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kombuchas

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How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home

Makes about 1 gallon

What You Need

Ingredients

3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup organic sugar
8 bags black tea, white tea, green tea, or oolong tea (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored) kombucha
1 scoby per fermentation jar

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Optional flavoring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices

Equipment

Stock pot
1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, 6 swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles

Instructions

Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.

1. Make the Tea Base: Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.

2. Add the Starter Tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)

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3. Transfer to Jars and Add the Scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

4. Ferment for 7 to 10 Days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.

After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.

5. Remove the Scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.

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6. Bottle the Finished Kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another jar covered with cheesecloth, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.)

7. Carbonate and Refrigerate the Finished Kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.

8. Make a Fresh Batch of Kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.

Additional Notes:

• Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.

• Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you’ll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.

• Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or a even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are ok, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas.

• Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminum, can give the kombucha a metallic flavor and weaken the scoby over time.

Troubleshooting Kombucha

• It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.

• Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.

• A scoby will last a very long time, but it’s not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.

• To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.

• If you’re ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there’s a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it’s just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.

View original recipe here.

 

oz

I finally went to Oz Cafe on Wednesday, with my amazing mother. I was impressed with their menu selection, especially the amount of local, farm-raised beef. Both of us ordered the Korean beef lettuce wraps, served with homemade Kimchi, hot sauce and carrot and cabbage “Korean coleslaw”.

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The wraps were served with boston lettuce, rather than the traditional romaine or iceberg, and I found them to be many times better at holding the filling while adding a subtle sweet and buttery texture.

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The beef was cooked medium rare and was absolutely succulent combined with the sweet and spicy kimchee.  I highly recommend a visit. I think I might go again tomorrow!

maxwells

Maxwells

I went for brunch today at Maxwell’s Bistro on Elgin Street. They serve brunch seven days a week; until 11am Monday through Friday, which is great for late sleepers. I ordered the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon (they also offer ham and/or spinach). I kindly asked the server to remove the bun and to serve the dish with a side salad, rather than potatoes.  Restaurants are generally accommodating when you have special requests, and I found Maxwell’s to be particularly so! I will be back for more paleo and gluten-free goodness.

 

kale

Kale

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash kale and remove tough stems. Cut kale into 2″-3″ sections and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Toss kale to fully coat with oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until kale is crispy. Serve hot.

kale

Recipe courtesy of Paleo Plan
Photo top by Liz Mc
Photo bottom by Kasey Shuler

 

lemonaide

lemonade

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups steaming hot water
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Ice cubes for serving
  • Mixed berries to garnish

In a heatproof 1-quart pitcher or bowl, combine the honey and hot water and stir until the honey is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice. Let cool for at least 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
Serves 2 to 4.

View on William Sonoma

Photo by Lion Heart Vintage

 

 

moon

I went to Moonroom after work last night with a few friends. It’s one of the few places in Ottawa that has an upscale yet cozy and intimate feel.

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I ordered a half litre of the Malbec … I really love red wine. My friends and I shared the bacon wrapped olives (an absolute must try), the spiced almonds, a few el diablo eggs, and a prosciutto pear lolly.

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I was more than pleasantly surprised at all the paleo friendly snacks available. I will definitely be back!  In fact, this will probably become a regular hangout spot.

salmon

Ingredients:

  • Fillet of Salmon
  • 1/4 sliced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion diced
  • A handfull of cherry tomatos, cut in halves
  • 1 Organic sweet potato, washed and cubed (I keep the skin on for the added nutrients)
  • A handful of brussel sprouts, fresh or frozen
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried Tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

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Roughly chop the sweet potato into chunks and coat lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350F until soft and slightly caramelized; I added the brussel sprouts to the pan about 10 minutes after the sweet potatoes.

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While the potatoes and brussel sprouts are roasting, chop the onion, tomatoes, and zucchini. Place the sliced veggies and salmon into a baking dish lined in foil.

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Mix the lemon juice, mustard, tarragon, Cayenne, salt and pepper together and pour over the salmon. Cover the salmon with foil and bake until done, roughly 20-25 minutes.

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To me, nothing beats the taste of roast sweet potatoes. Try and buy organic if you can because there is a big difference in taste, I’m talking water and wine! Loblaws now sells organic sweet potatoes for about 5$ a bag…worth every penny!

 

shake

Paleo sugar cravings can be pretty intense, so I often substitute by making this thick and creamy “milkshake”. The addition of an avocado is what gives it the silky, thick and creamy texture.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Coconut milk (I use the unsweetened kind, not the one in a can) Substitute with almond milk or any other nut or seed milk
  • One Ripe Avocado
  • One frozen ripe banana for sweetness
  • Frozen wild blueberries, or any other fresh or frozen berry
  • Honey to taste
  • A Pinch of Cinnamon Powder
  • Ice

Paleo Avocado Shake

Put the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and wait patiently (with your ears covered) for the mixture to come together. You can either drink this with a straw, or eat it out of a bowl with a spoon (yes it’s that thick). Serves 1-2.

Paleo Blueberry Shake

egg

Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs
  • Onion, 1/2 cup
  • Green Pepper, 1/4 cup
  • Mushrooms, 1 white and 2 shiitake
  • Cherry tomatoes, 2-3
  • Baby Spinach, handful
  • Tarragon, teaspoon
  • Cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, tablespoon
  • Dash hot chile sauce (optional)

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Chop the onions into small pieces while the skillet heats up over medium. Heat the olive oil and toss in the onion, tarragon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Chop the mushrooms and green pepper, add them to the skillet. Lastly, slice the cherry tomatos in half and add them with the baby spinach. Toss the skillet and cook for about one to two minutes longer. Dump the veggies into a small bowl, return the skillet to the heat.

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Break 3 eggs into a bowl, mix in hot sauce, salt and pepper, whisk the eggs. Add a dash more olive oil to the pan and add the eggs. Allow the egg mixture to solidify, while going over the edges with a spatula to keep from sticking. Add the cooked veggies back into the skillet in the centre of the egg mixture. Once the whites are no longer runny, loosen one half of the omelette and flip it over. Remove from heat and garnish with sliced fresh fuit, avocado or salsa.

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guac

Perfect Guacamole Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
All you really need for guacamole is ripe avocados and salt. After that, the next most important ingredient is lime juice (or lemon if you don’t have lime). Then come the cilantro, chiles, onion, and tomato.

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Add to shopping list
INGREDIENTS
2 ripe avocados
1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
A dash of freshly grated black pepper
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
Garnish with red radishes or jicama.

guacamole

METHOD
1 Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl. (See How to Cut and Peel an Avocado.)

2 Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. (Don’t overdo it! The guacamole should be a little chunky.) Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt and pepper and mash some more. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness. Be careful handling the peppers; wash your hands thoroughly after handling and do not touch your eyes or the area near your eyes with your hands for several hours.

Chilling tomatoes hurts their flavor, so don’t chop the tomatoes or add to the guacamole until ready to serve.

Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

3 Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready.

4 Just before serving, chop the tomato, add to the guacamole and mix.

Variations

For a very quick guacamole just take a 1/4 cup of salsa and mix it in with your mashed avocados.

The simplest version of guacamole is just mashed avocados with salt. Don’t let the lack of availability of other ingredients stop you from making guacamole.

Yield: Serves 2-4.

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