Kombucha Tea

We have always loved kombucha and luckily for us our cousin, Christina, started brewing it. All you need is a friend and their extra scoby to start brewing your batch. We found it easiest to start with a 4 quart glass jar since it gives you enough to really enjoy after all the time you put into it.

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How to Brew Kombucha Tea

Supplies Needed

  • 1 quart glass jar (never plastic or tin, we like to us a large 4 quart with a wide mouth)
  • Sanitizer – we use Star San a good washing will also work but is a risk
  • Funnel for bottling
  • Strainer – a fine mesh strainer
  • Cloth for covering the jars
  • Swing top glass bottles also known as E-Z flip top bottles

Note: All supplies can be purchased at a brewing supply store. If in Portland, FH Steinbart.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart mason jar, wide mouth
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tea bags (green, jasmine, black, anything with caffeine)
  • 1/4 cup kombucha tea
  • 1 mother

Instructions

First Fermentation

  1. Boil enough filtered / purified water to fill your mason jar, less room for the 1/4 cup kombucha tea and mother.
  2. Steep the tea bags for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Let cool to room temperature.  This could take four hours or more if you have a large container.
  4. Once the tea has cooled, stir in the sugar and the freshly brewed tea.
  5. Insert the mother and cover the mouth of jar with a cloth. Set in a dark area at room temperature (65-75°).
  6. Now wait 7 to 13 days.

Bottling and the Second Fermentation

  1. Sanitize your swing top bottles.
    We use a bottling sanitizer such as Star San. Some people say a good cleaning is enough, but if you are waiting 2-3 weeks to drink your ‘booch why risk it. Clean your funnel and a fine strainer while you are at it.
  2. Take a sip of the kombucha. At this point it should taste like a plain tea kombucha.
  3. Pour your kombucha from the mason jar into your swing top bottles. This will make a mess and you will spill, so prepare an area. Leave some air at the top of the bottles.
  4. It is at this point people add sugar, fruit, ginger or other spices.
  5. Store your kombucha for 3 to 6 days. We store ours in the fridge, but you can also store it in a cool place.

Enjoy it!

Pop the bottle and enjoy it!

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Sanitizing flip top bottles. Don’t fear the foam!

The peach pit

We were packed and ready for a camping weekend when a curve ball was thrown at us. The plan was Mike would pick me up at 4pm and we’d leave town. Mike called a little before 4pm saying I needed to take a Lyft and meet him at the vet ASAP.

That morning Wiley was throwing up for a few hours and by the afternoon it had not slowed down. While at the vet he was given an injection to help stop the vomiting. We had blood work done plus a urine test to determine what may be the cause. All I could think was thank goodness we weren’t four hours away trying to figure this out.

That evening was a rough night with Wiley pacing and whining to go out. Early morning came and that’s when the diarrhea and dry heaves started. We waited for the vet to open and called to see if the blood work could provide any answers. The good news, all levels tested great from the blood work and the urine test showed he was dehydrated which was not a surprise since he was throwing up for 15 hours. So what next… The vet advised us to admit Wiley to the pet hospital and get him on an IV for fluids. Since it’s Saturday, our regular vet was unable to accommodate Wiley because they are closed on Sundays. Our vet recommended a hospital in NE, DoveLewis, where we could get Wiley on an IV, an ultrasound and x-rays to see what is going on internally.

Once we arrived we had to fill out paperwork answering if we’d authorize CPR or open body CPR if needed. Those questions made this all feel so much more serious and the tears flowed like streams down my cheeks. We haven’t ever had to leave Wiley overnight at a hospital before. While we were going through intake Wiley started again with projectile vomiting in the exam room. We reviewed costs and then we had to coach him through the ICU door which broke my heart seeing him walk away slowly.

When we waited. The ultrasound revealed a foreign object was lodged in his small intestines. We arrived at the hospital at 10am and by 3pm Wiley was being prepped for emergency surgery to remove the foreign material. We were told the best situation is the surgeon goes in cuts the small intestine to remove the object and stitches him up. The other situation could be that the intestines were damaged by the object and they may need to remove a section of the intestines which would require a much longer recovery. We are also looking at a longer recovery because of Wiley’s age, 11.5 years.

The hospital, DoveLewis, was excellent at providing updates and helping us through the process. It is stressful having money conversations and providing approve to move forward. I won’t lie, Wiley’s estimate of $4,000 – $8,000 did make me feel sick to my stomach.

The surgeon called to report Wiley did great in surgery and our mysterious foreign material was identified as a peach pit.

The house felt so strange without hearing Wiley clicks walking on the wood floors. I think this is the first time we’ve been home and not had Wiley with us in over 10 years. Sunday afternoon we were told we could stop by for a visitation. The techs were struggling to get Wiley to eat. He had no interest at all in anything, not even his favorite, peanut butter. While Wiley was under for surgery he was given a feeding tube through the nose that could provide nutrients until he’d eat on his own.

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This was the hardest part. Waiting and praying Wiley would eat. He needed to pass food through the intestines to help the healing process. I packed his favorites to try to entice him to eat. Peanut butter, carrots, kibbles and bacon.

It was painful to see Wiley so drugged he could barely keep his eyes open and stare at nothing. Even more tear jerking was to see him turn his head from the food. After about an hour of trying all my treats we were able to get him to eat a small piece of the bacon fat.

The hospital techs would call every morning after rounds to provide an update on Wiley. Unfortunately that tasty bacon fat made him uncomfortable during the night. The techs suggested for our eventing visit to bring boiled chicken, rice and sweet potatoes since he still won’t eaten.

That evening, before we even had a bowl, Wiley snagged some rice from Mike’s hand immediately. Our boy finally had his appetite. We had to stop feeding him since he hasn’t had food in 3 days we didn’t want to put the stress on his stomach by giving him too much food.

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Fingers crossed, we hoped this would be Wiley’s last overnight. Tuesday morning I received that sweet call informing us Wiley is ready for discharge that afternoon. I was giddy as we drove to the hospital. The tech went through instructions of Wiley’s 9 mediations. The best part, the tech kept that very expensive peach pit for us to see. Even with it sealed in the ziplock bag you could seem the horrible stick it was emitting. We were offered to keep it but that just seemed silly. A quick photo would to just fine.

The next few days were rough since having to give Wiley his medications every 2 hours day and night. He had pain meds, a few antibiotics, anti nausea, anti vomiting and lastly a slurry to coat the ulcerated regions of the esophagus, stomach and intestines. This one was the worse one.

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It’s been a week since all this happened. The lack of sleep is challenging but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat to have Wiley longer with us. We have one more week till the 15 staples can be removed. Wiley amazes me with his will to live and what he has overcome. To add to his list, he’s survived stage 2 cancer two years ago which left him 30 staple scar. Wiley’s a tough guy and no doubt will be back to normal and ready to camp in no time!

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Spring please

This winter has been the most challenging since moving to Portland. The weather has been contributing to our slow start to this years adventuring. We were greeted with an ice storm early December which was followed a month later with a snow storm that dumped ten inches of snow in Portland.

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Portland ice storm December 9, 2016

The city shut down for a week with temperatures hovering between 20 – 32 degrees. It’s rare to find a shoveled sidewalk since most people don’t own a shovel for the once a year one inch snow fall. I used our dustpan to remove snow from the steps so Wiley would tolerate going out. The sidewalks became packed down and turned quickly to thick layers of ice. My Sorel boots worked wonderful the first couple of days but as the snow turned to ice they were useless. Those metal spikes for the bottoms of shoes seem like a white elephant gift, but are sctually practical. I broke down and ordered a pair but they arrived a week too late. I am prepared for next year!

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Portland snow storm – January 11, 2017

Having grown up in the Midwest, it was a strange site seeing cars and busses driving around the city with chains for a solid week. The streets were the quietest I have ever seen. The first few days it was easier to walk the street than the sidewalk. Nights were lively with adults and kids playing in the snow. So much snow art could be found throughout the city.

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Southeast Portland snow art

By the third day of work from home, I was restless and needed to get to the office. I rummaged through our Minnesota bin to find the essentials, snow pants, mittens, hat and the warmest coat I own. I hobbled on the snow and ice covered side walked to my bus stop. Pro tip, the schedules are never right with bad weather. The TriMet app will say one minute till arrival and the bus never shows. I have concluded the city is filled with ghost buses. When the bus actually does arrive it was so packed the driver would not pick up anyone else. So I started walking towards the next stop. Lucky for me, the next stop one person got off and I was able to hop on. Chains can be noisy and vehicles should only go a maximum of 25 mph. On the bright side it makes for a scenic commute across the Burnside Bridge.

Exactly a month later we reserved a site at Cape Lookout State Park for our first R-pod adventure of the year. The temperatures were promising highs in the 50’s which felt quite warm after the chilly January weather we had been experiencing.

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First camping of the season – February 11, 2017

Removing the cover was much easier than expected. Mike, thinking ahead, bought a pump to fill the tires. We added a few belongings for our one night stay and we were quickly on the road. The R-pod isn’t that large but requires extra attention and being alert in traffic.

We came across a few challenges on our first R-pod adventure. Our first discovery was the battery no longer holds a charge. The battery is five years old so that is not much of a surprise. The second surprise came at Cape Lookout State Park. They have incredible RV sites with water hook ups, electrical and sewer dump at each site. We took this opportunity to fill the tank with water. While organizing the bedroom, I peaked in the bathroom and saw a steady stream of water flowing down the drain. The pipe connection at the base of the toilet was spraying water. Thinking back on it we forgot to use the pressure value and may have just had too much pressure causing the water to spray. We’ll need some further investigation. I swear that toilet has it out for us.

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Cape Lookout State Park, Oregon

The rest of the weekend went smooth. On the ride home we did find one minor hiccup that the sewer water cover had fallen off during our drive back and had been bouncing as we drove. Now the cover won’t stay on due to a few prongs busted off. Easy fix though – we’ll just need to order a replacement.

I have to say, I am proud to have Mike as my partner. We have an ability to work through the unexpected together without fighting but rather laughter. Seriously he is the best.

Dutch Oven No Knead Bread

Rainy weekends make baking homemade bread a delightful treat! One of my favorites is grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh baked bread and served with hot tomato soup. We usually jazz up our grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and avocado.

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Bacon, avocado, grilled cheese sammie with tomato soup

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water room temperature

Instructions

1. Mix flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl. Using a wooden spoon add water to the bowl and mix until it’s a sticky ball.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Add cast iron pot to the oven while it’s preheating.
4. Remove the cast iron from the oven and set lid aside. So the bread doesn’t stick to the pot, sprinkle flour or cornmeal to the bottom. I prefer to use cornmeal.
5. Flour your hands really well, pick up the dough and shape roughly into a ball. Place the dough into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place into oven.
6. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.
7. Remove lid and back for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
8. Remove the bread from the pot. Let cool before slicing to serve.

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No Knead Bread

Marinated Chèvre Topping

This is tasty holiday crowd pleaser for those crazy lactose intolerant relatives, yes this is me. It’s one of my favorite creations by my dearest sister-in-law, Jocelyn Woods.

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Serving size: 4

Ingredients

1/4 c green onion
1/2 c golden raisins
1/3 c diced dates
3/4 c cranberries
1/3 c sliced figs
1/2 c sliced apricots

Dressing

1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
1 small clove garlic
1 T fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c canola/vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Directions

1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing together and pour over fruit mixture. Mix well.
2. Serve over goat cheese rounds. Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Contributor: Jocelyn Woods

Stollen bread

Weihnachtsstollen is a traditional German fruit bread that has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The Wisconsin Electric Power Company would publish an annual holiday cookbook. This recipe was from their 1966 edition.

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Stollen dates back to the 14th century when Germans baked loaves at Christmas to honor princes and church dignitaries, and to sell at fairs and festivals for holiday celebrations. It can be enjoyed at anytime of day!

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Serving Size: 3 stollen loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast or 1 oz. compressed yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup seedless dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup diced dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
  • About 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter

Directions

Soften active dry yeast in warm water or compressed yeast in lukewarm water. Scald milk; stir in sugar, salt and butter; cool to lukewarm.

Stir in 2 cups flour, yeast, eggs and cardamom; mix in fruit and enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead on floured surface; place in greased bowl; grease top of dough; cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down; cover; let rest 10 minutes.

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Divide into three equal parts. Shape each piece into an 8 x 10 inch oval; fold lengthwise and place in greased shallow pans.

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Let rise until doubled and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Frost and decorate if desired.

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Contributor: Elaine Woods

Cucumber and Feta Salad

This recipe is from a dear friend, Brad Thomas. It is a great appetizer for any occasion. It’s so good even the kids will beg more. Typically for a smaller gathering we’ll half the recipe below.

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Serving Size: 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 1 large seedless, English cucumber
  • 2-3 T, fresh minced dill fronds
  • 6-8 green onions, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • Pink peppercorns, for color
  • Olive oil
  • ¾ pound of Greek Feta
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the cucumber into long strips and dice into ¼” pieces. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the dill, green onions and garlic. Toss with olive oil until saturated. Add the juice from 1 lemon and about 1 tsp. of lemon zest. Add the peppercorns. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the feta and arrange in a layer on a platter. Pour the cucumber mix over the top of the feta.

Suggestion

Serve with sliced baguette or toasted pita triangles.