Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Short Ode to Fermentation

As the summer days move on and July goes into full swing, I find myself in the kitchen more often making bubbly brews that are not only delicious but wonderfully nutritious as well, and they keep a very long time. I love this process, a time honored tradition that I think our culture could do with a lot more of.
This process is done by cultures all around the world. When people immigrated here to America they brought their sourdoughs, or various other ferments with them. I, personally, try to ferment everything. From the ketchup that my kids eat, to our mustard, pickles, chutneys, I am even trying, for the first time, a fermented chili sauce. (That will also make a fermented chili paste. Waste not want not.) Today I will share with you the recipe for the mustard (as seen in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.)

1 1/2 cup ground mustard
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons whey
2 teaspoons sea salt
the juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic (pressed, optional)
1 tablespoon honey (optional) (I added more than that.)
2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds

Mix all ingredients together adding more water as needed/desired. Top of jar should be a least one inch above mustard, cover tightly and set out on counter for 3 days. Transfer to cold storage.

Other Great resources for fermenting things:
Wild Fermentation (great website as well as an awesome book!)
Nourishing Traditions (another fabulous book)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chocolate Black Bean Cupcakes

So as a bit of a treat, and because I have these goofy Uncle Sam guys, we made some black bean sauerkraut cupcakes for the 4th. These cupcakes are really great and we have changed them up a bit recently to refect our recent Gluten-Free-ness. We did orginally find this recipe online, I cannot remember where and we have modified it to our own purposes.

1/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar (rapuda, cane sugar, etc.)
2 large pastured eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. brewed coffee
1 cup black beans, soaked, rinsed, cooked, and drained
14 oz. sauerkraut, squeezed
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup flour (we used 1/2 cup coconut and 1/2 brown rice)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup water

First Preheat your oven to 375F and line your cupcake tins. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs. Making sure they are all mixed up well. Next add the vanilla and coffee. At this point, you put the black beans and the sauerkraut in a food processor and puree it, then add the puree to the liquid ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa) then slowly add them to the liquid mix alternately with the 3/4 cup of water. Beat well after each addition. Fill cupcake tins two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then ice.
For icing we take cream cheese and honey and whip it together until it is the right consistency.
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Popsicle Success!

So I tried the popsicles again this time using yorgurt as a base. Blueberries for the blue, (again it came out more purpley) strawberries for the red, and plain yogurt for the white. I have a kind of crappy plastic popsicle mold (they are BPA free though), the kind where the stick is attached to the drip guard, so it was difficult to make the layers. I made the first layer and allowed it to freeze fully without the tops on, (I had a plate over them.) The second layer we let sit until it was mostly frozen, then we added the top layer and then forced the sticks through the partially frozen layer.
Jenny from Nourished Kitchen, put up a blog post, about this (while I was still in phase one,)only her recipe used kefir. She also has really cool stainless steel molds that use sticks that aren't attached to the drip guards so it would be easier to make the layers. (You'd be able to remove the top without removing the stick.) I think I am putting those molds on my "to get" list. Well, I was able to make the layers.... now I just need to find something that would give me a darkish blue rather than a dark purple.
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Friday, July 1, 2011

Crafting: Present Bags

Since I am still in the midst of PLAN B, but I wanted to write about something. And since my daughter's birthday was last week, and my son's will be 2 weeks from now, I figured now would be a good time to show off the present bags I made.
Let me start off by saying I hate wrapping presents. Before we even get to all the issues I have with paper waste and landfills, there's just the fact that I dislike the whole process of wrapping presents. So I decided I would make them bags that we could use year after year, and that would solve all my problems. My Mother (in her infinite wisdom told me I should make it reversible so that I had Christmas on one side, and Birthdays on the other. Brilliant I thought and set to work.
They took me maybe about 2 weeks to complete, and they were rather simple to construct once I figured out my dimensions.
I made these in February but I finally got to use one last week for Rowan's Birthday. It worked out awesomely!

Picture above shows Ash's Birthday side and Rowan's Christmas side. (Ash's Christmas side looks exactly the same and Rowan's Birthday side is yellow and has ladybugs on it.)