Homemade Probiotic Sauerkraut

With all the fun fermenting talk that’s been going on around here, I felt like I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about sauerkraut.

sauerkraut from above

When I was about seven years old, and my dad was between jobs, my family stayed with some relatives for a couple of months who lived on Sauerkraut Lane. I was told, in that teasing way adults have of speaking to young kids, that living on Sauerkraut Lane, I had to like sauerkraut, or at least try it. I, like most seven year-olds, refused to try it and insisted I wouldn’t like it. At some point, they did trick me into trying it. Whatever kind of sauerkraut it was I ate back in 1992, it came from a can, and I gave it two thumbs down. I probably didn’t try sauerkraut again until I was in my twenties, but when I did, it was fresh-not-canned, and it was so different from what I remembered it being.

cabbage in a hot pink bowl

For a long time I bought Bubbies sauerkraut, but at $6 a jar, making my own is so much more economical. The last head of cabbage I bought was 75 cents. Cabbage plus a little bit of sea salt is all you need to make it.

Just shred a head of cabbage, and grind some sea salt over it.

shredded cabbage in a hot pink bowl

Then spend about ten minutes squishing the salt in the cabbage and grinding it with your fists. It’s the best excuse ever to play with your food. Enjoy it. It will eventually become limp and watery, which is what you want.

fresh sauerkraut
Then pack it down into a jar. This one is two quarts. And put a jam jar in the top to tamp the cabbage down below the water that came out when you were grinding the salt into it. You’ll want to keep the cabbage leaves below the water level.

finished sauerkraut
Let it sit in a cool, dry, dark place for about 3 to 10 days, tamping the leaves down below the water line a couple times a day. After three days, start tasting it to see if it’s done. This batch was done after four days. Then put it in the fridge to stop the fermenting process. Then eat it, and be happy.

homemade sauerkraut on beef brats
I had some just the other day over these beef brats from a local ranch, but I will also just eat it from a bowl for a snack or as a side. Do it. Your guts will thank you.

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New Class! Top Down Socks on Double-Pointed Needles

rainbow sox
I finally have a new knitting class! I haven’t taught in over a year, and I am really excited about this one. It’s no secret that I love knitting socks. I almost always have a sock on the needles, and I want to teach you how too.

thelongsock
This class is perfect for a beginning knitter who wants to learn how to knit in the round or an experienced knitter who hasn’t quite learned how to knit socks yet.

professorsocks

We’ll explore the shape of socks, construction, and gauge.

pineaplleofficial2

Top-Down Socks on Double-Pointed Needles
$60, Mondays, July 14, 21, 28 August 4, 11, 18 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Potwin Presbyterian Church
Skill Level: Adventurous Beginner
Skills needed: knit, purl

In this class you will learn how to knit a pair of top-down socks using my original sock recipe. Over six weeks, you will learn how to knit using double-pointed needles (dpns), decreasing, short rows, picking up stitches, kitchener stitch, how to calculate gauge for any size foot.

Materials needed:
100g sock yarn (fingering weight)
One set of 4 US size 2 Double-Pointed Needles
Yarn Needle
Measuring Tape
Scissors
Locking Stitch marker (optional)

To sign up, email me at tinydinostudios@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.

ginnyweasleysocks

Today’s the day we cast on Pogona for the PFA Summer KAL. Join us in the PFA Ravelry Group!

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Lacto-Fermented Salsa

Remember last week when I got almost a quart of whey from one batch of yogurt?
Whey from one batch of yogurt

One of my favorite things to do with whey is make lacto-fermented salsa. I love salsa. I eat it on eggs, on salads with a touch of oil instead of dressing, and on tortilla chips, etc. If I am going to be eating it, I might as well be getting some extra probiotics. Also, making lacto-fermented salsa is pretty much the same as making regular salsa, except you add a little bit of whey.

lacto fermented salsa ingredients
What You’ll Need:
-2 or 3 large tomatoes (you’ll see here I used canned, because we don’t have any ripe tomatoes yet)
-1 large clove garlic
-1/2 bell pepper
-2 jalapeno peppers (for medium spice)
-1 medium onion
-a handful of cilantro (this is from our garden at least!)
-a couple squirts of lemon juice
-2 tablespoons whey from making your own Greek yogurt
-salt to taste
-food processor or blender of some type. I used my Kitchen Aid counter top blender, which I swear is just as good as any Vitamix I ever used when I was in the coffee biz.

Directions:
-Roughly chop all fresh vegetables
-Add to blender or food processor along with whey, lemon juice, and salt.
-Blend to desired consistency
-Pour into glass jars
-Let set in cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight for two days.
-Refrigerate to stop fermentation.

Salsa should taste just like normal, but with a slightly fermented aftertaste to it–which is usually covered up very quickly by spice.

lacto fermented salsa

I put my salsa in jars I save back from when we buy salsa from the grocery store, because I’m tricksy like that. I usually get enough salsa four about three small jars worth, and even though I can usually go through this much within a week or two, yours should be good up to a couple months.

What’s your favorite way to eat salsa?

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A List on a Sunday Morning

1. There’s no Weekend Garden Update this week, because I haven’t really had done much in the garden this week–also, we’re between harvests, but I’m hoping we’ll have a tomato or two. by this time next week.

2. In reading about soap-making this week, I found a recipe for breastmilk soap. Just wanted you to now that that exists.

3. Reading about soap-making all week has brought me down a rabbit hole of other fun body care DIYs.

4. I particularly recommend the Humblebee & Me blog. After reading her blog, you will find yourself with a cart full of essential oils and cocoa butter, and plans to make everything you’ve ever needed ever.

5. I am totally going to try her hair balm, since I’ve been doing the shampoo bar thing for awhile now. (I currently use the nettle rosemary shampoo bar from Nurture Botanicals and I highly recommend it, but I plan on making my own very soon.)

6. In case you have tried my Greek yogurt tutorial and are wondering what to do with all that whey, today I made biscuits and gravy, using the whey in the biscuits instead of buttermilk. It tasted and smelled exactly the same. (And Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Flour works really well for biscuits!)

7. Today I whipped up the easiest ice cream ever to go with the cherry pie I made. It was delicious, so I will share:
-2 cups half n half
-1/3 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk it all together and throw in the ice cream maker. We have a hand crank one that my soon-to-be 8 year-old can easily use. He churned while I read Harry Potter, and we had ice cream in less time than it took to read a chapter.

8. This upcoming week might be my busiest week of the year–busier even then Christmas. All of my siblings and siblings-in-law will be in town, and on top of the Fourth of July, we have three birthdays, including Athrun’s–and just like what happened at Christmas, I’m opening a new store in a week, so there’s no extra time off work either. I’m not complaining, just wrapping my head around the busy.

9.Don’t forget, Pogona KAL kicks off Tuesday. Do you have your supplies?

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How to Make Greek Yogurt From Scratch

How to Make Greek Yogurt

I started making my own yogurt about three years ago. I was inspired by this blog post, which is a really great place to start. And I completely recommend the Yogotherm she uses, since that’s what I use as well. It’s great, because I can just put the yogurt mixture in the yogotherm and forget about it–and I usually do for about 18-24 hours. When I remember I’ve got yogurt going, I just pull out the pail and stick it in the fridge, and it’s just about right for the way I like my yogurt.

The beauty about making your own yogurt, besides the fact that it is super simple, is that you can make it exactly the way you like it.

What you need:
-Half Gallon Orgsnic Whole Milk
-One packet yogurt starter or 1/4 cup yogurt with live cultures. (I really like the flavor of yogourmet
-A kitchen thermometer
-Saucepan
-A way to insulate your yogurt
-Fine mesh strainer
-Large bowl
-Cheesecloth or paper towels

8cupsofmilk
I start with a half-gallon of whole milk, and heat it to 185 degrees.

making yogurt 101
I try to make yogurt while I am doing other things in the kitchen, baking, dishes, something where I am going to be busy enough that I won’t leave until the milk is up to heat, but not so busy that I forget about the milk and it scorches. Giving it a stir every once and a while so it doesn’t develop a skin on top. If your milk does get a skin, just skim it off the top. It will survive the fermenting process, and it is not pleasant.

When the milk reaches 185, remove it from the heat. I like to set it on a trivet on the dinning room table so it’s completely out of the hot kitchen. Let it cool until it’s about 110 (five degrees in either direction should be ok.) Cooling takes as long, if not longer than heating. It’s easy to forget you’ve got it going, especially when you are trying to blog, nurse your infant, and read to your seven year-old all at the same time. Setting a time on your phone for about 20 minutes might help, and then remember to reset it, if you can.

When the milk is just about cool, I fill my yogotherm pail with boiling water, and after it’s had a chance to cool just a minute, I dump it out. The boiling water acts to sanitize and prewram the container.

Mix the starter into the milk while it’s still in the sauce pan. I don’t add anything but the starter, though I know some people add powdered milk or gelatin at this stage. I prefer letting the yogurt ferment longer. The longer you let it set, the firmer it will become naturally.

I like to let my yogurt set for at least 12 hours, but usually do closer to 24 before putting it in the refrigerator to stop the fermenting process. My favorite part of making yogurt is taking the lid off to check it once it’s ready to go in the fridge.

set yogurt
With very little work, milk has become yogurt.

If you like, you can be done at this point. The yogurt is completely edible and perfectly healthy. The texture should be creamy and soft. If, like me, you like a firm, rich and thick yogurt, you can move on to the next step.

After the yogurt has had a couple hours in the refrigerator, it’s time to strain it.

straining yogurt for whey
Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl, line with paper towels or a fine cheesecloth, and spoon yogurt into the strainer. Cover with a tea towel or more paper towels, and replace into the refrigerator for 5-8 hours. Since I only have a medium-size strainer, I do half my yogurt at a time, which means it takes me a little bit longer to strain. From start to finish, the process takes me about two days, but it’s completely worth it.

yogurt in the strainer with paper towels,

The yogurt you get at the end is downright delectable and you have a whole jar of probiotic whey to use to ferment other thing. It’s a never ending cycle of deliciousness.

it could almost be icecream
It could almost be ice cream

homemade greek yogurt on a spoon
This batch is tart and creamy, just the way I like it.

Whey from one batch of yogurt
And I have almost a quart of whey from just one batch of yogurt to do with what I will.

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I want to be a pioneer when I grow up

gardenharvest06092014

Growing up, I read the Little House on the Prairie books about ten times in a row. I always wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. Not only did I want to be a little bit more precocious and less shy than I was naturally, but I wanted to live like they lived. Maybe not so much in a dugout, but I wanted to live on a homestead. Strangely enough, I distinctly remember fantasizing as a child, how cool it would be to live in a log cabin and grow all my own food and have a milk cow. Obviously, I didn’t quite realize the amount of work that went into a lifestyle like that then, but I loved the idea of living without the inherent need for a lot of money.

I remember asking to plant a garden a lot as a kid. I convinced my dad once, when we were living in South Dakota. Of course, another distinct memory I have from summers in South Dakota is watching the thermometer outside the living room window for the second the temperature got to 75 so that we could go to the swimming pool. (This was my mother’s rule, which, after living in Kansas with our 100 degree summers, just seems downright cold for a swimming pool.) Out of everything we planted, I think we ended up with two crookneck squash that we ate fried. There wasn’t much gardening after that.

The past few years, I’ve attempted to chronicle our gardens on my blog–but container gardens are super easy. There was no weeding, very few pests, and all we had to do was hang the trellis from the roof of the balcony and keep everything pruned and watered; the container gardens were easy to ignore in real life and on the blog. This having a garden in the ground has been a lot of hard, but not unwelcome, work. Turns out, my childhood inclination to gardening was spot on. I like having dirt under my finger nails, I like the way I wake up sore after spending the day digging and pulling weeds (of course, after my recent pregnancy, I still feel like I am building my strength back up, so I am more sore than I would usually be.)

I have been thinking a lot about a few things that seem to keep coming together for me.

1. The power of the human body. Seven weeks ago I gave birth it the quickest and most powerful hour and a half of my life. I felt to strong in the moment, but since then, I feel like that one act took all of my strength. Like I mentioned above, just a normal amount of walking in a day makes me sore. I know I am still recovering, still balancing out my hormones, and because I am nursing, still giving the best of what I take in to my beautiful, and growing-at-lightning-speed child. Nevertheless, I have still managed to take care of our garden (not on my own, Brock is working right alongside me) and work a full time job. I like how powerful I feel after an afternoon of pulling weeds, and believe me our little city yard has some gnarly weeds. It inspires me to push my body further. For so many years I have been so worn out with just the day to day living, that going outside seemed too hard most of the time. Now, I am looking for excuses to go outside, to move, to lift, ever being conscious that I am still rebuilding my muscles–which doesn’t change the fact that I want to walk for miles and miles or ride my bike to the store instead of taking the car. It was like my mad-dash birthing experience woke up in me a sense of potential vigor of wanting to move for movement’s sake, and finally not because I felt pressure to lose weight.

2. Taking Care of the Place I live. Perhaps I have read one too many Barbara Kingsolver books, seen one too many science documentaries, and learned a little bit too much about permaculture, but I keep thinking of ways I can work with my environment instead of against it. This includes everything from how I garden to thinking about ways to minimize my time in my car, the amount of energy we use around the house, to making as much of my own food/clothes/household supplies I can myself, and what I can’t make, out of locally sourced materials. (This is a very lofty goal which I will never fully meet.)

3. I want to raise livestock. It’s no secret that I want to someday have sheep–but it’s not just because I want the wool. I genuinely like the creatures: I find the smell of lanolin heavenly, and they mow the lawn for you. Also, wool is possibly one of my favorite things. But it’s not just sheep I want to raise, I want a whole menagerie. One time, when visiting a nearby organic farm that raised vegetables and sheep, I was speaking with the shepherd’s husband, and he said something along the lines of how he was glad his wife only wanted sheep. He didn’t want to have a farm girl who just collected animals on his hands. All I could think was, why not? Each animal has a job the farm, even if your only exposure to farm life is Charlotte’s Web, you know that. I want chickens and ducks and geese and sheep and goats and bees and a cow–maybe a pig or two, a donkey, a couple dogs, some cats, who knows–preferably not a rat, but I’m sure there will be at least one. The bottom line is that I would like to live on a little homestead farm, and write about all animal shenanigans that ensue.

I am not entirely sure what all of this means for my family just yet. Finances dictate that we are determined city dwellers unless an amazing deal on a farmhouse turns up next when our lease is up next year. (Otherwise, we’ll just see how far we can stretch our little yard in terms of producing food.) You can expect some of these themes to start showing up here just a bit more–which I feel is consistent with the subtitle of this blog: the pursuit of a handmade lifestyle. Plus, there’s no denying that Laura Ingalls Wilder was pretty damn cool. I can still want to be her when I grow up.

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Summer KAL: Pogona

It’s time for another Knit-A-Long!

handspun yarn for pogona

I am hosting another KAL with the Potwin Fiber Artisans. We’ll be sharing our tips and project photos in the PFA Ravelry Group

Details:

-We are casting on July 1st, so you should have plenty of time to track down yarn and needles.

-We’ll be knitting Pogona by Stephen West. You can purchase your pattern at the link.

-The pattern calls for one 100g skein of fingering weight yarn and US size 6 needles. (It would be really easy to make this pattern out of any weight yarn, especially if you want to make something really big, but you’ll want to keep in mind that if choose a thicker yarn, you’ll also need to increase your yardage.)

-This is a textured pattern with a lot of increases, but no lace. The designer recommends 20 stitch markers.

If you’re wondering what kind of yarn to use with this pattern, the possibilities are nearly endless. Go click through the photos of other knitters projects on the pattern page, and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll notice first that a lot of people chose variegated yarns, because this pattern looks amazing in variegated yarns. My favorite are the ones knit with long color repeats, like this one:

IMG_8011_medium2
YarndelSol’s Pogona

Not only does it do lovely things between the different textured sections, the way the color pools and flashes is just delightful.

easter rainbow sock yarn
A yarn with short color repeats, like my Easter Egg Rainbow” would have, like you might expect, short flashes of color. I imagine this yarn, knit into pogona, would look something like white frosting with sprinkles on top.

When I think about wearing this shawl, all I can think is that mine needs to be made out of handspun. I wish I had some handspun on hand like this skein from Black Sheep Goods.

etsyhandspun
Squishy, variegated, and barber-poled. Can you just imagine?

The yarn pictured at the top of the post is what I’m using to knit my pogona. I have two skeins of the grey alpaca (admittedly, I am still plying the second) to the one skein of the undyed cormo. They are the same weight and were both chain plied into nice round, bouncy yarn. The only question now is how should I stripe them?

What’s your pogona going to look like? Hop on over to our KAL thread on ravelry and share!

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Weekend Garden Update*

*I started this post three days ago, so you might actually have read this on the weekend. But that’s life with an infant. Also, I have actually been spending time out in he garden.

tomatobed

We planted our summer seedlings in mid-May–so about right on time. We have 8 tomato plants this year, all big, hearty heirlooms. Six are your normal big red varieties, but we also planted two Cherokee Purple, just for fun.

cucumber
Brock and I like cucumber so much, we have a whole bed of them. This one looks particularly hearty. I’m hoping to have plenty for fresh cucumbers and enough for pickles.–which I have never made before, so that should be fun. Look for adventures in canning, right here, coming soon.

eggplant
Eggplant. We have two plants this year. In years past, we’ve easily been fed by one eggplant, but we really like it, so we went with two. We might be eating a lot of baba ganoush later on this year.

zuchinni
Zucchini. I have only tried growing this once before, when we were doing our container garden. It was dreadfully windy that year. Even windier than usual in Kansas. The plant got half uprooted early on in the summer and all of the fruit it produced grew just larger than wee and then shriveled up and died–except one, that we didn’t find until we were pulling the plants out of the boxes for the year. It was hidden in all the blown over leaves and it was gargantuan. (There might even be a photo in the archives from 2012.) We didn’t do anything with it. It was too old and the skin had become a rind. It wasn’t quite the experience every says it is, growing zucchini, with having more fruit than you know what to do with. This year we have three plants (if the rabbits ever let the third one grow), I’m hoping to not end up with three, giant, inedible zucchini.

06052014Harvest
These are the vegetable I had in my salad tonight.

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FO: Rainbow Socks

On Monday, I finished Brock’s rainbow socks.

rainbow sox

In one of the three Bluum Boxes I received after I cancelled my subscription, there was the most adorable pair of rainbow baby leg warmers. This one thing made all four boxes worth it, though if you ask me, $100 is a lot to pay for leg warmers…

Moving on.

When the bluum box with the leg warmers arrived, my husband loved them. He wanted a pair for himself–a sentiment that has been common in adults since I started dressing Felix in the leg warmers (and sharing photos of them on the internet.)

I told Brock I didn’t think he would get much use out of legwarmers, but that I would make him matching socks. It just so happened that I had my eye on Munchkin Knitworks, waiting for an update of her rainbow sock yarn, just because I was already smitten with the idea of rainbow socks. A couple days, I had some sock yarn that I thought matched the leg warmers remarkably well. And now my husband has some rocking socks, which he has been wearing all evening, despite the awful heat and humidity of the the day. (It was in the low 90s here today, and we’re expecting rain.)

rainbow sox
I’m posting this picture again, because it makes me really happy.

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