I don’t think Matt and I can ever say enough, how important having a supportive social circle is to the success of raising your children. It was essential to have when we were the breastfeeding, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, homemade baby food weird hippie new parents and being encouraged to take an easier route by others. And it’s even more important now that our boys are older and able to recognize that many of the things we do are “different.” But we avoid the drama of all that by filling their lives with boisterous spinach-eating kids so they see different can be cool. These kids, their parents, and friends we meet at Paleo events are our community.
In the Paleo community we often talk about how civilization destroyed our diet and health by changing what we ate. What is never talked about, however, is how civilization destroyed the fabric that tied us together socially. Think about paleolithic societies and how different they are from modern societies. Generally, in tribal societies, large family groups of no more than 100 or so lived together communally. There was common sharing of everything from possessions to food.
The more developed our civilization became, the smaller the living structures could become and the smaller our tribes became. We built individual houses as well as social constructs of a “family” rather than a welcoming tribe. This allowed everyone to have privacy and their own little kingdom, but really it’s become more like building our own prisons to isolate ourselves from each other. In our culture, tribes have shrunk to the absolute minimum. Instead of living with all our aunts and uncles and cousins as well as parents and grandparents (which other cultures still do and we’re a wee jealous of), now it’s just our family of 5 – and Matt’s brother, the boys’ awesome Uncle in the basement, which people make a big deal about.
This isn’t what your genes want from you; it’s not how humans successfully evolved. Which is why it’s so important to reach out to anyone you can and make a genuine human connection. Talk to active parents when at the playground. Form your own meet-up group or attend the nearest existing one. Go to Paleo conventions and seminars. Talk to the people at your gym. If they’re into the same lifestyle as you, chances are you’ll have even more in common. Your human heritage is begging you for it, and your kids will thank you for it, too.
We too have had to find our own Paleo “tribe.” In fact, we went about overcoming our own innate territorial suspicion to make ourselves a new tribe on Sunday. We were happy to open our home and host a holiday Paleo potluck for our NoVa Meet-Up group as well as the DC Meat-Up group. What better way to win the hearts of new friends than through their stomachs? Matt and I made a bacon turkey with cabbage (ala The Bacon Chicken), some sweet treats, apple cider and our new favorite drink – the Chai Thai Tea.
Chai Thai Tea
This is the perfect make-ahead dish. Although you could rush it same day, we recommend doing this a day ahead. We call this Thai because we used to love Thai Tea when we ate out, and this is a close cousin that filled the void. With minimal sweeteners and maximum flavor, I highly recommend you try this!
8-10 bags of chai tea (we used Sweet Coconut Chai decaf by Celestial Seasonings)
2 14 oz cans of full fat canned coconut milk (we like this brand)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cloves
zest of one orange
2 Tbsp raw or creamed honey (we used this brand)
Optional: a dash of all spice
For the tea: Brew your tea by adding about half the pitcher of boiling water to the 8-10 bags of tea. This should be more than the recommended volume (about 50% more) of water for cold brewing instructions. Let steep for about a half hour, remove the tea bags (squeeze them to get out all their flavor!) and then fill the pitcher with water until full. Chill, overnight if you’re able.
For the milk syrup:
1. Over medium heat, add all ingredients except the honey. We actually zested the orange over the pot as the coconut milk simmered, that way we got all the flavorful and healthful oils too.
2. Once the milk comes to a soft boil, turn heat to medium low (right above a simmer) and cook for 40 minutes – or until thickened. We stirred ours every couple of minutes, and once the coconut milk started sticking to the whisk, we knew it would thicken in the fridge.
3. Remove from heat, set-aside and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
4. Once milk mixture is slightly cooled, stir in the two tablespoons of honey and transfer mixture to chill (overnight if possible). It needs at least a few hours to really thicken!
To serve, add ice to a cup then pour 2/3 full with iced tea. Add 1/3 coconut milk syrup and sprinkle with a dash of all-spice. Serves 8-12, although we poured small cups and got a bit more out of it than that.
Quickly after people arrived, the house was noisy with laughter (and children’s’ shrieks), filled with fragrant deliciousness and the Chai Thai Tea had long disappeared. I can’t even imagine how good it would be with a splash of spiced rum, too; I think I’m going to definitely try that for Christmas instead of eggnog this year! It’s like a vegan spiced eggnog, which our brothers will love! Not that it was the only delicious thing we had… goodness the food was fantastic!
We had an amazing yellow curry (which I sincerely hope Eileen guest blogs for you, because I want the recipe!), a jambalaya (Glenn needs to share his recipe too), a tongue taco platter, a veggie tray with a delicious red pepper aioli dip, dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with pecans, spinach egg muffins, sauerkraut with homemade sausage, and bacon wrapped duck fat turkey with cabbage cooked in the drippings. Then for dessert we had maple glazed pecans, blueberry pie, and a bunch of treats we had baked but are still in the “testing” phase and aren’t ready to share the recipes to (yet).
The kids got along fabulously. Except Wesley. He didn’t want to hang with the kids. He wanted to toddle around, eating scraps off the floor and to hang with Glenn. If a stranger is willing to get out his glasses and read you The Minority Report that you brought him off the bookshelf as a bedtime story, wouldn’t you want to snuggle in their lap all night too? Glenn’s no longer a stranger, he’s certainly part of our tribe now… and Wes is such a ham! He looks so big in these photos; I just refuse to believe he’s not a baby anymore!
It was so nice to be around people whom you innately have much in common with, and to be able to eat every single thing brought to a big potluck party without fear for upset tummies; so glad we’re able to participate in building community and finding our tribe!