Category Archives: Scholarly(ish)

Get Cultured

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Bonjour les belles,

Probiotics have been popping up in the media as of late, and I wanted to reiterate the fact that they are so essential and beneficial to our bodies. In addition, I wanted to share some recipes I have been utilizing lately that contain probiotics.

First things first: what are probiotics?

~ According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics are varieties of live microorganisms, for example bacteria and yeast, that naturally live in our bodies. Microorganisms tend to have a negative connotation, but they actually have immense health benefits and help our bodies function properly. For example, bacteria that are normally present in our intestines help digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, prevent diarrhea caused by infections or antibiotics, help with irritable bowel syndrome, and produce vitamins.

*A lot of research has been done on probiotics, and a lot more is on the horizon. If anyone would like more information on the subject, I am more than happy to provide you with studies.*

Fun Fact: Microorganisms in the human body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1.

Where can I find probiotics?

~ As I mentioned, we naturally have them in our bodies already, but it certainly would not hurt to help your body out and ingest additional probiotics. Dietary supplements exist, but I would recommend first trying to incorporate into your diet food/drink that contain helpful microorganisms naturally. However, I am not a doctor, so please consult your health care provider first.

~ If you are trying to get natural probiotics, the following are popular (if you are not making these yourself, PLEASE make sure they are not pasteurized; you need the live and active culture/fermentation for microbes) : yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, and anything pickled.

Fun Fact: Kefir is fermented milk, but you can also make “water kefir”. To make you will need sugar, and grains, which can be bought online at a reputable store. I have heard etsy also has reliable sources for these grains. The “common ground fair” in Maine is also a good location to find tasty kefir.

Ok! Now the fun stuff. There is this wonderful company in Bristol, Rhode Island called Hope & Main, and they offer a wide variety of classes on a regular basis. I recently attended one (taught by Susan and Bleu) that focused on fermented foods, and it was amazing. If anyone lives in the area and is interested, I highly recommend you check this company out for future classes.

From this class, I learned how to make sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha and I am pleased to share my gleaned knowledge with you all.

SAUERKRAUT

  • Ingredients: depends on how much you want to make, but I would  say start with 1 head of tight, heavy, organic cabbage. Peel off the outer leaves until they are slightly stuck to the head, then remove the core and slice thinly.
  • Use a ratio of 1 head cabbage: 1 T (sea) salt; it should taste like oversalted salad. Mix and massage with hands. The reason for this is that the salt pulls out the water and wilts the cabbage. Continue massaging the cabbage until water pools at the bottom of your bowl and leaves look shiny.
  • Pack cabbage and pooled water into jars. You will need enough water in the jar to completely submerge the cabbage to prevent molding. If you do not have enough water, make a brine: 1T salt: 1/2 gal water. Pour water on top with ~ 1.5″ space at top of freeze line.
  • That’s pretty much it! Leave lid loose on jar or cover with cheese cloth.
  • Temperature is important: high 50s, low 60s are ideal conditions for nutrients; temperature >65 creates too yeasty of a product. Basements and closets are great for this.
  • It takes about 3 weeks for the cabbage to fully ferment, but you need to push down the cabbage below water level daily for the 1st 2 weeks. This is very important as it prevents molding. A tamper is good for this, but anything that gets the job done is fine.

This is an anaerobic process, which means oxygen is not desired. This is why keep the veggies submerged is crucial, as they won’t be touched by oxygen under water.

  • You will notice in ~3 days the cabbage will look like it is cracking with air. This is a good sign. Over time, the product will get less salty and more sour.
  • If you are making larger batches, stoneware is a good investment. I personally own a 2-gallon Ohio Stoneware crock (bought at Ace hardware) with a lid and weights.
  • After the fermentation process is complete, move the sauerkraut to wide mouth glass jars with a lid. I find that plastic lids are best here, as they do not rust.

KIMCHI

  • The same process as sauerkraut applies here; you need to liberally salt your veggies and make sure there is enough brine to completely submerge ingredients.
  • Ingredients for one batch (~ 2 quart jars): 1/2 c shredded carrot, 2 Napa “Chinese” Cabbage (cut out core), 3 cloves garlic, 1 bunch scallions, ginger (as desired), 1 large daikon radish (grate/shred), red pepper flakes/seeds (as desired), salt
  • Mix all ingredients together in a crock and then either keep in crock or transfer to jars, depending on how you are storing during fermentation process.
  • The sweeter the vegetable, the quicker the process. This means kimchi takes less than 3 weeks to ferment; usually between 1 1/2 – 2 weeks. As long as the product no longer tastes salty, and you like the taste, it is good to go!

    Gingered carrots are another tasty recipe to try.

KOMBUCHA {Fermented Tea}

  • Start with a SCOBY -> symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. This is the liquid starter, or “mother” and is fed with sugar. The best way to obtain a SCOBY is to take a piece of one from someone you know that currently has one.
  • Ingredients: 1 gallon purified water in pot, get hot but not quite boiling (~ 8 min), black or green tea bags or loose tea, steep, remove and drop heat until ~ room temperature (cool to the touch). Do not put the SCOBY in until water is cool, or you could kill it.
  • After water cools, pour into a glass jar – ideally with a spout – then add the SCOBY and sugar. A good ratio is 1 c sugar:1 gallon water; brown sugar or not processed is best. Do not use metal! Only use a wooden spoon to stir.
  • Your SCOBY will need to breath, so do not put a lid on the jar. Instead, use a cheese cloth or a kitchen towel with a rubberband on top to secure. It is also best to store your mixture in a pantry or place with no sunlight.
  • You will notice that the SCOBY forms a seal on top of the mixture. This is to prevent from outside contaminants.
  • Depending on the temperature where you store the SCOBY and personal preference, time will vary until completion. A good timeline is 7 t0 30 days; a longer brewing time will result in less sugar and a more vinegar-y tasting beverage. Taste test mixture regularly to help decide.
  • When your kombucha is ready, wash your hands, remove the SCOBY (store in a ziploc bag in fridge with 1/4 cup of brew – this will serve as a starter for the next batch) and use a funnel to pour brew into separate glass jars. Again, no metal. Fill the jars as much as you can, then cover for a few days to get carbonation.

That’s all she wrote, folks! Creating probiotic friendly foods is really much easier than you would think, and the benefits certainly outweigh the costs. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to ask! I don’t have any good photos of my endeavors to date, but I may post some in the future.

 

Aquaculture Tour: Ninigret Pond

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Hey Baby Loves –

It’s pretty rainy in my neck of the woods — apparently there’s a tropical storm somewhere off the coast bringing in all the water. Probably I should be doing work, but I’m really quite cozy in my bed, so I figured as a form of semi-productive procrastination, I would do some blogging!

Back in June, a few days after returning from London, I partook in an amazing and free oyster aquaculture tour at Ninigret pond over in Charlestown. It was beautiful weather and I learned a bunch, so as per usual, I wanted to share that learning with you!

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If you are unaware what aquaculture is, here’s a definition:

The rearing of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food.

Simple enough, right? In theory, yes of course, but like any type of farming, a ton of time and effort goes into aquaculture, and you’re always at the will of Mother Nature.

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Here are some fun facts I learned about the aquaculture industry in Ninigret Pond:

  • Ideal depth is 2-3 feet
  • 45 acres used for aquaculture so far, which is ~2.5%, and the max is 5%
  • 7 farmers use the area
  • Names to know: David Beutel and Nick Poppa from East Beach Blondes
  • Visit seafoodri.com
  • Diploids spawn in summer, whereas triploids don’t
  • Walrus and Carpenter do dinner on the barrier island creek (ducksbury)
  • Natural wildlife refuge: harvest and fosters coves

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Unfortunately I didn’t take as stellar notes as I usually do… sorry about that. I was missing the ocean from my time spent in London and the day was gorgeous, so most of my attention went to taking in the sites, sounds, and smells. One additional fun fact I did pick up is that in Block Island, they offer a paddle tour of Aquaculture sites in the area. The above picture shows essentially an oyster nursery. A really cool guy grows oyster spat (baby oysters) and then sells them to the farmers in the area. Now that’s going local!

A few weekends ago, I attended the second annual ocean state oyster festival with some friends, and it was once again all I could have hoped. It was also pretty cool seeing some of the harvests that I saw on the water back in June. That same day, I also took a free clamming seminar, but more on that later.

That’s it for me for the moment — time to do some leisurely reading on this wet afternoon. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

xx

Beneficial Morning Rituals

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Yikes! My blogging average has not been very good lately, and for that I apologize. Summer was crazy and Fall has started on an equally crazy note. Maybe sometime soon I’ll find the time to update and share some pictures (fingers crossed).

Anyway, how is everyone?

This is going to be quick – much to get done!! Every morning, I spend a little bit of time reading some articles, and this morning I came across this one, that talks about 7 things to do for a good morning ritual. If you want to read the article in its entirety, click the link. If not, here’s a summary of the recommendations:

The morning ritual that will make you happy all day…

  • Have something to look forward to: Plans with a friend are always good.
  • Manage your mood: Don’t check email. Do what gives you a feeling of control.
  • Eat breakfast: If you eat nothing and end up killing someone, well… I hope it’s not me.
  • Do something you dread: You’ve got the willpower. And you’ll feel so much better afterwards.
  • Send a “thank you” email: Yes, it’s that simple. Really.
  • Plan how you’ll deal with challenges: Think about the worst that could happen and it probably won’t.
  • Kiss somebody you love: If this makes you late for work, feel free to blame me

That’s all the time I can spare for now, folks! Enjoy the rest of your day 🙂