Saturday, May 31, 2014

spicy kombucha dill refrigerator pickles

I make a lot of random pickles.  I toss whatever spices sound good into the jar - so far these have been my favorite, hands down.

1 quart jar
enough small cucumbers to fit.  I used 1 bag of mini cucumbers I got at aldi's
1 large jalapeno
1 tablespoon pickling salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup kombucha

put the cucumbers in the jar

mix the other ingredients and then pour over the cucumbers.  Add a bit of water if it doesn't cover them.  Seal and pop in the fridge for a week or so.

Marinated Spiral Cucumber with beets and walnuts

Found this great slicer at a thrift shop.  Didn't appear to have ever been used and since it was only $3.98 - I figured it was worth the buy.

Gave it a try on a cucumber.  No instructions so I just went with the first blade.  It cuts spirals.  You don't have to make spirals for this - as a matter of fact I found it easier to cut the spirals down a bit, not leave them long.  Long spirals are a pin to serve!

Thought about changing blades for the next cucumber.  Didn't get too far because it was SHARP and my hand slipped.

Of course my husband is the only one who knows where he put the bandages and I can't reach him.  Wrapped it in a clean cloth and worked left handed from there on.

Last week I scored some wonderful baby beets.  I plan on pickling them, but this one is going in with the cucumbers.  

I washed it and diced it as well as you can expect a one handed person to dice something.

In the bowl I also added

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon course ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely diced (came that way in the bag) walnut pieces
1 cup white vinegar

shoved all of that into a pint sized jar, covered and put in the fridge for 48 hours.  That's the point where the beets are a little more tender and so are the nuts, but both retain some crunch - while the cucumbers have not turned to much.

This dish has a strong flavor, but I'm a fan of strong flavors and I love it with a basic salad that has a bit of blue cheese on it. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fermented Beet Greens

Had some beet greens that I had to use.  4 bundles.  Cooked 1 for dinner - that left me with 3 to preserve.

So I decided to ferment them.

I cook the stems, so I decided to experiment with fermenting them as well.  It's the bright, happy jar to the left.

2 large bundles of beet greens, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

more salt if needed to make brine

I was able to shove all the beets into one wide mouth quart size jar.

Waited 2 hours to see what the natural brine would do, then because it wasn't enough I made more brine with 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 quart of water.  Didn't use all of it, just covered them, leaving 1 inch of head space.  Folded a cabbage leaf and to use as a weight.  I found that I need something to hold things under the brine and the cabbage leaf works well.

Waited 10 more long days.  Could have started checking at 7, but I figure the stems might needed a bit longer.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Growing Scoby from Raw Kombucha - Day 10

Day 10.  It formed a pretty nice scoby, then the jar got bumped so it sank.  Then it formed a second one a day ago, but as I was moving it take a photo I jostled it too much.  Still, this seems to be working.  If anything I think the scoby is much stronger than the one I did from raw with sweet tea.  It took longer to get the scoby but it seems to be a nice healthy one.

Lacto Fermented Spicy Green beans

Made some spicy green beans.  Not overly spiced - gotta keep it edible for the kid.  Just enough hot to keep it interesting. 

I had a bag of green beans. I'm going to start weighing these things now, I promise!  I just got a new kitchen scale for that exact purpose!

I cut the beans into pieces.  Ok, I just snapped them with my fingers. I can remember sitting on the porch with my grandparents snapping beans for canning.  That's what I did because  knife and a cutting board seemed like extra work.  I work enough, why do extra if I don't have to?

I mixed up a quart of brine.  1 tablespoon water, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt - canning, not iodized, 1 tablespoon course ground black pepper.  I peeled a clove of garlic and split it, but didn't mash or mince it.  

Put the beans in the jar, stopping to throw in the garlic and 5 habaneros.  Those orange things aren't carrots, they are very hot tiny little peppers, more beans - pressing down to get a tight pack.  I don't have weights, need to get some.  I've heard that you can get by without them in an airlock system.  We'll see.  I also heard that olive oil was wonderful and it was a mess. So far the beans are not looking like any oxygen has gotten to them. Still a great color and I'm looking forward to eating them.  

Like I said, I wanted spiced, not burning flames, so I didn't cut the pepper.  My experience with habaneros is that they will impart a flavor and heat if you just touch the darn things, much less if you marinate them in brine with other stuff.  When I do it this way I've gotten just enough heat to make me happy, but kept it mild enough for the kid to also eat.  I'm not big on fixing two meals, so most things have to be pleasing across the board.  Hubbie is easy - he'll eat anything that looks kinda sorta like food.  

Wait a week or 3 then move to the fridge or root cellar for storage.  I go with 2 1/2 - 3 weeks, but it's a personal preference.

Lacto Fermented Spinach

Scored some cheap spinach.  More than we could eat this week, so I decided to ferment the rest.

I used two bundles, which was enough to fill a quart sized wide mouth jar

Rinsed them and put them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of salt & 1 tablespoon course ground black pepper.  Recipes that I've seen call for slicing and removing the stem.  I eat the stem because it gets soft enough and doesn't taste bad, so I did neither of those things.

I squished the spinach around in the bowl with the salt, bringing the juices out.  Kept manhandling it for a few minutes until it was good and soggy.  The I shoved it into the jar in layers with peppers.  A layer of spinach, squished down hard, 2 peppers, more spinach, more peppers until it was full.  

I used this kind of pepper - Thai Chili.  I have a bag of them in my freezer I'm trying to use up.  I didn't cut or dice them, just put them in whole. I wanted a chili flavor without it being super super hot.

I tamped the spinach down as hard as I could while layering and afterwards I gave the jar several firm bangs on the counter to loosen any air bubbles and then tamped it down again.  I didn't have enough brine from the spinach itself to cover the top so I took some filtered water in a quart jar and dissolved a tablespoon of salt in it.  Then I covered the spinach with the brine from the jar, leaving 1 inch of head space.

Put on my airlock cover and the waiting begins.

When I was making airlock covers I couldn't find wide mouth plastic lids anywhere to save my life, so I made my own.  Took the plastic from a food storage container that I don't use and traced the inner lid to a wide mouth jar on it.  Cut it out, put a hole and shoved a stopper in.  Works fine and was a great way to recycled those plastic boxes I don't use anymore.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fermented Beets

I love beets.  I love to eat them.  I love to drink beet juice.  I especially love the way they turn everything pink or reddish purple.  At least the reds ones do.  The golden variety are a bit more laid back.

I go through beet greens pretty rapidly, leaving me with far too many beets, so I decided to give fermenting them a try.

I cut them into bits - about 12 of them I think.  Then I tossed those bits into the Ninja (food processor) and made tiny bits.

After I grated them, I mixed them in a bowl with a little less than a tablespoon of pickling salt.  Squished them around good to get the juices going.  Shoved them into jars and did what I could to get any extra air out.  Stired it a bit with a chopstick, then pressed it down good (coffee tamper) and finally banged it on the counter - flat on the bottom - dislodge any air.  tamped it again and then decided to try the olive oil on top thing for a makeshift airlock.

I didn't think to take a photo.  I used two old salsa jars.  This one has a stubborn label, but we already ate the other one, so you can't see a photo of the good looking jar.  LOL  We've eaten a lot of this one too.  :-)

As a precaution I put a shallow pan with a washcloth under the jars.

good thing because that was a MESS!!  As the beets got bubbly the oil was pushed up and out.  I would burp it and oil would be all over the place already.  Maybe oil in a salsa jar is just going to do that because the seal isn't super tight.  After a week I decided to try them.  Soft and tasty with just a bit of crunch.  Very yummy.

I had ground up too many beets.  This is what happens when air gets to them.  These beets turned green after 3 days in the fridge with no oil on top.  We didn't eat them, just took a picture to show why oxygen is not your friend when fermenting veggies.

Love the beets, don't care so much for the olive oil thing.  I want an air lock system, but I am a) cheap & b) impatient

I'm also creative.  Part of being cheap.

I went to the brewing store and bought a couple of airlocks for less than $2 each.  Picked up some #2 drilled stoppers too.  Don't remember how much, but very cheap.  

Took a plastic lid and put a hole in it.  Not a good hole because I don't have a drill right now, but it's large enough for the stopper to get it and small enough for the stopper to make it air tight.  The stopper is very soft so it conforms to the hole.  Put the lid on the jar, the stopper in the lid and the airlock in the stopper.  I should be in business for the next time I want to do the fermented veggie thing!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kombucha pickles with pineapple and ancho

I love kombucha.  I love pineapple.  I love ancho.  I wanted to make pickles.

This is what I got when I combined those loves

1 large cucumber or a couple of smaller ones - sliced
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 ring of pineapple
1 teaspoon ancho
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/4 cups kombucha - closer to vinegar is better
1 teaspoon salt

in a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the cucumber.  mix together well. Put a bit in a jar, then add the cucumbers.  pour the rest of the mix over.  If you have space left over on top, add a bit more kombucha.

put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge for a few days.  Start testing around day 4 and use when it gets to the point where it's just the right cripsness for you.  I think they need at least 7, but I've been "testing" them a bit too much so the don't usually make it past that point.

This is a jar, about a pint size that was left over from some sauce.  You can go up a cucumber with only increasing the liquid ingredients by about 1/2 more (not doubled) for a larger batch.  More than that and you should increase all ingredients - doubling them for 4+ cucumbers in a quart jar.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Kombucha Labels

I could make a batch of this flavor and a batch of that flavor, but this is all still new for me so I'm trying out all sorts of flavors.  That has led to some confusion.  I wanted a way to label the bottles, but I also wanted the labels to be reusable.

This is what I came up with

Floss holders (on clearance) and hair elastics.

I write the name of the flavor on the blank side, loop them onto a hair elastic and this slip them on the bottles.

After someone takes a bottle from the fridge the tag goes into a baggie I have stuck to the door with a magnet.

No more confusion and everyone knows what they are getting.  The labels can be used again and again, so I won't have to make them up for each batch.  Also it was cheap and easy.  maybe not something to look for in a girlfriend, but with craft projects I'm all about the cheap and easy.

Pineapple Planter

we eat a lot of pineapples.  I've been trying to grow the tops and composting the hollowed out shells.  After I use the pineapple cutter tool I'm left with a nice empty  container, so today I decided to see if I could put my plants in them.  I don't intend to use them as final pots.  I expect them to compost around the little plant adding nutrients to the growing environment.

I rinsed the pineapple hull then added a layer of leaves to the bottom, some dirt, then put the plant in.  It was already in a biodegradable pot, so I've effectively put it in a second biodegradable pot.  I'll put this whole thing into the container that I'm growing the cucumbers (in this case) in.  I'll post updates about how it goes.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scoby from commercial raw Kombucha - Day 3

It's been 3 days, this is what I have so far.  In this method I didn't add any new tea to the stuff from the bottle.  Just dumped it in a clean jar and covered it.  That's how my surprise scoby Velma was formed and it seemed worth trying.  With the first one I grew from commercial kombucha it started out very thin.  For a long time it resembled egg whites that had a tea stain.  Now it's thick and creamy and fills my 2 gallon continuous brew container.  

Marinated Cucumbers

My variation on marinated cucumbers.  I've been trying to get all the produce I got on sale used up or preserved.  This one isn't for saving though - I like it when the cucumbers are still fairly crisp.  Only in the fridge overnight.

1 large cucumber or a couple of smaller ones sliced and the quarter the slices  or not, depending on your preference.
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon course ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix 1/2 cup of the vinegar and all the other ingredients, except cucumbers, together in a bowl.  After it's all mixed up, add the cucumbers and mix them in so that everything is covered.  Put in a 1 pint jar - or size to fit.  If the liquid doesn't come all the up to the top of the cucumbers add the other vinegar to make sure it's covered.  Set in the fridge overnight or for at least several hours.

This version is very sweet but cutting the sugar in half works just as well.

based on 5 servings which is what we got from it

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Orange Cream Milk

Added a few drops of vanilla and two drops of orange extract to my nightly glass of raw milk.  Very very yummy

Friday, May 16, 2014

Growing a new scoby

I don't need a new scoby.  Once you get started with kombucha having too many is more of a problem than not having enough.  Still, I keep seeing that you can't grow a healthy one from commercial raw kombucha anymore.  I did.  I also saw a tutorial where it was done a bit differently from how I did it.  Decided to give that a try.

In this method you

1.  buy a bottle of raw kombucha.

2.  put it in a sterilized jar

3.  cover it with a paper towel or cloth and rubber band it on.

4.  wait.

I did this one yesterday and there were floaties in the bottle.  I looked for that when choosing my bottle.

After 24 hours it's starting to look promising.  I am interested in seeing how long this method takes to get a thick scoby vs the way I did my first one (using sweet tea in addition to the bottle tea)

and I was bored.  Kombucha is a process and a gift for the patient.  I am not patient, so I have to do other things to keep myself occupied while waiting for my gift of finished fizzy tea.

Remember my surprise Scoby?

Little Velma is all grown up!

She started life as a little clear jelly fish left over in mostly empty bottle of raw kombucha.  I had used the bulk of the bottle to grow my first scoby.  A week or so later I found the bottle tucked behind the espresso machine and found a little baby scoby

I decided to grow it and see what would come of her.  

This is her today, several weeks later.  See all the wonderful yeasty bits hanging down turning my regular tea into fizzy tea?  mmmmmmmm  After this brew I will pull off the latest baby that formed and send it to my cousin who is into fermenting foods. 

So I thought I would make sauerkraut

I want to make sauerkraut, but lack a crock or fancy air lock system.

What to do?

Google it of course.

I have jars, I have cabbage & I have olive oil.  I'm good to go.  Seems you can use the oil to seal off the brine.  The kraut if shredded, salted and spiced.  Let's see how it goes.  I need a crystal ball or other future seeing device.  I get so impatient waiting.

I spiced it with

2 1/2 tablespoons salt to a 4lb head of cabbage
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons juniper berries
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Shredded the cabbage into a large glass bowl.  Added the other stuff and crunched it around, really beating up on it.  As I did so a lot of water came out and the bowl got quite a lot of nice brine.  I divided the cabbage into 3 left over salsa jars - roughly pint size & divided the brine.  Really packed it down in there.  Then I put olive oil over the top to seal it.  Tightened the lids and set them aside.  Now to wait and see what happens.  Did put a plate under it because I have heard that sauerkraut can get bubbly and overflow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Near disaster with the yogurt

I was making this week's yogurt when I almost lost the whole batch.  I was using the oven for incubation.  Turned it on until it got to 100 and then turned it off and shut the door.  It works because even after I turn it off the heat builds a little bit more, but not too much.  My oven won't go below 200 as a setting, but it does have a thermometer that lets me know how hot it is.  But last night it just went haywire.  Even though everything was turned off the broil came on - heating my yogurt up a LOT.  I caught it before it was too bad, maybe 150 or so, but that will kill the yogurt.  Turned the oven off at the breaker (no desire to have a house fire) and put the yogurt in the fridge while I figured out what to do.  It was pretty runny.

After it cooled down enough I decided to add more starter - also known as more yogurt.  Then I incubated it in a cooler and this morning I have a pretty good batch.  Not as firm as I would have liked, but not milk either.  It's not pretty but it's roughly as thick as say, Dannon.  I like super thick yogurt, but I'm happy to have saved it the batch - that was a gallon of yogurt after all!

I didn't wipe the dish down, but I wasn't feeling terribly motivated.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blender butter

I made butter!!

I have some fresh cream I picked up when I got my raw milk.  I guess I should say I HAD some fresh cream.  I've known how to make butter for awhile.  Put it in a jar and shake shake shake.  Probably better exercise than the not so vaguely obscene shake weight.  I don't have time for that.  Saw on line that you can just do it in a blender.  I have a blender.  Now I have butter.

Step 1
Obtain heavy cream
Step 2 
Dump it in the blender
Step 3
blend blend blend.  At some point it will quite dramatically go from whipped cream to butter.  It's very sudden and pretty cool
Step 4
using some muslin drain the excess milk from the butter.  Rinse it with cool water to get the excess milk out so it won't go bad too quickly.  If you're going to use it quickly you probably don't have to do this.
Step 5
chill and enjoy

Next time I'm going to add some herbs to it.  This was plain, unsalted butter and it is YUMMY

Monday, May 5, 2014

Surprise Scoby Velma - Almost there!

It's Cinco de mayo and Velma is celebrating by continuing to grow.  :-)  She's gone from a tiny clear jellyfish that was only about 2 inches across to a full fledged scoby about 6 inches across.  Getting thicker every day.  Right now parts are still only 1/8 of an inch thick or so, but some areas are over 1/4 inch thick. As she grows she get a much creamier color with the tea stains becoming less. I'm going to let this tea go to vinegar too and give her one more jar before I try making kombucha tea.  I know I probably could already, but I do need some more kombucha vinegar.  I'm out and it's what I use for conditioner on my hair.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Seasoned Beet Greens

I eat or juice a lot of beets.  I've not always been sure what to do with the tops.  Found a recipe that I really enjoy, so I'll be eating more of them.  For these I started with 2 bunches each organic golden and red beets.  There were 3-4 beets per bunch.

Tops from 12-16 beets
wash, wash and then wash again.  Beet greens can really hold onto the dirt.

I didn't tear them much, leaving them large bits, like large whole leaf spinach.

In a pot add the beet greens, two cups water, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cook covered over medium until greens are tender.

I eat them with either a dash of lemon juice or hot sauce.