Do you remember your first steps? The strong hands helping you, and the clumsy placement of your soft little feet in those big, clumsy shoes; first lift, then lurch forward, plant the foot and find your balance. Arms up, your hand firmly planted in a bigger, stronger one. Always safe in your mother’s care, the first few steps were a celebration! An occasion! Smile inducing, worthy of kisses!
“We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning, and never ending.”
Four weeks ago, I harvested a vinegar mother from a bottle of apple cider vinegar that I bought from a health food store. I was able to buy a gallon of flash pasteurized apple cider from Frecon's Orchard in Boyertown; this method still allows the cider to ferment; I used similarly pasteurized cider for my hard cider last fall. This time, I added the mother, and let it turn to a lovely, mild vinegar over the course of the month. The vinegar mother, a mixture of cellulose and beneficial bacteria, digests the natural sugars first, then the resulting alcohol, creating that nice, astringent vinegar flavor; this mother is very similar to the SCOBY used to make my kombucha. I removed the vinegar mother then pasteurized this new, live vinegar myself (140-160 degrees). It's waiting for me to cook with it now! I put the mother into a jar of old red wine; not sure if it will work to make red wine vinegar, but I'm willing to experiment!
My fridge is a nightmare. I occasionally have an attack of conscience and try to catch up with the many culinary experiments festering in there. It's not pretty. With this weekly blog entry as incentive, I took a brave look, and found some still-viable organic yogurt, some home made beef broth, a shriveled but edible stalk of celery and the remnants of last week's mushroom bounty. What to do?
|Yogurt Cheese and Vegetable Beef Soup|
I hung the yogurt in a cheesecloth for yogurt-cheese (very tasty, with a consistency like cream cheese), made a strata from the mushrooms and celery (along with a quarter loaf of stale multi-grain bread, a sauteed onion, 4 fresh eggs, raw milk and some shredded cheese) which will be my breakfast this week, and made soup from the beef broth. I added a handfull of sliced brussel sprouts, some frozen local corn, some dehydrated maitake mushrooms and some herbs. Yum. Good bye, convenience food! Momma's got a healthier (and more frugal) plan!
Monday's meals: Mushroom strata for breakfast and fish chowder for lunch. Both from the freezer. Home fermented and home canned sauerkraut and clean, local sausage for dinner.
Tuesday: Strata again for breakfast; leftover kraut for lunch (the kraut is good for boosting immunity).
This is a vast diversion from my usual organic and local eating beliefs, but I gave it a try; I'm not sure if I will continue. Our Elementary and Middle Schools use a fundraising technique known as "Market Day". There is an online company from which you order various foods, and a portion of the proceeds go to the school needing the funds. The food is delivered to the school, which is convenient for me, as I teach right on the campus. While the various meats and breadings were suspect (at least to me), I did order some mini-omelets and some individual frozen lasagna rolls. They tasted fine, and are convenient, but I'll have to research where this company sources its food before I order again. I can't stand the idea of inhumanely treated chickens and cows. I'll let you know what I find out. I'm a little nervous about it.
On the healthy side, I ordered a bin of local and organic vegetables and foods from my very favorite Buy Fresh, Buy Local food source, Pure Sprouts. I love, love, love this service, and order from them whenever I need quality local foods that I haven't grown or foraged myself...although I do love to visit farmers' markets in fair weather!
|Balsamic Vinegar, Nasturtium Vinegar, Juniper "Berries"|
Rosemary Vinegar and Gin-Soaked Raisins
Susun Weed sent a nice tutorial on using white pine needles and cider vinegar to create balsamic vinegar. Since I have an abundance of both, I'll be giving that a try. I love balsamic vinegar! Here's the link. This seems to be a year of tonics and fermentations for me; new territory to explore!