Monthly Archives: March 2010

Sustainable Eating #5: Fever for the Flava

2010 Continues!

A lot of exciting things are supposed to happen this year.  If Arthur C. Clarke is right, this is the year that Jupiter will turn into a sun thanks to Roy Schneider.  We’re 2 years away from the Mayan (Aztec?) apocalypse.  Yep, this is an exciting time to be alive!

In all seriousness, while 2010 is a year of great opportunity, it’s also one of great challenge with the glocal economy still on shaky footing, joblessness soaring acros the world, and some very credible evidence that the environment is getting more and more unstable.  Fixing the environment is a big job, but it’s not so big if we all pitch in.  That’s why Caitlin from Roaming Tales and I are doing this series on sustainable eating: so everyone can make informed decisions about food and the food supply. 

A few tidbits from my weekend:

  • We ate at a restaurant that specializes in serving food from local producers who don’t use a lot of hormones and additivies.  (
  • It looks like very soon there’s going to be  a Slow Food meat tasting event in Kansas City that I might have something to do with.
  • At a farmers event at the Shawnee Farmers Expo (go to the one in Liberty, MO if you are available), we talked to a lot of meat producers who were growing food locally, sustainably and organically…aka “the right way.”

So I got to thinking about why I care about the right way and what, exactly, that means.  We’ll start by addressing the harder question first.  What is the right way?

The Right Way–Sustainable Eating

Well, as I stated before, I am an organic-avore, which is, as near as I can tell, a word I made up.   (I can hope, can’t I?)  Basically, what being an organic-avore means is that the most important thing when I go shopping is to find food that has been produced as naturally as possible.  That mean free ranges, no antibiotics, definitely no pumping the meat full of salt water to make it look nicer, etc., etc.  (That includes nice sharp blades to do the killing when it comes time to, you know, kill in a nice way.)

In general, I like the farms who can get as close to nature as possible and still provide the required level of food safety.  That’s not much of a trick these days if Whole Foods is any indiciation.  The good news, though, is that I am willing to pay for it.

Still, when I say the right way I’m not an organic-snob.  I’ll do natural.  I’ll do cage free.  I’ll even do antibotic or hormone free in a pinch.  Any of these can claim a share of being the “right way” and all are generally okay in my book.

Why I Care About Sustainable Eating

It’s all about the flavor.  Seriously.

Listen, I love the environment as much as the next guy.  I’m not really that hip to animals suffering unduly so that I can eat.  (In fact, the lingering vestiges of vegetarianism tend to creep up when I start thinking about that…)  But I probably would be writing a wholly different series on sustainable eating right now if it weren’t for Mrs. WellDone and her chicken experiment.

That experiment: chicken, salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil in a 350 degree oven until done.

The unsuspecting subject dupe: me. (Well, the me that once complained that organic chicken was at least a dollar more a pound and who would ever pay that??)  Without telling me ,she went to Whole Foods and brought home a pair of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and served them, never telling me what they were.

To this day I remember that being some of the best chicken I’ve ever had.

So why do I care about eating food done the right way?  Because I enjoy it more.  Maybe it’s the diet, maybe it’s the lack of bad stuff, and maybe it’s the love the growers and producers shower on the food, but food done the right way tastes better and that’s enough for me.

Sure, I feel like I am doing my part to help the environment and generally up my karma by treating God’s creatures right, but that all fades away when I’m in the kitchen whipping up something delicious.

So my challenge to you is that if you haven’t tried my wife’s experiment, do it.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell.  Even more than that, I also challenge you to compare a good “non-right way” chicken breast to a “right way” chicken breast and see if you can tell the difference.  I bet you can. 

Also, notice that I said a good non-right way chicken breast.  I was once told that there was no difference in flavor between high end chicken breasts and organic chicken breasts.  Perhaps that right.  My problem is that I can’t find any non-right way chicken that’s high end.

Just a thought.

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#MeatlessMonday Red Wine Braised Tofu and Seitan

323383133_77c05a0ea1_m… and we’re back with another #MeatlessMonday (and only one day late!)

#MeatlessMonday Red Wine Braised Tofu and Seitan

So I got this idea off the Meatless Monday newsletter, which dutifully hits my inbox every week and gives me all kinds of delicious meatless recipe ideas.  On this week’s menu is a recipe for tofu coq au vin, which is mind blowing.

Coq au vin is a traditional French cooking liquid made from wine, lemon juice, lardons (which somehow didn’t make it into the meatless version…), mushrooms and garlic.  This liquid is then used to add a world of flavor to tofu which has been hard seared.  Pretty cool and certainly something I’d never thought of to do. 

So, I was thinking, if tofu could be made coq au vin style, what else could we do with wine and tofy?  And from those ponderings comes today’s recipe.  Well, that and I like seitan.

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Hegan Thursday: Seitan Kebobs

Green and Red PeppersReady for man food with

Hegan Thursday Seitan Kebobs

So, you’re probably wondering what “Hegan Thursday” is.  Well, for the first time today, I was exposed to the term “hegan,” which is a man who has adopted the vegan lifestyle for health reasons.  Mrs. WellDone doesn’t care for the term, but I think it’s brilliant since there are far fewer male vegans than female.

Plus, I like hegan since it evokes all sorts of manliness and grunting and all that good stuff.  As far as I am concerned, if you’re going to go vegan, intense manliness is just a good a reason as any!!  (Second only to perhaps health benefits.)

Anyway, since I’m always devilishly trendy (or not, depending on your definition of trendy), I’m going to do my best to support all the hegans out there with man food done meatless.  Like today’s kebobs.

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Tribal Moose BBQ Meatballs

Tribal Moose BBQ SaucesWhen sent a bottle of Tribal Moose Cranberry BBQ Sauce, what can you do but make

BBQ Meatballs

Nothing, right?

Okay, I get it.  If this were Iron Chef, I’d probably not score too high in the inventiveness department, but I wanted BBQ meatballs and I had a great BBQ sauce.  Ergo, Tribal Moose BBQ Meatballs.

First thing’s first, what is Tribal Moose Cranberry BBQ Sauce?  Well, Tribal Moose is a company based out of Stayton, Oregon that specializes in producing cranberry based sauces like Cranberry BBQ sauce, Cranberry ketchup, Cranberry steak sauce, and spicy Cranberry steak sauce.

They sent me a bottle to try of their Cranberry BBQ sauce and I approached it like everything involving the word cranberry and not also involving the word “cocktail”:  apprehension.  I have found that in the range of cranberry culinary creations, there are basically two extremes: those that are really good and those that are really bad.  Since I am reviewing said product, you can guess where Tribal Moose fell.

Tribal Moose’s Cranberry BBQ didn’t have the sour, sometimes bitter taste, one often associates with non-cranberry-cocktail cranberry dishes.  In fact, I probably wouldn’t have even tasted cranberries if I hadn’t seen it on the label.  The sauce was sweet with a surprising depth, but it wasn’t fruity.  In the world of savory applications (which BBQ often is) that’s a plus in my book.

So on my meatballs the BBQ sauce went.

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#MeatlessMonday Spicy Vegetable Pilaf

Magalie L'Abbe's Poblano Peppers

Magalie L'Abbe's Poblano Peppers

From hunger comes inspiration like

#MeatlessMonday Spicy Vegetable Pilaf

So, as usual, it’s Monday, so happy #MeatlessMonday!!  Hopefully everyone is enjoying their weekly respite on meat.  Or maybe you’re just looking for something tasty for dinner… well look no further.

Anyway, this is a simple dinner that can be done with minimal prep and be ready in about 20 minutes of cook time.  All you have to do is chop up your selection of vegetables, saute them a bit in olive oil, then add some rice and broth.  Cover and come back in 20 minutes.  Boom, spicy vegetable pilaf.

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When Does the Fish Come In?

I Never Buy Fish Except on Tuesdays

We stopped by the grocery store after lunch to pick up some juice.  As trips to the store often go, our quick trip turned into an hour-long buying orgy as we suddently realized how badly we needed asparagus, broccoli, red bell peppers, and chicken.  Oddly, enough, all of these things were on sale.  Funny how that works out, huh?

Anyway, I have a hankering to poach some salmon and stopped by the fish counter to check the prices on fish.  Then I walked off without buying anything, much to the surprise of both my wife and the poor fishmonger who gave me sort of a funny look.

“Aren’t you going to buy anything?” Mrs. WellDone asked.

“Nope, fresh fish shipments come into Kansas City on Tuesdays.  That stuff has been sitting around for five days,” I replied.  (And truth be told, it kind of looked like it had been sitting around for a few days, but that’s another story.)

The Moral of the Story…

As you have doubtless read before, the ingredients make the dish.  To get the best possible dish, you need the best possible ingredients.  Or in other words, better fish, better fish.  Fish that has been sitting around either in the freezer or the fishmonger’s counter is pretty much never going to taste as fresh as fish bought the day it has been brought into the city.

So I urge you to find out what day(s) the seafood comes into your city and try to buy it and serve it on those days or perhaps the day after. 

How?  Just ask the fishmonger.  And be careful about how he/she answers.  You want to know the day the store got the fish, not when the store pulled it from the freezer or anything.  You can also ask local chefs.  That’s how I found out.

But I Live on the Coast!

I’ve heard that doesn’t matter.  Living all my life landlocked in the middle part of the country doesn’t exactly make me an expert in the fishing business on the coast, but as I understand it, the fish still goes from boat to processor to warehouse before ending up at the grocer.  Sure, coastal fish doesn’t have to travel as far to reach your shelves as it does mine (unless you are, say, buying Maine lobster in California or Pacific salmon in New York), but I am pretty sure the flow of fish to store doesn’t happen every day anywhere.

Bonus Tip when Buying Fish

One other thing.  No matter, where you live: central US or coastal US, beware fish where the the narrower end has been tucked under the wider.  That’s sometimes a fishmonger trick to hide fish that is drying out (and hence don’t buy it.)  Sometimes fishmongers fold the narrow end to make the fish look pretty, though, so what you want to do is ask to examine that part.

If the narrow end is dry, discolored, or smells fishy, change your menu plans.  Old fish tastes fishy.  You don’t want that.

Okay, get to eating fish and enjoy!


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Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil and Ghee

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut OilSo, when I first met the people from Tropical Traditions (troptraditions on Twitter), I assumed they were all about skin care products.  They were nice folks to talk to, but I really didn’t think our paths would cross in the world of food.  Then they put out a call to food bloggers asking if anyone wanted to cook with their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil.  I raised my hand, of course.  I mean, it was Gold Label, right?  So, they sent me a jar.  Which was nice of them.

Now, if you’re like me, the minute you opened up the package and saw that container of white gold, you could only be thinking one thing:


That’s right, Indian clarified butter.

Wait, what do you mean you don’t think about ghee when you are holding aloft a jar of coconut oil, Tropical Traditions or otherwise??  Well, what do you think of?  Hrmm?

Okay, let me explain.  Once upon a time, I was vegetarian and later vegan.  During that time, I ate a LOT of Indian food because it was delicious and because vegetarianism is prevalent in many parts of India.  As a cuisine, Indians has mastered the art of cooking without meat. 

However, I realized that as I was becoming vegan, I would have to deal with the fact that ghee is just not vegan because it’s made from milk.  Therefore, if I was to keep eating Indian food, I would need to do something about it.  So I went to my local Indian grocer and bought vegetarian (technically vegan) ghee.

And Vegetarian Ghee Is…?

Equal parts coconut oil and palm oil.

Now You Get It?

So ever since then, coconut oil has become synonymous with Indian food.  However, since I don’t run into palm oil a lot, I have learned to replace the palm oil with olive oil or, if I am cooking for people I am 900% sure aren’t allergic to peanuts, peanut oil.

So BlogWellDone vegetarian ghee is equal parts good quality coconut oil and olive oil.  And that’s what I use no matter what the recipe calls for because it’s just not nearly as heavy as your regular, garden variety butter-based ghee.  Plus, with all the spices in Indian food, it’s hard to taste the difference.

Is Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Ghee-Worthy?

Definitely.  I really liked how quickly it melted and the fact that it did not have a huge cocont flavor.  (I hope they don’t mind me saying that, but seriously it was very mild and have more of a clean taste than anything else.)  All in all, I found it to be a superior cooking oil and one I would definitely pay to use in my kitchen.

If you want to try it out for yourself, head over to the Tropical Traditions website and buy a jar.  You can also check out their range of other coconut-based products like skin care creams, cleaners, even a coconut oil cookbook so you can get more of the healthy oil in your diet.

Check it out and enjoy!


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#MeatlessMonday Cannelini Bean Pasta with Confit Tomatoes and Roasted Lemons

Cannelini Bean Pasta with Confit Tomato and Roasted Lemons

Cannelini Bean Pasta with Confit Tomato and Roasted Lemons

Phew, did you get all that, once again

Cannelini Bean Pasta with Confit Tomatoes and Roasted Lemons

So, this whole idea came from my friend Anne (that’s CookingWithAnne) who mentioned that her family loved pasta with cannelini beans, lemon, and basil.   (Her recipe is at And it got me thinking.

Yes, I know I really should have made her recipe because she’s a tremendous cook and mother and friend, but she mentioned the ingredients and my brain shot off in a million directions.  That one dish seemed like a great landing spot for several things I’ve been wanting to fix recently.  So, with all due respect to Anne, I had to go rogue and do my own. thang.  But still, I give her credit for being my recipe muse on this one.

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Greensbury Market Steak and Sriracha Steak Wraps

Greensbury LogoA while back I mentioned that Greensbury Market sent me some delicious chicken breasts and strip steaks.  In that earlier post, I gave a recipe for Naked Buffalo Strips (don’t worry, it’s family friendly) and talked about Greensbury Market’s mission of getting to know the people who produce the meat they sell and ensuring they are doing things the right way.  It’s a mission I heavily endorse.

With that said, I think it only fair that I tell everyone what I did with strip steak they sent me.  With those beauties I made

Sriracha Steak Wraps with Mock Ceasar Salad

WrapBiatch 009That’s them to the right over there.  I don’t remember where I got the inspiration for this particular recipe, but I can tell you that it all came together when I decided I was going to audition for Gordon Ramsey’s Master Chef.  The instructions were very explicit for the audition.  I had to bring something premade that I could assemble in 5 minutes or less and serve.

Figuring that I would need to serve something room temperature, my first thought was salad.  Then I dismissed that out of hand because, well, it was salad.  Lucky for me,  I had the combination of steak + sriracha swimming around in my head.  That pretty quickly lead to steak wraps.  Figuring I needed something more than just steak, I tossed in the mock Caesar salad and the rest was Master Chef history.

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ChocoPod by Chuao Chocolatier

Spicy Maya Caddy PodCraving chocolate?  Looking to satisfy your cravings in less than 100 calories?

Mrs. WellDone is!!  (And me, too.)

That’s why I’m glad ChuaoChocoholic found me and offered me a promise: sweet tooth satisfaction in 100 calories or less.  I said prove it.  She said she would…as long as I shared with me wife.  I reluctantly agreed.  So a week later, a sampler of the many flavors of Chuao Chocolatier ChocoPods both appeared at my door and very quickly disappeared into my mouth.  (And, sadly Mrs. WellDone’s mouth, too.  I’m not so good with the whole sharing thing.)

In the pack they sent me, I got several varieties including:

  • Candela (spicy macademia nut praline)
  • Passion (passion fruit caramel)
  • Chinita Nibs (dark chocolate caramelized nibs and nutmeg)
  • Spicy Maya (dark chocolate, pasilla chile, and cayenne pepper)
  • Banana (banana, brown sugar and caramel)
  • Firecracker (dark chocolate, chipotle, salt, and popping candy)

… and many more.

So many more, in fact, we missed out on the whole 100 calorie advantage since, well, we had to try them all!  I mean, I would be remiss in my duty as a blogger if I didn’t, right?  Right?

ChocoPod – Excellent Flavor

What’s good about ChocoPod?  Well, the  ChocoPods are good!

Okay, that’s kind of a blanket statement, especially given all their flavors, but overall I was extremely impressed with the creativity that Chuao Chocolatier put into their ChocoPods.  Seriously: banana, brown sugar, and caramel with chocolate or chocolate chipotle, salt and pop rocks?  High marks for creativity across the board.

Did I like all the flavors?  Negative.  For instance, the Candela was just not my thing.  I got the spicy, but I wanted more praline.  The chocolate banana (my wife’s absolute favorite) was okay and I tend to not care for passion fruit anything.  However, the nutmeg in the Chinita nibs more than made up for all that.  (Have you had nutmeg and chocolate?  Seriously!!)  I also really liked the Spicy Maya, which was a very nice pairing of sweeter chilies and sweet chocolate.

Plain Chocolate From Chuao Chocolatier?

The one thing I didn’t get to try was Chuao chocolate all on its own because they didn’t send me any.  I’m not sure if they offer it.  So I guess that would be my one warning.  If you don’t like flavored chocolate, Chuao Chocolatier ChocoPods might not be the thing for you.

On the other hand, if you always wanted a chocolate pumpkin pie, or if you do like chocolate, try the Chinita Nibs.

Um, did I mention I liked the Chinita Nibs?

The 100 Calorie Promise

Okay, so this is my parting thought on the ChocoPod.  The flavors I liked, like I really liked, but they were small.  Maybe two inches each.  So they definitely weren’t any health bar that offers you a huge bar of brown that they say is “chocolate” and expect you to eat it because it’s healthy.  Frankly, that was what I was expecting and was  I pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get that.

However, does that mean that ChocoPods can end all chocolate cravings in just one pack?  Maybe if you nibble slowly.  If not, expect a nice 200-300 calorie snack and allow yourself two or three packages in one sitting.  I mean, they’re good, so enough you might as well enjoy, right!

Get Your Own ChocoPods!

If are ready to silence your cravings with your own ChocoPods, visit the Chuao Chocolatier website.  They are ridiculously affordable.  On the other hand, if you want to win some for yourself, leave a comment below and tell me your favorite 100 calorie snack or a snack you’d like to see cut down to 100 calories.  Maybe I’ll try to recreate it.  Make it hard, because I love a challenge.

I’ll pick one random winner next Friday (3/19) night and you will get your own sampler pack!

Get to commenting and enjoy!

(Image courtesy of

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