Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Kombucha Efforts

I know, I know...I'm late in joining the Kombucha band-wagon.  I wasn't sure what to think of this trend. The idea of fermenting a beverage with a particular bacterial sponge and then drinking it...well, I admit I wasn't convinced. At least not until I tried it.

I have been trying to improve my overall health, including exercise and better eating. And avoiding illness. With 2 small children in school all day a lot of 'illness' hits our home.  My favorite, go-to store for natural foods and great produce is Sprouts. While shopping one week I saw they had their brand of kombucha on special so I decided to try it. My first sample drinks had ginger, which do most store-offered products. I was unimpressed. The ginger didn't sit well with me; the smell alone was too much. I was about to give up and I saw a flavor without ginger. Last one. Last try. If this one didn't work, I was out.

Well, holy moly! This tastes awesome! I love the carbonation that the fermentation creates. Just enough to keep the drink light and interesting. And not an overwhelming taste of sugar like so many other juice drinks out there. I was hooked! I had to have it. And then the special ended and the prices went up. Boo! What's a girl to do...call a friend and ask if she has an extra SCOBY bacterial sponge so I can start brewing my own? Oh yes!

At first I wasn't sure what to do or not to do for it all to work. I even wondered if I did everything right could it still go wrong?  I researched what I could and my friend walked me thru the rest. I'm happy to report that after getting lots of advice from my trusted friend, and a few months of playing with mixes and juices, I have gotten to a point where I can divide a weekly batch and start a new batch within 15 minutes.


I'm going to post descriptions and pictures here to help me remember, and maybe help someone else who's new to all of this and wants some advice. I'm going to break it down into a step-by-step description:

1. Brew your tea in a large pot on the stove. I use 3 tea bags of English Breakfast Tea so I can get some kick in my drink. Make sure to follow the teabag instructions. The tea leaves will seep out too many tannins if you don't remove the bags after about 10 minutes or so.


2. Remove the tea bags and add 3/4 - 1 cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your tea. Allow to cool to room temperature.


3. Meanwhile, prepare your bottles. They don't need to be sterilized between uses, just a normal cleaning cycle in the dishwasher works fine. I use bottles I got when purchasing my kombucha at the store. After drinking the contents, I washed and removed their labels.  If you have other bottles, that's fine too.  Take off their caps and line them up on the counter for easy pouring. Also pull out your kombucha jar. I found mine at Walmart and it works great.

4. Place the SCOBY in a bowl and set it aside. Stir the kombucha tea to make sure the good bacteria hasn't settled to the bottom. Place a funnel on top of the first bottle and pour the kombucha in until it's 2/3 full.  Move the funnel and repeat this process for all the bottles. I usually make 6-7 bottles from one batch, but always make sure to reserve about 1 cup for the new batch. The SCOBY likes that.


5. If the tea has cooled enough, pour it into your kombucha brewing jar. Place the SCOBY back into the jar and cover with a coffee filter or cheese cloth and a rubber band. Nothing fancy here. Place it in a dark cabinet for brewing for about a week when you can repeat this process again.

6. Back to the bottles. Mix 2 cups filtered water with 2 cups of your desired juice in a measuring cup. I don't want to add unnecessary sugar to this so I use Knudsens Just Juice. My favorite is the Tart Cherry, but I've also tried Cranberry, Black Cherry, Pomegranate,  and various blends of these.


Pour your mix into the kombucha bottles to the bottom of the threads. There should be a little space, but it works best to fill it to the neck of the bottle. Of course, each bottle is different and you will have to play with this to find your sweet spot. If you need more juice, just follow a 1:1 ratio to make more.


7. Place the lids on tightly and then tip your bottles once to make sure the kombucha and juice are mixed together.


8. I am a fan of a second ferment, so I place the bottles in a dark cabinet for a few days to let them build up a little carbonation.  Sorry for the dark picture, but it is supposed to be dark. Then, their final move is to the refrigerator until I am ready to drink.


This is a nice drink on a hot day, or on a stressful afternoon when you're starting to loose energy. I have noticed that when I get sick (yes, I'm still getting the bugs that are brought home) they are not as bad as before and I can get over them more quickly. Here's to a fun new drink that has great health benefits! Great combination!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Weekly Menu, Fab 20

 I have been taken down by the icky sicky bug! I’m not sure where this one came from, but it’s really zapping my energy and making it a challenge to get things done. It’s also keeping me from my running, which is bumming me out because I keep trying to get that back on track. But…today is a new day! And I’m ready!

I am trying to mix it up a bit and reach back into the recipe box this week. Pulling on some oldie-but-goodies and family favorites. The kiddos are home half the week so we are hoping to have a couple fun outings, which might keep me a bit from the kitchen.


Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Monday
*kefir shake

biscuits w/jam
PBJ
cheesy goldfish
apple sauce
Chicken Casserole
salad
Tuesday
*kefir shake

cinnamon toast
scrambled eggs
turkey sandwich bites
pirate booty
grapes
shredded meat BBQ sandwiches
potato salad
baked beans
Wednesday
*kefir shake

oatmeal w/fixings
PBN crackers
strawberries
chips

EARLY MEAL
onion chicken
sweet potato, carrots
Thursday
*kefir shake

roll up pancakes
strawberries
turkey roll ups
carrot sticks
cheezits
meatloaf
green beans
mashed potatoes
Friday
*kefir shake

waffles
sausage links
pasta salad
ham/cheese bites
sun chips
mini chimis
refried beans
corn
Saturday
*kefir shake

biscuit sandwiches

grilled cheese
Cheetos
pear slices
chicken teriyaki kabobs
green pepper/onion
rice
Sunday
*kefir shake

bfast quesadillas
PBJ
chips
strawberries
pot roast
roasted potatoes
carrots


Maybe if I get it all to align, I can post soon about the awesome meatloaf we enjoy.  Super easy recipe that has a little twist to it.  Here’s hoping it’s a smooth, and fun week! Have a yummy week.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekly Menu, Feb 13

A crazy busy weekend left me with no time to get a menu together. Yikes! We had to fly with what I had on-hand for tonight, and it worked out well. We haven’t had cheesy chicken in a while. Now we are ready for the rest of the week, too.

Last week I had so much fun in the kitchen. I made the super yummy creamy chicken soup, which was awesome, along with the quick and easy focaccia bread; amazing! I can’t wait to get those two recipes into my blog recipe book. Here’s hoping I can get those done this week.

I also made a cake for hubby’s birthday last week. He requested a cake shaped like a truck, but he wanted chocolate frosting, which really made colors difficult for the cake. It didn’t turn out as well as the princess castle I made for my daughter, but the flavor was great and we all liked it.

Each week I think it will be the calm week to get things done. I want to say that is this week, but we’ll see. I can see it filling up already. Next week I have the girl home with me so I want to get as much done as possible. We’ll see how that goes.


Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Monday
*kefir shake

oatmeal w/toppings
PBJ
cheesy goldfish
grapes
cheesy chicken
rice
broccoli
Tuesday
*kefir shake

heart pancakes
scrambled eggs
turkey roll ups
pirate booty
carrot sticks
burgers
baked beans
salad
Wednesday
*kefir shake

cinnamon toast
HB eggs
ham & cheese slices
crackers
snap peas

EARLY MEAL
mac n cheese
sauted shrimp
mix veggies
Thursday
*kefir shake

banana muffins
sausage links
CC & jam sandwich
apple slices
veggie sticks
bobs beef crockpot
noodles/spaghetti squash
green beans
Friday
*kefir shake

waffles
scrambled eggs
PBN
graham crackers
strawberries
pizza out
Saturday
*kefir shake

roll up pancakes
strawberries

hot dogs
chips
carrot sticks
enchilada casserole
corn
salad
Sunday
*kefir shake

biscuit w/jam
sausage patties
grilled cheese
Cheetos
pear slices
stew meat
mashed potatoes
carrot slices


Straight forward week of meals. Hopefully that will help keep things simple and I’ll feel accomplished this week. Here’s hoping you have a nice, yummy week!