Tag: cooking tips

Dear Mark: How to Freeze Produce

Dear Mark,

Your website inspired me to join a CSA this past year, and I’m looking forward to frequenting my local farmers’ market again this summer. I absolutely love all the produce selections, but this has opened my eyes to how limited I am in the late fall/winter by what’s usually available (and affordable) in the grocery store. (I live in the Northern Plains.) I’d like to begin thinking about freezing some items to enjoy them post-season. What tips do you have for doing this? Thank you!

Thanks for the question! You’re correct—as incredible as it is to enjoy fresh veggies and fruits when they are in season, it’s smart to look ahead to the “scarcer” months. One of the best ways to carry over the season’s best, of course, is freezing. (Grok would’ve traded a lot of hides for a deep freeze chest….) This year, as you load up on seasonal produce in the spring, summer, and early fall, here are a few suggestions and resources for the best freezer prep and storage techniques.

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Vegetable Victory: How to Best Preserve Produce

The week of Feb 21, 2022, Primal Kitchen is featuring ways to cut down on food waste. Find food waste facts, waste reduction tips, exclusive recipes, and resources from the Farmlink Project by signing up here. All week, MDA will be featuring posts that can help you get the most bang for your grocery budget and minimize food waste to boot!

You love eating vegetables. When you hit the supermarket or farmer’s market, you enthusiastically fill your basket with all the colors of the rainbow, grabbing up vegetables, fruit, and fresh herbs with abandon. But what you can’t figure out is how to prevent your fridge full of fresh, healthy produce from turning into a vegetable drawer full of mush!

Globally, people waste an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food each year between food that doesn’t get harvested in time and food that spoils during processing, in transit to stores, on store shelves, and in our refrigerators. A 2020 survey of almost 40,000 Americans found that they spend more than $1,300 each year on food that’s ultimately wasted—more than the average American spends on gas, clothing, property taxes, or household repairs and upkeep. This comes at not only a great economic cost but also an environmental one, as resources are poured into growing and transporting food that never gets eaten.

You can help reduce food waste by making sure that the food you buy doesn’t go bad before you get a chance to eat it. Here’s everything you need to know to preserve produce.

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A Visual Guide to Peppers

Eating spicy food is a lot like running a marathon. They both hurt while you’re doing them, and the next day can be pretty painful, too. You have to fight the urge to quit. Crying is par for the course. Yet you persevere, all the while knowing that you’re going to sign up for the same suffering again in the future.

The world is cuckoo for chilis. Restaurants compete to have the spiciest wings, hottest chili, and most tear-inducing sushi. Competitors on television shows and YouTube series sear the inside of their mouths for our viewing pleasure. Self-proclaimed pepper-heads are always working to bring hotter and hotter peppers to market. In fact, the most tongue-blistering varieties we have now—ones with ominous names like the Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion—didn’t evolve naturally. They are the result of systematic crossbreeding designed to create chilis so packed with heat that only the bravest (or most foolhardy, depending on your point of view) would dare try them.

Eating spicy foods satisfies the deeply ingrained human need to test our limits and see how much discomfort we can take. That’s not the only reason we’re drawn to spicy foods, though. The pain they cause seems to stimulate the release of endorphins, part of the body’s endogenous opioid system, which accounts for why spicy foods “hurt so good” instead of just plain hurting. Capsaicin, the chemical in hot peppers that imparts the characteristic burning sensation, is anti-inflammatory and has numerous health benefits.

Can you feel the burn?

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How to Grill Everything – the Ultimate Guide

June looms. Summer is almost upon us. The sun’s out, people are starting to gather and mingle, the big box stores are stocking charcoal again, and those chicken drumsticks, that tri tip, that lamb leg, and that salmon filet behind the butcher counter are looking good. You feel the pull of the grill. It calls to you. You need to respond—but how to do it?

Not everyone is a grill master. With baking and traditional recipes, you can follow along just by reading. Oven temperatures and controlled gas ranges make cooking indoors fairly predictable. But outside, out on the grill, things get a little wild.

Grilling is more art than science. It’s about feeling the meat, sensing the heat, intuiting what’s happening beneath and above the grill. The wind, the coals, the flame, the air flow, the ambient temperature all affect and determine the quality of the finished product. It’s all too much to plug into a spreadsheet and figure out down to the millisecond. There are no guarantees. So while I’m going to give you the best methods I’ve learned over the years, don’t take this as settled science. You’re going to have to experiment for yourself.

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How to Buy and Cook the Perfect Steak

Crisp and caramelized on the outside, but never burnt. A first bite that melts in your mouth as the savory, perfectly seasoned flavor of beef hits your palate. The rich, smoky aroma of animal fat dripping onto an open fire.

That, my friends, is a perfect steak. You don’t have to make reservations at an expensive steakhouse to reach this sort of steak nirvana. It can be yours any night of week in your own kitchen by following a few simple and painless steps.

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How to Use Egg Yolks as an Alternative Thickener

Every chef has a few tricks up their sleeve. Whether it be unexpected ingredient combinations to curious kitchen gadgets, these tiny hacks can make or break your at-home recipes. If you follow a dairy-free or gluten-free diet, creating the perfect consistency without a butter-flour roux in recipes can be challenging to even the most studied cooks. One method to keep in your back pocket is using egg yolks to thicken sauces and soups, and to turn leftover pan liquid into a dreamy flavor infusion.

Once you get the hang of it, using egg yolks as a thickening agent is a relatively simple way to create a deep, rich flavor and texture, plus a little punch of protein. This process requires some finesse: undercooking just makes things messy, and overcooking could lead to an unwanted version of scrambled eggs.

That said, there’s no need to be intimidated. Eggs are cheap enough to experiment with until you get into the swing.

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13 Holiday Side Dishes (That Aren’t Potatoes)

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with potatoes (in fact, we happen to love this recipe for scalloped potatoes), not everyone in the Primal—let alone keto—camp wants to serve potatoes at the holiday. They’re a technically Primal choice, but they’re decidedly high in carbs and not as high in nutrients as other options. Primal and Primal-keto eating shouldn’t be about deprivation—just thoughtful decision-making on what’s a good choice for you when it comes to holiday eating. Today we’ve got 13 delicious side dish recipes that stay true to the richness and flavors of traditional holiday cooking. Which ones will you be serving?

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Basic Cooking Skills for Rookies

It’s easy to ignore your lack of rudimentary cooking skills when you order pizza or get takeout every night. When people switch to Primal or keto diets, they usually find themselves spending considerably more time in the kitchen. On the plus side, they’re better able to control ingredient quality and the macronutrient breakdown of their meals. For better or worse, this also forces them to confront their lack of culinary prowess. Preparing two or three homemade meals per day can be daunting if you’re accustomed to mostly grabbing prepackaged or restaurant fare. As with any other skill, though, you learn by starting with the basics, practicing often, and building proficiency as you go. Your meals don’t have to be elaborate, your technique perfect, or your dishes artistic. They just have to taste good. Today I’m going to nominate some skills and dishes that I think every beginner should learn. Chime in in the comments and let me know what else you would put on the list. Where to Start First, some basics: Start by following other people’s recipes. Don’t try to wing it if you don’t know what you’re doing. Find one or two cookbooks or blogs you like, and work your way through them. To learn your way around a kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen books are tried and true. My favorite book for artful yet practical kitchen inspo is Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Get good knives and keep them sharp. Watch some YouTube videos to learn basic knife skills. Everyone should know how to chop an onion. Start there. Season your food, for goodness sake. I have a theory that most people who think they are bad cooks are mostly just boring cooks. (That, and they overcook their meat, but we’ll get to that.) Salt is your friend. You should have a decently stocked spice rack. Tell me in the comments what spices you use most. Mine are cumin and turmeric. Just go for it! As with anything else, you get better by doing it. Stick to simple recipes at first, then get more adventurous as you become more confident. Chicken I firmly believe that everyone should know how to roast a whole chicken. A fragrant, golden chicken feels like true kitchen mastery, yet it’s so simple. Ina Garten taught me (not personally, but you get it), or start with this Perfect Roasted Chicken recipe. When you roast a whole chicken, you end up with a carcass. This is great news because you should also know how to make your own bone broth. It doesn’t matter whether you use the stovetop, slow cooker, or pressure cooker method. Either way, it couldn’t be easier to stock your freezer (no pun intended) with jars of homemade bone broth. Then you always have some on hand to make soups, stew, chili, or just to drink. When it comes to making chicken breasts or thighs, I usually opt for thighs because they are more forgiving. Breasts have a tendency … Continue reading “Basic Cooking Skills for Rookies”

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How to Render Beef Tallow

I almost never hear of people cooking with beef tallow, even in Primal circles. I hear about lard, duck fat, ghee, butter, olive oil, and avocado oil, but rarely tallow. Hey, those are all great, delicious fats, and they deserve their prestige, but I like sticking up for the little guy. I like an underdog. In this case, of course, the little guy comes courtesy of a big cloven-hoofed ungulate.

Another reason to try tallow: those of you experimenting with the carnivore diet will want to mix up your cooking fats here and there. Each one has a different nutritional profile.

Here’s how to do it.


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How to Make Pemmican

If you’ve ever had a meat or jerky bar made of finely chopped dried meat and perhaps berries, you may be familiar with pemmican. Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat – usually beef nowadays, but bison, deer, and elk were common back in the day) which is crushed to a powder and mixed with an equal amount of hot, rendered fat, usually beef tallow. Sometimes crushed, dried berries are added as well. For long periods of time, people can subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy and the protein for strength, and glucose, when needed.

Vihljamur Stefansson, eminent anthropologist and arctic explorer, went on three expeditions into the Alaskan tundra during the first quarter of the 20th century. His discoveries – including the “blond” Inuit and previously uncharted Arctic lands – brought him renown on the world stage. People were fascinated by his approach to travel and exploration, the way he thrust himself fully into the native Inuit cultures he encountered. Stefansson studied their language, adopted their ways, and ate the same food they ate. In fact, it was the diet of the Inuit – fish, marine mammals, and other animals, with almost no vegetables or carbohydrates – that most intrigued him. He noted that, though their diet would be considered nutritionally bereft by most “experts” (hey, nothing’s changed in a hundred years!), the Inuit seemed to be in excellent health, with strong teeth, bones, and muscles. He was particularly interested pemmican.

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