Kooky Grape Kefir~ My recipe for Concord Grape Water Kefir

A Concord Grape Kefir recipe.

Hello, my name is Tamara Hoerner and I am a sodaholic. That’s why, about 18 months ago, in an effort to break my addiction, I decided to try making my own gut friendly soda, otherwise known as water kefir. I quickly discovered that this was the exact thing I needed get away from soda and get my body, and gut, back on track. It’s bubbly, like soda and best of all it cut my sugar cravings! It’s also a wonderful way to get reluctant family members to consume probiotics!

I stopped making water kefir at the beginning of 2020. We were preparing to sell our home and move across the country, from Virginia to Colorado. Now that I’m settled, I decided it was absolutely time to make some kefir again. I missed it. I mean what better way to get healthy probiotics into your gut than with homemade soda?

Kefir starter or kefir grains?

Back when I first started making kefir, I discovered 2 ways of making it. The first way is with active kefir grains, which can be purchased from Cultures for Health. These grains are a living microbiome that are mixed with prepared water to make it into kefir. The main benefit is the number of microbes. There can be as many as 30 or more different strains of microbes. These grains are similar to a sourdough starter, in that, you can make an infinite number of kefir batches with them, as long as you keep them alive, by feeding it sugar water on a regular basis. These grains grow and can be “gifted” to others, just like a sourdough starter. The fact that this microbiome must be maintained is also a negative, as many people don’t want to bother with it.

Another downside… water kefir grains only make water kefir. In order to make dairy kefir, you need an entirely different set of grains. This also means, if you want dairy kefir, you now have 2 microbiomes to maintain. Things can get really complicated if you also have a sourdough starter! It’s almost like having pets in the house! With that said, if you plan on making a lot of kefir, it might be worth the time and effort, as this microbiome is diverse and like a whole food.

The second way is with a kefir starter culture. This is a powder sold in packets that can be purchased from Body ecology. Once you’ve made one batch, you can make up to 6 more batches on a single packet, by adding kefir from a previous batch to the new batch. This type of kefir culture can contain from 7 to 9 different strains of microbes. The starter is also a wonderful way for beginners to get their feet wet with kefir. It’s super easy to use and there’s no grains to maintain. You can also use this same starter culture to make dairy kefir. I find this to be a huge bonus. While this starter definitely has its perks, the microbiome is more processed and less diverse than the grains.

Combining 2 methods into one kooky recipe

My investigations into the 2 types of kefir starter also included 2 different methods of making this healthy beverage. The first one I stumbled upon was when I took some classes with the Traditional Cooking School by Gnowfglins. (TCS) This recipe is a 2 stage process using clean filtered water, sugar, kefir grains and an egg shell (for added minerals. The bugs love minerals). The first stage ferments the kefir for 3-5 days. During the second stage, juice is added for “flavor” and to further ferment the kefir, along with aiding in the creation of carbonation. The second one, from Body Ecology, using the powdered kefir starter, is a simple one step process that uses pure, fresh coconut water and the kefir starter to make Coconut Water Kefir.

For my recipe, I decided to combine these two methods. I call it Kooky Kefir because it was kind of an accidental kefir that actually turned out phenomenal. I used 1/2 clean filtered water and 1/2 coconut water. I opted for the kefir starter over the grains. This was mainly because I had the starter on hand, and didn’t want to wait for the grains to arrive in the mail, plus go through the activation process. I normally like to use sucanat for the sugar, but again, didn’t have any on hand. So, I decided to use regular organic cane sugar. I also added the egg shell. I mean, why not? During the second phase, I added organic concord grape juice from Kedem.

The “accidental” part came when I realized I had the wrong kind of coconut water. (thus the name Kooky Kefir) You see, coconut water kefir normally requires pure, fresh unpasteurized (raw) coconut water. Pasteurized coconut water won’t ferment properly (I’ve also used Harmless Harvest coconut water, which is unpasteurized.) Instead, I purchased Naked coconut water. I thought it was raw, but it turned out to be “lightly pasteurized.” Since I was using only 1/2 coconut water, and I was adding sugar, per the TCS recipe, I theorized it would still work, and it did. See for yourself in the video below!

So there’s my story into my Kooky Grape Kefir creation. Here’s the recipe and step by step instructions. Let me know if you try it or if you have any questions.

Concord Grape Kefir

  • Servings: Makes 5 1/2 quarts (45 - 4 ounce servings)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bubbly fermented beverage, reminiscent of grape soda, but healthy! This bubbly beverage is packed with probiotics!


Credit: Tamara Hoerner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon clean, filtered water
  • 1/2 gallon coconut water (see recipe notes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (preferably sucanat, but use what you have on hand)
  • 2 packets kefir starter culture (Body Ecology) OR active kefir grains (Cultures for Health) OR 1 cup from a previous batch of kefir
  • 1/2 of a clean egg shell (adds minerals to the water)
  • 48 ounces Organic Concord Grape Juice (I used Kedem Organic Grape Juice)
  • A 1 gallon glass jar
  • An instant read thermometer is helpful, but optional
  • 6 swing top glass bottles with rubber stoppers (optional-but these help create the fizz in the kefir. See recipe notes for more info)

Directions

  1. Put the sugar in the gallon jar and cover with about 1 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved
  2. Add remaining water and coconut water to the jar and stir.
  3. Check the temperature of the water. It should be above 75 degrees but not hotter than 92 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the water with your finger. It should feel warm, but not too hot.
  4. Add the kefir culture, whichever one you’re using. I recommend using a starter culture if you’re new to kefir making. If you’re a kefir making expert, use your active kefir grains or some kefir from a previous batch. Stir well, but gently, so as not too overly disturb your little bug friends.
  5. Drop in your egg shell, allowing it to fall to the bottom.
  6. Taste the liquid. This is so you’ll know how sweet it started out, which helps you determine when it’s done, later on.
  7. Cover with a cotton cloth held to the jar with a rubber band. set aside. Leave it alone for at least 3 days, then start tasting it. When most of the sweetness is gone, it’s done. My batch took about 5 days. The kefir can actually be consumed at this point. You can move it to swing top bottles and refrigerate OR move to phase 2!
  8. It’s time for PHASE 2. Put 1 cup (8 oz) of juice into each of the 6 swing top bottles, then fill to the shoulder of the bottle with your kefir. Seal the bottle and let set on the counter for 1-2 days. (If your using kefir grains, don’t forget to rescue them from the jar first!)
  9. After 24 hours, check for carbonation. You should be able to see bubbles forming on the top. You can also check by opening the seal of the bottle. CAREFULLY! If it’s to your liking, and some of the sweetness from the juice has diminished, it’s done. If you let it sit longer than 2 days, burp the bottles every 24 hours. TRUST ME ON THIS! I once had a bottle explode…rookie mistake that will never happen again.
  10. RECIPE NOTES:

    ~ This recipe can be made with all water or all coconut water or a combination like mine. If you use 100% coconut water, make sure you use fresh coconut water, or it won’t ferment. If you’d like to buy bottled coconut water, you MUST use an unpasteurized brand such as Harmless Harvest. Most other brands are pasteurized and won’t ferment.

    ~ If you don’t have swing top bottles, you can use 6 quart jars instead. The kefir won’t be as fizzy, but will still taste good.

    ~ I recommend storing the finished product in the fridge. The cold air tames the activity of the microbes. It will still be fizzy, but you don’t have to worry about bottles exploding.

    ~ After 2 days with juice added, the initial flavor will still be a bit sweet. Over time, the sweetness will dissipate as the microbes eat the sugar from the juice. The longer it sits, the less sweet it will be.

    ~ If 8 ounces of juice in each swing top bottle is too much, adjust the amount of juice to your liking. Just remember, the microbes will eventually eat all the sugar in the bottles, if left long enough. This is what creates the carbonation in the kefir. Your’e not going for the sweetness here as much as the flavor.


Closing thoughts

There are pros and cons to each type of kefir culture. For beginners, my recommendation is to use the kefir starter powder from Body Ecology. This will give you an idea on the process and help you decide if you even like kefir. Then, once you get the hang of it, you can get some grains and start your own microbiome at home.

Until next time… Bon Appetit! Namaste my friends!

20 LOST RECIPES FROM THE PIONEERS: WHAT THEY COOKED IN THEIR JOURNEY WESTWARD

Today’s post is quick, but very cool, at least to me. 😊 Below is a link to an article which highlights 20 actual pioneer recipes, which were used during their journey to begin a new life. You have everything from “mud apples” and “chuckwagon beans”, to “vinegar lemonade” and “dutch oven trout”. I hope you enjoy this little journey back in time.


Pioneer life was not easy and the daily chores of managing a house where more than a full time occupation.

Cooking was a major part of each day. Early settlers butchered their own meat and made corned beef, sausage, smoked and dried meats. Large gardens yielded produce for canning, pickling and other preserves. Root cellars stored potatoes, carrots, and onions. Milk was separated into cream for butter and baking and milk for drinking. Breads, cakes and pies were of course all baked at home from scratch from whatever was available…

For the full article and to see the 20 recipes,

follow this link!

5 Recipes from my Mother’s Kitchen

With all of us celebrating Mother’s day yesterday, I’m honoring my Mom today on both of my blogs. FOLLOW THIS LINK to see a poem I wrote her in June, 2005 for her 60th birthday.

My Mom is an absolutely AMAZING cook! I’d like to think my love of cooking came from watching her work magic in the kitchen. Like my Grandmother before her, it seemed that Mom didn’t measure anything or directly follow any recipe. She could take any recipe, change amounts, or remove/change ingredients entirely and come up with a mouth watering dish. I never knew how she could do that. It’s only now, after I’ve cooked for more than 25 years, that I can begin to understand how to transform a recipe into my own creation.

This photo is from June, 2019. We made some precious memories when our parents came for my son’s High School Graduation. Here we have three generations of family cooking together. From left to right: My Mother-in-law, my son Shaun, me, my Mom.

Today, I’ve picked out 5 of my Mom’s recipes to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Nachos Casserole

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
  • salt
  • 2- 1 pound cans refried beans
  • 1- 4 ounce can green chiles (rinsed, seeded, deveined, chopped)
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 6 ounces Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 cups mild taco sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 3/4 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
  • 2 cups guacamole
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1. In a large skillet, brown beef/sausage and onion.
  2. Drain fat.
  3. Season with salt and tabasco sauce and set aside to cool
  4. Spread beans in a 4 quart casserole dish
  5. Spread meat on top, then chilies.
  6. Sprinkle both cheeses on top.
  7. Drizzle with taco sauce.
  8. Up til this point, recipe may be covered and refrigerated ahead of time, up to 24 hours. Return to room temp prior to cooking
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes
  10. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with scallions, and olives. Mound the guacamole in center and top with sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips.

Corn Hot Dish

  • 1 – 16 ounce can cream style corn
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  1. Heat all ingredients on stovetop.
  2. Place in casserole dish.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, covered
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup buttered cracker crumbs over baked casserole
  5. Bake 20 more minutes, uncovered

Corn & Shrimp Chowder

  • 12 ounces bacon
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 3 T finely copped green pepper
  • 1 cup finely copped carrots
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 – 13 ounce can whole kernel corn
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 pound shrimp, cooked, peeled & deveined
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1 – 17 ounce can cream style corn
  1. In Dutch oven, cook bacon, crumble and set aside. Reserve 1/4 cup drippings.
  2. In bacon drippings, saute onion, garlic, celery, green pepper and carrots til tender. Blend in flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  3. Add broth and bay leaf, stirring occasionally til thickened.
  4. Add potatoes, salt, pepper and paprika. Cook 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add corn and heat thoroughly.
  6. Stir in half & half and shrimp. Heat thoroughly, but NOT boil.
  7. Remove bay leaf and taste. Re-season if necessary.
  8. Sprinkle each serving with crumbled bacon and parsley.

Sweet and Savory Meatballs

NOTE: This is a favorite in my home. My kids absolutely LOVE this one. Since I no longer use processed condensed soup, stay tuned for a healthy “remake” in a future article!
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can golden mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup drained chopped canned tomatoes
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 t. soy sauce
  • cooked rice
  1. Mix ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg and garlic. Shape into small meatballs. Brown meatballs in 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients together in a bowl and pour over meatballs in a pan.
  3. Cook in pan 20-30 minutes.
  4. Server over hot cooked rice.

Frozen Strawberry Salad

  • 1 – 8 ounce cream cheese – softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 – 10 ounce package strawberries, thawed
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 – 9 ounce cool whip (feel free to use an equal amount of homemade whip cream)
  1. Blend cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour into 9×13 inch pan and freeze
  4. Slightly thaw before serving.
  5. Can be kept in freezer up to 1 month.

10 ‘Depression Era’ Recipes to Make if your Pantry is Bare

One of my favorite things to do is look for vintage and old timey recipes. I decided to scour the internet for depression era recipes for today’s article. I thought it fitting since many items are scarce in grocery stores today. My grocery store is almost always out of flour. Eggs are a hit and miss. Sometimes they have a ton, sometimes none at all.

I always admired people who lived during the great depression. We can, by no means, compare ourselves to what they went through. With shanty towns, food lines and the dust bowl, things were much worse back then. We live in luxury by comparison. With that said, there are certain things that may be hard to get and we can learn a lot from their strength and creativity.

I tried to find recipes that had basic ingredients. Because they were cheaper, hot dogs were often used as the protein. I have included 2 such recipes here. Under normal circumstances, hot dogs wouldn’t be included as an ingredient on this site, but I wanted to include it for authenticity. Feel free to swap out the hot dogs in favor of a healthier meat or sausage. The main point is use what you’ve got on hand and get creative, as they did.

Grandma Pruit’s Vinegar Pie

Taste of Home

This one looks rather interesting. But, is a perfect fit for our theme today. If you have limited resources, this is a great recipe. The author of the recipe says: “This historic pie has been in our family for many generations and is always at all of the family get-togethers.

Old Timey Country Potato Soup

Recipe Lion

This recipe is a wonderful way to fill some bellies and stretch just a few ingredients a long way. As the recipe author says: “Indulge in the comforts of old-fashioned cooking with this classic recipe for Old Timey Country Potato Soup. This easy potato soup recipe will give you something delicious and hearty to serve anytime you’re debating over what to put on the dinner table.”

Poor Man’s Cookies

Taste of Home

These are very interesting and remind me of a similar cake recipe: water cake.
From the author of the recipe: “In the 1930s, producers of a popular radio program called Jake and Lena invited listeners to write in for this recipe. My mother changed the name from Jake and Lena Cookies to Poor Man’s Cookies because they contained no eggs, milk or nuts. Despite the name, the cookies are rich in taste!

Old-Fashioned Hot-Water Cornbread

The Spruce Eats

If your grocery store is anything like mine, regular flour is a scarcity. If this is the case, and you have corn meal in your pantry, give this recipe a try. With only four ingredients, it couldn’t be easier!

Granny’s Cocoa Cream Pie

Forgotten Way Farms

This recipe looks soooo good, and soooo easy! The recipe comes from the author’s own grandmother! I would venture to guess that most pantries will have the ingredients.

Shoo Fly Pie

Grandma’s Vintage Recipes

According to Wikipedia: Shoo Fly Pie is is a molasses pie or cake that developed its traditional form among the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1880s, who ate it with strong black coffee for breakfast.
source

War Cake

First We Feast

This recipe goes back to rationing during World War II. While technically not “depression era”, it does fit in with the “limited pantry” theme as well as the “no flour” thing! WHY? It has no flour!
source
source

Vintage Brown Buttered

Homemade Noodles Recipe

Happy Money Saver

If With only 4 ingredients, this recipe is awesome. That said, it has 2 of the scarcest ingredients at the moment: eggs and flour.
This homemade noodles recipe comes from a 1900's recipe box. If you want to make noodles from scratch, the old fashioned way, this is a great recipe to try.
This homemade noodles recipe comes from a 1900's recipe box. If you want to make noodles from scratch, the old fashioned way, this is a great recipe to try.

Poor Man’s Meal

Clara’s Kitchen

At the time this lovely video was made, in 2009, Clara was 91 years old. In this video below, she shares a staple of life in the depression: poor man’s meal. I highly recommend watching the video. Clara shares some of her history as she makes the meal.

Hoover Stew

Just a Pinch

According to Mental Floss, this recipe is a generic name for recipes made from soup kitchens soups or thin broth. One recipe calls for spaghetti and hotdogs, such as the one shared by Just a Pinch.
This Recipe And Picture Is By A Woman Named Mrs. Dunn And I Found It On The Web Site-depression Era Recipes.

Until next time, namaste my friends

Simple Batch Cooking Meal Plan — The Wellness Mama

If you’ve wanted to try meal planning this post from The Wellness Mama is for you. In this article, she explains batch cooking and includes a 7-day meal plan. She also breaks down the cooking procedure into a step-by-step process. It couldn’t be easier!

For the main article and full meal plan, follow the link below.

wellnessmama.com/1106/batch-cooking-meal-plan/

Featured photo source: The Wellness Mama

50 Immune Boosting Vegetarian Recipes And Foods

In my oh so humble opinion, you can NEVER have enough vegetable recipes!! A plant based diet is key to a healthy body and long life. Here’s are 50 vegetarian recipes from Veg Recipes from India!

1000+ images about Healthy Quotes on Pinterest | Fitspo ...

“In this critical time, it is essential to have food that your body needs. You can make a conscious decision to move into healthy eating habits and choices.

I am sharing vegetarian plant-based foods and recipes which I am personally going to focus on and prepare at home. I am not going to overboard as an excess of everything is not good. Balance is the key. But I would like to include more of these immune-boosting food in our diets than earlier.”

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW FOR THE MAIN ARTICLE AND ACCESS TO THE 50 RECIPES

feedproxy.google.com/~r/vegrecipesofindia/~3/PPBMtsYb4M8/

10 One-Pot Dinners for When You Don’t Feel Like Doing the Dishes

I HATE doing dishes!! If you’re like me, there’s nothing better or easier than a one dish dinner. The article below lists 10 dinners made in ONE POT! YEAH!

Quotes About Washing Dishes. QuotesGram

Dirty dishes are generally unavoidable when you’re cooking, but there is no rule that says you can’t use fewer dishes when life calls for it. And I would say life most definitely calls for it right now.”

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW FOR THE MAIN ARTICLE

www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-dinners-267642

Healthy Cooking 101: 5 Quick and Easy Meal Prep Ideas (With Infographics!)

We know meal prep is a good idea. It helps us eat healthy food and avoid prepackaged, processed food or worse, fast food. However, if you’re like me, you procrastinate, or don’t do it at all. After all, who wants to spend a weekend day cooking? I mean I like to cook, but, weekends are my time with my better half. So, I’ve searched the internet and come up with some super easy and quick ways to meal prep. My personal favorite are the mason jar soup cups. I think this is a brilliant idea!

How to Meal Prep Smoothies

Here’s a smoothie formula along with a video highlighting 3 ways to prep smoothies.
Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 12.32.03 AM.png

Mason Jar Salads

Who needs to try an make a salad each morning or even the night before. Here’s an infographic for mason jar salads and one mason jar recipe video
mason-jar-salad-4

The Overnight Oats Builder

Overnight oats are a great way to meal prep breakfast. Below, you’ll see an infographic for overnight oats, along with 2 videos with a total of 7 recipes.
overnight-oats-builde.jpg

Burrito Bowls

Everyone likes a good burrito bowl! Here is an infographic showing how to build your own, plus a recipe to get those creative juices flowing.

DIY Instant Soup Cups

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! I think it’s brilliant. I created the infographic below based on the recipe video at the bottom of the page.
Once the cups are made, store them in the fridge until needed. If you add protein eat it within 2-3 days.
When you eat the cups, remove them from the fridge at least 10 minutes prior to consuming. This will prevent the cold jar from breaking when the water is added. When you’re ready, fill the jar with hot water and let it set until it’s heated through. At this point, eat it from the jar, or pour it into a bowl.
I haven’t yet tried my own soup cups. However, I will absolutely try them, because my better half loves soup!

Closing thoughts

These ideas are super quick to put together. You could throw some burrito bowl ingredients in the oven. While that’s cooking, you can make a few soup cups, a couple of jars of overnight oats, and throw together some smoothie packs. Then, put the burrito bowls together when they’re cooked. I estimate this would take 1-2 hours tops. Then you have up to a week of lunches prepped.

Until next time Namaste my friends!

Quick & Easy Italian Style Pasta Salad (Gluten-Free)

A Middle-Age Pathway Recipe

I threw this salad together yesterday as a quick lunch. I am currently working on cleaning out my pantry and had some gluten-free spaghetti to use. I also had some left over pepperoni from making homemade calzones. I always try to keep cheese on hand and Braggs is my go to for bottled vinaigrette.

Why do I use Braggs? Because, sometimes I get lazy, and don’t feel like making my own dressing, so I use bottled dressing. I’m sure many of you can relate. HOWEVER, it is nearly impossible to find bottled dressing that DOES NOT contain soy oil. I like Braggs because it has cold pressed olive oil instead of highly processed soy oil. For this recipe, use your favorite vinaigrette, whether bottled or homemade, the choice is yours.

This recipe came together very quickly and I had a lot remaining. Today, when I had some left over, it was a bit dry, so I added a bit more dressing, to jazz it up.

To add even more flavor to this salad, I’d recommend adding some high quality olives. Kalamata olives are my favorite, but you pick your own. I didn’t add olives this time, mainly because I didn’t have any on hand.

Another optional addition would be to top it with parmesan cheese prior to serving. This would add some zest and a bit of nutty flavor to the dish.

Here’s the recipe!

Quick & Easy Italian Style Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Need a quick lunch or side dish? This comes together in a jiffy.


Credit: Purple Almond Wellness

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced pepperoni – quartered
  • 1 zucchini – quartered and sliced
  • 1 red pepper – diced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup Brags Vinaigrette (or your favorite homemade recipe
  • 4 cups cooked gluten free pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • OPTIONAL: Black olives, shredded parmesan cheese, diced red onions

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Chill prior to serving.
  3. If salad appears a bit dry, add a bit more dressing to taste.