Apple-Ginger Kombucha

February 12, 2014

For a while I’ve been researching probiotics and gut health. Probiotics are a huge part of that, everyone agrees. And an inexpensive and fun way to get great probiotics is to drink Kefir or Kombucha Tea, both of which are fermented with the beneficial bacteria and yeast found in your digestive tract. I’d been buying Kombucha Tea at the grocery for nearly a year at $3.99 per 16 ounce bottle. That just doesn’t fit my frugal nature or budget!

Last summer we acquired a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to make Kombucha Tea, or fermented tea. It’s got huge probiotic benefits, to create a healthier digestive system. Since 90% of your immune system is in the digestive tract that’s one thing we want to keep healthy! Learn more about Kombucha Tea (KT for those in the know) here.

Sometimes we flavor it, sometimes we drink it “straight”. One of the benefits of flavoring it is that it also carbonates naturally, and as former soda addicts, that’s a real plus.

One of the HUB’s favorite flavors of KT is a simple one to make.

APPLE-GINGER KOMBUCHA TEA

1/4 c. Apple Juice    2 pieces candied ginger    Kombucha Tea

When Kombucha is ready to bottle, add 1/4 c apple juice along with a large piece of candied ginger into a 12-16 oz. bottle, and fill with Kombucha Tea. Screw down the lid (or snap it down if using a Groisch-style bottle) and let it sit on the counter for a couple of days, or until it’s as bubbly as you like it. Put it in the refrigerator and enjoy when you’re ready to relax.

You can see the SCOBY floating on top of the continuous brew spigot jug, and the darker tea brewing below. For months we brewed in the bath method, but over Christmas I found this jar marked down. It’s 2.5 gallons and we “harvest” the fermented tea every 4-5 days or as we need it.

The SCOBY bacteria are the same type that keep your digestive system healthy, and using the SCOBY in the ferment (along with some of the previous brew) overwhelms the “bad” bacteria that may be present in the tea water.

I know that we feel better since we’ve begun drinking it, and it’s sure more affordable than buying it at $4/bottle or bottles of probiotics. Happy brewing!

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Growing Salad in February

February 5, 2014

Did I ever mention I’m a gardener? And after finally being able to complete the Fayette County Master Gardener Program I can even call myself a Master Gardener. So winter is hard for me. Houseplants abound, some blooming, some foliage. You know houseplants ramp up the oxygen, humidity and aesthetics wherever they live, right? But even that’s not enough. I need cotyledons emerging from seeds and reaching for the light. I just need to GROW something.

Rows and rows of seedlings

So about this time of year, I am perusing seed catalogs, creating spreadsheets, layouts and plans for my gardens so that soon…not too long now…I can start seeds for the plants I will tend all summer long. In years past, I’ve also grown sprouts to add to a variety of salads and other meals. But this year I’ve gone all out. I’m growing micro-greens. Am I trendy or what?

 

As I was going through my stash (read boxes) of seeds, I realized there were multiple packets, and who knew if they would even sprout (tore off dates when I opened them). I took the leap and grabbed a plastic tray, lined it with newspaper, mixed soilless seed starting mix with vermicompost (love those worms!) and planted in rows. Mind you, this is the ONLY time I plant in rows! See Rosalind Creasey’s website to see why.

Snow outside doesn't stop me growing!

I hooked two reflector lights with regular CFL bulbs onto the flats and pointed them at what looked like bare dirt. And I crossed my fingers like any good gardener does.

Two days later, the dirt moved, and my heart leaped. Three days and green emerged. One week out and you can see for yourself they are doing very well.

And I’m a happy gardener. Soon, I’ll post something on eating these nifty little winter wonders.

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Making Eggs Benedict

February 5, 2014
Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit...mmmm!

I’ve never met an Eggs Benedict I didn’t like. Salmon Eggs Benedict, Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, Steak & Eggs Benedict, Bacon & Cheese Eggs Benedict and of course the original Canadian Bacon, English Muffin and Egg Benedict. Obviously, there is a common denominator here: the Hollandaise Sauce.

I had some favorite go-to Eggs Benedict dishes at local restaurants, and got my fix by going out to eat at Josie’s and Sal’s. I’m also soooo not a morning person, so I’m more likely to have Eggs Benedict for lunch or dinner than for breakfast, which is usually an almond-milk protein shake or veggie smoothie and lemon water.

But since we went grain-free and are trying to eat only grass-fed meat/dairy items I’ve been thinking about making this delectable dish at home. I had always heard that Hollandaise was hard to make, tricky to get to that creamy texture, and had to be made absolutely fresh to be any good. So I rarely made it: read never. But I’ve found a way to make easy, quick and excellent Hollandaise Sauce at home. Use your blender! It does require a blender or food processor that has an opening through which to pour the hot butter. This is a critical step to ensure the sauce doesn’t “break” or separate into clumps. Works like a charm!

Here’s the Blender Hollandaise recipe from The Chew:

  • Blender Hollandaise
  • 8 Egg Yolks from pastured hens
  • 4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • Dash Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup Unsalted Grass-Fed Butter; melted
  • White Pepper

Directions: In a blender, add the Lemon Juice, Egg Yolks, and dash of Hot Sauce. Remove the center section of the blender lid and with the blender on its lowest setting, blend for 20 seconds and add the butter, pouring it into the blender in a very thin stream. Once incorporated, season with White pepper.

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Losing an Icon

January 28, 2014

Monday night, at age 94, music and folk icon Pete Seeger moved on. This planet lost an amazing person who influenced several generations of youth with his idealism, his activism and gentle but solid spirit. Born in 1919 to a self-identified “enormously Christian, in the Puritan, Calvinist New England tradition”, Seeger began a musical journey in the 1940s which carries through to today’s youth.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action (NYTobit).

When our son, Burr, was a teenager he spent more time listening to folk music from my hippie youth than the heavy metal of his era. When my brother-in-law came through Kentucky enroute to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Canada (a family tradition-Burr did 1994) at Henry Clay prom night, he was shocked when the after-prom party at my house that night was celebrated to music of the Beatles, Seeger, Guthries, Mama Cass and more. I loved listening to my favorite music throughout my son’s teens. And I credit the music of these artists as much of his social justice consciousness of today.

Folk music, and particularly those artists for whom it created and nurtured community like Seeger,were integral to my sense of community, caring, justice and just trying to be and act in a way that encourages collaboration and caring. I am so glad to have been a part of a generation (not exclusive to my generation) who wanted to see the world as a common venture.

And as Arlo said of Seeger’s passing: “‘Well, of course he passed away!’ I’m telling everyone this morning. ‘But that doesn’t mean he’s gone.’”

Rest assured, Pete, the music continues.

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New Directions

January 18, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, and I thought it was high time I say something about the new directions my life has been taking lately.

A major downsizing in stuff, space, and responsibility has taken place. That did not, as anticipated, cause a simultaneous downsizing in things to do, however. I am busier than ever with new gardens, trying new recipes and making my own concoctions for beauty and eating.

And I find I am having lots of fun with this. I’m still working on writing, of course, and I actually have a gazillion more ideas that I want to work on. Priorities, priorities!

 

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