Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kefir - Chapter 18


I have been brewing milk kefir since 2009, and as you can see on the right hand column of my blog, have posted many "chapters" about it.  I admit that it is an "acquired taste", but I really do love kefir and it didn't take long to get there.  Mine is quite sour, smooth and with a full body.  It is wonderful, not only for drinking, but for baking, and the "kefir cheese" can be used in place of cream cheese.

I have reported a few "cures" I have observed through the ensuing years.  Well... I am here to tell you one of my own.  It is slightly embarrassing, but such a wonderful turn of events for me that I have to tell you about it.

About 12 years ago I contracted a food-borne illness from some tainted table grapes.  They were sold in a local store at a deeply discounted rate, so I stocked up.  The package that I used first had a little mold in it.  It never occurred to me  that would be a problem.  I took off the bad grapes, gave the others a good rinse and chowed down.  Big mistake!!!  I came down with the worst case of diarrhea I had ever had... and it continued.  After several days I was forced to go to the doctor.  He gave me an antibiotic, and something for amoebic dysentery and one other thing that I can't remember right now. The icky sickness I was feeling went away, however, the diarrhea did not.  And I have struggled with that ever since, every day.  Ugh.  It was embarrassing and exceedingly inconvenient. A gastroenterologist diagnosed me with collagenous cholitis and he said it was nothing to be concerned about, as far as it causing anything serious, so I thought, "Ok.  I'll just ignore it as much as I can and not keep trying to 'cure' it."  Now... on to the kefir part:

I generally only drank a small glass of the kefir every day, because for most of those years, we had milk goats and I wanted to be able to drink more fresh goat milk.  At the end of May, our milk goat, Heidi, died. So, I have been using the whole milk from the store since then.  About 2 months ago I started drinking a whole glass of milk kefir at breakfast.  After a couple of weeks I noticed my gut problem improving, and before long, I was almost completely normal. 

I am astounded and oh so grateful.  People talk a lot about probiotics.  The milk kefir is full of them - some articles say as many as 20 varieties.  Fermented foods of all kinds are very good for the gut flora and of course the kefir is fermented.

There you go!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Feeding the birds.... Happy Mothers Day :)

At the back of our house is a nice flowering dogwood tree that makes a perfect place for my bird feeding station.  It is so close to the house that I can watch the birds while I cook and I have been enjoying it very much!


In the small hanging feeder on the left are black oil sunflower seeds.  The milk jug has the suet crumbles I made 3 months ago, and of course you can see the regular block of suet at the right.

I took this picture through the kitchen window.  The area was LOADED with birds before I came to the window, and I think I can only see one in the photo.  They saw me.  :)

Here is the list of the birds I've had to far:

black-capped chickadee
nut hatch
tufted titmouse
junco
cardinals
sparrow
gold finch
house wren
brown thrush
flicker
hairy woodpecker
house finch
common grackle
downy woodpecker
rufus-sided towhee
purple finch
blue jay
rose-breasted gross beak
AND a very happy grey squirrel (He's rather greedy.)

My mother was a great bird watcher.  I have her wonderful book Birds of America that she got in 1959.  It contains many notes that she wrote.  It is well used and well loved.  She always kept a pair of binoculars handy at the table, which was beside the window where she watched the birds.  She's been gone since 1984 and I still miss her every day.

Hence, this post - my Mother's Day tribute - if your mother is still alive, please enjoy her today.  I think mine must be pleased about my bird list.  :)


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rhubarb - did you know?

Sliced thinly, and added to a tossed salad, rhubarb is very nice!



Friday, April 8, 2016

Today's Lunch...

I am not certain why, but I decided I would like to show you what I ate for lunch today.  :)

The sandwich you see here is 2 pieces of my "everyday bread" toasted and spread with a little butter.  Then I put on a couple of slices of brie (soft, ripened cheese), 2 slices of braunsweiger, some homemade raw sauerkraut , and some nice, tender chickweed that I went out and picked just for this sandwich.  In the small bowl is some homemade yogurt  topped with lacto-fermented apple chutney.
Oh, my... it was good!



About the chickweed... Now, at least here in Indiana, is a good time to gather chickweed.  It is a wild edible and grows all over the world.  It's very very good for you... better than broccoli or spinach, even.  Here is what Common Chickweed looks like.  Two things to look for - if you look at the stem carefully, you will see a row of tiny hairs going down the stem.  The hairs are ONLY in this row on the stems.  The only look-alike that would be dangerous is the Scarlet Pimpernel, which has redish flowers and the underside of the leaves have brownish spots.  Avoid that.  

If you want to use some, take a pair of scissors and just cut off about an inch of the tops.  The rest of the plant can be rather straw-like.  Bring it in, wash carefully in cold water, then pat dry on a towel.  Use immediately, or keep it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  It is a great substitute for lettuce and can be steamed, sauteed, creamed, used in soups, or as a salad on it's own.  It's very mild in flavor and rich in nutrients... and right now, it's free and readily available!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

2016 Doll Rescue

Twice before, I've blogged about dolls that I've rescued and re-homed.  Well, I'm at it again!  I found this sweet 18-inch doll in a local thrift store.  She was dirty, didn't have decent clothing and her hair was very badly messed up.  I wish I had taken a "before" picture, but I didn't.  I cleaned her all up, made her hair nice, and sewed some clothing for her.  Here are the "after" pictures!  I don't know who she will end up living with, but I'm sure some nice little girl will need a dollie sometime.  :) She came with the nice red boots.









Just in case you'd like to see the other dolls I mentioned, here are the links:

http://simplyhomemaking60.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-rescue.html
http://simplyhomemaking60.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-ending.html
http://simplyhomemaking60.blogspot.com/2011/04/another-rescue.html

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Tuna Noodle Stuff" - from scratch...

Back in 1976, my husband was teaching middle school earth science in Aurora, Nebraska.  Pay for teachers was not stellar at the time and money was tight.  We had 3 small children.  We realized one day that we had all but run out of money for food, and it would be two weeks before we could buy groceries again, so we sat down and "put our heads together" to figure out what to do.  We did have items for breakfast and lunches, but nothing for suppers.  With the amount of money we had left, we figured out that we could buy enough ingredients to make "Tuna Noodle Stuff" (as we call it) every evening for those two weeks.  So, that's what we did.  We bought egg noodles, cans of tuna and cans of condensed mushroom soup.  Fortunately, we really like Tuna Noodle Stuff.  :)

Fast forward 40 years.  I was trying to decide what to cook today and feeling a little fuzzy in the head.  In the front of my recipe box I have a list of meals that my husband likes, so I got it out and noticed Tuna Noodle Stuff.  Yes!!!  That's what I'll make!  But I made it from scratch.  Here is what I did, with the recipes involved.

First I made egg noodles and boiled them for 5 minutes.

Here are the noodles:


Here they are boiling:


Then, I made homemade cream of mushroom soup:


And combined the cooked noodles with the soup and drained canned tuna:


It is very good.  Here are the recipes:

Cream of Mushroom soup

8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 teaspoon sea salt

Melt the butter and saute the sliced mushrooms until they are soft.  Combine the milk and corn starch in a jar and shake it all up well together.  Add the milk mixture to the sauteed mushrooms, and stir constantly until it is all nice and thick.  Then add the salt and stir.  Remove from heat.

Egg Noodles

2 large eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
unbleached white flour

Using a fork, stir the salt into the eggs and then, a little at a time, add flour until the dough is not stiff, but firm.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth.  Divide in half and, using plenty of flour, roll the dough out as thinly as you can and then, using a pizza cutter, cut it into strips.  Then do the other half of the dough.

Drop noodles into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.  Then drain in a colander.  Add the noodles to the soup, add 2 cans of drained tuna, and stir well.  Serve!

By the way, you can add more milk to the soup if you want to eat it as soup.









Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Re-post.... Easter Eggs!

Easter Egg Musings...



My mother grew up on a farm in North Dakota, in the early 20th century. They had chickens, but their chickens laid white eggs. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but she told me that for Easter, her mother would boil the eggs with onion skins in the water to make them be a pretty color. I always think of that. I made these hard-boiled eggs a couple of days ago and wondered what she would think. These come from the chickens of a friend of mine, and they are brown, tan, white and even blue! Araucana chickens lay blue and green eggs. There is no need for me to color them at all, but if you DO color eggs, there are ways to do it naturally and not have to use chemical colorings.

Hard boil your eggs, and allow them to cool completely. Make sure they are well dried before placing them in the dye baths. Immerse the eggs in the coloring liquid to which you have added 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar (per quart of liquid) and put them into the refrigerator. Go back from time to time and check on the color. When it is as you wish, then remove the eggs and discard the dye liquid. The longer they soak, the deeper the dye color. After coloring, be sure to store your eggs in the refrigerator!

1. Onion Skin Dye Yellow to GoldTo make dye from yellow onion skins, place several skins in your pot of water. Boil them for a little while and allow the mixture to cool with the skins in the water. Then drain off the water to use for the actually dyeing. Add the vinegar. Put the skins in your compost. Soak your hard-boiled eggs in this dye bath and depending on how many eggs you use and how concentrated the dye bath is, you can get warm tones that range from gold to a lovely terra cotta.
2. Cranberry Dye Light Blue
To use fresh cranberries, boil 4 cups cranberries in 2 cups cold water until the berries burst. Let them cool. Drain and save the liquid. Add the vinegar. For a light blue, soak only a short time. If the eggs stay in very long, they will become dark gray in color.
3. Turmeric Yellow Dye
In a quart of water, simmer 1/4 cup of ground turmeric. Cool. Strain, add the vinegar and proceed.
4. Red Cabbage Blue
About 3/4 of a head of red cabbage chopped up will make a lovely blue. Again, cook for a while, cool in liquid, strain, add the vinegar and then dye your eggs.
I am sure there are a number of other recipes you can use. These are the ones I am familiar with.
You might wonder why I'd go to the trouble...? I used to use food colorings when my children were still at home. I was not aware of the natural choices besides the onion skins. This natural method is healthier, of course, and I think a lot more fun!
You can make patterns on the eggs by drizzling them with melted wax or wrapping them with rubber bands before dyeing.
Easter is coming soon! Make your plans and have fun with this.
I have blogged about this previously, but I will mention it again here. This is the BEST way to make hard-boiled eggs. even very fresh eggs will peel easily and you won't have the unattractive green layer between the yolk and the white of the egg.
To Hard Boil Eggs

1. Bring a 3 quart saucepan half-full of water to a boil. 2. Using a push pin, poke a tiny hole in the large end of each egg. 3. With a slotted spoon, place all of the eggs in the boiling water. 4. When the water begins to boil again, set your timer for 10 minutes, and reduce the heat so the water is simmering. 5. While the eggs are cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water. 6. When the eggs are done, immediately transfer them to the ice water. Let them sit in there for a few minutes. 7. Drain and peel when you are ready!
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