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My kombucha brewing was a success.  The brewing time finally ended, and there was no colorful, fuzzy mold growing on it.  I achieved making healthy kombucha tea.   This morning I started a two new batches, one with the new scoby and one with the original.  I am not sure the old one will work again, but it was worth the tea and sugar to find out.  I am also trying to make a new scoby with starter kombucha and freshly brewed black tea and sugar in a quart jar…no scoby.   I saw where that method works and had to try. 

Here’s a picture of my kombucha prior to removing the scoby and straining the tea.

After starting the new batches, I ended up with about three quarts of kombucha tea to enjoy.  Enjoy it, I will.

Until next time…

Rejoice evermore. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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For quite some time I’ve wanted to make kombucha tea for my own use.  Finding a scoby and starter tea in the land of butter beans and fried chicken has proven pretty difficult…it took a long time.  But I finally happened upon someone who made the tea and had a scoby to share.  Yesterday I visited with Mrs. Betty, a delightful eighty-two year old woman who brews this beneficial tea.  Although she required nothing in exchange, I took three dozen, fresh, free-range eggs to her.  She was delighted and especially liked the fact we have roosters and our eggs are fertilized. 

Because this tea is fermented in a glass container I took this opportunity to buy a new glass jar while I was buying the distilled water I needed to get started.  (I’m a glass jar collector from way back, and couldn’t pass up the chance to add a great new fermenting jar.)  I was anxious to get my kombucha underway, so soon after returning home I brewed a gallon of strong black tea and added a cup of organic cane sugar.  The tea must be cool before the scoby and starter tea is added, and that took all night.  I checked on it at 4 A.M., and it was still too warm.  At 5 o’clock it was ready to go.  I carefully poured the tea into my clean jar and added the starter tea and scoby.  I covered it with several layers of cheesecloth and placed the jar in our bedroom closet.  It stays dark most of the time, and the temperature is more consistent than in the rest of the house.  Now the waiting begins. 

The average temperature of our house is seventy-seven degrees.  If all goes well, at that temperature, my kombucha tea should be ready in about a week.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.  I’m hoping my culture is free of harmful contaminants and my kombucha is a success.  (Of course, I am.)

Until next time…

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

 

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If you have not entered my latest coconut oil giveaway, there is still plenty of time. I’m hosting a giveaway  for an amazing GALLON of premium coconut oil. You really don’t want to miss the chance to win this wonderful gift. You can find it here…A Gallon Of Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil Giveaway…O Yeah! There are several ways to enter to boost your chance of winning.

Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

The first crazy quilting round robin I took part in is nearing the end. My portion of the stitching on each block has been completed. A couple of posts back I shared what I thought was a picture of Sheila’s block after my embellishing work was completed, but the more I looked at it the more it seemed to need something else.

Click on pictures for larger view:

Here is Sheila’s block with my additional work…

This shot is of the whole block. Aren’t Hollie’s hat donning birds the sweetest?

For over a month I’ve been waiting for A Study In Brown Round Robin to be announced. It finally was, and I signed up to participate. This evening I constructed my brown naked block. (This was quite an achievement, because I am recovering from a fall that left me feeling aches on top of my aches…and bronchitis. Even sitting at the sewing machine was a major effort.)

Naked brown block for “A Study In Brown”…

This round robin does not start until July so there will be no update then. I’m still working on my red block. It is nearing completion, so I’ll be sharing a final picture of it soon.

Until next time…

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.  Psalm 107:2

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If you have not entered my latest coconut oil giveaway, be sure to check it out. It’s for an amazing gallon of premium coconut oil. You really don’t want to miss the chance to win this wonderful gift. You can find it here…A Gallon Of Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil Giveaway…O Yeah!   There are several ways to enter to boost your chance of winning.


Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Since hosting Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil giveaways, I’ve seen several comments by ladies who are interested in trying homemade deodorant using coconut oil.  I’ve seen recipes with numerous ingredients.  For over two years I’ve been making and using my own deodorant with three simple ingredients.  A batch that will last several months can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. 

I decided to try this very basic recipe, because I am highly sensitive to commercial antiperspirants.  Using them caused my underarms to break out in an uncomfortable rash and itch terribly.  Even those marketed as “for sensitive skin” did not work for me.  Since using this homemade formula made with a coconut oil  base I’ve had no discomfort due to deodorant.

Here’s all you need:

6 Tablespoons of  virgin coconut oil (Of course, I recommend Tropical Traditions.)

1/4 cup of arrowroot powder  or cornstarch (I use cornstarch, because my local health food store is almost always out of arrowroot, and it does the same thing.)

1/4 cup of baking soda

Directions:

Melt 6 Tablespoons of coconut oil in a microwave safe measuring cup.  (Microwave 30 seconds or so…)

Add the baking soda and cornstarch and stir until smooth and the powders are dissolved.

Pour into a small container with an airtight lid.  Set aside until the mixture cools to room temperature.  Depending on the room temperature the deodorant may be soft of hard.  Coconut oil has a melting temperature of 75 degrees so the consistency changes depending on how warm or cool your house is.

Wahlah…

That’s all there is to it. 

I apply it with my fingers.  Fingers are such great tools.  It only takes a little dab…and even though it wouldn’t be such a bad thing, you don’t walk around smelling like a coconut…

Until next time…

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.                         1 John 4:13

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You read the title of this post correctly…Tropical Traditions has authorized me to give away a GALLON of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil.  Here’s how it works…


Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Win 1 gallon of  Gold Label

Virgin Coconut Oil
!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil.
Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by
family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You
can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut
oils on their website:

What is Virgin Coconut Oil
? You can also watch the video they produced
about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online.  Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to
read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Here’s how you enter:

As a requirement to enter my giveaway, please subscribe to Tropical Traditions Sales Newsletter and leave a comment telling me you subscribed. 

You may add extra chances a number of ways. 

Leave a comment telling me how you would use a gallon of coconut oil.

Leave a comment sharing a recipe you would like to try using coconut oil.

Blog this giveaway and leave a separate post with a link to your blog post.

Like this post on Facebook.

Share this post on Facebook. 

Giveaway closes on June 15, 2012 at 12:00 P.M. central time.

Contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Until next time…

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally. . . . But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  James 1:5-6

 

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Last month I was given the opportunity to try and review Tropical Traditions coconut oil and share my findings with you.  My review approach is to use this product in recipes I would normally use a different oil or fat and pass judgment on the results.

I hope I can interest you enough to try coconut oil in your cooking if you never have.  The first thing I’d like you do is open your coconut oil and open a container of the “fat” you usually use.  Pick up your usual fat and take a long, deep breath…flair your nostrils and get a good whiff.  Now do the same with the coconut oil.  I won’t even ask which smells good enough to eat.  I already know.  Now take a teaspoon and dip it into the coconut oil…stick the spoon in your mouth.  Trust me.  Just do it.  Coconut oil is actually quite pleasant straight out of the jar.  Other than quality, first cold-pressed olive oil and fresh, sweet-cream butter, that can’t be said about most fat we add to our food, so I won’t even suggest you stick a spoon in shortening and take a bite.  Yuck!

Now on to review pt. 1…

A couple of nights ago venison sloppy Joes and oven-friend potato wedges was on the menu.  When making venison sloppy Joes I always chop a couple of onions and green peppers and saute them in olive oil before adding the meat to brown.  Venison is known for being extremely lean meat so the veggies need the added fat to saute.

I added between two and three tablespoons of coconut oil to my dutch oven and melted it.   I used that much, because I sautéed a large pile of veggies and was adding several pounds of venison when the veggies were tender.  Using medium heat, I sautéed my onions and green peppers just until tender and the onions were beginning to be transparent.  The veggies sautéed perfectly…no scorching or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

(Interesting coconut oil fact #1:  if my house had been warmer than 75 degrees the day I made these sloppy Joes, melting would not have been necessary.  Coconut oil is only solid when its temperature is under 76 degrees.)

 (Interesting coconut oil fact #2: The smoke point of coconut oil makes it perfect for sautéing veggies.)

The meat was added to the pot and browned and all the rest of the ingredients were added.  The pot simmered to reduce the liquid.  No pictures were taken of this dish.  (My phone had to be plugged in to be recharged.  Besides this post is about coconut oil…not sloppy Joes.  :) )

I don’t deep fry, so my next review experiment was to use the Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil to oven fry potato wedges.  After scrubbing, peeling and slicing my potatoes, I gave them a good rinse and patted them dry between two clean kitchen towels.  When all the excess moisture was blotted from the potatoes I put them in a large bowl and tossed them in assorted seasoning.  (sea salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper)  Next I added about two tablespoons of coconut oil and tossed the potatoes again to coat them well with the oil.  Just for curiosity sake, I left the potatoes, uncovered, for about forty-five minutes while I went about my business.  (My business:  sitting with my feet up while I sipped a couple of cups of hot tea.)  I did this, because I wanted to see if the coconut oil coating would prevent the potatoes from oxidizing  (turning black due to exposure to air).  It did!  My potatoes were still as fresh looking as they were when I walked away from them.  I poured them evenly onto a baking sheet that had been rubbed with the coconut oil left on my hands when I tossed the potatoes and popped them into a pre-heated, 400 degree oven.  After ten minutes I reduced them temperature to 350 degrees and let the potatoes bake until they were tender and brown.  During the baking time, I turned the potatoes once.  There were NO potatoes sticking to the pan!  None.  Zilch.  Zero.  That may not excite you but not having to scrub a pan with baked on food was really good news to me.  :)

When supper was served and the first bites taken, I waited for my taster’s comments.  “These potatoes are great”, and “The sloppy Joes are good” were just a couple of the things said between bites.  There were comments on the cole slaw, too…but that’s a post for another time.

Conclusion…

Coconut oil works great for sautéing vegetables and oven fried vegetables.  The dishes used for this review were both a success.

More cooking with Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil reviews coming soon.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Until next time…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  Philippians 4:6

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It’s time to clean out the winter garden and get our spring garden started.  We’ve got several heads of cabbage growing, and there’s only so much coleslaw and steamed cabbage we can eat.  There’s still plenty kimchi left from my last batch, so I’ve decided to broaden my horizons and try my hand at making sauerkraut.  I’ve done my research and feel confident this will be a breeze. The older I get the more I appreciate fermented food;  I’m looking forward to this.  I figure I shouldn’t keep all this fun to myself…welcome to sauerkraut 101.

After a trek to the garden to cut some fresh cabbage and pulling off the outer leaves for the chickens to enjoy, I got started.  Preparation was simple.   I got all my materials together.

What I used is:

a two gallon glass jar (Anchor Hocking…made in the USA…that’s not a requirement, but it is a fact I appreciate.)  A large crock or food grade plastic container can also be used for larger quantities.

a sharp paring knife

sea salt

large cutting board

a saucer or plate that will fit inside the container you use

a heavy “weight” to place on the plate (more on that later)

Several years back I developed a taste for sauerkraut…but it had to be good, crisp sauerkraut…not the mushy, limp textured, canned variety.  Yuck!  If I’ve done my research properly, fresh, crisp sauerkraut will be a reality any time I want it from here on out.

Here is what I did:

After washing my cabbage I shredded it.  I cut mine in fairly rustic, not too thin slices.

When I finished shedding the cabbage I started putting it in the glass jar.  After every couple of inches of cabbage I sprinkled a teaspoon of sea salt across the top and continued alternating cabbage and salt until it was all in the jar.  I ended with sea salt.

Once that step was complete I compressed the cabbage as much as possible with my hands.  Next I placed a saucer on top of the cabbage and continued to compress.

Finally I placed a teapot filled with water on top of the saucer to help keep the cabbage weighted down and compressed and force the liquid out of the cabbage.  The cabbage must be beneath the liquid to ferment properly.  (You can use just about anything heavy that can be properly washed as a weight on top of the saucer as long as it will fit in the jar.  I read where someone used a washed, smooth river rock as the weight.  Another idea along the same concept as my teapot is a jar filled with water.  The teapot just looks so much nicer through the clear jar I’m using as a fermenting container.  Pretty must count for something. :))

No liquid is added to the mixture of cabbage and sea salt at this point.  The sea salt will draw out the liquid in the cabbage producing the brine the cabbage will ferment in.  Every couple of hours or so the cabbage needs to be pressed down again to help cover it in brine.  In the morning if the brine is not completely covering the cabbage I will add pure water with additional sea salt dissolved in it until there is enough liquid to completely cover the cabbage. (If this is necessary the ratio of water to salt is one cup of water to one teaspoon of sea salt.)  Three hours after I finished the preparation work and adding the cabbage to the jar, the sea salt had drawn enough liquid from the cabbage to cover it half way.

I’ll store the jar on a counter top while it is fermenting and check it each day to make sure the cabbage is covered and all is well.  I understand a harmless “scum” can form on the top while the cabbage is fermenting.  I’m hoping this doesn’t happen to mine…just the word “scum” conjures up a lack of appetite.  If it happens I’ll skim the scum.  :)  The fermenting process should become apparent in just a few days.  The longer it ferments, the stronger the sauerkraut.

In the past I’ve known ladies who made sauerkraut and kept it in a cool cellar while it fermented.  I don’t have a cool cellar…or any cellar for that matter.  The cellar method takes longer for the cabbage to ferment.  As far as I know there is no other significant difference.

I’ll try to discipline myself to do a follow-up post after the sauerkraut is ready to eat or along the way if there is anything of interest to share.  I’ve still neglected to do a “Water Kefir - Part 2″ even though I’ve enjoyed many liters of water kefir since beginning to make it.

Until next time…

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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With each new year comes a new beginning.  Resolutions are made…many forgotten by the first week’s end.  I’ve not promised myself to lose more weight…though I hope to…nor have I promised to spend less and save more…though I need to.   I have not promised myself I will make more frequent blog posts…life too easily gets in the way of computer time….nor will I resolve to keep my house neater and be more organized.  Some causes are lost battles from the start.  My New Year’s resolution is simple in words but not necessarily so easy to put into action.  I’ve resolved to love more.  Love is a serious action word…love without action is not given and is not received.  It is simply a word.  Null and void.  In the words of Jesus, Matthew chapter 5 says:

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Loving more will not be easy, but if I don’t give up in defeat, it will be life changing for me and anyone I come in contact with…friend or foe, because people I encounter will see Jesus in me. 

Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year full of love…

Water Kefir note…I’m loving the stuff.  Mine is wonderfully carbinated.  My grains aren’t multiplying like I wish they would…but I’m enjoying a fresh batch every 48 to 72 hours and have some in reserve now.  I can’t honestly say what benefits I am getting from it other than satisfaction and pleasure.  Those two alone are worth the minimal preparation time it takes to keep my kefir going. 

Until next time…

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the love you should get, then maybe you should ask yourself if you’re giving the love you should give.  ~ unknown ~

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Water kefir is a naturally carbonated, very slightly alcoholic beverage brewed using water kefir grains and sugar.  Water kefir grains, a culture of healthy bacteria and yeast, also known as For quite a while I’ve wanted to try water kefir.  I don’t tolerate milk products well,  and water kefir sounded like a great solution to filling my need for probiotics.  After researching what water kefir grains are and how to go about obtaining them (thank you Affectioknit for the source recommendation…it worked out beautifully for me.)   I finally started brewing water kefir at home. 
Until my son mentioned water kefir as an alternative to yogurt I had never heard of  it.  Here is a nutshell overview of what these amazing little crystals are.   Water kefir grains are also know as Japanese water crystals, tibi, tibicos and sugar grains, produce a beverage rich in probiotic qualities.  They are composed of Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus cremeris, Candida valida, Saccharomyces florentinus, Kloeckera apiculata, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus, Streptococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Candida lambica.  (This list may not be all inclusive, and  kefir grain content may vary from grain to grain.)  Kefir grains  produce a healthy,  probiotic-rich beverage, yielding a wide variety of healthy benefits.
Just a few of the benefits attributed to drinking water kefir are  relief from indigestion, flatulence, and ulcers.  It helps achieve  and maintain a healthy body weight.  Kefir has been reported to relieve symptoms of Chrone’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.   It is known to alleviate gall bladder and kidney disorders, regulate blood pressure and relieve asthma.   There are many other benefits attributed to the consumption of water kefir beverage,  but one of the greatest remaining benefits is the reasonable cost.  After the initial cash outlay for crystals, the beverage can be brewed by chaining (or reusing the culture) over and over.  Other probiotic sources require continued monetary output.
The brewing process is amazingly simple and requires minimal supplies.  The most difficult part of brewing water kefir for me was waiting for the fermentation process to be complete so I could test my product.
*************************
Here’s how brewing water kefir beverage is done…
*************************
Re-hydrating dehydrated water kefir grains…
*************************
I gathered all the supplies I needed:
water kefir grains
spring water
a wide mouth jar (1/2 gallon or larger)
1/4 cup sugar (preferably NOT white granulated sugar although that is what I used for my first batch)
1/2 lemon
measuring cup
a coffee filter or other cover for jar
rubber band
a non-metallic long handled spoon
a non-metallic strainer
a non-metallic funnel
a seal-able bottle for storing the finished beverage
************************
(optional tea bag…for a cup of tea while you work)
************************
It is very important to use only non-metallic utensils when working with kefir and recommended that you reserve those utensils for water kefir only.   Tap water, even that poured through filters such as Pur or Brita is not recommended.   The minerals have been filtered out.  Spring water with natural mineral content or well water is most recommended for the production of water kefir. 
I used dehydrated grains, because that was what was available to me.  If you are fortunate enough to have a friend who brews water kefir you may be able to get hydrated crystals from them.  As the grains  culture they generally multiply,  producing enough grains to share with others who would like to reap the healthy benefits of this wonderful beverage.   (I purchased my grains from cultures for health and was pleased with their service and my purchase.)
When using dehydrated grains they must be re-hydrated.  This is done by adding the crystals to 4 cups of sweetened. room temperature water.  I found it necessary to heat a cup or two  of the water in order to dissolve the sugar.  I poured the sugar water into the brewing container and added the remainder of the water and allowed it to cool.  Don’t rush, because putting the grains into water that is too warm may damage them. 
After the water cooled I sprinkled the grains into it and gave it a few gentle stirs to mix them in.  (There is a second method of pouring the grains into a muslin pouch and adding the pouch to the water…if using a pouch make certain it is large enough to accommodate the multiplication of the grains.  I have a second batch using this method.) 
I added half a lemon and covered the jar  with a coffee filter and secured it with a rubber band.
Now the waiting begins.  Sit your container on the counter.  Allow the mixture to sit 3 to 4 days.  Do not allow it to sit more than 5 days.
It is common for dehydrated water kefir grains to appear inactive for the first couple weeks.  This is not an indication they are not working only that it sometimes takes re-hydrated dehydrated grains to become fully active.
**********************
Part 2 to come shortly…
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Until next time…
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.  Psalm 105:4

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A while back I took a worn and tattered dog bone neck pillow apart to make a pattern for new, untattered dog bone pillows.  Since then, I’ve made several and given them all away.  Each time my dear husband has hinted he, too, would like to have one of the dandy little pillows for himself.  Yesterday, after being reminded of the pillows a couple different times over the past couple weeks I managed to get time and motivation together in unison and make one for him.  He is much pleased and started using it to support his neck immediately after I completed it as he watched television from his recliner.

My dear husband looked so comfy and contended with his new pillow tucked behind his neck I went back to my sewing machine and stitched one for myself.  Procrastination was no longer an option.  :)

Now I have to wonder what took me so long to treat my dear husband and myself to such an attainable luxury!  The comfort impact of using something so humble while you are relaxing is AMAZING!  I like to kick back and semi-recline the couch with big, down pillows behind my back when I am relaxing in the evening.  Sometimes getting my neck comfortable is not so easy.  Tucking one of these between the pillows and my neck makes all the difference in the world in cervical spinal fatigue.  I love my dog bone pillow!

You don’t have one?  They are super easy to make and both a pattern and step-by-step “how to” tutorial are available right here in River City at Apron Strings.  Dog bone neck pillows make wonderful, home-crafted gifts for relaxers of all ages.  They are great small gifts for nursing home residents and can be used for fund-raising projects. If you use my pattern or tutorial to make pillows, I’d love to hear from you.  I appreciate the feedback and input on how you make use the pattern.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Until next time…

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  Psalm 42:1

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