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75 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars International spin on Paleo and gluten-free cooking
I think most people who own a lot of Paleo cookbooks (or have to sift through the growing number of Paleo cookbooks) would like to know the following things about this book that set it apart from the rest:

- The recipes are different. Not like a little different... like, vastly different from the other books. Russ takes on the role of being your culinary tour...
Published 11 months ago by Bill & Hayley

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Carby
It is a beautifully photographed book. The recipes are well laid out and easy to reproduce. From a paleo perspective it is not a purist tome. There is an abundance of "safe starches" which I don't subscribe to at this point. But if you are eating rice and potatoes this is a good choice.
Published 10 months ago by CherylB


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75 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars International spin on Paleo and gluten-free cooking, February 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
I think most people who own a lot of Paleo cookbooks (or have to sift through the growing number of Paleo cookbooks) would like to know the following things about this book that set it apart from the rest:

- The recipes are different. Not like a little different... like, vastly different from the other books. Russ takes on the role of being your culinary tour guide around the world. Each recipe is accompanied with a nice amount of background on the dish, as well as a little personal story when relevant. And while there are some exotic recipes in this book, there are also some familiar ones that are dead ringers. His pizza crust recipe is out of this world. My wife and I have made it two times this week. Okay... THREE.

- The ingredients are what I'd call "laid back Paleo." Russ's approach is more Perfect Health Diet slanted, which I actually tend to find sensible (another reviewer called it Sensible, and I agree). It is not a strict Paleo book, not do I believe is it intended to be. However, while there are dishes that include white rice, potatoes, and dairy - there is also an extensive substitution guide in the back of this book.

Some other general points about this book. It's beautiful, well organized, and nicely designed in what I would call a minimalist style. I like that. I like seeing design elements clearly on the page, adequate white space to leave notes if needed, and the beautiful photos accompany every recipe.

If you're interested in a Paleo book with a laid back, more culinary approach to Paleo cooking (and you aren't put off by some intermediate-level recipes), this is the book to get. Definitely!
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly the Book I Was Looking for, February 12, 2014
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
I have been following the Perfect Health Diet for about 10 months now and have been wondering if there ever would be a cookbook to support the diet. I have a few Paleo cookbooks but, as people have noted, those recipes tend to have very few complex carbs in them.

Interestingly, I found this cookbook a few days ago as I was doing some searches around the word "tapioca". (I was getting a bit tired of only eating rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and peas for my complex carbs, but didn't know of many tapioca recipes except for pudding.) I was sooo excited when I saw Paul Jaminet's name on the book, and noticed that there was still a day or two before it was released, so I immediately put in my order.

As others have noted, the cookbook has a beautiful presentation and photographs, with a supportive foreward by Paul Jaminet. I also loved the fact the author (Russ Crandall) wrote a bit about his personal journey towards eating well. At first I was a bit hesitant in reading it wondering if it would be "too long", and well boring, but I was pleasantly surprised. He has had some unique experiences in his life, and he does write about them in an engaging manner. Russ has an "everyday person" style to his writings which contrasts nicely to Paul's and his wife's more scientific style of writing. The Jaminet's style of writing was absolutely essential to the writing of the Perfect Health Diet as the whole point of the book was to show the diet was developed and based on scientific studies. However, there are a number of people (per comments on the Amazon reviews of the PHD book) that really struggled with some of what was written due to not being used to reading that type of book. Those individuals will probably find this book more comfortable to read.

Mr. Crandall has a slightly more relaxed take on dairy, which I was very glad to see. My ethnic heritage is primarily Northern European which has the lowest percentage of lactose intolerance, but one of the highest percentages of severe problems with wheat. I am the classic example of this--no one in my family has ever had problems with dairy (I was in the first generation not to grow up on a dairy farm on my father's side in at least 200 years), but I have Celiac's disease and have been gluten-free since the year 2000. So, an author who completely accepts dairy will always be my friend. :)
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What took me so long to try this amazing cookbook?, July 20, 2014
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
That was a rhetorical question. One I know the answer to. Carbs. Plain and simple a fear that this was a carby starch fest that wasn't "right for me". How many times have I said that and heard and seen it come from other low carbers.

So what made me try this book? A simple desire to add moderate amounts of starches back to my diet. I read The Perfect Health Diet, was impressed, realized it wasn't an all you can eat Las Vegas style buffet of carb goodness, and so I figured maybe this cookbook wasn't either. I was right.

What it is is an exceptionally well done book with beautifully styled pages full of food that not only looks delicious but tastes just as good. I consider myself a well traveled well read person and growing up in HI I cook a wide variety of dishes and cuisines. This book still challenges me with some delicious yet unfamiliar recipes. You may have to do some searching for certain ingredients, galangal how you elude me!!, but the internet casts a wide net and almost nothing impossible to find. There are the familiar too, of course, like Shepherd's Pie, Clam Chowder, Salisbury Steak, Fried Chicken, but I urge you to not flip past the Nabemono, Lomi Lomi Salmon, or the Gamjatang. While some recipes may stretch your palette and culinary repertoire, none of them are excessively difficult, fussy, or tedious.

Safe Starches (starches that are low in plant toxins) are fairly represented in this book and I urge everyone to give them a fair try in the name of not demonizing real foods and eating from as wide a variety of foods as possible. Still, for those who must or simply wish to remain low carb there are plenty of easy substitutions like cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, etc. Or you can do half mashed potatoes half mashed cauliflower. Basmati rice is easy to mix with cauliflower rice and makes a delicious lower carb fried rice. My point is don't let a fear of "carbs" stop you from experiencing this culinary masterpiece.

For the past month I've been cooking my way through this book and am loving it! So lets get to the important part...how'd the food taste?

Basic Red Sauce: This is an easy and versatile marinara that goes well with a huge variety of dishes. I've used it with zucchini noodles, on a baked potato with ground beef/sausage mix, over chicken breasts, and baked eggs in it. It's deeply flavored but light and fresh tasting without the excessive heaviness that some sauce recipes can have.

Teriyaki Sauce: I'm from HI and I hate Teriyaki. Or at least I thought I did. I find most of it too sweet and obnoxiously salty. Not this one. It's complex with just the right amount of flavoring. I've had it on grilled chicken, korean style ribs, and pork chops.

Beet Salad: This is really beet, carrot, and potato salad but that's kind of long for a title I guess. Whatever, it's delicious and a dish that is going into regular rotation around here. The earthy sweetness of the beets and carrots combined with the creamy starchiness of potatoes mixed with the tang of pickles is a genius combination.

Saag Paneer: Dairy is something I usually do without, save for butter and ghee, but I readily broke that rule for this dish. And have zero regrets. In fact, I'm going to break it again soon. The flavors are amazing, authentic, and it was actually easy. Even making the cheese from scratch. I couldn't find black mustard seeds in time and so used regular old yellow ones. I'm not sure how much a flavor difference that made but it was delicious nonetheless.

Various ways to make rice: OK this was one part that I found excessively tedious and complicated. Being from HI I grew up on sticky asian style rices and had only had Basmati in Indian restaurants. A rice cooker is the best way to cook rice but I've gotten really good at doing on a stove in a pot with some water. I followed the directions for steamed Basmati Rice and compared it to rice cooked on the stove. I couldn't tell the difference honestly. So next time I will forgo the soaking, lining a pot with coconut oil, sliced potatoes, and carefully forming the rice into a conical shape and just cook it "normally". I do agree that sticky rice should be soaked but I found the directions in the book too complicated otherwise and just go low and slow in a pot with some water. I encourage everyone, no matter how you cook it, to eat some sticky rice with mango drizzled with coconut milk. Amazing.

Colcannon: Mmmm comfort in a skillet. And with healthy greens! Add and egg or two and it's a delicious filling breakfast. I don't know what kind of sausage is authentic but I've tried with several and it's all good.

Tostones: The hardest part about this dish is finding plantains green enough. Incidentally riper plantains make this nice and desserty with a drizzle of honey and toasted coconut. Green plantains make a starchy crispy side dish that is addicting.

Pizza Dough: I'm only reviewing the dough because I used it as more of a flat bread with pancetta, figs, arugula, and olive oil, and balsamic. I figured the cheese in the dough was as dairy as I felt like going for that meal. It was amazing. and really easy. The recipe makes 2 balls of dough so the other is in my freezer waiting for the next splurge.

Salisbury Steak: So good. Comfort beefy goodness that is quick and easy to put together. Even on a weeknight. This was a big hit with the guys.

Japanese Beef Curry: Words cannot express how delicious this dish is. Having lived in Japan I can tell you this is absolutely authentic tasting. Like what you'd get at any of the many side street snack shops over there. This is the curry of my childhood. I make curry all the time and it never tastes like what I remember. Silly me for not thinking "Oh maybe Indian vs Japanese style curries are slightly different???" Duh, right? I will say that when I first tasted this it was just OK. The applesauce was even a bit overwhelming. I put it away not thinking much of it. The next day it turned into sheer ambrosia. And it was good to the last drop. Hands down, best recipe in the book!

Loco Moco: Hawaiian comfort food at it's finest. Which reminds me all of his gravies are simple and delicious tasting.

Beef Rendang: This one was just OK to me. I'll eventually make it one more time since the internet seems to rave about it and maybe I missed something but as of now I'm just "meh" about it. The only recipe I've tried that hasn't blown my socks off, BTW.

Shashlik: Yummy bbq lamb skewers. The marinade is amazing and really tones down the gamey "lambness" that can turn some people off this delicious meat.

Gamjatang: This recipe took some diligent searching for perilla leaves, korean red pepper powder (I hope I got the right stuff there), and perilla seed powder but eventually I found both and am glad I did. It's a delicious comforting pork neck stew with a satisfying boiled potato to add some oompf and staying power. It's getting way too hot for soups but I look forward to this again in the fall.

Lechon Asado: OMG good! Cuban marinated pork that is cooked low and slow on the bbq. And I mean really low and really slow. It's totally worth it. The flavor is unbelievable.

Southern Fried Chicken: Such a treat. Only my Tennesee born grandmother's is better. Sorry, it had to be said. Still this is delicious and completely worth the pain in the butt that I find frying to be in general.

Fish Pie: While cooking this "this is going to be bland" kept going through my head. How wrong I was. Such a simple preparation gives something so completely mouthwatering. This was my first ever fish pie and definitely not my last. I will say that it didn't make great leftovers, however. If you can eat it all within a day or two, it would be best, IMO.

Nabemono: OK, not gonna lie. The picture is a little intimidating looking. Get over that, scrounge around for the ingredients, and make this Japanese hot pot soup. It's worth it!! I couldn't find any fish cake I wanted to eat so I left it out. This broth is so good and makes really good leftovers too. It's also versatile and can be made to fit almost anyone's tastes.

Almond Panna Cotta: I don't like almond milk so used cashew/macadamia milk. It made a delicious light guilt free dessert.

Birthday Cake: Wow! I wasn't expecting something so delicious. I think the combination of chestnut flour and coconut sugar gave this cake it's deeply sweet, nutty, mollassesy taste. Combine that with a Maple Butter Cream frosting? Out of this world delicious. The best thing is that it's so deeply satisfying you can enjoy a small slice without wanting to dive into the rest of the cake. While I have no intentions of saving this for birthdays only, making this for company will ensure that sentiment is never tested, however. ;)

I have so many more recipes to try from this book and it will keep me happily occupied trying new things and revisiting favorites. My only regret is that I waited so long to buy this cookbook. This earns an easy five stars and shot up to a place within my 5-8 favorite cookbooks...and I have a lot of cookbooks.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is useless, November 4, 2014
This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
This review is a quick FYI not on the content itself, but the kindle edition. Other reviewers have thoroughly covered the content of this cookbook, and I agree with the positive reviews.

However, the formatting for the kindle edition is beyond terrible, to the point that I haven't used the cookbook nearly as much as I would like. The images are randomly at the end of recipes, the text is choppy, and the book extremely cumbersome to navigate through. It's frustrating to waste money on duplicate content, but I am most likely going to bite the bullet and order the hard copy, too, just so I can actually use and enjoy this book.

If you are interested in this cookbook, don't bother trying to save money on the kindle edition. It isn't worth it.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SENSIBLE modern approach to healthful cuisine…., February 11, 2014
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
This is more than a cookbook. It's a labor of love.

- For over a year, I've been following the food blog of The Domestic Man (aka- author Russ Crandall), wherein he provides hearty, satiating recipes which won't leave you feeling deprived …and, now I'm beyond thrilled to have my own copy of his first cookbook! The author does more than merely present delicious meal ideas. He includes instructive sections on nutritional requirements (not the old food pyramid), modern challenges to finding healthy food options (even at the grocery store), and kitchen tools and techniques (not assuming that every reader is a seasoned chef).

- Each mouthwatering recipe is accompanied by a full-color photo -- which is the first thing I demand in any cookbook (I want to know what the finished dish is supposed to look like). It gives me confidence knowing that my finished product can look nearly like that in the cookbook, because each photo is the REAL finished product (not some plastic mock-up; not professionally arranged by a hired food designer). The photographs weren't taken by career food photographers (nope, Russ and his wife did it themselves). There are also helpful drawings included on some pages.

- The recipe instructions are clearly written, descriptive, and easy to follow -- not assuming anything of the reader. Substitutions are even included for hard-to-find foods and individual preferences.

- These are authentic dishes from a vast array of cultures and tastes, representing a number of ethnic regions. More than single item recipes, there are entire meal ideas (including sauces, sides, and desserts). My palate never gets bored!

- Author Russ Crandall takes a non-fanatical approach to what is commonly referred to as the Paleo Diet. He bravely tells his personal story in the pages of this book, demonstrating his motivation, passion, and concern for others through the presentation of his collection of art-like culinary creations. I can’t say enough about how amazed I am with this beautiful book and the man behind it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is the how-to for those who want to follow an ancestral diet., June 5, 2014
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
I wanted to wait a couple months before I reviewed the book, so I had a chance to try out some of the recipes more than once. By now a dozen of these recipes have become favorites in my kitchen, making it the most used cookbook of any type I have ever purchased.

Before purchasing The Ancestral Table, I had read books and sites explaining the theory underlying nutrition and disease, and how our bodies react to the food we consume. As a scientist I was curious and appreciated the background information, but it was time to put it to practice. The difficulty was that you can't simply go to the corner store and buy a prepared meal without grains, oils or other ingredients on the "banned" list. Likewise for restaurants. You're stuck with buying basic, healthy ingredients and doing it in your kitchen. Except I knew only how to bake, and I was useless for preparing a dinner from simple ingredients unless you asked me to grill hamburgers or barbeque chicken. That was around the time I found and ordered Russ Crandall's new book.

So I set about to learn basic cooking. I found the instructions throughout the book are simple to follow, the ingredients generally easy to find, and the results are delicious, every recipe came out anywhere from good to excellent. Keep in mind I'm feeding a family of 4, and my two teenagers do not adhere to this or any other diet. But I found recipes in this book that caused them to clean their plates at dinnertime.

My first attempt was the garlic mashed potatoes. Don't laugh--with only potatoes, dairy, garlic and oil, surely we don't need a book to make these? But I had never tried (aside from simple mashed potatoes) especially by starting with roasting my own head of garlic. And it was fabulous. My teenage daughter, the pickiest eater in my family, declared them the best potatoes she'd ever had.

I moved on the try the teriyaki chicken, beef stew, jerk pork, and red sauce (served with rice pasta). The results of each tasted fresh and delicious. I never had the feeling I was giving anything up with a restricted diet--the dinners we made were full of flavor and very enjoyable when served with basic vegetables such as green beans or asparagus, and white rice, sweet potatoes or white potatoes.

Then there's the famous pizza recipe, featured on the cover. Yes, some will say pizza is not "Paleo" and has no business on the cover of a cookbook such as this. But we don't follow a strict Paleo diet--we do consume dairy--and I felt one key to a successful diet is to not feel as though we are dieting. That means sometimes we have fun with our meals, and we don't give up our pleasure foods like pizza. For the pizza sauce I use the red sauce recipe from the same book, and prepare the crust exactly as described. I would never have thought of making pizza dough with tapioca flour--but the tapioca makes the dough easy knead and stretch and perfect for shaping into a pizza crust. The cheese and herbs lend amazing flavor to such a simple recipe without the use of any sweeteners. Plus, this is pizza, and we can top it with whatever we enjoy or whatever we have on hand--onions, peppers, pineapple, ham, pepperoni, sausage, artichoke, anchovies, anything. It's a great excuse to have fun, and we loved the result! My teenage son actually said it's the best pizza he's tasted. This is a new treat we try to prepare at least once every couple weeks. And it adds fun to the diet, which gives me encouragement to continue, and helps my teenage children to take their own interest in cooking with basic ingredients and preparing meals in the kitchen. All good outcomes, while sacrificing nothing.

In summary, this book gave me the confidence that we could eat a healthy diet and continue preparing our own meals indefinitely. I also follow thedomesticman.com where Russ publishes new recipes each week. Hopefully someday he'll pick from the best of these to write a new cookbook!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We want to eat at The Domestic Man's Table every day, all day., February 11, 2014
This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
Ever since we first found his blog, I've been telling anyone who will listen that the most talented cook in all of ancestral health is most certainly Russ Crandall, The Domestic Man. You ever have a hobby or a skill that you were pretty confident about and truly thought you were good at it, up until you met someone so outrageously talented that you wanted to quit because you'll never be as good as him or her? Well, that's how I feel about Russ sometimes when I see him invent Bourbon and Cider Braised Bacon or when he makes something as simple as Steamed Littleneck Clams look as good as he does. To call me envious of Russ would be an understatement. The Ancestral Table became our most anticipated book of the season (if not year).

When Russ asked us to test some recipes out for him while he was writing the book, we enthusiastically agreed. And we have to say that this was not a chore at all and we absolutely loved each and every dish we tried! At the time we tested these recipes, it's important to note, that Stacy was eating a pretty strict autoimmune protocol version of paleo. Knowing Russ follow's a personal paleo version that looks similar to The Perfect Health Diet or Personal Paleo Code (with dairy and starch) we were worried the list of items to choose from would be small from The Ancestral Table. Oh boy were we wrong! Going through the list of recipes for testing Stacy couldn't stop adding recipes, most of which were completely fine for her to eat, even on autoimmune paleo protocol.

So, where some reviews may tell you that this book contains too much starch and dairy to be called paleo, I call their bluff. As we lifelong-paleo-enthusiasts have found after years of eating from an ancestral approach, different foods work better or worse for different people. Having started heavily training in anticipation of an upcoming NOVA's Strongest Woman contest, Stacy has found that eating along the lines of Russ's approach works really well for her - whereas a year ago it would not have worked as well on our couch potato selves. The great news is, even if you don't want to reintroduce these types of "not strict paleo" foods into your diet, Russ has created a fantastic conversion chart for all of the recipes to be made paleo! And, unlike most of the other paleo books on the market - Russ does a fantastic job of focusing his recipes on truly nutrient-dense, savory dishes that will train a palate to appreciation a broad variety of flavors without the need for sweeteners or treats... although admittedly, the few he did throw in all look absolutely amazing.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Carby, April 2, 2014
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
It is a beautifully photographed book. The recipes are well laid out and easy to reproduce. From a paleo perspective it is not a purist tome. There is an abundance of "safe starches" which I don't subscribe to at this point. But if you are eating rice and potatoes this is a good choice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recipes are good, but some are more "fancy" than I'd like, April 6, 2014
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Amazon Customer "smplocher" (NEW ULM, MN, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
I don't make fish with heads on them, I don't do fancy cooking. I love good tasting food, but am much more interested in quick meals with regular ingredients than in something I'd only do once in awhile (or never). Now this cookbook isn't ALL fancy stuff - and the recipes I have done have been easy and VERY tasty. This is a cookbook I will go to when I need a recipe that is reliably delish so I give it easily 4 stars - 5 for taste for sure. The 4 stars is because it probably won't be the first cookbook I go to when I need something fast and easy. PLEASE don't hesitate to look at and even get this cookbook. You will NEVER have to worry about the taste or presentation of these recipes. I also love that he includes rice and potatoes. While we don't eat these all the time, once in a while it's nice to see that they are included here. With Mark Sisson's talks about Resistant Starches, we are beginning to see that there might be a place for cooked and cooled things like potatoes and rice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great cookbook for every kitchen, March 1, 2014
This review is from: The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle (Paperback)
The vast number of recipes really is impressive as well as the variety of them. Even though the recipes are from different parts of the world, they somehow suit together very well. This is a great basic cook book for any kitchen as it also contains basic traditional recipes from scratch for mayo, broth, gravy, sauces, ferments etc. I like it that the recipes are just basic foods, not typical paleo foods.

The book is based on the Perfect Health Diet and the recipes contain also foods not everyone chooses to include in paleo diet like rice, potatoes and dairy. It felt tricky to me first as it contains a lot of ingredients I don't eat but I noticed in the appendix there is a substitution chart for those who prefer not to use those ingredients though. Russ Crandall has also published a chart for people following autoimmune protocol on his website so it really serves all kinds of diets. If the substitutions where next to the recipe it would be even better but I am used to coming up with substitutions myself too so it is not really a problem.

I like the aspect of giving respect to the old traditional recipes and cooking food without rush, properly from scratch. It is a nice book to just read in the bed in the evening too and dream of good food.
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The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle
The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle by Russ Crandall (Paperback - February 11, 2014)
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