06
Oct
12

Home Brew: Kombucha!

Here’s the thing: I hate tea. I have always said it tastes like leaves in water. Of course, being a crunchy mama, that just can’t be right? I’m supposed to LIKE tea. I didn’t even consider trying tea straight up until my midwife recommended a blend of peppermint and pregnancy tea to help with indigestion during my last pregnancy. Turns out I LOVE peppermint tea. I love it so very much I’ve been known to call it the “gateway tea”. I now drink some tea.

Kombucha is tea, right? It took me a long time to try the stuff, because, you know, I hate tea. I only took a sip based on two facts: it’s really good for you, and it comes in flavors. I figured that flavored tea chock full of probiotics, folic acid and B vitamins was worth forcing down. Commercially available kombucha turned out to be yummy. To me. Hubby still thinks it smells like stinky feet and refuses to try it. It also happens that kombucha doesn’t taste like tea much at all.

I’d had the pleasure of trying home brewed kombucha from a friend a few times, but I hadn’t taken the leap and tried brewing the stuff because it seemed like a lot of trouble to go to just for me. Eventually, I realized that the boys would probably drink home brewed since it isn’t as fizzy (it’s the bubbly part they don’t like), and I just might be able to brew a flavor Hubby would tolerate. Plus, home brewing the stuff is a significantly cheaper way to get the needed nutrition, and I hear it has a much larger quantity and variety of probiotic goodness.

A few months ago my friend who brews came to visit with a backpack full of goodness to share. We popped open a bottle of strawberry lemon kombucha she’d brewed and sipped away while she taught me the basics of brewing at home. It’s really quite simple; you make a cool a specific batch of sweetened tea, cool it to room temperature, and add starter kombucha and culture. She left me with two scobies (aka mushrooms, the culture that grows while you are brewing) and 2 cups or so of starter tea. In grand busy mama fashion I popped the jars in the pantry and got distracted by the start of school, home schooling, and life in general. You know, the 3 or 4 loads of laundry every day, the dishes, the garden, the squabbles, and the general living that prevents you from trying something new just got in the way.

A few weeks ago I decided it was just time; we needed the nutrition in our bodies. I brewed a batch of tea according to the instructions my friend had emailed me; then I waited for it to cool and added the cultures and tea she’d left. A week later we tried it, and we bottled some strawberry and two different ways to make ginger. Slowly, everyone is learning to drink it except Hubby. As expected, he will tolerate the ginger varieties, but I haven’t quite convinced him he needs the probiotics enough to eek down something he doesn’t love. (I predict he will get there, and when he does, the kombucha will be here.) The rest of us are enjoying it, and I am hoping it helps prevent some of what ails us. I’ll keep you posted. For now, batch number 3 is fermenting in the cabinet as I type.

As it turns out, I do like *some* tea!

09
Sep
12

Hand Knit Love: The Baby’s Blanket

I finished knitting a blanket for the bambino a while back. I absolutely adore Amish quilts, and I had this blanket planned in my head before I was even pregnant with the little guy. I kept wondering if I could knit the broken bars pattern without seaming, and I kept thinking that it just had to be possible. The knitting, of course, took me a long time. We probably ought to call baby blankets at our house toddler blankets because by the time I finish them our babies are usually walking.

I based the colors in the blanket on my very favorite chair, the puff rocker we have in the nursery. I loved this chair before we had the boys, but now that I’ve spent hour upon hour snuggled up with baby boys here, it’s about the sweetest place for a mama to sit. The blanket came together with the chair, and I couldn’t be happier about how they look together.

I love how each of our boys’ hand knit blankets reflects their personalities. This little guy is possibly the most happy and affectionate toddler I’ve known. He loves to give hugs and kisses, and he gives us “squeeze hugs” that feel as if they’ll never end. The colors in this blanket mirror his happy, fun, yet intense personality, and the super soft, hollow core, cotton yarn feels a bit like one of his amazing hugs. The edge on this blanket also reminds me of dinosaur or dragon dorsal plates (spikes?) cementing the little boy-ness of it for me.

It is just now starting to cool off enough for him to be able to use his new blanket, and you can bet that it will become a mainstay in his bed this winter. I’m hopeful that he’ll want to use it for years to come. We are still tucking in one of his older brothers with a mama knit blanket each night; that blanket was knit in Blue Sky’s Organic Cotton and is so cozy it’s got me thinking I need to knit one for me too. There must just be nothing like curling up for the night under hand knit.

08
Sep
12

A few moments

I sat down to peruse photos and write a post tonight to discover that nothing I’ve thought about photographing for the blog has actually been photographed. I guess I’ve been a little bit busy lately; too busy, in fact, to even bother putting the memory card back in the camera. Oops. So, all I’ve got is Instagram which streams directly to my computer from my phone (thanks hubby!). Have no fear; some really amazing things happened here recently. From youngest to oldest:

Swinging!

A very first self portrait in sidewalk chalk. My heart soared with this one!

And our eldest discovered just how much he like to hang out in a tree; so much, in fact, that he listened to a complete chapter in each of two books whilst in this exact spot one morning.

Things are starting to reach the humming right along point around here; I am hopeful that all these changes will leave me a bit more time for artwork, blogging, sewing, and *ahem* photos.

05
Sep
12

Baked Masa Bowls

I set out to make tamales one day last week, but a trip to a local grocery where I’d seen corn husks before left me empty handed. Short on time and with a toddler in tow, I decided not to drive to a farther store just to get husks, but dinner still had to be made. I had a brainstorm that surely I could make masa bowls in a muffin tin, so I looked it up. Sure enough, masa bowls are an actual thing, but they are usually fried. I made a baked version, and I am absolutely certain that there are hundreds of things you can put in these gluten free edible bowls. If you would put it in a taco, it will probably be yummy in one of these. We had homemade carnitas in the fridge, so I whipped up some guacamole, grated some cheese (for those of us who can have it), and added some baby spinach.

Baked Masa Bowls

  • Cooking spray or oil
  • 2 cups masa
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 t sea salt

Mix the masa and salt together, stir in 1 1/4 cups of water until thoroughly combined. Be certain you have a mixture just moist enough to hold together. Divide the mixture into 12 balls, and press each ball into the bottom and up the sides of a sprayed or oiled, full size muffin cup. After all muffin cups are filled and pressed, spray the ready to bake masa cups with more cooking spray or brush lightly and gently with oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until set. You will want these to cool about an hour before you try to serve them, so bake them early, then pull them out of the oven and drape them with a dishtowel to keep them moist while they cool.

Our boys haven’t been too keen on corn tortillas, but they LOVED getting to eat their bowls. We will definitely be having these again. After we have tamales, of course, since I did buy husks today!

04
Sep
12

Out the Back Door

Most days there are plentiful learning opportunities in anyone’s backyard. but for the last few weeks our boys have gotten a great education in construction while peering through the back fence. We’ve learned about new equipment and happily watched while the city replaced the road that ends at our back yard. There was actually so much work back there that by the end of the process the boys had nearly lost interest in it, just nearly though.

I think the day they laid the new asphalt was their absolute favorite, but they also got really excited about the parade of cement mixers. We even took a drive to see where the cement mixers were all coming from and watch one take a bath. I love watching each of them engage in their surroundings and learn from the things they see!

And I have to admit that I was just as interested in watching the construction as they were. It’s fascinating to see how things are done, and watching all of that had me wondering if they wanted to come do a little extra digging in our yard. An excavator sure would make that sand box we want to build a whole lot easier!




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