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Archive for May, 2011

Do not be fooled by that french toast, it is no ordinary breakfast.  Everything you see above was literally made by us or our family members. (more…)

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Yummy delicious breakfast shakes full of kefir, blue berries, and agave nectar.

Have I mentioned my husband’s hobby of homemade cheese making?

No.  Well it is a hobby that has my approval.

Part of this hobby includes making kefir, which is sort of cheese.  I think of it as a yogurt but actually it is fermented milk.

In a nutshell, you get kefir grains, rehydrate them, and then ferment it.  Here are some snap shots of the process.

We bought the kefir grains from Cultures for Health which is a site I need to buy more things from.

The grains look like this.  First, we rehydrated the grains for 2-3 days in a few inches of milk.  Then you strain the mixture and get kefir curbs as seen below.

Next, the fermentation begins.  In case you did not know, fermentation means leave it out on the counter for 24-48 hours.   I think it sort of looked like a sultan, a milk sultan.  Fermentation can occur in the fridge but it takes much longer.

After fermentation occurs, you strain it.  The liquid is KEFIR and the curds get put into more milk for another batch.  You can just keep repeating the process for as long as you like.

Besides drinking it with some honey and cinnamon, we also opted to make breakfast shake out of it.

We made the shakes with blue agave nectar which is a sugar replacement.  I am in love with this stuff.

For this shake we added some fresh blueberries.

We tossed all the ingredients in the blender.  And then you have breakfast in a glass which will actually keep you full until lunch.  Keifer is full of protein and probiotic.  I would strongly suggest buying some at the store to see if you like it.  If you do, then making it at home is the next logical step.

Ingredients: Kefir, agave, blueberries

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Get ready for gardening!!

A few weekends ago, we decided Spring had finally sprung in Chicago.  Its Chicago, so of course it snowed on the following Monday but that is neither here nor there.

Some time last summer, we decided that we were gardening this year.  We are staying faithful to our trusty CSA, Radical Root Farm, but decided to do a bit of gardening on our own mostly for the purposes of canning.  Last year we canned some chopped tomatoes and I made Home Grown Hot Sauce, but this year I have dreams of tomato sauce and paste, pickles, and peppers.

Our original intention was to buy seeds.  My husband and I were going to be in charge of the seed nursery and then we were going to pass off the plants to friends who have actual outdoor space.  But when we went to this amazing garden store, Adams and Son Gardens, we were shocked to find a bunch of baby plants calling our names.  We bought a bunch of herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

We may or may have not purchased over 100  plants.

Yes, it was excessive but in a few months it will be totally worth it.

After we bought a million plants, we went to a hardware store to buy some supplies to make the garden happen.  We have only a parkway to call our yard and our friends have only an awesome deck so we got tons of 5-gallon buckets and soil.

It is still crazy to me but we ended up filling 18 buckets.

Then we got to planting.  We did three vegetables and a marigold in each bucket.  The marigold is a plant that is supposed to benefit the plants around it.  Below is what we have growing.

Tomatoes: Cherry, Roma, and Early Girls


Hot Peppers

Bell Peppers

Cucumbers and Beans: (cucumbers did not survive the mid-spring snow we had, so we need to get more since I love pickles)

We are also growing many herbs in our windows.  This includes parsley, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, dill, thyme, chives, sweet basil, Thai basil, and boxwood basil.  Yes, that is three kinds of basil, we love pesto.

Of course if I love cooking barefoot, I would also love playing in the dirt.  I consider this the prelude to the farm I would like to someday own.  Until then my green thumbs will be focusing on these 18 buckets.  I am so excited to share the process with you over the next few months.  I am also excited about all the goods we will end up putting away to get us over the long Chicago winter like this tasty Green Tomato Relish we got as a gift from our family in Madison.
Now you might be thinking, “oh an urban garden, that is so hip and trendy” but actually it is historical and old-fashioned.  During WWI and WWII the Victory Garden was all the rage.  It is actually pretty cool that at the end of WWII people in the USA were growing 40% of vegetables in their own back yard.  Also, I was probably wonderfully brained washed as a child by PBS from watching the show, Victory Garden.
Regardless, growing things makes me happy and I glad to be partaking in the long American and human tradition of growing your own food.

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Dear Readers,

Apologies to all of you who have popped in over the past month only to find corn beef still staring back at you!

I got a new job which is amazing but it means a bit less time for the blogging.  No need to worry, I have still been cooking and have a huge back log of posts.  (if I am honest, I already had a back log of posts before the job, so now it has just grown)  Please forgive me as a post both old and new recipes in the coming weeks.  But just to get you excited, below is a little taste of what I have been up to:

Also, I wanted to let  you know about some new developments in my kitchen:

  • Gardening:  It was time to expand from growing things in our windows. We have done some planting in our little patch of urban land.  The plants been with us for three weeks.
  • Home Brew:  The story of how my kitchen becomes a man cave.
  • Canning:  It happened once last summer but it will be a main theme this year.
  • CSA returns:  It is almost June which means each week we will be getting a box of fresh, local veggies from our favorite farmers  Radical Root.  I am pumped about this!!

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