New on ABC News Nightline: “Eating Really is Rocket Science”

Well they may as well have. Not that there’s not some — a tiny little bit — of valid info in this seven minute video, but it’s just so damn muddled, so inconsistent, so many fucked & wrong messages that I have to conclude it’s an overall disvalue. Two thumbs down, way down…All this does is make people give up.

Please don’t fall for the silly delusion that a piece like this in some way — in any way — represents real progress toward an insanely fulfilling, sustainable nutritional lifestyle based on Real Food. Where it’s not a step backwards, it’s no help at all.

And wait till you see what the Total Fuckers at some stupid weight loss camp give a poor fat kid for lunch: "a veggie burger, baked beans and 4oz of leek soup." Yea, there’s a sustainable diet for life that’s gonna make him and fat kids all over just jump the right up shouting "Sign Me Up, Mom!" Stupid, stupid fucks. And evil. I hope the crooks — who charge "thousands of dollars" — get a particularly nasty case of salmonella. 

An hour or so ago I was in a pretty good mood.

And don’t even get me started on the "First Lady;" even beyond the obscene presumptuousness of such a collectivist non-concept — my wife is the First Lady — she’s somewhat genetically blessed. If the considerable fat in her ass was more displaced, few except the completely hopeless would think she had any room to talk.

…Oh, and shit oh dear why not: Audrae Erickson, Ignominious Pres. of the Corn Refiner’s Association, is just a high priced whore. Spreading legs — or butt cheeks for that matter — can be a metaphor.

Update: This is how bad it is and it’s going to get worse now that everyone has to pay for everyone else’s "health" care: Supreme Court nominee Kagan Declines To Say Gov’t Has No Power to Tell Americans What To Eat. So there’s your daily Leviathan and your "Land of the Free" update, all in one.

Meatza Invades la France. Vive le Paleo en France!

This is really cool. You remember meatza, right? Well, one of the readers here, Paul Merino took the idea on over to a restaurant he frequents, Fratelli Pasta Bar in Sophia-Antipolis, France. The video below is of somewhat camera shy chef Gabriel Bellenger thanking me for the recipe. I’ll give you the translation of the short video below.

Fratelli Restaurant Meatza Workshop with Gabriel Bellenger from Richard Nikoley on Vimeo.


Gabriel: Richard is the guy who did it, right?

Paul: Richard Nikoley. Who popularized Meatza on his blog "Free The Animal".

Gabriel: I must prepare myself, Paul. I am not mentally ready [to record].

Paul: The Paleo shock.

Gabriel: It is Richard, right?

Paul: Nikoley.

Gabriel: Ready?

Paul: Ready.

Gabriel: Alright, we are here live from France, Sophia-Antipolis [a high-tech park immersed in Mediterranean nature], at the ‘Fratelli’ restaurant. My name is Gabriel, and I wish to thank Richard Nikoley for his Meatza recipe. Which is the newcomer of Paleo in France.

Paul: Excellent. Thank you Gabriel.

Gabriel: Thanks to Paul! Thanks to Paul which was and is a customer of my restaurant, and who introduced me to the Paleo. It is with him now that we have experimented with the Meatza of Richard Nikoley. So Thanks to everyone [in the US Paleo community]. We will see.

That’s just great. Wonderful. And here’s a photo of the finished product (click on it for hi-res).

Meatza in France
Meatza in France

Oh, and according to Paul in his email, looks like it’s going on the menu:

We are going to refine the cost structure and sourcing strategy for the ingredients, in order to make it available to everyone at a reasonable price.

Then Paul added in a subsequent email that,

The point is that when Gabriel took over the restaurant about 1 year ago, he turned this pasta bar into a… mainly salad bar. His business inclination toward fresh and healthy combination of vegetables and proteins, made me a loyal customer and made him the ideal candidate for discussing – and now progressively rolling out – Paleo.

Vive le Paleo en France!

Pork & Fruit: Good Together

For some reason, pork is simply one of those meats that, to me, seems — even intuitively — to go well with…well, just about any fruit I can think of.

I’ve done carnitas with persimmons and I’ve done them with apples.

Last night I was wondering what to cook and noticed I had a 1 lb package of Trader Joe’s carnitas in the fridge. Then I looked on the counter. There was a basket of oranges Beatrice had picked up a few days back (and which I hardly ever eat), and now, a basket of cherries she had picked up just that afternoon. And that was it; I was off and running. Here’s what became of it in 10 minutes flat. Click on the image for the hi-res version.

Carnitas with Fruit
Carnitas with Fruit

I grabbed one orange and a handful of cherries. While I peeled the orange & pitted the cherries, I got my broiler fired up and a good tablespoon of butter going in a sauce pan. Then, half the orange and half the cherries went onto the cookie sheet with the pork, under the broiler set on low.

In the meantime I sauteed the other half of the fruit in the butter and after only a couple of minutes mashed it all up and then ran it through a wire mesh to get rid of the fiber.

Too delicious. I’m gonna have to do it again with the other package of carnitas I have.

Minimalist Shoes Revisited: Showdown: Vibran Five Fingers vs. SoftStar Runamocs

Alright. Here’s just the video. And here’s Mark Sisson’s Link Love mention that resulted in a few…uh…defensive comments here and there. That’s cool. The video is intended to help. And here’s the post that started it all: Out with the Vibram Five Fingers and in with the Soft Star RunAmoc.

Minimalist Shoes Revisited from Richard Nikoley on Vimeo.

Sunday Rock: Rush, The Trees

Had to be Rush today. For one, I haven’t put them up in a while. Second, have your heard about the new film, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage? Here’s the trailer.

A friend clued me in this morning. And, it turns out VH-1 is airing it. Luckily, by the time I got it all groked, I found that the next showing was just in 20 minutes. Got the DVR in gear and hope to watch it later tonight.

So here’s a nifty live version of The Trees. You might detect that the tempo was slower in these earlier versions.

Of course, a libertarian such as myself couldn’t possibly put up that song without including the lyrics. A veritable picture of democracy (socialism, they are one in the same, differing only in practical degree, not principle).

There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their please.
The trouble with the maples,
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade.
There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there’s no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

Real Results: Primal in Philly

While sipping my morning coffee and checking email I came across a Google alert for "Free the Animal" that included a link to this article in Philadelphia Magazine:


It’s the story of Timothy Haas and how he lost those 71 pounds in six months eating primally.

Timothy Haas Treansformation
Timothy Haas Transformation

How cool is that? And even more, how cool is this paragraph, from the article:

Then, at a Christmas party for my son’s Civil Air Patrol squadron last December, I started a game of keep-away with the cadets — I nearly dropped to the ground after 10 minutes. I knew I had to do something. I had a vague idea of going Atkins/low-carb again since it had worked quickly the last time, but my plan wasn’t set until New Year’s Day when my wife sent me a link to Free The Animal, an ongoing record of one man’s impressive weight loss following the tenets of “primal” living.

As I’ve always said, these are my favorite kinds of posts and make it all worthwhile. This is what it’s all about. A hearty congratulations to Timothy.

Not Bullshit #1

No Bullshit, except perhaps standing in line for 6 hours to get a dammed iPhone 4. I guess I have an ‘i’ addiction.

Not Bullshit #1 from Richard Nikoley on Vimeo.

Big Meals to Fuel Big Workouts and Big Gains

In the process of losing the 60 pounds I’ve lost I became averse to appetite, by which I mean that when I got hungry I’d eat pretty good — you’ve seen the food porn — but hardly ever with a voracious or gluttonous attitude. I just really got out of the habit of eating a lot, or often. This was good.

What I’ve done is to gradually accustom myself to eating big…really big; for me. Today’s post workout meal, after nine days of rest from the gym — and eating less each day because — was records on deadlift, standing press, and seated cable rows. After that and a few other exercises I downed 1,420 kcal in a single meal. Yea, carbage was involved, but not huge.

Anyway, this is not the typical food porn, it’s fixed only for me (another factor), but it’s what I’m doing right now. You see, I have a specific goal and I’m going to attain it. It requires real attention to diet in a way that’s paleoesque but not necessarily how I would eat normally, short the goal I’m intent on attaining. (Click all images for hi-res.)

Steak Eggs
Steak & Eggs

That was a post-workout "break-fast." What you don’t see is the cup of cottage cheese and the shake I downed for another big whack of protein.

Her’s a pound of roast beef, chopped & crisped under the broiler with a bit of beef stock for moisture.

Roast Beef
Roast Beef

First helping.

Roast Beef and More Protein
Roast Beef and More Protein

And then I finished off the rest of the beef.

At first this was hard and I drank a lot of the protein needed to make the impressive strength gains I’ve made in the gym in a couple of months. How much protein exactly on workout and rest days?  I can’t say exactly and I don’t really know "the formula" in any case if there even is such a thing, but should it be any mystery that lots of protein is needed to make really big gains? Maybe it’s not required, long term, but I don’t want to wait another three years. I want these gains in months! And plus, I’ve simply found that I dig lifting bigger and bigger. I just do.

This is very, very different from what was going on before, where I had respect from trainers other than my own. Now I get a bit of awe. This is not a body-builder gym by any means (…oh so far from it — it’s an old-fat-fuck, downtown-lawyer gym; they call it a "club") so some of them — standard cert-holder p-trainers — are quite interested in what I’m up to. Today one of the newer trainers came into the room where I was doing some post-workout intervals on the stationary bike and, having seen me do my DLs and standing presses earlier said, "Dude, you’re gettin’ strong!" Believe me: he’s 20-sumthin’ and I’m pushin’ 50. That’s music every day.

And I’m just getting started. A 300 conventional deadlift would have been unimaginable three months ago. Now it’s just a matter of a few weeks away and I taste it. Can I hit 500? That will surely take more time and serious effort. I’m not committed to that goal, yet, but I’m thinking about it.

I wrote earlier that I downed 1420 calories post workout today. I had a lot of roast beef, cottage cheese, mashed potato, cantaloupe and a big glass of coconut water. Here was my second meal, tonight.


Basic grilled grassfed burger & mash. The sauce was of my recent batch of bone stock — of which I have photos and may do a post on soon.

I dunno… Maybe it’s obvious. I suppose just getting lean is a great goal. It’s what I wanted to do and then I bounced 175-180 for a year and never got much stronger, or leaner. I still bounce 175-180, the difference being I’m hugely stronger and visibly more muscular and lean.

I’ll take it; and plus, I’m not finished.

Out with the Vibram Five Fingers and in with the Soft Star RunAmoc

Let me just get this out of the way: Vibram Five Fingers shoes are…’Just OK’ for me. Sure, I loved them, at first, but I later realized that was mostly the novelty of it. It wore off and pretty quickly. I still suspect they’re destined for the fad dustbin.

See, I had long been into the mechanics of walking, having independently re-discovered and then trained myself how to walk — even in common athletic shoes (I have a pair of Nike SPARQs that I often walk in and workout in). So the Vibram 5Fs made perfect sense in that regard, but only at first, for me. Minimalist, safe, et cetera. So frankly, I have a few issues with them (I have two pair, as in my interview at

  1. I don’t care how good you get at getting your toes in, it’s a pain in the ass. I don’t see this changing.
  2. You don’t need your toes individually free — integral to the footwear itself — for most activities. It suffices that they are free somewhere, like inside your footwear.
  3. They just aren’t very socially "acceptable," by which I mean not having to explain that you’re not as weird as you look. I like to live simple, so I like to basically wear the same thing all the time. Right now it’s flip flops, mostly, and those are acceptable at all places casual. When going out more specially I’ll don my Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers or my dress moccasins from Terra Plana (which specific model they no longer make).
  4. Whether you call it Morton’s toe, Roman toe, or Greek toe, I’ve got one. My second toe is about 1/8 to 1/4" longer than the so-called "big" toe. Consequently, for relatively short walks or gym activity, they’re fine. But a long hike really gets that long toe hurting, like when you jam a finger.

But I think that even if I were to sweep all of the foregoing aside I still wouldn’t be very bullish on them. On the other hand I do have them to thank for motivating me to the next step, which is simply to go barefoot. It was shortly after I received mine when one night — as I was donning them to take the dogs out for two blocks — that I just tossed them aside and went barefoot. I’ve been doing it ever since, without ever so much as a scrape. You naturally train yourself to lighten your step when you encounter something sharp. Now, I will say that this is over asphalt & pavement. I also walk barefoot in the dirt sometimes but that’s a far greater challenge — though I’m getting better at it.

In the meantime I’ve found what I consider the ideal shoe for walking, hiking, jogging and…as casual wear. I’ve now worn them to two functions with khaki trousers and they looked perfectly fine. Moreover, you feel as though you’re barefoot. I hate to abuse the word "literally" but it’s pretty damn close. I suppose you can literally feel a certain way (barefoot), while not literally being barefoot. See, one thing about the V5Fs is that I could never wait to get them [the hell] off my feet. Functional? Yes, especially in strenuous athletic activity such as sprinting or crossfit, but then I want my SPARQs the hell off too. I’ve never understood some folk’s desire to lounge around the house with them on; or are those just photo ops? But that’s the cool thing about this find. Hey, I can’t even stand to wear house shoes or slippers unless it’s really damn cold. The only time ever was when I had a pair of moccasins without any lining. Just bare leather. These are even better.

So let me present the RunAmoc from Soft Star Shoes. Click to enlarge.

Soft Star RunAmok
Soft Star RunAmok

Pictured above is the one with the 5mm trail sole. I completely and without hesitation opted for the 2mm street sole. Here’s the difference.

Trail or Street
Trail or Street

I’ve found the 2mm soles perfectly adequate, even for walking on dirt with pebbles. I would not even consider more than doubling the thickness. Oh, and by the way, guess who make the soles? Vibram does, and they make it out of that super hard & dense rubber that’s used in rock climbing shoes and such.

The other big, huge thing is the perforated leather. You get all the support you need without the sweat factory. And this is why I can even lounge around in them at home — though I’m typically barefoot anyway. It’s just that if I come in from an outing I find that I have no burning desire to get them the hell off my feet. You can truly feel the breeze from all the holes. Big plus, for me. I’m going to get another pair so that I have a set that stays pristine for going out. I feel perfectly confident wearing them in all but the most formal of settings.

I’m not to the point where I’ll be outright ditching my V5Fs and in fact I plan to take them along on my upcoming July excursion to MovNat in West Virginia. However, three days after I return from WV Beatrice & I are off to Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre region of Italy for a week. I plan on taking my flip flops and my RunAmoks.

Update: I’ve now done a video comparison between the two and have addressed some of the objections to my post. Some of the objections were voiced in comments over at Mark Sisson’s blog.

Paleo Sunday Rock: John Barleycorn Must Die

Actually, folk performed by a rock band would be a better description. I’m talking about Steve Winwood & Traffic performing John Barleycorn (Must Die) from the album by the same name.

I found a delightful live performance from 1973 on YouTube.

And so what’s the Paleo connection? Well, it turns out that "John Barleycorn" is a personification of the cereal grain barley in this 16th century or older English folk song.

But here’s the deal: the meaning can be taken both ways. Many versions abound and in the later ones it appears to be a celebration of the barley crop; i.e., it has to die in order to provide the bread, beer, and whiskey made from it.

But not so fast. According to that Wikipedia link above, earlier versions had an opposite meaning, that "John Barleycorn" must die for all the havoc it causes.

Earlier versions resemble Burns’s only in personifying the barley, and sometimes in having the barley be foully treated or murdered by various artisans. Burns’ version, however, omits their motives. In an early seventeenth century version, the mysterious kings of Burns’s version were in fact ordinary men laid low by drink, who sought their revenge on John Barleycorn for that offense:

Sir John Barley-Corn fought in a Bowl,
who won the Victory,
Which made them all to chafe and swear,
that Barley-Corn must dye.

Another early version features John Barleycorn’s revenge on the miller:

Mault gave the Miller such a blow,
That from [h]is horse he fell full low,
He taught him his master Mault for to know
you neuer saw the like sir.

I think I’ll stick with the original meaning.

Meme Roth is Bullshit!

(with honorable mention to Rogan Kirsch)

If you didn’t get a chance to catch Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! episode on Fast Food, it was pretty good. Very, very Fat Headesque, which is essentially to skewer the notion that fast food is responsible for obesity by means of an “evil” industry preying upon a “stupid” public.

While I’m not a cheerleader for fast food, I do hold a couple of positions on it — aside from the obvious one that it’s none of anyone’s fucking business what others choose to eat or how much of it.

  1. Aside from the sugary drinks & desserts, and deep fried fare, the food is generally nutritious.
  2. It’s inexpensive, allowing low-income families who work a lot to do as well or better nutritionally than they might otherwise.
  3. It’s generally clean and safe.
  4. It’s better than Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts, Cheerios or hosts of other things found in the central isles of the local supermarket.

In Fat Head, Tom Naughton interviews Eric Oliver, author of Fat Politics: The Real Story behind America’s Obesity Epidemic and who, as I recall, made a good case that pretty much the whole of the average weight gain of Americans can be accounted for by the massive increase in the consumption of sugar drinks (including fruit juice) over the past decades. Basically, you’re talking about high caloric density in something that’s nutritionally vapid while offering nothing in terms of satiation — and in fact is probably quite the opposite once the insulin over-spike has done its thing.

No, in my view the best reason to shun fast food is simply optimality in nutrition. But on the other hand let’s admit that one thing fast food has going for it is: meat. Very nearly all of their menu selections have decent protein content. So before we continue here’s a clip from the program.

And, yea, Rogan “nudge nudge” Kirsch is a busybody dipshit too. He wants more government regulations aimed at fast food, artificially raising prices in order to “nudge” consumers into behaving according to his values.

In another interesting segment Penn & Teller profiled some professor at, I believe, Cornell who studies food habits and perceptions in a laboratory made into a dining room, where they feed people in a restaurant setting. In one experiment they served a ~950 kcal taco salad from Taco Bell where the bowl is a giant crispy tortilla.

Taco Salads from Taco Bell
Taco Salads from Taco Bell

Now aside from the grain represented by the flour tortilla, that looks like pretty nutritious fare. But one group was actually told their salads were from Taco Bell. Asked various questions while eating them, the answers were uniformly negative; i.e., “heavy,” “not very healthy,” “bad for you,” etc. Perfect guit-laden responses, as aimed for by the likes of Roth & Kirsch. And when asked to guess the caloric content, every person guessed extremely and surprisingly close, 900-1000 calories. Then, another group was served the exact same salad but were told that it was from some fancy local restaurant with an upscale sounding name. Asked the very same questions, answers were uniformly positive: “light,” “healthy,” “nutritious,” “good for you” and so on. And the guesses on calories? 400-500.

Pretty enlightening. So let’s take a look at the actual nutrition in their taco salad offerings (click to enlarge).

Nutrition Information
Nutrition Information

While not my choice, it does have a decent amount of fat (about 50% of calories) and a good portion of that is coming from the meat, avocado and sour cream — all excellent sources — and very respectable level of protein. The carbs, while high-ish for a single meal, aren’t that bad, particularly if no sugar drink is consumed along with it. A person could eat two of these per day exclusively and likely lose weight at 1,800 kcals or less, 50% calories from fat, adequate protein, and moderate carbohydrate of 150g per day at most.

So what is that skinny bitch, Meme Roth, yammering on about? And Rogan Kirsch? What’s his problem (other than the appearance of just having had an enormous suppository inserted)?

The aim here isn’t to hold up fast food joints as beacons of healthy eating. They’re places where it’s possible to get adequate to good nutrition when one is sensible about their own choices. But: I’d wager that in terms of enormous portions and hidden calories that your local TGI’s, Chili’s, Applebee’s, and so forth in that market, are far worse. Well shit on a shingle…let’s look.

Just scan through the Taco Bell nutrition info in one tab, then do the same with Chili’s nutrition info (PDF) in another. See what I mean? Taco Bell has not one single menu item over 1,000 calories while Chili’s must have dozens of them. Taco Bell has a single item at 1,000 calories exactly, their “volcano nachos.” All four of Chili’s nacho selections exceed that and one of them comes in at 1,690. Let’s just take a look at Chili’s appetizer and dessert offerings; you know, the stuff they try to get you to oder before and after the enormously portioned main course (click to enlarge).

Chilis Appetizers
Chili’s Appetizers
Chilis Desserts
Chili’s Desserts

Now, if I did the math correctly, the 21 appetizer offerings come to an average caloric load of 1,010 per item. This is before you get your oversize portion of whatever. The desserts average out to 759. So let’s do a little math. We’ll start you off with a 16 oz sugar drink at 200 kcal, split the app for 505, dig into a median calorie oversize main course with 2 sides included at 1,300, and then finish it off splitting a dessert at 380. Total damage: 2,385.

That’s about 500 calories more than if you ate two of Taco Bell’s taco salads with the highest caloric load.

Now, tell me, who do these fast-food fascists think they’re fooling? …And did you catch Meme employ the inclusive “we” when referring to the “stupid” American public the “evil” fast food companies are exploiting?

You didn’t buy that, did you? Didn’t think so.

Update: Here’s an 8:25 minute YouTube clip of the show. Lots of good ‘ole f-bombs, skewering of assholes, magic and humor. Watch it while it lasts.

Hitting the Road

Beatrice just finished the school year and so we’re outta here, back next Wednesday. I have a few posts in draft and will try to finish them up soon. Se ya.

Dinner Solo, but Listening

…To Dave Matthews Band. I’ve had a lot of his stuff forever, since early ’80s. Love it. Here’s Rapunzel, Live, Chicago. On a certain level, having done a Jason Mraz concert last year, I think Jason must have listened to Dave, a lot. Far from his studio and album performances, Jason rocks the house, live, in a very similar way in terms of emphasis on words and melody.

Onward, folks. As I’ve tweeted and put up on the Facebook page, I’ve been going extreme, 4th day in a row submerged to the neck in 40 degree F water, 10-12 minutes per session. Net result is some significant leaning. Working on a blog. We’re out of here next week for nearly a week. Will report. …Oh, fuck. Just found this. A jewel. Listen to what two guys can accomplish on acoustic, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, Lie in our Graves. I find this simply astounding. Astounding!

Grilled Grassfed Flank Steak

Unfortunately while I do have a couple of posts in mind on more substantive matters, food preparations are about the only thing I’ve had time for lately.

If you saw my post about last weekend’s farmers market, then you saw that wonderful looking grassfed flank steak from Knee Deep Cattle Company. Well, here’s how it looks once you’ve lightly dry rubbed it with The Salt Lick, let it rest at room temp for about an hour, then grilled it on high and finally, squeezed on some fresh lime as it rests. Click all images for the hi-res versions.

Grilled Flank Steak
Grilled Flank Steak

And it’s done perfectly, to my eye. Since the thickness of the steak was not uniform I get everything from medium to medium rare. 

Sliced Ready
Sliced & Ready

To plate it up, I did a mash with one white sweet potato and one plain white potato, with a little salt, pepper, butter & heavy cream.

Flank Steak Mashed Potato
Flank Steak & Mashed Potato

That’s a great way to do potato, by the way. Give it a shot. And, oh, yes, the steak was superb.

Braised Bone-in Short Ribs

These are from Prather Ranch for a really good price. With the bone in, for braising, the flavor is incomparable (you’re essentially making stock as you cook). The downside is that the ultimate quantity for a 2.5 lb package is a bit skimpy. Oh, well.

The prep is pretty simple. I seasoned with a tsp of sea salt and a tsp of black pepper. Then I tossed ’em in a ziplock and added 1/2 c each of apple cider vinegar and tamari soy sauce. Let it marinade for 2 hrs. This substitutes for browning.

Then I placed them in a small dutch oven (dump the marinade at this point), added Trader Joe’s organic beef stock just below covering them, covered and put in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 1 1/2 hours. Click for the hi-res.

Braised Short Ribs
Braised Short Ribs

When done, I took them out of the pot and onto a cookie sheet and placed under the low broiler, 2nd rack down and proceeded to reduce the sauce.

The garnish is carrot sauteed in butter and chopped baby spinach.

Bea said it was the best sauce ever and I’d have to concur. Beef candy. It was so intense, and here’s the deal: I added nothing. No seasoning, herbs, or spices. Just a pure reduction.

Dry Rub BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Paleo Sauce & Slaw

I was mightily inspired upon waking Saturday morning. I’m going to do me some back ribs. This was a super fun undertaking and I’ve got a lot of photos for you. And remember, click on the images for the high resolution versions.

First thing I did was head over to get some ribs (Costco, $30). Then it was over to a BBQ Galore outlet to inquire about various dry rubs. Yep, spicy, not sweet. Then The Salt Lick is the only option, I was told.

So first step was to dry rub the ribs, both sides. I was pleased to see that the membrane on the back had already been removed. That’s a lotta ribs.

The Salt Lick Dry Rub
The Salt Lick Dry Rub

I let them sit for a good 30 minutes while I preheated the oven to 200F. Yep: low & slow. I then wrapped them individually in foil, set them back on the “cookie” sheets (their most superior use, nowadays) and tossed ’em in the oven for a four hour soak.

During that time I searched for paleo BBQ sauces and the Google Gods took me to Son of Grok’s BBQ sauce. The recipe is all at that link. It’s fun & easy to make. What I did differently was to use my Magic Bullet to puree the onion and garlic with 1/2 cup of the beef stock. At the end I did think it needed some slight touch of sweet, so I added first 1 tbsp molasses, then another. 32g of sugar for a 3-cup rendering. in most commercial sauces you have 16g of sugar for 2 tbsps. At 1/4 cup of my concoction, you’ll only get 2-3g of sugar. Acceptable, in my book.

Son of Groks BBQ Sauce
Son of Groks BBQ Sauce

At 3:45 I kicked it up to 250F and then shut off the oven at the four hour mark, and without opening the door, let them rest for an additional 30 minutes while I fired up the grill.

Finished to Finger Licking Perfection
Finished to Finger Licking Perfection

The grill was on low. I also saved the drippings from the foil wraps and using a brush I basted, turned, covered, based, turned, covered…letting them go about 5 minutes per side, about 3 cycles or so. For the final step I kicked it on hi, basted the tops heavily and browned them as you see.

Dig In
Dig In

And now for the meal. The slaw was courtesy of our loft neighbors, Robert & Julie. It’s an asian, ginger sort of affair; very little sugar as well (she said less than 1/4 of what the recipe called for). Update: see the comments for the slaw recipe Robert has now posted.

Baby Back Ribs Slaw
Baby Back Ribs Slaw

Finally, they were perfect in the sense that they don’t fall apart so you can actually finish them on the grill, but yet you can suck the meat right off the bone. No teeth required.

Dead Soldiers
Dead Soldiers

As far as I’m concerned, the Salt Lick dry rub is by far and away the very best I have ever used. I see no reason to ever use anything else. I love it when life gets really simple like that.

Sunday Selection: Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris – The Maker

Yesterday was pretty cool. Upon waking Saturday morning I figured I wanted to do baby back ribs. I wanted to do them long, and take lots of care, and I wanted to do a BBQ dipping sauce from scratch.

That’s my next post.

In the meantime, while yesterday was super fun and I listened to untold tracks of old Zepp, Rush, Genesis — even Styxx — and more, I once again returned to Teatro. So here we go, and the ribs come up next.

Farmers Market Take, Today

My trips to farmers markets are usually about protein & fat. I rarely know what I want to accompany a dish with, and more often than not I’m content with a salad. I’ve no beef — ha ha — with the "mostly plants" folks, but this is one corner of the paleosphere where we unapologetically celebrate a "mostly meat" eatstyle, with a middle finger raised high if necessary.

Unlike so, so many out there, we don’t give a shit about being perceived as "balanced" or "moderate" — besides which that usually means "mostly plants, whereas "mostly meat" is unbalanced, immoderate, unsustainable. But most of all, we just care about being healthier and far higher nourished than the "mostly plant" dupes.

So in addition to the three fresh oysters on the half shell I consumed on site, here was today’s haul.

Farmers Market Haul
Farmers Market Haul

The fennel bulb is explicitly to flavor a crock pot roast (truly amazing). Then there’s…

What you see above was about $115 total. And, I’ll actually consume every last bit of it. This is another problem I have with vegetables and fruits. I waste a LOT. I just don’t feel like eating them, so I don’t and before too long there’s no choice but to dump it. Another reason why potatoes are a good option. And they’re good nutrition and a quality source of protein.

One thing to note about Prather Ranch, listed above. While certified organic, it’s not 100% grass finished.

For all organic feed production, no synthetic herbicide and pesticides have been applied to feed crops for a minimum of three years. The animals spend the majority of their lives grazing on organic forage in irrigated pastures or on grazing land. The organic cattle are finished on a diet of chopped forage, with some organic barley and organic rice.

But only a few minutes reading about their history and practices ought to be enough to convince anyone that this is a super-quality operation. Practices that stand out to me are that they have their own abattoir and only their own cattle are processed there, they transport only in their own vehicles, and they have not introduced any cattle from outside their own herds since 1995.

But here, take a look at this flank steak from Knee Deep up in Oregon. The guy at the Prather booth highly recommended it to me as a grilling steak. I’ll find out on Monday.

Flank Steak
Flank Steak

And here’s an interesting cut that they call the "caveman" cut.

Bone in Bacon Chop
Bone in Bacon Chop

Part pork chop, part bacon, with the bone to form the shape of a club. It’s perfect. That’s going in the sous vide.

Here’s what I’d like to see from all you vendors out there, and pastured eggs guys as well (no retail place or farmers market to get pastured eggs here in the south Bay Area that I’m aware of). Try to get into more farmers markets, more of you. How many dammed fruit and veggie stands selling the same things does a farmers market need. Jesus, already; it’s like a goddammed mall and women’s shoe stores.

Heroism: A Uniquely Human Trait; the Story of Vernon Hershberger

The simplest way I’ve ever been able to reconcile a distinction between wanton self-sacrifice and heroism exists in the realm of values. To sacrifice yourself means, by definition, that you’re giving up a higher value (to you) for a lower value. Heroism involves values that you hold so dear that they may even outweigh your immediate safety, security, or your very life.

So for example, if you deny yourself or your loved ones basic security, shelter, or nutrition in order to help those far less worthy or valuable (to you), you’re engaging in sacrifice. On the other hand, you may find it utterly loathsome to even live in a world where certain things can persist unchecked, such as a woman, child, elderly person — or anyone clearly outmatched — being assaulted by some thug in front of your very eyes, but where to intervene might risk your life. I would consider such intervention to be heroic, not sacrificial.

So there’s the philosophical/social underpinnings and now to the story. I’ve seen a few of these, lately, but for one reason of another, didn’t engage them. This is different. And I think it’s because of Vernon Hershberger’s actions in the immediate and his demeanor over them. He’s an Amish subsistence farmer in Wisconsin. That is, he derives all of his subsistence values for himself, his wife, and nine children from his family farm, trading that which he produces by means of his hands & body, intellect, and leadership with other family members, friends, and close acquaintances which appear to number about 100 in total.

Via WAPF’s Twitter feed I originally got wind of this story from the Journal of Natural Food and Healing. There’s a good timeline there, quotes, updates and such. Check it out, but I will provide an additional link, to this local news story, with video. From the former link:

Another family dairy farm and their private store for their food ministry has been raided in Wisconsin by state/county health and agriculture agencies.

Be sure to click on the video link on the later and watch it. What you’re going to see is the heroic & courageous Vernon Hershberger proudly showcasing what appears to be quality product of the highest order. These are products I can identify immediately as among those I would be proud to acquire in trade with Mr. Hershberger. You too, I’d venture. And you’re also going to see those same refrigerators tagged by your "higher authorities and solemn protectors" as "evidence." Yea, they’re evidence alright — evidence of the profound bankruptcy in quality, wholesomeness, artisan pride, tradesmanship and self-sufficiency that’s wholly lacking from The Factory Farm…or from its billionaire DC law firm lobbyists, its former executives now sitting in politically appointed regulatory positions…from the entire tawdry, incestuous affair — from top to bottom and wall to wall.

Now at this point — and frankly, in deciding to do this post I had intended a typical vitriolic rant — I’d be naming all the names and assigning new, unflattering well-deserverd monikers to all those involved in this shameful, unnecessary, grandstanding undertaking. But I can’t do that. I have too much respect for Mr. Vernon Hershberger to subject him to the potential consequences of my behavior. Everyone’s Googling their own name, now. I harbor no illusions of what he’s up against and I certainly would not want to do anything that would in any way bring the crushing boot of state down upon him and his dear family any worse than it’s already likely to be…uh, cause he’s selling raw milk from his own family farm.

In short, and counting his likely religious views, I’m going to respect his right to not have my typical outrageous vulgarity associated with him or his just cause.

Here’s a few select quotes from the previously linked post at Natural Food.

The DATCP brought in the armed deputies for 6 hours to lock it up and take evidence. That does not stop Vernon.

“This is how I make a living,” Vernon Hershberger, a Loganville dairy farmer, said Thursday morning. “We are going to go right ahead and do business.”

Hershberger said roughly 100 families, including some Madison customers, purchase raw milk, yogurt, cheese, butter and ice cream from a store on his farm that is open for business Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Now pay attention here. He’s not just going to continue on in defiance. There’s more, but first:

The raid team took product samples for chemical and biological laboratory analysis. The raid team also went to the large dairy tank of fresh, farm certified organic wholesome milk and intentionally contaminated it. They dropped a blue dye in it such that it turns all the milk blue. It is not saleable or drinkable.

So they take more "evidence" and wantonly destroy his property; actually, the very self-produced whole food he and his nine children consume. And next…

After they left, Vernon and about two dozen friends, families and customers who arrived in ten cars during the six hour raid—BROKE THE SEALS (another criminal offense)—so that they could get to their milk, cream, butter, ice cream, yogurt and other products—that they produced and owned and needed so that their families can live and is required to maintain robust health and energy.

And now here, in particular, we come to Mr. Hershberger’s uncommon courage & heroism. Is is because he defied the law? In part, yes, but there’s way, way more to it than that — something I might refer to as a "golden helmet of moral righteousness."

I asked Vernon if it would be OK to report his crime in the Journal for all to see: that he defied the orders of the State by BREAKING THE SEALS of state evidence—so that they could get to their food needed to live. “No problem, go right ahead and tell”, he told me. “We have no other choice but to break the seals and take our food”.

This is the heart of a concept I’ll address in a minute, but note: he has no intention of not fully facing up to the legal consequences of his actions. In fact, he’s giving the green light to be reported.

The raid team also demanded computers and customer lists and business records. Between the time the health department showed up and when the deputies came with the warrant to search and seize, Vernon and his family took the computer drive and records and hid them in an undisclosed off-site location. I made doubly sure it would be OK to report this here and to the DATCP and county officials who will be reading this—and Vernon said it would be OK to report this. (It is as if it is an invitation to the State to come and play hide and seek. The customer and supplier lists are then used to interrogate and request surveys of them as to further widen the witch hunt—as in Minnesota).

Well so far, I’d say that an ambitious prosecutor might be able to get another notch towards a career promotion by putting Mr. Hershberger in a locked-away status from his nine children for an awfully long time. These are "serious crimes" — not to mention: selling raw milk from his own family farm.

And now, turning to the local news story previously linked…

…Now that the law is not on his side, he doesn’t know what to do.

"Entering into a form of civil disobedience or going out of business," he said. "This is all we do. This is to support our family. This is to support our farm. We have a debt to pay off and everything that goes with it."

If you ever get a chance to study Civil Disobedience, you of course begin with Henry David Thoreau, who held that there are three choices with respect to laws: obey them, amend them, or transgress them.

“Under a government that imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.”

A continuing study in civil disobedience might include Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Paramount are three principles:

  1. Maintaining a respect for rule of law even while disobeying a particular law you find unjust. In other words, resistance should be non-violent at all times. This could extend so far as to protect your oppressors from physical harm from those who might be sympathetic to your cause, but violently so.
  2. Plead guilty for your offense and accept the consequences. You remain non-violent and mount no legal defense.
  3. Instead, mount a moral defense which is predominantly be means of your non-violent resolve and secondarily, by means of rational appeal to natural law & common justice. The aim of this defense is not to save your own skin, but to convert your oppressors and opponents.

And while civil disobedience has been demonstrated a number of times to be very effective, you can probably see why it’s such a rare thing. I hope that Mr. Hershberger maintains the courage to see it through, though I could never fault him if he ultimately chose not too. He must hold no illusions: the state very well could chew him to pieces and leave his nine children with an imprisoned father.

But whatever the case, I raise a toast to him.

Raw Milk Toast to Vernon Hershberger from Richard Nikoley on Vimeo.

Oh, one more little tidbit, before I go, from the reportage.

Both houses of the Wisconsin legislature voted to legalize raw milk sales, until Governor Doyle vetoed it two weeks ago.

There’s just nothing like representative democracy, I guess. Perhaps Vernon Hershberger will get to demonstrate in living color and by loss of his physical freedom how "valuable" a lesson in civics can be.

Another Brief Progress Report with Pictures

I suppose the best thing about all of this Paleoishness and conditioning is that though months go by without a lot of progress perceived on my part, it’s gratifying to see it after a year.

And guess what? I weigh exactly the same as I did a year ago, about 180. Here’s what it looked like a year ago, "My Transformation in Photos," and I was happy with that because it was an improvement on the previous set.

In all of this, I have always taken refuge in the belief that, 1) if this isn’t long term sustainable then I’m just goofing myself and that, 2) if it is long term sustainable then if I’m doing it right the fat will take care of itself in time. Patience. This is not and never has been about quick fat loss. It’s about getting on a life plan you can live with that motivates your genes and your metabolism to just do their natural thing. You didn’t get fat and undesirable overnight (yes, being fat is undesirable, unattractive, debilitating and all Fucked Up — don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise).

On the other hand, for those of us a little older, and, if being ripped style lean is an itch you just have to scratch, then once you get to a nice, sustainable body composition you might want to take it to the next level. That’s what I decided to do and I’d venture that two months ago I pretty much looked like I did a year ago. But no longer.

OK, here’s how it’s going. Bear in mind, the pics from today and a year ago are at the same weight, 180. You can click to get the larger version.

The Today Me
The Today Me

And this was a year ago.

Year Ago Me
Year Ago Me

So there you go. Gains in the gym continue. Right now it looks like the bench is my friend. Gains two weeks in a row after nearly two months of go-nowhere crap. And I’m now exclusively on conventional deadlifts having found that once I got to 255 x 5 on Sumo that it greatly compromised my squats, making me feel — even at 135 warmup weight — that I was doing squats for the first time. So I’m catching up and am at 215 on conventional DL and it’s feeling pretty good. We’ll see how the squats go tomorrow.