ruhlman’s soup

It’s really getting to be a bit hot out to be eating soup. Especially something as hearty as french onion.

But I had about $0.30 of stale bread lying around and hated the idea of throwing it out. Caroline wanted to convert it into croutons, but I already had emmentaler fairies swirling in my dreams…

Caramelizing onions smell amazing. Joey said that if he ever gets rich, he’s going to have a guy in his house whose only job it is to caramelize onions and garlic all day. Can’t say he’s wrong.

Water, onions, stale bread, emmentaler, butter.

robb’s ribs

Actually, they are not Phil Robb’s ribs. He got the recipe from a guy that he used to work with in Phoenix while at Honeywell-Bull named James Ljunggren. Phil simply made them famous in southwest Fort Collins, and I’m posting the recipe here for posterity.

For quantity, assume between 1/3 rack-o-ribs per person to 1/2 rack-o-ribs per person (girls and kids are closer to a 1/3, guys are closer to 1/2).

Phil always recommends getting the baby-back ribs from Sams club, as he’s *never* found anywhere else that has good meaty ribs consistently.

For each 3 racks of ribs, use:

  • 15 to 20 oz of Worcestershire sauce
  • 15 to 20 oz of dark soy sauce
  • 2 large onions – coarse chopped
  • 2 green peppers – coarse chopped
  • 2 bunches (~10 cloves) of garlic (some coarse chopped, some fine chopped)
  • 4 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp coarse dark ground coffee

First off wash and pat dry the ribs.

In a big pot add the first 5 ingredients above. Then add your ribs to this mixture. Fill the pot with enough water so that about 2 inches of water are above the ribs (as they sit in the bottom of the pot). Then add the black pepper and the coffee stirring it all around.

Heat pot on high with lid on (just to speed things up) until the water begins to boil. Turn the heat down and slow-boil the ribs for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes and/or until the meat begins to recede on the bone.

Pull the ribs from water. slather with bbq sauce of your choice (I use either open pit or KCs regular) starting with the membrane (under) side.

Put ribs on hot grill membrane side down. Slather top of ribs with bbq sauce. By the time you’re done putting sauce on the top, it’s nearly time to flip the ribs. You are only using the grill to caramelize the sauce onto the meat, so it goes really quick.

Pull ribs from grill and serve.

veni, vidi, edi


I rode a fair amount today so I finally felt justified in eating the infamous Double Down.

Apparently you can get them in grilled form too, but if you’re going to KFC, you may as well go all out.

The couple in front of me briefly considered mixing the “buns” and getting one grilled patty and another fried patty. Proposed by the husband, the wife quickly pooh-poohed the idea.

I actually quite enjoyed mine, but the breading on the copy that I got wasn’t as crispy as I would have preferred. But the flavor wasn’t bad, and as always, having hot sauce around helped.

Interestingly, the sandwich box said KFC/KGC. I wonder if they’re going to change the name of their entire business. Ye gods, I hope not.

I left feeling fairly confident that I could eat enough of these in one sitting to be competitive, were a Double-Down eat-off ever proposed. After all, it’s the buns that fill you up.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t really consider this to be a healthy sandwich. But still, it only has 11 grams of carbs and 53 grams of protein, which in terms of pure macronutrient ratios, isn’t bad. It’s just that the quality of the ingredients and their preparation are likely to be crap.

Now I’m wondering if you could make an even more delicious version by using two Chick-Fil-A patties, along with your own cheese and bacon. Pure, unadulterated delicious. Who’s with me?



gaining ground in the mainstream

The May 2010 issue of Scientific American has an article about carbohydrates causing obesity.

This article isn’t anything new to some of the folks who read my blog, but I’m happy to see that good science is finally starting to displace bad.

Some good quotes:

Other conclusions of the past few years run counter to the conventional wisdom that saturated fat is bad for the heart because it increases total cholesterol levels. That idea is “based in large measure on extrapolations, which are not supported by the data,” Ronald M. Krauss, director of atherosclerosis research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, says.


Although the subjects on the low-carb diet ate the most saturated fat, they ended up with the healthiest ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol and lost twice as much weight as their low-fat-eating counterparts.

My only quibble is this quote:

Right now, Robert C. Post, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion explains, the agency’s main message to Americans is to limit overall calorie intake, irrespective of the source.

When it comes to health, calorie quality is infinitely more important than calorie reduction.

eat real food

Slate today had an article entitled Is Your Veggie Burger Killing You?, which is a response to the recent soy-food hexane-scare.

How worried should soy foodies be?

Maybe a tiny bit, but only because of the lack of data.

The article then goes on to say things like:

The hexane limits are precautionary. No study has ever tested how much hexane a person can safely eat over the course of a lifetime […]

The government has no evidence that this process is unsafe for consumers […]

There is no reference dose for ingested hexane […]

I have a reference dose suggestion. How about 0?

Anyway, the point of today’s rant is not against hexane, but rather against processed soy foods in general. Somehow, at some point, the public got duped into thinking that soy is healthy for you because it’s a vegetable protein and doesn’t have the nasty effects that animal proteins supposedly contain.

Soy is not healthy. Soy is an allergen for most people. And processed soy is especially bad. Take a look at why they use hexane:

Soy processors use hexane to divide the beans into fat and protein (PDF). The beans are cracked, heated, and rolled into flakes, which are soaked in a hexane bath to extract the oil.

So even if hexane turns out to be completely benign for humans, the fact that they need to use it at all (to extract stuff from the actual beans) should be a good clue that you should avoid the resulting food-like substances that appear on the ass-end of the factory.

If it doesn’t look like it came from nature at some point, don’t eat it.

Even better, next time you’re out with someone who orders a veggie burger because it’s supposedly healthier, say something. Feel free to use my suggestion:

“Oh cool, let’s go snort AIDS off a rotting dingo scrotum for dessert!

$5 spicy coconut chicken stir fry

Today, I present the recipe for the quick and dirty chicken stir fry dish I make rather often. It’s quick, tasty, cheap, and paleo. Total cook time including prep is less than 30 minutes, and total cost is less than $5 per person per meal.

Ingredients from store

  • $4 – one package chicken thighs, look for high quality like Red Bird Farms
  • $1.50 – one yellow onion — I happened to pick up a Vidalia, but any will do
  • $2 – broccoli crowns
  • $2 – red pepper
  • $1 – kale (if you want)

I happen to really like chicken thighs. White meat tends to dry out, meaning you need more skillz to do it well. Dark meat is more forgiving towards cooks in a rush. Red Bird chicken thighs are around $2.99 / lb. whereas the breasts are closer to $7 or $8 / lb. It all comes from the same organic bird, and I’m continually astounded by how much better of a deal the thighs are versus the other parts. Go for the thighs. Your tastebuds and wallet thank you.

Ingredients from home

  • coconut oil for cooking
  • soy sauce
  • sriracha hot sauce

Chop all veggies coarsely and set aside (7 minutes). If you’re iffy on kale, remove the stems and keep just the leafy parts, as the stems are even less pleasant to eat than the leaves. Or if you hate kale, just leave it out. You won’t get arrested by the paleo police.

[nb, there is a way to make kale delicious and as you might have guessed, it involves bacon, but that’s another post for another time]

Chop the chicken thighs. This also takes around 7 minutes since they’re usually on the bone, and that can slow you down. I leave the skin on because I’m Chinese and we know that the skin contains all the secret flavor crystals. I usually do this step with a cleaver ($7 from the Chinese grocery store!) which means bits of bone sometimes get included.

Dangerous food is delicious food. You’ve been warned, and that’s a fact.

As you are chopping the last thigh or so, get your wok hot. (You knew you needed a wok when you read “stir fry” right?) Near maximum heat is good. When the wok is hot, add coconut oil and swirl it around to coat the surface. How much oil you ask? As much as you want, but err on the side of “more is better”. You can’t add too much really, especially since coconut oil is good for you.

Once the oil has melted, dump in the sriracha. How much you ask? You ask a lot of questions. The obvious answer here is “to taste”. If you are normal, then go slow. If you are Becca Shade, dump the whole bottle in and start slamming cabinets in anticipation. Hooah!

Be careful. The sriracha will sizzle and spatter, so this would be a good time to slam the wok lid on. Dump in soy sauce (and no, don’t ask me how much this time, silly white person). Swirl the wok a few more times to mix up your newly created awesome sauce.

Dump the chicken pieces in and inhale the beauty of frying meat. Breathe deep. It’s legal. Stir often. Because like, you know, that’s the whole point of stir fry. This stage takes maybe 7 minutes or less.

Once chicken is mostly cooked (changed from meat color to food color) dump in all the veggies. All of them. At this point, you can dump more coconut oil/soy sauce/sriracha on top, but err on the side of sparing at first since you have a mini-lake of awesome sauce at the bottom of the wok. As the veggies cook down (approx. another 7 — 10 minutes) continue stirring. It helps to have the cover on during this phase so the steam cooks the veggies from the top.

Ideally, your land-o-flavor-lake at the bottom of the wok is sufficient to keep items from burning and sticking to the surface, enough to the point where you can leave it covered and walk away for a few minutes to enjoy a cigarette or my latest twitter updates (speaking of awesome sauce…). You’re done when the veggies are cooked. I usually call it good when the majority (but not all) of the onions are 80% caramelized.

Serve the dish over a bed of… nothing! This is a paleo dish, remember? You don’t need a stupid starchy crutch with your dinner. Eat as much as you want, guilt-free and celebrate by drinking the sweet sweet (and spicy!) gravy out of a chalice made from the skull of your neighbor who eats tofu and whole wheat because it’s “healthy”.

In other news, Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) is almost ready for release, so here — look at some pictures that are vaguely related!

average adult weight?

I’ve recently switched from fish oil to krill oil for several reasons, all of which can be found on Michael Eades’s Protein Power blog post Why krill oil?.

The summary is that it’s much more potent than fish oil because the good omega-3 fatty acids it contains are the same shape as the fats in your cell walls, and thus much more absorbable.

Think of a round peg going into a round hole, vs. fish oil, which is a square peg whose shape has to be changed to fit into the round hole.

Read the whole article. He describes more of the benefits, including lowering LDL, increasing HDL, reducing pain, and in a nice bonus for the ladies (and their significant others, I suppose), reduces effects of PMS.

The one thing that Eades doesn’t mention is that krill are at the bottom of the food chain compared to top level predators like salmon, cod, etc. that we harvest for fish oil. Not only is it more eco-friendly to harvest from the bottom of the food chain, but you get a side benefit that krill do not accumulate toxins such as mercury the way that the big fish do. Although the fish oil producers claim to filter or distill their product to eliminate toxins, it seems better to not have to do that step at all.

Which leads me to this 2008 NYT article about scary amounts of mercury in bluefin tuna at NYC sushi restaurants. Good, scary article; go read it, not too long, but the summary is that eating more than 6 pieces of tuna sushi per week might turn out to be a real — not theoretical — danger.

The most surprising fact in the article must have come from the NYT’s department of meaningless statistics:

Six pieces of sushi from most of the restaurants and stores would contain more than 49 micrograms of mercury. That is the amount the Environmental Protection Agency deems acceptable for weekly consumption over a period of several months by an adult of average weight, which the agency defines as 154 pounds.

At first, I was surprised that the average adult weight is 154 lbs. but then I realized that the number must include both genders. Which seems like a useless way to think of a population, since that number will be equally misrepresentative for both males and females (too low for males, too high for females). Oh well.

In other news, following a mostly strict paleo diet since mid-January has seen me steadily lose weight, about a pound per week, and I now weigh as much as the average adult.