Monthly Archives: August 2013

Beyond Bacon - Pork Party! (and giveaway)

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.

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.

speck

 

 

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.

lizzy_mac

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.

kevin

Supporting cast:

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.

dj butcher block

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.

Liz is crazy for brownies

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.

pork chop close up

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.

epic 6 foot zucchini noodle

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.

bacon jam is ready

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!

prebrownies

 

table

 

plate

 

eating

 

dude eats

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!

Fermented Release Party

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.

Thankfully I had a few photographers out there in the crowd helping me out.  Most notably among them was Bill Staley, who took almost all the photos for Fermented.

So, without further ado, please enjoy scenes from Fermented’s big debut!

Espresso a Mano pgh(Espresso a Mano – my friend Matt Gebis generously allowed me to take over his gorgeous coffee shop on Friday night.)

Espresso a Mano 2(If you are ever in Pittsburgh, Espresso a Mano is THE PLACE for fine coffee. Matt is a genius!)

Fermented 7 copies(It’s still so surreal to see my name on this beautiful book.  My little book that could.)

Dude Mamma(Look at my handsome Dude and my beautiful Mamma!)

Primal Burgher FCH(My buddy Janelle, also known as The Primal Burgher.  Check out her website, folks!)

friends and family(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.)

out of state loved ones(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.)

Jill Joe(Me and my buddy, Joe, being goofballs.)

Ladyfingers(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!

Fermented Release Party - the thank you speech

Well, there it was.  The little release party for a the little book that could.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to take a post here on the ole blog and give thanks to everyone who came out this evening.  SO MANY PEOPLE came to say hello, buy a book, have it signed.  And guess what – they weren’t all people I already knew!  I’m so surprised that actual people – people who are strangers to me! – came and bought the book and talked fermentation and real food!

So, in true Oscar/Emmy/Grammy style, I’m going to give my thank you speech.  And because I run this blog, there won’t be any music playing me off the stage.  Ha ha.

First and foremost, I have to thank Espresso a Mano.  Matt generously opened his beautiful business to me and let me have this party.  If you are a Pittsburgher, you MUST become a regular at Espresso a Mano.  If you’re from out of town, be sure to stop there for the best espresso in the area when you’re passing through.  I love Matt and his dedication to his craft is second to none.  Thanks, Matt!

Thank you to the fabulous LadyFingers Private Chef and Catering Service for the fantastic food!  Diane, Jim, and Coletta – the evening was made by your delicious food, attention to detail, and top-notch customer service.  I am so grateful to call you all friends!

My parents, Jack and Kathy bought everyone coffee to go with the evening.  I hope you all took advantage of that!  Thanks for all the support, Mom and Dad!

My Uncle Tom, Aunt Mary Rita, Uncle Bill, Aunt Rie, and cousin Rhonda – I am so grateful to all of you for traveling so far to come to this little gathering.  Virginia, Michigan, and Indiana were all represented!

My mother-in-law Shirley and my sister-in-law Sharon – What a grand surprise it was to see your faces!  Thank you for coming!

To my Industrial Athletics CrossFit Alloy family – I hope you know just how truly special you all are to me.  The fact that nearly the entire clientele of the box came and hung out and supported me is a wonderful testament to the fantastic community we’ve built in just a few months.  I love you all so dearly.  You mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

To friends old and new, thank you.  I’m not sure what else to say other than that.  Thank you.  It was so great to see you ALL this evening.

To my Dude! Thanks for carrying all those boxes of books.  I love you.

I’ll post some photos on Facebook and Instagram tomorrow.  For now, I’m going to rest my signing hand and get ready for the next event – Sunday!

Giveaway! Three Signed Copies of Fermented!

**This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!**

Hi everyone! Today is THE DAY. All capital letters, natch!

Fermented is NOW available in bookstores everywhere!

I never thought I’d type those words.

Win a signed copy of Fermented(This was taken on the day that I received my first copies of Fermented. Can you tell how excited I am?! WOOOOO! If you win this giveaway, send me a photo of you with your copy of Fermented!)

Anyway, I want to celebrate this day by giving away THREE signed copies of Fermented to three lucky people!

This isn’t going to be complicated. Here is the usual rundown:

1. Leave me a comment and tell me what you plan to ferment first once you get your hands on the book.

 

2. Sign up for my newsletter for an additional entry. I swear there will be no spam or excessive letters from me clogging your inbox.

 

3. Come on over and join me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for even more entries.

4. Already connected with me in every way possible? Then recruit a friend to my fermentation army! I’ll give you an additional entry for every person you send to get connected with me using the above methods. Drop me an email and let me know who your friend is and that’s it!

 

Here is the fine print: I’ll accept entries until Saturday, August 10, 2013 at noon EDT. After that I’ll draw three names at random, email the winners, sign and send the books to them. Don’t delay, folks!

Good luck to all!

Fermented available TOMORROW!

Fermented Events

Oh my dear readers, I don’t know if I can adequately explain to you what I’m feeling right now.  You see, in less than 24 hours I will be able to go to a bookstore and see the bound physical representation of a year’s hard work sitting on a shelf for sale to the public.  Add to this that my last name could afford me the distinct opportunity to be shelved near, or even immediately adjacent to, Julia Child and honestly it brings tears to my eyes.  I go from being bouncing-off-the-walls excited to quiet emotion and reflection over just how impactful this is for me.

I truly hope you’ll purchase a copy, read it, learn from it, enjoy it, and most of all start to ferment your own food.

I wanted to provide you with some information that may prove helpful in the upcoming days and weeks.

First of all, Fermented is available for purchase from a variety of sources.
1. Amazon.com
2. Barnes and Noble (Both from their website and in stores)
3. Goodreads
4. Whole Foods Market (Pittsburgh)
5. Whole Foods Market (Wexford, PA)
6. East End Food Co-op (Pittsburgh)7. Book Depository.com (free international shipping!)

Also try your local small book retailer!

When Fermented is released (tomorrow! Woot!) I would truly appreciate a review on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Goodreads.com.  Doing so will help others find Fermented and (hopefully!) become fermentation devotees too.

I also have some signings and more planned over the next couple of months.  This list will be growing!
1. August 16, 2013 – Fermented Release Party!  Stop by Espresso a Mano (3623 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, 15201) anytime from 6 pm to 9 pm and celebrate the release!  Fermented will be for sale and I’ll be there signing books.
2. August 18, 2013 – Join me at the I Made It! Market at Marty’s Market and Wigle Whiskey where I’ll be selling and signing copies of Fermented!  Check out all the other handmade goods while you’re there too. The fun starts at 11 am and goes until 3 pm.
3. September 4, 2013 – The I Made It! Market is hosting a fermentation basics class taught by lil’ ole me!  It will be at the Quiet Storm cafe in Garfield (Pittsburgh).  More details and registration info is right here.  It’s from 6 pm to 8 pm.
4. September 7, 2013The Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, PA is having me over for a signing AND it coincides with Sewickley’s farmers’ market.  A perfect combo!  I’ll be there from 10 am to 1 pm.
5. September 14, 2013 – I’m going back to my hometown area (kind of) and will be at the Bridgewater Bookfest!  Stop by and say hello, and pick up a copy of Fermented!

That’s about all for now.  I am so excited, you guys!  And I am overwhelmed with gratitude to each of you who have already ordered Fermented, taken the time to drop me a line to tell me how excited you are to receive it, etc.  Your support means more to me than I’m able to express.

Keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  I look forward to connecting with you!