Cool new things

My veggie spiraler

I’ve only tried zucchini before, but other squashes, apples, potatoes, etc are on my list.  It has 3 different blades to vary the size.

veggie spiraler

This spice from Savory Spice Shop.  This was awesome on broiled pork chops.  I will be back for a whole bottle!  Says it’s great for poultry, burgers, meatloaf, and stuffed peppers.  Oh the possibilities!

new spice

New venue and 2 new artists to me.  We went to Texas Music Theater in San Marcos on Friday night to see grammy nominated writer Will Hoge (Dan was already a fan).  Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue opened the show.  It was all new to me and I had a great time.  Not to mention, I got to have dinner with my good friend Alison and her husband before the show.will hoge

My mom (in pink) defended her Thin Mint Sprint age group title and had a PR on Saturday.  That’s my sister running with her.mom race

Photos not available yet, but we completed tore up our backyard on Saturday and Sunday.  I hope this leads eventually to an awesome yard!

Last week’s Duck Dynasty Grub

Last Saturday night, I continued my theme for Duck Dynasty dinner of cajun inspired food.  Since we were so busy last week, we didn’t watch it until Saturday.  I also didn’t want to cook anything that would take too long, because we had been busy all day and were tired.

Cajun tilapia, “fried pickles”, and salad.cajun tilapia

The fish was broiled with generic cajun seasoning.  Easy.

The “fried pickles” were:

  • egg wash
  • dill pickle chips
  • red pepper flakes
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • crushed pork rinds

Pickles were dipped in egg, then the rind and spice mix, and then put on a rack on the cookie sheet and broiled for 5 mins each side.  I forgot to spray the rack, darn it!  Other than that, good.  Dan said they tasted like the real thing.  I MAY have picked off all of the little breading bits on the rack and ate them.  Plus I sampled quite a few before they made it onto the plates.  Ranch on the side for him to dip into.  Most ranch dressing is not gluten free, so I don’t partake.  fried pickles

Dan isn’t a big fish person, but he ate it without complaining.  In fact, I don’t think he EVER orders fish anywhere, not even fried fish.

I was finishing up my kabocha squash.  That stuff is so good.  But then again, you could probably roast shoe leather and i’d love it.  There are no pickles on my plate because I’d eaten enough of them trying to get them off the pan and plated.  SHAME!

chop

Fun facts Friday

For fun facts Friday this week, I decided it’s just going to be a random assortment of stuff from the last week.  Since i’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to think, blog, or do much of anything.

  • Tuesday was the only SXSW I did this year.  I was ok with that.  I had an awesome time on Tuesday.
  • I helped Dan work on his jeep Saturday and Sunday.  Can’t say I love it as much as he does.  Seriously.  His boss emailed me today to ask if he sleeps with it.
  • Thin Mint Sprint is tomorrow.  Last year I vowed i’d come back and win it.  Instead?  I am cheering and hosting a LUNA Chix tent.  I wish I was doing both.  It’s been almost 3 months of no running.  I MAY be able to try again next week.
  • I went home for less than 24 hours last week.  In that 24 hours I drove 2 hours each way, saw my parents, saw baby Evan, planted garden with dad, had an excellent walk around the Ville, got my hair colored, and went to Trader Joe’s.  Oh and I worked from mom and dad’s house for 4 hours which SUCKED.
  • Please let it rain and not be so hot this summer.  For my sanity at work and for dad’s garden!  Right now only collard greens and cabbage are producing.  But I helped plant blackberries, grapes, tomatoes, jalapeno, and a few other things.  I saved and dried some kabocha seeds, which I hope grow!  Not sure he’s planted those yet.  I roasted one for them Saturday for lunch and they loved it!  Hoping he gets a yield, because I ate GOOD out of his garden last year.  Tomatoes, squashes galore, greens, peppers, etc.

dad garden

My “nephew” Evan.  He’s my BFF’s son.evan solo

He was awake this time and much less fragile at 6 weeks than he was at 1.  I wasn’t scared of holding him at all. And I got peed on.  I say he was marking me as his favorite aunt 😉   Yeah, I didn’t even put forth the effort of makeup last Friday.

evan awake

 

I wish I could say I had a lazy weekend planned, but I unfortunately have a ton of stuff to do.  Going out of town tonight AND Sunday night.  We’ll be burning up 35.

Things I like Thursday: homebrewed kombucha

So I started drinking Kombucha a few months ago.  I’d always been scared to try it.  Started with one bottle of GTs and then I was hooked.  Seriously, I have to have it everyday.  Usually as my afternoon treat.

It’s an expensive dang habit, I may as well be drinking booze!  $3.30 a bottle of GT’s from HEB, less than $3 at Natural Grocers.  Still.  Even if I only drink half a bottle a day, which is what I usually have, it’s still annoying to be that it’s pricey for a drink.  It’s even more if I were to buy local.

So I started researching making my own.  I know several bloggers I read, make their own.  How hard could it be, right?  I read up, pinned some blogs on Pinterest and tried to decide where to get my “mother scoby” (which is how you grow the tea).  Many sources recommended Craigslist.  BINGO.  $5 scoby and she lived at the same place my friend Jenn lived.  Not only did I get the scoby, but she gave me a starter booklet too.  AWESOME.

Friends, if you are reading this, I don’t mind emailing you the little booklet.kombucha brew

For recipe I followed the booklet plus this blog from Balanced Bites.

Tips I learned from reading ALOT about this.  Not all sources tell you some of these important tidbits!

  • You need glass jar with a non metal lid, in fact, I bought 2 glass jars from Walmart.  I don’t use the lid anyhow.
  • I saved old GTs bottles for the final product, because you want glass with non-metal lids.
  • You cannot use antibacterial soap on any of it, or you may kill your scoby.  Wash stuff with vinegar.
  •  You must use sugar and you must use caffeinated tea.  The caffeine and the sugar are how this works.  And almost all of it gets used up in the process of the fermentation.  So if you try to limit sugar and caffeine like I do, have no fear.
  • Your tea can’t have added oils.  So watch out for many flavored teas.  Black and green with caffiene work well.
  • Your first couple of batches may suck.
  • It may take a couple of tries to get your method down and decide what you like as far as flavor.
  • If your batch gets too sour, you can add more sugar to try to refresh the tea and just watch it closely for correct flavor.
  • Don’t be afraid to toss a batch if it goes too far, doesn’t look right.
  • If you see any signs of mold, toss everything.  (look closely, sometimes it can foam and look like mold).  I had Dan toss a whole batch that foamed which is ok, because I thought it was mold.
  • It can be good for your tummy.  I have tummy issues, so I appreciate it’s probiotic qualities.
  • Pregnant and nursing women shouldn’t drink it.
  • It grows slower when its cold, faster when it’s warm.  Your brew times may not stay the same from batch to batch.
  • Try to avoid metal utensils.  Some sources suggest wood.
  • Try to let the tea cool for 4 or more hours before adding to scoby in your brewing vessel
  • Cover your brewing vessel with a napkin, papertowel, etc and a rubber band.  You don’t want dust, flies, etc.  You are fermenting, flies will want in, unless you keep them out!
  • Don’t drink all of the tea!  You have to keep at least a little to keep your scoby living and to start your next batch.
  • You flavor the tea in a secondary fermentation.
  • I do my secondary in the bottom of my pantry, bottles inside the plastic container, dark and semi-warm.
  • Your scoby will multiply and produce a baby each time.
  • You can take a break from brewing but you need to make sure your scoby keeps getting fed sugar.
  • Use filtered water.  Dad got me a pitcher at Christmas that removes flouride and other things.  I am sure it works with regular water too.

For my latest batch:  TJ’s peach juice in recycled GT’s bottles (too hard to get the labels off).  I used about 2 oz juice per bottle for secondary fermentation

peach kombucha

Lessons learned:

  • Much of the process is trial and error.
  • I didn’t read the caffeine part at first and brewed a ton of decaf sweet tea because that’s what we had on hand.  I let Dan drink all of that himself.
  • Whole fruit doesn’t do much for flavor
  • I like fizz.  For fizz, don’t “burp” your bottles during secondary fermentation.
  • I burped my bottles on the strawberry batch, because I was scared of them exploding.  I didn’t do it on the following batches and they were fine.  You  just need to make sure you are careful when opening and try to wait until they are refrigerated.
  • You move them to the fridge at the end of secondary fermentation.
  • Citrus isn’t great flavor.  I know there are commercial citrus flavors, but I wasn’t a fan of citrus.
  • I tried strawberry puree, whole blackberries, orange slices, and peach juice.   Puree or juice is the way to go.  Remember, most of the sugar gets used.
  • I didn’t consume any for the first 2 weeks after my surgery.  But because I knew the antibiotics likely killed all my good gut bacteria, I started drinking it again last week.  I couldn’t find much research on drinking it after surgery, so I kept away for the 2 weeks, because that’s the timeframe I had to avoid vitamin E, fish oil, and other things that could hinder healing.
  • Winter time it brews slower.  You many have to put it in a weird location or wrap the outside of the jar with a blanket (my first batch was when it was really cold here and my house apparently was chilly to the jar, not to me).
  • That little spigot is great for bottling after primary fermentation.  Just be mindful to move the scoby, so it doesn’t clog the spigot.
  • I put all of my bottles inside a big plastic container during secondary fermentation, just in case one should bubble over or even explode.
  • I set alarms on my phone to check the brew.  If you set it and forget it, not good.
  • I bought a $10 sun tea glass jar and a $20 fancier glass drink dispenser, both from Walmart.  I prefer the sun tea jar.  It took me a while to find a glass one!
  • I put my bottles through the dishwasher and then rinse with vinegar.
  • Batches brewed with my new baby scobies weren’t as good to me.  I think i may try to work on growing them a bit more before brewing with them.

I think I am getting it down 🙂  I have a batch right now that I am going to likely bottle tonight for secondary fermentation.

Things I like Thursday: SXSW time again

Tuesday night Dan and I went to our first showcase of SXSW.  I have never started that early in the week.  This kid doesn’t play late on school nights anymore.  This time of year is an exception.

We hit up the Red11 Showcase at the White Horse.  6 bands, $5 (free if you bought a wristband for SXSW).  We’ve never bought bands, you can get by without one for many shows.

Dinner.  Bomb Tacos food truck at the White Horse.  There are many locations of Bomb Tacos but this one is supposedly the best.  Yes, they were the bomb.  I had chicken fajita, veggie, and pulled pork.  Dan had 2 chicken fajita and beef fajita.  They were indeed good.  They offer flour and corn tortillas.  I got mine on corn, but Dan ate the actual tortillas, because I was pretty sure they weren’t gluten free.  So I guess I really had 3 small taco salads.  I am sure I could have ordered that.  Impressed.  I liked the chicken fajita the best, as did Dan.  The also offer nachos and quesadillas.

The show.  Lincoln Durham, The Crooks, Dirty River Boys, Turnpike Troubadours, American Aquarium, and Jason Eady.  We stayed for the first 5.  I didn’t know it was inside.  I wore a sweater and jeans.  I was SO hot.  I am never hot.  Plus it was SUPER crowded in the bar.  I actually, during the last act, bought a band tshirt to change into.  Of course, when we went to leave, I was cold again and put the sweater back on.  Whatever, I really wanted a Dirty River Boys shirt anyhow.

Apparently there are a ton of tall people in town.  I was close for Dirty River, but I couldn’t see much at all.  Doesn’t help that most of the guys in the band are also short!  I have seen them several times, my first was at SXSW last year.  LOVE them.

photo 6

My first time seeing the Crooks.  They had a lot of instruments in their set. 4 different types of guitars, banjo, maracas, tambourine, drums, accordion, trumpet, and some other percussion thing I don’t know the name of.  I LOVE accordions!  They were fun.  I think i’d like them live more than on the radio.

photo 3

My 2nd time seeing American Aquarium.  Last year’s SXSW was my first.  Dan LOVES them.   That’s why we were so close, he’s a total man-fan.

13

Turnpike Troubadours.  Really like them, but I haven’t seen them much.  Good stuff.

9

I got 3 hours of sleep that night, but it was totally worth it 🙂  Now looking ahead to see what, if any, other shows I’ll do this year.  So far, I have been working so much, that I’ve had 0 time to study.  Chronicle is being scoured over now.

Recipe review-sweet potato breakfast casserole

Recipe inspired by Cavegirl Cuisine

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage (I used homemade italian)
1 onion, chopped
2T butter, organic and unsalted or coconut oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated (I sliced really thin)
1 parsnip, peeled and grated (skipped this didn’t have one)
6 eggs
1 cup spinach (I added a bag of asparagus stir fry)
8 oz organic whipping cream
1T arrowroot

In a medium skillet, cook the sausage until fully browned.

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a bowl, mix grated parsnip and sweet pototoes until evenly distributed.

In a greased 8.5 x 11 baking dish, start layering your ingredients.
Layer 1: Half of sweet potato mixture.
Layer 2: All of spinach.
Layer 3: All of sausage.
Layer 4: Remaining sweet potato mixture.

In same skillet, cook onion until translucent. Add butter and arrowroot. Stir. Once butter is melted, add cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes to slightly thicken.

Crack eggs in a bowl. Whisk. Add 1-2 ladles of cream mixture to eggs to temper the eggs (so as to not create scrambled eggs). Pour eggs mixture back into the skillet and stir.

Pour skillet mixture over the top of the layers in your baking dish. Press to edges so it will form a seal when cooking.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the dish to set.

Enjoy!photo 1

*I cut into 6 slices, so I had a piece for Sunday lunch and the rest will be for breakfast for the workweek.  TASTY!photo 2

Next time I will add more sweet potatoes and veggies.  I didn’t feel like grating the sweet potato, so I used the mandoline to slice thin and then baked them while I was prepping the rest (to soften them up a bit before putting everything together).    If I added more veggies, I think it would have made 6 nicer size portions.  They were only about a cup each as I made them.

Could make this vegetarian by skipping the sausage or using crumbles.