Friday, February 11, 2011

The Winter Way of growing things that you eat.

It's been a long winter, and I am wanting to grow things, nurture and eat what I grow. I do grow yogurt a couple times a week, but I think my gut flora is still out of balance. I am not eating fresh foods like I should be and have been succumbing to the carb craves I get this time of year. I had an epiphany, or maybe something I read inspired me, regardless, sprouts are an excellent way to get the nutrients of fresh mixed greens of June in the middle of winter. My family will benefit from the vitamin punch of alfalfa, mung bean, lentil, aduzi, ...about 4 lbs of seeds and beans, some netting and away I go. Wide mouth Mason jars abound here. May as well put them to good use in the sprout world since I am not so daring when it comes to fermenting vegetables without a good crock with the cap that seals with the tube for the escaping gas.

I ordered kefir grains from Timeless Health last week, and they came on Wednesday. J.D., the other half of this crazy partnership, brought me an envelope with odd hand writing. He thought it might be a young adult who I had placed when I worked for the State, that does happen. It was my kefir grains in a button zip loc. Thursday morning I rinsed them in milk in a strainer and thought "Ooh, how weird and wimpy they look." I put them in a pint jar with about 1/2 cup milk, put a paper towel on top and screwed on the ring. It sat for 24 hrs, while I read up on kefir making and getting those wimpy little things at the bottom of the strainer into those plump clouds one sees in the photos on those SOLE Food blog sites.

I discovered I should have given the jar a little shake every few hours. It may not matter since I am just feeding the grains right now. My reading, which one should really do while the grains are in transit by the way, also illuminated the fact that the grains need to replenish after their trip.

At the 24 hr mark the milk was strained through the old reliable Tupperware strainer I have used since "bc" (before children) and there they were! Three gorgeous little curds of kefir about 1/2 inch across. They were blooming! Keeping the Life in food, and helping it grow is going to continue to be fun. It is satisfying to open the yogurt maker and see that white creamy yogurt, knowing that there is life in that milk and bacteria mix. It is a winter way of growing things that you eat.

I am going to work with the grains. I do think that with sucanat and water or tea, some lemon or lime juice it would make a great little refresher in the summer. Experimenting with different times and temps, different liquids, etc, since it appears there is a LOT of life in those little weird things I received in the mail. I am about to strain and refresh the milk again. This means I strain the milky kefir and the grains remain in the strainer. Rinse them with more milk put them back in the pint jar with 1/2 cup of the strained milky kefir goes back into the jar, then add another 1/2 cup of milk that is warmed to 70. Cover and return to the shelf it cultures on. I think that Saturday night or Sunday there should be true cultured kefir. The process is quite simple really. We'll see when I get too many grains. I suppose I could share them on the internet.

I am excited about the sprouts! I hope to get a good variety going and having them in sandwiches, salads and soups. I hope I have a good source in Mumm's. They make the transactions personal and the emailing and calling was awesome of them when the card didn't work. Organic, and rinsed and soaked in filtered water, what could be better? A source I believe I can trust and a neighborly way of working with you. I appreciate that and can feel that positivity when I think about this part of the return to living foods.

I would like to get four feet of lights to start plants under and buy the LED type one at a time and add to the sides for year round growing and maybe some hydroponic experiments to see what veggies can grow inside under lights and still have a nutritional punch.

New life is growing in my kitchen!

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