Science

Paleo Pasta: The Spaghetti Squash

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Strangely didn’t miss pasta much after I omitted grains from my diet. But I certainly missed pasta sauce. A hot creamy carbonara or bold bolognese, topped with some pesto and grated parmesan cheese?  Mmm … So I thought “well I guess that’s part of the price, I’ll just have to go without.” Not that I kept myself on a tight leash; I “slipped” whenever I wanted to – and those dried pieces of wheat dough formed into various shapes were a disappointment every time. Grey and dull, in need of too much salt, stealing flavor from the sauce … and of course the discomfort after (stomach and headache), the typical gluten hangover.

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I heard talk around the web that there’s this vegetable called “spaghetti squash” which apparently has a fibrous interior that when heated can be separated into long strands and eaten as regular spaghetti. Sounded a little pulpy and watery to me, but of course interesting enough to give it a go. Not much of a chance to find something as exotic as this  in Norway where I live, but I kept my eyes open. It became clear that to obtain one I had to grow it myself. And finally, during a trip to Madeira I found a packet of seeds in one of the island’s famous flower markets.

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Guess what? It. was. perfect. The strands about the thickness of spaghetti, pretty easy to separate without breaking, starch-rich and slightly crunchy; with a gentle, sweet, pumpkin-like flavor. Look! Isn’t this the coolest thing?

There are several ways to cook them: oven baked, boiled, microwaved, crock pot / slow cooker … I have as yet only done microwave and it’s so easy. I’ve landed on cutting the vegetable in half “equatorially” (not lengthwise like the photo above – you will get longer strands this way, see for yourself if you try both) and running the halves on high for 10 minutes. The cut section will get a little dry, but I don’t mind so much. If you want a more even result you can microwave it whole, but unless you wanna spend some time cleaning up a squash explosion, remember to cut several holes in the shell first for the steam.

See this article on about.com for more information on how to cook spaghetti squash.

2013-09-09 18.13.432013-09-09 18.13.492013-09-09 18.18.51I hope this gave some inspiration – here are some delicious examples of what you can make with this genius vegetable.

Spaghetti Carbonara:

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Spaghetti Bolognese:

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Pesto and meatballs:

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Salmon with white wine & cream sauce:
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Coffee, Butter and Bitcoin

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My morning cup of coffee with grassfed butter in Amsterdam. This is such a luxury as there is not one single brand of grassfed butter in Norway (where I was born and still temporarily live). I guess I could find a way to mail order a box of Kerrygold, but places like amazon don’t ship edibles to Norway, and the customs system is a bureaucratic mess of high taxes … *le sigh*. Time to get out … anyway, I’m in Amsterdam for the bitcoin convention this weekend. Never heard of bitcoin? Ok, let me give you a quick introduction! 

Bitcoin allows you to pay with your smartphone instantly, with a few seconds delay, to anywhere on the globe completely without transaction fees. It is safer, faster and cheaper than anything like PayPal, Visa or Mastercard. Visa and Mastercard weren’t designed for the internet. Bitcoin is. Its security is based on cryptography rather than a third party like a bank or credit card company. Let’s not go into the detail, but you had to leave the fastest existing computer working practically eternally to guess the astoundingly large numbers protecting bitcoin.

Bitcoin

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If desired, bitcoin is anonymous. Bitcoin will make it possible to donate to charity so that 100% of the money will go to those who need it – because the donations happen without all the third parties who always need their share. Crowdfunding will be super easy. Sending money to loved ones in a distant country will be instant and free. WordPress (this web hosting service) actually accepts bitcoin as subscription payment. See bitcoin.org for more information (and a cool introduction video).

So back to the butter: it is both with unbearable delight and frustrated despair that I consume this golden, caffeinated brew. Imagine living in a dark cellar for most of your life – you know there is something called “the sun” up there, and that it is beautiful; yet you’ve never seen it. Then you’re let out for a few hours into dashing sunlight, but knowing it is only for a short time you appreciate it bittersweetly. That’s how I feel eating grassfed butter. See you guys!

Garden Update: Crops Coming On

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Time for an update on my newbie botanical project! Trying to keep track of everything I’ve learned this year proves a challenge. I document some things and trust my memory with others, but … I’ll probably have to make some of the same mistakes again. And that’s ok. I have a lifetime for that.

And boy is this fun! Feelin’ dat dirt on my fingers, like there’s sum connection to mother earth, a greater meaning to it all, yo? No? I’m a huge fan of geometry and the slightly ordered chaos, so I’ve arranged my kitchen garden as a double hexagon – by way of digging down planks of appropriate length and at proper distance so I can reach out from both sides. The plants are somewhat arbitrarily placed in the resulting lanes, but as long as there is some framework it’s easy to maintain. Works like that with most things, really. And of course it looks good.

Earlier this year:

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Vegetables

I’ve exclusively chosen to grow what I would later like to eat. I always keep that in mind when caring for my veggies. Here are some of them:

2013-07-30 15.00.21Fennel.

 

2013-07-30 15.00.28Arugula.

 

2013-07-30 15.01.56Pumpkin. Hoping for a big one.

 

2013-07-30 15.05.03Strawberry.

 

2013-07-30 15.00.59Green squash.

 

2013-07-05 12.16.40Baby leaf salad.

 

2013-07-30 15.00.36Spaghetti squash. I have never eaten it, and can’t wait till they’re ripe. I shall make ALL the pasta sauces!

 

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Kale.

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Carrot.

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More salads: baby leaf, spinach and arugula.

 

2013-07-05 12.27.10Tomatoes. Not cultivated by me.

Herbs

My herbs are mostly perennial. I just love to bring a basket and scissors to collect some thyme, mint and oregano for the stew!

2013-07-30 15.04.08 2013-07-30 15.04.01Thymes.

 

2013-07-30 15.02.33Peppermint.

 

2013-07-05 12.16.33Flat leaf parsley.

 

2013-07-05 12.36.46Chives.

Nasturtium Love ❤

Ever since I saw The Hobbit I wanted to recreate a Shire garden. The flowers most notable were nasturtiums and hollyhocks. I ordered several strains of nasturtiums, and they’re doing well! Their flowers are edible too, and give a salad or dessert a beautiful finishing touch. Not exactly Bag End yet – but we’ll get there, we’ll get there.

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First Shipment of Bulletproof Coffee!

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I’ve known of Dave Asprey and his Bulletproof Diet for some time, but had yet to try his renowned Upgraded Coffee. For those of you unfamiliar with the product, here’s the story in short:

When younger, Asprey acquired a heightened sensitivity to molds due to living in a damp environment (watch out, this can lead to serious health issues!). Strangely, he noticed he would get the same symptoms – most notably a pressing headache – when drinking coffee. Besides he didn’t quite like the the familiar jitteryness accompanying coffee’s praised psychoactive effects. So he thought: “Is there a way to produce coffee with all the benefits and none of the side effects?” (or something of the sort)

He found that commercial coffees almost always contain toxins produced by fungi, so-called mycotoxins. This is inherent in the way they are processed – the beans are usually placed outside to dry or put in a water tank to ferment; thus allowed to mold. Asprey created a whole new process (veiled in secrecy, of course – one has a trade mark to protect) of drying the beans, leaving the final product completely fungi free. So far he is the only one … which can be profitable.

I had the time to drink a couple of cups before leaving on a vacation, but I gotta say: Wow. There were expectations involved and I am hardly unbiased, but I think I see what the fuzz is about. A mild, smooth taste. No jitters. No crash. Just a clear, sharpened, focused mind. Everywhere I look there is nothing but praise, can it be that it actually works?

Can’t wait to go home and get some more. I ordered a large box plus a bottle of MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides, apparently the ideal saturated fat type popular as a supplement or food additive). The “right” way to drink Bulletproof Coffee is with MCT oil and grassfed butter blended in, and as one who frequently eats coconut oil or butter straight from the jar of course I recommend it.

Stay bulletproof! 😉

A Little (Apply) Experiment

I wanted to check out different ways to make my favorite dessert: baked apples. I made some cool discoveries I want to share. My basic recipe is this: fill a cored apple (one per person) with a mixture of butter (or coconut oil), honey and cinnamon. Put in a small baking dish/cup. Bake at 200°C for 10 – 15 minutes.

The variables of the experiment were: with or without skin and with or without aluminium foil on top.

Eple-eksperiment

Left to right: w/skin, without foil; pear (not part of the experiment); without skin, w/foil; w/skin, w/foil. Not included in the picture (as it was eaten by my boyfriend’s little brother): without skin, without foil.

The clear winner is the one both with skin and with aluminium foil. It is softer than all the others, not burned at all, the most deep-flavored – and the apple’s color is retained, which is of course more aesthetically pleasing. Why? The skin keeps the moisture from escaping. So does the foil, and that’s why Mr. w/skin, without foil comes second.

The two without skin turned out pretty much the same (as the other), the one without foil slightly burned on top. They both seemed to swell, and the difference in texture from the ones with skin was substantial. It’s like they’ve started drying up.

So: keep the peel on during baking, you don’t have to eat it afterwards – just scoop out the flesh with a spoon – though I don’t mind eating it. Apparently the skin is the most nutritious part of the apple; full of anti-oxidants (which makes sense – you know, if there’s a hole in the skin an apple will start rotting in a couple of days. What happens when it rots is oxidation. Anti-oxidants, of course; inhibit oxidation). Also the butter-honey mixture seeps into the skin and makes it really good to suckle …

Serve with coconut milk or whipped cream and a cup of freshly ground black coffee if you like. Enjoy this dessert and all the good things in life!