Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fermenting adventures: Kimchi and Kraut - Easy recipes!

James and I attended a fermentation class at the Florida Earthskills Gathering.   It was our last class of the week but one of the best.   We sat on the floor under the "dining tent" and passed around jar after jar of tasty goodness while learning that sanitation is not always advantageous, rotten fish mixed with sugar is good for the garden, and kraut is actually really easy to make and tastes amazing compared to store bought.   We came away inspired, and sense then our kitchen has been a regular science lab with new things brewing, bubbling, fermenting and sprouting on every surface, even the tiki bar.    People walk into our house for a visit and we shove forkfuls of new kraut in their mouth and pour samples of water kefir and kombucha for them to sample.    I bring jars and bottles to friends houses, violin practice and easter egg hunts eager to share our latest creations.    Jars are hoarded and beer is purchased with flip-tops so they can be used again.    The kid runs out of the room when a bottle is about to be opened because of the ONE time I sprayed the entire kitchen with an overly fizzy explosion of kifer.     Its a lot of fun, and no one has been poisoned yet by our creations - they just ask for recipes because they are so good!     Here I share a couple of my favorites, quick, easy and tasty!  




First, is a kraut recipe.    Naked Kraut was one of the first jars passed around in our class, consisting of just 2 ingredients - cabbage and salt.    One bite of that stuff and we decided we would never need to buy store kraut again, there was such a big difference in flavor....and so much flavor for something so simple!    

Sense making basic kraut I've experimented with several other variations - its easy enough to mess with and change based on whatever you have on hand, the technique is the same either way.  

Ingredients:
- Cabbage
- Salt*

Supplies:
-Clean jars
- smooth rocks (I use river rocks bought at the dollar store, boiled in water to sanitize)

*use sea salt, pink salt, kosher salt  - pretty much anything that is not standard table salt.  
  1.  Remove some of the big outer leaves of the cabbage and save them. 
  2. Cut up the cabbage - I slice it up thin, you want it into little pieces but the shape is up to you.  
  3. Put it into a big bowl and sprinkle with salt.   Smush the cabbage with your hands squeezing and turning it.    Taste a piece, if it tastes good, its got enough salt.  If you can't taste the salt add a bit more.   
  4. Smash and squeeze and turn the cabbage until you get bored.    Then leave it alone for 20-60min and do it again.    You may need to do this just once if you have a juicy cabbage, or multiple times.   You are looking for a little puddle of water at the bottom of the bowl. 
  5. At this point, if you want to add other things to the mixture, do that now.    Shredded carrot, shredded apple, cranberries, ginger, onion chopped small, cilantro, mustard seeds, any veggies you have chopped up leftover, etc.    Toss it on in.   
  6.  Pack the cabbage into jars.   Put a handful into a jar, then smash it down with something (your fist, a wood spoon, the end of a rolling pin...).    Add another handful and repeat until you have around 3 of space to the top of the jar.    Fill up remaining jars the same way.  
  7. Pour any additional liquid you have over the cabbage - basically everything should be under the brine you've created.      
  8. Take one of the cabbage leaves you saved and tear it into a circle the size of the jar opening.   Pack it over the cabbage and press it under the brine.   Top it with the rocks to hold everything down.   Its very important that all of the "bits" are under the liquid.   
  9. Put the lid on the jar and leave it on the counter.   Every day open the lid a tiny bit to "burp" it.  In around 4 days you can eat it, but its even better if you leave it 2-3 weeks or longer.   Just taste it and see how you like it best!   
  10. Put it in the fridge once you start using it - at that point you can remove the rocks and big cabbage leaf and even pour off the brine if you want.   


Kimchi - vegan and not too spicy! 

Ingredients: 
- Cabbage
-Salt (as above) 

- additional veggies (carrot and daikon are our favorites) 

- 2 TBS soy sauce
- 2TBS sugar (whatever kind you like)
- chunk of pineapple (maybe 1/3 cup size)
- thumb size chunk of ginger (peel it)
-  4-5 cloves of garlic (peel)
- 1/2 onion
- 1/4 cup red chili flakes (the kind you put on pizza)

  1. Make kraut as in the first recipe, and add in whatever other veggies you like.    
  2. Take the rest of the ingredients and dump them into a blender or food processor.   Chop them a bit first if you need to.     Blend them up into a paste, if it seems super thick you can throw in a little water.   
  3. Dump the sauce onto the kraut and toss it up - if you have sensitive skin you may want gloves, my hands burned for days.   DO NOT touch your eyeball (you can guess how I figured that one out).    
  4. Press into jars, and using the same technique as for kraut.   
  5. Leave on the counter for a while, its good after about a week but can sit longer too!   Start tasting it and decide what you like.   


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vegan Savory Muffins

This recipe is adapted from the I Love Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook, which we got from the library but might end up buying, there are so many good looking recipes and every one of them has a vegan option.  

This muffin recipe is so good (and quick and easy!) that we have made it 3 times now in the last couple weeks!

Vegan Savory Muffins



Ingredients:

2 Cups of white whole wheat flour*
2 TBS organic sugar (optional, but adds a tiny bit of sweet to counter the savory)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup mild oil (I use coconut, but any oil works, even good olive oil)
1/4 tsp vinegar (again, whatever you have on hand, I use ACV)
1 and 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I use whatever I have on hand)

Seasoning/Add ins, add whatever you like here, but add something, this is where the flavor comes from!
This is the blend I use:

2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-2 TBS herbs from the garden washed and cut up (chives, basil, thyme, etc)
Handful of shredded cheese (we use non-dairy "Follow your heart" brand)
1/4 cup chopped up sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup (ish) of chopped up breakfast sausage (we use vegan field roast apple maple)


*We use King Arthur's Flour, which is GMO free, I have not tried this with alternative flours, GF flour, etc., but it might just work!


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Line or grease muffin pans.    Dump all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.   Dump all of the wet ingredients on top and mix.   It should be pretty thick and lumpy, just mix enough to get rid of any dry spots.  
Fill muffin cups, its ok to fill them all the way up.    This fills up a dozen to the top.
Bake 14-16min



Cool.   Eat!








Cookbook can be found here: 





Saturday, January 7, 2017

Yeti Village Gingerbread house

Inspired by my yeti stuffies that I have been making and selling in my etsy shop (which is back open!), I made a yeti gingerbread village.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gnomes, Yetis and Santa!

I finally have been getting some things put up in my etsy shop.   James helped me with pictures, so I have some good looking listings!      The gnome pictures I even took myself, I'm finally learning to use my camera a little, although I don't think I remember everything.
 I've been making dozens of these guys because they are so much fun, they make great stocking stuffers for everyone!

Get gnomes here
Get santa here
Get yetis here


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Vitality Racerback Shaped Back Opening Hack

For the back of the night dress in the previous post I decided to do a little experimenting with the back.   I made a half circle shaped opening to change up the simple style a little bit.

This is what it looks like:  (my scissors are labeled fabric yet "someone" still used them to hack up cardboard or something else equally horrifying!)



This is actually pretty easy to add and you can do any shape you want (I was thinking of doing a star, but decided not to push my luck sewing in the middle of the night!) 

First, assemble the Vitality Racerback as instructed in the pattern.   Get the bra sewn, and the tank, but stop before basting them together.

Next figure out what shape you want, I just cut a piece of paper and laid it out until I liked it.   This "pattern" will be the exact size of your hole when you are done, so no need to add seam allowance or anything like that.



Trace the pattern piece on the right side of the bra (in the next steps I switched this because I prefer the bra hem inside out).     I just use washable crayola markers for sewing patterns, they are cheap, wash out easy, and they are all over the house!


Layer the bra over the tank lining up the arm and neck openings.   The WRONG side of the bra touching the RIGHT side of the tank (remember I switched my bra inside out here).

Pin all over the place, my pinning looks crazy because this fabric is super soft and moves all over the place - you want to put enough pins that the two layers line up, and around your "hole" shape so that stays still while you sew.


Now take it to your machine and stitch right on the line you drew.   Make sure you pivot the fabric at any corners to make them nice and neat.   Remove pins as you go if they are poking you, and be careful not to catch any random bits of fabric in there from underneath.

Take all the pins out when its sewn.



Next, try and find some sharp scissors that nobody ruined, and cut out your "hole" leaving a seam allowance on the inside.   At corners, clip a little "v" shape so it lays flat when you turn it.

See how well my scissors work?


Now take the bra and stuff it through the hole.  Prod it as necessary to get everything to lay flat, and then press.    Next topstitch around the edge of the hole, this helps it to stay flat although you can skip this if your fabric seems to be cooperating without it.

My soft fabric doesn't like to lay flat for pretty pictures.


But thats ok, because when you put it on, it lays how it should!


It took way too many tries to get this picture so its kinda blurry, its much easier when I can get the kid to take pictures of my back!


Ta-dah!   A fun twist on the Vitality Tank!




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Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Vitality Racerback Nightdress Hack

So for whatever reason, Levi decided to wear my nightdress.   And when I pulled it out of the wash I found this: 


He ate it!   The weirdo kid literally ate the sleeve of my nightdress.  

I was making a birthing gown for a customer and really liked how soft the fabric was, so I bought extra for myself, so I could make a replacement.

I used the Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Vitality Racerback Tank (which I tested a while back), as my basis.     The pattern comes with a tank, sports bra, or combo of the two.   There is also a maternity add-on you can get.

I modified the pattern a bit to get a simple A-line dress.

First, I figured out how long I wanted it to be.   I wasn't too worried about an exact length so just held the measuring tape where I thought the neckline would start and measured to about my knees.  
Next, if you want a specific width for the hem, figure out what you want that to be and divide by 4.    I just eyeballed it sense this is pj's.

Fold the fabric in half, and put the bra pattern piece on the fold.   Measure the length going down the fold and mark.   Then measure the width (remember its 1/4 what you want it to end up), across the bottom.     Last draw a line from the "armpit seam" down to the hem.   This will be an "A" shaped line and will be wider than the bottom of the bra pattern piece.

Cut it out.

For the back, use your front that is cut out as a pattern piece - line up the armpit seam and cut the skirt portion, then put the back pattern piece on and cut that out.   This way the skirt bit will match front and back.

Cut the bra part out as instructed in the pattern, if you want to include it.





Now follow the pattern!   Its the same as making the "tank with built in bra" option, with the exception of the side seams being longer.

Ta-dah!   An easy and comfy nightdress, ready for bed!




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Monday, July 25, 2016

Whales in San Francisco



We visited San Francisco again for a couple days this July.   This time we went whale watching!   Levi really enjoyed the boat ride (which was rough, luckily we don't get seasick), and we saw whales, dolphins, sea lions, sunfish, birds, sea otter and even a shark!  








Sea Lions



Sunfish


Dolphins


Sea Otter


Whales!   These were so hard to capture because they move fast, the boat was pretty far, and we were in rough seas.




My parents and Levi!