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.

mossy_stone

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Blueberries

In Downeast Maine just about every road has a blueberry field somewhere along it. In the spring the fields are green, in the summer a sea of blue, autumn brings reds and purples until finally, they rest under a blanket of white snow.

A really small part of a blueberry field.

The colors of autumn.

Fun Fact: Maine produces 99% of the countries wild blueberries.

Here’s a link to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for Wild Maine Blueberries for more info on Maine’s wild blueberries and they have a short slideshow with some nice photos of the blueberry fields and a tractor harvester (blueberries are harvested by a tractor harvester or by hand depending on the field).

We love blueberries! The boys eat them everyday if they can. Last year we froze 40 lbs to get us through the winter but we ran out early even with rationing towards the end. Our favorite recipe using fresh blueberries is blueberry pie. Frozen they usually go into smoothies, muffins and of course pancakes.

Perhaps you already have a favorite pancake recipe but if you’re looking for one- especially one that incorporates real food (fresh ground flour, kefir…) and traditional methods (soaking) look no further!

SUSAN’S WHOLE WHEAT KEFIR PANCAKES

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, fresh ground if possible (you can use other flours as well if you’re gluten free or use sprouted flour if you don’t want to soak the flour).
1 1/4 cups kefir (can also use yogurt or cultured buttermilk)
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder (heaping) (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon real salt

Directions

In a bowl, mix together the flour and kefir; add a bit more flour if mixture seems thin. Cover with a towel and let soak overnight, 8-12 hours. In the morning when ready to prepare, whisk in the remaining ingredients; mixing well. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup of the batter on the skillet. When edges begin to bubble (about 2 minutes), flip to other side. Cook until both sides are golden brown. We serve with raw butter and maple syrup or honey.

These are delicious! I have found that the kefir can be substituted for by yogurt or buttermilk with fantastic results. I have also subbed maple syrup for the honey and almond or grapeseed oil for coconut oil in a pinch.

For blueberry pancakes I sprinkle a few on each one as I cook cause I like even distribution. If the blueberries are frozen I run them under water to help them thaw (no raw spots in the pancakes) and this also gets rid of all that blue that otherwise stains hands and the batter that not so appetizing blue-green color. This works for muffins too.

Enjoy!

If you try these and like them please follow the link to Susan’s site and let her know how great her recipe is.

mossy_stone

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Dairy Kefir

Kefir (rhymes with heifer)  is like a super hero yogurt. There are a lot of great sites devoted to dairy kefir and all it’s glories such as Dom’s About Kefir in-site and kefir.net where you can find lots of in depth information, research, recipes etc so I won’t try to duplicate that. But, for those who are unfamiliar with kefir here’s a quick summary: dairy kefir is a lot like yogurt. The curds are more delicate so kefir is often made into smoothies- which you can sometimes find in stores. While yogurt only contains beneficial bacteria dairy kefir contains several additional strains of beneficial bacteria and beneficial yeast which can actually colonize the digestive tract.

Sounds great right?!

Here’s what makes it even better:

dairy kefir grains

Dairy kefir “grains”. They look a bit weird but add milk (any kind including coconut) and you have a never ending source of kefir. The grains (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast not actually a grain) will also grow and multiply over time. Extra grains can be eaten, shared or dehydrated. The grains above are quite large, they can be smaller like rice too. Don’t buy the powder though. After a few batches you’ll have to buy more powder and start again.

If you’re looking for dairy kefir grains you can buy them (I’ve seen them at cultures for health) or ask around (maybe try yahoo groups) often people are glad to share their kefir grains for free/ the cost of shipping.

Personally, I culture with a cloth cover the top so the dairy kefir doesn’t get effervescent (tho it’s interesting that way too). I generally use dairy kefir in smoothies or to soak flour in i.e. pancakes. Occasionally I’ll strain it till it’s thick like greek yogurt and make cheese balls or mix up a dip.

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