DIY Concord Grape Soda–How to make Lacto-fermented Concord Grape Soda

Concord Grape Soda--Lacto Fermented Concord Grape Soda

Concord Grape Soda–Lacto Fermented Concord Grape Soda

We took a short break/vacation to take Page up north.  By north I mean northern California.  We live in southern California, and don’t really travel up north often enough, as a matter of fact, my husband would love nothing more than to move up north.  It’s where his roots are, where his soul speaks, and ultimately where I think he’d like us to retire.  Up north people are much more liberal–I would venture to say that the people up north are the prototype for what people in other states consider Californians.  Socially liberal, tree hugging, animal loving, free spirited Californians.  Here in the south, we are still liberal, but much more superficial–I call it the Hollywood effect.  People in the north are street friendly, meaning they stop and talk to you, and are truly interested in getting to know you.  They know their neighbors, talk to them regularly even.  Here in the south, you’d be lucky to see your neighbor once a week, and talk to them once a month.  It’s a very different atmosphere. Everything is so green in the north–in spite of the drought–there are so many farms–yes I said farms–I know the image of our state is one of sunshine and beaches, but we grow a lot of food here in California.  We visited the Muir Woods which Page LOVED! Page really enjoyed San Francisco, she was especially fond of the steep hills. We especially loved the food.  I had so many restaurants on my list of must try restaurants but we only made it to a few.   I really wanted to visit State Bird Provisions, and Bar Tartine,  time just didn’t permit it.  On the road trip up, I brought along my Bar Tartine Techniques & Recipes book.  I came across a recipe for Grape Soda and knew it would be the first thing that I was going to make when we returned home.  Luckily for me, concord grapes just so happen to be in season.  I found them on sale at Whole Foods for $2.99/lb.  Not bad for organic grapes!  Since my ginger bug was active, this was a breeze to make.  If you can find organic grape juice then it will be even more simple, If not take the time to juice the grapes like I did–so worth it!

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Ingredients:

2 cups of organic Concord grape juice

2 cups of water–filtered

1/2 cup of strained lacto soda starter–ginger bug

2-4 tablespoons of sugar–optional

 

Directions: Add the juice, water and lacto starter to a large mason jar.  Make sure the jar is large enough to allow for some head space, cover with cheese cloth and place in a dark area–out of direct sun light.

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Allow to ferment for 3-4 days or until the mixture is slightly foamy and releases bubbles when stirred.  It’s hot here so my mixture was fizzy and bubbly by day 2.

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Transfer the mixture to a flip top bottle or canning jar, making sure to leave at least 1 inch of head space–I’d say 2.5 inches just to be safe.

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Let this stand at room temperature for no more than 24 hours, to allow for pressure/carbonation to build,–my suggestion is that you allow this to carbonate inside of a dark cabinet.

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You do not want to run the risk of an explosion in an open environment–it’s dangerous!  Once carbonated, transfer to a refrigerator.  Once cool, serve over ice and enjoy!  Tip:  If using a glass flip top bottle, place the bottle in a tube sock, and then place that in a closed cabinet.  If the bottle explodes it will confine the damage.

 

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If you like this recipe,try my recipe for Lacto-fermented Strawberry Soda.

 

DIY Onion Soup Mix–Copy Cat Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix

 

DIY Onion soup mix

DIY Onion soup mix

There are three seasonings that I can rely on my mom to have in her cupboards at all times: Lawry’s seasoning salt, Lemon pepper, and Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.  In fact while writing this, I was tempted to call her, and have her take a picture of what is inside her cupboards, just so that you guys could see, but she’s not that technologically savvy.  She barely knows how to get the pictures that I send her of Page through text.  When I was growing up my mom would rent  4-5  movies and make a bunch of snacks for us watch over the course of the weekend.  One of those snacks was a sour cream and onion dip.  She’d take a container of sour cream and mix in a package of the Lipton Onion Soup mix–simple but delicious.  We’d happily nosh on potato chips, celery, and carrot sticks dipped in the onion dip while we watched the latest movie release from Blockbuster video–yes I just dated myself!  Oh the memories!  I haven’t had that dip in years!  I’d say a good 10-12 years, maybe longer.  It’s not something my mom makes any more.  I wanted to make it for me and my hubby, but I didn’t want to buy the Lipton’s seasoning. I had an idea of what was in the seasoning–or at least I thought I did– dried minced onion, onion powder, dried green onion–but to be sure I called my mom and asked her what was on the ingredient list.  Sure enough she had a box in her cupboard and  the ingredient list she read to me was anything but simple. Besides the MSG, onion powder, and cornstarch, there were a list of ingredients that had  nothing to do with onions. So I set out to do what I do best and made my own–without all the added preservatives and coloring.  I used the organic onion powder that I made myself, and added minced onion and a few herbs.  A perfect match! Tastes just like I remember it! Delicious!!

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Makes the equivalent of 1 package of Lipton Onion soup mix

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons of organic dried minced onion flakes

3 teaspoons of organic onion powder

1 teaspoon of organic dried chives

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon of celery salt

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, if you don’t plan on using this right away, transfer it to an air tight container for later use.

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Mango Creamcicles

Mango Creamsicles--Mango Half and Half Bars

Mango Creamsicles–Mango Half and Half Bars

Yesterday marked the official kick off of the summer season, and nothing screams summer more than a creamsicle! They’re the perfect blend between a popsicle and ice cream–half popsicle and half ice cream–doesn’t get much better then that!  If you don’t have a Zoku Quick Pop Maker–order one! It will more than pay for itself.  If you just refuse to spend the extra $10-12 to upgrade from your popsicle molds, then go ahead and use your popsicle molds, but you will not get the creamy center  you get from a typical half and half bar.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup of mango puree

1/4 cup of water

1 cup of organic coconut cream can sub with heavy cream or half and half

1 teaspoon a vanilla extract

2 tablespoons  of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice

Directions: To a cup add the cream vanilla extract, maple sugar, mix well and set aside.  To another cup add the mango puree and water, and mix until mango puree is thinned out.

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If using classic pop molds, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.  Divide mixture evenly among molds and freeze for 6-8 hours or until frozen solid.

If you are using the Quick pop maker, Pour the mango juice into the molds and allow to set for 2-3 minutes.
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At the 3 minute mark siphon out the remaining unfrozen juice with a straw or a unused infant aspirator–I purchased one just for this.  Zoku sells a tool kit for $20 which includes a siphon tool, but the aspirator is $3 and does the job equally as well.
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 After you have removed all of the juice, pour cream into the molds, and allow to set for another 4-5 minutes, then follow the directions for removing the pops.
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Crispy Pork Larb!

Crispy Pork Larb

Crispy Pork Larb

This is one of those dinners that is both healthy and delicious.  Trust me when I tell you when you take one bite of this you will be forever grateful that I started this blog–yes it’s that good!  For those of you who do not know, larb is a thai street food.  It’s so good that it’ll make you question how we do street food in America.  It’s bright, fresh, and full of the umami flavors that will make you go Mmmmmm… If you don’t fancy pork, no problem, you can try this with ground chicken, turkey, or even lamb and beef.  Check out my recipe for Chicken larb here.  This is one of my favorite ways to use ground meat, it’s so simple that this meal almost makes itself!

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Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground pork

3 large cloves of garlic thinly sliced

1/4 cup of diced red bell pepper

1/2 of a red onion, sliced thinly

1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves

1 head of romaine lettuce, leaves removed to use as cups

1/2 cup of sliced persian cucumbers

1/3 cup of fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon of a good quality fish sauce, I used red boat

2  tablespoons of soy sauce

1/4 cup of water

Sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons of cooking oil of your choice

red pepper flakes to taste

Directions: Heat oil, garlic and red bell pepper and cook until garlic is fragrant–about 15 seconds.

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Add in ground meat season with sea salt and cook until brown about 5-7 minutes.

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Once brown, add in soy sauce, fish sauce, water and red pepper flakes if using.

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Cook until liquid evaporates and pork is brown and crispy about 2 minutes. Add in lime juice, toss well, remove from heat.  Add the meat to the lettuce cups, top with a generous amount of the fresh herbs, cucumbers, red onion, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of additional lime juice, enjoy! So good!

 

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Fried Cauliflower Florets with Creamy Garlic Tahini Sauce

 

Fried Cauliflower Florets with Creamy Garlic Tahini  Sauce

Fried Cauliflower Florets with Creamy Garlic Tahini Sauce

Whenever I eat out at a Mediterranean restaurant, I find it hard to not just compose a meal from the appetizer menu.  With things like lentil soup, lemon and garlic potatoes, hummus and pita bread, fattoush salad, grape leaves, and fried cauliflower on the appetizer menu, who needs a full entree!  I often find myself struggling not to order one of every thing on the appetizer menu.  I usually settle upon the potatoes or the fried cauliflower.  The fried cauliflower is amazingly simple.  Unlike most fried things that come dusted in flour or some other type of breaded base, this doesn’t.  This recipe calls for only one ingredient, cauliflower!  The tahini sauce is great with this, but the cauliflower is pretty amazing on its own.  Your kids will love these cauliflower florets, mine did!

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Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small head of cauliflower

2 cups of grape seed oil or another high temp oil

Sea salt to taste

Ingredients Creamy Garlic Tahini Sauce

4 tablespoons of tahini paste

8 tablespoons of water

1 tablespoon of lemon juice, more if you like

2 cloves of garlic grated

Directions: Pre-heat the oil to 320F in a deep fryer.  Add ingredients for the tahini sauce to a small bowl and mix until well combined and creamy, then set aside. If you want this to be extra creamy, place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy, then transfer to a bowl.

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Cut the cauliflower into florets.

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Add the cauliflower florets to the deep fryer.

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Fry until golden brown.

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Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, season with sea salt, serve and enjoy!

 

 

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D.I.Y. Chicken Breakfast Sausage-How to Make Breakfast Sausage

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

 

One of the most difficult parts of the day for me is deciding what to feed Page for breakfast.  Like any child, she’s opinionated about what she’ll eat, but she seems to be more obstinate in her choices during breakfast.  She doesn’t eat what I imagine most kids do in the morning, no breakfast cereals, or breakfast bars.  She is more into things that take more time, like eggs, bacon, quesadillas! She loves a hot meal to start her day off, so this week when I went shopping, I thought I’d switch things up a bit and make some homemade breakfast sausage for her.  I’m using ground chicken for this recipe, but feel free to use pork, if you’re so inclined.  The fresh herbs in this recipe are what make these sausages amazing! What’s more amazing is that you don’t need to grind the meat yourself.  Order a pound or two of ground chicken from your  meat guy/gal add some fresh herbs and BAM–Jimmy Dean style sausages for you and your loved ones.  These would be perfect for Sunday Brunch, or for your Mother’s day breakfast–point your husbands right to this site.  One pound of ground chicken made about 12 sausage patties.  I put 5 in the refrigerator, and froze the rest for later use.  If you don’t plan on cooking these within 5 days of making them, then I suggest you freeze them right away.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 lb of Organic air chilled ground chicken (dark meat)

2 tablespoon of fresh sage (finely chopped)

2 tablespoons of fresh thyme (finely chopped)

1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon of maple sugar (can substitute with maple syrup or brown sugar) Omit if you’re on Whole 30

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you want)

 

Directions:  Add the ground chicken and spices to a medium sized bowl,

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Form patties, and either refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

 

When ready to cook, spray a cast iron skillet with coconut oil, bring pan to temperature, then add patties, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side,

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or until golden brown, and meat is cooked through in the center.

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Remove from pan, serve and enjoy!!!

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Garbanzo Bean Salad with Lime Herb Vinaigrette

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Garbanzo Bean Salad with Lime Herb Vinaigrette

 

Salads are the perfect lazy meal. Add a little of this and a little of that and you have a great meal that didn’t involve 1 minute of cooking. It’s no wonder I love them so much.  When I’m in the mood for a hearty and filling salad, I always use legumes as base and build out from there. This salad makes the perfect lunch, or lazy dinner.

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Ingredients:

10 ounce can of organic garbanzo beans–drained and rinsed

1/2 cup of  organic persian cucumbers, diced

1/2 cup of organic radish, diced

1/2 cup of organic bell pepper, diced

3-4 oz of Feta cheese–crumbled

Sea salt to taste

Lime Herb Vinaigrette

1/4 cup of fresh organic lime juice

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint

1 medium clove of garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

Sea salt to taste

Directions:  Add all of the ingredients for the Lime herb vinaigrette to a bowl,  whisk together and set aside.  To a large bowl add the ingredients for the salad, season with sea salt and toss gently.

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Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss once more and enjoy!

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