My First Kombucha

I made kombucha!

I was really nervous about fermenting my first tea, but I did it. And it turned out great!

I got the SCOBY mushrooms from a generous student whose parents make kombucha on a regular basis. I kept them chilled in the fridge in a glass jar for a month or so before I got up the nerve to make my first batch. I read a ton of info online and watched a few dozen YouTube videos before I made the plunge.

To make my kombucha, I started by brewing three black tea and three green tea bags in a gallon of distilled water with one cup of raw sugar. After the water came to a boil, I turned off the heat and let the tea bags sit in the water overnight so the water could come back to room temperature. I also let the SCOBY mushrooms sit out overnight so they could come to room temperature. In the morning, I simply added the mushrooms, the recycled kombucha that came with the SCOBY (If you don’t have any starter liquid, you can add about a quarter cup of distilled vinegar to the mix.), and a little more water to a giant glass container. (I took out the tea bags first.)

Then, I covered the container with a clean kitchen towel and used a rubber band to keep it in place. This helps keep debris and fruit flies out of your fermenting kombucha. I stored the glass jar of fermenting tea on top of the refrigerator because its warm up there, and I let it ferment for seven full days. On the eighth day, I checked the tea, and this is what I found.

I fished out the mushrooms with clean hands and put them in a bowl with a little bit of tea to be used later.

Since my mushrooms thickened nicely like they were supposed to, I was able to take off the funky top layer and still have two thick mushrooms for my next batch of tea.

The flavor of the tea was nice and mild, with a very distinct honey taste. I have no idea where that came from, but it was awesome!

I tried to ferment half of the batch for a second fermentation because I wanted some fizziness, but I think it fermented too much becauseĀ  it reacted just like alcohol in my system. Weird.

I sill had the other half of the batch to drink, luckily, and enjoyed it daily with my lunch. I even added some fresh pressed cherry/grape juice one day for a flavor boost. Yum!

I can’t wait to make my next batch of tea. I’m thinking some time this weekend šŸ˜‰

Oh, How the Garden Growns

 

This year,Ā  Mr. M and I planted a bit of a garden. Two years ago, we planted a few tomato plants and ate tomatoes until we couldn’t stand them anymore. Last year, we didn’t quite get around to planting anything, so this year we went all out.

We have a very small yard, as you can see. Mr. M uses an old fashioned push blade mower on the lawn and gets the whole thing done in about 10 minutes. Yes, it’s that small.Ā  Luckily, though, we have a patch of grass in the middle of the courtyard that all of the houses in our tiny neighborhood share. But, since we’ve lived here, we’ve been responsible for the entire patch in front of our house (The guy across the court yard died last year, and the lady beside him died about three years ago.) So, this year, we turned the whole patch into a tiny garden patch.

We also took out a couple of sad bushes beside our house and opened up quite a bit of space.

The plants that went into the ground included tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, green and red peppers, and onions. We also planted countless rows of kale, spinach, chard, and lettuce.

Unfortunately, our summer here has been crazy hot and crazy dry. And while we do value our garden and freshly grown veggies, we also value saving water (and money!), and only watered the plants in desperation. (We would love to set up a rain collection system, but this house and property just don’t allow for it.) I’m sure if our plants had had more water and a bit cooler temps, the yield would have been a lot more than it was. But, that didn’t happen, and neither did our veggies.

In total, we harvested about 10 zucchini and yellow squash and about 10 Roma tomatoes. Most of our tomatoes got bottom rot (Mr. M’s research indicated lack of calcium in the soil and/or low water.), and our pepper plants were miniature, producing only three peppers – all of which rotted before maturing. And our greens, well, they’re sad. Just sad.

Nothing grew! No kale. No lettuce. No chard. No spinach. Nothing. Notta. A few tiny leaves popped up, and something ate them. Bummer.

I was supposed to plant herbs in pots and place them on the porch, but that never happened. I’m more of the eater, and Mr. M is more of the planter šŸ˜‰

Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.

Adventures in Juicing

I shared with you a couple of months ago that I finally bought a juicer – an Omega Vert 350. I got a great deal on it – half price! – and I was super excited to juice everything in sight as soon as it showed up on the front porch. So I did.

I juiced spring mix. Gross.

I juiced kale and ginger and lemon and apple. Not great.

I juiced carrots. Not my favorite.

I juiced apples. Good, but after I drank a pint of straight up apple juice I rememberedĀ  why I don’t drink apple juice; it gives me terrible stomach cramps. I was, unfortunately, reminded as we were driving to our Fourth of July vacation get-a-way…three hours by car. Ouch.

I juiced zucchini. Not bad. Nice and mild and probablyĀ  a good nutritional add to other juices.

I juiced beets. Blech. This is the second time I’ve tried raw beets. The first time, I blended one. Blech. I love, love, love cooked beets; they’re one of my favorite veggies, but when they’re raw, they taste like dirt to me. I don’t understand how people say they add them to juice and smoothies as a sweetener. I don’t get it…at all! I even tried yellow/orange beets for a milder flavor, but it didn’t make any difference in the dirt taste. Neither does peeling.

I juiced oranges. Delicious!

I juiced grapefruit. Delicious! (Word of warning: Don’t drink old citrus juice unless you want to be super friendly with your bathroom.)

I juiced oranges and grapefruits. Super delicious!

I juiced the white and leftover red part of the watermelon rind. Awesome! So refreshing! And apparently, the white part contains theĀ  hard to find amino acid citrulline.

I juiced cherries and grapes. Mmmm…Bonus, it’s a great flavor booster to homemade kombucha (more about that to come!).

Basically, I’m not sold on juicing. I know I just need more time to experiment and become accustomed to juicing veggies and greens, but the juicerĀ  clean-up, although minimal, is deterring as is the cost of produce and waste produced by the pulp. (I used some of the pulp in raw crackers and breads, but I couldn’t figure out how to use most of it. Compost fodder.)

And oh ya, adding an apple to questionable juice does not make it taste better. Maybe if I added a bushel of apples…*sigh* I need a juicing intervention.

Raw Chili

I’m not a big chili fan. Never have been. But every once-in-a-while I crave it, which happened recently. But, since I’ve been eating a high-raw diet lately, I decided to try making raw chili. After consulting a few raw cookbooks and websites, I came up with this…and it was delicious!

Raw Chili

1 pk sun dried tomatoes – about 1 cup (soak if very dry)

2-3 roma tomatoes, diced (include seeds) – about 1 cup

1/2 big red bell pepper (another color might work – but don’t use green pepper for blending)

 

1 stalk celery, diced

1 lg carrot, diced

1/2 med onion, diced

Seasonings: onion powder, granulated garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, chipotle powder/cayenne powder/chili flakes, etc

Bled sun dried tomatoes, tomatoes, and red bell pepper with seasonings in a high-powered blender or food processor. Mix should be thick with some texture, but not chunky. Add diced carrots, celery, and onion. Dehydrate chili to help blend flavors or refrigerate overnight to do the same thing. Serve chilled, slightly warmed, or at room temp.

I was surprised by how well this satisfied my desire for chili – and boy was it spicy!

My batch lasted a few days in the fridge. If it gets a little watery, just stir it up. The good thing about eating leftover, too, is that the veggies soften quite a bit from the liquid šŸ™‚

Raw Pies & Parfaits

I shared a recipe a couple of weeks ago with you for Raw Dutch Apple Pie, and since then, I’ve been making apple pies, cherry pies, strawberry pie, banana cream pies…I can’t get enough raw pie!

My recent obsession with raw pie is a little odd considering I don’t like traditional pie (except pumpkin, but everything is better with pumpkin). It has something to do with the crust and sickeningly sweet filling.Ā  But raw pie is different. All raw desserts are different to me. In a very, very good way.

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Basic Raw Pie/Parfait

10 medjool or other soft date, pitted

1/2 c dried, shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut – optional

1 c (heaping) filling

Process dates and coconut (if using) in a mini-chopper until crumbles form. Place about half of the mixture in the bottom of a small, deep dish and press to form a bottom ‘crust.’ (Use a shallow dish and bring crust up the side for a more traditional pie look.) Add filling and top with remaining crumbles. Eat right away, dehydrate, refrigerate or freeze pie.

Options:

Click here for the Apple Pie Filling recipe.

Cherry Pie Filling: Roughly chop/blend (pulse chop so mixture is part liquid/part chunks) about 2 heaping cups of pitted cherries.

Strawberry Pie Filling: Roughly chop/blend (pulse chop so mixture is part liquid/part chunks) about 1/2 pound strawberries.

Banana Cream Pie Filling: Blend one large banana until smooth. Add to pie. Slice one large banana and add to top of banana cream.

Make it 80-10-10 (high carb/low fat raw vegan): Don’t include the coconut and all of the combos are not only 80-10-10 approved, but they also follow food combing guidelines.

Make it a parfait! Turn your pie into a parfait: Instead of pressing the date crumbles into the bottom of a dish, sprinkle about 1/3 of the mix into the bottom of a deep, wide glass, add about 1/2 of the filling mixture, top with more crumble, add more filling, and top with more crumbles. If you’re making the banana cream, add a layer or two of sliced bananas, or top each cream layer with a layer of sliced bananas.

Two or three ingredient raw desserts. Eating simply at its finest!

 

Raw Zucchini Bread

Our garden has been spewing zucchini and yellow summer squash like it’s its job. Hum…Now that I think about it, I guess that is it’s job šŸ˜‰Ā  In an attempt to use up the plethera of squash, I’ve been turning it into all kinds of things.Ā  I juiced it, which wasn’t too bad. I shredded some and put in the freezer. I made zucchini hummus that turned into salad dressing, and I made this bread.

Raw Zucchini Bread

2 c shredded zucchini or zucchini pulp (If your shreds or pulp aren’t dry, squeeze them through a kitchen towel or nut milk bag.

2 c almond meal/flour (This is a good time to use your leftover almond milk pulp. Just remember to dehydrate it first, so it’s not toot wet.)

1 c date paste (Dates soaked in just enough water to cover then blended smooth with the soaking water)

1 t vanilla extract

2 pks stevia (about 1/2 TBSP) or other granulated sweetener (adjust for flavor)

1-2 T chia seeds (or flax meal or psyllium powder or husks)

1/4t – 1 t cinnamon and/or other spices of your choice

Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Allow mixture to sit for a few minutes so the chia seeds can thicken the mixture. (Use additional seeds to thicken thinner batter.)Ā  Spread on a paraflexx lined dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 110-115 for about three hours or until mixture is firm enough to flip onto mesh lined dehydrator tray. Continue to dehydrate until dry to the touch (another 3-6 hours depending upon the moisture content of your bread). Remove from dehydrator and cut into desired pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

Options: Try adding different species for a more seasonal taste. Add raisins for additional sweetness. If you want a more cake-like dessert, try adding a little coconut oil to your batter. Start with 1 tsp, and work your way up from there.

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I’m sharing this recipe at….

Allergy Free Wednesdays @ Laura’s Gluten Free Pantry

Wellness Weekends @ Diet DessertĀ  & Dogs

Healthy Vegan Fridays @ The Veggie Nook