Not much to look at, right? Wrong! I spent a good FIVE MINUTES staring at the kombucha tea mother, gently swirling and undulating right after being placed in its tea-and-sugar bath, the watching-chickens effect. I like the look of the mother, although some people find the whole thing kinda…icky. If you’re not familiar, this is a sparkling drink, tartly acidic and slightly sweet, made by floating the mother—it’s also called a SCOBY, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast—in a solution of tea (black or green or both) and sugar. Let it ferment for around a week and a fizzy beverage is the result. It’s quite impressive. Not surprising, there are all sorts of magical health benefits ascribed to kombucha tea, and from the bit of reading I’ve done, none of it is really “evidence-based,” to use the popular medical description for stuff that’s scientifically proven, whatever exactly that means. In any case, nobody really says it’s BAD for you, maybe it is magical, and I find it…refreshing.
Making it is easy: 4-5 tea bags in some water for a few minutes, top up the hot tea with cold water to about 3/4 gallon (around 3 liters) so it’s all cooled down, then plunk in your SCOBY—any size will do, it grows!—along with a cup or two of kombucha tea (you store the mother in the tea), and you’re done. Cover with a clean cloth to let in air but not dust, stash in a warm, dark place, and taste test in five days or so: if it’s too sweet, leave longer, if it’s too tart (the main bacterium makes acetic acid, which is basically vinegar), well, test earlier next time. It’s all pretty loose and easy, and each batch you get a new, extra mother that you can pass on. Do a search and you’ll find lots of details.
My first mother I was given in a jam jar at a raw food talk, and I made kombucha steadily for a couple of years, for no reason other than that I like it (many people refuse to even taste it?!)—after a couple years off, I’m back in production. Yet another thing to grow!
Another in my series of possibly-not-so-appetizing photos of oh-so-delicious food. Local food. Ingredients either grown by me or gotten from those who did. I still find knowing where your food comes from endlessly satisfying, it doesn’t get old. Anyhow, without further ado, on to the one-pot, no-culinary-skills-required Beef and Eggplant Stew. More »
OK, perhaps not the MOST appetizing of food photos, but the point is, that’s how it looked, and it tasted great—more all-local, dead-simple cookery! Here we have my first time with this grass-feed beef honey garlic sausage from a few miles down the road—I could actually taste…honey; unusual and good! Alongside in the cast iron pan, sweet orange pepper (Orange Sun), the very last, slightly green zucchini (Golden Dawn III), and a mess of yellow cooking onion, all from the field. A little imported olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper, let braise-simmer for a while—an hour or so, with the zucchini added near the end—and…Bob’s yer uncle! Delicious, nutritious (I’m pretty sure), fun. :)
In the end, this is all about food and eating. Tonight, back to basics: heat applied to simple, locally grown ingredients, no culinary art or even a favorite recipe, just some mellow cooking. In the pot: grass-fed beef from a few miles down the road, plus, from our harvest, onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and green beans, well water, and a little store-bought salt and pepper. Simmered, covered for a while, for a couple of hours. The Yukon Gold potatoes, medium starchy, added thickness without melting away to mush. The beans, teaming up with the carrots, contributed a little veg lightness to the…stew. Dinner! (Fall must be in the air…)
We’ve been faithfully bringing the matching pair of chalkboards to the farmers’ market since we bought them at an office supply box store in mid-summer, but it’s what to put on ‘em that’s the puzzle. Today’s new message: “Eat good food”! The other one (out of sight on the left) has been a standing quote from Will Allen: “We need 50 million more people growing food, on porches, in pots, in side yards.” A little odd, perhaps, for the market? Maybe, but there they are. Promotional words on chalkboards is the plan. It’s a work in progress!
The muggy wave continues, the sixth day or so of bright, swelteringly humid heat. Today was only 21°C (72°F), but the Humidex (or whatever exactly They call it) says it’s the equivalent to us humans of 40°C (110°F). It does feel that way. I can’t recall ever hearing a spread that big—quite weird, or maybe the Humidex got more accurate…
A smaller crew than usual this Monday morning as we harvested for CSA shares. Lynn and Mel (above) were out earlier, hitting the field at 7 am, partly to get a jump on the heat, partly because they both had to leave earlier as well. Michelle arrived around 8:30. Tara was tied up preparing for a short trip. Jordan, another Monday regular, is away for a couple of weeks, on various visits around the north-east.
People in the field. I still find it mildly unlikely and extremely cool each time one of our tiny field crews assembles for a day. Sometimes it’s a crew of two, other times, usually harvest Fridays and Mondays, the numbers swell (big for a tiny farm!).
We all head to the field for different reasons and different returns. The work is never endlessly tedious, we don’t go out and, say, pick beans for 8 hours, but we do get a lot done, and everyone does a bit of everything. You can find a little instant closure, where the start and end of a thing are all right at hand. You can learn to small-scale farm. You can chill out, take time to think—garden meditation while breathing some relatively fresh, country air and dabbling in the dirt. Chatting while veggie gardening can be great. It’s whatever you want it to be…
Today, it was hot. The shares were done by noon as planned. It’s all good! :)