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My Book Reading

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

The Night Trade - Barry Eisler (revew published)

The Woman in the Window - A.J. Finn - (review published; just get your hands on this and read it!)

The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews - (review published)

Into the Black Nowhere - Meg Gardiner - (review just published; superb)

Agent in Place - Mark Greaney (Gray Man thriller, review up)

The Saboteur - Paul Kix (review up)

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer (review published)

Operator Down - Brad Taylor (done, great book)

Robicheaux - James Lee Burke (in progress - outstanding, of course)

Podcast Favorites

Joe Rogan Experience #1058 Dec. 28 2017 . Nina Teicholz


Grass-Fed Beef from Church View Cattle Company

In my never-ending quest for optimal health and performance, grass-fed beef has been a priority. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer what is reputed to be high-quality ground beef, but their stores in Madison and Milwaukee are not in the neighborhood. Recently I purchased a few pounds of beef at Trader Joe’s, it’s great tasting, but at $6 per pound, not a good long-term choice for the household budget.

A couple of vendors at the Appleton Farmer’s Market sell grass-fed beef; again, both are in the $6/lb. range. One is bison, and I love the texture and flavor of buffalo, but the price is prohibitive for long-term purchasing. Anne and I simply eat too much meat to afford it.

Some members of Gold’s Gym told me about a cattle ranch in the area they say has been selling grass-fed beef for generations; in other words, they never went all grain-fed. I was curious and wanted to learn more, so I gave Mike Thiel at Church View Cattle Co. a call.

Turns out Thiel is the real deal, a friendly rancher who only a couple of minutes into the conversation invited us out to see the operation, watch the longhorn cattle munch on grassy pastures, and buy a small amount of meat if we wanted and give them a try. Mike was also upfront about Church View not raising 100% grass-fed steers; he gives each animal 5 pounds of corn daily. The remainder of their food, which of course is most of it, comes from grass. In Wisconsin the true grazing season is interrupted by harsh winter weather; the grass freezes, doesn’t grow, animals struggle, water freezes. So the reality is, some corn is introduced. I was impressed with Thiel’s forthrightness on the topic.

Visiting Church View is easy; they are on a farm site that’s fifth generation, homesteaded during the Civil War era. Most of it’s grassy rolling meadow; it’s nice to see steers with big horns in Wisconsin. Mike and Shirley Thiel are the friendliest of people (we didn’t meet Shirley, but I’ve talked with her on the phone). Theirs is a simple cattle operation, clean and organized. I felt comfortable there, and feel it’s important to get to know the people who raise the food we eat. Shaking Mike’s hand, looking him in the eye, sealed the deal.

One big advantage to buying from Church View Cattle Co., is that you do not have to invest in a quarter, side or entire steer. Yes, you can, and of course prices are lower this way, but at the ranch Mike has a retail operation with big freezers stocked with ground beef in one pound packages, roasts, and many different cuts of steak. Each is available to buy singly. This ranch is only a dozen or so miles outside of town, making periodic trips to buy meat logical.

A dozen pounds of ground beef, a roast and some steaks found their way into our cooler in the car, at about half the price we’ve paid anywhere else. Grass-fed beef affords the luxury of loading up on simply delicious quality meat at grocery store or lower prices; add omega-3 to your daily food input in a delicious manner. Isn’t eating beef a more engaging way to do this than swallowing gel caps or drinking tablespoons of fish oil?

Visit Mike and Shirley, take a walk in their fields, buy some great meat and enjoy!

Call ahead before you drive out there...

(photographs courtesy Mike Thiel; these are his steers on Church View land)


Church View Cattle Co.

Registered Texas Longhorns

W4933 Cty. Rd. G

Black Creek,  WI  54106



Paleo Comfort Foods by Charles & Julie Mayfield

In this age of grass-roots marketing, utilizing social media to get word out about a product or movement, the Mayfield’s should be awarded a prize of some sort. A day hasn’t gone by for weeks that I wasn’t alerted to the upcoming publication date of Paleo Comfort Foods, or didn’t read a review from someone with an advance copy. Perhaps it’s just that I’m all tied in to the Paleo - food - health - nutrition worlds, and use websites, Facebook and Twitter for most of my news, but damn, Julie and Charles are good! Or they have a hell of a lot of friends... Actually, I’ll put my money on both. 

It seems clear to me that Paleo Comfort Foods is such a fine cookbook, is executed so nicely, and squarely hits the market it’s targeted, everyone who received a review copy spent time with the book and wrote about it for publication. It’s been years since I’ve read reports from so many diverse writers praising the hell out of a cookbook. Or any book, for that matter, but a cookbook? What says more than that?

Calling Paleo Comfort Foods a cookbook somehow seems to be a disservice. Yes, Julie and Charles refer to it as such, but I think of this as a guide to eating really well, using real foods, with recipes I can actually pull off in my very basic kitchen. See, the these two people live the way most of us do: they’re freakin’ busy. They have jobs, they own and operate a Crossfit box, I’m guessing they workout more often than not, and hey, they cook enough that people such as Robb Wolf encouraged them to compile recipes and create this cookbook. 

But that’s not where the work ends. So while they’re hurtling through life (yeah, it’s Atlanta, the supposedly laid-back American South, but I don’t think so), the two of them have to decide upon recipes, think about their favorite dishes that probably never were written down, talk to friends and family, and come up with some type of (probably) huge listing of meals and food combos. Then, as if that’s not exhausting enough, they had to prepare all of them, eat ‘em, and determine which were good enough for the book. Oh, don’t forget that we all demand pretty photographs, too!

Charles and Julie did it; Paleo Comfort Foods is a huge book, 324 enamel-coated pages long, oversize trade paperback format softcover. The opening pages detail much of the equipment necessary for a good kitchen. This isn’t Julia Child, you don’t need to build an addition to your home, but logically food is much easier to prepare if you have the right materials at hand when you figure out what to do. I enjoyed this part of the book and think it’s clearly thought out and passed along to readers.

I’m actually not going to discuss the recipes themselves. Each left-hand page is a recipe; the facing page is a beauty of a photograph. I’m only beginning to get the book dirty in my kitchen, but pretty soon the pages will sport food stains. No cookbook collector would ever want to buy my accumulation of books, unless they ate at my house and are nostalgic. My cookbooks are used; they become tattered and conditioned. Paleo Comfort Foods is one of those cookbooks; it’s pulled up a chair and made itself comfortable in our home already, rarely spending any time on a bookshelf. It’s always in the kitchen somewhere.

In their introduction the authors talk plainly about how Paleo is a guide, not a religion, not a series of rules never to be broken. I so enjoy this attitude, living it myself. We all agree that gluten-free eating is logical and makes the most sense for the human body; where people stand on dairy, sugar and starchy carbs is a personal issue determined by many factors. At some point recipes need certain ingredients to make sense, and Charles and Julie at times make small concessions. They are fully aware, knowing it’s more important to make most of the changes needed most of the time to achieve the best health. 

I’m warm and fuzzy about Paleo Comfort Foods. After reading this book, I’m confident that if and when I meet the Mayfields in person somewhere, we’re going to enjoy each other’s company right away, and relax into a great meal together. What a testament to a cookbook.

 $29.95, Victory Belt Publishing,



Want 80 lbs. of grass-fed beef - for free?

Civilized Caveman Cooking wants the opportunity to give this away to you. That's right, 80 awesome pounds of steaks, roasts and ground beef, all grass-fed and finished. Please take a few minutes and head to their website and Facebook page and get yourself entered in this amazing beef sweepstakes.

They are giving away:

20 lb ground beef
5 lb beef stew meat
12lb chuck (both steaks and roasts)
3lb short ribs
4lb shoulder clod roast
3lb 7bone roast 
4-6 rib steaks
3lb rump roast
3-4lb swiss steak
6lb round (steaks or london broil)
3lb sirloin tip roast
4-6 sirloin steaks
3-4 Tbone steaks

Is this incredible? It's for real, so get cracking and get involved with these fine folks!


Trying Grass-Fed Whey Protein Shakes

Regular readers know I'm a lifetime consumer of whey protein shakes, about since the dawn of modern bodybuilding. For meals, for pre-and post-workout needs, on ice cream, at my mother-in-law's house; in my lifetime I'm confident I've put thousands upon thousands of blenderized combinations based around whey down my gullet. But now the rules have changed; my Paleo life includes as few shakes as meal replacements as possible.

Robb Wolf consistently states that drinking meals keeps bodyfat hanging on the body. Following his advice and as much as possible only eating real food, I've lost about 22 pounds of bodyfat in nine Paleo/Crossfit months, beginning at a decently lean, 12-14% bodyfat strength-training-oriented fitness level. I've been aided in my meal-planning changes because my job as a personal trainer opens up in the summer. I have more breaks to eat meals in rather than having to gulp a shake between clients.

My bodyfat is now 8-9%; with four abs visible. Bodyweight is down to an adult-low 180 lbs., fitness at what might be an all-time high, strength still good even after losing so much weight. The magical Paleo/Crossfit combination, plus my inescapable curiosity and urge to constantly learn more about nutrition as applied to fitness, has enabled me to approach my 57th birthday in the best shape of my life.

Now it's fall. Business at the gym is heating up so my schedule is becoming more packed. All my meals travel with me daily to the gym, including pre-and post-workout Progenex shakes. As much as possible I want to remain Paleo, yet enhance the results of my workouts. So I'm going to experiment with two brands of grass-fed whey protein products, see how they feel and help (hopefully), and report on my results.

My initial experiments on a daily basis are going to be with StrongerFasterHealthier's Daily Balance Whey Protein, and All-Pro Science's Complete 100% grass-fed Whey. Hopefully I'm going to get some Jay Robb grass-fed protein to try as well; I'm working on it and hope they want to compete with these two. I have both chocolate and vanilla from StrongerFasterHealthier; All-Pro sent me French Vanilla. Before I open the canisters, label comparisons are interesting.

The French Vanilla protein contains only three grams of carbs, made up of sugars (apple pectin, Stevia Suave). All-Pro's protein is gluten-free, of course. SFH's chocolate has 2.7 grams of "low G.I. carbs" (cherries), 2.7 grams of "natural chocolate", 0.2 grams Stevia, and 0.3 grams sugar. Sounds like a lot of sugars and carbs when it's all added up, doesn't it? SFH states on their labels their protein is derived from grass fed, free-range animals, with no hormones, soy lecithin, gluten or added carbs.

Beginning tomorrow I'll blenderize one or two meals daily using these products; I'll add no fruit or anything else. No Fiberlyze, no BCAA powder, no fresh blueberries. *Sigh* Filtered water and powder. Some days I'll merely add the powders to water in a Blender Bottle; other days I'll whip them in the blender. My reporting will encompass taste, mixability, smell, and texture. I'll compare retail costs. In my experience, no matter what scientific analysis says about a protein powder, if the flavor sucks or it sticks to the sides of the blender or shaker, people won't use it. And what value is it if it's in the cupboard? This is real world, non-scientific, tested in the gym, the Crossfit box, and my kitchen.


Coconut Milk Protein Shakes

I don't know why using coconut milk in shakes didn't occur to me before reading Richard Nikoley discuss it in his wonderful Free The Animal blog. Considering I've consumed many thousands of shakes either as meals, or around my workouts, over the decades (I go all the way back to Bob Hoffman's horrid Protein From the Sea. A time when blenders barely could churn those early, clumpy protein powders. But I degress). Since evolving to Paleo-guy I've at times gone a week or two without a shake as a meal replacement, but as fall descends upon Wisconsin, and my schedule at Gold's Gym gets crowded, there are going to be times when that shake made at home is my only meal option.

I've dreaded this, as I used to utilize oatmeal, Fiberlyze, and flax seed in my shakes. Now I barely consume shakes as meal replacements (I still do just prior to and after my workouts - Progenex). I think Robb Wolf is correct when he talks about how liquid meals somehow promote bodyfat storage in a way that eating real food doesn't. 

Richard Nikoley gave his recipe at some point in his blog, I recently found it, and with some modofications, it's a new occasional favorite. I believe he has this for breakfast often; I enjoy my breakfast meal too much to have it be a shake, but in the afternoon when my appointments are one after the other, I can take a shake with me and use it as an opening to talk about nutrition with my client. Richard's recipe is as follows:

1 cup full fat coconut milk (he likes Native Forrest brand)

1/4 cup water

2 raw egg yolks (don't eat egg whites raw; cook them to destroy avidin, an anti-nutrient

1 scoopy whey protein (Richard uses vanilla Primal Fuel)

2/3 cup frozen berries

This is a great-tasting shake; I've made his formula and enjoy it.

Here's what I've begun making, and enjoying:

In a full blender (I make two meal/shakes at a time), dump a half can coconut milk (don't use a full can, as I did the first time, unless you want to relive pre-gluten-free gastointestinal distress), four scoops whey protein (I use Gaspari Myo-Fusion right now), a handful of fresh blueberries, and a tablespoon or two of almond butter. Blend away; makes two meals that carry in your little soft-side cooler nicely and fit into the fridge at work.

My research tells me that Native Forrest is one of only two brands of coconut milk that is sold in BPA-free cans.