Sunday, August 21, 2011

Asian Beef Salad

I was going to cook a chili crusted chicken Napa salad last night, but changed things up and became inventive.

We had some sirloin that needed to get cooked or frozen. It lent itself ve
ry nicely to the chili crust, but my thumbs have burned since last night after seedi
ng the jalapenos! The only relief has been soaking my fingers in milk when they start heating up again. Milk does help!

I used two jalapenos and a mystery chili from the garden.

I bought a pack of "Carnival Mix" pepper plants, and was under the impression they were sweet. I have a chili and a plant that is forming black peppers. They are lovely! I didn't pick any of them yet. The chili is most certainly hotter than a sweet chili for sure. The black pepper may be a Hungarian Hot Black or it may be a sweet black pepper. If the fruit turns reddish yellow I'll know its the Hungarian.

The peppers were chopped fine, mixed with a T of himalayan pink salt and mixed berry peppers freshly ground, about a teaspoon. I rubbed this on the sirloin and let it sit until the meat was room temperature.

In a glass bowl I squeezed two limes, added a T of honey, and 1/4 c. loosely packed each cilantro and peppermint, 3 pieces fresh ginger the size of a quarter minced and 2 cloves garlic minced. Whisk all together and slowly drizzle in 1/2 c. olive oil until mixed. Let stand while you cook the meat on the grill.

As the meat cooks, cut a medium head of napa cabbage into thin strips. Add 1 medium carrot cut into 2" long toothpicks, a sweet bell pepper also cut into toothpicks, 4-6 radishes sliced, 1 medium cucumber sliced, 1/4 c each cilantro, peppermint, 1/2 c. loosely packed Thai Basil and Italian Flat leaf parsley and toss with 1/2 the lime juice dressing.

When the steaks are medium-rare to medium remove from the grill and let sit for a few minutes tented with foil. Slice the steaks at an angle across the grain. Plate the salad and top with the steak. Pour more dressing over if you desire.

It is a refreshingly light way to get your veggies and protein into a summer dinner.

Today I added some pomegranate vinegar to the lime dressing, some more olive oil and used it as the dressing for five bean salad. The chicken is coming out of the fridge and getting covered in cowboy rub. I had to cave and get potatoes at the store, but the yukon golds will be great with onions and chives. Great stuff.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rejuvenating Water Kefir (Tibi)

There must have been something in the air or water a few weeks ago because both my friend's and my tibi grains turned to applesauce. I brought some of my teensy ones out to her since she had tossed hers. I also brought coconut milk to help feed them. They seem to like the trace minerals in coconut milk, and the sugars. I recommended she use molasses and not agave because of the mineral needs of tibi. It's okay. My grains replenished splendidly! I've got plenty for her and her chickens again! They are even growing in the baggie I have them in in the fridge!

How did I accomplish this? At home I mixed half coconut milk and half filtered water, 1/3rd cup molasses and straining every 24 hours to try to get the grains plump again. They fed really well on that combo! I cut back on the coconut milk each time I strained the tibi. Coconut water came from Amazon last week so I have used half that and half filtered water with a third cup of the newly arrived coconut palm sugar and they are Dancing again!

I am bringing a bag of the palm sugar and some grains to Kathy tomorrow. While there I am going to pick up some more of her Italian Blend. That is some superb stuff!

Right now I have a quart of milk kefir separating on the shelf. I plan on getting some good cheesecloth and driving a hook into the cupboard to hang the cheese from while straining the whey. The kefir cheese or lebneh was a real hit when I mixed in chives and garlic with a little salt and pepper when my son Logan and his girlfriend Sarah were here.

I ordered a pound of broccoli sprouting seeds from sprout today. For the sake of simplicity, I am sticking with just one kind of sprout and broccoli is the chosen one. It was pricey at nearly $40, but good quality is a must. I noticed a lot fewer unsprouted seeds in the Mumm's brassicca blend than in the ones I got with the kit from Burpee. I belong to the sproutpeople group and have picked up great hints in the realm of sprouting.

I need to concentrate on my garden, so am cutting back to just growing tibi grains for Kathy, her family and her chickens, keeping the milk kefir going, and just broccoli sprouts. The sprout seeds are big enough not to run out of the tray and are easy to chase down when dehulling the sprouts. All time saving and all so good for things! The chickens will have probiotic eggs, which I get from Kath, my family continues to enjoy sprouts with salads and sandwiches and I get to have the milk kefir. I truly do believe it is a miracle food in many ways. I need to get better at making lotion with it and coconut oil though! That is quite a mess in that cottage cheese container in the kitchen! Just this moment it came to me to blend the oil and kefir in that container inside a bowl of warm water. Baby Mads has some kind of rash on her back and sides, so I tried to make a mixture to soothe and relieve the itch. I don't know if it helped, but I will try with it blended better!

Off I go, to play with the lives growing in my kitchen!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sweet Roll Adventures/Coconut Milk Kefir Failure

Last night I decided to try something new in the bread machine. I have an abundance of kefir and kefir grains right now. I really like the benefits of soaking flours in kefir before using them for baking. The soaking and souring of the flour breaks down the phytic acid that prevents absorption of the nutrients in the flour. It also adds a leavening element that allows for less yeast or baking powder in the final product. I wanted to make sweet roll dough in the bread machine. I like slow SOLE, but I do work full-time and last night, the grandson seemed to get a 3rd and 4th and 5th wind of energy that needed attention. It is great to use the bread machine to make doughs as well as gigantic Pullman loaves of bread (yee gads, they are HUGE!)

M'love got me this Welbilt bread machine in 1999 from a store that has lots of overpriced leftover inventory, so I am sure it was at least 5 years old when I got it from the store.

This recipe isn't totally SOLE, but I used what I had and will include the desired substitutes in parentheses. My bread machine calls for yeast first and then flour and other dry ingredients then the liquids. I added the milk kefir right after the very cut back yeast, flour, flaxseed and wheat germ and gave that a stir to moisten and then added the rest of the ingredients.

Sweet "Soured Dough" Rolls

1 tsp yeast

4 c. of any flour and grain combination. This time I used 2 1/2 c. unbleached white Wheat Montana flour (in an attempt to redeem myself for using white flour, ) a cup combined of wheat germ and flaxseed and 1/2 c. coconut flour. (I need to replenish my supplies of brown rice flour, coconut flour and potato starch and Prairie Gold, almond meal , which would be used in combination to make the rolls a bit more gluten free if needed. Sift the gluten free flours and meals)

1 1/2 c. milk kefir (or cultured buttermilk, yogurt thinned with milk, any soured milk will do.)

1/2 c. sugar (it's poison, but I also discovered I am out of sucanat too, sigh and granddaughter is only 18 months so isn't able to have unpasteurized honey yet.)

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 c coconut oil, warmed slightly so it pours.

2 large beaten free range eggs (always add extra eggs when using coconut flour, it's dense. use 1 egg for every 1/4 c. coconut or almond flour)

I set the timer for 12 and 1/2 hours and went about the rest of my evening (this gave the flour a good 11 hr soak in the kefir.) JD had indigestion problems at about 5:00 this morning and had fallen asleep on the couch so the start up of the mixing was a weird sound to wake up to at almost 6:00! Sorry honey!

I slept in until 7:20 and the beeper was just going off as I walked into the kitchen to make my coffee.

There it was, a beauty of a dough ball! A perfect combo of dry to liquid and not a huge amount of stretch to the dough. I patted it out into a rectangle about 15 x 18 " and smeared the dough with soft butter leaving about an inch dry at the long far end. Then I sprinkled the butter with a combination of sugar, ground cinnamon and ground clove. (I would use sucanat and/or brown sugar normally, as much as you want, but I only used a 1/3rd of a cup of sugar since it was white {erg!})

Roll the dough into a cylinder, pinching the dry end into the dough. Cut into 12 pieces (I cut in half, then cut the halves in half and then each of those into thirds. Easier to get them to be even, somewhat)

I put them in a buttered 9 x 13" cake pan and let them rise on the preheating oven's range top until double. Let the oven preheat to 350 deg. and bake for 30 minutes.

While the rolls are in the oven separate an egg and start whipping with the fork the white until foamy, drizzle a third cup of honey into it as you continue to whip the white.

Take the rolls out after 30 min and after giving one more whip to mix, brush the rolls with the egg white and honey mixture. Pop them back in the oven for another 15 minutes, covering with foil the last 5-7 if they start getting dark. Lift up an inside roll to make sure they are baked and let cool for a minute on a rack.

Lightly slide a butter knife along the between the outside of the rolls and the pan to loosen the honey crust and rolls from the sides. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray or brush with oil or butter. Put the cookie sheet foil side down on the pan of rolls, grab the roll pan and cookie sheet and tip over. Let sit for a minute and remove the pan.

Take a stick of butter out of the fridge and put on a plate. Let the rolls cool for 15 minutes and use the perfect cool butter and have it melt a little.


What would I change about the recipe if I wanted it to be closer to SOLE? It is, with the exceptions of white flour of any kind and white sugar. Substitutions noted bring the recipe closer to SOLE and also low gluten if using brown rice flour and almond meal. Using low gluten flours and meals make the rolls more "cakey" and not as "bready."

I was able to load a photo to photobucket yesterday, but today it's telling me "no" so I will have to work on that and add them later. (Success on the photos!)

The coconut milk kefir didn't work out very well. I may have to add more grains to make it work, or let the grains adapt a bit before it all comes together in a thick bubbly coconut delight, or maybe not. I guess I will have to nurture the grains just like when I first got them going in milk after they had been frozen.

Today I joined all the jars of milk kefir in one jar and set it up on the milk kefir shelf to culture until tomorrow night. I am going to pour it into some cheesecloth and let it form cream cheese or lebneh, leban, whatever you call it! It will make a great little probiotic treat with herbs and fresh chives, maybe make some twice baked potatoes with the result! mmmmmm!

The coconut "stuff" needed some help. I decided to let it sit with more kefir grains today and see how it looks tomorrow. I have spare grains in the fridge in milk right now, and they are forming kefir! This group is busy. I don't get giant grains. I give the kefir a stir with the handle of a plastic cooking spoon before straining, so probably break off pieces. That's okay, those little pieces grow too, and I can do some "kefir-vangelizing" at the same time while sharing those little ones with friends and family.

I am going outside to work on the yard a bit this afternoon and then try to make something for supper!

Life grows and grows in my kitchen!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A New Experiment

With the lactose intolerant granddaughter and the asthmatic grandson and his mucous issues, I looked at different combinations of nut milk and rice milk to help them get their calcium and good fats. Monday I had grandson. I mixed up coconut milk, coconut water, a little milk kefir and some vanilla for his bottle. Poor guy has been suffering from lung problems and an inflamed airway. He doesn't want to chew and swallow anything. He drank it right down and I made a refill and his mom took it home with her.

I had put the kefir grains to rest for a few days since I have been overrun and not having time to work with the kefir we have accumulated. Rest means just placing the kefir grains in milk in the fridge. I took them out yesterday and strained the was kefir after 2 days. There we go! I can culture in the fridge, it just takes a little more time. I do imagine some of the flori don't have a chance to build up in good numbers so it doesn't pack the punch it normally would. I added a cup of milk to the grains (almost a cup) and let it sit for 24 hrs. They seemed to be "awake" so strained that this morning and put the coconut milk mix in the jar to see what it will do.

Although granddaughter hasn't had any major episodes lately with little bits of dairy here and there and she drinks the berry smoothies from the milk kefir and does okay, I still think the coconut milk with all that wonderful medium chain fatty acid and laurine will be so good for her. Grandson needs a boost to the immune system and rebuilding so the coconut milk kefir is probably going to be a big blessing and help!

Right now I have two trays of broccoli sprouts almost ready. They are great little things and the grandkids love them a lot! They like scrambled eggs with sprouts, spinach and a little reconstituted sun dried tomatoes. Lemon pepper is their favorite seasoning! Crazy huh? Those sprouts have so much nutritional punch and such a spicy flavor that eating them is a mouthful of happiness!

Life continues growing in my kitchen!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Biscuit Sticks"

Last night at 8:30 or so I remembered I needed to make bread sticks for the office lunch feast. I mixed up some cheesy, garlicky and herby yeast breadstick dough in the bread machine and set it to start mixing and rising at 4 a.m. That is my concession to working full time and having a daily hour and half commute. I do what I do and try to attain 50% SOLE when I work full time.

My curiosity and guilt took over, I decided to make some lower gluten, high fiber, kefir biscuit sticks. One of my co workers doesn't care much for "fancy bread" so these rustic little things did the trick for him. I mixed 3/4 c. brown rice flour, 1/4 c. coconut flour, and 1 & 1/4 c. Wheat Montana white flour. Yeah, yeah, I used white flour, another concession for my fellow employees. Into that I poured a cup of milk kefir and covered the bowl with plastic wrap to "rest" overnight.

This morning I dumped the breadstick dough out of the machine, shaped the breadsticks and put them in the oven.

I dumped the biscuit dough out onto a well floured board and kneaded in 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. baking soda and a 1/2 t. of baking powder and 1/3 c. olive oil. I spread the dough out into a quasi rectangle and cut it into a dozen sticks, letting them rest under a towel until the breadsticks were done. I cranked the heat to 450 deg and baked them for 14 minutes. They were great! Tender on the inside, crusty on the outside and just perfect for soaking up olive oil and herbs, spaghetti sauce, lasagna juices and other such goodies we had today! The man who doesn't like fancy doesn't know that these little biscuit sticks had some healthy and maybe some would consider "fancy" ingredients. He just knew they were tasty, earthy and he ate six!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

At the "Now What?" Stage

I have had such a huge success culturing and fermenting and sprouting that now I am over run with both tibi and milk grains, my sprouts are not being tended as they should and time is short again. I periodically have to work at the main office 35 miles away, and this is one of those periods. No more strains, rinses or preparation for such at lunch, crunch time in the morning and the garden work starting in the evening. It may seem insurmountable right now, but I will get through this.

Last week and this week I put the milk kefir, grains and all, into the fridge and let it wait for a day before straining and starting another jar. That helped.

The tibi grains are the most prolific! I am saving them for my friend's chickens, since I have figured out that 40 oz. is the most I can think of consuming a day. I have started making only a quart of tibi a day. Last week I used the coconut milk tibi for cream soda. The root beer wasn't fizzy but the cream soda was, so pouring half of each into a glass, cream soda first and root beer last really made it seem like a root beer float. The other morning I was getting coffee after my shower and kept hearing this fizzling sound. Being deaf in one ear I thought it was coming from the coffee pot, but no. As I turned around one of the cream coconut soda bottles popped the top off like a mini volcano. Everything went in the fridge that moment! That may be why the root beer was flat, since it didn't get to sit out for the full 24 hours, more like 12.

Last night I added vanilla extract and some more sucanat to the 24 hr. strained tibi and bottled 20 oz. and then added some of the flat root beer to the remainder to bring that up to 20 oz. They were both pretty fizzy at noon so I put them in the fridge to avoid another explosion. I decided to replenish to 38 oz. this batch and keep the 24 hr. first ferment. The 48 hr. just made it so very very sour.

One batch that went for 72 hrs now is fermenting into vinegar with pomegranate juice in it. That should be wonderful!

Milk kefir is doing great! It is consistently thick and tasty now. Even sitting in the fridge a day or two doesn't seem to bother the grains much. I really need to get going on making a big batch of smoothies for my grandson and his dad. The asthma and Crohn's will both be relieved hopefully!

Granddaughter and her dad are both benefiting from the milk kefir. I still can't convince anyone else in the house to try the tibi. This root beer batch I am making the husband taste. I dare him to say it smells like the inside of a shoe. The blend of vanilla and root beer should take that out. It seemed to with what I drank.

Today I got the Burpee sprouter trays and started broccoli sprouts again. I also started the salad blend that came with the set. Not a bad buy for $10 and I can try it and decide if I want to buy the SproutMaster that so many people love!

There is life in my kitchen!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tibicos Experiments and Baking with Milk Kefir

I just drank my first bottle of the tibi I mixed with fresh squeezed orange juice for its second ferment. It needed some more sucanat, but was refreshing and tasty. I also filtered a batch yesterday that had lemons and ginger. The smell of it was wonderful, but the flavor was a little bland so after the first straining I mixed in the juice of 2 more lemons (it was about 45 ozs of tibi) and about a third of a cup of sucanat. It was still a mild flavor, but very tasty. It will be ready to drink tomorrow. I am looking forward to it.

I strained it twice with cheesecloth and put it in the BPA free plastic bottles I found at the local "gouge and grab (your $$)." I do have to admit the bottles were affordable at $3.00 each and are great for that 2nd fermentation and then the fridge. The new batch of tibi is also lemon and ginger.

I am pondering the addition of V8 after the first straining, or maybe V8 Fusion that has fruit too. I wonder if it would be too acidic? I'll have to check with the message board to see if anyone else has tried it.

Yesterday Jenny at Nourished Kitchen had an Irish Soda Bread (actually Spotted Dog for the traditionalist) recipe posted on FB. It called for buttermilk, but I used milk kefir instead. The flour and kefir soaked all night and I added the currents (also soaked in fruit juice all night), salt and baking soda this morning and baked it. Unfortunately the pinched nerve in my neck isn't much better this morning, so am going to have to send the bread to the office and leave me behind...bummer!

The bread looks wonderful! Smells great, and I am going to make some more this weekend with our corned beef dinner. I am going to use the prepared version from the store for the corned beef. Hopefully all the healthy things I am doing for myself will counteract the chemical load of Armor Foods packaged corned beef!

I love the life growing in my kitchen!