Our New Dog

Last Saturday, I became the owner of a 2-year-old Chihuahua named Max. Max was a rescue dog from the Humane Society; he was dropped off by an older woman who could no longer take care of him because of her health problems. Max is energetic, loving, timid, and very much an introvert. The first time we met, Max growled at me and was shaky when I gently tempted to pet him. He takes a lot of time getting use to people and I imagine the old lady didn’t socialize him very much. In all honesty, I wasn’t that excited to get a dog-I knew it would be a lot of money and work. However, Christina wanted a fur baby and I guess this scraggly-rat dog is what fit the bill. Max has grown on me this past week with our several bonding activities: me saying “go potty” five hundred times, trying to read with half his body laying on my book, yelling at him not to bark at every noise, teaching him tricks which he never performs, and incessant petting of his bony-chicken body.  They say dogs are like their owners-he likes tortilla chips and the couch like me-he is feisty, shy, and tiny like my wife. We had to stick with the name, Max, because his brain is the size of a pea and we can’t put the mental strain on him that requires an identity change. I think the most fitting name for him would be Kermit because his cuteness is tinged with a weird ugliness and he makes a frog noise whenever he wants something. After a week, I have slowly come to accept this little dog into my life and I think over time we will have a lot of fun together.

To further solidify my bond with Max, I did some Wikipedia research on the history of the mighty Chihuahua.

-Chihuahuas originated in Mexico and were companion dogs dating back to 300 BC.

-It was reported by Spanish Conquistadors, that the Aztecs raised little-nearly hairless dogs for food; many of which were found in the region later known as Chihuahua.

-There are two types of Chihuahua head shapes, apple head and dear head. The apple head variety is accepted for competitions and displays a shorter nose. The dear head is closer to the ancient variety of Chihuahua and resembles the head of a small fawn.

The final thing I learned, which I am still digesting, is that Chihuahuas have the longest lifespan of any dog breed, 12-20 years. So here is a toast, to a long life together with this ancient dog that was once raised for food…which I now call my friend.

The Asthmatic Boy who Became the Unstoppable Man Part 2

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Theodore Roosevelt is by far my favorite president. He lived an extraordinary life that in many ways transformed the world we live in today. Do you like National Parks? Thank Teddy. Do you like Wall Street regulations? Thank Teddy. Do you like food that is safe to eat? Thank Teddy. Do you like Teddy Bears? Thank Teddy. His accomplishments while in office were extensive and to completely understand his political mastery you should read Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris. I honestly did not know much about Teddy’s political accomplishments before reading this book. In high school, we were taught that he carried a big stick and was a imperialistic bully. That caricature is quite inaccurate and not even close to his level-headed-fair demeanor in domestic and foreign affairs.

William McKinley was assassinated in September 1901 which transferred the head office to Vice President Roosevelt. The funny thing was, none of the big business men wanted Roosevelt to be president and that is why he was given the worthless position of Vice President. They were afraid that he couldn’t be bought and that their extensive monopolies would be attacked. Roosevelt was not anti-industry but rather respected the need to give laborers more rights to maintain social order and the need to prevent monopolies from controlling prices. During his two terms, Teddy negotiated the end of a major coal strike, brought 40 anti-trust suits to court, broke up the biggest monopoly in the world-Standard Oil, negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese War, won the biggest popular vote landslide in 1904, established 5 national parks, purchased the land for the Panama Canal, proclaimed 18 national monuments, protected 150 National Forests, pushed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act, hosted the first black man for dinner in the White House, defended the Monroe Doctrine in Venezuala, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was able to accomplish all these things because he knew how work the media and befriend almost anyone he met. The “big stick bully” is not how he carried himself; when it came to decision making he took his time and always thought about every outcome with the highest degree of civility.

I really admire Teddy not only for his political accomplishments but his life outside the office. He was immune to discomfort and would be outdoors whenever possible-regardless of the conditions. Nature was his first love and he traveled throughout the US during his two terms hunting, camping, exploring, and vigorously exercising. Along with his love of the outdoors, he was an avid reader who could sit for hours immersed in books of all subjects. He could out smart, out hike, and out eat almost any man he encountered. Teddy’s life is an inspiration for my own life and sadly I am no where close to his manliness levels. I watch a lot of TV, I don’t like to go out in the rain, I need a noise-maker to sleep, I waste time online, and I hike with a walking stick to fend off small dogs. I strive to be more adventurous, more erudite, and more compromising like Teddy and I know it will take me a lifetime. My biggest obstacle to being more like my favorite president is TV; my goal is to watch less so that I can read more and spend  more time outdoors. Small steps must be taken to stand on the great shoulders of Theodore Roosevelt.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder

What better recipe to be the first on the Bohemian Caveman recipe page than the Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder. Pork shoulder or Boston Butt is one of my favorite pieces of meat because when cooked properly it is extremely tender and jam packed with flavor. You can cook pork shoulder in the oven or crockpot but those methods are weak sauce compared to slow smoking. BBQ joints always sell pulled pork (which comes from the pork shoulder) but I always feel like I don’t get my money’s worth. I want some fricking MEAT and I don’t want to spend 15 dollars for a little serving. Hence, I am going to show you how to cook your own pork monster and enjoy endless mouth watering servings at a fraction of the cost compared to the BBQ restaurants. Let’s start….

Ingredients:

8-10 LB Pork Shoulder aka Boston Butt
Marinade
2 Cups Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Vinegar
Rub
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Dry Mustard
1 Tbsp Coarsley Ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
Glaze
Your favorite bottle of BBQ sauce
Smoke
Apple or Mixed Hardwood Chips or Pellets
Equipment
Any outdoor smoker (I use a Masterbuilt 30-inch Electric Smoke with the A-MAZE-N pellet tray)
Meat Probe
Meat Injector
Aluminum Pan

Alright, you may be saying….”What the frick Jon, I don’t have all of these ingredients and obscure equipment!!!” Fair enough, but most of these ingredients are pantry staples and if you don’t have a smoker then you can slow cook the shoulder in the oven (it will obviously taste different).

  1. The Marinade: Dissolve Apple Juice, Kosher Salt, Brown Sugar and Vinegar in a saucepan (do not bring to boil). Once contents are dissolved remove from heat (see picture below). Take meat injector and inject pork shoulder with marinade every 1 square inch. *Just inject the meat hunk a million times until all that beautiful liquid is inside the shoulder* Place meat in aluminum pan and cover in refrigerator overnight.

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    The Marinade

  2. The Rub: The next day, remove marinated pork shoulder from refrigerator. Combine in a separate bowl the Cup Brown Sugar, Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Dry Mustard, Coarsely Ground Black Pepper, Kosher Salt and  Cayenne Pepper. Mix thoroughly with spoon and then generously rub all over pork shoulder (see pictures below).
  3. The Smoke: I am going to give directions for my electric smoker but these can be translated to any other cooking apparatus. Preheat to 250 degrees. Take A-MAZE-N pellet tray and fill with wood pellets (see below). Light pellets and get them smoking. Place pork butt in the smoker uncovered for 3 hours.

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    A-MAZE-N Pellet Tray with mixed hardwood pellets

  4. The Apple Juice: After smoking for 3 hours, remove pork shoulder and insert meat probe into thickest part (this can be done at the beginning of the smoke also). Place 1 cup of apple juice in the bottom of aluminum pan and cover pork shoulder with aluminum foil. Place back in smoker and continue cooking for approximately 6 hours or until the internal temp reaches 205 degrees. *You have to get the temp up to 205 degrees to properly breakdown the connective tissues and melt the collagen to make it tender*

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    My electric smoker that my beautiful wife bought me for Christmas

  5. The Glaze and the Feast: Remove shoulder from smoker and lightly coat with your favorite BBQ sauce. Place back in smoker uncovered for one hour with no heat. This is the resting phase which is essential to keep the meet extra moist. The glaze will harden and create a nice bark. After the hour wait, your brain will be ready to explode from excitement. Behold your creation for a couple minutes and give yourself a big high five. The first bite will feel like pork nirvana and you may hit unknown levels of ecstasy. Leftovers will be abundant so enjoy!!!

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    There she is! It was so delicious and we barely put a dent in it. We will have a lot of leftovers.

 

Bohemian Caveman

Today marks a new milestone in my life with a domain name that I can call my own…BohemianCaveman.com.

The goal of this website is to give you tools and knowledge to improve every dimension of health so that you can become the best version of yourself. 

So what the frick is a “Bohemian Caveman?” Well, the definition of Bohemian is as follows

a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.

This definition hit me in the stomach and I feel that my life closely aligns with this funny sounding word. In what ways am I Bohemian?

  1. I spend my free time writing book reports 
  2. I decided to live in one of the most dangerous cities in America (still alive and happy)
  3. I practice meditation and seek to understand my inner consciousness.

Of course, I have a long way to go in becoming a complete personification of the word but I think I have been slowly moving in the direction my entire life.

So what about the Caveman part?

  1. I am a man with a beard.
  2. I am a Registered Dietitian who adheres to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle.
  3. I exercise through functional movements: yoga, walking, weight lifting, and mountain biking.

So what the heck is this blog about? My goal is to make this blog about the improvement of our Mind, Body, and Soul. My previous readers experienced the Mind posts and those will continue into the future. I will post about food, exercise, meditation, yoga, religion, history, self-improvement, minimalism, and a whole host of material that fits into the Mind, Body, Soul categories.

Thank you for the support and let’s continue this awesome journey…

 

Thanksgiving and ISIS

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Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you all have recovered from your cornucopia of butter laden dishes. This year I cooked the Thanksgiving meal for my family-we all thoroughly enjoyed and needed to wear XL sweatpants after the feast. Christina, who weighs in at 100 pounds, didn’t stop eating for 36 hours and is currently experiencing after tastes of Pepto Bismol. Thanksgiving not only requires ridiculous amounts of food but also ridiculous amounts of humbleness. That humbleness is needed to appreciate all the blessings in our lives. Below I wanted to list 5 blessings that I am especially thankful for this year.

  1. I own a house and have a hammock witch I lay in every night when I read.
  2. Christina makes me laugh more then ever and I love the subtleties of her personality.
  3. My back, which I hurt last year from falling on ice, has finally healed.
  4. I have successfully blogged for a year and rediscovered my love for writing.
  5. My family is healthy as a whole.

I want to take this blog in new directions this coming year and I hope to incorporate more original posts which cover the mind, body, and spirit. Wisdom is the goal of my writing and I believe that true wisdom comes from a well-balanced life. With that said, future posts will be more diverse and encompass different dimensions of health: learning, fitness, relationships, spirituality, and food to list a few. Stay tuned and thank you for sticking with me. I am currently working on posts which touch on ISIS and Islam as a whole-in the hopes of understanding events that recently occurred in Paris. Give thanks this Thanksgiving and again I thank you for supporting my writing efforts.

-Jon

Hendrick Meijer: The Paradox of Thrifty Generosity

Do you have a favorite grocery store that you frequently visit? There are many different reasons to like a grocery store: price, cleanliness, food selection, location, fellow shoppers, familiarity, etc. My Mom loves “Hardings” because they play good music-even though they have awful food selection and people are regularly caught shopping lifting (the most recent story was of a woman running out of the store with a package of bacon concealed under her armpit). My favorite grocery store is Meijer (pronounced My-er) because it has low prices, great food variety, and a clean store. I try to avoid Kroger because it is a little dirty and Walmart is more circus then grocery store (I was there a couple days ago and witnessed a employee yelling at a customer for asking a question). I have gone to Meijer my entire life so I thought it would be good to learn more about its founder Hendrick Meijer in the book Thrifty Years: The Life of Hendrick Meijer by Hank Meijer.

Hendrick Meijer (1883-1963) was born in the Netherlands and lived a very hard life as a manual laborer during his teen years. The Netherlands did not allow for upward mobility and had strict class divisions between the rich and poor. Feigning the arduous labor of factory work, Meijer set sail for America to build a better life for himself. Hendrick settled in Holland, MI which was a Dutch town that emulated the piousness and tight-knit community of the old-world. For the next five years he did odd jobs in foundries but never found a niche that fit his dynamic personality. Eventually, he took up the trade of barber and found a stable job in Greenville, MI. Thereafter, his childhood sweetheart, who had been waiting 5 years for him to get a steady job, moved to America to be his wife. Meijer had two children and continued his barber profession until the Great Depression. At nearly 50 years old, the Great Depression took away most of Meijer’s clients and he needed to figure out some other form of income. He had an empty building and the advice he was given was to open up a grocery store-“everyone needs food, even in a Depression.” At that time however, the small town of Greenville had over 20 grocers with almost a 100% failure rate; as soon as one would fail someone would change the sign and open a new store. Meijer was different from the other grocers because he was honest, cut prices even while sacrificing profits, and cared for the customer above all else. His determination to offer the lowest prices and work 16 hour days, 7 days a week led to more customers and eventually several stores. When Meijer died in 1963 he had dozens of stores throughout west Michigan and a business that had millions of dollars of sales annually. Today, Meijer is privately owned with 213 stores, 72,200 employees, and 15 billion dollars in yearly revenue.

Hendrick Meijer is a very admirable man because of his character and generosity towards other people. When Meijer was running his first store he was the only grocer who accepted “taboo” food stamps from the downtrodden of the Great Depression. Meijer was obsessed with getting the lowest prices for his customers even if he didn’t make money on the sale; for most of his life his business was barely profitable because of this approach. He had three of his stores burn down and each time he said “we will rebuild” without flinching-living a creed that you can’t worry about the things outside of your control. He was a practical joker who loved to make people laugh and would always talk with his employees and customers as if they were his long-time friends. Meijer was a innovator who wasn’t afraid to fail and who made a whole new life for himself at the ripe age of 50. I learned a lot from Meijer and I think that his life has inspired me to live with more character and less worry about the future. I think many people struggle today because they try to figure out their life story before it happens. Emulate Meijer with his openness to change and his resilience in the face of life’s obstacles. My goal is to be less thrifty with my generosity and hopefully impact people positively just like Hendrick Meijer did throughout his entire life.

Racist Smells to Rising Empires

Which type of meat would you like in your Chop Suey…rat, cat, or dog? Is this an odd question that seems completely ridiculous? Unfortunately, the idea that Chinese people ate these dirty or taboo types of meat came about in the mid 1800’s. The first major influx of Chinese immigrants to the US was during the 1849 gold rush in California. These early immigrants were a source of cheap labor in three distinct industries: mining, personal servants, and laundry. The early Chinese immigrants were pigeonholed to these lower class jobs because of racism and a general sense of superiority by white Americans. The history of Chinese food in America begins in this setting of prejudice and is explored in detail in the book Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America by Yong Chen. The early Chinese immigrants were seen as barbaric propagators of disease and hence the myth came about that they ate the animal equivalent of themselves- sewer rats. Early Chinese food in America was also given negative press because the restaurants in the mid 1800’s had distinct unfamiliar smells. These smells were from the Chinese tobacco smoked and the unique spices used in cooking; unfortunately, white Americans associated them with dirtiness and race inferiority. This was the stigma that Chinese food had to battle against and it is truly amazing that today, Chinese food is the most popular ethnic cuisine in America. How the heck did this happen?

The negative stigma towards Chinese immigrants began to shift from dirty rats to great workers throughout the late 1800’s. Whites commonly employed Chinese men as house servants because they were extremely hard workers, attentive, and more than anything clean. As more immigrants moved into the US, “China Towns” were erected to give the isolated Chinese a community and sense of home. These exotic town centers propagated a large amount of Chinese restaurants that served authentic Chinese food. As time went on, the image of Chinese cleanliness along with a shift away from personal servants provided a huge source of ideal restaurant laborers; this created a surge of Chinese restaurants throughout the US in the early 1900’s. The restaurateurs quickly began to shift their menus from traditional delicacies like bird nest soup and shark fin to the more Americanized dishes like Chop Suey and Egg Foo Yong. Along with adjustments to America’s gastronomical tastes, Chinese food filled America’s imperialistic tastes-material abundance, expansion, and democracy.

Chinese food in the twentieth century met the demands of the growing empire of America by providing cheap labor, affordable food, and quick service. The ever expanding middle class flocked to restaurants because it was a symbol of wealth and social status. Chinese food was the perfect democratic fit for all races, classes, and economic demographics. African Americans, Jews, and those in their 20’s especially flocked to Chinese restaurants as a haven where they felt accepted (for the most part). Chinese food was the original McDonald’s that fed a rising nation and created the quick, cheap food culture that is ubiquitous in the 21st century. Today, Chinese restaurants continue to adapt to American tastes and are more popular than ever. The history of Chinese food in America is not just a story of food but rather the relationship between two empires. China’s cheap labor satisfied America’s mass consumer needs in nearly every sector of the economy. The next time you eat some Crab Rangoon or Sesame Chicken think about how much that seemingly unimportant food allowed you to drive an over sized SUV, live in an over sized house, and live the over sized American lifestyle.