Park & Friend Pictures, New Oak Barrel & Kombucha Making, Wine & Vineyards, Kitchen Time, Green Thumb or Plant Killer
Posted Jul 20 2010 5:34pm
Hi Friends! How has your day been? I went to the gym, ran a few errands, and came back home have been busting my tail in the kitchen. It was one of those days that every cooking project I needed to tackle all had to get done, today, tons of produce needed washing and cleaning, and I had a few UPS Surprises that I needed to unpack and photograph for all you inquiring minds.More on what I got in a second, but first here are the pictures of my park meetup I mentioned yesterday that I had with my friend, Flo, and her girls.
It was great seeing Flo and having an hour of girl talk!Trust me, we covered a lot of ground and it was very needed and very fabulous.Thanks, Flo, and can't wait til our next gabfest!We need to try it without kiddos some time, with wine in hand some night, I am thinking!
We parted ways because she had to get to an appointment and I needed to come home. Because look what was waiting for me: anOak Barrel that I ordered for my kombucha making, and a heating plate and thermostat.
Oak Barrel with Wooden Spigot
Heating Plate and Thermostat
The thermostat is like having central heat or air. It turns on or off at whatever temperature I program it at.
I put the warming plate underneath my current batch of kombucha and turned the 'stat up to 80F and it started to warm up.
I also ordered another Mother Scoby Mushroom. I wanted to see what theirs are like.
Not much different looking than the ones I've been growing.
Which makes me feel like I'm doing things right!
It was time to Prep my Barrel. It has to Cure for 24 hours. Meaning, I filled it with water and put in two of these tablets. They will prep and sanitize the barrel so the bacteria and yeast will be happy. The water will cause the barrel to expand and once it has expanded and I am sure there are no leaks, I can brew my first batch of 'booch in the barrel. It will be much easier than having all these glass jars on my countertop.
I also have a 70 page book on everything you could possibly want to know about Kombucha and making it.
"Hard woods, like American Oak or French Oak really stand-alone. Here the actual leaching process of an active ferment is encouraged. There are hundreds of years of research into perfecting these barrels – just for fermenting.
Consider Balsamic Vinegar. Balsamic is considered by many to be the “King of Vinegars”. The best Balsamic vinegar is aged between 10 and 30 years in wooden barrels just like the ones we are presenting. Anywhere from 5-12 casks, all of different woods are used. Each wood gives a different aroma to the product. Typical woods are oak, chestnut, cherry, juniper and mulberry. The wood becomes impregnated with the vinegar bacteria and helps maintain the ideal ferment. The aromas released by the barrel wood enrich the ferment. The barrel becomes a true treasure.
Why we chose American White Oak, medium toast for our barrels.
Oak adds a nutty, buttery flavor and additional tannins to the ferment. Each year the beneficial probiotic bacteria and yeasts impregnate the wood. Over time each barrel will develop a unique character of health and flavor.
Our Continuous Brewing Method produces from 10 fluid oz to 60 fluid oz daily (roughly 4 gallons week). Once under way just add fresh pure water, sugar and tea. Be sure to order a supply now of sugar and tea so you're ready."
So between the flavor that the Oak Barrel will impart and the fact that I will be using the continuous brewing method (dumping in fresh sugared tea daily and pouring off/drinking about 10 ounces or so per day) from theeasy spigot dispenser, I am even more excited about my kombucha making !
My fridge is well-stocked with 'booch
And I've been drinking about 6 to 8 ounces a day or so and loving it!
I've been giving it to my friendsand anyone else who wants to take 32 ounce quarts off my hands. And it's easy to make once you get your process down pat. I encourage everyone to try to make your own kombucha if you're at all a 'booch drinker. You will love your own brew more than any storebought and it's a fraction of the price!
From Yesterday... I'm glad my Vegan Gluten Free Blueberry Streusel Muffins were a hit! When I create recipes, I try to think of busy people with basic ingredients on hand. This recipe is one bowl and a spoon, stir it by hand, and other than perhaps having blueberries (Fresh or Frozen on hand) you probably have everything you need to make these. And you can always use peaches, nectarines, plums, etc instead of bloobs!
I've already had a report from two readers who've made these:
Reader Amy omitted the vegan butter and used applesauce because that's what she on hand (you could skip the vegan butter/margarine and use coconut oil, another oil, no oil, applesauce, it will all "work")
And I enjoyed your comments about working out and Pushing Yourself vs. Taking it Easy . I was really proud that most of you seem to be on-board with Rest Days and Honoring Your Body and what it's calling and asking for. As I said yesterday, I do love working out so I find it hard to take totalrest days, but I am all for doing gentle yoga and a light walk rather than lifting like an ape and running 8 minute miles if that's what my body needs. Good to hear most of you are in tune like that, too!
I had mentioned I was going to be working with a virtual trainer , Lindsey of Lean Bodies, and it was interesting to see how many of you push yourselves on your own and how many of you need a little push. I would say it was about half and half, self-starters vs. needing a little help motivating.
Under my care, it's grown a half dozen inches on some branches and to me it looks healthier. I don't consider myself a gardener so I am happy it's living and doing well and that I didn't kill it.
In honor of my stevia plant, I made a Stevia Leaf Salad with Romaine, Stevia Leaves, Tomatoes, Edamame, and Artichoke hearts (I used TJ's frozen 'choke hearts that I've been eyeing on Christine 's blog. I steamed them for 1 minute in the micro in a shallow pool of water with plastic wrap over the top of the bowl)
Questions 1. It's always been my dream to own a Winery. If I ever stumbled into a million dollars, or more, I'd buy a vineyard.Oh the fun I would have! I love, love, love vineyards and wine-tasting and the whole wonderful experience. Elise , could you adopt me please?
Before Skylar was born, Scott and I used to go to San Francisco, Marin County, the whole Bay Area, and would drive up to Napa or Sonoma and vineyard hop during the day, bar hop at night, and stay in swanky hotels or Bed & Breakfasts. It was kinda fabulous. I also joined plenty of wine-of-the-month clubs and had amazing wines showing up in the mail left and right. I love the Bay Area and if it wasn't for the weather (too cold in the winter for me), I would move there in a heartbeat but I am a SoCal girl at heart. Plus, we have Temecula Valley here. Not exactly Napa or Sonoma, but it's 45 minutes away and suffices.
These days, the closest I am to a "vineyard" is my kitchen countertop fermenting kombucha, which is as close to wine as I've gotten lately. I will say that my new oak barrel reminds me of walking into a really oak-ey smelling tasting room at a vineyard and getting ready to sip some fabulous pinot noir. It's making my kitchen smell very oak-ey and wonderful! If you like wine, you'd love the way this oak barrel smells.
Do you like wine? Have you ever been to wine vineyards or would you like to go? Do you love tasting flights as much as I do? If you're a wine drinker, do you have any favorites?
2. MicroClimates. Yesterday when I left my house in the coastal part of the city about 10am it was cloudy and cool. By the time I met Flo at 1:30pm in north county coastal, it was about 82F and super sunny. Then, I drove back home about 3pm and it was cool and overcast again. In the span of 5 hours and 10 miles, the weather was changing all day. Before I lived in San Diego, I didn't realize that the coastline produces tons of fog and cooler weather and that inland it's usually sunnier and hotter, but that there are pockets where it gets really hot, windy, stay cool, etc. compared to other areas.
Have you ever lived in a place with MicroClimates? I carry shorts, pants, hoodies, sweaters, and tank tops in my trunk for both me and Skylar!
3. Fave Veggie (or Fruit) to buy that's canned or frozen and not fresh? 99% of the veggies and fruit I buy are fresh. I buy canned goods about once a year. Just not my thing. If anything, I will buy frozen before canned. However, artichokes are one of those raw veggies that I can never seem to really get clean, by the time all the leaves are removed and it's been cleaned, it just seems there's very little left to the artichoke! Not to mention, I have ruined more artichokes from my CSA than you want to know about in years gone past do to not knowing how to properly cook them. So for now, I buy frozen.
Another thing I do is that if I know a particular item is going to be usedwithin a recipe, and not eaten on it's own, i.e. blueberries for my Vegan Gluten Free Blueberry Streusel Muffins, then I purchase frozen berries rather than using fresh.
The texture change on frozen and then thawed fruit can get a little weird but if you're baking with it or using within another recipe there's no sense paying money for fresh if I'm using it in something else.
4. How many minutes or hours is your limit in the kitchen from where it goes from fun to ohmygod get me outta here! I kinda hit that point today after 3 hours. And it was one of those sneak attack days that I never saw all that time investment coming at me. It was just chop, wash, bake, Vita, clean, unwrap, unload, baggie, prep, cut, boil, pour, and it just kept going and going. Normally, I can handle anything up to about 90 minutes at one stretch. After that, I just want to sit down and bail on the project! As a mom though, I am in the kitchen making food for everyone and prepping, chopping, washing, etc. all day long. 20 minutes here, 40 there, 30 here. It just goes on and on. And when I was in my early 20s, I lived on vodka, triscuits, and PB. I had zero time in the kitchen! Boy, life sure changed!
5. Do you consider yourself a gardener? Are you a Green Thumb or aPlant Killer? haha! Do you like to garden or want to get more into it? Or not your thing? I never used to garden at all but about 18 months ago I did a few container gardens on our urban front patio. Now that we're back in San Diego I know I could grow lots of things in container gardens, but so far I am just rockin' the stevia plant. Hey I make my own kombucha, my own salad dressings, my own chips, 99% of everything I eat, I make myself...so I cut myself some slack on not growing my own veggies and herbs.