I am feeling weary lately, with long nights in the studio, and the usual scramble to fill the kiln in time for our deadline. I have lots of new sculptures I’m very happy with, including pregnant goddesses which are always very special. In addition to our wood firing, Lee and I have created a production line of hand-thrown pots for the everyday table: cups, bowls, mixing bowls, a teapot, and fermenting jars! We already have lots of orders for Xmas, which is really exciting–and our new website will be up soon if you’d like to take a look.
The days are short and quite cold now. As soon as we arrive at the kiln site, we light a fire. Horus fancies himself the fire-master and orders us all to collect birchbark at his beck and call. Sausages are a staple lately, but I have been fairly on top of meal planning, and I always make 3 meals at once, so that we can freeze the additional for subsequent meals.
We eat a paleo diet mostly, which is a bit of a goofy term, but which translates as minimal-to-no grains, no refined sugar, a small amount of nuts and seeds, but primarily grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and lots of vegetables and fruit. Science increasingly concurs that a low-grain diet with few simple carbs can treat or reverse a myriad of health issues, and this has been true for us. My kids haven’t ever been sick, their oral health is excellent, and we feel good. It *is* certainly tricky negotiating a world (especially rural New Brunswick) that is heavily addicted to non-foods. I am pretty relaxed out in the world, and I figure that the way we eat at home makes up for the fact that my kids are sometimes exposed to garbage. But it does make me sad to see 2-year olds eating lollipops, parents’ carts at the grocery store full of instant processed crap, the prevalence of tooth decay in young children, etc. And I suppose that because my standards are so different from those of most parents, my “relaxed” may not seem so.
Horus and Treva take swimming lessons every week at the local indoor recreation centre (skating rink, swimming pool, gym, etc.). It’s a total gong show, but lots of fun, and they’re both doing really well–enjoying themselves and the routine. But the lobby of this recreation centre is dominated by a “canteen” serving exclusively deep-canola-fried french fries, hot dogs, and battered nameless animal parts, (served by a woman who seems to dislike children to an extreme degree, but that’s another story). In the other corner of the lobby, there is a bank of coin-operated candy machines. Chairs are located by these machines, and while we are waiting for Horus’ lesson to be over, Treva and Felix and I sit and chat or read books, while a steady stream of little children come up to the machines, pop in their quarters, and run off with fistfuls of high fructose corn syrup. And every time I turn my head in another direction, or jump up to look through the window to catch a glimpse of Horus swimming, there goes Treva, shoving her hands into the machines up to the elbow, in hopes of snatching up a stray jawbreaker, or (god help me) scrambling on her hand sand knees, scratching the melted boot-crushed smarties off the brick floor and gobbling them up, delighted. This was a continuous game last week, and each time it happened, I would cheerfully say “Please don’t eat the garbage off the floor Tree”, somewhat loudly, so that the parents who were giving me the standard looks of disgust could hear that at least I didn’t *approve*. Sigh. It is sincerely disgusting, but at the same time, it’s probably not the end of the world (and I remain much more concerned about the effects of the dyes and poisons in the candies over the dirt she’s ingesting along with them–in fact, in comparison, the dirt is probably quite protective). The point is, we’re freaks, and everybody knows it.
So, on to our recipe of the day. I make pretty much everything from scratch, and sometimes it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast, I admit. Which I think is ok. I do want my kids to grow up knowing how to cook, enjoying their food, and appreciating special occasions and important meals. I want my kids to grow up with manners (we’re working on it), and a sense of decorum and procedure, but I also want them to grow up really knowing and understanding that food is fuel, and that we don’t need to get all worked up about it. Some meals will be delicious, some will be ok, and only on the rare occasion do things end up totally inedible. I am not strict about paleo. I have seen (and experienced) the phenomenon of food sensitivities getting pretty out of hand. Only the very privileged have the luxury of picking and choosing to the degree that we (all of us) do. So this paleo chicken pot pie does contain peas and corn which I had in the freezer from the summer. But the beauty of this recipe (and any other) is that you could add pretty much anything. I am also not terribly big on paleo “baking”. As far as I’m concerned, part of the beauty of living grain-free is to not have to bake, or mess around too much. I have never understood the oft-repeated sentiment: “I don’t cook meat, it’s just too complicated”. As far as I’m concerned, nothing could be easier–just cook the darn stuff (or don’t! blue-rare steak is one of my ultimate weaknesses, and I quite like tartare as well. Anyway. Lee does not go for anything of the sort so these are now rather solitary and rare pleasures). Anyway. The point about the baking thing is that I try to avoid using flours of any kind as much as possible. These have been relatively highly processed by definition (coconut flour) and almond flour (coming up) is super, but decadent and over-rich (rather than possessing the compensatory benefits–yes benefits–of saturated fats). But that’s ok, it’s just delectable here.
This chicken pot-pie was so good that it caused a fight. Everyone sat down to lunch with the usual vibe. Oh good! lunch. We’re hungry. Then they looked at the pie, and then they tasted the pie and everybody’s eyes widened. It really was good. And then Lee, who is usually fairly non-communicative about food (to his great credit, he eats everything without complaint, but with, at times, some resignation), burst out with “this is delicious! You have outdone yourself!”. And I said “Oh really. I’ve outdone myself have I? This is “outdoing” myself? In all the time you’ve known me, this chicken pie is the apparent height of my talent, ambition and brilliance?” And then he was (alright, justly) hurt, and insisted that he really didn’t have any idea of why I might be irritated by such a statement, and then I softened, because his dumb-like-a-fox act gets me every time, and the kids hovered, hoping I wasn’t about to launch, and I didn’t, and I giggled, and it was fine, and everyone did eat almost the entirety of the pie with great gusto, and seconds & thirds all around.
3 cups almond meal
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup duck fat
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 chicken breasts, cooked
3 cups carrots, cut up into small pieces (diced?)
3 cloves garlic
2 cups (or so) of peas
2 cups (or so) of corn if you happen to have organic sweet corn still in your freezer from the summer before
3 cups arugula
3 cups spinach
1 cup milk (raw milk from our neighbour!)
3 tblsp potato starch (also emphatically not “paleo”, but still gluten-free)
1 tsp salt
herbs of your choice
Anyway, basically just mix everything up into a large bowl, (you might want to pre-mix the milk, salt and potato starch in a separate bowl, then pour over the veggies and chicken–I did, and it worked well), and then transfer to two greased pie plates. At this point, you will take out the dough that you have already mixed in another separate bowl (or you might mix it up now, that’s ok–there’s nothing to it, just put it all together), and then take one ball (you’ll want 2 for 2 pies. We’re getting technical here), and smash it into a pancake in your hand, plop it on the top, and then sort of kind of spread it out a bit with your fingers. It will break apart a bit and not behave at all like a proper pie dough, but we all have to just accept this, and realize that it will be fine.
Then pop it in the oven at about 275 (yes, low) for perhaps 2 hours, or maybe a bit longer, or until everything looks all bubbly and cooked and proper and slightly golden on the top, and enjoy!
PS: I have been receiving a ton of messages lately (Ask Yo! if you’d like to too, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me through bauhauswife on Facebook) and I will be getting to those very soon. Apologies for my late replies, I am thinking about you, I promise.