Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fawnalicious Kombucha (continuous brew & single batch brew)

Sweet magical elixir of goodness

I love kombucha.  My friends know this.  My family knows this.  My patients know this.  Strangers at the YMCA know this.  I love it love it love it.  I find I like both single and continuous batch ferments and need the extra around sometimes so I am often found with both types of science experiments rolling around my kitchen.  There are advantages for either but I think there are many greater advantages to the continuous brew based primarily on incredible convenience.  Continuous brew essentially makes it a low maintenance operation.  The flavor is a little stronger, but no big deal.  Also with continuous brew, instead of brewing pretty new SCOBY babies each time, you will grow one mammoth SCOBY-zilla that must be paired down due to both space occupying and aesthetic reasons.

If you plan to second ferment (which is where the personality and fizzy part comes in) you will need several jars- so either start saving your GT glass jars now or use any grolsch-style jar that has a well sealed lid.

I like to brew a big batch of sweet tea in a heavily concentrated amount so that when I am ready to pour off the delicious and fabulous brew, it is a total cinch to refill the batch and keep the love going.  This will save much time in brewing each time and waiting for the fresh tea to come down to a safe temp.  

Also, and this is an important note:  I briefly/partially decaffeinate my tea so therefore the ratios you see below are stronger than elsewhere.  If you don’t want to decaffeinate, you can surely try my recipe or enjoy any number of other recipes available online.  A favorite website is www.culturesforhealth.com. Here you will find all sorts of curious uses for extra booch or extra SCOBYs.  Please do tell if you go for the facial mask option.


Getting Started - You will need:
  • 1-gallon jar (single batch) or 2-gallon jar with plastic lined spigot (continuous brew)
  • Black tea (I use Tetley's British blend from QFC) 
  • Sugar (I use organic turbinado)
  •  Water 
  • SCOBY 
  • 2c starter liquid (Plain kombucha) 
  • Cloth cover and rubber band

To Start (making your sweet tea concentrate)
  • 4c filtered water
  •  6 large tea bags 
  • 3c/24oz sugar

Bring 4c water to a boil, add the tea bags, turn off heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes then strain out bags.

**If you are decaffeinating your tea**
Before you add your tea in the step above please pour separately boiled water over your tea bags, let steep for 30-60 seconds, discard this water and add the tea bags in the above noted pot.  I typically do in a glass measuring cup.  

To add this concentrate to your brew, simply dilute 
3:1 Water:Tea

Making the Kombucha
  • Clean out your container without using soap or other cleansers- white vinegar works well 
  • Make sure your hands are clean, of course 
  • Fill your container with sweet tea (make sure to dilute if using the concentrate above) leaving enough room to add your starter kombucha and SCOBY to the top
  • Gently and lovingly add in your starter and SCOBY floater 
  • Cover with cloth and put a rubber band around it.  This protects from fruit flies, etc. Gross.

Brewing Notes
  • Wait 7-14 days or so.  This will depend entirely on your kitchen temp, taste preferences and the constellations above.
  •  Begin pouring off a taste of the brew after a week or so to see if you like the flavor. Technically, it is considered kombucha if it has a pH of 3.5 or under (I geekily test this) 
  • When you dig the flavor, you are ready!  If you like plain kombucha, you are ready to enjoy. 
  • Keep your kombucha between 70-85deg for brewing.  I actually lovingly wrap my vessel in an electronic seed mat from the local plant nursery during the winter as my kitchen is freezing.  You can buy cheap thermometer sticker to keep on your jar. 
  • DO NOT pour hot tea over your SCOBY.  You must love your SCOBY and this means gentle handling.
  • Please also do not keep your SCOBY in the fridge.  Brrrrr.

Decanting your brew (single batch)

  • There are two ways.  Typically you are instructed to (with surgically clean hands) pick out the SCOBY and place it in a glass container.  Set it aside and cover it with 2c of your kombucha – this will start your next batch 
  • Now pour the ready kombucha into your other jars to you wish to keep it in.  Here is where  the “second ferment” happens for those who want to add fizz and personality.  More details below on this....
  • Clean/rinse your gallon jar, add back the SCOBY and reserved kombucha, and fill the jar with sweet tea or tea concentrate/water as above and repeat the process 
  • I think handling the SCOBY is pretty gross, so I totally short cut this and simply use a ladle to get out the kombucha and pour it into my jars (using a funnel). I make sure to leave enough liquid in the bottom and just add my tea/water to the top and it’s all good.  I go through the handling process about every 6 batches or so depending on my level of motivation.  If I am grossed out by the jar, I just cover it :) - I find a kombucha cozy makes me happy.
  • Once your batch is set again, it will be about 7-14 days for your brew to be ready, repeat!

Decanting your brew (continuous batch)
  • So easy!  Just put your jar under the spigot and fill your bottles.   
  • Make sure to leave about 40% of your container full (only pour off about 60% max) 
  • Refill your jar with tea or tea concentrate/water  to replace the amount you pulled off 
  • Your next batch will be ready in 2-5 days roughly.  This is much faster than the single so I love it.

Second fermentation (where the creativity and fun come in)  
  • Here is where you will add flavor of any kind into your small jars, then cap tightly and wait again 
  • This second 3-10 day period is when the second fermentation takes place but since you have the air locked in, the fizz stays in the bottle.  This also helps to develop more delicious flavors in the fermentation process. 
  • These will be fine at room temp during second ferment.  Transfer them to the fridge when you are ready to stop the fermentation process.
  • Everywhere on the internet you hear scary stories of exploding bottles (lots of pressure can build up in your bottles).  I have never actually read a story of anyone having this happen. Everyone says they hear about it happening but have never experienced it.  My strategy is to keep my jars in a large foil baking pan since a jar will typically break at the bottom where it is the weakest.  Or maybe out of the top.  Anyway, I imagine my pan helping to contain the mess.
  • You can add anything in here!  I find a little goes a long way and make sure there is sugar in it or the beast cannot feed.  I typically use 20ml/16oz jar.  Not much. 
  • Some ideas include (but are not at all limited to) 
  • o   Blueberries – fresh or frozen.  About 5-8 are plenty
    o   Other berries – black, cran, rasp, etc
    o   Chopped peach (girls only, according to my husband)
    o   Cranberry juice
    o   Pomegranate juice or seeds
    o   Fresh ginger
    o   Grape juice
    o   Strawberry lemonade
    o   Copycat trilogy (see next bullet)
  • I like to make a magical elixir trio combining lemon juice, unsweetened cranberry juice and ginger simple syrup.  I keep the ginger I use to make the simple syrup and add it in the bottles for added flavor and immunity boost.  What doesn’t benefit from candied ginger?  I make up a big batch of this and its ready to add in my bottles.  Seems to last for ages.

Keeping your SCOBY hotel

Here is where your friends and family will start to worry about you going off the rails.  With each batch of single brew or every few times you refill your continuous brew, you will make a new SCOBY.  It is highly recommended to keep several of these in a separate jar covered with plain kombucha in case.  In case of what?  Well, in case you find yourself in a cult-like trance trying to start every friend or stranger in the store who will listen how to brew their own.  In case you need to start a second jar when you are out-drinking your first. In case your jar gets moldy.  In case you think your kid’s bookcase looks too plain with only books in it and just needs a jar full of slimy pancakes with yeasty tendrils dangling down.  Just good in case.
SCOBY hotel, in situ

Booch nestled lovingly in warming blanket

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Chia Cookies! (Gluten-free/Dairy-Free)

As per usual, I am always trying to maximize my baked goods full of complex grain/seeds, fruits and veggies for my 5-year-old who is a Particular Eater. This is typically easier this time of  year when pumpkin is more on the radar because she loves the complex flavors of pumpkin baked goods.  I have no idea why this works for her delicate palate, but I try just to be grateful. 

Well, now enter the 10-month-old who is a seriously complex eater already, but somehow is low on iron. Ok, so I do actually know that red meat could help, but I've got a thing about handling blood.  I'm much better with this arena.  I put this recipe together to incorporate pumpkin seeds which are a decent source of iron (14% RDA/ 1/4 cup) and then got all excited about using teff flour which is even higher in iron (20%/1/4 cup) and blackstrap molasses (15%/Tbs).  They are really high in protein and fiber for baked goods so the glycemic load is nicely reduced, making this the new Everyday Cookie for us!

These are quite moistureful- unlike many gluten-free baked goods.  Surely you could add some banana in somewhere and if you wish, increase the sugar.  I don't have much of a sweet tooth and the girls have never complained, so I keep it pretty low.  

Pumpkin Chia Cookies  (Makes about 3 dozen 1oz cookies)
  • 3/4c almond flour (I use almond meal from TJs)
  • 1/2c flour (*see note below)
  • 1/4c ground pumpkin seeds**
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1Tbls chia seeds mixed with 3Tbls hot water (or sub an egg)
  • 1/3c coconut oil at room temp or butter
  • 1/3c pumpkin (canned or freshly roasted)
  • 1/4c brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla 
  • 1Tbls molasses (optional but extra yummy) 
*Flour note: I haven't used wheat flour here at all but presumably it works.  I typically use 1/4c teff flour and 2Tbls each garbanzo/brown rice flour

**I put pumpkin seeds in a standard mason jar and screw the blender bottom on to it and then grind them up for a few seconds, works great to make a flour-like texture.  You could use food processor, blender or serious chopping.
 

Directions (preheat oven to 350deg)
1. Mix chia and water together in small dish and let rest about 10 min

2. Meanwhile, sift together all dry ingredients in medium bowl- this  mixes them and will break down little chunks of nut flours and such that seem to form.

3. Mix together all wet ingredients along with chia/water mixture.  I actually just put them all in my narrow measuring cup and use my immersion blender to mix the heck out of them

4. Combine wet ingredients in with the dry, then scoop 1Tbls drops onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then flatten the cookies a little with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Bake 12-13 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

(avocado) Chocolate Pudding Pops! (Gluten-free/Dairy-free)

It is HOT here in Seattle and these are a healthy fudgesicle  must.  I was a little unsure how well they would freeze but they were great!  I would also even make this recipe and just enjoy it as pudding or double it and chill it for a no-bake chocolate pudding pie.  I used the 4-oz cheapo pop makers from Safeway or something- you can use anything you have.  Even pour the mix into ice-cube trays and use tooth pics or Popsicle sticks if you don't have the molds.  

Avocado Pudding Pops (makes 4 3-4oz pops)
  • 2T Cocoa (or Cacao) powder
  • 2T Agave
  • 1/2 soft avocado
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
Directions
Put all ingredients into food processor or blender and puree until very smooth.  Pour into Popsicle molds and freeze.  


Happy Summer!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Healthy Delicious Brownies (Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Grain-Free/Refined Sugar-Free)

These brownies haven't lasted more than 24 hours in our house.  As you will see, they are quite appropriate for breakfast and snacks so they are never long for the world.  And in this house where my oldest kiddo won't eat protein, this is oh, so satisfying!  These are so fast to make and (I think this is a good thing) not too rich.  The recipe I adapted this from used just nuts and no garbs, but I think the texture benefits from the addition of the beans giving it a more moisturefull crumb.  They are a bit reminiscent of Chocolate Chip Blondies.  I Recommend getting enough ingredients to make two batches because they will go fast.

Killer Brownies
  • 1cup raw walnuts or pecans (or try almonds and let me know!)
  •  ⅓ cup cocoa powder 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • ½ cup maple syrup 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Optional (not optional)- 2-4 Tbls mini semi-sweet choc chips
Directions
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish.

Place the nuts into a food processor fitted with the “s” blade. Process until very finely ground, stopping just before they turn into nut butter. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse again to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again until smooth. You will still have tiny bits of nuts visible- this is OK even if you are a nut-in-your-brownie type like me.

Pour batter into baking dish. Spread evenly into pan with a rubber spatula or spoon and sprinkle on and lightly swirls in the chips if using. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Adapted from The Nourishing Meals Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS,  CN

Monday, April 15, 2013

Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Nutritional Yeast (Gluten/Dairy free)


This is a new twist on an old favorite. It was over a year ago that I originally wrote about Roasted Garbanzo Beans and our consumption has not changed around here except for a slight hiccup during my first trimester when all-things-not-hot-and-sour-soup were off the list.  Since clearing that hurdle, we are all in again.  I rarely deviate from my favorite mix of Old Bay seasoning and Curry powder, but on a whim the other day, I used some Nutritional Yeast I had in the drawer and it was DYNAMITE! 

I keep hoping I will magically drum up the courage to make Nutritional Yeast 'cheese' sauce, but somehow I just keep forgetting.  I know it is all the rage in vegan cheese sub-in's but I am a little scared.  Mostly because its called nutritional yeast. I mean, really.  The name's a little rough.  Even so, its delicious on popcorn, so it must be delicious on garbs, right? 

Because of the shear volume of consumption of these around here, I always make these from dry beans, but you can use canned beans if you want, just try for a lesser sodium brand and start in step 2.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans (preheat oven to 425)
  • 1lb dry garbanzo beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-4tbls olive oil (use how much you want or are comfortable with, I just drizzle it out of my bottle and coat the garbs)
  • ~1/2tsp salt
  • ~1/4tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ~1/4cup Nutritional Yeast
Directions
1. Toss your dry garbs in a pot of water with at least 3 inches water over the top of the beans and bring to boil, then simmer gently for about 2 hours, then drain. 

2. In small/medium bowl, toss the garbanzos with the oil, then add the S, P and NY.  Spread the beans in a single layer out on a cookie sheet and roast approximately 25-35 minutes, stirring and flipping them every 10  minutes or so.  They should generally be firmly chewy when done.  I like it when I occasionally over cook a batch and have garbanzo nuts, but Mike and I differ there...

* You could very easily make these and a batch of Chocolate Chip Blondies and be set with a delicious power snack combo.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (Gluten-free/Dairy-free)

These super tasty muffins and packed with great sustaining protein and fats making them a perfect quick breakfast.  Also they ridiculously easy to make!  Even my peanut butter loathing daughter thinks they are delish.  However, after the first bite of the first batch, she and Mike bit into their muffs and immediately made haste to the kitchen to manually apply chocolate chips.  Clearly they were correct in their assessment and thus, this recipe strongly suggests the chip application.  Also, in the first batch I made, instead of 2 bananas, I used one banana and about 3/4c left-over cooked oatmeal from these muffins made last week.  I liked them that way, but most of you will enjoy more banana I suppose.  I also like to add a couple of tablespoons of ground flax for lots of reasons- great nutrition, fiber and such- but also flax and psyllium husk are great additions to gluten-free baked goods as they help with the binding that gluten otherwise provides as well as help bind in moisture.  Your option to add or not, they are fine either way.

Ingredients:
  • 1c Peanut butter (Natural)
  • 4 lg eggs
  • 2 bananas (see note above)
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp coconut flour (really any flour should work)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • (optional) 2T ground flax seeds/psyllium husk 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.  Blend all ingredients except chips in food processor until smooth.  Mix in chips, then divide evenly between 12 muffin tins and cook for ~25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy! 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pecan Bars (Gluten-free/Adaptable)


I don't like pecan pie.  I don't like pecan bars, pecans in my cookies, pecans in my anything, really.  But really? These are unreal.  The first time I had them was when my amazing colleague and office partner made them for our holiday party last year.  I saw them on the plate and appreciated them for their holiday appropriateness but quietly turned my nose up at them until the party was over and I was simply eating to burn off stress (don't try this at home).  Anyway, they stopped me cold and I couldn't believe how delicious they were.  Not too sweet, perfectly balanced and very special.  They are absolutely loaded with butter and sugar and corn syrup for goodness sake.  These are not Everyday Cookies.  These are not even like bacon as a sometimes food.  These are very special occasion treats, but at least an annual or semi-annual must.  Furthermore, they are super easy and fast to make!


Pecan Bars (Gluten-free)
For the crust:
1 c flour (for gluten-free, I used equal parts oat flour, rice flour, sorghum flour and garbanzo flour)*
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/4 c toasted and chopped pecans**
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the filling:
4 T melted butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/3 c light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1-2 T bourbon or dark rum (I used rum- yum!)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1.75 c toasted and chopped pecans**
*I loved the oat flour here, but really encourage you to choose any flour combination you have access to.  You could use an all-purpose blend or your favorite custom mix.  I will likely up the oat flour next time to half-cup and see what strikes me from there.

** I found that at Trader Joe's, they sold a bag of chopped raw pecan pieces that was exactly 2 cups!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9in square baking pan with two layers of tin foil, positioned at 90degrees to each other and long enough to be used as "handles" to lift the bars out of the pan.  Spray the tin foil with non-stick cooking spray if not using non-stick foil.

In a food processor, put the first 5 ingredients and pulse to mix.  Then add the butter and pulse a little more. This should take the shape of maybe coarse corn meal. Pat the crust into the bottom of the pan and pat until firm.  Bake for 20 min until golden brown.

While the crust is baking, whisk together everything else, except the egg and pecans.  Then whisk in the egg. Pour the filling on the crust, then sprinkle with the pecans.  Bake 22-25 min until the top is browned and bubbly/slightly cracked.  Cool for about an hour.  Lift the tin foil out of the pan and cut into bars.