Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kefir - Not Your Mamma's Yogurt

Kefir Starter Grains
Last week I told you how my mom's friend, Liz, taught her to make kombucha. Today I'll tell you haw my mom made kefir, a fermented milk* beverage. You can probably find kefir in the dairy section of your local health food store. But why buy it when it's so easy to make?

*Kefir can be made from animal (cow, goat, buffalo) milk, as well as coconut water and other vegan 'milk' (soy, rice, almond, etc.).

Add milk.
Compared with kombucha, kefir is incredibly fast to make, and kefir starter grains are comparably easier to acquire than a kombucha 'mother'. But unlike kombucha, we don't recommend you start your kefir and then go out of town for a few weeks! Dairy milk takes less than 24 hours to ferment; non-dairy liquids take closer to two days.

My mom found this kefir starter on the internet, but you can also get starter grains from any neighborly kefir maker. Liz started my mom out with some kefir starter grains in a clean glass jar. The grains look a little bit like the cauliflower or the curds in cottage cheese.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Kohl-slaw" Kohlrabi Salad

My whole family loved this, from my 1 year old to 7.5 year old, and my gluten-free, soy-free guest. My one regret is it's so boring looking. Next time I will have to add a little shredded raw beets, bell peppers, or carrots.
  • 3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sea salt (or tamari sauce)
  • 1-2 tsp Fresh ginger - grated
  • 1.5 Tbsp natural sugar (substitute stevia, agave, or Splenda, or use less sugar for diabetics)
  • optional: fresh grated garlic or garlic powder
  • optional: hot water
  • 2 heads/bulbs of kohlrabi
  • 1-2 (preferably firm, green) apples 
  • 1-2+ radishes (I used one giant one, like bigger than your average beet) (optional)
  • optional: shred something with color (something edible, of course!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A walk in Tel Aviv, lunch at Armando

I had a lovely day today with my guest. We began by heading through Shuk HaCarmel, the crowded outdoor market in the center of Tel Aviv. Next door to the shuk is an area packed with fabric, notions, and trimmings stores, were there is a large arts and crafts fair held every Tuesday and Friday. When our tummies got bored of fabric and crafts, we headed down Allenby Street and made a right on the Tayelet, the promenade along the beach. It was worth the walk!

I'm a sucker for all you can eat salad spreads. At Armando, included in the price of an entree are 16 salads, bread, and a surprise bowl of fruit for dessert. Yes, I said sixteen!

Upon our waiter's recommendation, I ordered the European Sea Bass baked in rock salt (no, it's not salty!) and my friend got grilled Seabream. Both fish were delicious, fresh, moist, and tasty. However, the "architecture" of my baked bass was easier to navigate. It can take a little practice to navigate a whole fish. (For a tour, watch five and a half minutes into the first video on Fish: Dress, Bake, Eat.) Or take me out to lunch and I'll take out the bones for you; but I might use my fingers!

I'm glad we sat at a table for four, or we never could have fit all that food. The waiter placed the potatoes right on top of the other salads!

Below: Clockwise from top left, spicy carrots, roasted red peppers, shredded beets, eggplant (with other veggies or something, really yummy), spicy cooked beets, and shredded carrots.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Southwest Chicken Salad

I have a special guest arriving today with multiple dietary challenges, including
  • gluten free
  • soy free
  • egg free
  • dairy free
  • peanut free
  • low fat

among other allergies and dietary requirements. She even has an intolerance for iodine; so she can't eat seaweed!

I wanted to make something that we could all enjoy on Shabbat, and that my guest could also eat when she comes. My husband went crazy for this. Inspired by Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass, I created this festive low-fat chicken salad. I've done lots of gluten-free, egg-free experimenting in the last month. I hope to post some of those ideas this month, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Are You My Mother?

I've been a little obsessed lately with the idea of naturally "cultured" or fermented foods and drinks, but I haven't actually made anything. I really enjoyed learning about the beer-making process; however, I think my husband would be too scared to even allow me to keep a little kimchi on the counter.

My mom, on the other hand, has been chomping on chia seeds, sprouting, and juicing her own wheat grass for some time now. We had both been reading a lot about the positive health effects of eating fermented foods that contain large numbers of probiotics. While I was piling extra sauerkraut on my falafel, my mom has been guzzling Kombucha, a fermented tea drink, and mixing her muesli with kefir, a fermented milk yogurt-type drink. (Check back next week to learn about kefir.)

My mom had been purchasing both of these products at her local health food market when her friend, Liz, offered to teach her how to make them. I sent her with strict instructions to take lots of pictures and give me the full report.


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