On September 8th I asked my readers to host picnics and to send me the results. The following is one of 27 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow, courtesy of US Wellness. Vote for your favorite on October 8.
Alley Cat’s Primal 31st Birthday Party
Half way through my 30-Day Primal Challenge, I received an email from my mother. It had come to my sister’s attention that my family had forgotten my 30th birthday from last year. At the time, my baby was barely 2 weeks old and I was totally focused on bare survival and getting some sleep.
I love making lists and cooking food, so immediately started planning my 31st birthday party for 12th September 2010. I wanted to keep the party small and just invited immediate family and a couple of close friends. I’d done huge parties before and wanted this to be fun and relaxing. And I didn’t want to spend the entire day in the kitchen. So the final number was 15 adults, 4 kids and 3 babies.
I decided to cook a huge 2.5 kg snapper encrusted in salt and serve it with a creamy saffron sauce. This actually turned out to be a source of entertainment; it was a beautiful fish and spectacular to look at. Several people had seen Jamie Oliver cooking fish in a similar way and I had plenty of assistance; from preparing the fish to removing the hot crust and assembling it on a serving platter. It was cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious with the saffron sauce. Someone commented that it was fortunate that I had an oven big enough to park a car in!
We also cooked Portuguese chicken on the BBQ. It was tasty but I was very disappointed; the men had trouble getting the indirect heat happening with the BBQ and we ended up with extremely char grilled perri perri chicken. I consoled myself that it was very primal!
While the cremation was taking place, a group of us put together a platter of primal nibblies. I have to say this was my most proud moment. Instead of the usual token chips and revolting prepackaged dips that everyone seems to have at parties, we had a gorgeous plate of deviled eggs, tomato bocconcini and pesto kebabs, fruit and home made feta. Yep, I made some cheese out of raw goat milk and it was awesome! A group of us headed down for a tour of the veggie garden and returned with armfuls of sweet peas to share.
It was my original plan to include on the invites “no grain, no sugar, no, no, no….” but then decided to relax a bit and see what happened if I just asked for salads and desserts. I figured I’d been waxing lyrical about the primal challenge to all who would listen so all my family should be familiar with the PB concept.
So we had a garden salad, coleslaw, kale and roast pumpkin salad, a prawn and avocado salad and a potato salad. Everyone had made their own dressings and we had 2 versions of homemade mayonnaise. I was really impressed.
Immediately after lunch a water fight ensued. We had 10 minutes of glorious mayhem and hilarities before the 200 water bombs ran out. We then resorted to buckets of water before everyone stood around soaked and laughing. I regret in hindsight that I hadn’t planned another activity to follow immediately (why didn’t I suggest round up tag or something?) but inspiration eluded me. We headed back to the festivities at the house.
Mum took a photo of us with PNG artefacts; axes and spears, some of which had human blood on them. (Not ours!) Many of my family had really embraced the opportunity to wear face paint and go about barefoot. My brother had allowed his fiancé to paint his face with hearts and he retaliated by making her into a vampire peace rallier. The sister who brought the potato salad had a big glittery daisy on her face and another sister looked like a primal alien. It was my brother in law who really embraced his inner caveman and ended up with a striking red and yellow pattern on his face.
We had a primal birthday cake, fruit salad, a honey cheesecake and an apple crumble from the sister who made the potato salad. I got mixed feedback about the cake. I liked it; it was dense, moist and very chocolaty without being overly sweet. I think that if you like dark chocolate then this cake is a winner but it will be very disappointing for those with a sweat tooth who are anticipating a sugar rush.
I had a fabulous day. Everyone seemed to have a great time, even my grandma who refused to join in the water fight (like being 80 is an excuse!)
Surreptitiously, my party coincided with the final day of my 30-Day Challenge and was really lovely because 2 of the guests had undertaken the challenge with me. Em and I have decided that it’s been an amazing lifestyle change for us and we’re going to continue with PB.
Recipe: Salt Baked Whole Snapper with Saffron Cream Sauce
3 kg coarse cooking salt
5 egg whites
2.5 kg whole snapper
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested
180 ml dry white wine
60 ml white wine vinegar
20 ml lemon juice
Pinch saffron threads
125 ml cream
170g butter, chilled, chopped finely
Combine salt and egg whites in a bucket until mix is like wet sand. Place half of salt mix on bottom of very large baking tray. Place fish on top of salt.
Stuff fish with thyme, garlic and lemon zest.
Cover fish with remainder of salt, ensuring that all the flesh is evenly coated.
Place into moderately hot oven 200 degrees Celsius for 1 hour.
Meanwhile make sauce.
Combine wine, vinegar, lemon juice and saffron in saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to a third of original volume.
Add cream, bring to boil.
Add butter slowly, one bit at a time, whisking continuously, until all incorporated. Sauce will be slightly thickened. Beautiful, sexy, luscious.
Recipe: Chocolate Nut Torte (obviously an indulgence, not everyday PB food!)
This serves 12 big slices, 24g carbs per serve.
150 g shelled walnuts, ground finely in food processor
150 g almond meal
300 g best quality cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 heaped teaspoon cocoa powder
255 g butter
50 g rapidura sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water or 80ml honey (optional)
1 Tablespoon Frangelico (optional)
6 large free range eggs, separated
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Line the bottom of a round 20 cm cake tin with baking paper. Grease tin with butter.
Place the chocolate and cocoa into a food processor and process for 30 seconds or until chocolate is finely ground. Remove to a mixing bowl, add ground nuts.
Place butter into the food processor, add cooled rapidura syrup or honey if required, whiz until pale and fluffy, add egg yolks one at a time. Add to choc nut mix. Add Frangelico, mix well.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, whisk until stiff peaks are formed.
Gently fold into the choc mixture. Pour into the tin. Bake in moderately hot oven (190 degrees Celsius for 1 hour, or until skewer comes out reasonably clean.
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.