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Guest Post–Book Review of Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog

Over the past two years, I’ve grown increasingly aware of where my food comes from. My stance on organic produce used to be that, save for the dirty dozen, conventional produce didn’t faze me; local trumped shipped-in organic as the greener choice. But, I’ve come to realize that those chemicals not only impact the people who consume the food but also those who grow it. I want better for those people as well as the rest of the natural order around them.

My journey with meat has also progressed. After a period of being so consumed with the ethics of meat that it was difficult for me to eat, our family made the decision last fall to segue into buying locally and humanely raised meat.
One way to make this switch more affordable is to purchase whole animals or bundles. While I had my first experience grinding a beef heart this year (to mix in with ground beef), my guest poster today, Alexa, has been ordering whole and cooking whole animals for about a year. Using a whole pig piece-by-piece just got a lot easier thanks to the new book Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog by Matthew McCarry and Stacy Toth, known in the blogosphere as Paleo Parents. Here is her review of the book.
There are a few things you should know about me before reading on:
  1. I cook a whole lot.  I often wonder if I spend more time in the kitchen than I do doing everything else combined.
  2. I am not what you would call a “reader.”  I very rarely read non-fiction books for pleasure.   It is hard to engage me long enough to get really interested in something unless it has a great story line.  
  3. I don’t like cookbooks much.  I think this goes back to #1.  I am not the kind of person who looks up a great recipe, goes out and gets everything I need for it & comes home to cook it up.  I am more the kind who opens the fridge, freezer, and/or pantry and uses whatever I have to whip up a meal.  Cookbooks just don’t usually fit into that.  

Enter Beyond Bacon

I ordered a whole pig from my favorite local farm last year and have been cooking my way through it, so when Stacy and Matt from Paleo Parents announced that they were working on a new cookbook called Beyond Bacon, I was excited to have some new ideas to add into my family’s menu rotation.  I saved several of the more uncommon cuts so that I could try them using recipes in the book.  When I was lucky enough to get a preview copy, I flipped through it and was immediately drawn in by the amazing photographs by Aimee Buxton. The food looked incredible.  
I got it home and hoped to get some time to check it out.  Then it got lost in the shuffle of life with kids.  When I finally got a moment of quiet, I decided to reach for it.  That was it.  It had me at Bacon. I sat and read the entire thing. For several hours.  I thought everything looked and sounded amazing, but still wasn’t sure about using a cookbook for my family’s meals, so I decided to look for recipes that I could make using just with what I currently had in the house.  I hoped to find maybe one or two.  I started writing them down and once I got to fifteen recipes I stopped writing.  That’s right, over fifteen recipes with no special grocery shopping needed! Finally a book that just used wonderful real food ingredients that I buy anyway.  Amazing!  
Things I love about Beyond Bacon:
  • Wonderful information at beginning
  • Layout of the pages was very easy to navigate
  • Mouth-watering pictures of every recipe
  • “Notes” or “Tips” listed on many recipes were extremely helpful
  • Engaging story and/or information in the intro paragraph to each recipe
  • Division of the recipe sections by preparation
  • Farm house aesthetic
  • Recipes with real, whole foods without too many hard to find ingredients
  • Focus on pastured meats from sustainable, local sources
  • Encouragement and ideas for nose to tail eating
  • Great index listing both recipes and ingredients
  • Easy to follow instructions (even on more difficult preparations)

Things I would’ve loved to see:

  • Full recipe list in one place (They are listed in the front of each section.)
  • Sample menus/combinations (There are some suggestions at the bottom of several recipes, but it left me wanting even more.) 
  • A few more green vegetable recipes. (My family eats a whole lot of green veggies.

I set out to start testing and wanted to start with a cut I had been saving for months, the jowls.  I set myself to work on this one recipe and I worked my way through it (with lots of help from my little kitchen helpers).  

Once I was done with the recipe, I had a lovely pot of broth just asking to be used and some extra fat that I had trimmed from the jowls.  I flipped through again and found the egg-drop soup, lard and crispy lardons.  
I got four recipes out of my one jowl recipe! I love it when nothing goes to waste and we all eat well because of it.  I had planned on only making that recipe before writing this, but then I just couldn’t help myself.  I had to try more, so off I went to cook.  We are still eating our way through all the wonderful food!
Recipes I’ve tried so far:
Lard
Was incredibly easy to do following the instructions in the book.  I have only ever done it in the crock pot before and mine has often been dark.  It was a beautiful snowy white this time!

Asian Short Ribs
These were incredible!  I’m still thinking about how 
good they are. Darn.  Now I have to go order some more short ribs.


Egg Drop Soup
I loved this!  What a wonderful way to have some protein with your healing bone broths. This will likely become a staple for me.

Ham Pot Roast with Horseradish Mustard Glaze
The meat was so tender and delicious.
  
Hawaiian Pork Roast
The sweetness of the pineapple was delicious with 
the flavor of the meat and spices in the marinade.

Perfect Pork Chops
Just like Stacy says in the book, I think steak and me have 
officially broken up.  Pork chops are my new one and only.

Crispy Lardons
My kids ate these for an evening snack.  
With a spoon.  Enough said.
Green Papaya Salad with Poached Jowl
Amazing flavors in this one!  Will definitely be making again!
Mashed Cauliflower
The creaminess was delicious.  I added some fresh herbs and loved it!

Faux-Tato Salad
The only one that got mixed reviews, but we were never big potato salad people anyway.  I was intrigued by cooking jicama as I have always eaten it raw. It does cook up to a  potato-like consistency, but I think I still prefer it raw.

Sautéed Green Beans
A huge crowd pleaser.  Will enter dinner rotations immediately.  
Rosemary Carrot Mash
Another huge pleaser!  We make carrots all the time but have never mashed them.  So yummy!
Baconnaise
I am a huge fan of mayonnaise but hate all the junk that is usually in store bought versions.  I’ve made my own many times, but this one is going to be my new favorite, for sure.
Ones I plan to try soon:
       Corn Dogs
       Sautéed Cabbage
       Triple Chocolate Freezer Fudge
       Scrapple
       Mexican Chorizo
       Lengua Carnitas
       Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits

…Who am I kidding?  I want to try them all

-Alexa

——
I am getting to ready to order a pork bundle that includes backbone, and I can’t wait to see what the Paleo Parents have to say about preparing this. Beyond Bacon comes out July 2, 2013. It is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

About today’s guest poster:

Alexa is a stay-at-home mother of two and co-leader of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Holistic Moms Network. Growing up in a “crunchy-hippie” household, she has created the same for her own family. She believes that what you eat directly impacts overall health and well-being. This belief was further reinforced when giving up wheat in 2005 put a stop to the daily migraines she was having.

Today, Alexa concentrates on feeding her family real, whole foods sourced mostly from local and sustainable farms. She spends her days homeschooling her children, cooking delicious meals for the family, and continuing to nourish her local Holistic Moms community who has given her so much.

pamm_profile

About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As a progressive Evangelical female pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • A June 30, 2013, 2:42 am

    Thanks for letting me guest post, Pamm!! By the way, for anyone wanting to get a sneak peek of the book, Amazon now has an extensive “look inside.” You can read a huge chunk of the book (and get a few recipes to try) just by visiting there. Enjoy!

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