How to Make Fermented Ginger Ale

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The first time I tried homemade fermented ginger ale was when my mom made it about 2 years ago. I’ve been hooked on its subtle spicy kick ever since!

Growing up you always hear to drink ginger ale if you have an upset stomach, well I can promise you that the canned or bottled stuff on the grocery store shelf will not soothe your stomach ache. How could it when the ingredients list is as follows?

Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Caramel Color, Natural Flavors.

Where is the actual ginger?

Ok, back to the real deal stuff…

fermented-ginger-ale-01 You can use either a ginger bug or whey to make the homemade version. I will be sharing the whey version in this post because that is what I had on hand at the time. If you want it more fizzy then using a ginger bug is the way to go.

You’ll notice that I peeled the ginger root as much as I could. You don’t have to be perfect with that, in fact, some people don’t peel it at all. Either way is fine! Just make sure to rinse off the ginger well to remove any clinging dirt.

fermented-ginger-ale-02 Next you’ll want to throw the ginger into a mini food processor to chop it into small pieces. I recommend first rough chopping the ginger so that the food processor can chop it up easily.

fermented-ginger-ale-03 Now you can just add all the ingredients (chopped ginger pieces, lime juice, whey, cane sugar, and sea salt) into a 2 quart mason jar. Fill the jar with 2 quarts filtered water, making sure to leave at least 1 inch head-space at the top. Add your lid and tighten well. Make sure to mark the jar with the date so you don’t lose track of fermenting time.

A quick note about the sugar…the sugar is not for our consumption. It is there for the lactobacillus, the good bacteria, to digest and convert it into lactic acid which in turns acts as a natural preservative.

Time to Ferment

Leave the jar on your kitchen counter for 3-5 days. The length of fermentation time will depend on how warm your kitchen is. The warmer it is, the quicker the process will go.

Check the lid of your jar daily for pressure. If you are not able to press down on the lid and hear the “clicky” sound then that is a signal that your jar needs to be burped to release the pressure. Burping is easy! Just loosen up the ring and you will hear the pressure expel. Tighten the lid back up and check on it again the next day. Make sure not to skip burping or else the jar may break.

Storing Your Fermented Ginger Ale

Once the fermentation time is up, you have 2 options. First, you can just store the entire jar of ginger ale in the fridge as is…ginger pieces and all.

Or, you can strain the ginger pieces out with a fine mesh strainer into a new mason jar and store just the liquid in the fridge. If you keep the pieces in with the liquid then the flavor will continue to develop over time and get a little more spicy.

Some people like to warm up the ginger ale once it’s finished, but I prefer mine cold straight out of the fridge. It’s really refreshing that way.

One more thing to note

I find that my ginger ale continues to ferment even when kept in the fridge. The fermenting at this cool of a temperature is very slow, but I have noticed that if I leave the jar sealed for several days that when I do open it, a good amount of newly built up pressure releases so make sure to burp the jar every so often during storage.

Check out my accompanying video to this post:

Fermented Ginger Ale Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ginger, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 quarts filtered water

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients, including filtered water to a large mason jar. Secure with a lid. Add date to jar.
  2. Leave on counter to ferment for 3-5 days, making sure to burp the jar as needed.
  3. Once fermentation is achieved, move ginger ale into fridge for long term storage.
http://www.acasablog.com/2015/02/how-to-make-fermented-ginger-ale/

This post was shared at Simple Saturdays Blog Hop.

Sarmale aka Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Sarmale is the Romanian version of stuffed cabbage leaves. Traditionally it is eaten in winter for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, however my mom makes it throughout the year (lucky us!). That is not to say we don’t follow the tradition of eating it for Christmas because we totally do and always look forward to it.

My mom has many Romanian recipes that I want to learn how to make and since John and I are living with my parents for the next 3 weeks until they close on their new house, this is the perfect time for me to learn some of them. I’ve already jotted down several and plan on sharing the recipes here.

Emily and I enjoying my mom's homemade smoked bacon last Christmas.

Emily and I enjoying my mom’s homemade smoked bacon last Christmas.

We cooked sarmale this particular time as a request for my sister-in-law, Emily’s 26th birthday. She’s not Romanian but completely loves our country’s cuisine.

[Read more…]

Nourishing Tradition’s Moroccan Chicken Recipe

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Moroccan Chicken is by far one of the best recipes in Nourishing Traditions. It has become a staple in our house because it’s just that good! Over time I have played around with the original recipe and now make it the way I’m about to share in this post.

The original recipe calls for dry white wine, but I like to use dry Vermouth because I don’t have to worry about opening the bottle and finishing it before it goes bad. Vermouth will last forever after being opened and my husband likes to make us martinis and Manhattans so we are never without it.

You should also have a bottle of sweet Vermouth on hand for any recipe that calls for red wine. Actually, you could substitute the sweet Vermouth for the dry if necessary. I’ve cooked this Moroccan chicken recipe with both and while it does change up the flavor, it’s still delicious either way.


The original recipe calls for crushed green peppercorns, but black pepper is a fine substitute. Perhaps use a little less black pepper if it’s ground finely or else the dish may come out too peppery.

I now omit the dried apricot pieces that the original recipe calls for because the ones that I find in my area have additives. I personally didn’t think the apricots added that much more to the flavor when I did use them so don’t feel like you are missing out.

The original recipe says to bake at 375 degrees F for 2 hours. I follow the method from Plan To Eat by cooking it at 350 degrees for the first hour, then lowering the heat to 300 degrees, covering with foil and cooking it an additional hour. I find that this method prevents the chicken from getting overdone.

I like to use 1 cup of chicken stock for the reduced sauce rather than 2 as originally called for. The sauce reduces easier this way. Remember that homemade chicken stock is best! 🙂

The marinade. You have to give this a taste before you pour it over the chicken. It is so delicious and a preview of what’s to come!

 

Nourishing Tradition’s Moroccan Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 organic chicken, cut into pieces (breasts & legs)
  • 1/4 cup naturally fermented soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry Vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • Lemon zest (from 2 juiced lemons)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)

Instructions

  1. Combine soy sauce, Vermouth, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and spices together. *Zest lemons first. It's easier to zest them whole rather than after you've juiced them.
  2. Pour marinade over chicken and allow to marinate overnight or at least several hours.
  3. Remove chicken and place pieces in a glass baking dish with skin side up (DO NOT THROW OUT MARINADE!).
  4. Pat chicken dry and brush with the melted butter.
  5. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.
  6. Lower temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 1 more hour.
  7. While chicken is on it's last hour of baking, prepare to reduce the leftover marinade into a flavorful sauce. Just pour chicken stock into a pan and bring to a boil. Add marinade and allow to reduce.
  8. Pour sauce over chicken and enjoy!
http://www.acasablog.com/2014/08/nourishing-traditions-moroccan-chicken-recipe/

I like to pair this with Coconut Garlic Rice and a salad.

This post was shared at The Homestead Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop, Simple Saturdays & Mostly Homemade Mondays.

How to make a sourdough starter

sourdough-starter

Confession time……this is probably the 4th time I’ve made a sourdough starter. My first attempt was back in 2012 when I was just starting out with Real Food and surprisingly it went well! I had a nice bubbly starter and even made delicious sourdough biscuits out of it. Unfortunately, I was not a good sourdough mama and my starter died of starvation in the back of my fridge. Since then I’ve attempted to make sourdough 2 other times and was not able to recreate it. I was determined to make it work this time and it did!

What is sourdough?

Sourdough is basically an ancient fermented dough from naturally occurring yeasts and lactobacillus bacteria. Yeast and lactobacillus found in the air will eat up the sugar from the flour and create gas which will allow your bread to rise naturally. Because the flour is already partially digested by the bacteria, it will be easier for our bodies to digest the final product (like a loaf of bread, tortillas, biscuits, etc.) Sourdough also breaks down phytic acid so that we can get more nutrients out of the resulting product. [Read more…]

Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

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This sauce is quick and so flavorful! It’s perfect for steak. It combines 2 of our favorite ingredients…cilantro and garlic! It pains me when I learn that someone doesn’t have the taste buds for cilantro. Did you know that for some people cilantro can taste like soap? Ahh so sad. Anyhow, if you don’t taste soap when you eat cilantro then give this recipe a try the next time you grill up some steak!

Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch cilantro (thin stems are ok, but toss out the thicker ones)
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except for the olive oil into a food processor and pulse until everything gets chopped up into small, even pieces.
  2. Scoop mixture into a bowl and add olive oil. Mix with a spoon. If necessary add more salt and stir.
http://www.acasablog.com/2014/07/cilantro-chimichurri-sauce/

chimi-02
This post was shared on Allergy-Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday  and The Homestead Blog Hop.

Why Organic Spices Matter

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Switching to organic fruits, vegetables and meats may be a natural transition when moving toward a Real Food lifestyle, but don’t overlook your spices! Sure, spices tend to be a small part of the final meals we consume, but that doesn’t mean they can’t effect our health. Besides the obvious problem of pesticides,  did you know that conventional, non-organic spices may be irradiated?

Approved in 1963, irradiation is a process that exposes spices (as well as some fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, flour, and juices)  to radiation through gamma rays, electron beams and X-rays .

Manufacturers benefit from irradiation because it kills bacteria and pests, which results in goods lasting longer on the shelf. At first that may sound like a good thing. However, all the bacteria is killed, both good and bad. Vitamin, mineral and enzyme content can also be reduced by this process. If you’ve read Nourishing Traditions or Nutrition & Physical Degeneration then you already know the detrimental effects that denaturing our food has on our health. Irradiation can also prevent spoiled food from giving off tell-tale signs of spoilage like an off scent since the bad bacteria is killed. This means you may be consuming food past it’s prime. Manufacturers need to ensure that our foods are handled safely and in sanitary conditions during the entire production process, not fall back on irradiation as a means to fix contaminated food at the end.

Now, the FDA does regulate irradiated foods by requiring them to be labeled with the International Radura logo (click here to see it).  However, food products that contain irradiated spices or other ingredients do not have to be labeled. So for example, if you buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, the basil or tomatoes may have been irradiated but the manufacturer does not have to disclose this.

By law, organic foods including spices, cannot be irradiated so if you are looking to avoid radiation in your food then always choose organic when possible.

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One of our spice racks. Most of our spices are organic now, but we still have a few to replace.

Don’t feel like you need to replace all your spices ASAP in favor of all organic ones. Just take baby steps! First, go through all your conventional spices and toss out anything that is expired and replace the ones you use most right off. Then make it a goal to replace 1 conventional spice for an organic one each time you grocery shop, or even just 1 a month if the budget is too tight. Take baby steps and before you know it, you’ll have a completely organic set of spices, free of radiation (and pesticides).

Most of our spices are now organic, but we still have some conventional ones that we’ve been working through, however I am going to follow my own suggestion and start replacing one old spice on each grocery trip. I do a weekly run so that should be 4 spices a month for us.

organic-spices-03

My grocery list chalkboard. I will be replacing our conventional paprika with an organic version on my next grocery trip.

Homemade Vegetable Stock from Scraps

You’ll never want to toss out veggie scraps again after finding out how easy and frugal it is to make your own vegetable stock! No more buying stock from the grocery store, which is basically just flavored water with additives anyhow.

If you are squeamish about handling raw meat and bones and therefore not ready to make your own chicken or beef stock, then this recipe is for you. Besides eliminating the ick factor when making stock, another nice thing about homemade vegetable stock is that it requires much less simmering so you can make it the same day that you need it for a recipe.

Probably the best thing about making your own veggie stock is that it’s essentially free as you are using veggie scraps that normally would have ended up in the trash can. Think of all those nutrients that have previously just gone to waste. Not any longer!

As you cook throughout the month, just toss veggie scraps into a gallon freezer bag and store it in your freezer until the bag fills up. You’ll be surprised at how fast you accumulate enough scraps to make your first batch. Make sure the veggie scraps are clean though! No one likes gritty dirt stock! Toss in ends, peelings and anything that is wilting. Just make sure to avoid using scraps that are moldy or going bad.

Collect & Freeze:
Carrots peelings and ends
Onion skins and ends (onion skins will give the broth a darker color)
Celery ends
Garlic scraps
Potato peelings
Tomato scraps
Herb stems
Mushroom ends
Squash & Zuchinni scraps
Leek ends
Lettuce ends

Not all  scraps make a good tasting stock so be sure to be selective.

Avoid:
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts
Beets
Asparagus
Anything that has started to rot or mold


I was prepping the above veggies for a meal and made sure to save and freeze the peelings and scraps.


Vegetable stock is a great way to use up that leftover bit of garlic that gets left in a garlic press. Just peel it out and toss it in your freezer bag.

Homemade Vegetable Stock from Scraps

Ingredients

  • Frozen Vegetable Scraps
  • Filtered Water

Instructions

  1. Place scraps in a stockpot and pour enough filtered water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Line a large bowl with a strainer and pour stock through it to strain out vegetable pieces.
  4. Let stock cool and pour into glass jars.
  5. Refrigerate and use within 3 days or store in freezer for long term storage.
http://www.acasablog.com/2014/04/homemade-vegetable-stock-from-scraps/

I was able to make 2 quarts of vegetable stock from the bag of frozen veggie scraps.

Shared on Down Home Blog Hop, Real Food Wednesday and The Homestead Blog Hop.

Disney’s Tuna Sensation

Have you ever been to Disney World’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival? If not, then you should strongly consider going if you ever get the chance! It’s a food lover’s heaven! John and I have been lucky enough to experience it twice and we hope to re-live it again and again in the years to come.

It’s a festival held yearly at Epcot and you basically walk around drinking and eating cuisines from all over the world. Each country has a booth where it offers 2-3 small authentic dishes and some beer and wine pairings. The food and alcohol prices range from a couple dollars to $7.50.

I get all into it and read The Disney Food Blog about a month before the trip begins. I make notes of all the booths and write out a list of all the dishes I want to try. This helps me make sure that I don’t miss out on anything! I am such a dork but whatever, it’s worth the extra work!

Our first time going was in 2010 and it was all made possible by John’s friend, Lisa. Lisa is one of the most kindhearted and caring people that I know. Prior to the trip, she had never met me before but yet welcomed me into her home and showed us an amazing time at Disney World. I felt like I had known her for years even though I had just met her! She invited us again 2 more times, but we were only able to go once more in 2012.

John and I at Disney World in 2010 and 2012.

[Read more…]

Coconut Garlic Rice

When we want rice as a side dish, this is our go-to recipe. It’s so delicious and savory. This dish is one of the main reasons why I like to make Coconut Milk in bulk. I always want to ensure that I have plenty on hand so that I can whip this up.

Using homemade coconut milk is ideal, but if you don’t have any then try to find the best quality canned version you can, preferably organic and with the least amount of additives.

Coconut Garlic Rice

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Jasmine Rice (dry)
  • 1.5 cups Coconut Milk (homemade is best, or use one 15oz store-bought can)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Water, filtered

Instructions

  1. Rinse the starch off the rice by placing it in a pot and adding enough water to cover it by a couple inches. Take your hand and swish the rice around. Pour off the cloudy water, being careful not to lose the rice. Repeat 2-3 more times.
  2. Add rest of ingredients to pot with rice and stir.
  3. Place a lid on pot and bring to a full boil over high heat. Once the rice reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Let rice simmer for 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow it to rest for 15 minutes without removing lid.
  4. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
http://www.acasablog.com/2014/03/coconut-garlic-rice/


We had the Coconut Garlic Rice with Moroccan Chicken and a salad.

Too much going on!

I knew once the new year hit that the wedding would be fast approaching! I’ve long taken care of a lot the big details but there’s still so many little things that need to be done. On top of that I’ve been spending so much time and energy fighting with the bridal boutique over my dress and veil. John and I ended up spending Valentine’s Day going in there to tell them how I really feel. After a number of phone calls to both the shop and my dress designer, and 2 in person meetings, I feel like we are making some progress. The short version of the story is that I ordered my wedding dress 13 months before my wedding and the owner is telling me that it will arrive 6 weeks beforehand in late April! That doesn’t work for me at all! There’s more to it, but I don’t want to get into it.

My time has also been taken up by a photography class that I’m attending with my mom. We’ve wanted to do this for a while and I’m so happy that we signed up, but what was I thinking to do it in the middle of wedding planning? Luckily, we are learning a lot and really enjoying it so it’s ok 🙂 Here are some recent photos I took while the weather was nice here:

I wish I had more time to blog but between wedding planning, fighting for my dress, helping host a couples shower for my brother and his fiance, Emily (he is getting married 1 month before me!), working, taking the photography class and still cooking at home from scratch, it’s been hard to find any extra free time. Emily and I were recently joking about what we are going to do with all our free time once our weddings are over.

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