabbage is full of nutrients, but few appreciate the taste and health benefits of duck fat.
The Infographic (PDF )
Cathy Pisano, Gordy Wright, Remy Olson, Todd Flaming, Anthony Apostol, Wanda Vanphou, Mandy, Rob Farmer, Shannon Sullivan, Stephen Weinberg, Matt Broihier, Owen McCall, Happy Smith, Daniella Sucato, Happy Smith, Katie Nieland, Chris Thomsen, Todd Dosenberry