Garlic-y Sauerkraut

Crocks are a delight

Crocks are a delight

 

Another recipe to address eating in-season. Cabbage, carrots, garlic and some spices are all you need to start playing with fermentation! Luckily if you’re North of the 49th, these ingredients are available to you at any time.

You may NOT have a crock but do not fear, if you have some glass vessels you can start out fermenting in smaller batches to see how much you enjoy it and how much you will be consuming before you put out the cash for a crock.

Please do not use metal or plastic – ever.

My suggestion is to check second hand shops and online bargains like Kijiji or Craigslist instead of buying new. This way you can up-cycle and save cash.

This is a larger batch recipe, halve or quarter depending on your brewing vessel. Note: your cabbage volume will decrease by about half by the time you’re ready to ferment.

Ingredients: 

3 heads cabbage

5 large carrots

6 large cloves garlic

2 tbsp celery seed

1/4 cup vinegar (if needed)

1/4 cup water (if needed)

1/4 cup salt (or to taste)

 

Method: 

Slice up veggies thinly as shown below.

In-season goodness

In-season goodness

Next, start massaging your salt (slowly) into the veggies to pull the water out of the cabbage and carrots. This will take some time if you do not have some sort of a tamper to do this for you. Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until you start to see a lot of water appearing.

Taste a little bit of the mixture to see how salty it is while you are adding salt slowly. Remember, your fermentation process will not remove all salt SO if you over salt, add more veggies.

Wet & ready

Wet & ready

You should start to notice that when you push down on the veggies your water starts to come up over the top of them. This is great. You will need to keep the ferment covered in water for the duration of its souring.

You will need to add some water/vinegar mixture to add more water if you cannot draw enough from your vegetables.

Secret ingredient

Secret ingredient

My secret ingredient is celery seed. I add this at the very end and stir throughout the mixture.

Once your mix is covered with liquid, place a loose towel over the opening of your vessel to allow air to access your new batch of ferment. I like to secure this with an elastic band.

You will need to check on this daily to ensure mold does not appear. Unlike Kombucha, you can scrape mold off of the top of a kraut ferment. Like Kombucha, the length of fermentation is all up to your own personal taste AND the time of year.

The warmer your kitchen the quicker your ferment. Taste in about 2-3 days to see your progress. Allow the ferment to continue until you have the desired level of sourness you like. After this, place a lid on your kraut and refrigerate to stop the fermentation process. Hit up my Kombucha post for fermenting tips.

Remember, you can start to make ferments your own. Add nettle for food medicine, hot peppers for spicy kraut, use purple cabbage for more colour or just stay straight up plain with green cabbage.

Your kraut is resting nicely and soon you will be able to use this delicious food to balance your gut, clear your skin and bring shine to your hair!

Sleeping & souring

Sleeping & souring

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Lovely latkes

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A spin-off of my original Latkes, these sweet potato bad girls really hit the spot. I found that the sweet potatoes added a little extra “something” to the mix and they stayed a little more together/dry than their regular potato brethren.

Ingredients:
3-4 yams
1 large yellow onion
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 small tbsp of ground flaxseed
3 diced chives
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive or coconut oil for cooking
Method:
Heat oil in frying pan to medium-high.
Using the smaller measurement on a hand grater, grate peeled yams and onion into a bowl. Drain out any excess liquid. As these are not regular potatoes you may not have much in the way of liquid.
Mix in flax-seed, cumin & chilli powder.
Form into miniature patties no more than 3/4 of a cm in thickness.
Fry in hot oil until both sides are browned. Removed from heat and place on top of paper towel to remove excess oils.
Top with a sprinkling of chives and a dollop of sour cream/vegan sour cream to liven things up a bit.

Fit on the road – European Vacation

 

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Running in Germany, spooky delight.

 

Aaaaah travel. Were it not for a very terrible series of events, this last trip I would have not taken for at least a few years. However, my friendship duties called, and on (very) short notice I made my way with my BFF of 20 years to Europe….an anniversary of sorts as we had made the trip back in ’98 as teenage gals and were heading back on *nearly* the same path.

Without a lot of time to pack the biggest thing to cover was getting all the true essentials into one easy carry-on bag. I made a small listing of necessary items on a Facebook post:

Key #fitontheroad ingredients for a successful trip abroad. First stop,#Vienna:

– portable water bottle
– hand sanitizer
– lip balm
– moisturizer
– baby wipes – for all surfaces of aircraft/trains
– kleenex
– earbuds
– a couple of pens
– a diary
– bergamot essential oils (in lieu of deodorant)
– peppermint oil (for headaches)
– wicked playlist
– good books
– podcasts that rock
– pre-packed workouts
– travel data plan
– last minute call to your banks
– phone charger
– power adapter
– foreign currency

 

I recently purchased a North Face small sized duffel bag which has become a miracle bag for me and travel. It converts to a backpack and fits enough in it for 2 weeks abroad in winter weather. A dream. Check it out HERE if you wish.

We boarded an 8pm flight from Calgary to London and from London on to Vienna and eventually Prague and East Germany.

Traveling over night is a great way to get your sleep on AND arrive a little refreshed. Unfortunately, I was enamored by in flight entertainment so I did not end up getting any rest. I did however, guzzle enough water to get a camel through the desert for a year…..random act of hydration, satisfied.

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Vienna, my newest love.

 

First stop: Vienna. What a town, what a place, what an amazing couple of nights. Not only had I never seen Vienna before, I had no idea what to expect and we had absolutely nothing planned. We found a great hotel near the middle of it all which had free internet and had been modernized. Hotel Mercur in Wein Zentrum. A little on the pricey side, no breakfast included however, free wifi and central. So, who’s complaining about working for their meals?

I have to admit, after booking the flights I soon quipped to my partner Jeff ” my god, Europe, what will I EAT?”. My last experience in 2011 with Spain and Morocco left me a little starved and disappointed. Lets just say, Vienna won it all back for me.

 

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Kat and I walked just 5 minutes and happened upon a little vegetarian hole-in-the-wall gem (pictured above)  that served some type of Turkish food. It wasn’t bad at all and whats more is it was better than most restaurants around Calgary. Full of flavour and colour. Beans, rice and a few dried fruits. This dinner was accompanied well by a glass of white wine and a walk in the chilly temperatures in and around the Danube and beautiful city of Vienna.

The hotel room we had was more than small, it was EENSY…but that was no match for work out number one as pictured below. With just 6′ x 3′ of space to work out I managed this couplet/butt series as well as a great walk around the city that night. I managed to have a great sleep for a full 7 hours after showering and a bit of reading and meditation.

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We woke up on Friday morning to the task of finding breakfast and getting some train tickets purchased. The train station was all the way across town and ended up very near a lot of amazing sights like a gigantic palace where a lot of Viennese locals were jogging around the footpaths. (Insert jealous huffy face here). The second day and only full day out I managed to look at the step counter on my iphone and we made it over 20,000 steps that day! We saw sights, stopped for a beer and even found a random pub with a veggie burger.

We headed back to our room for a little nap and some meditation then made our way back out to find dinner. Man alive did we find the spot that knocked our socks off. Yamm.  Vegan, Vegetarian, quality and amazing buffet style food. We loved it all so much we ended up going back to fill our plates twice AND sharing a small dessert. While Vienna pricing is not for the faint of heart, for the quality and atmosphere, this place was fabulous. Sadly, we planned to go back for breakfast the next day but were out of time.

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After dinner we continued to walk the city and take in the sights…even finding a fantastic local/organic/slow food market called MERKUR which just about killed me with all the intense variety of salts, truffles and vegan delights. We bough freshly squeezed juices and fruit for our breakfast in the morning along with a few treats and even a VEGAN chocolate bar. Yes, heaven on earth is Vienna, Austria.

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Merkur, your slow food won my heart.

Upon returning to the room later that night I whipped off this little Ab 300 routine that was a perfect way to end an entire day on my feet. You should try this puppy out, she burns. I like to throw it in on days where I have no set routine. Pairs up perfectly with Leg 300 routines as well. Google or hit up my Pinterest for ideas.

 

Now that our fun in Vienna had come to an end….off we rode to Prague. Excited much? Unfortunately, on a 4 hour train trip there isn’t much to do for exercise but stretches and walking the aisles while I was stir crazy I managed to find a great new Yoga app that I’ll tell you about later on in this trip, and I managed to make some use of a pretty neat little meditation app I have called Stop, Breathe & Think. Click HERE for details.

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Rolling out of Austrian borders and into the Czech Republic was obvious from the train window. Clean and tidy countryside became graffiti plastered, littered with garbage and generally more poor looking. While the Czech’s are part of the EU, don’t expect to see Euro’s here – they have kept their Crowns, so hit up a bank CZ-side…the upside? Way cheaper stuff. I don’t know how to communicate just how impressed I was by the food available in Prague. Last time I was there I was on an extremely small budget and ate buns and cheese from the market so I really have a narrow frame of reference however, I was floored by the amount of amazing vegan/vegetarian options and their proximity to the old and new parts of the city.

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Cue music: “Now I…..had…the time of my liiifffeee……”

 

Prague has done a lot of changing since I was there last. Nothing that you would notice outwardly in the first few minutes but the vibe is definitely different, and I guess I’m different too! What we did notice a massive influx of were these Thai Massage storefront operations. We had no choice to partake on our first night after a Long walk through the city and a hotel room workout. This workout was great because I had a lot more space to get a good HIIT in. Try it out.

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Thai Massage. Back cracking good times.

 

Day two was filled with seeing sites and walking over 30,000 steps that day. I was exhausted. Again, I can’t believe how handy this new iPhone iOS 8 update is…have a look at it a little further down the page. This day was so much fun, cold but a lot of great memories were brought up and we really had a fantastic time. We also managed to find FOUR Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants and got the chance to hit up two of them. I haven’t had such thoughtfully prepared Vegan fare since L.A. in August, I was a total peace and glowing after eating these meals. Impressed doesn’t even begin to describe how great the options were.

 

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Prague Castle – the 30,000 step day!

 

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Maitrea, Prague old Town. A great stumbled upon treat.

 

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Hummus & another appy dish at Maitrea.

 

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Loveg. Oh YES you did.

 

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Traditional Vegan AND Czech? You had me at Dumpling.

This night, Veganism took us to some amazing sites. We ended up at LoVeg where the food and atmosphere were second-to-none! To our surprise, there was a tiny rooftop terrace that we were shown to which just happened to look out onto the Castle lit up at night as well as a sprawling view of the rooftops of the old city. You know what? Eating differently, healthfully has really led me to be able to see a LOT  of sights I wouldn’t have if things were different. To add, when trying to find a great place to get some exercise without equipment AND outside, I’ve stumbled upon some pretty awesome places as well. Like Petrin Hill Park (below) and the cool little funicular that ran from top to bottom.

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A morning run through the park. There she is yonder!

The majority of the time spent in Prague we were major tourists and sightseers. We did find what I thought was a set of stairs heading up this hill the evening before this picture was taken. As is stands, in the daylight, it was an amazing park with a bunch of paved trails that lead uphill to a beautiful view of the orange and gold rooftops of new and old Prague. Breathtaking. There was even an old funicular railway system that I got to see running as I did some push-up sets on an old railing.

Czech out the Petrin Hill park HERE.

After a quick shower and a decent hotel breakfast at the Hotel Leonardo Prague, we were off to the races again. This time, a 6 hour train journey to North Eastern Germany. Hohen Demzin to be exact.

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Old friends headed to old haunts – off to Germany.

Now, the true reason for my travels was to say goodbye to my best friend Kat’s Oma (grandmother in German). She recently passed away peacefully yet completely unexpectedly. We had the great privilege of being able to stay at her home in a small village. The weather this time of year is not all that welcoming, though, with the natural and vast beauty of this part of Germany it didn’t really matter. Littered with amazing running/walking/biking paths, there is no way to stay sedentary even without a gym or equipment.

Here are just a few work outs I posted on my Facebook page:

 

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Hohen Demzin. Miles and miles of running trails and rolling hills.

 

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New HIIT cards came in handier than I thought.

 

I purchased a new 3-pack of these HIIT cards. Talk about making putting a workout together easy. You only need to pick the type of workout you want, match this by colour, add some cardio cards and you are off to the races! If you don’t have a list of possible workouts in your smart phone photos already – you really should pick these up. Cheap and easy workouts here folks. We also took an amazing 15 km bike ride up cobblestone paths and through a very large nature preserve-type area that housed dozens of amazing art installations. I even managed to see a bunch of castles and add some more handmade pottery to my collection! Using these smaller roadways I was able to fit in a 10km as well as a 7km run in this week. Even with the snow, the temperatures hovered above zero and made for some decent running weather. Minus a few mud puddles, all was well.

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Beauty begets peace.

 

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Airplane prep time – stretch it out.

Yoga apps & dancers legs

Yoga apps & dancers legs

 

The yoga app I used here is called Yogify. It is made by EA Sports. There are some free classes on here in a variety of capacities so if you need instruction while you travel, this one works very well. Try your luck at using it HERE.

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Fun on ice.

Karls. A wonderful delight about 1.5 hours down the Autobahn near Rostock. Strawberryland is really what it should be called. Anything and everything they can make out of strawberries exists here. And I mean anything. Jam, soap, liqueur. To die for. There were even ice sculptures, Gluhwein, ice skating, aquariums and DOGS allowed everywhere.

50's themed ice sculptures at Karl's near Rostock.

50’s themed ice sculptures at Karl’s near Rostock.

 

I did manage to go grocery shopping a couple of times to be able to eat cleanly. I was able to buy bananas, brussel sprouts, eggplants, lettuce, arugula, cucumber, tomato, onion, oranges, dried fruit, vegetarian mortadella as well as some decent quality unsalted mixed nuts and large bottles of water. What I didn’t prepare myself for were these chocolate covered rice cakes that Kat found. I didn’t buy any myself, but must admit that I had a couple and they were pretty darn great!

Healthy & bad for you. Treats are OK too!

Healthy & bad for you. Treats are OK too!

Bike riding to Schlitz Castle over 15 kms of muddy but stunning trails.

Bike riding to Schlitz Castle over 15 kms of muddy but stunning trails.

Traveling home again, I was prepared for the worst in food however, I was able to eat quite decent food all the way home. First stop: Berlin, Tegel airport. I managed to get a vegan bagel with avocado, sprouts and tomatoes at a coffee shop inside the terminal. Then, British Airways had a snack from Berlin to London that was a hummus wrap made with “all natural” ingredients and 100% vegetarian, THEN a stop in London where Apostrophe coffee shop had a curry hummus & roasted veggie sandwich on the menu. What I DIDN’T know was that Gordon Ramsay has a restaurant in Terminal 5 that will pack  “plane picnics” for you. WTH??? Why am I not living in one of these amazing places?

Finally, getting on the flight home to Calgary I decided that because I was arriving at 5:45pm local time, I would stay up the duration of the 8.5 hour flight and try to head off jet lag. Usually, I sleep where I can so I don’t eat much and I bring and fill my own water bottle. I travel with a Platypus collapsible water container. Check it out HERE if you like. I find it to be awesome for saving space and keeping hydrated.

We were served a curried rice as well as a half decent cheese/jam type sandwich. If you’re starving, it hits the spot. Also, the food quality seemed to be pretty decent as far as airline food goes and with most airlines you aren’t offered much past some type of unidentifiable meat with a Pepsi/Coke product.

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London, your airport food puts the City of Calgary to shame…..

Travelling is fun, exhilarating and mind-blowing. It can also be expensive, frustrating and exhaustive. If you fall out of your routines on trips or vacations you could  be placing more stress on yourself than you think. Guilt creeping in after too many fancy cocktails, brownie treats or lack of exercise can put a damper on your mental and physical “fun” vibes. Make a point to keep your endorphin’s running and your palate teased. Searching out amazing food can also lead to seeing amazing sights!

Sourdough bread & starter

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Bread is something that I find hard to leave behind. Of course not all breads, just the delicious, tasty, homemade goodness without preservatives and warm out of the oven.

Sourdough – rye especially – is one of my absolute weaknesses. I’ve even joined a grain share recently to get the BEST local, organic, pesticide free and heritage grains possible. Bring on the bread and buns!!

In order to make a sourdough loaf, you need to have a sourdough starter. There is a time commitment with anything you ferment – and THIS is fermentation. Same as Kombucha or Ginger Beer or Sauerkraut, just a little different end product.

You need to commit at least 5 days to this process, so if you cannot mind your starter for this amount of time, do NOT start this recipe. Pick a time during a staycation or a week when you are not rushing around getting life in order. Your project WILL fail, I speak from experience. You also need to ensure that your home has a consistent temperature. Wild yeasts LOVE warm and are way more active when they are kept that way.

If you are ready to embark, here we go!

Starter ingredients & method:

So easy the kids can do it!

So easy the kids can do it!

Day 1: Make the Initial Starter

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

Combine flour and water in a deep metal bowl/container. Stir until mixed and thick/rubbery. Scrape all excess down sides of bowl & cover loosely with a cloth/cheesecloth. Place container somewhere that is at least 20 degrees consistently. I like to store mine in my pantry on a shelf with the door closed.

24 hours later (Day 2): 

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

You may see some bubbles today – Yay! If not, do not worry.

Repeat day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 3): .

 

bubbly

Still no bubbles? That’s ok. Lots of bubbles? Yay – you have some active yeast baby!! Carbon dioxide and alcohol are working their magic. Can you smell the sour?

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 4): .

You should be bubbling by now. If not – see troubleshooting below. If so – we are nearly at the finish line and ready to start making bread.

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 5): 

If you are bubbled up, vinegary smelling and thinned out, you are ready. If you see no bubbles by now you can continue the process for 1-2 more days. If no bubbles appear you will need to start over. Make sure you have a COZY spot for your yeast to thrive.

LETS MAKE BREAD!

bread

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Starter Maintenance tips: 

It’s ok to scrape off mold in sourdough as in kraut – but NOT with kombucha. Use your discretion if you see mold on your starter.

If you are intending on keeping a regular ritual of bread making you will need to maintain your starter. Daily,discard half and feed your starter as you would on day one.If you are not using the starter every couple of days, cover it tightly and place it in the fridge.

A pinch of commercial bread yeast can kickstart “weak” starters. Try this if you are having any day 3 inactivity.

Take your starter out for 24 hours weekly, feed as in day one at least once per week. Yeast needs time to reactivate – don’t smother your starter with cold!!

Thicken your starter by adding enough flour to make it nearly “unstirable” or dry 2 cups of your starter out on a very low setting in your dehydrator, crumble and place in an airtight mason jar. To reactivate, add crumbles to 1/4 cup of warm water and stir. Begin feeding as you would from the beginning. This is called inoculating your starter. Sourdough “chips” will store for at least 3-4 months.

Your starter gets liquidy if left too long between food or if you used too little flour to water. Pour off excess water or add small amounts of extra flour.

 

Lets make some bread and break some bread!

Recipe by thekitchn.com

I have to say that this ISN’T the best recipe out there however, it is a great starter recipe. The last batch of starter I made I used this recipe with and the results are in the pics above. I wanted to roll out something easy and approachable for any of you newbies. This site also has some good beginner breakdowns for folding and kneading bread.

I hand mix and knead all of my breads which is sort of an art form really. You have to open up and free yourself from the fear that you will screw up your bread – you will. Keep staying lighthearted and playful and soon you will be able to start getting adventurous with your breads. This means….stay tuned for some interesting NEW recipes with some of the crazy flours I’m ordering in.

Ingredients/method and tips: 

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry baking yeast
2 cups starter
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon natural unbleached salt

Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Give the yeast a few minutes to dissolve completely. Stir in the sourdough starter until the starter is mostly dissolved.

Add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, and stir to make a shaggy dough. With the dough hook attachment and your mixer on low speed, knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed if the dough becomes sticky like bubble gum, but try to avoid adding too much. The dough is finished kneading when it comes together into a smooth ball that’s slightly tacky to the touch and holds a ball-shape in your hand.

Clean out the mixing bowl, film it with a little oil, and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it a few times to coat with oil, then cover. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in two. Shape each half into rough balls and let them rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two  loaf pans.

divided loaves

 Transfer the loaves to the loaf pans and cover loosely. Let the loaves rise until they’re starting to puff over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Slash the top of the loaves a few time with a serrated knife or baking lame, and slide them immediately into the oven.

For a crispier crust, spritz the inside of the oven with water using a water spritzer before closing the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F. Continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are deep golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (Total baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.)

Shake the loaves out of the loaf pans and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.

Vegan Latkes – Potato Pancakes

 
 
Since I was a kid, I have been eating delicious potato pancakes. The ones that my mom used to make are far different from the version I love best today, but any way you slice it – fried potatoes satisfy something in those of us who have had them as a diet staple.
 
I took some inspiration from my best friend who is from Germany in coming up with a consistency I liked. I was used to thicker “hashbrown” style latkes until about 15 years ago.
 
Ingredients:
 
5-6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 large yellow onion
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive or coconut oil for cooking
 
Method:
 
Heat oil in frying pan to medium-high.
 
Using the smaller measurement on a hand grater grate peeled potatoes and onion into a bowl. Drain out any excess liquid.
 
Mix in cumin & chilli powder.
 
Form into miniature patties no more than 3/4 of a cm in thickness.
 
Fry in hot oil until both sides are browned.

 
Finish with freshly cracked red, black or white pepper (or all) and Himalayan Sea Salt.
 
**Kids love them with ketchup.
 
***For a more dessert-style latke replace onion with thinly sliced apple, spices for cinnamon & serve with agave nectar, fresh sliced fruit, crème fraiche or chocolate drizzle.