Whole Foods: Peeking into my Natural Pantry

Curious as to what’s lurking in my kitchen cabinets? Well I’ve opened one so you can see.

Natural Cabinent.10.24.14

My whole food pantry

This is what you’ll see in my cabinents, whole food goodness. I purchase my spices, herbs, roots, leaves, etc., in bulk and it’s whole form. In doing so I increase the freshness of the various items and the nutrition content is much higher.

I’m also big on recycling, many of these items you see above were taken from their bags and transferred to glass containers. That had originally been used for something else. Some of these recycled items I purchased myself and others jars/containers were given to me.

You can edit this ad by going editing the index.php file or opening /images/exampleAd.gif

Fermentation adventures: Finally making my sourdough starter…

One of the challenges a person can face for wanting to prepare everything themselves, is finding the time to do just that.

Take myself for example, I love that I’m so self-sufficient. When it comes to meal preparation, clothing and skin care products. I really don’t have to rely on someone or a company to make the things for me. I’m perfectly capable of doing them myself. However, I don’t always get things done when I want. After all, there’s only so much time in a day.

Sourdough was one of the projects that fell through the cracks.

Initially, I’d written about making my own sourdough starter on September 1, and while I’d had every intention to start my own sourdough starter, that never happened.

If you remember, I mentioned that I’d heard about sourdough from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, By the Shores of Silver Lake….

“But how do you make the sour dough?” Mrs. Boast asked. “You start it,” said Ma, “by putting some flour and warm water in a jar and letting it stand till it sours.” “Then when you use it, always leave a little,” said Laura. “And put in the scraps of biscuit dough, like this, and more warm water.” Laura put in the warm water, “and cover it,” she put a clean cloth and the plate on the jar, “and just set it in a warm place,” she set it in its place on the shelf by the stove. “And it’s always ready to use whenever you want it.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder: By the Shores of Silver Lake

It hasn’t been laziness that has kept me from making sourdough, instead I’ve been having numerous other fermenting adventures with the most recent being Kombucha! Not only did I create my own SCOBY at home, I’ve successfully made kombucha. I just haven’t gotten around to drinking it yet.

Fermenting Adventures: Honey Garlic & Kombucha Tea

Well… look at my ferments! I’m so happy. I now have three SCOBY’s! I guess I should have posted a picture all of them below, however in the first picture you only see one.

As I mentioned in a prior posts, I want my SCOBY discs a bit thicker and so I’ve added them to another batch of freshly brewed tea using some of the liquid from the first ferment. That liquid, combined with the freshly prepared (and cooled) black tea kept my SCOBY growing.

Fermenting Kombucha and honey garlic

Fermenting Kombucha and honey garlic

With an added bonus that the new SCOBY started forming in one day! I’m unsure if you can see it in the above picture. If you look closely at the jar on the right, you’ll see a thin film at the top of the liquid. That’s my newly formed SCOBY!

 

Fermenting Kombucha 10.22.14

Fermenting Kombucha

In the above picture you see a bottle of my fermented kombucha. These bottles arrived on Tuesday. They didn’t come assembled, but it really didn’t take much effort to put the cork in place.

You know something? I’m a bit afraid to sample it at the moment. I’m unsure if it’ll be the flavor I like, from my readings it can take a few attempts before your brand-new SCOBY produces the type of kombucha that you like and that’s perfectly understandable when trying something new. You can’t expect to get it right the first time, right? I will say for the final brew, I want fizzy like the GT brand.

�fermenting honey garlic

fermenting honey garlic

 

Check out my fermenting honey garlic. Do you see all those bubbles? That’s a good sign. I’ve been shaking this jar daily and banishing it back into a dark cabinet. I can’t wait to sample these in a month or so…

Sauerkraut in crock_1 08.24.14

Recycled photo… My fermented sauerkraut has shrunk a lot more than this picture that was originally posted in August.

 

In other news…

My sauerkraut is doing well. It’s been fermenting for about two months now. I might sample a bit later this week, but plan to let it ferment for at least one more month.

Burning incense – wonderful fly repellent

This fall, I’ve seen an alarming number of flies in the house. The house stays clean but these flies are stubborn, they are determined to set up camp for the cooler months. We’ve chased them down and eliminated most, but still some manage to maintain a foothold. They’re taunting me!

 

Incense

Incense

 

Seeing flies buzzing about our home is something new. We haven’t had this issue in the past! Ughh! So… what could be causing the problem? Hmm… I racked my brain trying to think of what we were doing differently, and it finally dawned on me…  that I hadn’t burned incense in quite some time! From my readings, flies and mosquitoes don’t seem to tolerate smoke too well. Score! Additionally, I like the aroma given off by my preferred incense so for me, this is the perfect way to drive the remaining pests from the home. Of course, I can’t find my incense anywhere. It’s entirely possible that I’ve used it all. I purchased some more.

Incense Holder - Lotus flower

Incense Holder – Lotus flower

 

Naturally, you need an incense holder too. I had several, but when they did work on the house I tucked them away and it’s quite possible they were given away since I did donate some of those items to various charity organizations. Oh well, I purchased the above incense holder, isn’t it lovely? In total, the price to drive these annoying pests out of the home has cost me a little over $23, and I purchased enough incense to last for quite some time.

Hibiscus Tea loaded with vitamin C

Last evening, I made a big pot of hibiscus tea. I purchase dried organic (whole) hibiscus flowers to use in a variety of ways, but the main way is to prepare tea. I normally make enough to put into one of the large glass pitchers that you see here. In doing so, there’s enough to last throughout the day.

Hibiscus tea.10.21.14

Hibiscus Tea

I wish you could see the reddish color of the tea, I wasn’t able to capture it in the above post. My daughter tell me the color reminds her of fruit punch. We love the lovely floral scent of the hibiscus flower, but it’s more than a lovely flower… hibiscus is a great source of antioxidants and it’s extremely high in vitamin C.

With the above tea I also added cinnamon bark, ginger and soursop leaves and while this would be perfectly fine on its own I did add a bit of organic sugar to the blend. I’ll carry some of this with me to work today, a portion will be added to my daughters thermos and the remaining will be placed in the refrigerator to be consumed when we return home today.

Fermenting Adventures: Look at my SCOBY!

Kombucha SCOBY_1 10.18.14

Kombucha SCOBY

I am so excited that my SCOBY is doing so well. Just look at her! Perhaps I should give her a name, what do you think?

I’m sure some of you might not get why I’m giddy about this blob like disc and others might not even know what a SCOBY is?

A brief refresher for those that don’t know…  SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. This is a healthy bacteria. Our body needs beneficial bacteria to function properly. Yeast and bacteria are present during the fermentation of kombucha.When I fermented my kombucha to make a SCOBY it didn’t start as this round disc. Initially all I noticed were bubbles. A few days later I noticed a clear film forming on top of the kombucha. Since I already knew about this process, I wasn’t concerned since it would not be long before I had grown my own SCOBY at home!

This past weekend, I took all my SCOBYs (three) out of the three  jars, rinsed them off, added a bit of sugar back to the tea mixture and placed them back into the jar. Correction, I placed them into two jars. The Kombucha that I had made with black tea wasn’t as thick as the SCOBY I made from kombucha only, so I thought I’d combine those two together.

Why did I add more sugar when I placed them back into the jars? The SCOBY eats the sugar so when your kombucha is finally finished it should be left with very little sugar. I say *should* because I did taste a store bought kombucha that was oh so nasty. Blech! They sweetened it with stevia and even though it was brewed it was way to sweet and overpowered with stevia.

 

In other news…

I believe my water kefir grains will be arriving some time this week. I’m really looking forward to receiving them. In an earlier post I linked to a video about water kefir, it’s history, benefits, and the process involved. I decided to link to another video that is mainly focused on how to make your own water kefir at home.

Resources

Kombucha, the Balancing Act

Fermenting Adventures: Fermented Honey Garlic

Garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic (thanks to the allicin it contains).

Fermented honey garlic_1 10.19.14

Fermenting honey garlic

I consume raw garlic throughout the year, but usually increase the amount taken during the cold and flu season. While I don’t mind eating it raw, my daughter really doesn’t like its bite and so I mix hers with other food.

One way she will eat raw is in a fermented honey garlic. After about a month or so, the garlic loses its bite. It will still smell like garlic but without the sharpness that she dislikes and it will taste like garlic honey. She munches on a few cloves of the fermented garlic honey at night. Why? By morning the garlic smell has left her body.

I made another batch about an hour ago. I put my garlic cloves in a mason jar, and submerge it with honey. I leave about 2″ head space. The cloves won’t stay covered so be sure to shake daily to insure the garlic stays coated. I usually just turn the jar upside down on the next day and continue to rotate until ready. We consume the honey garlic alone and I also drizzle it over stir fry, add a dollop to already prepared soup and I use it in many other ways too.