Tasty Tuesday

Get Your Kraut On!

This is yet another fermentation recipe. In its defense, not only are these recipes tasty, they are great to keep the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Yep, you read that right, I just mentioned your gut.

Kraut can be bought or bottled, but the taste of these products are created by processing the cabbage with vinegar. The unique taste of this recipe is created by fermenting the vegetables.

Sauerkraut, of course, uses cabbage but you can add whatever vegetables you have available to the mixture. My grandchildren (bless ’em) picked all my green peppers from my garden for their picnic. They soon discovered, green pepper wasn’t quite the taste they were going for, so I ended up with the leftovers. It’s all good! It worked great to add them to this recipe.

First Step: Finely dice, shred or chop the vegetables. In this recipe, I used, red cabbage (Because it is so pretty!), but any cabbage will do. I added onions and those green peppers so lovingly picked by my grandchildren. You can use shredded carrots, turnips, beets , etc. Also add spices to your liking. The amount of vegetables you need depends on the size of your container. I use only a half a head of cabbage and then add the veggies need to fill my container. Remember during the process, the vegetables are broken down quite a bit, so start off with more than you think you will need.

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Second Step: Add salt…about 5 to 7 tablespoons. 

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Third Step: Then using your hand, squish the vegetables between your fingers crushing out all the crispness vegetables. The veggies will let off a liquid. The one with the most liquid wins the game. Add any other spices you would like to use to flavor your mixture.

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Fourth Step: Then place the mixture in a crock or jar. I use a jar made specifically for fermenting. I purchased it from culturesforhealth.com if your interested.

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Fifth Step: If your vegetables didn’t create enough liquid to keep all of it fully immersed, then you will need to add water to top  it off. Some people use distilled water, if you are worried about contaminants in your water.

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The jar that I purchased also came with glass pebbles to weight the contents down and keep it submerged. You don’t need this. I have also used a dinner plate sized to fit nicely inside the container — so be creative.

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Set it aside, away from other fermenting recipes. It should take a week to 10 days to process. The length of time you need to let it set depends on the temperature. The cooler temperatures, the longer it will take. I have had this recipe setting on my counter now for about a week and it isn’t ready. So, just keep checking back every few days. When it smells heavenly and a taste to match, the process is done. You can move the contents to the fridge. As long the mixture doesn’t have a repulsive smell you should be good to go. Yes, this is the criteria I judge whether food is edible or not — as long as it doesn’t have a repulsive smell — I’m good to go.

As with all fermenting, there is an art to it. It’s easy, but each environment adds so many variables; so be patient.

This is a great end of season recipe to use up all the straggler vegetables harvested out of your garden.

Any readers get their kraut on? I would love to hear about it.

 

Here is my bible to gluten-free (GF) cooking.

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If you want to go GF, this author, Nicole Hunn, provides a painless way to do it — and you won’t miss the wheat. She provides “cup for cup” GF flours that you can use with her recipes or substitute in your own. 

This book has several recipes; even sourdough! (This I will attempt in another post.) Her recipe measurements are by weight, so I recommend getting a scale. It makes it a lot easier; of course, I was never good a math. A scale de-stressed the process for me.

Scale

I use the following two flours which I have had very good luck with. Here is an all-purpose flour.

All-Purpose

Here is the recipe with the link to the website.

All-Purpose Recipe

Here is the gum-free recipe. This is great for quick bread recipes.

Gum-Free Recipe

Now, where to find the flours used in these recipes? Natural Grocers, Dixie Nutrition, Harmon’s and even Walmart carries a variety of flours. It’s pretty comparable in price for the packaged flours too. However, if you can buy the four in bulk, it’s going to be the cheapest. Harmon’s has brown rice and tapioca flour/starch in bulk. As for the All Natural Fruit Pectin, Walmart has the cheapest price.

I mix up enough of the recipe to have enough flour to last me a while.

Ready to Use Flours

Has anyone else bakes gluten-free? What do you use for your flour?

Kombucha!

My scoby is multiplying!

This past week I posted on Facebook, asking if anyone was interested in a scoby to make Kombucha. I explained I have a few extra of these cultures and was willing to give one away to a good home. I had some takers. Woohoo! Some were even excited. I can understand…it’s $3 for a 12 ounce bottle in the grocery store. So, “brewing” your own kombucha probiotic drink (I love saying that, even in my head) can save you a pretty penny. Explaining this “brewing” process a few times and seeing some takers seem somewhat nervous to take the scoby home, I decided the next post on Tasty Tuesday would be about “how to” get some kombucha going. Well, at least how I do it. So, here we go.

  1. Get a scoby. I have seen them even on Craigslist, however, Amazon.com is where I purchased mine. This is actually my second attempt. My first purchase was a dehydrated culture. I had a difficult time getting it active. The scoby, this time around…well….IT’S ALIVE! It’s also prolific. So, please keep in mind, like any live cultures, they do multiply.the tea (1)
  2. Brew some tea. I use green tea and some other types of herbal teas with it. I brew the tea in a coffee maker running two pots of water through one tea herb mixture. This gives me a gallon of tea. The tea will need to be cooled down to room temperature. Otherwise the culture will die from the high heat. To complete the brewed tea, I add a heaping cup of organic granular sugar (regular white sugar will work too, just as well). Yes, I do have a sweet tooth, but sugar is what the cultures live on. You can use any tea. I use a mixture of green tea and herbal tea. I have just started using this type of tea and really like it. I found it at Dixie Nutrition, I will update this post if I find it in other stores.the tea
  3. I cover the tea with a coffee filter and use a rubber-band to hold the filter in place. This keeps the bugs out and allows air to the mixture. I put the bottle on the counter and let the scoby do it’s job. It takes about a week for the kombucha to be ready. This, however, depends on a few things: a.) the size of the scoby…the ratio scoby to tea makes a difference in the fermentation speed; b.) room temperature…the hotter the area of room the jug is placed, the faster the fermentation process.the wild (3)

Some of you may already know the health benefits of adding fermented foods into your diet. I once heard, “All disease begins in the gut.” (I think Hippocrates is attributed to this quote.) Foods laden with good bacteria help improve digestion by improving gut flora. Therefore cultivating a healthy gut will bring health and wellness. More specific information on the health benefits can be found through a google search about probiotics. I also like Dr. Axe’s website. He provides some great information. So since probiotics have great health benefits, I usually have a few cultures developing in my kitchen from time to time. Kombucha is one of them…and one of the easiest to “brew”.

In past posts, I have talked about kefir and ginger ale. Anyone else have a favorite culture or other fermented food they would like to share? I’d love to hear about it.

Buttery Biscuits

You won’t believe these are gluten-free!

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This recipe can be found on my favorite GF blog…http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/

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You will need the following ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose GF flour, plus more for rolling out dough

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

7 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, roughly chopped and chilled

7 fluid ounces (14 tablespoons) milk or cream, chilled

Combine all the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter and then using a pastry blender mix well.

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Make a well in the mixture and add the milk. I used kefir instead of milk or cream as the recipe calls for.

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Once all dry ingredients is moistened, put half the dough out on a floured, 12×12 piece of wax paper. Sprinkle flour on dough and place another piece of wax paper on top.

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Roll thin. Then remove top layer of the wax paper. Replace. Flip. Remove the top piece of the wax paper.

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Fold the flattened dough in half.

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Fold in half again. It should look like the dough pictured above. Mold edges of dough into the shape of a circle. Repeat rolling out again. On the second time roll to a thickness of 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.

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Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When all dough has been cut up, place cookie sheet in oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees. Or place uncooked biscuits on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once biscuits are frozen, you can place them in a bag and freeze until needed.

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Looking for GF flour? The St. George Harmon’s has the best selection of GF flour. It is expensive, but in a pinch if you don’t have any made up, you have several varieties to choose from. If you want to make your own, here is link from the same’s blog. Absolutely fabulous!

Try this recipe, you will absolutely wonder, “Who needs gluten!?” Do you have a favorite GF recipe? Please share it in the comments.

Putting Ginger to My Ale

I have been unbelievably busy. I went to Front Sight in Pahrump Nevada for a 2-day shot gun training.

Front Sight Shot Gun 2

It is amazing how just a two-day road trip can send you 7 days behind. Then with school, teaching and my full-time job…life has been very demanding. So, I apologize for missing last week’s posts. Well, I promised a ginger ale recipe and here it is. This is quite a process that takes days…well, really weeks…of fermenting. You start by making a ginger bug. Once you get this established, the process only takes a week to make a batch. Let’s get started, here is what you need…

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Peel, dice and smell the ginger. Try to stay on task as the aroma surrounds your nose.

Peel & Dice

In the quart jar add 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon of white sugar and 2 cups of water.

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After mixing up the ingredients, put a coffee filter on top of the jar with a metal ring screwed down to hold it in place. For the next 5 days add a tablespoon each of ginger and sugar daily.

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This is what it should look like at the end of one week. The ginger bug is now to the point we can put together a batch of ginger ale. This next process you will need the following items…

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In a large sauce pan add:

3 cups of filtered water

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced. Add more to taste as the more you use, the stronger the taste.

½ cup of organic sugar

½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

Simmer these ingredients until the sugar has been dissolved and the ginger aroma is lingering throughout your house. Remember to stay on task as the smell of ginger surrounds your nose. Set the pan off the stove and add:

5 cups of filtered water.

Adding this additional water should bring the mixture to room temperature, if not wait until the liquid has cooled. Then add:

½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice

½ cup ginger bug

Put the mixture in half gallon jars and cover with an air-tight lid. Set it out on the counter for another 3 to 4 days.

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After this period of time has past, the ginger ale should now have some fizz to it. If not, let it set a few more days longer. Strain the ginger pieces, lemon seeds and pulp out of the liquid.

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I put the strained liquid in swing-top bottles that I purchased from this website. You can also put the ginger ale in a large jug.

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Set the bottles in the fridge until ready to drink.

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So, yes, this is quite a process, but there are a plethora of health benefits received from your efforts.

The most common use of ginger is to treat various types of stomach problems. These can include motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. In addition to the bottle of ale, ginger can be used topically to relief from joint pain as an anti-inflammatory. In a bath of essential oil, float some ginger slices to help aching muscles and joints…sounds scrumptious. Also, use ginger in a tea to soothe a sore throat and get rid of congestion.

Wellness Mama’s blog is where I found this information which continued my fermenting quest with ginger. Here is where you can find her ginger ale post.

So tell me, do you make ale?

Say Cheese

I went to a soft cheese making workshop about four years ago. The presenter, Heather Carter of Nature Hills Farms, demonstrated a 30-minute Mozzarella cheese recipe. I followed up that class with one of her hard cheese making classes. With all of the many demonstrations she provided, the 30-minute Mozzarella cheese is the only one I even attempted to make. I have even purchased items to move my cheese making art further along, but regretfully I haven’t taken the time. Someday, one of my dreams is to make a cheese cave and perfect my skill of making cheese to my hearts content. Making this cheese gives me a glimpse of that life as a cheese making master. After all, “Blessed are the cheese makers.” ~Monte Python  Right?

Anyway, here is how to make 30-minute Mozzarella cheese. What you need is…

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I have here, a gallon of goats milk, a package of citric acid and a package of cow rennet.

1 gallon Milk (this can be raw or pasteurized; goat or cow…no discrimination here!)
1 1/2 t. Citric Acid (dissolved in 1/2 c. of water)
1/4 t. Rennet (or 1/4 tablet) (dissolved in 1/4 c. of water)
1 t. cheese salt (any non-iodized salt will work)
1/8 or 1/4 t. Lipase Powder (dissolved in 1/4 c. cool water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes, for a stronger flavor) Optional

You will also need a good thermometer one that can measure temperatures past 100 degrees, a slotted spoon, a good large pan.

  1. Add citric acid solution to cool milk 55° F. Mix thoroughly. (If using lipase, add now)
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I have added the citric acid mixture to the milk and its texture has already started to change.

2.  Heat milk to 90° F over medium/low heat. (Milk may start to curdle.)

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3.  Gently add diluted rennet to the milk mixture in an up-and-down motion. Heat the milk between 100-105° F. Turn off heat and move pan to the side. Let set for 5 minutes or until a firm curd has formed.

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The yellow liquid is the whey separating from the protein.

4.  Check the curd; it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey. If too soft or the whey is milky, let mixture set for a few more minutes.

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I pour off what I can of the whey to make it more manageable.

5. Pour off as much whey as possible then scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put into a microwavable bowl. Press curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible. You can reserve the whey for ricotta or another cooking recipe requiring liquid.

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This is what the curd looks like after the first microwave step of 1 minute.

6.  Next microwave the curd on HI for 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all the whey as you did before. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands. The cheese is really hot, so I just use the slotted spoon. If you want, you can use rubber gloves. This will help insulate your hands from the hot cheese.

7.  Microwave 2 more times on HI for 35 seconds each. Drain off the whey and repeat the kneading of the cheese in between each microwave step. Add salt to taste as you knead after the last microwave step.

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The more you knead the cheese the more its texture will look shiny…almost like it’s plastic. The cheese will be very elastic, kind of like string cheese.

8.  Knead quickly now as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. After your mozzarella cheese is complete, just package it up in a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate.

A generous gallon of milk only makes approximately 2 cups of cheese. If you have access to raw milk and it comes in an abundance, it is a great way to make use of the extra milk or to process it for longer storage. Making cheese is also a way to be less dependent on stores and in control of what goes into your food.

I get my rennet and other specialty items for making cheese from The Cheese Maker. As always though, you can Google search “cheese making” and find many options.

Now, you can WOW your family and friends with homemade cheese.

Please share if you try this recipe or if you make cheeses and have any tips or recipes to share. Happy cheese making.

Egg-stra Special Frittata

With chickens, there are times when I have an abundance of eggs. You get to be pretty creative at how to use them up; such as: pickling, deviling or freezing. Of course, another thing you can do with eggs is bake. Quiche has been one of my favorites dishes and it takes six…count ’em 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…6 eggs to make it. Well recently, I have been baking pretty much gluten-free. So, I stopped adding a crust to my quiche. I guess, technically, a crust-less quiche now becomes a frittata. Here is my recipe, adapted from Paul Deen’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche…but now it’s a frittata. Oh heck, less calories and DANG easy, who cares what it’s called?!

Ingredients
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 pound bacon, fried crisp and cut in pieces
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. Milk or Heavy Cream or Half and Half
1 1/2 c. Swiss cheese, shredded (I have used any kind of cheese before, but you get a better taste with Swiss)
small can of diced chilies
2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I chopped up the bacon raw. Then I am not trying to cut it up when it is hot. And you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to cut up slightly frozen to give it some form. Place the pieces in the skillet and fry it until crispy brown.

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While the bacon is cooking I get the rest of the ingredients prepared.

Chop the onions and bell peppers.
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Shred the cheese.
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Chop the spinach.

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Take the eggs and milk and beat them together in a bowl. Add the can of diced chilies. Salt and pepper the milk mixture to taste.

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After the bacon is done to the crispness you like, remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain off the extra fat. After removing some of the fat from the skillet, add the chopped onions and bell pepper to the hot pan. Saute them until they are soft.

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With the sauteed veggies the way you like them, start layering the ingredients. First layer…bell peppers and onions.

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Second layer…spinach.

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Third layer is the cheese.

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Fourth layer…bacon.

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Then pour the egg mixture over the layered ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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Mmmm mmm good!

These “pies” freeze well too…just in case you get ambitious or find you have a dozen eggs you need to use up.

Kefir

I have been making kefir (pronounced kee-fer) for about four years now. There are two types of kefir “grains”: milk or water. Labeling them grains is a misnomer; it’s actually a rubbery, irregular, shaped morsel made up of yeast and bacteria. Its make-up means these grains multiply with use so eventually you will have enough grains to share, sell or compost. Or you’ll need to get really creative to use all the kefir you’ll produce. The milk grains turn milk into a drink tasting similar to yogurt. The water grains use water and sugar to make a fizzy drink. The health benefits of the drink of this prolific little grain are the probiotics it adds to your digestive system. The benefits of probiotics are too numerous to mention—a Google search will show how amazing it is—but suffice to say it is a great immune system booster…even better than yogurt.

Currently, I am using the milk kefir grains with raw goat’s milk.  Lately, I have been processing about a gallon of milk a week. You can use any type of pasteurized milk. I just prefer my milk to be raw and of the goat variety—I’ll reserve another post to go over my rationale for that reason. It takes about two to three days for the grains to work through the fermentation process of the milk (depending on the grain to milk ratio and the preferred taste—sour to really sour taste).

I am getting ready to process my kefir, so I thought I’d show the step-by-step directions of how easy it is.

What is needed is two large jars, a non-metal strainer and a spatula. Non-metal utensils are needed for processing kefir because metal kills the active ingredients in it.

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The jar on the right is how the milk looks when it is time to process. You can see the separation of whey from the milk protein.

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Using the strainer over one of the bowls, I pour off as much as the whey as possible. Then with the second bowl, I pour the rest of the fermented milk through the strainer pressing the drink down through the grains.

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This is what the grains look like in the strainer after that process.

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Then I put the kefir grains into a clean jar and add more milk.

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This is what it looks like at the beginning of the fermentation process. I have the jars covered with a coffee filter and metal ring to allow air to circulate through, but keep dirt and bugs out of the solution. In the comments, please add any helpful hints or tips that you’ve discovered. I would love to hear.

Stay tune for ideas on how I use the kefir. But for now…what do I do with the whey that I poured off the kefir?

Kefir-chickens

The chickens love it! The probiotics are great for them too. Tune in Friday for another tip about my girls.

If you would like to give it a try, my BFF, my Wrangler Man, my partner-in-crime, my mentor, Carson, has some kefir grains for sell. Contact me and I will forward you his information.

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