So what did you do last Saturday? I had several dozen low carbers in my backyard! The Second Annual Low Carb Meet & Greet (Facebook photos by Eric Schmitz) was a smashing success, or at least I thought it was. (If you were there and you hated it, please let me know what didn’t work for you, but be kind.)
The genesis of this event is the simple fact that Jimmy Moore’s wife Christine has family in Bedford, Indiana, just a half-hour south of where I live in Bloomington. Jimmy and Christine come to Indiana every summer for a family reunion. When I learned this two years ago, I asked Jimmy and Christine up for lunch, and we had a very nice time. But last year, when I knew they were coming, it occurred to me – why not open the event up to low carbers in the general area? (Letting them decide what constituted the “general area,” with an eye to their own willingness to travel and their gas budget.) So we did, along with fellow low carb blogger Amy Dungan, and got about twenty people. CarbSmart sent food, including RW Garcia tortilla chips and Wingtime Wing Sauce. I bought a bunch of wings, and some other food, I forget what all else, and we had a nice get-together.
I also made use of last year’s Meet & Greet to take advantage of my guests by getting them to write down their impressions of Zevia and Blue Sky Free sodas. This was of great help to me, since I don’t like soda of any kind, and was therefore unsuited to write reviews myself.
This year, with the popularity of low carb once again growing like crazy, and all three of us, me, Jimmy, and Amy, having growing audiences, we were pretty sure we’d get more people, so we had to limit the group to 50 – and that’s about how many folks signed up. I didn’t count people as they arrived, no signing people in or anything – I was too busy running around getting food out and cooking and stuff! But I sure had a backyard full. We also asked a donation of $5 a head this year, to help defray the cost of food, and to help rent a canopy, since there were threats of rain.
We did not get rain! We got lovely, mostly sunny weather in the low 80s all day long; couldn’t have been better if we’d ordered it special for the occasion. And with the $5 per head donation, we were able to serve up some serious food! Let me see if I can remember it all:
- Ribs! I got up early on Saturday, and had spareribs smoking on the propane grill by 8 am. I coated them with the Amazing Rub from my barbecue book, and also used the rub to make a mopping sauce. (A few tablespoons of rub with about a cup of water or broth and a good 1/4 – 1/2 cup oil make a great mop.) These smoked at 225-250 degrees till about 1 pm, when they were utterly succulent and juicy, if I do say so myself. I’d had the butcher slice each slab lengthwise, so the individual rib bits would be easier to pick up and handle. This turned out to be a good idea; I’d do it again. CarbSmart sent along Nature’s Hollow sugar free barbecue sauce in Hickory Maple and Honey Mustard – the ribs were great as-is, but those who added sauce praised it. The ribs disappeared like ice on an August sidewalk.
- Chicken – Legs and thighs, ’cause they grill well. I marinated ten pounds of ’em in Greek Chicken marinade (olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper) and ten pounds in the Korean Grilled Chicken marinade from my barbecue book. We had chicken leftover – not, I think, because people didn’t like it, but because the ribs were ready first, and people had already stuffed themselves.
- Coleslaw – traditional creamy coleslaw, with a mayonnaise-and-sour cream-based dressing, recipe in 500 Low-Carb Recipes.
- Cauliflower, Bacon and Tomato Salad – this drew raves; also from 500 Low-Carb Recipes
- Homemade low carb crackers – Sunflower Cheddar, and Sunflower Parmesan, again from 500 Low-Carb Recipes. (You do have this book, don’t you?) Also Grace Island Cheese Crisps, sent by CarbSmart, the super-yummiest crunchy cheese treats you will ever find, in all the flavors (Asiago, Parmesan & Italian Herb, Romano & Black Pepper, Baby Swiss). If you haven’t tried these, you simply must.
- Herbert D. Focken’s Sweetened Jalapeno Bites, from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, served with pork rinds and whipped cream cheese. If you like hot stuff, you have to try these. Just dump the contents of a 15 or so ounce jar of sliced jalapenos into a mixing bowl, add 2/3 cup Splenda or its equivalent in the sweetener of your choice, stir, and pack back into the jar. Stick ’em in the fridge for a few days. Then spread whipped cream cheese on a pork rind, top with a couple of jalapeno slices, and stuff in your face. Fabulous!
- Crudites with crab dip
- Mixed imported olives from my favorite gourmet international grocery, Bloomington’s own Sahara Mart.
- Little dill pickles, just ’cause I like ’em.
- RW Garcia’s Flax Tortilla Chips, with salsa, again, courtesy of CarbSmart. They really do taste like tortilla chips, folks! They’re high enough in carbs that they’re a splurge for me, but they will absolutely satisfy a tortilla chip jones.
- Sweet-and-Salty Peanuts, from the soon-to-be-released expanded version of my slow cooker book.
- AriZona beverages in Pomegranate Green Tea, Peach Iced Tea, Iced Tea, and Lemonade, thanks to CarbSmart, plus plenty of bottled water to pour the little “stix” into. These are a very convenient form to carry in your purse or pocket.
- Zevia natural sugar-free soda in every possible flavor; this was HUGELY popular. There are a bunch of new flavors, including Grapefruit Citrus – similar to Fresca – Black Cherry, “Mountain Zevia” – like Mountain Dew – and Grape. Also the original flavors – Cola, Ginger Root Beer, Lemon Lime Twist, Orange, Dr. Zevia, Gingerale, and Cream Soda. There was a consensus that Zevia has improved the formula, the flavors are more intense; the soda-lovers were full of praise. Zevia was a sponsor of the event along with CarbSmart, and sent the soda gratis; they have the thanks of many thirsty low carbers! (And, I suspect, their future patronage.)
- La Croix sparkling water in various flavors.
- Plain sun tea, ’cause I like it.
- Homemade sugar-free, flourless chocolate chip cookies. Good, but not as good as the recipe at CarbSmart – my “almond meal” turned out to be mislabeled pecan meal, and the texture wasn’t as good as the almond meal version. Still didn’t hear any complaints! Made with Nevada Manna chocolate chips, of course!!
- CarbSmart sent Fla-Vor-Ice Light ice pops, too, but in the rush I totally forgot they were in the freezer! My apologies to all. Perhaps I could have some friends over for Labor Day weekend, and we could review the ice pops?
- Attendees brought stuff, too! Lots of fresh, ripe tomatoes, both cherry tomatoes and sliced, were popular. We also had macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, and pistachios. Who could ask for more?
I’d fill you in on activities, but really, we ate and we chatted, you know? Well, and I ran back and forth a lot, you know how it goes. A walk in my woods for those who wanted. Some admiration of our chickens, and much petting of Dexter, the World’s Cutest Pug, who was having a high old time. (Jed the Hero Dog got petting, too, but he’s not the attention hound that Dexter is.) Really, what more do you need? Good food, good company, lots of people who share your passion, and nobody to tell you you’re killing yourself with that crazy diet! I think it’s just great for the community to create friendships, cement ties, and to see that those of us who have made our passion for low carb nutrition our livelihood (or part of it) are just folks like them.
Jimmy and Christine stopped Thursday; Christine had missed the Meet & Greet due to a nasty cold, and wanted to see me before they left town. We agreed that this is now officially a tradition, so expect Low Carb Meet & Greet: The Feast In Dana’s Backyard the 2012 Edition! It’ll be next August; I’ll announce the date when I know. Be there or be square!
© 2011 by Dana Carpender. Used by permission of the author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.