An Egg-ceptional amount of Umami

 

A quick post today about the powers of umami and why eggs are so awesome, or what I like to call the “damn yummy. Get in my Belly,” taste . According to Wikipedia, “A loanword from the Japanese (うま味?), umami is translated as “pleasant savory taste”” . Basically, Umami is why meat tastes so unctuous, fatty, and delicious. Or, why mushrooms taste so earthy and rich. It is a hard taste to describe. Take away sweet, salty (although salty and umami are usually paired), bitter, and sour: you will find the glory that is umami. I freaking love umami and I am a truffle-holic. If I lived in France and had a pig: hunting truffles would be my livelihood. Heck, I know that truffles grow in the pacific northwest but with my history I am more likely to find a piece of petrified cow dung and think it a truffle, than an actual truffle. I’ll explain in great detail about me accidentally ordering freeze-dried cow shit in a future post. It was hilarious… to my family..

One of my favorite recipes that revels in umami is Chinese Tea Eggs. Not only are they works of art when finished, they are delicious.  I was at the Local Lan Su Chinese Garden taking in all the beauty when I got the opportunity to try a dish of these.

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The Magnificent Koi Pond directly outside the tea house.
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The pathway leading into the tea-house

They are rather difficult to procure in Americanized Chinese restaurants. I have only seen them offered once and that was at the tea house at Lan Su.  If you don’t try the eggs, the tea house and garden are reason enough to visit. Nestled in downtown Portland, upon entry you are transported to what seems like a cloud of serenity and balance. Outside is the hustle and bustle of bike messengers going upon their daily errands, and trains and/or buses taking the hurried passengers to their next stop. But inside, the walls keep out the sound and the glorious tea and eggs make it feel like you can breathe again. I kid you not. It is transportative.

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I wasn’t kidding when I said they look like little works of art or a petrified dinosaur egg. Either works.

However if you are not one to try making your own, a daily staple of mine that is both keto and delicious is hard-boiled eggs drenched in soy sauce and sesame oil.  Amazing when you need something delicious to dance on your tongue and a nice jump from having scrambled eggs or egg salad all the time. I suggest serving them with a side of bacon, because everything tastes better with the noble swine.

The recipe that I have used in the past to make the traditional eggs is found at Saveur,  Chinese Tea Eggs (CHA YE DAN).

Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

Ingredients

12 cup soy sauce
12 cup sugar
12 tsp. whole black peppercorns
12 tsp. fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp. loose-leaf smoked tea, such as lapsang souchong  (available from Amazon)
8 eggs

Instructions

Bring soy sauce, sugar, peppercorns, fennel, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and 2 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; remove from heat and add tea. Let steep for 10 minutes. Pour marinade through a fine strainer into a bowl and keep warm. Place eggs in a 4-qt. saucepan; cover by 12″ with cold water. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil; cover pan, remove from heat, and let sit until eggs are soft-boiled, about 5 minutes. Drain eggs. Crack shells all over but do not peel eggs; return to saucepan along with marinade. Bring to a boil and let cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups ice. Let cool in marinade before serving.

Life list item achieved – Made a Chinese tea egg.

The World in a Spoon of Cream

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
Mae West

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There are few things in this life of the mundane day to day that the average Joe or in my case Josephine could call decadent. I suppose it depends on your personal experience and perspective on life, but in my life not much is truly decadent. That may be a failing on my own part. But I try to bring out the joy, sexy-ness, gaity, exuberance, gratification, indulgence, rapture and ravagement in the most ordinary of things. I fail sometimes at this, but I am on a neverending quest to experience what I can in this world before I go…

All this is a round about way of asking, “Have you ever had the first scoop of cream from the top a glass bottle of cream from local grass fed Jersey Cows?”  It is a very specific sensation, very specific taste. Generally, we take cream for granted. Weird thought right? We put it in or coffee’s from little plastic hermetically sealed pop top containers. We don’t know where the hell they have come from, and they probably have been sitting on our Denny’s restaurant table for a week. This led me on an investigation of sorts. I wanted to try what real cream tasted like. From a fucking cow that was located in my own state, that ate grass. You would think that this would not be a lot to ask. I found it at a local “fancy” grocery store for 6 dollars a container. It came in a glass bottle and was so thick that it did not slosh around.

DSC_0187.jpgIn my first bite, I had an “aha” moment. “So this is what it should be about.” I don’t always buy a container of this cream, it is expensive and really it is not for cooking. It is for savoring. But when I can buy it, I always get my spoon ready for the first delicious bite. Imagine if butter and whole milk had a baby, and add in some sugar. It is almost like frosting, but not as sweet. If you are of the mind to try something new, I highly suggest this small decadent expenditure. I may make a cream-aholic out of you yet, than again a friend of mine tried it and said, “what the hell is this shit, it tastes like grass.” Your mileage may vary.

 

Odin’s Nuts

If great and mighty warriors that had been brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries after being slain in battles were to eat a tasty seasoned nut. THIS WOULD BE THE NUT. These nuts are not for the lighthearted, seriously, these are Odin’s nuts.

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Traderjoes.com

I present to you Trader Joe’s Truffle Marcona Almonds. But.. but they are Italian, and …almonds. Almonds do not scream Thor and Odin, and freaking Valhalla. Almonds do not make you want to run wildly down the street, wearing fur, chanting a warriors chant about to slay your foes. No! That is the realm of the majestic walnut.

Not this time!

A friend of mine gave me a few of these nuts at his house last week, and I took the bag and refused to give them back till I had consumed every last one of them. They really are the perfect taste. The Umami of the truffle salt paired with the sweeteness of the Marcona Almonds  is perfect. They are “beefy,” the food of a warrior and ridiculously good. I am on my fourth bag of them. Maybe I am not a warrior, but I am a viking inside and these make me want to go slay something. So folks, go out and make Odin proud by eating his nuts. They really are excellent.

 

BACON! The other food group.

Man was I jonesing for sugar this morning. I mean we are talking pancakes dipped in butter and maple syrup, a large iced vanilla coffee, and probably some sort of donut to finish off the experience. This is my relationship with pastries or donuts.

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courtesy of my news feed on facebook

Right.. This daily feeling lead me to my current and ever present condition of having a Buddha belly and ass that kinda likes to hang out on both sides instead of just going backwards. It really isn’t a good look. I have been pretty heavy for years, which doesn’t necessarily mean that I was horribly out of shape all those years. I did crossfit for two years and became a pretty serious power lifter (350 deadlift.. anyone), but I am really not happy with the current state of things.

One of my goals I set myself for this year was to get off what I like to call the sugar train. I need to become a good example for my daughter and finally be able to get into kayaking. Right now I would sink the boat. So I ate paleo/keto for one month. I lost 8 pounds. I am going to continue eating Paleo/Keto for the foreseeable future, I like the way it makes me feel and I love how I feel like I am taking control of something in regards to my health.

I tried some excellent recipes that I found were very helpful in getting over the hump that happens in the first few weeks where your body is craving sugar and/or you have some bad habits that you need to kill.

    1. Cherry Almond Upside Down Muffins, which I fed to my family and they didn’t get all weird that it was paleo.
    2. Creamsicle Jello, which I ate with a spoon like it was my last meal on earth.
    3. Easy Guacamole, Which I ate on pork rinds.

 

I know that these are not strictly paleo, there is mayo in the guacamole, and dairy in the jello. But my intentions where to ease into this lifestyle. If you have any great ideas on menus or recipes I would love to hear them.