When I was a newlywed, we didn’t just eat Sunday dinners at Tom’s folks’ house. We lived there! So we ate dinner with them most every night. I got to hone my cooking skills on the family, since most evenings, no one else was too keen on preparing anything. I had bookmarked all the Betty Crocker recipes I was planning to try, and most of the meals I made were well-received.
But my in-laws were classic meat-and-potato folks. So the first time I made an ethnic dish with raisins and green olives, Tom’s dad looked pretty alarmed. He was very polite, but I knew I had gone beyond his threshold for culinary adventure.
I’ll admit, Betty Crocker’s version of “ethnic” didn’t seem totally authentic. Years later, I’ve discovered a Moroccan recipe we really enjoy. It’s exotic. It’s different. It’s delicious!
Enjoy the savory/sweet flavor combination of green olives, lemon peel, and raisins, with extra texture from the toasted, slivered almonds.
1 free-range chicken
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 bay leaves
2 TBS. fresh rosemary
2 TBS. olive oil
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. green olives, pitted
1/3 c. slivered, toasted almonds
Fresh parsley for garnish
2 TBS. fresh mint, chopped
A day ahead (or several hours earlier), prepare chicken by cutting whole fryer into pieces (or use 5 lbs. or so drumsticks, thighs, etc.). It helps to cut chicken breast pieces in half, as they will cook better that way.
Use potato peeler to get the peel off the lemons. Set aside several lemon peels to use later for garnish.
Prepare marinade. Add the following to a dish, to marinate chicken in: > Peel from 2 lemons (reserve some though) > juice of 2 lemons > 1 tsp. salt > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 4 bay leaves > 2 TBS. fresh rosemary > 2 TBS. olive oil
Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture and let marinate in refrigerator overnight, or at least several hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange marinated pieces of chicken in large pan for baking. Bake until done, about 25-35 minutes.
Set baked chicken aside to rest; deglaze pan by adding liquid: > 1/4 c. red wine or water
Add raisins and olives to pan, stirring on medium heat until heated through.
To serve, spoon pan juices over chicken, garnish with the chopped almonds, parsley, and mint.
It’s nice to imbibe in a refreshing, bubbly brew that makes my gut happy! Not as nice- a flat, sour kefir that no one wants to drink… So- here’s some secrets for making a great “natural orange soda”- delicious!
A good Kefir (or Kombucha) soda will need more than just the brew itself. Once the kefir has fermented in its original container for a couple days, it can be poured into bottles. However! One then needs to add more sweetener for it to feed on, to build up the carbon dioxide. (Ya know, AKA fizz!)
When I first started making “water kefir” a few years back, I was very enthusiastic. I juiced the plentiful Concord grapes I’d harvested that summer, and froze ice-cubes of the juice, to add to my brews. Ditto for the apples we got off our tree. Couldn’t eat that many apples as-is, but the juice turned the overabundance of fruit sugar into more probiotics. It was great!
For awhile, I was also into buying fresh ginger. I would cut it into match-stick sizes, rolling up portions in aluminum foil for the freezer, so I’d also have the makings on hand for Kefir Ginger Ale. If I wasn’t adding any other sweet thing, I found it best to bottle the “2nd ferment” kefir while it was still somewhat sweet, so some of that sweetness would feed the carbonation.
After awhile, I wanted more ginger zip, so I started juicing the fresh ginger, freezing ice-cubes of that potent, zesty juice, for future brews. That was an exciting drink!
As with many things, I started looking for an easier way out. I buy pomegranate juice when I can- it makes a wonderful addition to kefir or kombucha. And I like having organic black cherry concentrate and tart cherry concentrate on hand, since it keeps well. If nothing else, I’ll use that for flavoring and sweetening the 2nd ferment.
However! Now we have an abundance of oranges on our tree. Nice organic oranges. So I’ve been processing the peel, adding the orange juice and sugar. I’ve created my own “orange concentrate” to flavor batches of kefir. I can make a bunch of the concentrate at a time, since it keeps about a month in the fridge.
Peel from 2 organic oranges
1/2 c. sugar
Juice from 6 oranges
Process the peel from 2 oranges in a Vitamix or other blender, until fine.
Add the sugar, process again.
Add freshly-squeezed juice from 6 oranges.
Store in glass jar in fridge. Use about 1/2 c. per bottle (more or less, according to taste).
How did I not know about a different kind of scoby that thrives on green tea and honey?! It just popped up on my Amazon page as one of those items I might like, and, well… I DO! I purchased a “Jun Scoby”, and am now brewing this new kind of Kombucha. It’s less sour than regular Kombucha, and has a wonderful fizz and smooth flavor. And it’s still full of probiotics. Awesome..
There are many ideas on how to brew Jun Kombucha, which leads me to believe one can’t ruin it by following the recipe a bit loosely. I didn’t do it this way, but Christina at “Cultured Honey Nectar” says it is best to make a very sweet brew for the first batch, using 4 tea bags and 2 c. honey to 3/4 gallon boiling water. She suggests fermenting that 4 weeks. Then the initial brew is discarded (“too sour”). But then one finally goes on to “regular brewing”.
But I did not follow either of those directions! I got this Jun Scoby and Starter Tea from Amazon, then mostly followed the directions that came with it, which were simple and pretty right on- they suggested brewing 4 tsp. loose green tea (or 4 bags) in 8 cups boiling water for two minutes, letting it cool before adding the honey. After mixing the honey in, the starter tea and scoby get added.
I made two adjustments to the recipe. I brewed the 4 tsp. green tea in my tea pot for two minutes, but I only added half the boiling water to the tea. After the 2 minutes, I removed the tea ball and added ice until it was up to 8 cups- that way it cooled quicker and I could easily finish the project on the spot. (Sometimes I’m in a hurry and don’t want to wait for the stuff to cool off…)
The other thing I did was to use raw organic honey, like this raw, unfiltered honey on Amazon. Glory Bee Honey also sells an excellent raw honey, which I get in an 11 lb. tub. In my research, some folks mention using raw honey, and some don’t. I didn’t want to take any chances. The raw honey works amazingly well for me!
After five days, my first brew was lightly fizzy and delicious, and a new scoby had already grown! This has become my favorite probiotic drink. I think it easily wins out over regular kombucha or kefir. They call it the “champagne” of probiotic drinks. And who doesn’t love champagne?!
Maybe part of my success with this stuff is that Jun is supposed to thrive more in cooler weather. Ideal for me, living in the Bay Area. I still like regular kombucha, which thrives in warm weather, but we don’t get too much of that.
I’m wondering if another part of the success was using a coffee filter to cover the jar opening. I’ve used clean washcloths before, but maybe they don’t let in enough air. The coffee filter seems ideal. At least it worked for me.
Below is the recipe- hope yours turns out as good as mine!
4 tsp. loose green tea (or 4 bags)
4 c. boiling water
4 c. ice water (or ice)
1/2 c. (.32 lb) honey (preferably raw, organic)
1/2 c. starter tea (or about 10%)
Pour boiling water over tea, steeping on a couple minutes. Use: > 4 tsp. loose green tea (gunpowder or regular green) > 4 c. boiling water
After steeping 2 minutes, remove bags. Add enough ice (or ice water) to bring the water amount up to 8 c.
Mix honey in well: > 1/2 c. honey
The sweetened tea should now be room temperature. Then it can be added to the starter tea in a continuous-brew jar, or just add 1/2 c. starter tea and the scoby to this new brew.
After 3 days or so, the tea should have fermented enough to put into bottles with ceramic stoppers. This will keep the carbonation in, as any remaining sugars are converted into soda-pop-style fizz. When bottling, add your choice of flavors- pomegranate juice, organic cherry juice concentrate, ginger, vanilla bean, almond extract… your choice!
Gelato had been a mystery to me- it seemed extra intense and creamy, so I assumed it must have more cream in it. Fact is, gelato is best made with more whole milk and less cream than regular ice cream. The fat in cream coats the tongue, which ends up muting the flavors (who knew?!). So, using less cream is the secret- that’s why gelato is so flavorful!
Long ago, I substituted almond extract for pistachio extract (pistachio extract does not seem to get rave reviews). The almond extract worked. Then again, I do like almond extract…
The other secret to gelato is to under-mix. Stop the machine before the mixture is fully churned, and you’ll get that classic dense gelato texture. YUM.
8 oz. pistachios, shelled
3 c. whole milk
2/3 c. sugar
5 egg yolks
1 c. cream
1 tsp. almond extract
Process pistachios until smooth. (The VitaMix dry grinder works great for this). Use: > 8 oz. (2 c.) pistachios
Heat milk and sugar to a light boil; remove from heat. Use: > 3 c. milk > 2/3 c. sugar
Stir egg yolks well. Use: > 5 egg yolks
Slowly add hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, stirring well. Return mixture to pan; heat slightly. (Don’t boil or egg yolks will curdle.)
Remove mixture from heat and stir in: > 1 c. cream > 1 tsp. almond extract
Add some of the mixture to the ground pistachios, mixing until smooth.Add the rest, mixing well. Cool mixture; add to ice cream machine according to instructions.
This easy recipe can be multiplied, and can be used for meats too. The marinated mushrooms are delicious as is, or add to the grill for a real treat. We’ve been making batches of these mushrooms at the deli, for a pre-rush snack. So savory, so delicious…
1 lb. mushrooms
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp. crushed Italian herbs (or other favorite)
2 TBS. soy sauce
2 TBS. balsamic vinegar
Clean mushrooms, then add to plastic bag (or jar) with the oil, garlic, and herbs.
Use enough oil to coat the mushrooms. Let mushrooms sit 10 minutes or so to absorb the oil. Last, add the soy sauce and vinegar. Eat raw/marinated, or add to the grill.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is on our naughty list. At The New Deli, we started making this version of BBQ sauce, made with tomato paste. Ketchup can be a handy base, but it also contains HFCS. We love this recipe! Makes 2 quarts.
1/2 c. olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. chili blend or powder
1 TBS. salt
1 3/4 c. white vinegar
12 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 Tbs. “Liquid Smoke”
1 c. water (or thin as desired)
Sauté the following until soft in skillet: > 1/2 c. olive oil > 2 c. chopped onion > 3 cloves chopped garlic
When above is very soft, add the following, boiling 20 to 30 minutes: > 2 c. brown sugar > 1 c. Worcestershire sauce > 1/4 c. chili blend or powder > 3 c. white vinegar
To boiled mixture, stir in the following: > 12 oz. can tomato paste > 1/2 Tbs. “Liquid Smoke”
If I’m going to make homemade sourdough bread using freshly ground whole wheat flour, I definitely need a system. Otherwise, I won’t have time for this! Below is the streamlined recipe I use every few days (when we’re getting low on our daily bread).
I ventured into breadmaking a few years back, when I finally acquired a VitaMix blender. It could grind wheat berries into flour! Considering that the vitamin E (and other nutrients) in wheat can go rancid so quickly, it just never seemed worth it to make bread. That is, until I finally had access to fresh-ground flour.
The other reason I hadn’t bothered with bread-making was that it didn’t seem particularly healthy. (You know, “Wheat Belly”!) But a friend had told me how she’d heard that some celiac-sufferers could actually enjoy bread again, as long as it was sour-dough fermented. Guess it makes it easier to digest. That sold me on the idea.
A few years later, I’ve learned something else too. Hand-kneading seems to produce the best bread. I thought I could save time at one point, and I began using the dough hook and my KitchenAid to knead the bread. It did not turn out as good! I researched and found that the style of kneading does affect the bread. The molecules in hand-kneaded bread are actually shaped differently in that process, while the machine-kneaded molecules are more stretched out. Not that the reason matters that much… just know that there doesn’t seem to be a short-cut to excellent whole wheat bread, without hand-kneading it.
I’ve also discovered that kneading bread on a wooden board (as directed in most recipes) makes for messy cleanup. Kneading the dough on a Formica counter top was an improvement, as the dough didn’t stick as much. I didn’t have to add as much extra flour to keep it from sticking to the counter, so the bread was moister.
But then I found the best method! I started kneading the bread in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, set on a towel (so it didn’t move around too much), in the sink. It was at a good height for throwing some hearty dough punches. So, it was easier clean-up, and I got a good work-out too.
Oh, one other thing I found out: Hard Red Winter Wheat (or hard red spring wheat) seems the best. I tried Hard White Wheat berries for a season, but the bread didn’t seem as good. After researching, I discovered- no wonder. White wheat might have a milder flavor, but it doesn’t have as much gluten. So the bread doesn’t rise quite as well. So- why not use the red wheat?! It does have an excellent flavor too, when fresh-ground. (Perhaps because it isn’t rancid!)
I still add a bit of “ancient grains” now and then- “Einkorn” is nice for variety. It won’t rise quite as well as the Red wheat though.
Experiment with any or all of the additions (raisins, caraway seeds, millet, palm sugar, walnuts and such). Adding extras will dictate a larger bread pan though—a cast iron skillet works well in that case. Makes one loaf (without additions), about 2 1/2 lb.
1 1/2 c. warm, filtered water (non-chlorinated is best for the yeasts)
2 c. wheat berries, frozen (or 3 c. whole wheat flour) (about .88 lb.)
1 c. more of wheat berries, frozen (or about 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour) (about .35 lb.)
1 TBS. salt
Optional: 1 c. raisins, 1/2 c. millet, 1/3 c. sunflower seeds, 1 TBS. caraway seeds, cinnamon, 1 c. walnuts, and/or 1/4 c. palm sugar or honey
In a medium bowl (or kitchen-aid bowl), add: > 1 scant quart of sourdough starter (about 3 1/2 c.)
Into the empty jar of sourdough starter, add water, shaking well. Then add that water to the sourdough starter in mixing bowl, mixing well: > 1 1/2 c. warm water (around 105 degrees is fine, or warm to the touch)
Grind flour in a VitaMix, KitchenAid (with attachment), or other mill. Use frozen wheat berries to keep the flour from getting too warm from grinding. Start with: > 2 c. frozen wheat berries (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)
Stir flour vigorously into the bowl of starter and water mixture, until smooth. Pour a scant quart of the mixture back into the sourdough starter jar, to refrigerate until next time.
To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add more flour, plus any optional grains or seeds. (The extra fermenting makes millet and seeds more digestible.). Use: > 1 scant c. more of frozen wheat berries, ground into flour (or use 1 1/2 or so whole wheat flour) > optional- millet, sunflower seeds, caraway seeds
Stir some of second batch of flour in, leaving some out if it’s too thick.The dough won’t be totally stiff, but it shouldn’t be so moist that it sticks to the hands, either. I usually gently hand-knead the second batch of flour in, until it’s mixed in.
Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled. This will take 4-6 hours in a cool kitchen, or quicker in a warm place.
After dough’s doubled in size, add salt and knead for 9 minutes or so. Optional items can be added, but will make a larger loaf (which will need a larger pan!).
Use coconut oil (or butter) to oil a loaf pan or skillet. Shape the dough into a loaf, rolling it in some organic corn flour or other favorite, to coat the outside. Set in well-oiled pan.
Let rise another few hours, until doubled again. Bake in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes per loaf (or in skillet). For larger loaves, when goodies like raisins, millet and such have been added, let bake 40-50 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a rack.
If you scour the web for nutritional info on super foods and health and such, you may already know how cod liver oil is even more effective when mixed with grass-fed butter. You may have noticed that the quality supplier, Blue Ice, carries a product called “Royal Butter/Cod Liver Oil Blend“. (If you love scientific details, check out Sally Fallon’s article here.)
And you know me- always looking for ways to save time and money. Hence, “Brazil Bark”. I take my morning shot of cod liver oil, but also have a smoothie made with a hunk of this bark stuff. It looks like a confection, and it actually is pretty tasty. But also- so convenient!
This recipe is a simple one. And when making smoothies, you can add your coconut and nut milk and that side o’ butter (if you’re taking cod liver oil), all in one easy step. The coconut (oil or spread) is for those great MCTs that contribute to brain health and energy. The butter is because it works so well with the cod liver oil we should be taking, to maximize results. And the Brazil nuts are good to include because they give us our daily selenium, which can be hard to come by.
Yes, you could just buy cartons of almond milk for your smoothies. But- larger carbon footprint! You pay for a lot of water and a little nut meat, plus the extra container. Why not just puree a few nuts fresh, right?
I’ll admit, the texture of homemade nut milk can fall short. I’ve tried making nut milks in a generic blender, with no good results. (Some folks take the time to strain it, which helps. But too much work for me!) I thought cashews would process the smoothest, and I suppose they do. I would soak them a day ahead, then process a week’s worth, storing extra in the fridge. But- the cashew milk won’t keep as long once processed. And it was just too much bother.
Forget the homemade nut milk idea. I also wanted to add coconut cream to my smoothies anyway. So… how to save a step? This was getting too complicated. And my husband was saying, “never mind, I’ll just have toast…”
Now, it’s much faster to whip up a highly nutritious smoothie. For smoothest results, I might puree the Brazil Bark first with a splash of boiling water from the kettle. That can cool a bit, but then all the other great smoothie ingredients can get added, and- it’s done!
3 sticks butter (grass-fed, like Kerry Gold. “Organic” is not necessarily grass-fed)
2 c. (about 1 1/2 lb.) coconut cream concentrate (or “coconut manna” or coconut spread, which are all 100% coconut meat, ground to a puree)
1 lb. Brazil nuts
Stir nuts into melted butter and coconut cream: > 3 sticks butter, melted > 2 c. (about 1 1/2 lb.) coconut cream (melted) > 1 lb. Brazil nuts
Crimp edges up on a piece of extra-wide, heavy-duty foil, about 2-3′ long. Pour mixture in, let sit at room temperature overnight.
Next day, bark should firm up enough to break into pieces. If not that firm, refrigerate first, then break up, store in glass jar. (I also leave some of it on the foil, to break up as needed.)
Store in refrigerator.
For making a quick smoothie, use a chunk or two of the bark. Two Brazil nuts a day is about right to supply one’s daily dose of selenium. AND, this stuff tastes so good!
Maybe we’re getting used to the drill: More Omega 3 fats, grass-fed meat, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken, organic produce, etc. Less bread, less processed, less sugar, etc.
But still… Sometimes I just need chocolate! And I need it now. If I have some special chocolate in the house, it disappears pretty fast. Too fast. I may even eat more of it than I should. And then it’s gone. And then I don’t have a chocolate fix to run to!
The recipe below has actually cured me of needing store-bought chocolate. It does satisfy my cravings, and I don’t overeat it!
I’m not saying I don’t overeat it because it isn’t good. I think that all the nutritious supplements in this mix can satisfy cravings in a healthy way. The body gets nutrients it needs!
You can customize your recipe- it does not require “yucca powder”, “astragalus”, or whatever you’re in the mood to add. But it’s easier to incorporate such foods into our diet if they’re in something we might routinely want to fix for ourselves. (If you’re wondering what’s so great about these natural herb powders, look ’em up at “Jen’s Shop“- I mention what they’re good for there.)
Oh, and if you’re shooting for even less carbs, you can sub VitaFiber for at least half of the honey. Also, if you want something like a protein bar with gelatin instead of whey protein, see the asterisk, bottom of page.
I think kombucha brewing is similar to mothering. There is new-mom style, for the woman with her first baby, treating her newborn ever so delicately, trying to keep everything perfect… And then there’s the seasoned mom (or grandma), whose mothering has become much more relaxed over the years.
Kombucha brewing should be easy, which you realize after you’ve done it awhile, and see it survive many adverse conditions!
After doing this for a few years, I’ve developed a simple method. I don’t worry about it for weeks at a time (or even months), but I always have a cup or so to drink every day, carbonated and delicious, out of my blue bottle.
Brew your new starter tea right in a new glass gallon jar. One caveat: It needs to be a canning-style jar (“Ball” is a good one). A cheap dollar-store jar will not work! (It might break…). Run some hot water into the jar first, so it can take the heat from the boiling water.
Add sugar to the empty jar. For those of us drinking a modest quantity of Kombucha (a cup or less per day), this amount works well: 1/4 c. sugar to 8 c. boiling water. Add boiling water to the sugar in the (pre-warmed) jar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add 4 tea bags (or 1 TBS. black tea in a tea-strainer ball or cheese cloth “pouch”).
After tea has cooled, remove the bags (or strainer ball/cheese cloth). Set aside the scoby from your old batch, onto a plate. Pour all of the older kombucha into the new batch. (If the liquid has developed brown tendrils or sediment, you might want to strain that out as you pour it into the new batch.) Stir up the mix of old and new, then decant some of that straight into a carbonating-style bottle that has the spring-clamp and rubber gasket. This will allow the kombucha enough air to process. (I don’t think bottle-cap style will work well here, as it seals out so much air).
Put scoby back into the new jar, covered with a paper towel (or a napkin or towel), held in place with a rubber band.
To the bottled kombucha, also add a cup or two of a favorite organic juice, if desired, or ginger or other flavorings. I’m a stickler for using organic- a lot of produce, like apples, are on the dirty dozen list, full of pesticides. Some of my favorites for flavoring kombucha (and kefir) are POM pomegranate juice, organic apple juice, or this Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate. (The concentrated cherry juice might seem expensive, but it takes 53 lbs. of produce to yield 1 lb. of juice!). This black cherry juice concentrate is also a good one.
I used to use fresh ginger, sliced into match-sized strips, laid out on foil, rolled up, and frozen, to be used as needed. (If I didn’t do this, the chunk of ginger would often get too dried and/or moldy, sitting out…) I don’t seem to have much time these days, and have resorted to using this organic ginger extract for flavoring instead. It is VERY convenient!
So, you add your mix of kombucha and fresh sweet tea to the blue bottle, plus the flavoring. Even though this is technically the “first ferment”, your bottled kombucha will go through the same process as the stuff in the jar. It will even grown a little scoby, right in the bottle!
Techie talk: Like the jar of kombucha, enzymes in the yeasts in the bottled kombucha will use the minerals from the tea to break down the sugar into glucose and fructose. So, after a week or so, the sugar’s still there, but in an easier-to-digest form. But it’s still pretty sweet! Give it another week or two- beneficial acids will start forming as the yeasts start eating the sugars up. There will still be some sweetness, for up to 30 days or so.
All this to give just a few time-saving pointers:
You can brew your tea right in a sturdy, preheated glass canning jar
You can strain the old kombucha into the new jar of cooled sweet tea (saving steps)
You can put some of this mix straight into a carbonating bottle along with some fruit juices, to do its first ferment and finishing carbonation all in one place. (This will take at least 2 weeks, so stay ahead of the game!)
Give kombucha about 7 days to get the first fermentation going, after adding more sweet tea. Then, decant (or perhaps it’s already decanted), and give it another 14-21 days to finish. It should get nice and carbonated, and will have the most beneficial acids at this point.