Fermented and cultured foods help support a healthy digestive system which in turn supports a balanced immune system. If you’re new to cooking or eating this way check out Nourished Kitchen’s recipe page, and dig around some of the research on probiotics here.
When I was in my preteens and early teenage years my family raised dairy goats for companionship, 4-H, and dairy. This was my first foray into culturing foods: yogurt making. We also used the whey to assist the lacto-fermenting process of pickles and sauerkraut. Mom made a mean vegetarian Reuben with sauerkraut, horseradish, Swiss cheese and sun-dried tomato deli slices.
The habit stuck around and I make my own veggie Reubens with raw sauerkraut on homemade sourdough rye and serve it with a fermented pickle. Nom, nom, nom.
This past fall was the first time I started doing water kefir and I’m in love. I ordered a single packet of water kefir grains from Cultures for Health, and while I haven’t been as diligent in refreshing the water every 48 hours I have thoroughly enjoyed the beverages I’ve created with it. I like the flavor profile when I feed the grains with dark, natural sugars which is why the picture above looks cloudy and brown – that’s the leftover dark brown sugar from holiday baking! I mix it with fruit juices – a splash of concentrated lemon, lime, cherry or cranberry is refreshing and tasty. I’ve also added fresh and dried fruit blends when bottling it to go in the fridge.
My sourdough starter is in its third winter now. I store it in the refrigerator when I am not using it regularly, I’ve just pulled it back out of the fridge after a couple of weeks of hibernating. I’ll use it in the bread machine this week as I’ve got a full schedule of clients and little time to follow a traditional kneading-rising-kneading-rising-forming-baking cycle. Because I alternate the flours I use for feedings you’ll see mine has a bluish hint to the separated water on the surface – that’s caused by rye flour feedings and will stay with the starter for many months.
Since we’re at the peak of winter eating now I’m seeing a lot of kale and bok choy pass through our kitchen. In a hurry the other evening I tossed this kale with a bit of olive oil, roasted it just until the edges were getting a hint of color to them (we’re not making kale chips here), and also roasted half of a butternut squash I had in the cold room leftover from Farmer Dave’s fall CSA. Quickly I assembled the roasted kale on the bottoms of giant soup bowls, added Nella’s cooked mushroom ravioli and topped with roasted squash cubes. Heaven!
What have you been up to lately? What are you eating this month?