Stand Upon Grace

Homesteading with heart~Cultivating the art of intentional living

Category: nurture/cook

Ugly Muffins

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The brutally honest truth is this:  Ugly Muffins happen.

There are good muffin days when everything comes out from the oven Pinterest- worthy, and then there are the days when the promise of a new recipe idea falls a bit flat in the middle, hence the ugly muffin.  Hmmm.

Most of the time, the ugly muffin gets very little credit for it’s role in the creation process, they are smuggled into lunch pails, eaten hastily in the kitchen, or disguised under a lovely layer of ganache.  God forbid you get company for coffee on an ugly muffin day.  Yikes.

But consider this, if it weren’t for the ugly muffin, the trial and error, the learning of the process there would be no glorious mountain peak muffins.  It is but for the trying, the learning in creating, that we figure out how to tweak, reconfigure, and begin again.

So today, in the early morning light of my homestead kitchen, I am thankful for the ugly muffins, and a chance to begin again.

Perpetual Jar of Iced Tea

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The rooster crows indignant of the stifling heat and humidity that is already billowing in through open windows of the old farm house. He seems to be daring the day into being, his mighty crow a lusty, bring it on dare. I, on the other hand, am not feeling so bold this morning, longing for a reprieve to the stifling, bone roasting heat, coupled with the thick weight of the air makes it hard to breathe deep. Ah, summer.

Those fabulous days by the lake, sunshine and happiness radiant everywhere.  Slowing the pace to really soak it all up, take it all in, before winter overtakes us all once again.  Creating intentional moments, fire-crackling nights, the faintly musty smell of canvas and sleeping bags hauled up from the basement wrapping us all in familiar tradition.  As the garden grows and bursts into bloom, we also get to grow and bloom.  The intensity of heat, the fire of our soul, cracks us open creating ash and fertile ground to feed our growth.  To help nourish us into the next season.

So I, like that brazen little rooster out there, say a wholeheartedly, bring it on!  I am here for the journey, I can take the heat, at least well enough to know that this is what it takes to move forward.  This burning in my soul, my heart, embers on fire breaking me open to be more, give more.  I stand in the flames, no longer willing to be afraid of the heat.  My soul gently smoldering in love.  I got this. We got this.  This is how you do this parenting thing, you give your heart fully, the weight of the love cracks you open, makes you more, dares you to give more, and the soul gives way to the heat of it all, breaking open charred cracks making room for more love.

With the heat of the day on the horizon, I quiet my blazing heart.  I search inward for Jesus, for an example of how to give more, how to be more, how to love more.  And the answer is right there, you let the cracks bust wide open, you stand in the fire, you surrender to grace.  You lay it all down, the fears, the anxiety, the old patterns, the what ifs, and let it all go up in flames, smoke puffing hard, burning you back to faith, back to big love.

Because that’s what its all about.

Love bigger than all of us.  That’s what we need to put out the fire of the moment, a splash of icy cold refreshment washing over the five-alarm bells clanging in my head, bringing peaceful restoration to a parched and heat-worn soul.  God of the Universe holds us all in His hands, and His love is big enough to put out every fire.

I lean in, lean on perpetual love.  Love that does not end, love that is always there, love that is bigger than me, or any heat tested moment.  The grace of heat filled days are never more than we can stand, but it might crack us open, just a little wider so His love can seep in through the cracks.

 

The Perpetual Jar of Iced Tea

I love this idea, to quench the heat, restoring body, mind, and soul.  Iced tea always goes fast in our house, and it’s hard to keep up.  This solution solves that problem, by always having a gallon on the go.

The simple solution is this:  Cold Brew Tea.

The idea is to always have a jar at the in the fridge. This is brilliant with a house full of thirsty teenage boys, and a parched and smoldering mama.

Directions:

Fill a glass gallon jar with cold water.

Add 4-6 tea bags*, cover with a lid, and place in refrigerator overnight, and in the morning you will have tea.

Remove tea bags add lemon and desired sweetener, or leave unsweetened and allow each to sweeten their own glass to their liking.

 

*the rule of thumb is approx.. one tea bag per quart of water, but this may vary depending upon how strong you like your tea.  Also, the beauty of this simple notion is, you can make as much or as little as you like…so as those teenage boys take flight, you can adjust accordingly, some days, as people flow through the revolving door of this old farm house, a quart of iced tea is just right. 😉

I first saw this fabulous idea on Carmella Rayone, Assortment.

 

 

Simple Soaked Granola

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The mud is deep here on the homestead.  The frost reluctant to release it’s hold on the depths of soil beneath dormant grasses, beneath feet.  The top layers of the earth have given into the sun’s relentless boldness and softened to accommodate the new found warmth, but below, deep within the frost still holds tightly to it’s grip on the earth.  This makes for a very soggy homestead experience, as the top of the ground has thawed and released, but the deeper levels still linger, frozen solid, so the moisture of the thaw and intermittent rains have had nowhere to go, nothing to sink into.  No settling, or seeping, only just remaining on the surface wreaking havoc with the topsoil.  Spring in Northern Minnesota.  One day you can sink a foot into the ground, get your mud boot stuck in the muck, and the next day, blizzard, again.

As our bodies yearn for spring alongside the awakening earth, I decided to spiff up my granola recipe to fit more seamlessly into our evolving diet.  This past year and some months has sparked a fire within me for a deeper commitment to our traditional diet.  This means that I am allowing myself the time and space to s-l-o-w the pace and really cherish my time not only in the kitchen, but in the planning of how best to nurture my family.

Rather than just not making granola anymore, I decided to go deeper and create a beautiful soaked granola that is nourishing to both body and soul.  Soaking grains, nuts and legumes is traditionally how they were all prepared.  This soaking time allows the anti-nutrients to be diminished, and unlocks the available nutrients to be fully utilized by our bodies. Our ancestor’s wisdom of allowing time for preparing soaked grains, nuts and legumes is a gift of intentional preparation that we can give ourselves and those we love.  It really doesn’t take extra time, only a little extra attention, which I like to call love.

Becoming intentional in the planning and preparation of your meals, and the beautiful food that you welcome into your home, elevates the experience for all.  In the prep of my grains it feels welcoming and nourishing to pray blessings over them, and give thanks for the deep nourishment we are receiving from this step.  Healing, gratitude, blessings, and joy become a circle of creation, a magical alchemy, in the kitchen.  Our feelings and intentions, the energy we bring to the food we eat greatly influences the experience that we have when we eat the food.  Food created with love brings that energy to the table and becomes a part of the experience of the meal.  Likewise, food that was rushed or created in a state of stress, frustration, or anger brings those feelings to the table.

I choose love.  I choose to create, nurture, and nourish in love.  I choose to cook with love, for myself and my family. When I find myself in a rush, a mood in the kitchen, I stop.  I breathe deep.  I accept and explore what I am feeling and what may be the cause.  Then I ask myself if I can shift into a space of love.  I breathe into my heart and allow myself to experience the expansion of love physically within my body.  Some days this takes a few deep breaths.  With practice I have become more aware of my feelings and intentions when I am creating in my kitchen.  I practice gratitude for the food we have.  I pray love and peace and deep nourishment over the kettle, bowl, or pan.  I forgive myself when I haven’t gotten it right, and take a break when I need to step away.

This way of nurturing, nourishing, slowing to create and cook brings a deeply connected experience to all who partake of the meal or offering.  It takes things below the surface of the daily muck, deeper into the safe and cozy cocoon of the soul, it settles gently in bones, satisfies and satiates every craving, every desire, and creates soulful contentment.  Mmmmmmm…..

Ever wonder why Grandma, or Mom’s, or Great Aunt Ruth’s meals were so fabulous?  They knew the secret ingredient.  They understood that a heart full of love and gratitude makes beautiful food, and deep soul nurturing goodness.

I invite you this week as you plan and prepare, cook and create, to do so with intention and love.  You won’t be disappointed, go deeper, go through the muck to get to the still quiet place of contentment you crave in your bones.

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Simple Soaked Granola

makes approx. 12 cups

6c. thick rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)

2/3c. sunflower seeds

1/2c. sesame seeds

2c. roughly chopped almonds

1 quart (4cups) tepid water

freshly squeezed juice from one lemon

1/2c. melted, unrefined coconut oil

1/2c. pure maple syrup

1/2c. liquefied raw honey

1/2t. Redmond real salt

2c. coconut chips

optional:  Add 1-2 cups of dried fruit of your choice.  (We used freeze dried strawberries in this batch to help settle our spring fever)

In a large mixing bowl with a lid, combine grains, seeds, and nuts.  Pour over one quart of water, and the freshly squeezed juice of one lemon, stir.

Add melted coconut oil, maple syrup, liquefied raw honey, and salt.  Stir well to combine, pressing granola mixture down into the liquid. (It will not be fully immersed, but just pressing it down, packing it a bit into the liquid will suffice)

Place lid on the mixing bowl and set aside for twenty-four hours.

After the granola mixture has soaked for twenty-four hours, add coconut chips, stirring to combine.

Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper to avoid sticking, turn half the soaked granola mixture onto each sheet. Spread into an even layer.

Turn oven onto it’s lowest setting*.

Place both sheets of soaked granola into the oven.  After 30 minutes, stir gently.  Bake 4-6 hours on lowest setting checking in and stirring every 30 minutes.  Granola is done when it is baked through, dry and crisp in the center of the clumps when you break them apart.

Once granola has cooled completely, stir in the optional dried fruit of your choice, store in an air tight container or jar. Enjoy!

NOTES:

*Timing on this varies with each oven.  The ideal temp is 170 degrees, but my oven is warmer than this so the cook time was approx. 4 hours.  You may also use a dehydrator if you do not want to babysit the oven, following manufacturer’s instructions on the dehydrator.  I found this process to be really hands off, and was pretty relaxed about the stirring, I wanted to have chunky granola, so that is stirred less often, leaving clumps intact, just paying attention to turning it over to get a more even browning of the granola. If your oven has a pilot light and is always gently heating, this may also be a great way to slow cook your soaked granola.  As always, when first making a recipe, be attentive to the process as you become acquainted with your oven and how much time and attention a recipe needs. 

 

 

Fermented Foods: KimChi

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Nurture yourself, feed your internal fire.

Deep winter is an ideal time to stoke the internal furnace of your digestion.  Keeping the digestive fires going insures strong robust digestion which directly translates to feeling strong, robust, and stoked.  Fermented foods are a fabulous way to maintain the digestive process.  It helps us to utilize deeply the available nutrients within our food.  KimChi is a traditional fermented food with roots of origin in Korea.

KimChi is not something that I grew up with.  It has been a fabulous new adventure as an adult.  I did grow up with sauerkraut, although my family did not make it, we did eat it.  As a child, I loved the sharp bite, the tang of sauerkraut teasing my tongue, and ate it by the bowlful whenever we had it in the fridge.

Fermented foods were a part of my childhood.  Yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, pickled beets, etc. were always a source of sheer delight for me.  KimChi naturally resonated with my body when I was introduced to it a few years ago by my beautiful friend and family member, Donna.  I love Donna.  And I love Donna’s KimChi, and I love that she was gracious enough to share the recipe with me.  It is moderately spicy, choc full of garlic and glorious fermented vegetable goodness.  I eat it nearly every day.

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Fermented foods are deeply nourishing for our bodies.  They are a traditional link to our ancestor’s diets.  Ferments were relied upon before refrigeration was common in order to preserve the harvest, and daily dairy abundance.  They are overflowing with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and have prepared the food to be fully utilized by our bodies.  Our bodies have evolved over time to receive deep nutrition from the fermentation process, and it is an essential part of our diet that may be missing for some in these modern times.

Adding ferments back into a regular part of your diet is simply nourishing for your digestive system and helps bring health and wellbeing back into your body.  Regularly incorporating fermented foods into your daily rituals is as easy as eating high quality  yogurt, keifer, komboucha, artisan cheese and bread, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other lacto-fermented veggies.  They are easy to make at home, or readily available at your local farmer’s markets.  More and more grocery chains and co-ops are offering these options, but understand that everything you buy that is prepackaged has been pasturized, at least in Minnesota, and most other states, eliminating many beneficial strains of good bacteria, enzymes and probiotics.  These offerings are better than nothing, but creating your own, or finding a loving source that offers these life giving foods to nurture both body and soul will elevate your experience.

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Everyday KimChi

Makes about one gallon

10 lbs. napa cabbage

Wash and cut cabbage into bite size pieces, approx. 1 inch.  In a sink filled with cold water, rinse and clean cut cabbage.  Drain.  Transfer clean, drained cut cabbage from sink into a large mixing bowl, layering with 1 cup of salt as you go.  Allow cabbage and salt to stand for 1 1/2 hours, mixing and turning every 30 minutes.

Prepare porridge while cabbage and salt are resting.

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

3 cups water

In a medium sauce pan mix sweet rice flour with water.  Whisk well.  Over medium high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for five minutes, until thickened and cooked.  Remove from heat, add 1/4 cup of evaporated cane juice, and cool.

In blender or food processor, process for 1 minute:

1 T.  fresh ginger, peeled

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup fish sauce

1 cup garlic, cloves chopped

Combine cooled porridge with sauce to make a paste.

Add Asian Hot Pepper Powder for desired hotness.*

1 cup= mild

2 cups= spicy

2 1/2 cups= very spicy

*you can find Asian Hot Pepper Powder at an Asian Market, or an online vendor.

Cut up and add to paste:

1 leek

7-10 green onions

2 carrots

Korean radish (Daikon Radish)

And any other veggies you would like to add to the ferment.  I like adding cauliflower, it adds more body to the finished kimchi and helps to stretch out my cabbage if I have a little less than ten pounds.

Rinse soaked and salted cabbage 3-5 times under cold water to remove excess salt.  The easiest way to do this I have found, is to drain the soaking liquid off the cabbage, and place in a large mixing bowl.  Fill bowl with cold water, using your hands swish the cabbage around, drain and repeat.

In a one gallon glass jar, or crock stir prepared cabbage and vegetable paste mixture together, mix well.  Pack down into vessel allowing liquid to rise up and immerse mixture.  Cover loosely with a solid lid (I use a plate to cover my crock, or use the lid from the gallon glass jar without screwing it down tight).

Allow to ferment in a cool space, out of direct sunlight for 24-48 hours or until bubbly and fabulous.  Store in fridge.

Eat joyfully everyday.

 

Wildly Free Herbal Coffee

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What makes you feel wildly free?

Is it your morning coffee routine?  Or does your morning coffee routine make you feel bound and tethered to the pot, begging for immediate mercy?  The balance for me lies somewhere between wildly free, and somewhat bound and tethered on most days, if I am being boldly honest with myself.

I love my morning cuppa joe, savoring the sips of pungent fragrance, steam rising directly into my nostrils as I slowly breathe it in with each press of the mug to my  ready lips.  This morning ritual, for me, marks the beginnings of movement for the day.  It awakens and invigorates my senses, not because of the caffeine rush, rather it’s the awakening of my sense of sight as I gently pad warm bare feet over chilly winter floors enveloped in quiet darkness, lit by soft, glowing light, of smell as I grind the beans, quickly releasing the sharp, complex aroma of a rich roast, of touch as I fill the kettle and prepare the pot with loving intentions to gently nurture the household, of sound as the shrill whistle of the kettle signifies readiness, both for pouring and also for beginning of the day, and of taste as the first warm earthy-golden liquid meets my tongue, it’s as if heaven and earth have united, if only for a moment, allowing me to pause and savor first thing in the morning.  A beautiful way to start the day.

It is this that brings me back to my morning mug.  All is right and well with the world for me if I stick to my morning ritual, one truly fabulous cup of coffee.  It is when I go for gold, I get greedy, and keep returning to the pot for more, and more, that I fall into the bondage of the coffee trap.  Now dear friends please understand, I live in frozen tundra for several months of the year.  The NorthWoods of Minnesota is beautiful, rugged, and not for the faint of heart.  This is why a hot mug in hand is more than a luxury, it is a necessary part of nurturing both body and soul.  Plain winter survival around here.

Welcoming Wildly Free Herbal Coffee into my day transcends the coffee experience with none of the side effects of regular coffee for me, tension, jitters, tiredness, brain fog, blood sugar fall-out, dehydration, headaches, and adrenal stress.  Instead, I get to nurture myself with a beautiful latte any time of day and continue to feel fabulous, vibrant, and full of pure energy, clear, unfatigued, truly and wildly free.

This is my signature blend that comes from a strong desire to honor my need for a hot mug in hand that nurtures my body as well as my soul.  I love tea, but there are just times, especially in winter, that deeper bold roast is stimulating on the tongue and so, so, soul satisfying.

With roasted roots playing the leading roles, wild, hand harvested chaga rounding out the blend imparting a mellow earthiness, an option of raw cacao gives way to a choice in decadent mocha notes, if one should so desire.  Topping this blend with freshly made coconut milk and a splash of fire cooked maple syrup,  makes a full body experience of sheer and complete ecstasy.  Nurturing yourself never tasted so good.

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Wildly Free Herbal Coffee Blend

makes one 32 ounce french press

1 T. roasted chicory root

1T. roasted dandelion root

1T. powdered, or finely ground chaga

optional:  1T. raw cacao nibs

Gather all herbal ingredients, measure directly into French press.

Bring 32 ounces of water to boil in a kettle over high heat.  Remove from heat, carefully pour hot water over herbal blend into the French press.

Let steep 7-10 minutes, press, and pour.

To make a latte, pour half a mug of wildly free herbal coffee, top the mug off with freshly made frothy coconut milk and a splash of artisan maple syrup or honey.

Indulge with wildly free abandon.

Food + Sacred

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Your Body is a Temple.

The body is the house of our soul, the sacred temple that we get to live this one wild and wondrous life in.  It is a magnificent gift.  I invite you to explore the connection between how you feel internally, with what you are choosing to consume, the link between food + sacred.

What we eat, what we choose to put into our body matters.  How we fuel our sacred vessel is up to us as individuals, how we choose to nurture and nourish ourselves and those we love does make a difference.

The modern disconnect of our body from our hearts, minds, and spirits is coming to an end.  More and more, we are awakening to the idea of wholeness, of holistic wellness, interconnectedness, and becoming aware of what that means for us as individuals and a society at large.  No longer accepting the status quo, we are examining our own personal truths and how we can live them.  We are listening to the wisdom of our body, opening to a world of better choices, learning to trust in the circular rhythms of nature, and welcoming a homecoming of our sacred selves.

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For millennia food was considered sacred.  It was a gift.  It was understood that what we ate and how we nourished ourselves, impacted the energy, the vibrancy, the magnitude and fortitude to fulfill our soul’s purpose. The connection between food and sacred was understood.  It was honored, reverenced.  Food was medicine.  Food is quite literally, our lifeline. Food was prayed over with gratitude, it was blessed.  The sacred connection was honored through whispers of hearts.

So as not to be misunderstood, I am not speaking to creating a false idol of food, or worshipping food.  What I speak to is our connection to food, to ourselves, our divinity, our highest purpose and calling in this life.

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A sacred circle of nurturing ourselves and those we love in an elevated, holistic manner, cultivating and validating an intentional connection between what we choose to eat, how we nurture ourselves, directly correlates to our ability to live in a harmonious way resonating with the cycles of nature surrounding us.  Honoring the understanding that if we do not have the energy, the strength, health, and vitality that our soul’s purpose calls us to, we cannot fulfill the mission that we have been gifted with in this life.

For example, I cannot be the best mama I am capable of if I am feeling unwell, exhausted, and can’t think straight.  It has been my experience that what I put in my mouth directly affects my life, my energy levels, my health, and overall feelings of wellbeing.

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Imagine with me for a moment….

Imagine that you feel vibrant, fabulous, nourished, and nurtured. See yourself standing in the sunlight surrounded by a beautiful, bountiful garden, brimming with fresh, vibrant, living food growing with wild abandon in a perfectly organic way.  Feel the warmth of the sun on your hair,  your bare feet in the soft, fertile, moist soil, toes wiggle in as you inhale the aromatic earth releasing her perfume from beneath your feet.

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Inhale deeply.  Feel the electricity of the colors surrounding light you up from within.  Red ripe tomatoes ranging in rosy shades of crimson to warm ethereal mauve, brilliant yellows, moving into deep shades of chocolate.

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Chartreuse greens giving way to deep forest, break into bright neon that illuminates in the sun.  Waves of lettuce and greens dance ripples of joy in the gentle breeze.  Bees buzz softly, butterflies light and flutter effortlessly.

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Roots draw deep nutrition from the depths of soil and hold it within the quiet, waiting.  Berries, plump, fertile with nourishment, hang heavily from stem, ripe for the plucking.

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Now imagine that this is your food.  This bountiful goodness is how you choose to nurture and nourish yourself and your family.  How does that feel within your heart?  Does it speak gentle whispers of intrigue?  Or perhaps a resonating,  YES!  coming from soul level.

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Food was meant to awaken our senses, and ignite our passions.  It was intended to uplift and elevate our soul, to enliven and invigorate.  Food alights our sacred connection to the heavens and the earth.  It is our gift to nourish and nurture ourselves from within.  We have a conscious choice of what to fill our body with.  Whether you choose to grow your own food, or wisely choose from other intentional growers, gardeners, homesteaders, or small farmers, is up to you.

The important thing to understand is, YOU HAVE A CHOICE.

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I choose to live this personal truth by homesteading, intentionally growing, wild foraging, and preserving beautiful, organic food to nurture and nourish both body and soul.  It is a quiet revolution of peaceful activism.  I do not accept the choices deemed safe, nutritious, or healthy by others.  I choose to listen to the wisdom of my body, the whispers of my heart and the rhythms of mother earth.  She speaks of healing, renewal and vitality, she gently guides us to a better way, a more nurturing way of being, living, experiencing our sacred selves.  I choose to walk intimately with her cycles and my own.  I trust in her and my ability to nurture and nourish.

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In the still, dark, quiet winter season of planning, take a moment to explore with wonder and curiosity, to go deeper, feel into the space of reflection with openness the intention to search your heart’s desires, pray for guidance, and get clarity on what your personal truth is.  What does food + sacred look like, feel like, for you in your body, your sacred temple, in your home?  In what ways would you like to more deeply honor that connection?  Pause to create an intention around how you choose to nurture and nourish yourself and your family in the coming season.

When we choose to be intentional with how we nourish our bodies, we are honoring the wisdom of those who came before, of the sacred connection between our soul, our divine purpose, the planet we call home, and the temple in which we dwell.

How do you choose to nourish your sacred temple today?

The Artisan Kitchen

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Many of you may have noticed a while back that I added a new page.  It was time to act on a desire to create a recipe index, to make finding our whole foods recipes a simple task.  I needed to just begin, as it has been on my very long list of things to get to for longer than I would care to admit.  So I did it.  I created the page.  I took that first step, and I began.

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Since that initial beginning, it has looked pretty quiet over at the artisan kitchen for quite some time now, but I am pleased to announce that I have been working diligently behind the scenes to breathe life into this fledgling creation.  I have added many links to existing recipes here on the blog, hoping to make it a littler easier to access your favorites, and plan to continue creating and publishing nourishing recipes that encompass our families’ food values.  Whole, mostly organic, plant and pasture based with a strong traditional influence, allow us to nurture and thrive on this beautiful homesteading path.  This is what meets the criteria within our artisan kitchen.

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I would love to support and encourage you on your whole foods journey and plan to continue to grow our list of recipes as we share this space with other kindred souls.  Beautiful, whole, deeply nourishing food is one of the main motivations behind our homesteading lifestyle. Unprocessed, untainted, old-fashioned food the way it was intended.  Knowing where our food comes from, pasture or garden, woods or field, directly to our family table allows us to be accountable to ourselves and also the marvelous world around us.  Simple, basic, bursting with taste, and flavored with salt, smoke, herbs, and spices allows the natural beauty of the food to shine through.  It is in sharing my journey in the artisan kitchen with you that I hope to inspire you to create for yourself and your family alongside me.

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I invite you now to head on over to The Artisan Kitchen, check it out, find some inspiration, and join me.  If you will, in the comments, let me know what you think, and what you would like to see more of in the future as we expand and grow.

Bread

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Bread.  Sacred, broken, nurturing for body and soul.  Bread is universal.  It transcends, elevates, unites, and kneads us together as people.  Bread is part of our sacred ceremony and ritual, it is also a part of daily life.  It supports us, we show love by sharing bread, breaking and partaking together.  Bread heals us.  Bread sustains us.  It is for this reason that one should not go out into the world without knowing what they can about good bread.

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Warmth radiates gently from the oven as we gather in the kitchen together, this oldest one and I.  He prepared with pen and journal, ready to take note on what he finds remarkable in the process, and I with a heart ready to share.   We measure, mix, chat, and chart together, kneading our morning together with so much more than flour, yeast, water, salt.  The alchemical magic that is bread.

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Healing happens in the intimacy, and safety of the small, warm kitchen.  Nurturing happens in the process that is bread.  It is simple ingredients, blessed with love, prayer, and sharing that elevates the deceptively humble loaf into a deeply nourishing soul food.

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We laugh, encourage, and support each other’s process as we slowly move in the direction of bringing ingredients to fruition of a beautiful loaf.  This boy loves bagels, so we decide to dedicate a part of our dough to the bagel making process.  In this way, this guy can nourish himself and others with loving loaves, and share his favorite breakfast food with friends he will find along his way.  Bread is simple food made for sharing.

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The wisdom of bread tells us to continue to grow and expand, to share of ourselves, to nurture, and to count the daily rhythms sacred.  This is what bread teaches.  This is what I hope to pass on to my boys as they grow into men and we share the process that is bread.

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Do not be afraid of change.  It can, and almost always is, full of opportunities for miracles.  Always grow and learn.  Stretch beyond your limits, your comfort zone, for we don’t always know what great things we are capable of until we are stretched.  Be malleable, shapeable, allow for movement, expansion and growth in your life.

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Share what you have.  Share who you are, the you at your core, your divine self, your bright light, share it always, it is why we are here.  Nurture yourself.  Love yourself deeply so that you can love and nurture others.  Let love flow through you so that you have the courage to give it away.

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Every day is sacred.  A gift of beauty in the everyday ordinary, even in the hard, the dark, the quiet, there is a miracle waiting, all you need do is open your heart and receive.

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So in the radiating warmth of the oven with dough’s sharp tang tingling within our nostrils, and  winter’s sun shining through brightly illuminating the kitchen’s countertop, we, my oldest and I, share our process, our love, and the humble prayer that we will each continually be sustained, nurtured, and blessed by this mixing, shaping, and sharing the process we call bread.

 

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Artisan Bread Master Recipe

adapted from Artisan Bread In Five, by Jeff Hertzberg, MD, and Zoe Francois

3 cups lukewarm water

2-3 Tablespoons kefir, buttermilk, or apple cider vinegar with the mother

1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast

1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt

6 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or golden white flour

In a 6qt or larger lidded bucket or bowl, mix ingredients together in the order in which they are listed.  Mix well with a sturdy wooden spoon until a shaggy dough comes together, not too wet, but without any dry spots of flour.

Place lid on bucket or bowl, allow to sit in a warm spot, at room temp for 12-24 hours, dependent upon how well developed, or how much sourdough flavor, you like in your fermented dough.  I usually do 12 hours or overnight. 

After this rise/ferment time, place your bucket or bowl of dough into the refrigerator to chill.  Note that the dough will continue to ferment in the fridge, but at a much slower rate.  I usually chill my dough for 12-24 hours.

Preheat oven, baking stone, placed on rack in the center of the oven, and a small steam pan to 450 degrees.  Allow stone to preheat for 20-30 minutes for best results.

Remove chilled dough from fridge, and proceed to shape into loaves.  Dust the top of dough in the bucket with a layer of flour to help keep it from sticking to your hands.  Next, scoop a large grapefruit sized piece of dough out of bucket, cut or pinch off.

Place floured side of the piece of dough into the palm of your hand so it won’t stick, and begin to shape loaf by pulling up the edges into the middle, rotating a quarter turn each time.  Pinch together to seal.

Place loaf seam side down on a flour dusted towel, piece of parchment, cookie sheet, or directly on the counter.  Let rest and rise 40-60 min.  depending upon the temperature of your kitchen and your dough.  When ready your loaf should be slightly poofed, not doubled in size.

Gently brush loaves with tepid water to help achieve a chewy, delicious crust texture. Sprinkle with seeds if desired.  Slash loaves with razor blade or very sharp knife to allow steam to escape while baking, cutting in about a quarter of an inch deep.

With a large floured peel or spatula, carefully scoop loaves from their resting place, putting them confidently on the preheated baking stone, leaving room around the loaves  to rise as they bake.

Bake 25-30 min. until deeply golden,  and sound hollow when tapped lightly with fingers or spatula.  Do not under bake.

Remove from oven, place on cooling rack, allow to cool as long as you can before indulging.  Slice, serve, and enjoy fully.

*A few notes: 

This is my adaptation on the Artisan Bread in Five master recipe and technique.  I have been baking this type of bread for nearly 10 years, since the first book was published.  You will notice that I have added culture to the dough and a longer fermentation time to help the dough ferment more fully to achieve a more digestible loaf, and neutralize phytic acid content, according to traditional baking methods.  I love this method and this bread, and I highly recommend The Artisan Bread in Five if you would like to explore, and learn more about baking artisan bread.

http://artisanbreadinfive.com/

Making Komboucha Tea


“You’re Really Gonna Drink That???!!!!”

This tends to be the concerned consensus from many when they encounter my jars of komboucha tea fermenting on the homestead kitchen countertop.  Years ago, when I was gifted my first scoby aka, starter, these were the exact words my hubby exclaimed while vehemently shaking his head in disbelief.  If you have ever seen a komboucha starter, or SCOBY, mother, or jar of fermenting tea in action, you know that it looks a bit more like a science experiment, property of a resident mad scientist, or something gone horribly awry and long ago forgotten….however foreign it may look in the beginning, I guarantee you will soon be seeing it in a different light, once you learn what beautiful gifts komboucha has to offer.

We are now a komboucha family, yes, even my hubby who so strongly reacted to the whole idea of it.  Once you try komboucha tea and experience it’s powerful benefits of health and vitality you may soon find yourself a convert too.  So you may be wondering, what in the world is komboucha???  And what is all the fuss about???!

Komboucha is fermented tea.  It is made by brewing black or green tea, adding sugar, and a starter mushroom, SCOBY, mother, culture, organism, (it goes by many mystical names), and allowing it to ferment.  In short, it is magic in a jar.

Magic for your body, mind and spirit.  It uplifts, energizes, and heals on many different levels.  The tea is home to countless probiotics, good bacteria, enzymes, and antioxidants to help support, and balance your body.  It helps me feel clear, uplifted, energetic, and wholly functioning.  It also helps to cleanse your body of unwanted bacteria, organisms, viruses, and imbalance, bringing you into alignment, aiding digestion, and supporting your immunity.

All this in a sip.  Yes, and Amen.

Here are a few of the remarkable health benefits komboucha provides:

  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • analgesic, pain reliever, with antiarthritic  compounds, helping to remove toxins accumulated in joints that are causing pain and inflammation.
  • detoxifying, supports and cleanses the liver
  • assists in weight loss
  • balances digestive system, alleviates IBS symptoms, and heals leaky gut
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-toxin, contains a powerful yeast called, S. boulardii that binds with harmful pathogens within the body, keeping them from binding and attaching to the intestinal walls, and therefore allowing the body to eliminate them without harmful or damaging affects.
  • cancer preventative
  • supports our Immune systems
  • boosts energy
  • kidney stone preventative
  • enhances digestion, protects stomach lining
  • contains anti-biotic resistant probiotics

In short, komboucha tea may be considered a cure-all, or a wonderment in my world.  I have personally witnessed komboucha’s transformational powers within my own body, and those around me.  The general feeling of well being komboucha gives is enough for me to say,

“Yes, YES, I AM going to drink that!!!!!!”

And besides, it tastes delicious.  Much like sparking apple cider, or champagne.

MMMMMMmmmmmmmm…….

I do indulge in stemware on occasion when I serve myself and others komboucha.  I bring it along to gatherings to sip on when wine, or other alcoholic drinks are not speaking to my body.  It allows me to feel festive, vibrant, and clear, and able to toast to an empowered life and healthy body.


Getting Started

Making komboucha at home is a quick, simple process, and all you need are a few basic supplies.

  Gather

  • One gallon glass jar, or crock.  Just be sure your vessel has a wide mouth opening, and if using crockery, it is non-lead based.
  • A wooden or non-metallic spoon.
  • Breathable cloth napkin, paper towel, vintage handkerchief, or a piece of loosely woven cotton or linen fabric to fully cover the top of the jar, and is large enough to easily tie or fasten around the opening of the jar.*
  • Rubber band or twine large enough to fasten around the neck of the jar or crockery.
  • Starter culture (Mushroom, or SCOBY aka, symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)

*A quick note about covering your komboucha, be sure that whatever you choose to cover your jar or crockery with is breathable, but not too loosely woven, as fruit flies can become an issue in warmer climates.  Hardware store, or craft store cheesecloth is not suitable as it is too loosely woven and can allow unwanted critters to infiltrate your tea.


Basic Komboucha

Makes 3 quarts

3 quarts non-chlorinated water

1 cup evaporated cane juice, sucanat, or other NON-GMO sugar*

4-5 tea bags, or teaspoons of loose leaf tea, I use black tea, orange pekoe, but you may also use green tea

1 Starter mushroom, or SCOBY

1 cup of fermented komboucha tea (saved back from previous batch)

*I use organic, non-gmo evaporated cane juice, as I feel strongly about the unknown affects gmo’s can inflict upon our bodies.  This is going to be a bit more expensive than regular white sugar, but in my opinion it is worth the investment in your health.  The bulk bin at your local food co-op may have the best price on this type of sugar.  I also do not use coconut sugar, as it is not a sustainable, renewable source of food.  Harvesting of coconut sugar comes from the flower of the tree, and therefore damages the reproductive cycle of the trees in the rainforest, in turn damaging our ecosystem.  It may be fashionable to use right now, but do your research and be sure that you are making a choice that aligns with your values.

Preparation

Wash utensils and crockery with hot, soapy water, dry and set aside.  In a large kettle on the stove, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.  Add sugar, reduce heat to med-high and continue to boil for 5 min.

Remove kettle from heat source.  Add tea bags, or ball for loose leaf tea, steep for 15-20 min. remove tea bags.

Cover, and allow tea to cool to room temperature, this may take several hours or even overnight.

Pour cooled tea into 1 gallon jar or crock.

Add 1 cup reserved fermented komboucha tea to freshly prepared, cooled tea.

Place SCOBY or mushroom, on top of tea, shiny, smooth side up, rough darker side facing down.  If it sinks to the bottom of the jar, or vessel it’s ok, sometimes they do, and other times they stay on top.

Cover top of jar with cloth, fasten securely with rubber band or twine.

Keep komboucha jar undisturbed in a well ventilated, dark place at a temperature from 65-90 degrees for 6-10 days.*  The ideal temperature is 80-89 degrees, so some home brewers choose to invest in a heating belt, or brew belt, which can be obtained from a local brew store, or online.  Understand that if your temperature is much below the 80 degree mark, the fermentation time will be affected and may take longer to ferment.  Keep out of direct sunlight.

Begin checking your komboucha after day 4 of your ferment, especially if your space is consistently warm, near 80 degrees.  Do this by using a straw or a spoon to scootch the SCOBY or mushroom over on the top, to access the tea below.  You may just directly insert a straw to try a sip, as this is the easiest route to sample your komboucha, but a spoonful will also suffice, should you not have a straw handy.  Tea should be tart, not overly sweet, like iced tea, but it should not be over soured, or vinegary.  If tea tastes sweet, allow it to continue to ferment, checking every day or two to monitor the process.

The komboucha tea is ready when it tastes like sparkling apple cider, or champagne, with a slight bite to it.  You may allow it to ferment to the tartness you desire, remembering not to allow too long, or vinegary ferment, as this will contain less health benefits as the good bacterias and yeasts begin to die off over time as the food supply (sugar) is gradually reduced.

Your tea should also be a bit bubbly or naturally effervescent, as the good yeast creates a lovely gentle carbonation full of bubbly probiotics.

When the komboucha tea has brewed to your desired taste, pour it into bottles designed for naturally brewed beverage storage.  You may want to invest in some home brew bottles, or repurpose store-bought komboucha bottles.  Whatever you use, just be sure that it is designed to contain a fermented beverage and will allow for natural pressure release so you do not end up with exploding bottles.  Store prepared komboucha in refrigerator.  It will last up to 1 year or longer, but will eventually turn to vinegar over a long period of time.  The vinegar can then be used as any vinegar, for salad dressings, vegetables and the like.

Save your SCOBY and 1 cup of prepared komboucha tea to start your next batch.  Your SCOBY or mushroom will reproduce, one new culture per batch of tea, growing either on top of the previous SCOBY or floating separately on the top of the tea.  Separate your SCOBYs by gently peeling the top layer off, which will be lighter in color and visible when you look at the side of the mushroom.  If the new SCOBY is floating separately, then simply place it in it’s own fresh batch of sweetened tea and let the magic happen.  You can also share your extra SCOBY with a friend, or continue to increase the amount of komboucha tea you are brewing.  Begin a new batch and continue to enjoy freshly home brewed komboucha tea, either plain or with a second ferment.

Second Ferment

A second ferment of komboucha is a flavorful, quick and easy way to play with the flavor profiles of your komboucha tea.  Most of the commercially produced komboucha tea has enjoyed a second ferment, which adds the color and flavor to the regular komboucha that you see on the store shelves.  It is quick and easy, to do, you may do an entire batch or just a little, whatever suits your fancy.

My favorite way to add a little fun flavor to our komboucha, and is honestly the kids’ favorite way to drink komboucha tea, (especially when they were younger), is to simply add some frozen berries whole or pureed, to the prepared komboucha tea and allow it to ferment another 1-3 days.  Bottle and imbibe with joy!

For more information on using fruit juices and second ferments please visit Donna Schwenk’s amazing website at http://www.culturedfoodlife.com and enjoy the wisdom she shares in her book, Cultured Food for Health.

 

When One Woman Heals

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“Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after.”

-DR. CHRISTIANE NORTHRUP

Wood smoke puffs thick gray from the chimney stack outside the window on the homestead this morning.  Frost gently graces ground as roosters crow their morning song in the first glow of dawn, a new day rising.  I find peaceful comfort today as I embrace this healing journey I am on.  I find that the quest to heal my physical body, has brought me deep within my own soul.  Down into the roots of my heart, where I have not chosen to look, or felt the awareness of need to pay attention.  But from roots grow the fruit of our lives, and when the roots buried deep in the darkness are not thriving, then neither is the fruit.

I never expected a revolution in my own soul to take place when I devoted to uncovering why I wasn’t feeling well physically.  This gentle journey into love, healing, nurturing my own self has awakened in me the fact that when one woman heals, she heals the collective souls that she loves, and that love continues to flow freely out into every corner and aspect of life, into wholeness.  Bringing myself back into balance, into alignment, has allowed me to bring my family back into wholeness, into love.  The love I so desperately could feel mingling around edges, with the depth constantly slipping away into ether.  Wisps of love whispering, I am here, I am waiting for you.

Open to me, heal, love yourself dear one.

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The comfort, the deep peace that has come to me from learning to love and nurture myself in new ways has opened rivers of depth to gently cleanse my soul from old pain, trauma, and scars.

Radical love will do that.

Looking deep within, journeying courageously into the cave of the soul, lovingly navigating with care to explore the inner landscape of one’s heart takes faith.

Takes courage.

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 It requires you to ask for help, to allow yourself to be supported, encouraged, encircled by the loving guidance of the universe.  Opening yourself to divine love, the love that surrounds and supports us, that never leaves us, that is the source of all wellness, all wholeness, all balance, brings us deep healing on every level.  Inviting God’s love to flow freely within the depths of your soul, with the intention of healing, allows space for miracles. When we let go of the past, of the pain, of what is no longer working, and embrace love, radical self-love, miracles happen.

Deep healing happens.

Learning to care for myself, to nurture deeply both my physical body and my soul have lead me into a place I never knew I needed to go, but allowing myself to, has brought the depth of healing that has been waiting for me there, for this moment, for this time.

Removing gluten from my diet was a beginning, a new day dawning, both physically and emotionally.  For me, choosing this path means choosing wellness, choosing healing, choosing love, choosing joy.

Choosing Me.

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On this healing expedition, I have learned, and continue to learn, to stand strong in my devotion to caring for myself, teaching my own self and others that I am worthy of wellness, wholeness, balance, love.

Bringing myself back into alignment with love by nurturing my physical body has also brought balance and alignment into our lives.  When you make love a priority it shows up in every aspect of your life.  Love becomes a natural flow, interwoven into the fiber of your being, the purpose of your heart and hands, expanding and opening to blossom into each breath, each corner, each moment of each day.

Today, I choose to nurture, to love myself deeply, with beautifully made gluten-free sourdough bread.  Slow, loving food made from the heart.

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