30 March 2009

Spring Break Adventures

Spring break has come and gone. I was ready for it to be over with. It was full of house hunting, meeting with others for group projects and getting only one skirt done. I wanted to get a lot done but I didn't and it was very frustrating.

However, there were some high points, though mostly at the end. Joel and I have been reading Sally Fallon's " Nourishing Traditions" and a lot of books by Gene Logsdon. Both are advocates of simple traditional diets including animal fats, fermented beverages and dairy products, and eating as closely to the food's original form/state. Through their fermented beverage advocacy we were introduced to kombucha, a fermented tea drink. In order to make kombucha you need a kombucha culture (scobi, mushroom, lichen, it has many different names but I'm not sure which is correct). So Joel and I found a person who would give us a mushroom for trade and we gave her a loaf of homemade bread and some heirloom seeds left over from our plantings. Kelleigh, the mushroom giver, gave us an in depth lesson on making kombucha and the chemistry behind it. It is really simple to make and it's surprisingly cheap as well.

1. Boil a gallon of water to get rid of chlorine found in tap water (or use purified water), for five minutes

2. Add a 1 cup white sugar (this is for the mushroom to feed on)

3. Add 6 plain caffeinated white, green or black tea bags for 5 minutes (use tea WITHOUT oil in it, the oil will prevent fermentation, this includes earl grey, flavoured teas, etc.)

4. If this is your first time add 1 cup of vinegar or a store bought raw kombucha, this prevents bad bacteria from growing.

5. Add the mushroom. It may float, sink or lay about half way, it will eventually get where it needs to be and work fine. Don't worry if it sinks!

6. Store in a glass, stainless steel food grade, or non-lead containing ceramic container and keep in a dark dry place.

7. In warmer temperatures it will take about 3-5 days, in colder temperatures it will take upwards of 2-3 weeks, so be patient. Periodically test the kombucha after it's had time to ferment until it is to your satisfaction.

Just thought I'd share it with you. :0) Its been an interesting process to watch and be part of.

We also made ginger ale prior to getting our kombucha mushroom but it didn't turn out so well. We botched the amount of salt we were suppose to put in and it ended up tasting like a ginger flavoured tide pool.

In order to make the ginger ale (and many other lacto-fermented drinks) we needed whey. What is whey you ask? Well, it is the milk water left over after the milk has separated into water and solids. To achieve this we left out non-homogenized milk for 5 days. This creates the whey and a yoghurt/cream cheese/creme fraiche spread. Out of one gallon of milk we got over 1 quart of whey and 3-4 cups of cream cheese.

Also, something I learned as a result of reading "Nourishing Traditions" is that polyunsaturated fats are really bad for your body, they are made up of unstable fat cells that break off and adhere to your natural fat cells. You generally find polyunsaturated fats in anything processed or chemically altered, specifically vegetables oils (with the exception of olive oil). You can tell whether its a polyunsaturated fat or otherwise (and there are many kinds of fats) if the oil/fat solidifies and becomes opaque in the refrigerator.

That being said, Joel and I bought pork lard at the farmer's market on saturday and spent all day rendering the fat down to the oil and the cracklings (or in Spanish it's chicharrones).

After 6 years as vegetarians we are pretty much now just omnivores. Albeit picky ones, we've decided that unless we know where the meat came from and that the animals were not factory farmed and fed antibiotics and corn (not ethically produced/farmed/taken care of) we won't eat it. So we bought bacon at the farmer's market too.

We had french toast and bacon for lunch on saturday and BLTs yesterday for lunch. It was good. :0)

Also at the farmer's market we got seeded arugula and leeks and on our way home I picked dandelion leaves for salads and daffodils for lovelying up our home. It was a splendid day!

Later that evening we went to our friend Clara's birthday party, she is turning 22 on wednesday. The food was Mexican themed so there was a lot of delicious beans, cheese, rice, chips, lettuce, and many other delicious foods. Clara's roommates brought a Mexican beer by Pacifico called Clara which was a very sweet coincidence and another girl made Mexican hot chocolate, yummy!

And yesterday I planted our tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers, hurray! There's a house that we're interested in but there's already an application being processed on it so we're second in line. The house has a massive backyard AND four bedrooms and two full baths, EXACTLY what we're looking for. They're also cool with pets so we're really hoping the other party doesn't go through with getting the house. We'll see what happens. The backyard is big enough to house our entire garden and have space to play frisbee or put a table and chairs out for outside summertime dining, hee hee.

And lastly, I planted some basil and some succulent cuttings. The basil are an Italian sweet basil and an Opal basil which is actually opalescent in colour, its great!

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