Archive for Treats

Converting Milk Kefir Grains

This post is part of
Wardeh’s Tuesday Twister

Soda Pop That's Good For You

 Nine  months ago, when I decided to give up soda pop for good,  (good health that is),  I didn’t know how I was  ever going to do without  it.  I absolutely  love the feel of carbonation’s fizzy bite as it trickles down my throat quenching my thirst, unlike any other beverage.  However, my committment was made;  there was no turning back; all I could do was press forward,  drinking only water.  I was doing okay with this, but—one fine day I discovered . . . (drumroll,  please) KEFIR SODA POP!

 Nahhhhhhh, I thought,  Noooooo wayyyy!  There couldn’t possibly be, even in my wildest dreams,  a soda  pop that is  actually  healthy and nutritious for you.  But, my dear readers, there is!    And I’m going to show you how to make it.  Are you ready?

Conversion Process:   (Please read through  the following  to gain an over-all  understanding of  the conversion process , and then you’ll find a recipe  at the end you can print.)

We’ll start  by converting 3 tablespoons of good kefir milk grains— that you don’t need for your milk fermentation, because once these grains are converted to soda pop grains, they can no longer be used for milk kefir.   Place them in a glass bowl and gently pour a cup of  spring water over them.  Stir the grains with a plastic slotted spoon to separate the milk.  Now pour off this water, reserving the grains.  Use only plastic spoons and strainer. Once again pour one cup of spring water over the  grains  and stir  gently to clean the grains.  Pour out this water, again reserving the grains and repeat the process until there is no longer any milk residue. 

(Washed kefir grains)

Now that the grains are free of any milk residue, the conversion can begin. ( By the way, they look like a nice clump of cauliflower, don’t they?).

Into a 1-quart mason jar pour 2 cups of spring water—not tap water, not distilled water, not filtered water, not reverse osmosis water, not bath water, but SPRING WATER.  Spring water is necessary because it is chock full of all those wonderful, healthy minerals that our bodies are literally crying out for, and those little kefir babies won’t mind it one bit, either!  To this water add 1/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice  sugar, like  you buy at Costco, ( or  any sugar that is as unprocessed as possible), and 10 dried cranberries (any dried fruit will work, but I prefer the way cranberries make the pop taste.)  Now stir it all up vigorously, making the sugar crystals swirl round and round in the jar.  Once this mini vortex has settled down, you can introduce the washed kefir grains to their new home.  Put a lid on and set the jar in a dark cupboard for 2 days,  agitating the bottle a couple of times daily.

At the end of the 2 days, drain the liquid off, reserving the grains—PLEASE DON’T DUMP THOSE PRECIOUS GRAINS OUT! You must protect  them at all costs!  You can toss out the cranberries, though, or eat them if you wish.   (Note: this is the FIRST  conversion culturing)

Now, rinse out the mason jar and begin again with another  2 cups SPRING WATER, 1/4 cup cane sugar, 10 dried cranberries and the grains, which at this point are starting to really dig their new habitat.  You know this is true because they just look happy. . . yessssssssss they doooooo, they LOOK happy.  Study them for a bit and you’ll see I’m right. 🙂  Anyway, once again put them away in a dark cupboard for 2 days, swirling twice a day. (Note: this is the SECOND conversion culturing)

Continue with a THIRD and FORTH conversion culturing, using the same regimen.  At the end of this FORTH conversion culturing,  SAVE THIS  CULTURED LIQUID .  It is  now  ready for the “fermentation process.”  Also, keep your “converted” grains handy so you can  start another culture.

Fermentation Process:

Divide the  cultured liquid between two grolsch bottles . (I got mine at my local farmers’ market.  They were filled with  some kind of soda pop, which I poured out, but saved the wonderful bottles.  They even have  cute little labels.  They were less expensive than buying them online )

Now fill the bottles about two-thirds full with  100 % grape juice,  leaving enough room at the top for the carbonation, which results as the kefir grains consume the sugars.  Place in the dark cupboard for 12 hours or until you see a slight ring of tiny bubbles around the top of the liquid.  Then place in the refrigerator to chill and to stop the fermentation process.  

CAUTION!  When you open the bottle the first time after fermentation,  do it in your sink with a cereal bowl turned upside down over the bottle top to catch any pressure  explosion, which can and does occur, depending on how much carbonation there is.  I’ve had this happen to me and trust me, it ain’t purdy!

See all the carbonation? You DO NOT want this on your walls!

 

I know you’re  thoroughly confused and scratching your heads long about now, but it’s really not that difficult.  Just follow the steps in the recipe below.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions.  I want you to succeed and be as happy with this healthy alternative to soda pop as I am. 

  Here is the recipe you can print

 Converting Kefir Grains:

  1. Wash 3 tablespoons  of milk kefir grains with 1 cup spring water.
  2. Wash grains again with another cup of  spring water.
  3. In 1-quart mason jar add:
    1.  2 cups spring water
    2.  ¼ cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
    3. 10 dried cranberries
    4. Stir well, add grains and cover with lid
    5. Place in dark cupboard for 2 days, stirring twice each day.
    6. Drain liquid, reserving grains.
    7. Do steps 3-6 three more times.  This takes a total of 8 days for the conversion.

Fermentation Process:

  1. Divide the “cultured liquid” into two grolsch bottles, reserving the grains to culture more water for additional soda pop.
  2. Add  100% grape juce to the bottles until 2/3 full.
  3. Close the spring-top lids and gently rock each bottle  back and forth once to mix the liquids.
  4. Place bottles in dark cupboard for 12 hours or until a tiny ring of bubbles forms around the top of the liquid.
  5.  Refrigerate, cool and enjoy.

To Make More Soda Pop:

Restart the culturing/fermentation process now, so you can have more pop in three days, by filling a 1-quart mason jar with the same solution of: 

  1.  2 cups spring water
  2. ¼ cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
  3. 10 dried cranberries
  4. Stir well, add grains and cover with lid
  5. Place in dark cupboard for 2 days, stirring twice each day.
  6. Separate the liquid and the  grains, using the liquid to ferment the juice,  and the grains to culture more water for more pop.

NOTE:  I have been using the same “converted” grains since last summer, and they are still going strong.  I almost think they will keep on working as long as they have the proper environment: spring water, sugar, dried fruit, warmth and darkness.  Just follow this formula and I think you’ll have success.  I am always available to answer any questions you have about this process ,and my experience with it, so don’t hesitate to ask.  If , after the initial conversion process of 8 days, your pop lacks sparkle and fizz, don’t think you’ve failed.  Just keep on doing the same process and eventually you’ll notice that the pop has become just as fizzy as you want it. 

This is my process the way I do it to achieve these results.  I’ve read lots of other ways, but this is what has worked the best for me.

  I’ve noticed that if the “culturing” process goes on past two days, ( sometimes I forget), the “fermentation” process takes less time; however, be careful.  Remember this is a “living” food and the fermentation can get out of hand.  Always pay close attention when opening your bottles for the first time.  Always keep your pop in the refrigerator or it will continue to ferment.  Even in the refirgerator it will continue the ferment if it isn’t consumed within a couple of days.  Always use the spring-top grolsch type bottles.

You can use other juices, but always add some grape juice if you want lots of carbonation.  I don’t know why, but the cultured liquid adores grape juice.  I think it has something to do with the type of yeast/bacteria found on grape skins. 

 My favorite juice to use , not only  for flavor, but for  a huge punch of antioxidants,  is Kirkland’s Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Juice Blend,  which contains not only these two very healthy juices, but  apple, peach, pear, white and red grape, and kiwi, as well.  This makes a very rich-colored, delicious soda pop.   I LOVE IT! YOU WILL, TOO! And not only that, we’ll be soooo healthy when we drink it!   Now you can’t say that about all that other soda pop out there  that’s killing the population, increasing waistlines, pushing up  health care costs, rotting teeth,  increasing diabetes,  causing earthquakes and tsunamies and . . . and . . . oh sorry, I got a little carried away there.  Anyway drink this stuff instead of  that other inferior stuff.  🙂

Now that I’m off that bandwagon, I’ll begin work immediately on a new post for  another healthy drink you’ll love.  Come back later to see what it is.  Have a fun day making your new and health-giving soda pop.  See ya’ll later.  And . . . May great  sparkle and fizz always be in your lives!

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Christmas Butter Cookies


This post is part of
Gallery of Christmas Cookies

 Forget everything you ever knew about butter cookies, because these butter cookies  aren’t THAT BAD.  Actually, they’re kinda good for you in a sugar-kinda-way.  Know what I mean?  But, hey, we all need a little treat sometime and usually there’s some kind of sugar in it. 

This recipe is one I have been making for Christmas goodies for friends, neighbors and family for more years than I wish to count.  I’ve never allowed myself to bake them at any other time of year because they’re made with, you know, B-U-T-T-E-R.   But now, who knew, butter is no longer the baddie it used to be.   So enter— butter cookies.  Hallelujah!

I reworked  my old  recipe, applying all the new eating-for-health principles I’ve learned from all you out there in healthy food land,  and came up with soaked and sprouted 100 % whole wheat flour, and  vitamin A-packed homemade butter from pastured cream.  Yes, there’s some sugar in them, but the sugar I used—evaporated cane juice— is a teency-weency bit more healthy than white sugar.   On to the recipe . . .

To Make the cookie dough:

1)  Cut 3 cups butter into chunks to soften  (I make my own butter from pastured cream, but any butter will work)

2)  In a large bowl mix thoroughly:

              2 cups cornstarch

               2 cups powdered sugar  (I made my powdered sugar in my blender with the evaporated cane juice sugar, but any powdered sugar  will do)    
                                                                        
               4 cups sifted 100% whole wheat  flour,  freshly ground from soft white wheat 

3)  Whip the softened butter in your mixer until light and fluffy.

4)  Add the dry ingredients from # 2 above, one cup at a time, mixing well until incorporated.

At this point you can freeze the cookie dough and bake it later, or just chill it well in the refrigerator.    I make the cookie dough in November and bake the cookies in December.

To Bake the cookies:

Form dough into 100 1-inch  balls (I use the smallest ice cream scoop to make it easier), placing 12 of  them on your cookie sheet so there is 3″ between each cookie.  Flatten  each ball with a cookie stamp (I have a snow flake press) or the bottom of a drinking glass.  Each time you press a cookie you will need to dip the   stamp in a bowl of your powdered sugar so it won’t stick.  Bake 350 degrees 10 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before trying to take them off the cookie sheet.  I use a sheet of parchment paper on my cookie sheet to make for easy removal and clean-up.  These store a long time in a covered cookie tin.

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