Happy Hump day! This week has been a crazy week at work because I have a few team members in town, which means longer hours and more traffic to deal with on top of being much busier during the day. Ah well, it is only for one week so I can deal with that.
I have been living off the leftovers of a quinoa salad I made on Monday, which I will share the recipe for soon but in the meantime I thought I would tell you about 3 new projects that I have going on.
1. Growing my own shrooms!
Shiitake shrooms that is. My mom and dad brought me this mushroom kit over the weekend so that I can start growing my own shiitaki mushrooms! Basically it is a pre-activiated ‘minifarm’ that just begins producing mushrooms. You leave it in the fridge until you are ready to start growin. Then, you place it on a large plate/platter and cover it (I covered it with a plastic bowl).
Pretty soon, the mushrooms will be ready to harvest and you just twist them off! The cool thing is, you can re-use this kit a few times, you just have to refrigerate it for a few weeks in between each ‘harvest’. The not so cool thing is, it kind of grosses me out. Mushrooms are a fungi after all, but it is easier to not think about that when you buy them from the grocery store. I did however, eat one today and while I was a tiny bit skeptical, it tasted great! If you want to buy your own mushroom minifarm, they are made by Far West Fungi and can be found here.
2. Growing my own lettuce
OK, that isn’t really true. I’m not going to be growing it myself because it is technically already grown. My mom bought me 3 different plants– the first is just a variety of lettuce, the second is lettuce and a pea pod plant, the third is various herbs and hot peppers. I am SO excited about being able to just go onto my back porch and grab some lettuce for a salad, as well as having a whole assortment of fresh herbs on hand (basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, mint to name just a few!) . I have already used it in one salad and it is delicious.
You might be thinking, “ok I don’t get why this is a project, everything is done for you.” Well, for a normal person that might be the case, but as it turns out, I have a black thumb. I kill every plant that I touch including lucky bamboo which is a real sore spot with me as I am very superstitious. So, the real project is keeping these babies alive. It has already been a challenge in the first week due to the fact that it has been 95-100 degrees everyday! Did you see in the top picture–the lettuce is already wilting a little so I have to work on that.
3. Making my own Kombucha
As I have mentioned a few times on the blog, I am obsessed with Kombucha. The downside to this obsession is that it is expensive. Kombucha is around 4 dollars a bottle at Whole Foods and because of the price, it is more of an occasional purchase than an everyday thing. So, I did what any person harboring an obsession for gingerade kombucha would do…made my own! The process is a long one, especially for someone as impatient as I am but it is worth it because now I can drink all the kombucha my heart desires!
You start with a store bought bottle of the stuff (or if someone else makes kombucha and wants to start you out you could do it that way). What is kombucha? It is a tea made from living bacteria. You allow it to ferment over time and the yeast in the tea also creates alcohol. Kombucha was actually taken off the market for awhile due to the small amounts of alcohol that it contains. If you want to read more about what it is check here.
Since it is made from living bacteria, you need to grow a ‘mother’ using the sediment and bacteria from the original bottle. You can drink about half of that bottle, but make sure to leave all the sediment to use. You start out by heating 1 cup water to boil. Then add 2 T white sugar and boil again until the sugar is totally dissolved. Turn off the heat and add either black or green tea (1 bag) to the liquid. Let the tea cool to room temp then remove the tea bag and pour into a glass jar (or whatever bottle you want to use). You want to make sure the jar/container that you are using is sterile so the tea doesn’t grow any mold. Pour the original kombucha (including all the sediment stuff) into the jar as well. Cover with a cloth and rubberband and place in a dark spot. I actually used like 5 paper towels in place of a cloth, so either one works.
Leave the tea alone for about a week. In this time the kombucha will start to grow a film over the top which is the mother. Wait until the film is around 1/8-1/4 inch thick and then you will need to repeat the process (it needs more liquid to grow). This time heat 4 cups water to boil and add 1/3 cup sugar and then 2 tea bags instead of just one. Combine this new mixture with the original. You might need a bigger jar, I was able to use the same one. Recover and wait again. This time, the mother should be about 1/2 inch thick.
That is where I am at now. It has actually been longer than a week, but I haven’t had time to ‘harvest’ the tea yet. When I finally get around to doing so, the process is to heat 3 quarts water with 1 cup sugar then adding 4 tea bags. From there, place into a large glass jar and add just a cup or two of the kombucha liquid into it. Then add the mother to the top. After about a week (again!!), a new kombucha baby will form and from here, it is ready to drink! This is the batch where I will save about half of it to start again with a new batch!
The whole thing sounds a bit labor intensive, but since you are only doing one step a week, it really isn’t that bad. If you are like me, the annoying part is actually waiting so long in between every step, but once the original batch is made, it will be worth it to have kombuch at your disposal anytime! If you do want to make your own and have any questions or the above instructions were confusing..let me know!
So those are my food related projects so far…do you guys have any fun summer projects going on?