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Lookie what I won!

Starlene held a giveaway over on her blog and I won an apron!  How cool is that? Thanks, Starlene!!  It came wrapped for Christmas even but I just couldn’t wait until tomorrow morning.  I’m a very naughty girl.

It just arrived today and I’ve already broken it in.  The funny thing is the apron is a GAPS diet* apron and I broke it in by making cinnamon swirl bread.  Heh.  It’s for the neighbors’ Christmas gifts, though, so that makes it okay that there’s now flour all over the front of it, right?

*For those who don’t know what the GAPS diet it, it’s a healing diet that excludes grains (among other things).

That fermented salsa experiment?


Successful enough to drink by the glass.  Yum.  I simply used my usual salsa recipe, added whey that I drained from kefir, and let set out at room temp for 2-4 days.  Did I mention yum?  I can’t wait to try this with fresh veggies from my own garden this summer!

Good grief, it’s December?!

Okay, seriously, what happened to 2011?  Times always goes by so quickly but, this year, it’s flat-out stupid.  Ah, well.  At least it’s been a good year and there’s the end of the world to look forward to next year, right?

Speaking of next year, have I mentioned we’re getting goats again?  Yeah, I know but we need a steady source of good meat & milk and goats fit the bill for us right now.  We’re really leaning toward the Kinder breed and there are, conveniently, several sources in our area.  There’s fence & housing to build first but we’re hoping for spring/summer.

The chickens are doing well, just now coming out of moult.  We did lose a few a month or so back.  One day, there was some sniffling & snotting, and then they started croaking, one by one.  I think we lost a half dozen or so.  While we still had several (30-something?), we were excited to get over a dozen more this week from someone downsizing their flock.  They’re a mix of breeds, in their prime, and a welcome addition.  They’re segregated at the moment while we introduce them to the existing flock but I’ll get some pics once they’re out to mingle.

Lots of fermenting going on.  We’re really loving kombucha (fermented tea)!  I’ve been keeping three gallons of it in rotation but, just today, added a fourth.  I’ve also set up an additional two jugs for experimenting with coffee kombucha.  I doubt I’ll like it but I’m hoping Steve will.  The man loves his coffee!

In another corner, I’m trying my hand at sauerkraut yet again.  I’m convinced that I’ll eventually tweak it to where we learn to like it.  Maybe.  I’m also going to try fermenting salsa this week.  Yum!!

Ah, here’s the newest addition to the family:  Viili!  It’s yogurt that’s fermented at room temperature.  Very cool stuff since I don’t have the patience for keeping the temperatures required for the usual yougurts.  This has an amazing yogurt taste.

And, last but not least, the milk kefir.  We took a break from it over the summer and, to do so, I dried the kefir grains and stored them in the freezer.  They were easy to wake up and are going gangbusters now.

The kefir and yogurt make for good smoothies & lassi but, last week, I began playing with making kefir cheese.  Simply drain the finished kefir through a flour sack cloth (or similar) for several hours.  After a bit of dripping as seen in the pic below, I tied the corners of the flour sack up over a spoon and hung it on the container.

Open the flour sack and voila!  It’s rather like cream cheese but even better.  I think I might try to make a honey-sweetened cheesecake with it in the next week or so.

Along with the cheese, you also get whey.  You can add it to all sorts of things but I’m using it as starter for fermenting vegetables, such as the salsa I’m getting ready to work up.

Thanks for all of the input on the kitchen redo!  I’m still soaking it all in.  Give me a week or two to wrap my brain around all of the suggestions and I’ll post an update with window pics as requested.  And, Carol, I’d love to see your pics for inspiration!



Potential Family Christmas Card Photo?

A family that butchers together, stays together.

Is this not a beautiful sight?

Downright heartwarming, if you ask me.


Our new overlords are not terribly photogenic.

Continuing my fermented foods journey:

The sauerkraut smells nasty.  It still has a while to go but we tested a bit of it recently when I was topping off the brine.  Ew.  I’ve always hated sauerkraut but I thought maybe I’d convince my taste buds to change their mind with homemade.  Meh.  I’ll try again in a couple of weeks.

The milk kefir is doing very well, absolutely thriving.  We’re making smoothies with it most days and Isaac is even drinking it plain — he even tried eating one of the grains yesterday (and liked it).  We’re playing with the ratio of milk:kefir and length of fermentation to get its taste to our preferences, as well as keeping the kefir grains happy & healthy.

Above are water kefir grains.  I did a simple feeding when they first arrived, placing them in sugar water for a couple of days.  Last night, I strained the grains and put them in a new solution.  The kids and I gathered ’round to taste the fermented “juice”.  It wasn’t flavored with anything, just the straight water kefir.  It didn’t smell overly pleasant so we very cautiously tasted it.  YUM!!!  Oh, man, it was good!! I can only imagine what it will be like once we start playing around with fruit additions and second fermentations, etc.  The kids and I all tried a sip, as there was only a cup, but Josie refused to share and gulped down the majority of it.  Did I mention YUM?!  I can see we’re going to make gallons and gallons of this stuff.

Below is kombucha SCOBY.  It makes a drink from sweetened tea and can also make vinegar.  It has to brew for a couple of weeks so it’ll be a while before we can taste it.

As with most everything, I’ll freely share these once I grow them enough to divide.

The new babies

Ilene was kind enough to send me a HUGE pile of milk kefir grains and they arrived yesterday.  HUGE pile!  I strained them off and tossed ‘em in a half-gallon jar with a fresh quart of milk.  Today, 24-ish hours later, I again strained them off and put them in with another fresh quart of milk.  The liquid kefir they made is in yet another jar, sitting to continue fermenting an additional day.  We plan to use it as a base for our smoothies instead of the storebought yogurt we’ve been using.

Assuming I don’t kill them, I should have plenty to share as they multiply in case any of you are interested.  Did I mention I also have water kefir and kombucha cultures on the way?  I’m clearing out an entire cabinet shelf for fermenting stuff!

My inner hausfrau

We have been doing that whole broadening our horizons thing this year, even in the food department.  We’re trying lots of new things and plans to try many more are in the works.  Right now, I’m on a fermented foods exploration kick.

A year or two ago, Ilene planted a seed (bacteria?) in my noggin:  She emailed me instructions on making sauerkraut.  Today, after searching out various kraut-making methods, we started a couple of gallons of sauerkraut… at last!

Quit looking at those spills on the floor by the fridge that I was too lazy to clean up!  Stop it!

Future fermentations coming at you are milk kefir, water (sugar) kefir, and kombucha!  And I’ll try my hand at yogurt making yet again.  Alert the health department.

The Quest Resumes

Steve got the grain mill set up this past week so I’ve been playing with wheat bread again.  Still don’t have the perfect recipe but there are a couple of promising ones.  I can get it very, very, very tasty and even non-brick-like but I don’t yet have the loft that I’d like.  Of course, I could always cheat and throw in some white flour but what fun would that be?

Bonus:  Partial kitchen shot, the only room in the house not yet in the “tour”.  I never seem to think about getting a pic until the kitchen is completely trashed (which is fairly often).

Returning from battle

I’ve been off, fighting all sorts of bad guys.  Horrible, nightmarish bad guys.

Such as this blob from outerspace that tried to take over the universe.  Ilene mentioned a biscuit-in-a-can knockoff recipe that I tried today.  It mentions that you can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks and take out bits to bake as you need it.  Hah.  After only 30 minutes in the fridge, we lost one toddler and three cats in the doughy explosion.  Tastes just like the canned stuff, though.

And evil, stalker cats.

This little “darling” showed up meowing at our back door a few weeks back.  Silly me, we let him in to eat.  He ate.  And ate.  And ate.  For four hours, he ate.  When he finally finished, we put him back outside.  One thing led to another and, before we knew it, he had moved himself right in.  He took over the recliner, the remote, and hogged the bathroom for hours at a time.  Steve named him Garfield for his eating and lounging habits.  Garfield loved Steve.  Steve, Mr. Animal Cruelty himself, was adored by this cat.  I, the softie who would never hurt a flea (unless its bound for my deep freeze), was shown nothing but hatred.  24/7 of glaring, snarling cat.  I named him The Jerk.  Then I made him move back outside after he was caught peeing on a rug.

He now lurks outside my bedroom window, stalking me, meowing menacingly all night, waiting to kill me.  Slowly.

Homemade snowcones

The kids wanted a snowcone machine for Christmas but instead they got a baggie full of KoolAid packets wrapped up.  Oh, how disappointing…  Until they tasted the magic!

Boil 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups sugar together, about a minute or so at a full boil.  Remove from heat and add in two packets of KoolAid.  Pour into a pint Mason jar and refrigerate until cool.  Once completely cooled, scoop up a big ol’ pan of fresh snow (or just chop a few ice cubes in the food processor) and bring inside.  Cram pack coffee mugs (or other short cups) with snow, then drizzle on the homemade snow cone syrup.  Yum!!  (One of these days, I’ll part with a couple of dollars to buy some cheap squeezy bottles usually used for catsup and the sort.)

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