I hope this finds you all doing well these days. I am making it through this especially frigid Pennsylvania winter. I am NOT a cold weather person so these last several months of snow and plunging temperatures has not been my scene. I’m ready for summer. Forget springtime and the rain. Bring on the hot temps!
I wanted to bring you up to date with a few things happening around the whole First Comes Health world. As usual, I’ve been experimenting around the purple kitchen of mine getting a few new recipes to post (next week!). With the seasonal changes that are (hopefully!) upon us soon, I’m getting ready to start kicking my food preservation efforts into high gear. This means, not only am I going to be fermenting things, but pickling, dehydrating, canning, and more. I’m getting involved in the Pittsburgh Canning Exchange this year! I was lucky enough to be invited to their fall swap a few months ago so I could sell copies of Fermented and I told the organizers that I had to be involved in any manner possible in 2014. I’m meeting up with them in the coming weeks and I’m really excited.
If you happen to be in the western Pennsylvania area, I’m teaching two sessions of a class on how to start fermenting at home. Each one is hosted by Fox Chapel Area Adult Education. They are March 25 and April 8, both at 7 pm. Check out their website for more details!
I’m finding it very difficult to communicate with all of you, dear readers. If you’re a regular reader of any blog out there, you’ve probably heard this familiar lament – Facebook is messing with us! What started out as a really great way for small businesses to communicate with clients and fans has morphed into a disappointing dead end. Boo. I am truly grateful for all 4700 or so of you who “like” me on Facebook, but I know that only a wee percentage of you are actually seeing First Comes Health in your newsfeeds. You can change this by making sure that “show in newsfeed” is checked when you hover over the LIKE button on this page. It’s totally discouraging when I put something up there and see that only 71 of you have seen it. I hope you’ll help me change this around!
I also want to remind you that there are many other ways you can keep in touch with me, know when I’m doing something, see photos of my antics (both culinary and personal), and interact. I’m on Instagram (my favorite!), Twitter, and have a newsletter too. And in a shameless act of bribery, I’m going to give you some incentive to connect with me – a signed copy of Fermented. I’m also trying out this Rafflecopter stuff, so please bear with me!
So, that’s about all for now. The giveaway lasts for a week (officially ending on 12 March at midnight!), so enter and spread the word to others, please. You have multiple chances to be successful!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hello! Remember those wonderful days past when my friend, Diane of LadyFingers Catering and I would host these wonderful and healthy paleo dinner parties and live tweet the whole preparation? And then we’d ask a question about something we tweeted about and someone won a seat at the next month’s party? Well, we’re starting it up again! We took a year’s hiatus because Diane was busy coming back from major foot surgery last year, and we both missed the excitement and the food. We’re kicking off the new season with a very special Valentine’s Day dinner this Saturday, February 15 at 6pm! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and get in on the action so YOU can win a seat at our March dinner. First Comes Health Twitter LadyFingers Twitter
If you are following me on Instagram and Facebook (and I really hope you are because I post there more than I do here) then you probably know that my husband Dude and I are in the midst of a redecoration/remodeling of our condo. This is way long overdue for us. We have been living in our little tiny place for a little over 9 years and before that we were living in a (too big for us) house for three years. We have had most of our current furniture for at least 9 years and some pieces were even older.
Time for a switch up!
So, after a few years of planning, budgeting, and saving we pulled the trigger a few months ago and things are happening!
A little background on our place – it’s small. Not NYC small, but compared to how most of our family and friends live, Dude and I live in a shoebox. That’s just the way we like it, though. We don’t have much and we don’t want much. Our living room is the largest room in the place and that’s the room that is getting the overhaul. But since it’s easily 75% of our home, it’s a big deal.
A major part of the whole project is that now we have all new furniture. There is nothing negative about this, but because there are two brand spankin’ new couches in our place our habits had to change.
Before the new couches, Dude and I would eat our dinner in the living room in front of the TV watching Jeopardy! or something we had stored up on the DVR. I know that some might think this is unorthodox and not cool, but eating in front of the TV was a way for us to relax after working all day and then going to the gym. We talked and decompressed from the day while having our meal together on the couch. It worked for us.
Now, until I can help it, not a single crumb of food will be near the couches. Call me hard-nosed, but I plan to keep these beauties as fresh and new for as long as I can. As a result, we now eat in the kitchen.
We have an eat-in kitchen believe it or not. One of the things I love about our place is that the kitchen is relatively huge compared to the size of the rest of the place. Not enormous, but enough that there is ample counter space plus room for a two-top table. And a bunch of years ago I got a little cafe table that is big enough for two to put in the perfect spot. It’s from CB2 and is similar to this, but without the wood. Ours has a tempered glass top and is taller.
Anyway we’ve started this new year out by eating our “together meals”, breakfast and dinner, at the kitchen table. The interesting thing is, it’s not just the venue that’s changed in just a short amount of time; the whole dynamic of the meal has changed. We are more engaged with each other, we are talking more, we’re using the time to review the day.
Some of you might be thinking, “Yeah, duh. That’s what happens when you don’t eat in front of the television.” and you’d be right. We never knew what we were missing until we changed our habit and pattern.
And that’s the message I want to get across to all of you: We changed the tone of our day by making one small change. It wasn’t even as though we were dissatisfied with our old habit. Nothing was really wrong with what we were doing before. We just changed out of necessity (new furniture) and discovered a whole new – better! – dynamic!
This has me thinking about other well-worn patterns and habits that we all have that aren’t necessarily bad but could benefit from a shake up.
What small changes can you make that will add up to a big difference?
Happy new year, friends. I don’t know about you, but I have a good feeling about 2014. 2013 will be hard to top, but for whatever reason I feel more energized and determined this year than I have in years past. I’m going with the feeling…
So, what’s been happening with me as of late? Well, as of my last content (not giveaway) post I have been just taking a page from Frank Sinatra’s book (or Sid Vicious, if that suits your fancy more than Old Blue Eyes) and doing it my way. The holidays have come and gone and this year my family had a much more subdued celebration than usual. Truth be told, I appreciated it even more. I love my extended family, but the quiet, slow-paced days from Christmas Eve until yesterday were great.
Unlike in year’s past, I’m going to to do a Goals Project and I’m not going to make a list of resolutions. Instead, I’m going to stick with my previously mentioned theme of doing things at my pace and in my way. And this, of course, got me to thinking. Let me tell you a little story….
A few days after Christmas I was cruising Facebook and there was a status update from a casual friend of mine. She’s a great person, mom of three little ones, full-time job, and I’m sure very very busy from day to day. She made some apologies before Christmas about not sending cards out. Now, my opinion on holiday cards is this: If you send them, great. If you don’t send them, great. Either way, own it. Personally I do send cards.
So anyway, this status update was asking for recommendations for Christmas card services that will print the cards, envelopes, apply postage, and mail them for you. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I’m not surprised that it does, but I hadn’t ever heard of such a service.
In response to this post there were a bunch of recommendations and advice about putting all of her addresses into Excel, doing a mail merge, printing out labels, etc. A few were bragging about how they did 250 cards in 20 minutes or something like that.
This bothered me.
Like I said above, it doesn’t matter to me if you send cards or not, but isn’t the reason we send cards at the holiday season because we want to stay in touch with those we care most about? I didn’t think it was about just doing it to do it or to see what astronomical number of cards we can send to anyone we’ve ever met. I wrote a comment that encouraged my friend to just own the fact that with a full-time job and three little children who are all active in sports and activities she doesn’t have time for cards. No shame in that! Or if she really wants to send some cards to those closest to her, take the time to write out a few to those very special people.
Quality over quantity.
Sure it’s a bit more labor intensive to hand write holiday cards, envelopes, and manually apply stamps, but isn’t it so much more personal and meaningful than a pre-printed card and envelope that someone was proud to stuff in less than a few seconds or a machine mailed for them?
Well, I don’t know if she took my advice or listened to my opinions, but the whole incident gave me an idea for a theme for 2014.
I’m going to do things the hard way.
Think of how much more delicious and special and soulful everything is if it’s done with care and with effort. Think of how much better a thoughtfully prepared meal is than manufactured junk from a fast food place. Think of how much more meaningful a personalized letter or card is. You wouldn’t quickly pan-fry a pork shoulder, would you?! Low and slow, baby.
So if I can come up with a theme for the year, it’s that. 2014 is going to be about taking the time and effort to do things well.
I can’t wait to see what we all discover together in the coming months! As usual, don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and on Pinterest. I’m developing a difficult relationship with Facebook, but I’m still over there posting so don’t forget to mark First Comes Health with “Show in News Feed”! That crazy Mark Zuckerburg doesn’t want you see my posts! Boo.
Hello dear readers!
I hope you all had a pleasant holiday. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then I hope you had a terrific Wednesday.
No matter your religious or social celebration habits, we are all facing a new calendar year coming up in less than a week. We are rapidly closing in on 2014!
I thought I’d end this year on a high note and give away TWO books. These babies are going to be given away to one person as a bundle.
Diane Sanfilippo’s new books about the 21 Day Sugar Detox are brilliant. The first is a how-to and why you ought to get rid of sugar in your diet. The second is a very thorough cookbook covering every meal.
To tell you the truth, I’m going to be using my copies of these beauties to make sure I start the new year as healthy as I can be. I admit to eating more than my fair share of sweet treats over these past days (maybe weeks? Thanksgiving wasn’t that far in the past…..)
So, here’s the deal: I’m going to run this giveaway until 12:01 am, January 1, 2014. You can enter multiple ways.
Like many other small businesses, I have a Facebook page, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to get people to see my posts over there. Only about a tenth of you see my content. I still invite you to like my page over there (and please make sure I’m shown in your news feed!) but I will probably be focusing less and less on Facebook as the months roll on. Sad, I know.
That’s it! I wish all of you the very best in the new year. We have so much to learn from each other and I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings to all of us
Love and peace.Jill
They say that comparison is the thief of joy. I am finding this to be soundly true these days.
So, I turned 40 a few weeks ago and as a vacation/birthday present/way to celebrate all things Fermented being done and out there, Dude and I went to Prague in the Czech Republic. Simply put, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Positively gorgeous! So much so that it seemed fake. You know like that Disney-fake or Las Vegas-fake where everything is just a little too staged and perfect and pretty? Well, Prague is the real deal. My puny iPhone photos cannot even come close to doing it justice.
I didn’t think it to be true, but I guess when you turn 40, you get a little introspective. I thought I’d burst into my new decade with gusto! Nope. I’m being a little more measured about my enthusiasm and consciously or unconsciously, I am finding myself taking stock of where I am in my life – what I’ve done, what I want to do, where I’m going, where I’ve been. All that.
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
I’m should-ing all over myself.
This is anything but a complaint, but it’s hard to be around people who do things so well.
I have friends and friends and friends and friends (and tons more!) who are great at what they do. These people are fabulous cooks, health pioneers, photographers, bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs who are actively doing things that change people’s lives. And they’re doing it beautifully – both aesthetically and metaphorically speaking.
Plus, my husband is a genius (literally) who is very accomplished at his job and loves it.
This is my way of saying that I feel the pressure to live up to the company I keep. Don’t get me wrong, THIS IS DEFINITELY A GOOD THING. That deserves all caps. I am not complaining that I exist in a circle of people who are smart, accomplished, beautiful, trendsetters. It’s just that I haven’t exactly found my place amongst them yet.
I am finding it very difficult to reconcile who I am as a private person with who I am as a professional/athlete/friend. I look at what these people are doing around me and I tell myself, “You SHOULD be doing that.”
You should be posting on your blog more.
You should be doing more fermenting.
You should be better at social media.
You should be taking better photographs.
You should post more recipes.
You should be out there winning your age group in all these races you run.
You should be deadlifting 225 pounds.
You should be on the New York Times bestsellers list.
You should be faster/stronger/smarter/(insert anything here).
You should be holding webinars.
You should be giving lectures.
You should be selling more books.
You should __________.
I’m not doing myself any favors. In fact, the result of this rampant “should-ing” has been me pretty much dropping off the face of the Internet for a few weeks. I did it to myself. I have been comparing myself to those around me and it’s only made me upset with who I am. It’s taken away from the joy I feel with who I’ve become, what I can do, what I’ve already accomplished, and my potential to do more.
So yeah, comparison IS the thief of joy.
I’ve lost the joy I feel when I am doing MY thing – health coaching, talking food, posting stuff here, interacting with you guys on Facebook and Instagram – because I’ve been preoccupied with comparing my success to others.
I’ve lost the joy to go out and run because I’m too busy telling myself that I should be faster like all those people I see in my running club.
I’ve become disinterested in CrossFit because I can’t walk on my hands across the gym and I can’t lift as much as the other (younger!) people there.
And now I’m a bit mad at myself for letting this sense of competition get in the way of my own happiness. That’s not what life is about. That’s not what I’M about.
So the should-ing stops today. I’m going to do what I want to do, in my fashion, at my speed, at my weight.
I’ll be seeing you here on the blog and around my various social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram [my fave!], Twitter, Pinterest) but it will be at my speed and in my style. I hope that works for you too.
A few weeks ago I promised you a giveaway to celebrate First Comes Health hitting 3000+ fans on Facebook. Well, due to my burn out and subsequent staycation, I didn’t make good on that promise. Until now.
As you all know by know, my book Fermented was published by Victory Belt. Well, there are several dozen other real-food and Paleo geared authors who publish with Victory Belt and I have yet to find a single book from them that isn’t spectacular. I’ve been gifted a group of four of my recent favorites, ones that I’ve been enjoying and cooking from for the last couple of months, and I want to share fresh copies with you! Enter to win this bundle of some of my Victory Belt favorites!
Here’s all you have to do:
1. Leave me a comment telling me what your favorite Victory Belt book is (aside from mine, of course! Ha ha!) Check out their website to see fantastic selection in their catalog.
3. Sign up for my email list.
With all of this, you can enter this giveaway a whopping EIGHT times. I’m going to close this one off on Tuesday, September 24 at noon EDT.
And as I mentioned before, the reason for this giveaway is to sincerely thank each of you for your continued support of me, Fermented, and First Comes Health. You make me happy to be doing the work I do.
I owe you all an apology. I’ve been falling down on my duties as blogger, teacher, and communicator. I just looked at this site for the first time in a while and it turns out I have neglected it and I’ve neglected YOU! So so sorry.
During the past few weeks I’ve been sporadically busy and sporadically not busy. I’ve been doing my best to do my best by Fermented. I’ve been doing signings, book fairs, etc. I officiated the wedding ceremony of my friends Hayley and Bill and I got to hang out with a bunch of the Paleo world superstars.
I’ve also been doing a bit of nothing.
It turns out, writing Fermented took it’s toll on me. I’m not saying this for a whiny pity party woe-is-me-I-wrote-a-book kind of thing. I’m telling you that my emotional health has suffered a bit. It turns out a year of high anxiety, sleepless nights, wacky diet, worry, and anticipation will turn in to a bit of a crash when it’s all over.
Lately I’ve been getting up and feeling a sense of dread when I think about fermenting, Facebooking, Instagramming, blogging, etc. So I decided not to do it for a week or two. I mean, I have been around, but wasn’t doing anything I didn’t want to do for a few days. And it was the right thing to do.
I used to scoff at people when they said things like “I NEEEEEEEEED a vacation!” Who in the world NEEDS a vacation? I am eating those words now. I needed a vacation. So I took a staycation. Dude and I aren’t going anywhere for vacation for another few months so I decided to just to check out and watch The Office on Netflix and take a few naps.
And it was awesome.
So why am I telling you all this? Because I think I owe it to you to be honest. Nobody’s perfect and we all struggle. Different things cause us all to check out and need a break from time to time.
Now I’m back and I have a few things planned.
First and foremost, is the long-ago promised giveaway for reaching 3000 Facebook fans. That’s coming tomorrow.
Second is some regular recipe posting. I have some good ideas coming up.
Third is more fermentation content. I’m working on something really basic, easy, but extremely tasty. Can’t wait to share.
So, that’s about all I have to report. Thanks for understanding. More soon.
Thanks to everyone who entered. This giveaway is now closed.
A few weeks ago when advance copies of Fermented were sent out, Stacy from Paleo Parents had a brilliant idea. In order to really get a feel for all that Fermented had to offer and to test out a bunch of recipes at once, she invited some friends over to her house and they made a bunch of things from the book. First of all, I was so honored and thrilled that someone would do this and second of all, it was a fabulous idea!
So, I decided to return the favor. I invited a few of my pork-loving friends over this past Saturday and we cooked up a feast courtesy of Stacy’s (and her husband Matt) latest masterpiece, Beyond Bacon.
Before I tell you the details, I have to say that I think I will be doing book reviews in this way from now on. Not only was it a great way to try a bunch of recipes at once, it was just a really good time spent with some friends.
So, here are the pork party players:
Sarah – She’s a badass mamma to Oliver Danger (Yes, her son’s middle name is Danger. Fantastic.), real food lover, gardener, animal lover, and owner of an actual house pig, Speck. When I invited her over to cook up pork in various ways I asked if she felt any weirdness about it considering she has a house pig. She said no and that Speck has no room to complain as he’s eaten bits of ham. Ha.
Liz – Hardcore CrossFitter, the one who got me to start fermenting by giving me a SCOBY, always has a unique take on food. Cooking genius and all-around awesome friend. And she looks sexy with a block of lard in hand.
Kevin – AKA The Scientist ™. Liz’s boyfriend, chemist, and meat lover. When he and Liz started dating their third date was sausage making. Not a euphemism and not a joke. I’m glad that my friend is dating a man of this caliber. When a gentleman shares your love and respect for meat products, you keep him around, no? The Scientist was in charge of meat cutting and did an expert job of pocketing out the pork chops Sarah brought. Brilliant.
DJ’s Butcher Block – This is a new-to-me place in Pittsburgh. I found out about it through Liz (of course) and I have become a regular customer. I can’t always buy half of a cow or an entire pig straight from the farm – I don’t have anywhere to store it! Instead I’ve now started supporting this little independent butcher who sources his meat from local farms. Seriously folks, this is the type of place you want to buy your meat from. There is a visible ban saw. They cut ALL steaks and chops to order. DJ and his girlfriend own the place and they’re the people you’ll see behind the counter. They know everything about their product. There is a collection of meat cleavers hanging on the wall. The place isn’t glamorous, but it’s clean, inexpensive, and the quality is second to none. This is where we bought all the meat and lard for the pork party.
Dude – My man napped throughout the pork preparation portion of the day, but woke up in time to eat.
So, what did we make? A few days before the party, we put our heads together and came up with a comprehensive menu:
Sarah made Apple & Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops (page 168) and Zucchini Pasta with Avocado, Roasted Tomato, & Bacon (page 234).
I made Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits (page 222) and Savory Bacon Jam (page 244).
Liz made The Best Brownies (page 284)
Kevin improvised a pan sauce for the chops with the bacon drippings we had left over – and that was a lot. Plus, as mentioned above, he was our meat cutter and got things off of high shelves.
The book! It’s brilliant, plain and simple. It’s beautiful too. I had a difficult time settling on what to make because the depth and breadth of what is in this book is just overwhelming – in a good way! We could EASILY have four or five pork parties, cook from Beyond Bacon for every single one of them, and never get bored. And we might just do that. The non-recipe part of the book is flat out invaluable. I mean, the recipes are positively fab, but the additional information beyond the food preparation is reason alone to have this book in your library. I thought I knew about pork, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.
The party went off without a hitch. I have a nice-sized kitchen, but it’s not enormous. I was concerned the four of us wouldn’t have enough room to work together AND make six different things. But I worried for nothing. We had a terrific time, enough room, and nobody had to fight for oven or stove real estate. We didn’t even plan it, but everything was finished cooking at just the right time. By the time the pork chops were pulled out of the oven, everything else was ready, on the table, and ready to eat. Dude had even woken up by this point and has his appetite ready.
And the food? Come on. You know what I’m going to say here. This was the best meal I’ve had in a long, long, long time.
Apple and Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops – These were perfection. I mean, how can you go wrong stuffing a pork chop with bacon? You can’t. But it was more than just pork-on-pork action. The flavors and textures were perfectly balanced – sweet/savory, meaty/crunchy. The apples were perfect for this dish.
Zucchini Pasta with Avocado, Roasted Tomato & Bacon – This was probably meant to be a stand-alone entree, but we used it as a side dish. It was so deliciously creamy and wonderful! Plus, the bacon wasn’t overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon as much as the next person, but there is so much more to food than bacon. And we had a pretty bacon-heavy menu going at this party. Sarah brought grape tomatoes and basil from her garden to use in this dish and that just pushed it over the top.
Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits – What can I say about these beauties? They are absolutely fantastic. The flavor is very subtle and lends itself nicely to sweet and savory dishes. After the pork party, I made another batch of these gems and quadrupled the recipe. Dude and I have been eating them with every meal – with eggs and bacon (make a breakfast sandwich with them!), with honey (Oooh! Sweet and savory!), and Dude even ate one with his pork mole at last night’s dinner. And do I even have to tell you how well these paired with the bacon jam? I practically fainted.
Savory Bacon Jam – Yeah. You can’t go wrong with this. Seriously. If you don’t even care about pork and if you aren’t interested in an entire book’s worth of awesome recipes, you’ll want to get Beyond Bacon simply for this recipe. What’s the cover price? Who cares! Spend the money JUST FOR THIS BACON JAM RECIPE. This is an order. You’ll thank me for this bit of advice. It was so easy to make and it yielded incredible – and I mean INCREDIBLE WITH ALL CAPS – results. I sent Liz, Kevin, and Sarah home with a wee bit of what was left over from the batch. Pirates. I can’t believe those guys would rob me of the rest of the bacon jam. Don’t worry. I’ve since made another batch. And I may or may not be eating it all myself by the spoonful.
The Best Brownies – Truth be told, I’m always skeptical of grain-free desserts. Most of them aren’t good. They are well intentioned, but the texture is always off and the flavor is usually kind of blah. However!!!!! Trust me when I tell you these brownies are the exception! Light, moist, and not a whiff of that weird paleo pastry texture! These are the real deal, friends. I think using lard makes all the difference. Believe me when I say that I am persnickety when it comes to paleo/grain-free desserts. These brownies lived up to their name!
So, what’s the moral of this story? First, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Beyond Bacon. Actually, how about entering here for a chance to win a copy? Leave me a comment below telling me what your favorite pork preparation is. And surf on over to like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram for additional entries. Do it. You have until Thursday, August 29, 2013 at noon EDT.
The second moral is this: Everything is always better with your friends around. Thanks to Liz, Kevin, and Sarah for the good times and for taking some photos!
I’ve been wanting to share some photos of the Fermented Release Party since last Friday night, but quickly realized that I didn’t have any photos to show. I was sitting at a table signing books all evening and didn’t snap a single one myself.
So, without further ado, please enjoy scenes from Fermented’s big debut!
(Espresso a Mano – my friend Matt Gebis generously allowed me to take over his gorgeous coffee shop on Friday night.)
(It’s still so surreal to see my name on this beautiful book. My little book that could.)
(My buddy Janelle, also known as The Primal Burgher. Check out her website, folks!)
(So many of my friends and family showed up to support Fermented. I am especially grateful to my CrossFit posse from Industrial Athletics CrossFit Alloy. At one point or another throughout the evening, I think almost every member of my box stopped by to offer congratulations, buy a book, have a coffee, and hang out.)
(My Uncle Tom, Aunt Mary Rita, Aunt Rie, Uncle Bill, and cousin Rhonda. These folks get the award for traveling the farthest distances to be there. Virginia, Michigan, and Indiana were well represented! My mother-in-law Shirley, and sister-in-law Sharon came from the other side of Pennsylvania.)
(It wouldn’t be a class-act gathering without the food of LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering. My dear dear friend Diane made all the food for the event and this is just a small sampling of what we all got to eat. Be jealous!)
There will be a few more to come so stay tuned on Instagram and Facebook to see those. A BIG BIG hearty thank you to every single one of you who came out to say hello and buy a copy of Fermented. I am so immensely grateful for the fabulous reception it has received so far and I owe it all to all of you out there! THANK YOU!