Archives

Kitchen Projects Day

Saturday ended up being a big kitchen projects day for us this weekend. Hubby had a four day weekend and I had him all to myself all day on Saturday (except for the waiting time when he went off to play video games). So we made full use of it and did lots of projects.

First thing in the morning, though, we went out to the Pomona farmer’s market. Its a little one, but they have some good stuff. A couple produce stands, including one for Amy’s Farm, which is an adorable little farm down the road from us. We’ve been there a few times for produce, and they’ve always got some good stuff. I’ve thought about joining their CSA, but haven’t yet found myself to be reliable in getting their on a weekly basis. We started looking for farmer’s markets, because I’d like to find one where I can get pastured eggs (preferably organic-fed with no soy in the feed). Pomona was close to us, so the other weekend, we went to check it out. Its very small, but has some good stuff. Aside from the three veggie stands (one of which has fabulous organic strawberries!), there is also a fruit stand, a nursery dude, a bread stand, a snack stand (nuts and treats and stuff), a flower stand, a tamales stand, and another stand selling jewelry and whatnot.

Saturday when we went, we grabbed some general produce – onions, celery, zucchini, radishes, carrots, as well as strawberries. From the fruit stand, we grabbed a pound of cherries and some apples (biggest apples, but last of the season – boo). Also a couple things from the bread stand, which has excellent prices and interesting variations.

 

Brandied Cherries

The awesome thing was, the day before, we had been talking about maraschino cherries, and how terribly those are made, and how brandied cherries are so much better anyway and we could make our own. And then the fruit stand HAD CHERRIES! So we grabbed some. That was our first kitchen project of the day. So brandy and sugar went into a pot, and cherries got pitted. Once the brandy mix was cooled, it got poured over the cherries in a jar, and in about 4 weeks, we shall have a wonderful garnish for drinks.

Brandied Cherries :)

Brandied Cherries 🙂

 

Pickles

Next up on the list, I wanted to try making pickles. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE pickles, but hubby hates them. Like REALLY hates them. But he was kind enough to help me in my endeavors, and I greatly appreciate that. Now, most of the recipes I found for making pickles said to look for actual pickling cucumbers and preferably organic. What I was able to find was organic Persian cucumbers at Trader Joe’s. They looked to be a good size, so I went with those. We (hubby) cut them up into spears, and we added the spears, dill, peppercorns, garlic, and salt water to the jar. I also added a little veggie culture starter to give it a headstart, as well as two leaves from our grape vine, which is supposed to keep the pickles crunchy. Up into a cupboard the pickle jar went for 2 days. I tasted them yesterday to see where they were at, and I was happy with the flavor, the smell, and the crunchiness, so I stuck them in the fridge. Attempt #1 seems to be a success. So now I plan to make a couple more batches – one for father-in-law, one for a friend, and another one for me.

Dill pickles after bottling

Dill pickles after bottling

 

Kombucha

With my newfound obsession for cultured/fermented traditional foods, I also wanted to try making kombucha. I had ordered a kombucha scoby from Kombucha Kamp, and needed to get that going. I followed the directions that came with my scoby and got that put together in a jar/pitcher that I had found at WalMart for $8 that had a spigot at the bottom. This way I can do a continuous brew on it, and be able to easily taste a little each day to determine where I want the sweet/sour balance to be.

Kombucha on Day 1

Kombucha on Day 1

After just two days, I checked it last night, and there is already a film forming over the top which will be my new baby scoby! I was so excited to see that! I think that’s an excellent sign that the conditions are good, so I must have done something right. Who would have ever thought I would get so excited over scum? 🙂

Kombucha on Day 3

Kombucha on Day 3

 

Strawberry Soda

Next up on the list was a naturally fermented strawberry soda. This utilized my ginger bug that I’d been working on for the last week. I used this recipe from Holistic Squid for Cultured Strawberry Soda. The process was fairly straight forward, though it did take forever for the wort to get down to around 75 degrees, and we actually ended up setting the pan in a sink of cold water to cool it quicker. This was towards the end of the day, and we were just ready to be done with our projects. Once it was cool enough, we got the strawberry soda bottled and capped.

Strawberry Soda is bottled!

Strawberry Soda is bottled!

Hubby made these fabulous labels for me with the label maker I had asked him for at Christmas (but never set up and used until this weekend – such a procrastinator!).

Strawberry Sharcakes Soda

Strawberry Sharcakes Soda

I only let it sit out at room temperature for a day, because I am super paranoid about the stories I’ve read about exploding bottles when the pressure builds too much. I have no idea how to know when it is getting too pressurized, and did not like the idea of glass and soda going everywhere in my kitchen. So after a day, I went ahead and stuck them in the refrigerator. Yesterday, we went ahead and cracked one open to see how it tasted and how fizzy it was. I was imagining soda foaming everywhere when the lid was opened, but it did not do that. It really didn’t foam at all, until we poured it into a glass of ice.

Fizzy strawberry soda

Fizzy strawberry soda

Then we got some nice fizziness going on. It was pretty tasty, though there was a little bit of funkiness in the smell of it. I would imagine that is because it is a naturally fermented product, rather than a crappy-ingredient-filled soda. It was still pretty sweet, which works well for hubby. But for me, I’d probably leave it out at room temp for 2 days next time, and maybe have it be less sweet and have eaten more of the sugar. But all in all, I would call that a success as well.

 

Advertisements

Ginger Bug

Alright, last post for today. I’m terrible at keeping up with my blog. Sorry for that. 🙂

Another experiment in cultured foods that I am currently working on is a ginger bug. I had seen a couple posts on other blogs for creating a ginger bug to use for making homemade healthy sodas, and thought this could be fun! The recipe I decided to use is from Holistic Squid and her post How to Make a Ginger Bug.

The sugar I’m using in it is an organic turbinado that we already had, and so far, it seems to be working well. I started this on Sunday, and already, its starting to get bubbly and build pressure inside. I’m feeding it once a day, but checking the pressure a couple times a day. Her recipe says to put a tight lid on it, but others say to cover with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and allow it to breathe. I don’t know which is right (if there is a right or wrong), but I’m going with the tight lid.

When I opened the lid this morning to feed it, this is what I got:

Day 3 of my Ginger Bug

Day 3 of my Ginger Bug

Nice and bubbly. I’m guessing since my kitchen is more on the warm side, I won’t have to wait a full week. But I do need to get some proper bottles or decide if I’m just going to bottle the sodas in mason jars. And I’ll have to decide what flavors of soda I’d like to make.

I’m considering trying this Cultured Strawberry Soda, since I have some organic strawberries I need to use up from the farmer’s market we went to last Saturday. But I’ll have to make that soon, because those babies aren’t going to last long. This Apple Ginger Soda also looks good, but I’ll have to grab more apples to make that.

I’m still a little paranoid about this whole cultured foods thing, so I keep smelling everything to make sure it doesn’t smell good. Let me just say, this ginger bug smells GOOD!

Sourdough Bread

I’ve always wanted to learn how to bake bread. But I never got around to it before learning how bad wheat is for us. I am trying not to eat a lot, if any, bread, but I can’t force my significant other into eating the same way that I do. So I was thinking, what changes could I make that would increase the healthiness of his bread?

In reading through Nourished Traditions, it talks about the importance of properly soaking, sprouting, or fermenting for bread products. So I decided to learn about that and experiment with it. I haven’t gotten to the point of soaking or sprouting or grinding the grains into flour myself (and I do realize that it is important for the grains to be freshly ground) as of yet, but I did want to start playing with the process of making sourdough. To start off, I ordered a sourdough starter from Cultures for Health. They have a good variety of sourdough starters, and I chose to go with the San Francisco starter.

Since I’m not sure whether this is something I’ll keep up with, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy flours, so I went with a plain, unbleached, organic all purpose flour found at my local grocery store. After about a week of feeding the starter regularly with flour and water, I was ready to bake my first loaf of sourdough bread.

The recipe I used comes from the ebook Lacto-Fermentation by GNOWFGLINS. The recipe is for Honey Whole Wheat, but the flour I used was not whole wheat flour recommended. I basically wanted to stick with the ingredients I already had, so that I didn’t have to spend a lot of extra money. The whole process ended up to be quite easy, though it does take some planning, since you have to leave time for the dough to rise and all that fun stuff. But this was the end result we ended up with:

Sourdough Loaf

Sourdough Loaf

It ended up quite tasty, and we were able to make fabulous bacon grilled cheese sandwiches on it. I have yet to make my next batch of bread, but will be trying that again soon. Its also quite tasty with some raw honey spread on it.

Here’s how it looks as a bacon grilled cheese sandwich. Delicious!

Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I would like to try making a sourdough bread using einkorn flour, as that is supposed to be a more ancient form of wheat, but want to get my process down a little more before attempting with a much more expensive form of flour. And if I can do this well, then getting a grain mill and making freshly ground flour will be in my future.

Cultured Applesauce

I’ve been reading a lot and trying to learn more about the fabulous world of traditional foods, especially the cultured/fermented foods. I’m trying to incorporate a variety of these cultured/fermented foods into my diet, to get a good variety of the healthy bacterias into my system.

One of my favorites, and the easiest and quickest by far, has been a cultured applesauce. This was the first one I tried, because it seemed like it would be the easiest food on a palate that is NOT accustomed to eating these types of foods. I’ve never, in my life, even tried a sauerkraut, properly cultured or not, so I feel a little timid about whether I can get used to the taste of that type of food. So applesauce it was. I got my recipe from this post by Real Food Forager for Cultured Applesauce.

Rather than using whey for the starter, I’ve been using this culture starter from Body Ecology. Find it here. In my warm kitchen (ranging anywhere between 70-80 degrees) , I only need to let it sit for about a day before putting it in the fridge, and this is what I end up with:

Cultured Applesauce

Cultured Applesauce

 

Yum! I’ve made this twice so far, and it is delicious! Apparently, it should stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least a few weeks, but one jar only lasts me about a week, eating it by myself.