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If you’ve delved at all into the world of food fermentation, you’ve probably heard of beet kvass.  For those of you who haven’t, it is an excellent liver tonic beverage and supportive of superb health in general.  Drinking just a small amount every morning is one of the easiest ways to support your blood, digestion, gallbladder, liver, and more.  However…even properly prepared (a lengthy anaerobic fermentation versus a 3-day fermentation in a mason jar as recommended in Nourishing Traditions), it still tastes strongly and unmistakably of beets.

Finding the available “anaerobic” fermenting lids too expensive and in some cases, not as effective as described, I bought a dozen Fido jars several months ago.  For $37 dollars, I got a dozen jars for the price of one or two fancy airlock lids and despite using them at length for multiple ferments, have had nary an explosion but fabulous sauerkraut.  So, in a fit of unbridled optimism despite having never liked my previous attempts at it, I made a half gallon of beet kvass loosely using this recipe from Divine Health, although I let it ferment for more like three weeks.  There are a number of extremely interesting articles on long fermentation to be found at Nourishing Treasures and I highly recommend reading them.

Long story short: I simply cannot stand the taste of beet kvass regardless of how it’s prepared.  I managed to choke down about 2 ounces one morning but haven’t brought myself to repeat the experience.  Diluting it with juice, using it in a Virgin Mary…nope.  Tired of the many bottles taking up space in my fridge, and still wanting to reap its health benefits, I experimented with this in the hopes of actually using some of that gorgeous ruby red liquid.  Success!  Not only can I enjoy it, but my kids ate it down eagerly.  They’ve tried and enjoyed many things that the majority of other kids haven’t, but drinking straight up beet kvass wouldn’t happen in a month of Sundays.  I told my seven year old I was experimenting with a secret ingredient, but didn’t tell him what it was until after he’d tried the gelatin and said he really liked it.  He could not believe that there was anything beety in it!  He pronounced the experiment a 1000% success and asked for a second piece.

Be sure to heat it just enough to melt everything so you don’t kill the healthy bacteria in the kvass and the enzymes in the raw honey.  If you accidentally do, it will still be nourishing–at the very least, you’re still getting all the goodness of gelatin–but not probiotic.  If desired, you could try substituting a bag of chocolate chips (preferably soy- and GMO-free) for the cocoa powder and honey and whisking until they’re all melted.

Red Velvet (Beet Kvass) Chocolate Gelatin

1 can or 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
5 tablespoons gelatin (preferably grassfed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup raw honey (feel free to use less if you actually enjoy the taste of beet kvass)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups beet kvass (or fill up the empty coconut milk can)

Combine all ingredients except beet kvass in a medium saucepan and whisk over low heat just until blended and gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat and whisk in the beet kvass.  Pour into an 8 x 8 or 11 x 7 pan and refrigerate about 1 hour or until set.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

beet kvass gelatin

I could’ve done a better job of mixing in my cocoa powder–little bubbles are noticeable at the top but didn’t affect the texture at all–but between helping my oldest with his homeschooling software and wrangling the toddler, this was as good as it gets for the moment.

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Like most people, I’ve entertained thoughts of various jobs throughout my life.  As a little girl, I wanted to be a singer, She-Ra, a princess, or a unicorn.  As a teenager, I wanted to be a rock star or a writer.  Over time, I’ve considered becoming a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, chef, historian, web designer…other than mathematician or scientist (never my strong suits), you name it, I’ve thought about doing it.  Yet after several failed college attempts, not one of those have ever come to fruition.

I had an epiphany last summer, finally realizing that the reason no profession has ever truly appealed to me is because I always thought of it in conjunction with money: What job could I stand to do that would make decent dough?  It seemed that the only things I really enjoyed doing would never earn any money.  And so I finally asked myself, “If money didn’t matter, what would you want to do with the rest of your life?

If money didn’t matter, at this very minute I would at home with my son, with another child growing within me, teaching him and playing games.  We would be gardening and baking our bread at our own convenience, instead of me frantically doing it during his naps on weekends.  We would step out of our farm house in the country to enjoy fresh air and sunshine while tending our chickens, milking our cow, and taking care of whatever other animals lived with us.

You get the idea.  My current life of rushing our son off to daycare, rushing off to work, rushing to make dinner, rushing to eat dinner, rushing our son off to bed, and trying to cram everything I need to do around the house into what little time remains of the night is incredibly unfulfilling.  Way too often, despite my husband and son, friends and family, good health, etc., I clench my teeth and seethe, I hate my life. 

When I move around my kitchen, tending my home, feeding my family, I feel good about myself in a way that nothing else evokes.  I feel content.  I’ve started taking walks during my two daily fifteen-minute breaks at work, and no matter whether it’s sunny and blue or cloudy and windy, I turn my face to the sky and think, This is where I belong.  Outside, not trapped behind a desk all day.

Interestingly enough, when I tell people all this, they’re more surprised at my desire to homeschool than anything else.  Apparently drinking fresh milk obtained from my own cow is less controversial than not enrolling my child in school.  But whenever I think of conventional schools, I hear Bette Midler’s voice from “Hocus Pocus” in my head: “It is a prison for children.”   The more I hear about bullying and five-year olds being assigned difficult homework every night, the less I want to subject my son to that.  Even light research into homeschooling disproves the common myths and ideas people have about it.

…And now for the angst.  Money does matter at this point.  I can’t do any of those things, now or in the foreseeable future.  Trying to pay off my personal debt, which is well over what I make in a year, is like an endless battle that never seems to progress.  Some of my debt resulted from plain bad luck, but most of it was my own stupidity and bad choices, and I have the dubious honor of being able to mentally flog myself for it on a regular basis.  I masochistically seek out anything involving pregnancy and then blink back self-pitying tears when I find it. 

But on the bright side, I always used to loathe that favorite question of interviewers and employers, where do you see yourself in five years?, because I never had a real goal or knowledge of what I wanted from life.  And although my answer now would not be at all desirable from their perspective, I could answer it truthfully and be confident about every word.  Angst aside, I try every day to keep my goals in mind and work toward them, however long it takes.

This will totally be me someday. Except without the record player. And the holiday stuff. (Who puts a Christmas tree in the kitchen?!) And the high heels. Okay, it will kinda be me...in spirit.

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I Hate You, Thor

Okay, I don’t really have anything against Norse mythology. Or against thunder, for that matter. I’m still just cranky at yesterday’s storms that tore their way through Wisconsin. Although seasoned residents of the states known as “Tornado Alley” probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at what we experienced yesterday, we’re just not used to that kind of abuse from the sky.

It’s funny; I’ve been focusing so much on living more naturally lately that I was actually kind of surprised at how badly I took it when our power went out last night. It was a bit past 8:30 p.m. or so and my husband, my son and I were all cowering (well, Dante was chattering away like a demented chickadee, probably from being up an hour and a half past his bedtime, and Josh, my husband, was just waiting patiently for the storm to pass, so I guess I was the only one actually cowering) in the hallway leading to our basement, and blink! The power went out.

The worst of the storm passed by 9:00 p.m., but the power didn’t come back on. We put Dante back to sleep in his sweltering room, without the fans, white noise CD, and nightlight (although at least we had an electric candle), or the monitor operating as usual. I kept sneaking back to his room to listen for him calling, feeling a lot of trepidation without being able to listen to the monitor, but he fell asleep immediately.

I just spent over one hundred dollars on pastured meat this weekend and have four dozen pastured eggs in the fridge, so the longer the power stayed out, the more stressed out I became. I was also bored–couldn’t read, couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t do much of anything, really. Boredom and stress don’t mix very well.

We went to bed at 10 p.m. and I slept terribly. It was hot as Hades (really going for those mythology references tonight, aren’t I?) in our bedroom with no fan on, and I was worried about both our son and all the food. I kept waking up and tossing and turning. Finally, the power came back on about 2:20 a.m. and I must have sensed it like a bat or something, because I snapped awake three minutes later (I could tell because our clocks were flashing 12:03). I went around turning off the lights we had left on and turning on our usual night electrics before going back to sleep.

The whole thing made me realize that while I want to live naturally, I’m definitely still a modern girl! I’m keeping my electricity!

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