Finally fermented!

Today I opened my last bottle of second-fermented kombucha.  I flavored it with ripe raspberries and grated ginger.  It is so good!  I’m bummed that it takes so frickin’ long to double ferment, but we do keep our house fairly cool, relying more on layers of clothing than on turning up the thermostat.

raspberry ginger kombucha

raspberry ginger kombucha

Look at those bubbles!  See, I could drink my kombucha way earlier, but the longer I let it sit the more natural carbonation occurs.  I’ve been drinking kombucha at work during lunch in place of soda, so you can see why carbonation would be important.  I used up the rest of my ginger bug and bottled it like I do kombucha, so I’m hoping to get a fizzy ginger drink.  I placed the bottles in the kitchen instead of the back room because the kitchen is so much warmer, it should enable a faster ferment.  Hopefully they will not take as long to bubble up.

I checked on my fermenting garlic  as well:

fermenting garlic

fermenting garlic

The brine is a bit darker, and you can see some cloudiness near the bottom.  I checked in with my fermenting group and they said it was just the microbes dying off, which is supposed to happen.  Everything appears to be on course!

I bought a couple cabbages a few days ago to try my hand at making sauerkraut, so we’ll see how that goes.

Last week I tried to palpate one of my does to see if she was pregnant, but I didn’t feel anything going on down there so assumed she was not pregnant.  When you palpate, any fetuses are supposed to feel like marbles at that stage in the supposed pregnancy.  I thought, “To heck with that!” and put her back in with the buck.  Now, this is the doe who usually submits fairly easily, and this time she was not having any of it, no matter how nicely the buck groomed her (rabbits do kind of court each other and grooming plays a big role).  She would kind of growl and run around, so I finally snagged her and put her back in her cage.  She was not pleased with me.

I decided that I was going to try our youngest doe, the blue rex, earlier than I did the white rabbits because I heard that young rabbits make good mothers, and let’s be honest, I’m tired of waiting for our rabbits to get knocked up.

blue rex doe

blue rex doe

I’ve put her in with both bucks but while they are willing, she doesn’t seem too interested.  She doesn’t bite or freak out, just kind of lays down and ignores them.  I’m not worried about it at this point because she is rather young, about 5 months maybe.

This is a very long winded way to say that while I was doing hutch duties today (cleaning out poop pans, filling water), the maybe-pregnant doe was digging at her cage floor, like she was trying to burrow.  A light blub went off, so I grabbed her some straw we had lying around and she immediately began haystaching.  What is a haystache?  I didn’t get a photo, but here is one I found on google:

rabbit haystache

rabbit haystache

My rabbit began picking up hay and making a nest with it, so I’m a little more sure she’s pregnant this go around and I just didn’t palpate correctly when I was feeling for kits.  Her kindle date is anytime around 11/26-11/30.  Of course, that is the Thanksgiving holiday time and we might not be around for the actual event, wouldn’t you know it.  I hear a lot of first time mothers don’t know what the hell they are doing, and so lose the kits because they leave them exposed to the elements, or they don’t feed them, or….  I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.  Maybe she’ll be a stellar first-time mom and we will not have to do a thing.

We’ve been getting some snow at our place, and our backyard is like a forgotten wasteland of mud.

079 085

Good times.

I made toffee today, and while it’s delicious (how can butter and sugar really go wrong?) I feel like I should have let it boil longer.

toffee

toffee

The thing is, I’ve made this several times now.  When I let it cook longer, the butter starts to separate back out of the sugar, so that when I do finally pour it onto the cookie sheet it sits in this huge butter pool.  Anyone have any ideas on how to cook it longer without the formula breaking?  I’d love to hear them!

And because no mother should be without blackmail material on her kids:

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naked baby bath time!

naked baby bath time!

 

Grass-fed beef = num nums!

I needed to pick up some more raw milk from the farm a few days ago, so I first checked their Facebook page because in the past if they are sold out they post it on their page.  I didn’t see any posts about raw milk, but I did see their notice that the ordering time for December orders was in two days!  And that they would not be processing cows or pigs until around March of next year.

This brought me to a thinking session, because of the meat we purchased early this year, we only have about one beef roast and one pork roast left.  But, we’re pretty tight on cash these days, so I’ll have to put it on the credit card.  Did I want to do this?  Jesse wasn’t a lot of help in the decision making, because, as he says, I’m the one who does all the bill paying, so I have a better grasp of the finances and whether or not we can afford it.  After much internal struggles, I decided to go for it, and that we’d just put any Christmas cash gifts toward paying off the credit card.  Jesse was on board with that decision, thank goodness!

While we do buy chicken that probably isn’t as free-range as I would like, I love that we have the availability to get pastured beef and pork, meat that has not been treated with growth hormones or antibiotics.  I feel like it’s better for us even as adults, and doubly better for Ezra, who is still growing.

We buy the corriente cattle, because it really hasn’t been modified too much over the years.  It’s quite a bit leaner than other varieties, and we enjoy the flavor.  This is a sound-byte taken from the Utah Natural Meat website:

“Have you ever eaten one of those giant-sized tomatoes or  strawberries? They look great – but the taste leaves a lot to be  desired.

The same thing applies to the big beef cattle we have today and  their big steaks. We have selected for and achieved maximum size and  rapid growth and economic efficiency, but lost sight of the most  important factors in our food – the taste and the nutrition they  provide.

Corriente cattle are one of the very few remaining breeds of  old-fashioned cattle.   Corriente cattle look and perform today just as  they did when they got off the boats with Columbus and Cortez and became  the first American cattle.

The big cattle have high levels of growth hormone in their  system, which helps increase their size but also increases their food  requirements and their need for grain. The grain changes the composition  of the fat in their meat – the Omega 3 fatty acids essentially  disappear. There are many positive health benefits for consumers from  the Omega 3 acids. The grain also tends to give the meat a more bland  flavor – compared to the rich full flavor of a Corriente that can be finished on grass alone or with very little grain.

Yes, modern cattle have great big steaks and can be put on your  plate for less money. But if tenderness, juiciness and taste are important to you, and if the nutritional issues of fewer calories, less  fat, less cholesterol, and healthy Omega 3 fatty acids matter to you,  you might think of spending a little more for a great meal of nutritious  Corriente beef.”

Ted Hoffman, DVM

So we think we will stick with the corriente beef for now.

The more reading I do about fermenting food and drink, the more I’m convinced we need to be implementing more fermentation into our diet.  We already have the kombucha that we drink, but then I saw an article not long ago about fermenting garlic!

garlic

It’s a pretty simple process.  Just take a ton of peeled garlic cloves, add a brine, let sit for months.  And that’s it!  You can add the fermented garlic to food dishes, eat it plain, add the brine water to a salad dressing, the possibilities go on and on!  The photo above was taken about 5 days into the process.  I had tightened the lid completely, which I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to do, and when I checked on it, I saw the lid top was very tight, full of pressure.  When I cracked the ring seal, the CO2 came rushing out and it was fizzing like crazy!  You can see some of the bubbles in the photo.  So now I have the seal cracked to allow gas to escape so I don’t make the jar explode.  There are crocks and fermenters that let products off-gas on their own, but I didn’t feel like I could justify the purchase at this time.  So, I’ll go this way and it we really get into fermenting in the future perhaps will look into the Pickl-It jars that everyone is talking about.

I’m contemplating trying to make kimchi as I understand the homemade variety is super beneficial to gut health.  I’m not huge on fermented/sour food, but I did grow to like kombucha, so it’s probably just that I’ll have to get an acquired taste for other fermented items.  I need to get Ezra on board as well, to beef up his immune system.  Wish me luck!

That kid needs to keep his pants ON

If Ezra was a villain, his name would be “The Creative Pooper”.

suave

suave

You’d never know it just by looking at this image, but 15 minutes before this photo was taken, this was a poo-covered boy.  Ezra has gotten into a somewhat frequent routine where he takes off his clothes after he wakes up – either from his night sleep or a nap – and if we’re not fast on the draw it’s potty time everywhere!  Short of duct taping him into his diapers, I’m not sure how to break this performance.  On the other hand, the fact that he can take off his pants could mean he is on his way to potty training.  But seriously, please kid…don’t take off the diaper.  I WILL BUY YOU FINGER PAINTS TO MAKE UP FOR IT.

In other news, Jesse and I keep kicking around the idea of a puppy.  A dog for us would have multiple roles.  I really like the idea of a guard dog for security, as a deterrent for the random cats that come in through the dog door to eat the cat food, and as a playmate for Ezra.  Ezra loves dogs.  Even though Jesse is in school, he’s home a lot of the day, so this could be a perfect time to train a puppy.  On the other hand, puppies require constant vigilance and I’m not sure Jess would be down to set his alarm for every hour to take the puppy out to go potty.  In fact, when I told him about setting the alarm, his response was fairly negative.  Also, he worries about the dirt a dog would track in.  Me, I’m not worried about the dirt.  I figure we can vacuum and maybe steam the carpet once a year if it needs it.  An adult dog would be ideal, really, but I want a dog that was raised around livestock.  And kids.  As a kicker, I found the cutest puppy today!  How adorable is she?!

The chickens are having a fabulous time with this weather.  All of our garden was harvested, so they’ve just been scratching around, fluffing their feathers with dust baths.  As much as they don’t like to be touched, they sure come running when we come outside.  The other day I was on the deck starting up the grill and the girls saw me and came up the stairs!  I had to shoo them down multiple times.  I do NOT want to start finding chicken poo on those stairs.

first hat

first hat

I bought some round looms the other day, and this was the first hat I created that can actually function as a hat.  Pretty good, right?!  I took it off the loom too soon, because when I put it on it curls to the top of my ears and I have to keep pulling it down, but other than that I think it turned out great.  Maybe I will see if it fits Ezra.

Halloween hoodlums

How were your Halloween festivities?  We didn’t do anything to mark the occasion.  Well, Ezra had a couple pajama outfits he wore throughout the day, but we did not take him trick-or-treating this year.  Or last year.  Maybe next year we will.  We just figured that he didn’t need the treats and that he was too young to really remember it anyway.

halloween1 halloween2

When we do take him out, however, we will teach him how to trick-or-treat properly.  These kids today do not know how to do Halloween.  Many of them didn’t have costumes, and no one was actually saying “Trick or Treat!”  They simply stared expectantly, while I stared back.  After a couple heartbeats of awkward silence, I finally would tell them, “What are the words you have to say?  You have to work for it.” And then they kind of grumbled the words to me.  Seriously, it was ridiculous.  And what is with the ‘tweens not wearing costumes?!  They were just in street clothes!  I think next year I’m just going to be a hardass and not give candy to those who don’t deserve it.  Of course, our house may get egged.

I’ve been taking a bottle of kombucha to work with me to drink at lunch.  Kombucha is a fermented beverage chock-full of probiotics.  I also have another round of ginger bug started.  The first one turned out pretty good, though I think I added too much fruit juice to the final product, and I don’t think one of my bottle seals is as air-proof as I’d like.  I think I may be able to find a replacement seal, though.

We re-bred our rabbits a few days ago.  Or rather, we rebred one of the rabbits, the other one (per usual) kept her rear firmly planted.  We were planning on butchering her on Sunday, but Jesse suggested we just go nuts and put her in with the buck every day and see if she warms up to him.  If anything I think it’s going to make her hate us more than she usually does, but I guess we’ll see.  I was watching some YouTube videos yesterday about the broomstick method of dispatch, and it just seems so harsh!  I mean, not like death itself isn’t harsh, but this one woman looked like she almost pulled the rabbit’s head off!  This other guy picked up the rabbit and conked it on the head, and then cut its head off.  Not sure what was with all the outright decapitation.  So now, the countdown begins.  If she finally frickin’ lifts this week, we’ll keep her around for another month to see if she took.  Otherwise, it’s crockpot time.