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

Sarmale13
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.

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Nourishing Tradition’s Moroccan Chicken Recipe

moroccanchicken
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.

Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

chimi-01
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.

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.

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Homemade Beef Bone Stock

I told John I was in the process of writing a post on beef stock and he said all I need to write is, “It’s delicious. The end.” Indeed, stock is very delicious but there’s more to it than that! Read on…

I haven’t purchased any stock in over a year since I’ve discovered how easy it is to make at home.  Making your own stock may sound like a very difficult task, but just look at it as simply simmering bones and vegetables in water. Not so intimidating anymore, is it?

Mastering homemade stock should be at the top of the priority list for those that are wanting to transition to a Real Food lifestyle. That is because it is far more nutritious than anything you’ll find on the grocery store shelf…even when comparing to organic stock. The store bought stuff is basically just flavored water with MSG thrown in to enhance it’s flavor. Here are ingredient decks for 3 popular organic stock options:

  • Filtered water, organic beef stock (organic beef stock, sea salt, flavor), sea salt, organic caramel color, natural flavors (includes yeast extract), organic evaporated cane syrup.
    -Notice the “flavor” ingredient? That along with the second mention of “natural flavors” and yeast extract typically indicates MSG. This stock also contains caramel color, and sugar in the form of evaporated cane syrup. Why would stock ever need to contain sugar? Makes no sense!
  • Organic Beef flavored stock (filtered water, organic beef, organic beef stock), sea salt, organic caramel color, yeast extract, organic onion powder, organic evaporated cane juice, organic natural flavors, xanthan gum, organic spice.
    -This stock also contains MSG in the form of yeast extract, natural flavors and organic spice. Anytime a label just says “spices” without mentioning specific ones, you can bet that it’s MSG. The caramel color, evaporated cane juice (sugar) and xantham gum are unnecessary.
  • Organic beef stock (water, organic beef), sea salt, organic evaporated cane juice, organic onion powder, autolyzed yeast extract, organic garlic powder, organic caramel color, organic black pepper.
    -Once again MSG, sugar and unnecessary coloring are present in this ready-made organic stock.

 

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How To Make Whey (& Yogurt Cheese)

One of the staples of a Real Food diet is regularly eating fermented foods. Not only do fermented foods provide great probiotics to aid digestion but they also allow our food to stay naturally preserved for longer periods of time. One of the easiest mediums to use when fermenting is whey strained from yogurt.

Don’t agonize too much about the perfect yogurt needed to make whey. I wanted to start fermenting very early on but I was confused about the quality of yogurt that I should be using. Lots of blogs recommended raw milk yogurt but that wasn’t an option for me and I’m guessing it’s also not an option for most people either, especially those that are new to the Real Food movement. Of course it’s best if you can source raw milk and grass-fed yogurt but remember that plenty of grocery store brands can pass the test. Here are the minimum qualifications for a good yogurt:

-Organic
-Whole milk
-Plain, unsweetened
-Contains multiple live cultures
-Regular, not Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt is already strained so very little whey will be produced)

How To Make Whey (& Yogurt Cheese)

Items needed:
-Yogurt
-A bowl
-A strainer
-Unbleached cheesecloth or an unbleached towel
-Mason Jar


Steps:

1. Place a strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with unbleached cheesecloth or an unbleached towel.

2. Pour as much yogurt as you like into the cheesecloth and let the whey drip out into the bowl. I like the pour out an entire yogurt container to get as much whey as possible. This process can take several hours, but will be faster if left out on the counter. If that makes you nervous then place the straining yogurt in the fridge. Just keep in mind that the straining will be much slower.

That’s it! You now have whey and the left over yogurt is strained thick into yogurt cheese which has a cream cheese like consistency (as pictured in the last photo). You can pour your newly acquired whey into a glass jar and store in the fridge. I personally like to strain the whey a second time through a coffee filter for a more clear liquid. If you’d like to do that as well then follow step #3 below.

3. Line an unbleached coffee filter into a mason jar and secure with a rubber-band. Pour the whey through the filter to strain it one more time. I typically do this in batches since the coffee filter can only hold so much at a time.


Here is the strained yogurt cheese. The longer you strain, the more cream cheese like consistency will occur.

Whey can last up to six months in the fridge. I usually use it all up well before it goes bad, but you’ll know when it turns by the smell.

TIP: Try not to dip your spoon directly into the jar when you need some whey. Instead pour the amount needed directly on your spoon to avoid bacteria entering into the jar and spoiling the whey.

Maple Marinated Salmon

This recipe is really easy to throw together and delicious. The other nice thing is the marinade ingredients are kitchen staples so I find the cost of the wild caught salmon filet justified 🙂  This is only the second time that I’ve made this dish and now I am wondering why I haven’t cooked it more often, especially since it’s a great natural source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, while low in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. I need to remember to add this into our regular dinner rotation.

Maple Marinated Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Salmon (wild caught is best)
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, garlic powder and black pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish. Top with marinade. Cover dish and place in fridge to marinate for 1 hour or longer.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover dish and cook for 15 to 20 minutes depending on thickness of salmon.
  4. Remove from oven and spoon additional marinade from bottom of baking dish onto salmon.
http://www.acasablog.com/2013/11/maple-marinated-salmon/


Along with the salmon we had sauteed bok choy and coconut garlic rice (recipe coming sometime in the near future. It’s our favorite rice dish!).

Easy Taramasalata

Growing up we used to eat taramasalata a lot. My mom would buy the jarred Krinos brand and mix it with lots of minced onion to give it more flavor. We would end up eating so much bread just to have a vehicle for the delicious spread. After turning away from processed foods this past year I was happy to learn that making taramasalata at home is very easy….and just as tasty!

Here is the ingredients list for the Krinos brand:
Water, Canola Oil, Carp (Fish) Roe, Lemon Juice, Vegetable Juice (Color), Lactic Acid and Acetic Acid.

The list isn’t too long and at first glance may not look too sketchy, however I do not stock any GMO oil (canola) products in my kitchen so a homemade version is the only one that will do!


(Mom’s homemade bread made an appearance in today’s recipe)

Easy Taramasalata

Recipe adapted from NourishedKitchen.com/taramasalata

Ingredients

  • 2-3 thick slices of bread, crust-less, soaked in water and squeezed
  • 1/3 cup tarama
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pastured egg yolk*
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion

Instructions

  1. Squeeze out water from bread and combine with taram in a food processor, blend.
  2. Add the lemon juice and paprika to bread/taram mixture and blend.
  3. Add egg yolk and process to combine.
  4. Slowly drizzle olive oil and process until a whipped and creamy texture forms.
  5. Place mixture in a bowl and mix in minced onion.
http://www.acasablog.com/2013/10/easy-taramasalata/

Spread a generous portion of  taramasalata on bread and enjoy! Sometimes I will slice a tomato to add on top if I have any on hand. It makes a great addition to any breakfast or eat alone as snack.

*If you don’t have access to pastured eggs then skip the egg yolk as you wouldn’t want to risk consuming a conventional raw egg

 

Shared on Down Home Blog Hop.

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