In the Kitchen {Herbs}








use Rosemary sprigs as flavorful skewers

 We’ve been enjoying fresh herbs from the garden, mainly parsley, thyme and basil right now, and drying some to use during the winter. They’re flavorful and it’s much cheaper than purchasing them at the store. When cooking just remember that dried herbs are about 3 times as strong as fresh. During the summer I use fresh herbs and during the winter I use dried; substituting one for the other as needed.


  Parsley was one of the first things in the ground and it’s still going strong. I grow it in mini rows then I cut it and let it grow back again. This method is super easy and prolific!


This year I tried planting thyme in amongst the carrots while Noah planted some thyme indoors. It’s astounding to compare the two. The outside plants are robust, dark green with large leaves; the indoor plants just don’t look like they’re doing as well. They are small, scraggly and pale. I pick as much fresh thyme as I like whenever I need it during  the summer. When I harvest the carrots I’ll harvest the thyme too and dry it. I use thyme a lot, especially on roasted meats and veggies. I use oregano nearly as often. I have a  container of oregano and two rosemary “trees” indoors too, and while they’re not quite as robust as they would be outside, they’re doing well enough until I can decide where I’m going to transplant the oregano (the rosemary I keep indoors because of our low winter temps). It’s a hard decision because, like mint, oregano has a tendency to spread and the longer it’s there the harder it is to remove.

As for the basil, I only pick a few leaves here and there so it will keep growing strong. Eventually, I’ll make some pesto and I’ll ferment a jar full (at least) as basil takes on a wonderful liquorice flavor when fermented. I also planted some sage and dill this year. It’s not ready for harvesting yet but I look forward to having some on hand for pickling, stuffing into fish, and maybe making up some gravlax!


Slowly, I’m expanding the list of seasonings I grow instead of purchase. Other than salt and pepper the herbs above are my most used seasonings. I’ve also made onion and garlic powder by dehydrating them and then processing the dried veggies in a blender. The flavor is fantastic! I’d like to get some perennials going (maybe alongside those chives?)  and I wouldn’t mind trying to grow some chamomile (soon!)



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Nourishing Traditions: Latin American Sauerkraut {with pineapple vinegar}

DSCN9544 I’ve been on the look out for recipes using pineapple vinegar. I noticed one in Nourishing Traditions for Latin American Sauerkraut which isn’t necessarily a recipe I’d normally make.  I happened to have a small head of cabbage left from making stuffed cabbage- which works best with the large outer leaves. So I figured why not?

DSCN9542Now, as you can see below, the original recipe calls for onions. I left them out because the last few times I added raw onions to, for example, pickled beets I found the raw flavor way too strong. Also, there are two versions: one with salt (and optional whey) and one with pineapple vinegar. Since all of the shredded cabbage and carrots didn’t fit in one jar I made both. The fuller jar contains the pineapple vinegar version, while the lesser jar is just salt.


DSCN9560The salt only version packed down significantly more. And already appears softer. Following the instructions I left both out for three days before transferring to the fridge.


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Honey Mead

Lately I’ve been experimenting with honey mead. The (really simple) directions and inspiration came from Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation (of course!). I went with a honey to water ratio of 1:6. This seems to be a good amount. I use Really Raw Honey as it contains natural yeasts.

DSCN8892Then for fun and flavor I add in some dehydrated lemon- enough to cover the surface.

DSCN8903And a sprig of rosemary. That’s it.  Although the flavoring options are endless, and optional!


DSCN8912Then you just let it sit and wait for the bubbling to begin. Stir it up at least once a day (more frequently in warmer temperatures) to disperse the natural yeasts and help ensure no mold gets started on the floating additions.

DSCN8919The bubbling will get going and be pretty active for about a week to 10 days.

DSCN8959 DSCN8960I wait till I notice the bubbling subsiding. Then I strain out the lemon slices, rosemary and all the tiny waxy bits from the honey and bottle. I like a lot of carbonation so I let it build up a little before putting the bottles in the fridge. These are still in an early mead stage and don’t contain much alcohol. I also poured some mead off into my airlock jar. Only a quart because that’s the size jar I have.

DSCN9050I let it sit for, I dunno, maybe a month before I really wanted my jar back so I transferred it to another bail top jar. It’s still aging but it definitely has a drier more wine like taste compared to the fresh mead.

Then start a new (larger) batch!


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Pineapple Vinegar

Finally a way to use up all those otherwise inedible pineapple peels! Once again, I followed Sandor Katz’s instructions for Fruit Scrap Vinegar (found in either Wild Fermentation or in The Art of Fermentation; I also used this method with apple scraps for ACV ). Essentially use 1/4 cup sugar to 1 Qt of water, plus fruit scraps. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s how the pineapple fruit scrap vinegar went:

Cut up  the fruit peel; add to the sugar-water.


Remember to cover the top – I use fabric scraps held on with the O ring. I keep the lid piece nearby as it’s important to stir the pineapple up – daily, if not more frequently. Shaking/ stirring helps to keep the pineapple immersed. As the fermenting progresses the bubbles will push the peels further up above the surface. Peels above the surface are at a risk for mold; the longer it pokes up above the liquid the more likely mold will show up – especially in the warmer months.


Before long signs of fermentation will appear!

DSCN8574The liquid will also darken. This fermenting of the peels will take about a week. Strain. Katz’s says to ferment 2-3 weeks longer for your finished product. However I like to add a mother of vinegar to ensure and speed things along.

DSCN8588 DSCN8653

A new mother quickly started forming.The pineapple vinegar mother is a lovely pale ever so slightly yellow white.

DSCN8659 Nine days later the vinegar smells – well like pineapple vinegar and the mother has grown quite thick. What to do with the mother now? Save it as a back up, use it to make more vinegar or make some nata. DSCN8782Time to strain and bottle!

I like to use a coffee filter because it catches just about all the sediment. It can take a while and maybe even a second filter. Carefully gathering up the edges of the filter and holding it up can speed things up considerably.

DSCN8787 DSCN8809Use now and/or age. I’m still looking for recipes that call for pineapple vinegar so if you have any – please share! In the meantime I’ve tried a marinade I found here. Combine 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup pineapple vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, a tablespoon chili flakes,salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for a small handful of chopped fresh cilantro. I didn’t have any so I substituted some parsley.

DSCN8970 DSCN8977Use this marinade for chicken, fish or pork; I went with chicken. It was good. Tender, sweet but also a touch sour and spicy. I used my broiler but grilling would be the way to go. I’m going to let the vinegar age a bit then try it in a vinaigrette.


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In the Kitchen :: Nourishment

Each morning, after a cup of tea, I don my insulated overalls and a bundled baby in a back carrier and make my way down to the goat barn.  How lucky we are that each morning we can harvest a few free ranged eggs and a quart or two of fresh raw goats milk. After several months without either these basic staples they feel all the more luxurious- especially when these simple ingredients are transformed into decadent puddings, custards, french toast and omelets. Snacking on fresh homemade cheese and deviled eggs (yummy with mango chutney…) feels like a treat. And since we’re getting all that important calcium and protein we might as well indulge.

Here are a few of our favorites from the past week:

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a tall glass of milk of course)

Pudding has been a huge favorite- rice pudding and especially the leftover queen’s butterscotch pudding. I don’t have any scotch so we’ve just been adding extra vanilla. Noah has declared this his favorite.

photo from the leftover queen- click on photo to go there

It’s been exciting to be making cheese from our own goat’s milk,this one is just a simple cheese made by heating milk and adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice.

And, while these are neither eggs nor dairy I have to tell you about these fermented fries. Oh my are they delicious. Everyone LOVED these. The hardest part is waiting the 3 days they take to ferment. We’re pretty much starting a new batch as soon as the first one is done. I don’t have any tallow right now so I’ve been frying them up in bacon drippings. Sorry no pics of the fries finished- they were devoured too quickly but here’s one of them fermenting. Notice the air lock cap, these can’t be fermented in an open crock (click on the link to go to for the explanation).

Now if I could only find a ketchup recipe that actually tastes like ketchup….


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In the Kitchen:: Let Sit

I thought I’d share what’s in the jars this week:

First an update photo: Here’s the Apple Cider Vinegar with a new mother starting to grow. This is about 3 days in. The old mother drifted off to the bottom this time (although it has since floated back up to the top).

And here’s this week’s collection- fermenting meyer lemons (are meyer lemons really that much different better than regular lemons? Yes!), ACV, and, in the front, dairy wise we’ve got kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, and buttermilk starter.

See that crack starting there? With the whey starting to separate? That’s how I know when the kefir is ready.

Also sitting in the kitchen- a new batch of vanilla extract. These were some fresh vanilla beans- so soft, fragrant and easy to scrape.

Now we just let them sit.


Preserving Lemons

I love having fresh lemons on hand but, alas, lemons do not grow in Maine and my local market doesn’t always have organic lemons. Enter preserved lemons. All you need is:


lemons, a jar and a knife

Cut lemons into quarters, sprinkle generously and completely with salt and pack into jar-pressing to release juices. The lemons should be submerged.

Just let the lemons sit out for several days-I do about 3 days ( *see note below). The lemons should smell great and the peel softened. Store in the fridge and use whenever lemons are called for- the juice as well as the whole lemon is usable. Hold back on the salt  tho- these are salted lemons after all.

Coming up: I’ll share several recipes in which I use preserved lemons.

Editing: I just want to add that you can rinse the finished lemons to cut back on the salt if desired. Also, preserved lemons are not traditionally stored in the fridge. I’ve begun to leave the preserved lemons out -saving fridge space- and I have to say they keep getting better.


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