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Tag Archives: food-and-cooking

Paleo Slow Cooker (2013): Crockaeology

John Chatham, Paleo Slow Cooker: 75 Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Gluten-Free Paleo Slow-Cooker Recipes for a Paleo Diet (Rockridge University Press, 2013)

Not surprisingly, a food shot adorns the book's cover, but the title is large enough that I have no idea what it is.

This is not your mama’s set it and forget it.
photo credit: Barnes and Noble

I’ve seen a huge number of criticisms of this little tome in reviews, mostly from people who can only imagine a slow cooker a receptacle for raw, unprepared ingredients that get cooked while you are at work (none of whom, also, seem to have a “keep warm” setting on their slow cookers if they get caught in a traffic jam on the way home). If you start reading reviews of this book at random, you will quickly enough discern them. The best thing you can do once you have is ignore them; these are the kind of people, I think, who would complain if you decided to use your grill for something other than burgers and dogs. (Or if you put them on something other than white buns.) This is not to say there are not valid criticisms of the book, but “because it posits the ability to cook differently with a slow cooker” is a strength, not a weakness. You have a problem with the author recommending serving “paleo-friendly” breads or crackers with things? Don’t do it. They’re not part of the recipe, they’re serving suggestions.

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Genetic Chile (2010): A Hill of Beans

Genetic Chile (Christopher Dudley, 2010)

The title is superimposed over apicture of a pile of New Mexico chiles on the DVD box.

Wear latex gloves when cutting.
photo credit:

Christopher Dudley’s 2010 documentary Genetic Chile is at least honest enough to put itself out there as a “war on ideas” movie from the get-go. (Compared to, say, Hot Coffee, which starts out looking like it’s going to focus on the Stella Liebeck case before unreasonably broadening its horizons.) I mean, maybe it’s me, but it was impossible for me to look at that title and think anything other than “this is an anti-GMO movie.” And then I sat down to watch it, and I got exactly what I expected to get. As I am somewhat aggressively pro-GMO, I attempted as best I could to divorce my feelings about the subject matter from the presentation; after all, I have in the past been perfectly willing to approach movies whose subject matter I find distasteful with an open mind, and if they present their case well, recommend them, sometimes strongly. (The most recent example: Chasing Ice.) Still, I’d advise you to take what I have to say about Genetic Chile with a grain of salt, especially since (a) I also had the pleasure of watching this on a seven-inch phone screen, which is not a mode of playback for a feature-length film that I would wish on my worst enemy, and (b) I was floating in a wonderful dilaudid haze for about half the movie’s barely-over-feature-length runtime, as I was in the hospital when I saw it (viz. my review of Shank, above).

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Ingredients (2009): The Best Food Documentary You Will See This Year

Ingredients (Robert Bates, 2009)


A series of stills from the film adorn the movie poster.

Think globally, eat locally.
photo credit: Amazon

I saw Ingredients in May of 2012. I finally started writing this review fifteen months later. I have no idea why it has taken me so long; of all the documentaries that tread this ground I’ve seen over the past couple of years (there have been roughly a half-dozen of them), Ingredients is by far the best, and the one that comes most highly recommended from this camp. I just never found any sort of “in” I could use to start writing about it, but now I’m at the point where I’m forcing myself to catch up with all the old reviews that should have gotten written months ago and never did. I guess my “in” is “get your ass in gear, you lazy bum, and say something about Ingredients.”

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Rainbow Stew (2013): How to Boil Water and Add Things

Cathryn Falwell, Rainbow Stew (Lee and Low, 2013)


The book's three young protagonists gathering vegetables on the book's cover.

And to think, this was an everyday occurrence around the world until seventy or eighty years ago.
photo credit: Barnes and Noble

It’s kind of depressing that we live in a culture where someone needs to write a book like this—where we are so divorced from the idea of gathering fresh food, preparing it straight from the land, and then eating it right out of the pot is alien enough that someone felt the need to illustrate it to a generation of children (and, let’s be honest, a generation of parents) who are used to vegetables in cans or freezer bags and meat in styrofoam trays. (Don’t worry, I’m not implying grandpa processes a cow or anything in this book.) But on the other hand, if someone had to do it, Cathryn Falwell was the right author. Rainbow Stew‘s story is simple and simply told, with very little embellishment; grandpa gently guides the children through the process of harvesting vegetables (in the rain, so there’s the added fun of playing in the mud), preparing them (OH NOES, CHILDREN WITH PEELERS!), cooking them, and enjoying the result. Falwell includes a rudimentary recipe, but you may know Rainbow Stew as Kitchen Sink Casserole, or by any number of other names; it’s one of those dishes where you take whatever you have on hand, toss it in a pot, and let it go. The stew looks delicious, and the book is as well. ****

Hidden Miracles: Vegetarianism and Alternative Medicine (????): Nothing You Can’t Find Free on the Internet

Jamie Wilkinson, Hidden Miracles: Vegetarianism and Alternative Medicine (No publisher listed, no date listed)

had I planned on giving this book any stars, it would have lost them for incomplete information.


photo credit: lulu

The cover is so inspired I almost feel bad giving points off!

So let me get this straight, even though I know it happens all the time I still can’t believe people try to pull this ridiculousness: you did five minutes of “research” on the Internet, copied and pasted some descriptions, added a little of your own writing (just enough for us to tell what’s copied and what you modified a touch), and then slapped a three-dollar price tag on a thirty-six-page “booklet” and put it up for sale at Amazon? Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m just jealous I didn’t think of it myself. Trust me, though, dear reader: stay far, far away form this. You can do a google search on the title and have more complete information in five seconds. (I know, I just did while writing this paragraph). (zero)

Pomegranates and Pine Nuts (2013): Cooking the Books

Bethany Kehdy, Pomegranates and Pine Nuts (Duncan Baird, 2013)

full disclosure: a review copy was (temporarily) provided to me free of charge via Netgalley. Short answer: I’m going to end up buying one.


photo credit: Barnes and Noble

I have no witticisms to add here, I’m too busy eating.

Now, I know what you may be thinking to yourself. “Ho hum, another Middle Eastern cookbook.” We can put that to rest right quick. Sure, there are the usual recipes for labneh and hummus b tahini and foole mudammas, but… scotch eggs wrapped in kefte. Chili cigars. Mussels in arak. (Come to think of it, pretty much anything in arak. Bethany Kehdy is, thankfully, not a teetotaler.) Wild orchid ice cream.

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Living Paleo for Dummies (2012): She’s Making Movies on Location, She Don’t Know What It Means

Melissa Joulwan and Kellyann Petrucci, Living Paleo for Dummies (Wiley/For Dummies, 2012)

Full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.

photo credit:

Want to grow up and find alunda? Get some zug zug? Paleo! (And a screening of Caveman to bone up on your neanderthal lingo… no pun intended.)

I’m gonna start out with the book’s biggest, most glaring failure: it never addresses the main reason critics say the paleo diet is untenable. (For those reading this where outside links cannot be provided, a concise summary of what everyone else saw in those links: “even if you take at face value the idea that the human genome has not changed much in the last 2.8 million years, the food has, so there is no way for a modern human being to eat a diet approximating, much less mirroring, that of our paleolithic ancestors”.) With that said, however, I think it would be hard to refute one of the basic tenets of the paleo diet, whatever you think of the rest of it: getting processed foods out of your diet—and out of your body—is a Good Thing(TM). In other words, I’m going to start out by saying “take this with a grain of salt, or perhaps a few shakes of garlic powder and a pinch of ground cumin, but don’t dismiss it out of hand.”

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