Kombucha

So you know that I love to ferment!  And while I have been making Sour kraut for a while, I recently (April/May) was introduced to Kombucha.  I just want to tell you I love this stuff!  My kids love it, my husband thinks I’m crazy, but what’s new?  I love the energy it gives me, yes I can tell!  I love to experiment with different flavors, and I love drinking it knowing it is good for my gut!

So, (Kristen this is for you) here is my Kombucha making process.  Elizabeth taught me my first class, and then I read a bunch of things online about it and have tweaked it here and there.

First, you need a gallon jar.  My advice, if you have not been saving them in your garage for years, it to go buy a jar of pickles from SAMs for 7$.  Eat the pickles and voila, you have a jar.  Or you can go to Walmart and buy an empty jar for about $14.00.  Either way you are about to make money for your family.  If you want to drink Kombucha and not make it, expect to pay 3-5$ for a single serving bottle!  And good luck finding it in the middle of no where like where I live!

Next, get a starter Scobi from a friend, or buy a “high priced” individual serving bottle from somewhere.  {If you get a starter from a friend, skip this next paragraph}  Pour your bottle of store bought Kombucha in the gallon jar, cover the lid with a coffee filter – rubber banded on the top of the jar and put it in a warm cabinet for 3-30 days (above the stove is great).  Yes, three to thirty days.  In my house this process takes about 3 days, because I have fermenting particles in the air because we ferment and eat lots of fermented stuff.  If you are new to this, it might take up to 30 days.  Check on it often – eventually you will grow a Scobi.

 

 Scoby – symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast

Your scobi will grow as big as your jar is wide, and will grow thicker with each batch of Kombucha.  I will separate mine, like a hamburger bun, and gift one layer to friends, or give it to chickens to eat.

 

The scobi is making a seal on the top of your Kombucha allowing it to ferment and work it’s magic!!

Once you have your scobi, you will feed it.  You need to make the tea.

I use 4 cups of DISTILLED water – not tap water.  Tap water has chlorine and such and will kill the bacteria and good stuff.

I bring 4 cups of DISTILLED water almost to a  boil with 1 cup of sugar.  Still while it is heating until all the sugar is dissolved.  Then you can turn off the water right before it starts to really boil.

Then I add 4 family size tea bags and steep for 5 minutes, or until I remember to take the tea bags out.  Then I let it cool.

Add the tea mixture to your jar once it is room temperature and fill the rest of the way with the rest of your gallon of distilled water.

Let this sit in a warm dark place (over the stove is where mine sits) for 7 days.  Sometimes i forget and it is 8, sometimes i do it early and it is 6.  But generally I wait 7 days.

Then you take our your scobi, set aside.

Pour your kombucha into jars (I use quart and 1/2 gallon)

I save 1 cup of the Kombucha as  a “Starter” for the next batch.

Set bottled Kombucha aside.

Then I put scobi and “Starter” back into my jar (I wash it out sometimes, sometimes I just use it again.  I think it is fine either way)

And then you feed again with the tea mixture.

Meanwhile you can put your Kombucha in the fridge as it is.  Or you can flavor it.  If you want to be “lazy” you can buy fruit juice to add to provide your flavor.  I do not want what is in fruit juice.  I also do not want it any sweeter than it is normally.  So I flavor like this:

Pumpkin Spice Tea, Chai or Peppermint – steep 1-1 1/2cups of water with 2 tea bags

Blueberry – add 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

Grapefruit – add frozen 1/4 of a slice of grapefruit

Mango – add 1/4 cup frozen mango slices

Get creative with what you like.  Each variation offers different benefits and vitimins and nutrients.  Plus each taste different.  My favorite is grapefuit – I LOVE IT!!

Next would be Chai or Pumpkin Spice – they are really good too.

Whole family loved Blueberry.


FAQ:

Do not use stainless steel utensils, wooden or plastic and same with pots & bowls :wooden, glass or plastic.

Do not use tap water

Be careful washing everything and putting Kombucha right in or scobi – the chlorine in your water and the ingredients in your soap could kill good stuff.

You can go longer than 7 days, up to 30 – it will become alcoholic at some point.  You are fermenting like wine.

Kombucha help your gut, it even curbs my snack desire/appetite.  It is not a meal replacement but it impacts my day tremendously.

 

 

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Relationships with food & beyond

I have been on a food journey since about mid February.  Haven’t said much about it on here, mostly because I am busy keeping up with it!  But I think I am settling in to a new normal, and my family is joining me for the most part, for a variety of reasons.

So I do not want to get on a soap box and preach because quite honestly everyone is at a different place in their life in a multitude of ways.  Ages of kids, busyness outside of the home, new foster kids, and so many other things.  I am not sure I would have ever braved this new land if I had toddlers at home, or if I recently have 3 kids dropped in my lap with a plethora of issues.  I am quite busy outside the home, but even that has settled a bit.

So here I am.  And I feel like we have redirected our eating lives forever.

Are you ever sorry when you learn something?  Like once you know it, it changes you?  You cannot go back to blissfully ignorant. It may not take over your thoughts but it is forever niggling in the back of your mind, cautioning your choices no matter what.

That is where we are.  We started Whole30 on April 27th.  I had been mostly whole30 for 7 weeks before that, but I did have some butter, and some stevia. {and a blissfully fun trip to Michigan with two Triple D’s along the way! and amazing food in Michigan}  But on April 27th we went all in, we joined the Whole30 world and it will change us forever.  We got the books – and we HIGHLY suggest you get & read the books BEFORE you start!  If you just use the internet you will never fully understand why you are doing what you are doing – and you will quit.  The books will help coach you through the days you want to kill the people around you, or rob a donutshop on your way to work.  Trust me, read the books!!

starts with food

w30book1 I’ll go into why I love Whole30 another day, but today I wanted to share our Sour Kraut adventure!!  One of the parts of being healthy on any program, plan, lifestyle is incorporating Fermented Foods!!  They are SO good for our gut, healing!

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Your intestines are so vital to good health and fermented foods help nourish your intestines!!

Here is another pic for you I LOVE:

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I really believe that!

So when I came home with a case of green cabbage, I knew I was going to attempt Sour Kraut again!  I tried some in Maine last summer, brought it all the way home and then threw it away.  It scared me.  And now I wish I had just tried it.  Oh well.

About 7 weeks ago I tried again.  Read tons of posts about sour kraut and how to make it and I did.  I put it in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, put a ziplock bag of water on top to keep out air and put it in the back of my pantry.  I took it out two days ago.  It looks gorgeous, no mold or anything suspicious.  But I still had to call my friend to ask if we could eat it.  After waiting a day, we tried it, the kids and I all gobbled it up – and we LOVED it!!  Got me so excited!!

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It was just cabbage, some carrots, a little radish and salt.  nothing else.  Pretty simple.  But it was tasty and not soggy – crunchy like something fresh.

So, here is what I did this time around.

First I shredded (finely) about 11 heads of cabbage.

Then I got out a HUGE bowl and a Large Stock pot  and put my cabbage in those to things.  Then in one I just added salt.

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Simple recipe – nothing added.  The next batch I added lime juice, a jalapeño with seeds, a head of garlic, and some poblano peppers which I threw in the ninja and finely chopped.

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I added all this to the other batch with lots of salt too and mixed.  Left it on the counter about 4 hours, mixing often to get the salt to get the juice out of the cabbage.

Then I sterilized my jars in the oven.

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Finally, I packed my jars, pressing down firmly – and once they were full, I left space a thte top to put a sandwich bag with water (about 1/2 cup) to be my seal.  I put the bag in and press all the air out and put a mason jar lid with ring on and close.

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Then I put it in a dark spot (back of pantry cabinet) and leave it.  I will check in 3 days to make sure it is bubbly, and not leaking too much, and no air inside.
Air is the enemy – it will grow mold.  If that happens you just scoop it out – it will not go deeper.

This morning I shredded up another 10 heads of cabbage, and included a head of red/purple cabbage.

I mixed in just a bit of red cabbage to make it look a little more colorful.

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Then I will mix in some lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and ginger to make a citrus ginger sour kraut batch.

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Two other batches are just garlic and one has carrots and one has red pepper slivers.  Pretty simple but should taste good and be GREAT for our guts!!

All 3 batches will set on my kitchen counter for about 4 hours, break down a bit and the cabbage will release a bunch of liquid to make the brine.  The salt is really the one thing you NEED to add, the rest is just for fun, color or flavor.  I will mix them every time I think about it – about 30 minute increments.

After that I will again put it into 1/2 gallon mason jars with the ziplock baggie of water on the top.  And hide them in a dark cabinet for about 6 weeks.

When I take all this yummy goodness out in 6 weeks I plan to can it in pint jars in a hot water bath.  10 minutes in boiling water will seal all the jars and then this concoction will be good for far longer than it will take us to eat it!  I cannot wait!!

Now, go get some cabbage and start your own!!  Let me know if you try some great new variation or flavor!!

My ultimate goal of all of this : whole30, Paleo, Sour kraut – is to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want to decide what I want to eat and then eat it – not be driven by cravings or emotional needs.  So here I continue on this journey of enjoying great food, but not letting it control me!!

Productive

Last week I was talking with a friend about our days.  How we spend them, choices we make and so on.  When she stated she did not want to be productive all day.  Made me think.  Made me stop and think, to be honest.  Made me think about it after she left, when I was weeding, when I was doing some other things, and then I still thought some more.

Then, I stumbled on an article about the same topic.  About what we are teaching our kids.

Made me wonder why I strive to be productive all the time – most often muti-tasking to improve my productive-ness.  Why?  Do I do it so I can feel that sense of accomplishment?  Do I do it because I have 4 kids and I cannot keep up?  Do I do it because so often I have been told what I do is not good enough, that I still hear it all the time in my head?

Yes, yes, and yes.  And yet, when I read in scripture that Jesus went away for a break (Mark), or that he praised Mary for sitting and listening while Martha was “being productive in the kitchen” – I wonder.  Is there more?

You know what, when I collapse into bed each night, sometimes I wish I said yes more the request to play a game.  I wish that I stopped to grab more moments.  I never wish I washed more dished, or put away more clothes, or picked up more junk off the floor.  Maybe those thoughts I have in my bed are the Holy Spirit asking me if I made the right choices during my day. 

As I chew on the points of that article – I am resolving to try to be less busy.  Do I want my children (daughter to become, sons to marry) to think this is the right way to live?  Always doing?  Reluctant to sit and be?    I try to savor the sunsets here. I try to enjoy sitting and watching my hens – but is it enough?

I am not vowing to become lazy.  I just want to be less productive at moments – or do I?  Maybe I just want to tweak my productive nature and choose more intentionally what I believe it is to be productive.  If I play a game of cards [building self-esteem in them, talking about life & building a deeper relationship, laughing with them, having fun] is that really – less productive?  Or is spending another hour cleaning a kitchen that will never really be clean less productive?  Maybe it is how I am approaching life more than what I call it – the label it wears?  I want to produce children who remember moments with mom, not what she looks like standing at the sink, the oven, or the washing machine.  Hmmmmm.

So, I hope to grab some moments to enjoy these days – and who cares if my “to-do” list is done, or even lost?  I hope I don’t!!may 2011 157

chores

I love to watch my four kids walk down our driveway, leashes in hand, dogs in tow, dragging sticks, or holding rocks.  It is a sight that melts my heart just a little.  They look like a team embarking on a great adventure armed with weapons and animals, albeit a bit disheveled, but still sweet!

Getting this process started can be a bit annoying, honestly, how many times do I have to remind you “we” (you) walk the dogs every day after lunch?  But, once we get past the, “right now?” or the “ahhh, mom” – they merrily go walking down the driveway all together.   They choose, only 2 are expected to go, but the other two rarely miss out – they could hardly stand it if they did miss out!

They love to go walking down our road – they usually take about 45 minutes to go about 3/4 of a mile.  Kids speed.  Investigating time factored in.  And lots of fun.  Sometimes I feel guilty for their chores, not sure why – I mean we all have chores.  No matter our age.  Why not start them early understanding that and taking some responsibility for the world around them? 

Besides, as I watched them take off today, I can just imagine in 5, 10 or more years, they will be sitting around “remembering” walking those dogs down Lovers Lane and all the fun adventures they had, and great stuff they found.  This is what life is really about.  Making memories.  Building relationships.  These walks let the kids be kids, J is in charge, closely advised by P (second in command), then you have E – the one they have to keep their eyes on, and following (or sometimes leading) is A – joyfully picking blackberries where she can find them, or flowers if they are there. 

So, while they think they are doing chores, they are really living a full life.  They are grabbing the day, enjoying the moments, and helping mom by exercising those sweet dogs. 

How often do we look at chores as CHORES, instead of an opportunity to live a full life?  How often do I delight in working over a hot oven to prepare a great meal?  Not usually very often until I sit down and take a bite.  I need to remember though, while cooking, I can choose the delight in the process and not just live for the end.

God gives us so many opportunities to live a life that glorifies him:  sharing his word, encouraging another, teaching someone.  Too often we take on the task a little begrudgingly though, and we can miss it.  We can miss the simple joy of being His hands in this world.  We can miss the little smiles when we reach out to encourage and not realize what it all just meant.

So I hope to learn from my kids, a repeating pattern around here.  I hope to learn to not begrudge what is asked of me, but to enjoy it, I may just find hidden blessings in it that one day I will reflect back on and enjoy the memories!

Sunday Summary

Today we were blessed to have sweet friends over to play, eat and talk with!

We enjoyed our slow-cooked pork loin as pork tacos, Spanish rice, and even some homemade tamales!  I may have to post some pics from those and my recipe.  They were not as superb as the ones I made in November with my mom and Louie, but they were okay.  Our friends thought they were great, that inspires me to make some better to show them I really can make some decent tamales.

Thought I would organize my week tonight and look back over my meal plan, get my oatmeal in the crockpot tonight for breakfast in the morning and get some beans soaking too!

Here is my meal plan for this week {nothing fancy – but cheap}

24 ~ Monday: Beans & Rice

25 ~ Tuesday: Meat Loaf

26 ~ Wednesday: Veggies

27 ~ Thursday: Chicken & Dumplings

28 ~ Friday: Pizza

29 ~ Saturday: Spaghetti & Sausage

30 ~ Sunday: Beef Stew


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Not sure I shared this before, but still following along with Ann’s system to memorize Colossians this year!  We are on week 4 – this week we are committing the following to our minds and hearts:

You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told you of your love in the spirit (v7-8)

Not too bad this week, last week was a killer, still working on the last part:

the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.  In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly believed. (v5-6)

(see what I mean about killer?)

so this week I hope to polish last weeks and get this weeks done! 

Anxiously waiting for this book to arrive –

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I honestly cannot wait to start reading it!!  So excited to have a few ladies to share all that we are learning in this book with each other!


Lastly, I wanted to share what has worked for me the past few weeks.  I have enjoyed using this daily docket to organize my days.  I love that it has dinner on there, a place to put a verse I am working to memorize – or just need to be reminded of,  A Most Important Item list and then a to-do list.  I tried it for a while, and I really like it!

Trying to make the most of my Sunday night – getting ready for a great week!!  So many things to be grateful for!!