My first foray into a complicated paleo dish

My finished product. It tasted better than it looks.

I don’t proclaim to be a cook, not at all. My wife does a wonderful job cooking and for the first seven years we have been married I leave as much of it up to her as possible. I cook breakfast on the weekends and love to grill but the rest of the kitchen is off limits.

Using a blender? I don’t even know where she keeps it! What is the difference between a tsp, tbsp, TSP, etc? I know about tablespoon/teaspoon but how come there isn’t a clear and agreed upon format to use when labeling these spoons? Why are some capitalized and some not?

It’s time for me to learn. When I started the Whole 30 I had to start to learn for a few reasons. I needed to do some cooking so it all doesn’t fall on my wife. She is amazing but sometimes she needs a hand. It is hard to eat out when doing the Whole 30 so I eat more meals made from ingredients in the kitchen and while my wife can make dinner five or seven nights a week asking her to make my breakfasts and lunches on top of dinner is asking too much. I need to grow up and make my own food (and hers). I also needed to learn for variety purposes; I can only have eggs with diced vegetables so often before I need to try something else.

Enter websites like theclothesmakethegirl and PaleOMG and Nomnompaleo. I started off easy by just making various “fries” with different vegetables and then starting mixing and matching proteins to make burgers or patties in large bunches on Sunday to prepare for the week and then I volunteered to bring the sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving this year. That takes it to a new level. I want to make something really good and also paleo. I don’t want the marshmallow covered dish that frequents most Thanksgiving dinner tables and passes as a “vegetable”. While it is a vegetable all the nutrition is killed with the brown sugar and marshmallow added to the vegetable.

I did a little searching and found this recipe on the paleoeffect.com.

This requires a blender, sauteing apples and using something called coconut milk and coconut crystals.

Overall it went pretty well, surprisingly. I felt a little rushed at time and my kids were making a mess (and my girl was making a mess in her pants!) which took me away from the kitchen at times and I felt rushed. I didn’t want to burn the apples or let the sweet potatoes boil too long…and for a newbie like myself I had no idea how much time I had between when the apples were done sauteing and when I needed to have them in the blender for mixing with the eggs and other ingredients. I probably had a lot more time than I thought – it probably didn’t need to be immediate – but I was damned if I was going to mess this up because I let the apples cool too long or something. I wanted success!

Let’s take a step back. The grocery store. Another appreciation of my wife; the ability to get in and out of the grocery store in less than two hours. I found myself walking around Sprouts for a good 60-90 minutes on Saturday trying to find things like sweet potatoes, coconut crystals and apple cider. In fact, I had to go to Wal-Mart and then finally King Soopers to find the apple cider because Sprouts didn’t have any and all Wal-Mart had was individual packages with tons of added sugar meant to be poured into hot water. Thankfully King Soopers had the most elusive ingredient in stock. Who would have thought that apple cider would be more difficult to find than coconut crystals? (And if I finally didn’t put my man card in my back pocket and ask one of the Sprouts employees if they even had coconut crystals I would still be at Sprouts looking for myself.)

Back to the kitchen. I had the apples done and was mixing my ingredients in the blender and I considered it a successful operation since all the ingredients stayed inside the blender! I half expected to be covered in eggs and sticky apples at some point. About this time is where I had my first mishap; I didn’t shake the coconut milk. We had the canned stuff like the recipe called for and while it said “thick in the can” I still expected milk as I know it – a liquid. I used a bottle opener (church key) to poke a hole in the top of the can and attempted to pour it out and of course nothing happened. So I got out the can opener and opened the entire thing. It still didn’t want to come out so  I got out my measuring cup and scooped it out. It wasn’t until I was done and cleaning up that I noticed I was supposed to shake the can first. I didn’t even know if I should refrigerate it after it was opened so I read the can two or three times and it was the second or third pass in which I saw that I needed to shake.

The other mistake that I made was that I didn’t dice the apples small enough. Even after the blender and being mashed with the boiled sweet potatoes there were still chunks of apple in the dish.

Even with those mistakes I considered it a success. I cooked it without burning the house down and the kitchen was clean and ready for round two of whatever I threw at it next well before the dish was taken out of the oven.

I took a taste and was pleasantly surprised to find it to be absolutely delicious! If I can make this recipe and fumble through the steps and still have it taste good imagine what an experienced cook could do! I am confident that it will be a big hit at Thanksgiving this year and even my dad who is a meat and potatoes kind of guy will like it (he likes to brag that he doesn’t eat anything green…).

I am going to make two dishes and cook them both at my parents house and start to slowly introduce my family to the paleo way.

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