effortless slow cooker ghee

One of the things we use a lot of around the house is butter, and while the whole 30 doesn't out and out forbid it (dairy! bad!), they do recommend using ghee, instead -- a clarified butter that you'll often find used in Indian dishes. If you've ever browned butter, then you'll find it very similar, except without any of the nutty, crunchy burned milk solids that make it the perfect way to serve pasta with fried sage, or dress poporn (oh yes. YOU know you want to try it now) or make rice krispie squares. 

Now I'd like to make some brown butter, too. 

But back to ghee. This recipe couldn't really get much easier, and once it's done you can use it in everything from baked goods to slathered on fresh bread, or in a curry. Since it doesn't smoke easily, it's perfect for anything you're putting into a frying pan. I love it with scrambled eggs.  

To make ghee, take some butter (as much as you want. 1-2 lbs is great depending on how big or small your slow cooker is), put it in your slow cooker, and set your slow cooker to high (or 4 hours). Prop open the lid with a utensil, like a chopstick, or in my case, a spurtle to let the steam out. No need to stir. At the end of the four hours, strain the (WARNING: HOT!!!) ghee through two or three layers of cheese cloth into clean glass jars. Let cool, toss in the fridge, and voila, you've got ghee! 

Use it for everything. 

Homemade Ghee

Ingredients

  • Butter, the higher the fat, the better (I like to use 84% Sterling Creamery butter. You'll often find it in your grocery store as "Amish Butter" too). At least 1lb. 2.5 lbs makes ~ 1L of ghee

Put the butter into your slow cooker, and turn it up to high, or to four hours, if your slow cooker measures in time. Come back in four hours. 

Strain the beautiful golden ghee (it will be clear on top with an opaque layer of golden milk solids on the bottom. There may also be a thick white foam on top as well. All good! 

Over one or more mason jars, secure three layers of cheesecloth with a little bit of give (the weight of the milk solids will bring them down a bit. Ladle the hot ghee over the cheesecloth into the mason jars one scoop at a time, or just go for it and pour the contents of your slow cooker over the cheesecloth all at once. Ghee is SUPER hot, so wear oven mitts (we use Ove Gloves and they're hand-savers) or something to protect yourself from getting burned. 

Remove the cheesecloth, being careful not to spill anything into your new, beautiful jar of clear ghee. Let the hot liquid come to room temperature and then close the lid and place in the fridge for safekeeping. Ghee should keep in your fridge for up to two weeks, if you can manage not to use it all up before then. Good luck! 

whole 30-ing again

When Brett and I did the Whole 30 diet back in March, after returning from four weeks of gluttony (namely wine, cheese, dutch pancakes and croissants) in Europe (see also, Belgian beer), I really wasn't sure if I would be able to make it work. The first few days were agony, as my body detox'ed from sugar, booze, and of course, bread. 

What it did do, after a while, was change the way that I thought about what I ate. Bread no longer became a staple in our house, my stash of english muffins replaced by the very occasional loaf of focaccia from Bread by Us, or a loaf of Art Is In's garlic and rosemary sourdough. It became a treat. As did most other grains. Quinoa? Rarely. Chickpeas? Never. Dairy products? Except for cheese, which also became a decadent treat, it was out. I buy cream for other people's coffee, and that's pretty much it. Before the diet, these were staples of my everyday mostly-vegetarian diet, and all of a sudden, I just didn't need them any more. 

The truth was, I didn't need a lot of things. And those things mostly included sugar, grains, alcohol, legumes, and dairy. And since we finished the diet in April, having each lost a respectable amount of weight, we couldn't just go back to the way things were. Especially because we both felt amazing. 

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But, summer, it has a way with twisting your arm. Gelato here and there, afternoon beers on the porch, carb-loading for long bike rides, family visits. Add them all up and we're ready for a bit of a break again. The last time we did this diet, the number one question I was asked was "BUT WHAT DO YOU EAT?!" I thought I'd start by keeping track of what fills ours meals and snacks for a change. We started our second whole 30 yesterday, so here goes nothing. 

Breakfast

Usually some combination of the following + coffee:

  • 1 cup of papaya chunks, 1 banana, 1 medjool date
  • apple slices with pecan butter (recipe courtesy of Cookie & Kate)
  • scrambled or fried eggs with an avocado. sometimes sausage or bacon. 
  • sliced pineapple with whipped coconut cream
  • hardboiled egg + a cup of soup
  • homemade applesauce
  • fresh berries
  • KIND fruit + nut bar (in a desperate "gotta run to this meeting!" kind of pinch)

Lunch

Sometimes leftovers, sometimes one of these or a combination of a couple:

Dinner

While it can sometimes get a bit challenging, so far we've eaten great dinners. These are just a few. 

  • roasted potato, (no sugar) bacon, and scallion frittata (2 wedges)
  • spicy green beans with garlic, ginger, green onions and sriracha (based loosely on this recipe but Whole30 compliant)
  • thai red curry with vegetables (broccoli, snap peas, carrots and red peppers)
  • homemade aloo gobi
  • pulled slow-roasted pork "tacos" with romaine lettuce shells, red cabbage slaw, quick pickled red onions and homemade guacamole (avocado + lime)
  • roasted chicken + salad
  • oven-roasted vegetables
  • curried butternut squash soup with crispy brussels sprout chips
  • kale salad with apples, radishes and walnuts

Snacks

I feel no guilt at all about snacking on this diet! 

  • a handful of carrot sticks
  • a clementine orange
  • medjool dates + dried calmyra figs
  • a handful of toasted pecans
  • homemade applesauce
  • spoonful of pecan butter
  • sliced cucmbers + cherry tomatoes
  • half an avocado
  • a chunk of fresh coconut with pureed mango sauce
  • roasted cashews, mixed nuts, or almonds
  • grapes
  • pomegranate seeds
  • and so on

Update: We're two weeks in, and other than a couple of hiccups (we caved an ordered pizza and drank a bottle of wine on Friday night), the diet is great. The one thing I love about it is how clear my head feels - I feel smarter, more productive, and clear-headed, with or without my daily coffee. 

Weekend Reading - May 23rd

This week's round-up of things to read while you're waiting for Sunday's MTL > NYR game to start, or just lazing about in the sunshine this weekend. 

The Secret Life of an Obsessive AirBnB Host

We used AirBnB to find places to stay all the way through Europe in February, and while I can't recommend it enough, this article was a funny/insightful/terrifying glimpse into the world of hosts vs. guests. Is this what everyone is doing while we're sleeping in their borrowed bedrooms?

"Courtney asked if it was my first time, which snapped me from my daymare. “Uh, yeah. The Airbnb photographer was just here a few days ago,” I replied. She flashed a knowing smile and the sight of her exposed teeth raised my awareness of how clammy my hands were. First contact with a flesh-and-blood guest had unexpectedly triggered a blind-date fight-or-flight response." 

Twenty-Eight Feet: Life on a Little Wooden Boat

We had a long talk with friends in the woods this past weekend about life on boats. Not a read, but a must-watch if you've ever had a fondness for forts, adventures, and life on the water. Everybody should have their own Lizzy Belle and an adventure like this at least once.

Why Libraries Matter

This documentary really highlights the important role that libraries play in our cities. So important, and something we never really talk about. Libraries were such a big part of my life growing up, and they're an essential public service so often overlooked and undervalued.

The Los Angeles Review of Cups

Every new Chipotle "story cup" gets it's own thorough review.

"Chipotle anticipates that it will take about two minutes to read each of its new pieces (though I found some to be quite a bit meatier than others). This raises a further question: can Jonathan Safran Foer, or anyone, eat a Chipotle lunch in two minutes? Those burritos are the size of a person’s head! I do not believe it would be at all advisable to eat one even in four minutes (cup, bag.) Also, the idea of a two-minute reading experience seems suspiciously like another of The Man’s attempts to make employees feel guilty for doing anything but working every second of every day. The four-minute lunch! I can already see it coming. "

How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star

The Internet finally had the tools to feed us an endless buffet of fluff, chopping up real events to flashy — and sometimes false — moments that warped our cultural memory. The first star to stumble in front of the knives was the biggest actor in the world — and the one who'd tried the hardest not to trip.