Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Some Home Food Preparation Goals and Startups

One of the resolutions that I made much longer ago than today was to start preparing more food at home.  I do prepare more than the average person (as a mostly-paleo eater it's really hard otherwise), but as I work very long shifts and am also a full-time student, this is difficult.  I wind up eating a lot of meals from the Festival Foods chicken wing bar, a food which I have always considered a "paleo compromise" (like hot sticks or banana chips).  Once in a while, whatever, but they've become staples in an on-the-go lifestyle and I'm just not cool with that.  I am also spending way more money than I should be on it, so I'm looking for more frugal ways to produce food, which means cutting out some middle men between the sun and my stomach and reducing the consumption of packaged food.  In addition, I've been getting into fermenting more food, which has so far made me feel much better.

I also consider it a magickal act, but  I'll deal with that at some other time.

So for this post I'm going to talk about five food preparation goals of mine.  They include kombucha, kefir, sprouting, sauerkraut, and cheesemaking.

Two of these I've already started, the sauerkraut yesterday and the sprouting a few weeks ago.  The other three... well, I have made cheese before, but the other two I haven't.

Sprouting

My current sprouting operation is fairly small and likely to stay that way.  It has red clover, radish, broccoli, and lentils.  Lentils are not paleo, and are gradually being replaced by sunflower seeds.

Sprouting is relatively simple.  I just take Mason jars with screen tops, put the appropriate amount of seed in them, soak them in water overnight, and then pour the water out and turn them up over this grill I have.  Twice a day I rinse the seeds and return them to the upturned state.  In a few days they begin to sprout and I just let them grow until they are big enough to eat.  I use them as a flavoring for other foods, but I generally don't eat a lot of them due to concerns with bad bacteria.  When I do, I cook them.

Sauerkraut

I tried making sauerkraut years ago, and failed because I didn't pay enough attention to directions.  Again, Mason jars.  I chopped a head of cabbage, mixed salt in, and pressed it down into the jars.  If you keep pressing it downward the cabbage will be covered with a brine of water from the cabbage and salt, and the cabbage will ferment over however long you allow it to sit.

The batch to the right is from last night and the brine is just starting to cover the cabbage.  I didn't add any spices this time, but when I get the hang of it I'll be experimenting with it.

Sauerkraut is a good source of probiotics as well as everything good about cabbage.

Kefir

Kefir is a new one for me.  Again, since I'm on a probiotics/gut health kick I decided to go buy some.  It's better tasting than plain yoghurt, but I would like to be able to make it myself.  It's pretty easy; just take some kefir grains (you can buy them or get them from friends, some people give them away on craigslist as they multiply as you make kefir with them), put them in a jar of milk, cover with a cloth, and keep in room temperature overnight.  Then strain it to get the grains out and repeat the process with the same grains.

Also loaded with probiotics.  I love making kefir into smoothies with tart cherries and whey protein.  It staves off my hunger for a very long time.

Kombucha

Kombucha is something I've spent a lot of time making fun of, because the first time I tried it I was absolutely not a fan.  I don't know what flavor I tried, but it was nasty, and at almost $4.00 a bottle, hell no.  I did try two flavors I do like, though, and figure I can probably make other flavors that I also enjoy.

Kombucha is made by taking a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) and putting it in a jar of tea and sugar for a week or so.  I'll probably write more about it when I get to it.  Again, lots of probiotics.

Cheese Making

Finally we have cheese making, which I'm going to take up simply because I really like cheese.  There are a few varieties I have the ability to make, although at home I've stuck with quark, but I have the ability to make a couple other kinds as well.