adventures with kefir

I have had the excitement of owning kefir grains in the last one month 🙂

At first I left the kefir grains+milk mixture in a jar on the counter with only the top/lid being covered by a clean piece of cloth (secured with elastic band). I replaced milk everyday, directly from fridge. It did not get thick (that is, curdy) but tasted tangy and salty in 24 hours. I kept it that way for a week or so. 

Then I decided to wrap it with a kitchen towel and hoped that it warmed it and helped with fermentation. It did not make a huge difference in fermentation/texture/taste I would say.

Then I decided to put it in a cabinet and wrap with a thicker towel, away from sunlight. Again, there was no significant change.

Then, my sister convinced me to use warm milk; basically I put the fresh milk in a clean jar, covered the top, and put it in hot water bed for 10-15 min to warm it up. I then added the grains in warmed milk and also covered it with a thicker blanket. I replaced the milk everyday, and then started to change it every two days. These changes occurred last weekend (June 3-4). There was some thickening of the milk (curd) around the grains and there was some kind of mucus-like thing going on around the grains, but again there was not significant change in the texture. 

Then my best friend gave me the idea to warm up the thick blanket in the dryer to help fermentation. I did this starting this weekend – 3-4 min in dryer is enough. I did this whenever I changed the milk.

And a couple of day later, yesterday to be exact, I have had the kefir fermented in 12 hours! 🙂

I have removed the grains, fed them with fresh milk (which nicely gave me another batch of kefir today), and left the fermented kefir at room temperature away from sunlight (not covered by anything, except the lid) yesterday. This is called “second fermentation” by sources in internet. It started to separate (the curd and whey) a few hours after that and this evening I planned to make cheese/spread out of it (total of 24 hours of second fermentation). 

It was very easy.

It turns out if you leave it like that, the curd naturally moves up and it almost drains itself of the liquid part (i.e. whey). When used the spoon, I was surprised by how solid it felt 🙂 the bottom part where the curd touches the whey is naturally a little bit wet, but one can strain/drain this using a strainer (I did not this time, but I am planning next time). I added some salt, chili flakes, and dried dill to my first ever kefir spread! Yum 🙂

A couple of notes: I noticed that if I warm up the milk and the blanket, the jar/grains keeps warm for quite some time (for hours) and it is especially important to keep it warm where the grains are; my grains are always on the surface so covering the top/lid of the jar really good with a clean piece of cloth first and then with warm, thick blanket is a good idea.

Also, the fermentation temperature seems to make a difference; when it is colder temps, then it is more sour/tangy. However when it is fermented in a warmer environment, then it is not. There must be some bacteria that like colder temps and produce the tangy taste.

I used 2% or homogenized milk. I am not sure whether skim milk would yield such robust kefir grains. I must also say that there has not been significant change in the size or numbers of the kefir grains since I adopted them a month ago.

Overall, I am very excited and would love to try a cheese or two using the kefir curd. Here is one recipe that makes it sound really easy. Hope I can succeed in this 🙂

joy journal – May 6, 2017

1. I am grateful for sleeping in today. I woke up at around 7 am again but decided to sleep some more. It was past 9.30 am that I finally got up. It made my day short but I appreciated having a lazy and cozy morning.

2. I am grateful for the breakfast I have had at home. It was healthy and filling. And, coffee was awesome! (as usual 🙂 )

3. I am grateful for wanting to walk and walking to a shopping mall. I walked around 2 hours today. Weather was awesome and I felt quite light. Walking was easy and very enjoyable. I have done very well for my health by walking 🙂

4. I am grateful for going around the thrift stores. I found nothing to buy but i am getting used to this. It is still quite exciting to check the items and hope that one or two will turn out to be mine. In the future. Eventually 🙂

5. I am grateful for my back pack. It is such a sturdy and useful thing. I always grab it whenever I go for shopping. It takes up a lot of things and make carrying items easy.

6. I am grateful for talking to my family; sister, mom, and brother today 🙂 My brother is visiting my sister and mom and it was a fun and delightful talk today.

7. I am grateful for all the healthy food I have consumed today and the milk I have drunk. All of them are helping my body keeping healthy and strong. 

8. I am grateful for enjoying the bright day with blue skies. 

9. I am grateful for the things I bought today; milk which is good for my bones; eggs which are awesome, tasty, and packed with nutrients; coffee that will last for 3-4 months; and the chocolate that felt like from heaven 🙂

10. I am grateful for taking a rest and relaxing into my Saturday night. I need to spend time alone so that I can fully relax. It is strange that when I spend time with others in the evenings, I feel like I miss something…. It is awesome to be spending time with myself 🙂

11. I am grateful for the moisturizers I have! They make my skin feel better. And they smell so good too! 🙂

12. I am grateful for dreaming yesterday. I have a new recurrent theme in my dreams. Wonder what it signifies… Life is so mysterious sometime 🙂

13. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note these beautiful things, people, and experiences.

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What do I appreciate myself for today?

1. I thank myself for pampering myself with sleeping in and treating myself with chocolate! 🙂

2. I thank myself for walking and enjoying it. I now consider myself a regular walker.

3. I thank myself for making a continuous effort to eat healthy and drink milk.

4. I thank myself for being frugal and not buying things just because they are on sale or pretty.

5. I thank myself for having a routine and not getting bored of it all the time.

6. I thank myself for enjoying the Kung Fu Panda! Have you seen that animation movie series? please do!

Dreamworks GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Funny GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Kung Fu GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cartoons & Comics GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/dreamworks-kung-fu-panda-Rr6J53cRIwdBS; https://giphy.com/gifs/funny-movie-film-12TfIo5Mubcb3a;https://giphy.com/gifs/kung-fu-4qjD9RnCSqZ8c;https://giphy.com/gifs/family-po-PxzvRAJN7eWB2

 

 

parchment paper disaster and a wonderful loaf

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this is the second loaf, which was baked in the roaster and thus did not get affected by the parchment paper disaster….

Today I learnt that the smoke detectors in my kitchen work just fine because I burnt the parchment paper in the oven!!!!

Never though that would happen. I recently started using it, always in a roaster without any problem; this was the first time I tried it on a cookie sheet.

I had placed the cookie sheet lined with the parchment paper + loaf on the lower shelf of the oven; is that the reason I wonder (oven was at 400 F – many people say that parchment paper is safe to use at this temperature)…

Anyways; a lovely loaf is gone to garbage (the one on top of the burnt paper); luckily I have had another loaf baking in the roaster at the same time, which turned out to be just great 🙂

This loaf is the same as last time where I used milk rather than water in the dough. This time I also increased the amount of yeast, sugar and salt (2 tbs of each for 4 cups of flour), and baked 15 min at 400 F (until I realized parchment was burning…); took out while still in the roaster for 10-15 min until I cleared the oven from smoke; and then baked it at 350 F for an additional 15 min (lid open).

I think I have reached consistency in terms of baking a soft and beautiful loaf, which also happens to have excellent oven spring. I would recommend this recipe to everyone, especially those that are new to baking bread; it is much easier and more forgiving than the bread prepared with water (which I could never bake well) 🙂

 

 

can dough be forgiving?

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milky bread – is it not gorgeous? 🙂

I have been experimenting with bread making for some time and I can say I am still on the way to reach a perfect loaf.

For some reason I am not interested in following a recipe and I rather improvise. While this is exciting (each dough and bread feels like an “experiment”), the end results are usually not great.

This week I tried two loafs; one sourdough and one loaf with milk and commercial yeast.

The sourdough was miserable and did not forgive being poked, adding too much flour and then too much water. The dough was the weirdest I have ever made and I guess I should pay more attention to it 🙂

This being said, the loaf with the milk turned out to be the best ever! The oven spring was obvious, it was soft and incredibly tasty. Next time I should be using a little bit more yeast to make it really fluffy and with large air pockets 🙂

Milky bread recipe:

Add 1 cup warm skim milk, 3/4 tbs sugar, 3/4 tbs dry yeast. Mix well, cover with a kitchen towel, and rest for 10 min until the yeast forms the foams on top

Add 2.5 cups of bread flour, 3/4 tbs salt and mix with hands and knead for 4-5 min

Place in a container brushed with vegetable oil, flip the dough to make sure it gets oil all over

Let rest at room temperature 30 min and then and stretch and fold (total of 3 times; 30 min apart)

*I am not good at kneading, or at stretching and folding. So this time I tried to do a little bit of both of them to see whether I could get a nice, well formed dough

Rest in the fridge over-night – it should get fluffy and risen a little bit

In the morning, take it out to room temperature and let rest for 3.5 hours (only because my kitchen was cold today and I had to go out to shop. In a warmer environment, this time could be much shorter)

Gently de-gas, shape, and let proof for 1.5 hours

Score the surface, place in a pre-heated roaster, and bake at 400 F (oven is pre-heated too)

Enjoy 🙂

 

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this is my sourdough (50% whole wheat and 50% bread flour) 😦 just a little bit better than a brick 😦

 

 

joy journal – May 2, 2016

Time to remember and acknowledge all the great things that made me excited, happy, and grateful 🙂

1. I am grateful for the good night sleep.

2. I am grateful for deciding to walk in the morning. It is always fascinating to see that I have energy in the mornings. I have suffered from low energy for many years. Since last Fall, this has changed as my doctor put me on iron and vitamin D supplements. Did the wonders for me. This has been long waited for and by all means well deserved. I am very happy and excited about this.

3. I am grateful for the nice weather today. I substituted my winter coat with a trench coat today. Overall, the weekly daytime temperature forecast are not bad. I love Spring 🙂

4. I am grateful for the coffee I brewed in the office. It is always a delight to be able to have coffee whenever I want.

5. I am grateful for the productive work today. Feeling this satisfaction is really great.

6. I am grateful for getting invited to a professional event today. This kind of invitations are a sign of recognition. Feeling humbled and also excited 🙂

7. I am grateful for walking back home from the office and enjoying my walk. I wanted to walk longer and sweat a little bit; I must come up with a longer route to walk.

8. I am grateful for doing my back exercises and also working my arms and triceps.

9. I am grateful for binge-watching a TV series.

10. I am grateful for not eating too much for dinner. I think I munched too much at the office and that is why I did not feel like eating a lot tonite. That is good as I have eaten quite unhealthy at the weekend and gained some pounds right away. I want them gone.

11. I am grateful for drinking a tall glass of milk this evening. I have drunk yesterday too, which is awesome. Milk is the one where I have got my calcium and vit D, in addition to supplements. I know that it is helping my body, my bones, and my energy levels. I am very grateful for those animals who produced it, the farmers who gathered it, the trucks that transported it, and the store that sold it to me.

12. I am grateful for not using my eye glasses this evening. I have had a habit of putting them on while I work, browse internet, read books, write stuff, or watch TV. It is tiring for my eyes. I should not be using the glasses all the time; this is what my eye doctor had recommended, too.

13. I am grateful for corresponding with a previous mentor of mine. He is a very successful person, but is hit hard with multiple medical problems. He is still young but I keep hope that he will recover soon. Another mentor of mine died quite young unexpectedly, which always makes me nervous. I am approaching that age, too…. I wonder whether our line of work has a higher stress levels and thus makes us prone to sickness? I wish to live long and happy and healthy. Remembering the passing of one and the multiple sickness of the other reminded me again to relax and not to take this work so serious. There is life outside the work. There is life everywhere. I just need to claim my own portion full of opportunities, enjoyment, love, and relaxation.

14. I am grateful for being safe and sound.

15. I am grateful for being grateful.

breaking the routine, jan 17, 2016

I was shopping yesterday at the grocery store and just to kill some time, I decided to go thru shelves that I  usually would not visit – the shelves with organic stuff. There I have seen almond milk (unsweetened), which was on sale. Since my doctor had suggested almond, soya or regular milk as a calcium and vitamin D supplement for me, I decided to give it a try (my first time trying it).

I must say it is a beauty! Very smooth and filling kind of milk. The calcium and vitamin D levels are comparable to cow milk, even a little bit higher. The other difference is the protein contents, which is in fact less in almond milk than the cow milk. This is not desirable for me, as I usually would not consume meat and meat products daily and thus I would appreciate protein from the milk, but that also means that the calories per serving is much less in almond milk than the regular skim milk.

I give almond milk a 8 out of 10 and am happy to consume more in future.

Calcium and Vitamin D: how to best get them

As a middle aged person, now I am on calcium and Vitamin D supplementation.

I am okay with this; I trust my doctors and medicine to provide me with the best options.

I always knew at one point in my life, I would need calcium supplementation. And, since I moved where I am, I always knew I needed extra vitamin D (here is a foggy city with little sunshine and long winters); I so feel the difference in my energy levels when I go visit a sunny place (psychological or not, I am not sure).

Nevertheless, my doctor’s office sent me a brochure to inform me about the daily required levels for calcium and Vit D.

My doctor also noted that not more than 50% of the required values should come from the supplements. I loved this very much.

Did you know that health-care providers prefer that these micronutrients (and possibly others) to be obtained from the food/drinks, but not the supplement pills? So cool.

The truth is I find supplements artificial and would prefer intake through food, too.

So, here is some brief info for the calcium and vitamin D (also here):  these websites give info on how much we need (changes based on age and sometime sex) and the foods that contain them. Milk seems to be doing well in both cases (as well as the fortified orange juice and others) and fish seems great for Vit D intake.

Go check these sites out and see how you are doing in terms of getting your calcium and vitamin D from food.

healthy life – style journal, Sept 27, 2015

I ate a lot yesterday night; argh!!! And kind of unhealthy today.. Another argh..

well, I try to convince myself that every once a while it can be okay. I hope, though, I will keep it with “every once a while”…

On the other hand, I am pleased with my decision to drink milk everyday (see below).

Breakfast: 50 gr cheese, coffee with cream and brown sugar

Lunch: waffles.. what is it about waffles that I crave for? Simple – it is their crunchiness. I went to shop and could not resist buying one. Lots of calories, minimal nutrition….

Dinner: mixed salad with red and white radish, cucumber, green onions, tomato, and olive oil.

Late night snack (planned): Skim milk. My doctor’s office sent me a booklet yesterday about the calcium and Vit D intake. It was very useful – thanking them very much. They recommend getting a maximum of 50% of the daily requirements for calcium and Vit D from supplements – the rest better comes from the food I consume.. I loved this. There is quite an information about the food that contain these two micronutrient. I noticed that it is the milk that has the highest amount of both. I am not a fan of milk, but I bought some today and am planning to drink every night. It will feel good (knowing that I have done really good) 🙂

As snacks, I may also get apples or the honey-cinnamon-granola bars I have tried at home for the first time today 🙂

added after the post: ate the granola bars; then I craved for salty stuff and ate a little bit of cheese and 1 slice of bread.

Exercise: 15 min walking in the morning.

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