Drink Weird Things.

About two weeks ago I got myself some kefir grains, after being intimidated by the idea of ‘rotten milk drink’ for the past couple of years. I’d never tried kefir before, never had any fancy flavored store-bought kefir, just dove right in to the craziness of ‘home brew’ as my dad calls it. And let me tell you, so far I’m much happier with it than the sad results of trying to make kombucha a year and a half ago. It never ever got fizzy no matter how many tricks I tried, and un-fizzy kombucha just seemed wrong to me. I ended up dumping it and watching my scoby die a long drawn-out death. Kefir on the other hand, I can handle. Every night after dinner I simply strain it into a jar and set it out for an over-night second ferment which I pop in the fridge in the morning, and pour fresh raw milk over the grains for the next batch… so I basically have two jars going at the same time to keep myself and my family supplied. Right now I just use kefir in green/fruit smoothies which are DELICIOUS, and I honestly like it better than I ever liked yogurt in smothies. Someday I’ll be brave and try kefir straight, but for now I’m happy with what I’m doing.

 

THEN, we had a couple of really hot days, and while I was at work my kefir over-fermented and separated into basically a floating island of what looks like ricotta cheese, and perfectly pure whey.

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Another hot day, the separation begins. I have yet to find an area in our house with even temperatures.

 

I have the book ‘Cultured Food For Life‘ and I knew there were recipes for home-made sodas started with whey, and there are some great-looking recipes, but I didn’t have the right ingredients for any of them just now. (It’s still a great book, and she’s also got pretty much all of the information on her website, go look!) Then I remembered seeing ‘Lacto-Fermented lemonade’ on The Healthy Home Economist’s facebook – and when I first saw it, it sounded bizarre and actually slightly gross, as I associate lacto with milk, and milk and lemon anything means curdled lumpy mess. But here I was with a bunch of lemons and limes and a jar of whey, so what was I to do? So I did.

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And the results? YUM. So much yum. There’s nutmeg in there, I never would have thought to add nutmeg with lemon/lime, but it’s seriously delicious. Tangy. Zippy. I added just a couple of drops of stevia to replace the sugar that was eaten up in the fermentation process. I almost can’t wait for another scorching hot day just to see how refreshing this fermented lemonade will be then.

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Today

My day so far:

Woke early because a spider was crawling up the side of my torso. Flicked him off and rolled over, but the birds were singing, so I didn’t get back to sleep. In case this anecdote hasn’t informed you already, spiders don’t freak me out… which explains my affinity for the Wizard Howl.

Baked these grain-free vanilla cup-cakes.

Frosted them with this home-made nutella.

But first I blanched a bunch of hazelnuts… which is ridiculous. Spend a little more and buy them blanched. I tell you what.

Ate two cupcakes. I justify it that by the time everything was done it was nearly noon.

Then I mowed the lawn and puttered a bit in my garden.

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Spent some time petting and crooning love songs into the ear of my beloved Oliver. (He’s a cat, btw.)

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Picked great mounds of plantain leaves (yes, the yard weed), washed, chopped and covered itย  in olive oil in a jar. After several weeks, it’s supposed to be useable for an amazing skin salve for bug bites and i know not what. We shall see.

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And the day’s not over yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have great plans for more gardening and working on a painting later this evening. My aunt has commissioned two paintings from me, the cost of which almost exactly covers the amount I still owe her on my car loan. Perfect! I love that even though I am not waking up to an alarm and groaning my way out of bed to head to work every morning, I am still able to earn my keep while I’m home. I’m not growing rich by any means, but my time is my own and I love it.

The Ugly Old Chair (and how we fix it)

Behold my desk chair. A reject from my dad’s work place, brought home… 12 years ago? 15? It’s been around for a while.ย  It’s wearing out. It’s still comfy, but the vinyl is cracking. With the hot weather we’ve been having, of course I am wearing shorts, and the tears are painful against the skin. So. We must fix this.

Click through to see What Happened to the Ugly Chair.

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Newspaper Seedling Pots

 

 

 

You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • A small can or straight-sided glass about the size of the pot you want. (Tomato past or condensed milk sizes are good, you don’t want it huge.)
  • Scissors

Cut the newspaper into strips 1 1/2 to 2 times the height of the can.

 

Line the bottom of the can up with one edge of the paper and roll up snugly. Then crush/shove the excess length of the paper roll down into the open end of the can.

 

Remove the can from inside the paper tube and turn it over. Re-insert the can, bottom-first, into the tube, so that the bottom of the can presses the folded paper back down, and press tightly on the table surface, forming the bottom of your pot.

Fill with soil that you have pre-wet (not soaking wet, but moist enough to plant directly into.) . Poke a hole in the soil with your finger (Dibbles… I never understood those. Why pay for something that you have built in?) and gently guide seedling roots into the soil, slightly firming the soil around the base of the plant.

 

That’s it! Keep your seedlings moist until planting time, then plant pots directly in the ground where the paper will compost naturally.

 

I know I should have gotten a good picture of forming the bottom of the pot, so if you need extra help figuring out what I am trying to show you, there is an excellent video of this process HERE.

Sprouting Lupines.

 

 

I am a big fan of lupines. However, I’m not a big fan of their tendency to peeter out after three of four years of gloriousness, the cost of buying fully grown plants (especially when one wants a dozen or so). So, one starts lupines from seed.

This is ridiculously easy to do. Buy a packet of seeds (roughly $2, depending on your source. If you need a source, GOOD HEAVENS, I will give you ten.). Take a damp paper towel, fold it in half and spread the seeds so they aren’t touching each other on half of the surface, then fold again, covering the seeds with the paper towel. Carefully place the bundled seeds into a ziplock bag and place somewhere warmish but not hot, and check in a few days. I will bet that by the third day you will have some sprouts, and a week later most will have sprouted for you. If not, don’t worry, just keep the seeds moist and most of them should come eventually. You can tell if the seed isn’t going to sprout because it looks shriveled and hard even after being in a damp towel several days.

Mine got away from me this year…

 

I should have planted these a week ago. As you can see, they are actually growing roots through the paper towel. I had to carefully tear the paper away from them so as not to break the roots.

This is more like what they should look like when you plant them:

 

 

My germination rate was quite good!

 

 

If yours get too far along too, just pot them up with the ‘leaves’ above soil surface and put them in indirect sunlight for a day or two so as not to scorch them. Then move to full sun and watch them grow like crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚

One last thing; Lupines do not like being transplanted, and I am not a fan of peat-pots, so I make newspaper pots for my lupines. Plant them directly in the ground, and the paper disintegrates within a few months.

Thrifty! In a year I'll have 12 mature lupine plants. At a garden center, that would cost me at least $120 - $150.
Seeds - $2. Soil - less than $1. Paper pots - Free.