Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kombucha Homebrew

Finally! This has to be the one post that I've talked about, started writing, and thought about more than any other. And I really have no excuses- as it's incredibly simple and straight forward.

I started brewing my own kombucha about a year ago and have since been more or less unable to enjoy the store-bought stuff.  As it turns out- I like my kombucha extra vinegary and herby, and I also get some sort of strange joy out of creeping people out by brewing it on my kitchen counter.  It really isn't the prettiest thing to look at.  For some more information about what kombucha is and why I drink it- this is a good source, if not a little woo-woo.  Fact of the matter is- I love the taste, and I feel great when I drink it.


What you need to begin:

- Large pot (at least 4 1/2 quart)
- Large glass jar (a sun tea jar is perfect)
- 4 quarts of water
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tea bags (green, black, or white, not herbal or decaffeinated!)
- Cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel to cover your brew with
- Kombucha SCOBY (mother) and 1/2 cup starter liquid*

*You can grow your own SCOBY by following this guide which has you start with a bottle of the store-bought stuff.  This is how I grew mine originally, and it has never let me down. Starter liquid is basically already brewed kombucha, and if you do grow your own SCOBY you'll already have some ready to go.  If you live in the Seattle area I have quite a few extra SCOBY's right now- and I'd be more than happy to pass them along. Just leave me a comment and we can coordinate an exchange.

How to brew:

- Start by either filtering or boiling your water for ten minutes to get rid of any existing bacteria and other funky stuff that could mess up your brewing process.  If using the boiling method- add an extra half cup of water, as you will lose some volume via steam.

- Add sugar to your boiling water, and stir until fully dissolved.  Remove from heat, add tea bags, and allow to brew for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, and allow mixture to cool until room temperature.  This is a good time to sterilize your large jar (running it through the dishwasher is great, as is "rinsing" it with boiling water).

- Carefully pour tea mixture into sterilized jar, using a funnel if needed (you really don't want sugary tea all over your kitchen counters). Gently pour SCOBY and starter liquid into your jar with tea, cover with cheesecloth or towel, using a rubber band or string to hold it on.

- I allow mine to brew on the kitchen counter, as it's fairly warm and can sit undisturbed until it's ready to drink. Taste your brew after the first week and decide if it's the strength that you'd prefer. I've left mine to brew for up to 3 weeks for a very strong, vinegary brew. Once it's your desired strength- remove your SCOBY and 1/2 to 1 cup of your liquid, and set aside for your next batch. Brewed kombucha should be stored in the fridge, and will keep for a long time- you'll most likely drink it all before you ever have to worry about it going bad.

Once you're comfortable with the brewing process- feel free to try experimenting with flavored teas, and different types of sweeteners (honey, agave).  Just be sure to always use caffeinated tea, and not ever use sugar substitutes as your kombucha culture won't be able to grow and ferment without caffeine and sugar present.

Most of all- have fun, gross out your friends, and feel awesome because you no longer have to spend $4 every time you want to get your hippie on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Octopus Gyotaku and Cannon Beach

I spent this past weekend in Portland with my good friend Brittany - as per usual it wouldn't be a Brittany/Renai weekend without sea creatures and big messes.

On Saturday we took a gyotaku class with Sharron of Herring Cove Originals.  The class was fantastic, and we came out with some really beautiful prints.

On Sunday we made a quick trip to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, mostly just to get lunch from Ecola Seafoods and so I could talk to a seagull.

Pretty fantastic weekend!  I'll be down in Portland again in April to see Michael Pollan!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Link Love!

Despite the fact that I'm currently supposed to be following an elimination diet- focusing on cutting out gluten and dairy- I am failing miserably.  I am truly guilty of only wanting what I'm not supposed to have.  This is no help:

- Perfect Cinnamon Buns from Chloe of Shoplifting in a Ghost Town make me want to weep a little.  Chloe has a really hilarious yet informative way of writing that I've always really admired (back in the days of Livejournal!)  Plus her kitchen tutorials include lots of food with faces.

- I feel a little like Patrice's groupie at times- but I totally can't help it.  Woman blows my mind!  Check out her recipe for Mid-Winter's Day Chai over at The Fantastic Mr. Feedbag.

- Both from Serious EatsLemon Salt with Fennel and Chili- the prettiest herb salt I've ever seen. And Quick Homemade Hard Cider- using fresh apple cider and a few homebrewing essentials.  Kind of fantastic.

And a few non-food related goodies:

- Without Words (A Tiny Love Story) from Resurrection Fern is my kind of love.

 - Beating the Winter Blahs #5 at Painted Fish Studio has some great, simple wisdom, and a link to some really gorgeous coloring pages.  There's no such thing as being too old to color.

- My favorite, favorite, favorite blog as of late is Yum and Yuk.  I want her to post 300 times a day.  "A blog on books, running, the law, & design I can't afford. "There are only two mantras, yum and yuck, mine is yum." - Tom Robbins"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sweet Little Knockoff

Earlier this week my friend Brittany sent me a link to a little handmade pouch that she had her eye on.  We have daily ongoing text message conversations about picnics and splotchy skin, so this wasn't anything out of the ordinary.  I haven't been sewing much lately, but when I saw it I knew I could make something similar.  Here is my version:

I had a lot of fun making it, and I can't wait to give it to Brittany!  Also note- I would never sell anything like this that I've made- I do believe I would go straight to crafting hell for a move like that.  Serious!
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