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Delicious Paleo Breakfast

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Thanks to some creative scheduling at work, and my assistant’s desire to be off on Thursday, I scored a last minute extra day off this week.  Since my body is used to getting up early and going to work on Wednesday, the lack of that activity seems to have thrown off my day.  That combined with the craptacular 85 degree day anyway.  So today has felt much like a lazy day for me.  So rather than tackle some urgent homesteading topic today, I am gonna talk about something near and dear to my heart …

My breakfast and my wife.

Now I haven’t talked about it for awhile, but as I documented all the way back in my very first blog posting, my wife and I eat a paleo diet.  One of the most common criticisms of the diet sounds something like this “Don’t you get tired of eating the same things all the time”.  Well, for starters, you don’t.  All you do is avoid wheat, corn and row crops.  Everything else is fair game.  For example.  The deliciousness that is my breakfast.

Breakast3

Take some tomatoes and wash them off.  Get a big glass baking pan, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Hollow out the tomatoes, and put the seeds and tops into the pan.  They will just bake down and be awesome.  Salt and pepper liberally to taste.  Then bake for about 20 minutes.  At the end of 20 minutes, pull pan out from the oven.  Get some fresh eggs, and pour into the tomato cups.  Bake until eggs are done enough for you, for us it was about 10 minutes.

Breakast2

While that whole egg and tomato thing is happening.  Fry up some bacon.  We use a whole pack, but the amount doesn’t really matter.  Whatever you want to eat.  Cook like you normally would, except right before it’s finished, add a healthy dollop of honey to the bacon.  It will cook together, and make almost candied bacon.  I can’t even describe how awesome it is.

Breakast1

Put together on a plate, serve and consume.  Total cost of this breakfast was like $5, and it only took a half an hour total to cook.  Most of that time you are just waiting for things to finish.  So no, I don’t get tired of eating paleo.  Keep your bread and pancakes.  I got this stuff.

So where does the wife part come in?

It comes in with me being a lucky man.  She cooks like this for me all the time.  I look forward to her cooking each and every day.  She always has dinner waiting for me when I come home from work, which makes me a lucky guy.  To all of you men out there, if your wife desires to stay home and not work, let her.  It’s much better for your this way.  Nothing materialistic that she could earn money for could ever begin to out weight the awesomeness that awaits you with a stay at home wife.  She is the backbone of our homestead, and I am lucky to have her.

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Refeeding Eggshells to your Clucks

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I figured this morning would be a good day for a follow up on our girls, as we have recently concluded an experiment with the girls, and we have some actual results back to report.  As you all remember from Chicken Week 7, we have been making our own food for the girls for about a month now.  That part of is has been going great.  Even through the “dead of winter” we never had a day with less than two eggs.  Now that spring is here, we are getting more than 5 dozen eggs a week from our 12 girls.  That’s pretty impressive to me.  Last night we made a dozen eggs for dinner, all less than 24 hours old.  It was fantastic.

A quick note.  If you want better laying production from your girls, yes, the light level is important.  When it’s dark, they put themselves to bed, and don’t want to do anything.  However, the most important factor is protein.  Feed your girls some meat, and you will get more eggs.  Period.  We have proved it ourselves in practice, and even more than that, it makes sense.  Eggs are high in protein.  What’s easier for your girls?  Turning bugs and plants they eat into muscle protein, which the body then burns and makes into eggs?  Or turning hamburger into protein?  So if you want to boost production, feed them some meat every other day or so.  They will be happy, and you will get more eggs.

That wasn’t even my main experiment for the day to bring up.  So as we mentioned when making our own food, we were trying to eliminate the gluten that was being passed on to Jenn and I through the eggs.  That part of it has worked great.  The eggs not only taste better, but they don’t irritate our stomachs anymore.  However, in eliminating the layer feed from our girls diet, we had to come up with a source of calcium for them.

We had provided oyster shell for them before when we were using the layer feed, but they didn’t really take that much of it, so I am sure they were getting a lot of calcium from the feed.  When we eliminated the layer feed from their diet, they started wolfing down the oyster shell.  Which makes sense, of course, since that was the only calcium they were getting now.  Egg production stayed up, and the shells stayed very strong.

So then, like all permaculturists, we decided to see what we could do about eliminating that input with something we had an excess of.  Eggshells.

eggshells

So the good news is that yard eggs are very easy to handle in this way.  The eggs from our girls have nice thick shells, and tough membranes underneath.  So when we eat eggs, Jenn just leaves them out on the counter to dry for a bit, and peels the membranes off the inside of the shells.  They pretty much come right off.  Then we throw them in a bag, crunch them up, and they are ready to serve to our girls.

Except for one problem.  It doesn’t do as good of a job of replacing the  calcium as the oyster shell.  We tried feeding this to them for about 4 days, and already we were seeing the eggs come up much thinner and more fragile.  The eggs just weren’t the same, and we were worried about our girls.  So we switched back to the oyster shell, and within another few days, the eggs are robust and hardy again.

So my conclusion at the end of this, is that eggshells are not a good alternative for oyster shells.  Your girls do need calcium, but oyster shell seems to be the best place to get it if you aren’t using layer food.  In my area, a $4 bag lasts us almost a month, so its really not worth endangering the health of our girls to save that little amount of money.

So what to do with the eggshells?  Just pitch em?  No way.  You can still turn that output into a solution in a permaculture system.  Just compost it into your garden.  If you have a big compost pile situation, toss them into there.  If you have healthy soil, you can actually get away with just burying them in the soil.  The microbial life in the soil will break them down and make that calcium bio-available.  This way, you are still returning that calcium to the system, but you are returning it to you.

One of the reasons our ancestors were so much healthier was because the fruits and vegetables they ate had actual minerals and nutrients in them, instead of the endless stream of NPK fertilizer that they have now.  Calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, etc.  This all used to be present in our food.  Now its mostly leached out.  So put those eggshells back into something that desperately needs more calcium than its getting.  Your body.

Day 49: Final Preps and New Directions

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Well, after tons of work, it seemed like they would never get here, but yesterday was the final day before little goaty homecoming.  I got the house built, sans a single pallet.  I got the feeder constructed, and a nice bale of alfalfa loaded up and ready to go.  After a crap ton of prep work, we got the yard cleaned up for them.  We are almost ready to go.

The only thing I still had to do was remove the last of the damn Oleander tree.  That stupid thing actually began to grow back once I hacked off a big chunk of it.  So despite having a pile of Oleander branches that is about 4 feet tall, I now have vigorous green growth coming up in new green shoots.  Not quite sure how to kill the damn thing and keep it down.  I think tomorrow I am going to have to bury it completely and wait for it to decompose.  In theory, once its covered with dirt, it will start to break down, just like a hugel bed.  It will break down even faster if I plant something on top of it.  So maybe a rose or blackberry bush that will grow quickly just to help add some shade in that corner of the yard.  The first part will be to cover it, and we can plan from there.

Look.  Sawzall.  Good for more than just cutting down my kitchen wall.

I got to sit for about two hours in a car dealership today, watching them try to fix what Tucson Dodge swore wasn’t actually a function of the vehicle.  Its amazing how some people can just straight up lie to you.  We have a GMC Envoy, which has a tail gate that is supposed to both swing open like a normal SUV, and lay flat like a truck.  Well, we took it to Tucson Dodge, who we purchased it from, and they broke it.  Not only did it no longer lay flat, they swore up and down that it wasn’t actually supposed to even do it.  So I don’t know what my range of readership is here, but if you ever have a chance to do business with Tucson Dodge, run away as fast as you can.

On the plus side, while waiting on my vehicle, I managed to roll the dice a little bit.  I can’t really go into specifics, for a variety of reasons, but it is beginning to feel like my life is once again slotting into the perfect groove.  Here is hoping that I am right, but we will see either way.

Paleo Portion:

Breakfast:

Coffee

4 eggs

Jenn was nice enough to get up and going even faster than me today, and had a tasty breakfast waiting for me.  Nice to keep on rolling and not be hungry all the time.

Lunch:

I spent this in the dealership

Dinner:

2 Country Style pork ribs

Squash and Ricotta

Homemade Custard

We made the pork ribs in the toaster oven, and they turned out really nice.  They were even more tender than the last time we made these.  We mixed the squash and ricotta together in the pan, and the ricotta almost melted into a white sauce.  It was actually really good with a little Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Weight: 233.  Looks like I might be headed for a new low.  We shall see.

Day 48: Goat Feeders and Garages

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Yesterday was every bit as exhausting and at some points frustrating as I had been afraid it would be.  I did get some forward progress on my To-Do lists, but not as much as I had hoped.  Even with a major setback, I would still say my project turned out really well.  We also got a chance to check out an awesome local business for the first time.  Its one that we have been saying we need to go see for years, and we finally did it.

So yesterday morning, eventually, we headed out to run our errands.  I dropped off two more boxes of books at goodwill, trimming my remainder pile down even further.  We picked up some puppy pads for the bottom of the chick cage, as well as some new chick food.  We also got a goat water dish for our Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  Its made from recycled tired, which means it should be able to stand up to goat abuse.

Then on the way home, we stopped off at Old Town Feed and Supply.  Its a cute little feed store just off of the road on my commute every day.  They have little bunnies and chickens every spring, and we have been saying we should go for literally the entire time we have lived here in Tucson.  Yesterday, we finally did.  This place was awesome.  Anything you needed for horses, chickens, wild birds or pet dogs, they had there.  On top of that, I now get to kick myself for not stopping sooner, since their prices were amazing.  They had some little baby turkeys in a bin up front, man they are adorable.  We got some chewies for the dogs, a quail block, and a nice bail of alfalfa for the goats.

It would be at this point that the day turned south a little.  Our Envoy has a tailgate that likes to not work ever since the thumb-fingered baboons at Tucson Dodge decided that it didn’t really need to do a function it was supposed to do.  So they took it apart, “repaired it”, charged us lots of money, and it hasn’t worked right since.  So next time you need a car, trust a homeless guy with an AK before you trust these idiots.  So on the way home, with a bale of alfalfa in the back, our tailgate decides it doesn’t want to close.  So we ride the last few miles home with a swinging gate.  We finally patched it closed, and now I get to spend a large part of my day in the waiting area at a car dealership.  I look forward to that joy.  Here is a shot of the ghetto work, just for kicks.

Once I got home though, I was able to build an awesome goat feeder for our Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  Now there is nothing to stop us from bringing them home on Wednesday, assuming we get the tailgate fixed.

This little guy is about 5 feet high, and holds a standard bale of alfalfa hay nicely.  I made it entirely from reclaimed wood from our old garden.  It holds the food up off the ground so it stays dry, also it healthy for the little goats to reach up for their food.  It helps keep them from getting gas, and also from wasting their hay all over the ground.  I can’t wait to see them get into feeder related shenanigans.

Paleo portion:
I really didn’t eat much yesterday, so I won’t waste time on it. I have noticed on days that I do lots of work, I just don’t feel like eating. I did have half of a killer watermelon though. It was tasty.

Day 47: Back to the Grindstone

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No rest for the wicked, I had to hoof on back to work today.  My team did a great job while I was away, so I have the stress relief of being able to no worry about my store while I am away.  The sales continued as needed, and the store looked great.  Best of all, none of them can read this, so you know its legit.

I didn’t have much chance to work on any tribal projects today with work and all.  Sunday’s feel like the worst days, since even though they are short, they never feel like I have time at home around them.  Jenn did make me a totally paleo awesome dinner while I was at work, which was awesome.  I will detail that below.

Freezing Vegetables:

I mentioned yesterday our need to store some of the 10,000 pounds of peppers that we got.  I glossed over the process, but I figured I would spell it out, as it can be very useful if you like to use seasonal produce.  All you have to do is buy lots of something when its in season, and you can store it until later.  Frozen isn’t quite as good as fresh, but its a hell of a lot better than store bought frozen.

To freeze your own veggies so that there is minimal loss in flavor, just follow along.  First prep your veggies.  Cut them into desired portion sizes, and remove all seeds.  For the peppers Jenn basically cut them in half, but you can size according to your future needs.  Blanch them quickly by dropping them in boiling water for just a moment or two, then cool them down in an ice bath to stop them form continuing to cook.  This helps to keep the flavor in.  It also coats them in water so they freeze faster.  Then lay them out in a single layer on a metal sheet, and put in the freezer until frozen.  Once frozen, just dump into a freezer bag, and viola.  Home made frozen veggies.

To Do List:

My To Do List keeps growing.  With my chickens growing so fast, I have to get their coop done soon.  We will also be bringing our goats home on Wednesday, so I have to build their feeder.  I plan on building that tomorrow, I will post some pictures when I am done.

Paleo Portion:

Breakfast:

Coffee with cream and sugar and Kahlua.

We were really busy doing stuff, so I didn’t get to eat.  I do want to know though, how did it take me this long to realize Kahlua is AWESOME in coffee.

Lunch:

1 bag cashews

1 Odwalla Juice

Since I am doofus and forgot my HUGE bag of almonds at home, I had to improvise.

Dinner:

Huge portion Paleo Lasagna

Jenn made awesome Paleo Lasagna.  It was super yummy, and it was great to come home from work to.  I will put the recipe below, go make it.  Trust me.  Obviously with not being able to eat starches, pasta is forbidden, with this you don’t even miss it.

Yellow Squash

Pablano Peppers

Ricotta Cheese

Home Made Tomato sauce

Ground Beef

Colby Jack

Like any lasagna, its all about layers.  Slice up the squash, and salt it to draw out the water.  It might take awhile, but it will keep the end result from falling to pieces.  Layer the pan as follows, yellow squash on the bottom, meat and sauce next, ricotta cheese, pablano peppers then coat the top with colby jack.  It awesome, and you won’t miss the pasta.

Weight: 235.  Lost the 5 Florida pounds in 3 days.

 

Day 46: Recharging and Refilling

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Well, today was my first full day home from Florida, where I ran smack dab into the downside of your body acclimating really well to a new time zone.  Combining that with the effects of gluten toxicity purging from my body, and I just felt crappy.  It was amazing to me on one level how quickly all of my efforts were undone.  I hope that it won’t take me as long this time to purge the residue this time, but at least in the short run, its not less violent.  Also, amazing was how quickly I regained a soda addiction.  For the most part, I never really had one, certainly compared to a lot of people.  Yet when you think you don’t have one, go drink pop for a week and tell me how it works out when it comes time to stop.  I barely drank pop before, and I would love to have one now.  So yeah, its addictive.

So although I didn’t get the large number of things done that I wanted to, in fact I spent most of the day watching “Food Network Star” and playing Max Payne 3, I did get to see how far everything has come since I left.  Our little Trovita Orange Tree is coming along nicely.  I am not 100% sure he has put on any new leaves, but he for sure has stretched up to the sun.  The mesquite tree I planted has most certainly sprouted some new leaves, about 10 if we counted correct.  You think of trees taking forever to grow, and sometimes its till amazing that it doesn’t take really that long.  Lastly, my little chickens are much less little now.  They are growing like gangbusters.  I really hope I feel better on Monday, as I will have to build them a coop whether I feel well or not.

Here are the little ladies all playing around in their cage, first thing in the morning.

Here is a baby Welsummer artfully posing for us.  As you can see, they have about tripled in size in the last week or so.

Refilling the Kitchen:

The house was starting to look a little bare, so we went to Market on the Move to refill on veggies, and Sam’s Club for some dairy needs.  The haul from Market was tremendous.  Normally I list off what we got just for reference purposes, but this week I can’t, I am not sure I can count that high.  I know we got some tasty pablano peppers, some yellow banana peppers, tons of green peppers, tons of yellow squash, piles of tomatoes and 4 honeydew.  Essentially, way more product than we can use in a week.  Jenn had the awesome idea to store the peppers.  This will give us some peppers to use in the summer months when there is a market only every two weeks.  We might even end canning some of the small peppers and tomato sauce.

Went to Sam’s club as well for our dairy needs, and got some tasty stuff there.  I bring this up only because, it was the first trip where the only thing we impulsed was a watermelon.  Nuts to you brightly colored displays of useless crap.  We also might have hit on an idea for our chicken coop.  We might be able to use a big 150 gallon deck container instead of building the actual coop.  Will have to see how much the cost is versus the labor involved.

Paleo Portion:

Breakfast

Skipped due to market on the move.  Had some coffee when we got back

Lunch:

We reheated some leftover burgers from the night before.  Very good curry burgers.  If you mix some curry paste in your ground beef with some cumin, its amazing.

Dinner:

For dinner we made some super tasty veggie egg scramble with bacon.  Just cut up 4 strips of bacon and brown with onions.  Cut up 4 tomatoes and 2 pablano peppers, throw those in to cook once onions are brown.  Once those are cooked, mix in about 12 eggs.  The bacon fat keeps it from sticking, and gives it great flavor.  Was very tasty.  Honeydew for dessert.

Weight: 240

I gained 5 pounds in five days.  Damn you Florida.  Two years in a row you make me fat.  At least this year I can fix it.

Day 45: Home at Last

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Well, as you may have guessed from the title, I am finally home from my trip.  I have to say, there really is no place like home.  The entire time I was away, I couldn’t wait to get back.  I missed my beautiful wife.  I missed my obnoxious puppies.  I missed my cute little chickens.  I missed my yard.  Lastly, I missed my mattress.  Its so bad, I have actually concluded that I am allergic to the outside world.  Not to go into any kind of details, but something in my hotel room was causing my skin to break out everywhere.  It was absolutely terrible.

Travel actually ended up working out pretty well compared to some past trips of mine.  Flying through Phoenix was a much better way for me to go.  Also, I flew on an Airbus aircraft instead of the traditional Boeing.  Some advice there great American aircraft company, if you want to keep functioning, build your aircraft bigger.  I wouldn’t say I had a ton of space, but I certainly had more room on that plane than I have on any others in a long time.

I look forward to being able to restart my paleo lifestyle now that I am at home.  As I mentioned yesterday, it was exceedingly hard to stick to a paleo diet in a buffet setting.  There were really very few things I could eat that weren’t based entirely or partly on carbs.  It was like watching the American diet in microcosm.  Everything was bread and carbs.  Sure there was some meat, but even it found a way to be coated in carbs either as breading or as a glaze.  There was no escaping it.  Grab your bread, your breaded meat, and your potatoes.  Here is some veggies, but they are clearly optional.  Oh and for dessert, carbs and sugar.  It was terrible.

I did my absolute best to avoid disaster, and in the week I was gone, I gained 5 pounds.  Thats a pound a day.  I can already feel it all starting to detox out of my system.  I am tired, sore, and just in general don’t feel like my new paleo self.  Its such a stretch to remember that I used to feel like this all the time.  I am such a happier person now, its amazing how much of that depends on food.  We truly are what we eat.  No wonder we often feel like garbage.

 

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