A couple of weeks ago, my husband bought me a gift for no reason. Bless his Hanes socks. He gets me…after nearly 15 years of marriage, he finally gets me. The gift was a coffee mug, with the logo; “I love you more than coffee…but not before coffee.” I’ve always been this way. Please don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee. But, I’ve come to realise over the past couple of years, it’s not about the actual coffee. It’s about how people start their day. Dan is normally awake at 5am, gets out of bed and is happy. He will chat nineteen to the dozen if someone is about to listen. He will chat, and walk about and be as happy as a cat with paper and a box to play with. However, I need silence in the morning, and my own space. I need an hour to pootle about on my own, not having to talk. I get up, make breakfast and coffee, watch the news and talk to no one. It’s how I am. This is how I wake up. The coffee is an excuse. A delicious, leave me alone excuse. And I thank my husband for such a thoughtful gift. When he starts chattering away to me first thing, I just silently raise my new mug up, as if to toast him and he can read it and leave me the heck alone.
So, two months into 2017 and we’re still going strong, right? You’re hanging in there, working out, enjoying life and building others up? I’ve been working on the last thing over the past few months and talked about it in the last blog. And I’ve noticed something; when I tell someone something I like about them, or compliment them on what they’re wearing, how they’re doing or encouraging them, I forget about myself and what I don’t like about myself. It’s like, the more generous you are with your heart in uplifting others, the more generous you want to be. And the more generous and true with your heart and compliments and encouragement you want to be, the less you worry about what others think about you. It’s a strange but true phenomenon. Even if others don’t reciprocate, you don’t notice. I like it. I like it a lot.
At the Kettlebell Center, PRs are abounding like never before, whether with military presses, squats, get ups or planks – we are an awesome bunch. A lot of people have been working hard on progressions with their presses, and are rocking their PRs like it’s their daytime job! Due to the ongoing dodgy shoulder, presses are out for me, and so I’ve been working on my deadlift progressions. I’m excited to see how much I will be able to deadlift after working through the different sets!
However, I’ve managed to tweak my lower back a little a couple of times, and have been wondering if it’s because I’ve stopped concentrating on what I’m doing. When I’m deadlifting, all kinds of things are running through my head. “Are my feet planted correctly?… What about my hands?…. Are my lats engaged and ready?… Have I taken that breath and pushed out my diaphragm ready to drive my feet through the floor as I lift?… Does my butt look big in these leggings?… Oh crap! Did I pay the electric bill this week?… Ooh! I LOVE this song!”
As you can see, when thoughts (other than the ones that help you concentrate on the task in hand) start crowding in, concentration lapses for a little bit and then when I actually start lifting, that lapse can cause something to go a little bit wrong.
When we train at TKFC, we try to incorporate movements such as these: Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Carry. I was thinking about this the other day at work. We don’t “think” about how we open a door (for example), but after going through that same door for the fifth time that day in the same way and feeling that familiar wee tweak in my lower back, I realised again that functional exercise plays a part in everyday things and I was not using that functional exercise properly. I find that when I push a door (one of those pneumatic closing types) open, I always turn sideways and help it along with my hip. Why? I’m capable of opening a door and keeping it open with my hand and arm as I walk through. But in my laziness, I just keep it open with a twist of spine and a bump of my hip. I always do this. So I started “mindfully” opening the doors, pulling it towards me or pushing it away, depending on which way I was going. I’m sure I looked weird, as a couple of times, I repeated it until I was happy with the way I opened that darned door! (yes, this is the kind of stuff that could get me sent away in a strait-jacket!) But you will be pleased to know that I also lifted a heavy laundry basket at home with an intake and exhale of breath that would satisfy the most hardcore of kettlebell swingers!
This past week, my cast iron skillet has been put to a LOT of use. I love my skillet. I even posted a photo of it on my instagram and Facebook account on Sunday because it is truly a thing of beauty. This thing has had nearly 10 years of seasoning. I use it as a roasting tin, as a frying pan, even to make pies. Many of us who cook and eat paleo use our skillets with pride and often.
Sure, I’ve burned my fingers on the handle when I’ve not been thinking, and yes, I went through the early stages of wondering what “seasoning the skillet” meant. (I actually thought it meant that you rub it down with oil and pepper and salt!) Yes. That was me. But now I feel I’m a skillet aficionado.
A lot of people view the skillet with suspicion. They don’t like cooking with it because it’s not “non-stick”, but believe me, with use and love, it will become your go-to pan. Here’s the thing: when I first got my skillet, I would fill it up with hot water and dish soap after using it, and leave for a while until the sticky bits would come off. I would get little rust stains on it. However, since following instructions and asking fellow skillet users how they achieved skillet nirvana, I have been rewarded with a pan that loves me back and has become a beautiful object in my kitchen, radiating goodness and love, and deliciously cooked food.
So, let me share the secrets of the skillet squad. We do not like to use a lot of soapy water to clean our skillets. Most of us use a little hot water and coarse sea salt to clean it. You heard correctly – coarse sea salt. The salt acts as a scrubber and helps get off the sticky bits. You will see the salt change colour as it absorbs the left over food and liquids in the bottom of the pan. Once you have scrubbed with the salt, rinse with hot water and wipe dry with a cloth.
After drying, put it on a stove top ring and turn it on to finish drying it off. (This is to avoid any rust stains from appearing due to any water left in the pan) When it’s dry, I add a little oil (coconut, light olive oil or avocado oil) and with a paper towel, oil the skillet, wiping away any excess. I then continue to heat the pan. (This has the trick of hardening some of the oil to the pan – some like to put it in the oven at the highest temperature to do this, but I’m too lazy). After heating again, I put a little more oil on a paper towel and give it a final spare coat, wiping way any excess again. Done. It’s ready for the next time.
If you keep doing this, you will find that your pan responds to this loving care, and in turn, will look after you. It will proudly turn out food that people will want to come back for. One last tip…be sparing if you cook with balsamic vinegar. The acid in it can strip away the oils you’ve built up over time.
By the way? Those delicious roasted potatoes? I cooked them in duck fat. I started them off on the stovetop in the skillet and just transferred it all to the oven for about 45 minutes at 375 deg. I found the rendered duck fat at ShopRite along with Grass Fed beef tallow Pork Lard. All made by Epic, which is Whole30 and Paleo approved! The potatoes came out all fluffy on the inside and very crispy and deliciously flavoured on the outside. In fact, they tasted (indulge my poor pun here) epic! And the best thing was that when I cleaned my skillet afterward, it was a breeze due to the buildup of fats on it…and now I have a thin layer of duck fat on it!
So that, my friends, brings us to the end of February. March is known to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. I wonder what it will have in store for us.
Next month, I will have a recipe for chicken fajitas that I found in a Hannaford magazine but adapted to make it Paleo. You will never buy packet fajita mix again.
Until then, stay strong in all things, practice your door opening skills and dust off your skillets!