Spice Rub Crock Pot Chicken (Paleo Meal #1)

So, some of us eat paleo/primal all the time without knowing.  For example, eggs and bacon?  Paleo.  Scrambled eggs with milk/cheese and bacon?  Primal.  Salad with grilled chicken?  Paleo, or primal, depending on cheese and/or croutons.

I found this recipe in the book, and then in the blog, Everyday Paleo.  Here’s the rundown:

Cut up an onion or two, put them on the bottom of your crockpot to make a nice layer of delicious, delicious onions.  For migraineurs that can’t risk onions, try potatoes or any other veggies that you like.

Mix together some spices.  I followed the recipe (which I’ll share below) from Everyday Paleo, with one exception: I didn’t have any “poultry seasoning,” so I just used some blackened seasoning instead.

Cover your fresh, washed and patted dry chicken in your delicious spices.

Put your chicken on top of your veggies.

Put the lid on.

Cook for 5-6 hours.

Now, my chicken is in the crockpot right now, so I can’t comment on taste.  But, it sure smelled delicious.

I’m feeding mostly myself, but sometimes, my boyfriend, too.  So this chicken should last us a while.  I plan to use leftovers in fajitas and salads.

SPICE RUB CROCKPOT CHICKEN

  • 1 –  5 lb whole chicken, washed and patted dry
  • 1 – sliced white, sweet, or yellow onion
  • SPICES:
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • 1 tsp poultry seasoning (I used blackened seasoning)
    • 1 tsp garlic powder

Add sliced white onion to bottom of crockpot.  Mix spices and rub on chicken.  Put chicken in crockpot, and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

 

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Pagan Pages: The Primal Challenge

Hey guys –

So I’ve been reading a lot into the primal lifestyle (see the last post, and probably posts all the way back to September, for hints and what not).  It’s been a pretty logical progression for me.  First, I started off this year learning how to cook a little better.  More specifically, I’ve been trying new recipes and perfecting techniques since August and/or September.  Some of my experiments have been delicious, others, lacking.

During that, I stumbled onto the Mason Jar madness… making little gift jars and stuff.  During that period, I found some really cool “meals in jars” ideas that led me to preparing and packaging food a little better to prevent waste.

That brought me to buying a small vacuum sealer, to help me seal my jars and keep my food fresh, longer.

Which led me to wondering what sort of meals I could put in these jars.

Which led me to “primal” and “paleo,” both lifestyles I’ve browsed extensively on the internet, but have never tried.  The basic idea is to focus on consuming meat and veggies over grains and processed foods.

The difference between “paleo” and “primal” is that paleo denies dairy products, whereas primal does not.

The reasons I want to try the Primal lifestyle are simple.  One, I want to learn how to cook delicious, delicious meat.  Every time.  Part of the problem when I cook is that I screw up the meat, and then the entire meal is kinda… blah.  I want to eat meals that are easy and reliably delicious.

Two, I want to spend less on processed foods at the grocery store.  I bought a SodaStream on clearance, and that helped, some, but only for soda cans.  Most often, I end up tossing out sandwich meat, leftover pizza, or leftover mediocre meat.

Three, I’ve heard that in some people, the primal and/or paleo lifestyles help them figure out their migraine triggers and alleviate stress.  I don’t think that primal and/or paleo will cure my migraines, but it might help me get them under control if whatever I put in my mouth, I cook.  Obviously there will be times where I want to / have to go out or eat during social functions, and that’s fine.  But I want to guarantee that by the end of 2013, most of what I make, in my kitchen, is hands down delicious.

Four, I’ve unfortunately gained some weight in the past two years, with my breakup and some other life changes.  Whereas before, I was teetering on the “not THAT fat” range, I feel like I’ve exceeded it and I could be performing better, physically, in other areas of my life, like in my field work and in my soccer playing.  I want to emphasize that I am not focused on the weight loss aspect of this: it just may be an added benefit.  It may also be that I maintain my weight, but my body composition changes.

So this is my primary blogging place.  I am not turning this into a food blog!  But you may see me posting more recipes and primal oriented ideas.

To recap, I am trying to eat “Primal” food because I want to better my cooking skills, I want to save money on groceries, I want to see how it will affect my migraines, and I want to improve my physical condition.

I’ll be putting a “page” up (one of the links in the header) to connect all of my food articles together.  Stay tuned!

Reaching Out, Falling Out

Do you ever have that feeling where you can’t seem to stop reaching outside of yourself?  It feels like you’re on the way to a nervous breakdown.  Productivity tanks.

That’s the way I’m feeling.  And usually, I channel this… awkward, compelling energy into something semi-productive.  I pursue half-cocked ideas until I get tired and/or sick of them.  At home, this often translates to cooking.  Its safe, its delicious, and its cheaper than a lot of other dangerous “reaching out” hobbies, like shopping.

Unfortunately, I’ve got something for work due on the 31st that should’ve been done days ago.  Yet here I am, struggling with motivation.  I wonder, in these “Searching” moments that I have, if I even *want* to be where I am.  I wonder if the things I do make an impact.  I wonder if I’m wasting my life away.

And I know these thoughts are just… side effects of the mood.  And the mood is probably a side effect of existing in a world where I don’t belong: my parents’ house, for the holidays.  I’ve heard it said several times: Two days in your parent(s)’ house sends you straight back to being 13.  Not having my S.O. with me; having my ex texting me random shit at 10pm on Xmas Eve… yeah, that doesn’t help, either.  Cigarette smoke and caffeine, candy and bad T.V., they all put me in this mood.

It sends me into a desperate swirl of activity where I try to find meaning in my life beyond existing in my parents house.  It’s like my career just fades away.

Funny, right?

Writing through this one helps.  I realize that its silly.  I really do.  It probably won’t make my urges to create and explore and reach out and start new projects that never get finished go away… but, at least I know where its coming from.

Happy New Year, all!

Yuletide Update

Happy Yule!

Yes, its that time of year.  In a way, this Yule was the first time I got to celebrate with someone for Yule.  I’m going to my parents’ house for Christmas, and leaving the boyfriend here, so we celebrated by opening (the rest of) our gifts early today.

I then spent the afternoon making cookies and fighting off a migraine.  Done with the cookies, not with the migraine.  I’ve had an exciting, busy, and fun week, but its been full of that murky “real life” and “adult” stuff, too.

As a scientist, I am sometimes confronted with situations that are less than ideal.  This week, for example, I had to kill some caterpillars.  A little bit last week too, but the bulk of it was this week.  These were lab-raised caterpillars that wouldn’t have even existed in nature at this point in time (look outside… do you see snow?  I do).  But it’s always hard to be the one to do stuff like that.  Just like it’s hard to put a dog down.  And I know they’re “just” caterpillars but they’re still pretty damned cute.

Yes, it was for the good of science.  What we’re doing will hopefully inform us about the relationship between these caterpillars and their host plants.  But it always makes me realize, when I have to do the killing, just how much killing goes on in the name of science.  Some of it — anything on vertebrates — is regulated, but invertebrates like insects and arthropods have no protection.

I don’t mind giving crickets to my bearded dragon — he kills them quickly, he needs them to survive, and they do have chances to get away.  But these caterpillars didn’t.  I put them in tubes and put them in the freezer.

But I’m not a vegetarian, either.  I eat meat.  Hell, I eat plants, and fruits of plants, and some of them die during my eating them, too.  It’s just that I’m not used to doing the killing.  I would probably eat a lot less meat if I had to kill what I wanted to eat.  At least, until I got used to it.

So I was struggling with that science guilt, a little, this week.  I was also struggling with the Connecticut tragedy.  Suddenly, a lot of what I do for fun seemed… wrong.  For example, the day before the shooting, I wrote a song which turned a children’s rhyme into a song about kinky sex.  It felt so wrong to sing it after the shooting.

But when I try to think about it, I find that there aren’t any words, really, that can describe how the world should feel about the shooting.  I can’t sing that song.  I can’t write that song.  Others can.  For example, this woman, Jami Lunde, wrote one that I haven’t been able to get through yet without crying:

 

Hold your family close, friends.  We all meet the Lord and Lady someday, and it comes to some of us sooner than others.

Immortality is the overarching theme of Yule.  Yule is the longest night, the trials and tribulations.  It’s about rebirth.  What will you do throughout this year to reinvent yourself?  What difference will you make?

Reflective Thinking and Mystery Religion

Hey everyone —

I hope that this Tuesday is treating you well.  Things are gaining momentum at work, and I find that I haven’t been able to work on my book much in the last few days.  However, in the spirit of keeping this blog regular, I have fifteen minutes before my next work obligation, and so, I’m going to share with you one of the major techniques I’ve learned and applied in my spiritual practice.

[[EDIT]] This took way longer than fifteen minutes to write.

Some consider Wicca (e.g., Hutton mentions it multiple times in “Triumph of the Moon”) a “mystery religion.”   That is, Wicca is a religious practice which has “secrets” available to its initiates.  It holds the promise of an individualized and sincere religious experience after initiation.

But a lot of this mystery is found in reflection, meditation, and analysis of your everyday life.  Poems, stories, experiences, they all form the material from which you gain spiritual wisdom.  These “secrets” aren’t revealed to you after initiation into a coven.  Remember, if you can’t find the answer inside of yourself, you can’t go searching for it elsewhere.  It’s within.  Search harder.  [[That’s my half-assed summary of the Charge, right there.]]

I’m going to share the basic technique of analyzing a new piece of information, with you.  In the very least, this is the questioning that I use when I find something new, or I want to study it further.  Not only is this technique applicable to religion; rather, it is inherent in all of what we do.  It is part of what makes us human.  We analyze our data, make predictions and/or draw conclusions.  Conducting this sort of process in a conscious way, however, can lead to some interesting insights.  I call it reflective thinking.

Reflective thinking is the art of analyzing information through multiple lenses.  Reflective thinking is best learned by example, and so, we’ll take the first quarter of a poem I’ve never read before now, called “Ode to Psyche,” by John Keats.

O GODDESS! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conchèd ear:
Surely I dream’d to-day, or did I see
The wingèd Psyche with awaken’d eyes?
I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couchèd side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied:
‘Mid hush’d, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian
They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
Their arms embracèd, and their pinions too;
Their lips touch’d not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoinèd by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
The wingèd boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Psyche true!

Okay.  Step one:  Just read it.

If you don’t know the story of Cupid (Eros) and Psyche, the basic summary is this: Psyche is so beautiful, that Venus (Aphrodite) gets super jealous of her, and bids her son, Cupid, to shoot her with an arrow so that when she wakes up, she sees some hideous being and falls in love with them.  Unfortunately for Cupid, he scratches himself with one of his arrows while trying to do his mother’s bidding, and falls in love with Psyche.  He refuses to follow through with his mother’s plan, and eventually, because no one will marry Psyche, she gets left on a mountain by her parents, and carried away to Cupid’s palace, where he visits her each night in the darkness.  Her sisters come to visit, and tell her how, since she’s never SEEN her husband, he’s obviously hiding his ugliness.  She tries to see his sleeping body, wakes him up in the process, and he leaves her because she wasn’t supposed to see him.  She wanders, distraught.  Convinces her two sisters that he wants them instead, and so they go jump off the mountain (no, I’m not kidding).  Eventually, she ends up at an altar to Venus where she begs forgiveness, gets reunited with Cupid, and they live happily ever after.

Step two: Read and interpret in its historical context.

So if you were staring at this without my guidance, and someone told you to, “explain the historical context of this piece.”  You’d probably head to Wikipedia and figure out that Keats is a poet who wrote a lot of fantasy, myth, and nature based poems.  He only wrote actively for about 5 years before tuberculosis killed him in his mid twenties.  I can tell you from further study that there was a large explosion of interest in the Greco-Roman pantheon and nature from the 1800’s into the early 1900’s, and that Keats was mixing “old” styles with “new” styles of poetry.  You can also ask in this part, “What was the author’s intention?”

Step three: Read and interpret through a religious lens.

What can you draw from this text to enrich your religious experience?  This is the question that helps you explore a piece more fully.  You contemplate the piece — you ask yourself how it makes you feel.  What lessons can you draw from the piece?  Can you take a moral away from it?  You ask yourself if there’s a place for this piece in your Book of Shadows.  Would you want to reinterpret this piece?

For me, I would see this piece as a possible addition to my studies in aspecting a god/dess, which is part of the reason I chose one of Keats’ Odes for this example.  I would file this away in “Ways to connect with Goddesses.”

Obviously, this method applies not only to text, but also art, video, music, and even concepts.  And remember, human hands write all religious texts, despite divine inspiration.  Human hands write all texts.  We are not infallible.  It’s perfectly acceptable to disagree with a writer.  Or a musician.  Or an artist.  Don’t be afraid.  You should never read a piece as the “whole and untarnished truth as it is so written by god.”  A written piece is always just the truth as the author knows it at the time that they are writing it.

And it’s not only a religious method — you can take this idea of interpreting through lenses and change your lenses as an exercise in open-mindedness.  For example: how would you interpret this piece  in a cultural context?

Let’s take one more example, this time, a concept.  Let’s talk about photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis is the process by which a plant takes light, water, and carbon dioxide and converts it to sugar.  This is a remarkably important process, and in fact, without it, we would not be here.

So, what’s religious about photosynthesis?  Absolutely nothing.  Well, I mean, it’s a pretty cool process, and I’d consider it sacred because of its importance, but I see no scripture or divine wisdom in “light + water + carbon dioxide = sugar.”

Except that, if I look at the equation, I see something else.  I see, “energy –> manifestation.”  I see transformation.  I see magic.  And I realize, when I start to study photosynthesis as transformation, it becomes a good analogy for magic.  Put something in, get something out.

I’m not saying that photosynthesis is magic.  Merely that, when contemplating photosynthesis, I can begin to use its concept and framework to put the world in a different light.  Suddenly, I see my everyday choices as light, or water, or carbon dioxide, and I see what they give me as my sugar.  My energy.

This is the art of reflective thinking.  It’s not so much about what answers you come to, but rather, how you get there, and the things you learn along the way.  I always begin a brainstorming or reflective thinking process with a question, but I almost never find the answer.  I always get distracted, end up on some tangent, but it’s often those tangents that are most fruitful.  If they don’t give me spiritual wisdom, perhaps they give me a new song, or a better understanding of something, or even, just a way to sleep a bit easier at night.

Reflective thinking is how you populate your Book of Shadows.  Sure, in the beginning, you just collect correspondence tables and original documents in your Book of Shadows.  But when you run out of that stuff to copy… you start to create.  You start asking why, and how?  Maybe you analyze a bad experience and come to conclusions.  But its these lessons that turn a Book of Shadows into a Book of Wisdom; it’s this wisdom that turns Wicca into a mystery religion.