You know how you don't realize just how unusual something is until someone asks you about it? Draws attention to it?
Or is that just me?
It happened to me again the other day when my sweet friends Vicki and Lynnea came over for a visit. Lynnea was here visiting from PA and I'm so glad I got to see her while she was here for a too-short visit. (Vicki and I are trying to talk her into moving here. I told her I know where she can get a great house right in town...)
Lynnea wanted to check out our new digs and we had fun walking all around and visiting. As we meandered around the kitchen, Vicki stopped here at this counter and said, "Ummmm, Joli...what is all this?"
Ummmm....why that is my "Mad Scientist" corner, of course. Doesn't everyone have one of those in their kitchen???
It turns out that perhaps not everyone does have science experiments fermenting on their kitchen counter all the time.
Now, not everyone even knows these fermenting projects are here in my kitchen. They are not the prettiest collection...so I've tucked them away so that you don't see them when you first come in the kitchen through the carport door (no one uses front doors in the deep South):
And even when you step further into the kitchen, you still can't really see them:
Ahhhhhhh....there they are!
So, what is all that?
I'm so glad you asked!
I'll start with our dairy kefir.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic dairy beverage. Kind of like a drinkable, tangy plain yogurt. Daniel and I can drink this plain...but the rest of my peeps, not so much. So what our family has evolved into doing is using the kefir for our smoothies that we have every night as our drinks with supper. Kefir has become so popular lately that even the little grocery store in our little town now carries it. But homemade? Better for you (look at the sugar count in store-bought!) AND cheaper!
I've been making dairy kefir for about 5 years now. It is very simple, taking about 5 minutes a day. In fact, it is so simple that the children are now in charge of it...and this month Lily Kay is the one doing the honors.
Next we have sauerkraut.
Again, not hard to do, but such a good, healthy way to get more probiotics into our bodies. I made my first jar of sauerkraut several months ago (following these directions), and we found that we liked it. So I've made it several more times and this time I decided to go ahead and make a good batch at once, instead of just one quart jar. (LK asked for this for snack before bed last night...and for breakfast this morning!)
Next, we have Mr. G's almond milk.
Gabriel has been dairy-free for almost two months now. When I knew he needed to stop dairy, I remembered this recipe I'd pinned on how to make your own almond milk. (Good nutrition from the nuts, but missing the sugar and other added ingredients of store-bought almond milk.) It's not hard to do, most of the time is "hands-off" while the almonds soak and and then it "brews" on the counter for a couple of days, so you just need lead time. Gabriel **loved** our kefir smoothies, and I knew he'd miss those when he had to stop dairy, so what I normally do with his almond milk is to blend it into smoothies by mixing with a banana and some coconut oil (since he's missing the healthy fats in the whole raw milk).
My newest adventure - begun about 4 weeks ago - is kombucha. Kombucha is fermented sweet tea.
|Left: green tea Right: combination of green tea and black tea|
You can see a bit of the SCOBY peeking out from under the towel on the left jar
Again with the probiotics. Do I sound like a broken record? Oh, how very important our gut health is!
You can buy bottles of kombucha at healthy food stores and groceries...but I'd never tried any. It's normally about $4 for a 16 oz. bottle! Homemade, of course, is a fraction of the cost - less than a $1 per gallon. Having never even tried it, I wasn't sure what we'd think of it. Jas, LK and I really like it. Oh, yeah...and G too! The other three - as usual - are my more reluctant subjects.
What has helped those three to come around, though, is the "Second Fermentation" on the kombucha: When it is done brewing in the gallon jar (takes a few days to a week or so), I bottle it and we add some fruit (we use frozen, just because we always have lots on hand because of our smoothies).
|Left: Peach Right: Peach Strawberry|
You can see my sticky note on the top of the left jar. I use stickies to remind
when I started something...or when it will be done fermenting.
Doing the second fermentation with fruit this way makes it become a carbonated fruit drink! Now how could that not taste good?!?
My next frontier to conquer? Water kefir! Gabriel can't have our dairy kefir right now...but I want him to not miss out on the great probiotics that kefir offers...hence water kefir! I've ordered some grains so I can start making it and I'm not-so-patiently waiting for them to arrive...
These are living, nutrient-dense drinks. In fact, both the kefir and the kombucha have "starters" that are continually growing and multiplying as I brew our drink. If you decide you would like to be a mad scientist also, just let me know and I can share some of my extra kefir "grains" or a kombucha "SCOBY", and you can start fermenting projects of your own!
As I looked through these pictures I couldn't help but smile. Tucked between the fermenting projects and the dish of avocado/onion/ginger is......
Because this mad scientist? Totally believes in the 80/20 compromise rule!