The nutrition challenge at my gym is over. And not a moment too soon, because yesterday I accidently stumbled and somehow fell into Molly Moon’s Ice Cream (now at University Village!). Imagine the odds. On top of that it seemed the only thing that softened the fall was a single-scoop of Stumptown Coffee ice cream in a waffle cone. I hate when that happens.That’s a lie. I LOVE when that happens.
Side note. This post is longer than usual. Skip down to the bottom for the one measly recipe I’ve included.
Anyway, this is actually a blog about home. Connecticut, to be exact, my home for the first 18 years of my life. As I’m nearing the end of my 38th year, there is some simple math here. I’ve lived outside of CT for longer than I lived in it. I’ve lived in other cities, mainly Chicago and now Seattle. And, I’ve rooted for other city’s sports teams. I was born a Celtics fan, but you can’t live in Chicago in the mid-90s and NOT be a Bulls fan (Three-Peat!). I’ve gone back to my Celtic-cheering roots, especially that time where they had my man Ray Allen there. I am somewhat of a Patriots fan. I call them my favorite AFC team. But the honest truth about my fandom there is that I have had a crush on Tommy Brady since the 2000s, and again, that pesky math will show that is a time after moved away from CT. You see, we were a basketball family.
Speaking of basketball, and here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for … I have always, and will always, be a UCONN basketball fan. It’s the only college basketball team I’ve ever cheered for. I remember the first March Madness season I watched. It was the year UCONN made it to the Elite Eight. It was the year of the “The Shot,” a full-court pass from Scottie Burrell to Tate George for the game-winning basket with a second on the clock. It was AMAZING. I’m picturing it in my head right now. I couldn’t even tell you who they were playing because, that’s not the stuff I remember. (I just looked it up. It was Clemson, and the year was 1990). All I know is it that dream season ended with an encounter with Duke and Christian Laettner. But I was hooked, along with the rest of my little state. I’ve never forgotten, and every March Madness I lug out my UCONN sweatshirt (it must be 20 years old now). My UCONN pajama bottoms (random buy from my sis), and the other swag with the hopes of capturing that feeling again. Hometown pride.
When my adopted current hometown city went all gaga for Gonzaga, when, once upon a time, the UW Huskies were actually good for a spell, I quietly nodded and smiled. Because that’s the polite thing to do. And, I’m a polite gal from the East Coast. Also, it’s easy to be polite when you know deep down that your team is way better. Am I Right?
I’m not really a trash-talker, and actually I’m kind of nervous I’ve said too much, so I’ll just go back to my polite ways and chat a little bit about food. About Connecticut food.
I thought it’d be a good idea to create some kind of menu based on Connecticut food for the first Final Four game. Problem is, the memory I have of eating growing up, was mainly Chinese food. White Rice. Ramen. Whole fish. Steamed cauliflower with these little weird dried shrimp mixed in. Fried Rice. Wontons. Etc.
I was trying to go a little more CT and less me. Oh, and add some paleo into the mix, too, since, technically Saturday/game day was still a challenge day… Here’s how I netted out.
- Paleo Clam Chowder. Nearly paleo, if you’re okay with a russet potato, which I was. You could easily swap in a sweet potato but I was feeling rebellious.
- Roasted sweet potatoes dusted with fresh-ground nutmeg. Why nutmeg? We’ll, we are talking about the Nutmeg State.
- Cranberry Juice Spritzer
Items 2 & 3 inspired by my friend KPM/LC friend marfdaze.
The challenge here was the clam chowder. This paleo version uses cauliflower and coconut milk as its base. The coconut flavor is hidden, but the cauliflower flavor is definitely present. I also couldn’t blend it enough to be entirely creamy. I wouldn’t call it ready for prime-time, and probably not something I’ll be adding to the standard repertoire, but fun and sorta reminiscent of a hearty New England clam chowder.
I had told myself that, should UCONN make it into the national title game this year, I could celebrate by making another rendition of the delicious New England Blueberry Coffee Cake (usually reserved for summer, blueberry season) … But instead I’m gonna go for an Italian Pretzel Grinder from PCC (If you call a sub sandwich a grinder, you just might be from Connecticut) and some Cape Cod potato chips (not technically CT, but definitely a favorite of mine growing up).
Getting excited for the game tonight. Woot!
Paleo Clam Chowdah!
Inspired/Cribbed from Paleo Girl’s Kitchen.
- 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed into florets
- 1 large russet potato (or 1 sweet potato, if you want to go full-on paleo), diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, diced
- 2-4 slices of bacon
- olive oil, ghee
- thyme, bay leaf
- 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
- 1 1/2 chicken broth
- 2 cans or 1 10 oz can of clams
Preheat the oven to 425. Steam the cauliflower 20 minutes. At the same time as the cauliflower is steaming, place the potatoes on a baking sheet, season with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes for the same 20 minutes, stirring midway through.
In a dutch oven cook 2 slices of bacon thoroughly. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel to remove extra grease, then chop. Using the leftover bacon fat (and some more fat, like ghee, if necessary), add the onions to saute. Add carrots, thyme, bay leaf and finally a little bit of the chicken stock to get the sticky stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down on the burner, then slowly add the rest of the chicken stock, then the coconut milk and mix well.
Add the bacon and cauliflower into the mix. When everything is combined and has simmered for 5 or more minutes, either use an immersion blender or transfer some of the soup into a food processor and pulse/process until smooth. I ended up doing 3 – 4 batch of soup in the food processor at a time.
Once everything is back in the dutch oven, add the potatoes, clams and strained clam juice (try to get any extraneous pieces out of the soup). Combine well, season and simmer for another 10-15.
Cook the last two sliced of bacon and use as garnish on top, along with green onions.