Monday, August 9, 2010

My first canning attempts

I "canned" for the first time this year! It is very cool to preserve my own food! We (I had help from my husband) made salsa, spaghetti sauce and peach preserves. It was much easier than I expected.

Now I don't think I will make canning my number one method of preservation because of the nutrient loss that comes with it, but its nice to know I have that option and that there is food that will be available in an emergency. I've also read that tomatoes are actually better for you cooked so canning tomato products is still a good idea. I would love to put up some tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

My biggest complaint is the amount of sugar called for in some recipes. Seriously I don't want to put MORE sugar than fruit. I have found out I can use Pamona's Pectin and use less sugar. What I really want to figure out before I make jam or preserves again is if I can use a more natural sweetener-honey, sucanat, etc. Any ideas?

Here is my salsa:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Baking Day

So I did a HUGE baking day on Wednesday. I learned a lot and had a little success!

This baking day was all about sourdough, everything (except for one) was made of sourdough, a very healthy option!

The plan was to make tortillas, english muffins, bread, bread bites and graham crackers (these were not made with sourdough).

Here is my helper for the day all ready to go!

Building up my "sponge"

Dough rising, the first is tortilla dough the second is english muffin dough:

Loaves rising:

The results (well some of them):

So, the loaves came out too flat, I'm not sure if I didn't let them rise long enough or if they fell in the oven. They were very very dense and chewy but the flavor was good so I'm not giving up yet! The tortillas were good but they weren't quite as flexible as they need to be, they broke when folded. The bread bites were good but too dry and the graham crackers were a complete flop. Luckily for my self-esteem the english muffins were great!

I'm not giving up, this was my first try at most of this but I did learn that I do NOT want to do a huge baking day again like this. It was absolutely exhausting and clean up was brutal. From now on I will make one thing when I need it!! It was definitely a learning experience. Oh and Sydney loved it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Making my own Sourdough Starter

I successfully made my own sourdough starter!! Thanks to the Sourdough Ecourse over at GNOWFGLINS. I tried these instructions from The Fresh Loaf. Unfortunately I didn't have orange or pineapple juice, I tried using lemon but that didn't work ( I have a friend who used orange juice and had great success so go ahead and try it!). So I ended up using the instructions from GNOWFGLINS. They are great instructions but I liked the idea of only feeding it once a day.

So after several attempts I finally succeeded! Actually I almost threw out my successful batch but I decided to keep feeding it for a couple more days and finally it started getting bubbly :).

Here is my starter:

About Kombucha

I have recently discovered kombucha, and I'm loving it! What is kombucha? The short answer is "fermented tea."

Kombucha is indeed a fermented tea but it is so much more. It’s a slightly carbonated beverage that is full of probiotics and healthy yeast. It’s easy and cheap to make and very good for you!

I started drinking kombucha to replace my Dr. Pepper habit, and it worked!! I can’t say for sure if it’s improving the way I feel but I have been able to stop drinking caffeine with less withdrawal effects than I normally deal with. I would even dare to say I have noticed a slight increase in my energy and stamina.

If you know me very well in real life you know that not drinking caffeine is a BIG DEAL! Over the last month I have only had a soda once in a while and not every day (down from drinking 3-4 a day). Kombucha is a very healthy replacement drink!

My first taste of kombucha was store bought Synergy Kombucha (which you can’t currently purchase do to a question about alcohol content). Shortly after that I started brewing my own. I think the home brew is MUCH better!! If you are wondering about the alcohol content let me just say, if there was an alcohol in my home brewed kombucha I would KNOW and I’m absolutely sure there isn’t!

I get asked all the time “what does it taste like.” That is an impossible question to answer because it doesn’t taste like anything else I’ve had so it’s hard to make a comparison. Each brew tastes slightly different and you can customize it in countless different ways resulting in many different tastes.

I do want to caution you: The first few days I drank kombucha I experienced a detox effect that was quite unpleasant. Keep in mind at that time I drank way too much soda and hardly any water. The way to avoid this is by only drinking a small amount (half a glass) your first couple days and slowly increasing the amount. I now drink about 3 glasses a day with no negative effects. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water.

Are you ready to start making your own kombucha now? Watch for my upcoming posts on how to make it:

Making Kombucha: Supplies
Making Kombucha: Directions
Kombucha Resources

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eating better

I am making a huge effort to improve my families eating right now. We cut out all (well pretty much all) artificial color from our diet about a year ago, along with that went many, but not all, artificial flavors and preservatives. Well now we are going organic and focusing on whole foods while trying to eliminate processed foods. I'm learning as fast as I can (which doesn't feel like fast enough) but there are still a few hold outs. I have switched to real butter (organic if I can get it, I would buy raw if I found it), raw milk (not that easy to get), and many other things bought from farmer's markets instead of the grocery store.

One of the best resources for all of these changes is Nourishing Traditions. I haven't used many of the recipes but the information in the book and suggestions and guidelines for what to eat and what not to eat are wonderful! I highly suggest everyone own this!!

Another thing I'm doing is taking the e-courses from GNOWFGLINS.Its a wonderful course and provided on a pay-as-you-can basis. I highly suggest checking it out. She is currently offering a fundamentals e-course and a sourdough e-course. They are really great!

Learn the fundamentals of traditional 
cooking in a 14-lesson multi-media online class!Learn to cook with sourdough in an 
online, multi-media class!

I will start posting more about my adventures soon (including pictures I promise!!!).

Monday, August 2, 2010

Clumsy me...

I have suddenly become very clumsy. I have dropped (and broke) so many things the last couple months, a casserole, a bowl, a glass....I know there is more. It seems like I'm dropping something all the time!! Other than the annoyance of ruining dishes (especially when I'm trying to use less plastic, which inevitably means more glass!), it worries me because of my crawling baby. While I immediately sweep it all up I'm always afraid a sliver or two will remain and get in her knee. As a matter of fact I've had two get in my foot. I don't know what to do-except STOP dropping things!!! (Oh and I realized after I cleaned up the dropped glass that I should have taken a picture for my blog, oops!)