Babys First Sous Vide

As with any of life’s beautiful milestones, it’s important to document and share with friends and strangers through the art of blog. Today’s chapter is devoted to sous vide. About five years ago, I had a client asking me if I ever tried to sous vide anything. After saying, “what??” three or four times, he finally spelled it for me. The spelling was less helpful than I imagined, but at least I had something to Google later. Back when my client was starting to sous vide, the circulators were big, taking up a lot of counter space, and were expensive. This type of novelty cooking was totally out of my budget, so I decided to just stick with the Weber grill and my trusty ol crockpot. But, times have changed, my friends. Thanks to Kickstarter funding, genius engineers, savvy app developers as well as inexpensive overseas manufacturing, we have sous vide for the masses. The new style sous vide immersion circulators are much smaller, use a separate water container (like a stock pot) and are full of cool tech. So, I’ve said sous vide 6 times now and haven’t explained what it is. I’ll be brief. Basically, sous vide is a cooking method where food is vacuum sealed and submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. Sounds relaxing! I spent a few weeks researching reviews of immersion circulators before I made a purchase decision. You can get a simple, low tech version with 800 watts of heating power and a digital readout for around 80 bucks. The next step up has a bluetooth connection with 900 watts of heating power and is Alexa enabled for around $125. The prices on these change all the time, so pop one in your Amazon cart and keep an eye it. I’m sure there will be crazy Black Friday deals if you give one as a gift (to yourself). Which one did I choose? Well, the Apple/ Telsa styled, techy cool version that kept catching my eye was the Chefsteps Joule. I liked it for the low profile design, 1100 watts of power, the user friendly app that communicates through bluetooth and wifi to your smartphone or even Alexa, it also sports magnet base as well as a clip to use with a variety of containers. Decision made and ordered!

Update… The Joule just arrived today. We were planning a Kitchfix dinner tonight, but I had some organic asparagus in the fridge. Rather than suffer an epic sous vide fail with an expensive cut of steak, I decided to give it a try with the asparagus. I bought some of the BPA-free sous vide vacuum bags on Amazon. It was a kit with 20 reusable bags and a hand pump for less than $20. Decent price and worked great. I added some salt, pepper, fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil to the trimmed asparagus before sealing up the bag. I gave Alexa the command for the Joule to cook asparagus and it started humming. Once the Joule was all warmed up as noted by an alert on my phone, I added the bag to the water 180 degree and watched it cook. After 10 min, we had perfectly snappy asparagus. Really, really delicious. This week, will will try out some chicken and maybe a steak. I’m excited!

Update 2… we did organic chicken breasts from Whole Foods. Simply seasoned with lemon pepper and salt. It was some of the most tender, juicy and delicious chicken I’ve ever had. Sous vide success story!

Update 3… we tried a Pre Beef grass-fed filet and a grass-fed top sirloin. I just seasoned with salt and pepper, then did a reverse sear in a cast iron pan. Just like the chicken, the steak was perfectly cooked and so delicious. I’m impressed how well sous vide cooking does. So good, it’s in my regular rotation!!   In the future, I may add a second circulator so I can do meat and veg at the same time. Let me know if you have any sous vide dishes I should try or if you have any questions.


Joule Sous Vide
Chefsteps Joule Sous Vide

Sous Vide Asparagus


A Sunday Paleo Feast

Last weekend was unseasonably cold in Chicago.  We went to a baseball game Saturday night and I wore a down shell, scarf and closed toe shoes.  That’s absolutely ridiculous for the last weekend of July.  Sunday was not much better with semi cloudy skies mixed with the city’s infamous wind.  My mom was in town, so instead of a walk by the lake, we opted for an indoor activity.  We have fun no matter what – weather be damned!  Off to Costco and Whole Foods we went.  We gathered ingredients for Sunday night dinner and got her stocked up on paleo goodies.  Whole Foods – if you’re reading this – Northwest Indiana is craving a store!!

Last week, our friend Jim got us hungry for meatballs.  It just so happened that Juli from PaleOMG also posted a meatball recipe called Summer Squash Meatball Casserole.   A casserole (on a cold summer’s day!) sounded so good.  After grabbing zukes, squash, meat, etc. we headed to the almond butter aisle …1)  Chuck must always have a jar of Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter on hand  2) We’d definitely want a paleo treat for dessert after the casserole, so I picked up a simple MaraNatha brand jar to make zucchini brownies.  $25 worth of Almond Butter later and we’re ready to checkout.  Zoinks.

We cooked up our feast, which also included collard greens (from our organic delivery that week) and baked sweet potato bites.  The casserole was really good and heated up nicely the next day in my lunch as well.  My mom loved the brownies, as I knew she would – (duh chocolate!)  My only recommendation on the brownie recipe is to be sure to squeeze out all the water from the zucchini after you’ve shredded it and before adding to the rest of your ingredients.  I also used ‘Enjoy Life’ chocolate chips instead of the dark chocolate chunks it calls for.

Let’s hope for sunshine this weekend, but try out this feast in any kind of weather!

The FeastZuke Brownie

Box Me In

Today, we got our first local, organic delivery from Irv and Shelly’s.  It was perfect timing because we put out a bag this morning for the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. The outgoing bag was full of pasta, lentils, processed sauces and other fine examples of our previous diet .  Kind of interesting the way the timing worked out, but out with the old and in with the new!  I’m really impressed with the variety in the Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks Veg/ Fruit Box.  It was almost like an episode of “Chopped” when we got it.  There were a couple things that I’ve never cooked and have barely heard of… like ramps and parsnips.  Other items in the box were a mini watermelon, bananas, oranges, spinach, chives.  It is like a cornucopia of organic goodness.

We decided to get creative and work with some new ingredients, so tonight we made lamb burgers stuffed with sauteed onion, garlic and ramps.  Then had some amazing sauteed parsnips sprinkled with fresh chives on the side.  Whoa!  What a flavor packed and delicious meal!  Ramps rock and parsnips were surprisingly sweet and super tasty.I’m already excited about out next delivery.  It’s really a cool service.  You can pick out the right sized box to fit your appetite.  It’s actually a bag, but that’s ok… they will recycle the bag on the next delivery (am I turning into a hippie or what?).  Anyway, they fill the bag with fresh, local organic produce and then you can add on extras like organic avocados, Gunthorp Farms pasture raised organic chicken, organic grass fed beef or anything else from their site.  They deliver to our zip code on Saturdays and bring it right to the door.  Is it a good value?  I really think so.  If I went to Whole Foods and bought the exact same stuff, it would cost more and take at least an hour out of my day.  There is a similar service that has more meat items in their inventory, so we will be trying that one, too… and will post the experience as well.


Costco Paleo

Can you do Paleo at Costco?  I asked myself that question when the receipts from Whole Foods started adding up.  Paleo is expensive.  Organic, grass fed, fresh, 100% natural all add $$ to the price of food.  The benefits are worth it, but hopefully there are some budget friendly options.  Well, here is what I found at Costco.  I didn’t realize it before, probably because I was never looking for it, but all of the organic foods at Costco have a green highlighter mark on the description sign.  That makes life a little easier, but the difficulty is finding very many of them.  The things we did find to be good deals and Paleo were:

1lb tub of Taylor Farms Organic Spring Mix salad greens for $5.99.  About twice as much lettuce as Whole Foods for the same price.

54oz tub of Carrington Farms Coconut Oil for $15.99.  This is $19.99 at WF.  I hope this tub lasts a while.

Organic Chicken Breasts for $5.99/ lb.  These are $8.99/ lb at WF, but I think the WF chicken tastes better.

Pure Nature Organic Broccoli Florets (frozen) 64 oz for $5.99.  Not sure what this would cost at WF, but it would be at lease twice that amount.  We are going to be swimming in broccoli recipes for a while.

Bulk nuts… almonds were a really good deal, but I already threw away the receipt and can’t remember the price.

I think we will do a fairly regular trip to Costco to restock.  I am going to start checking out the local produce markets as well.  Update: Weight is at 190.4 lbs and seems to have leveled out here.  My goal is 185 lbs, so I expect to hit that as I get out and run more.  Energy levels and attitude are amazing!

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