Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kefir and home made goodies

We have been making kefir lately. In case you are not familiar with what that is here is a website that explains. Actually it is where I got my kefir grains. Alright, so here's what's needed to make kefir:

kefir grains
a glass jar
a warm spot (Room temperature varies so much. At our house in the early spring, sometimes it's in the 50's or in the 80's if we have a fire in the wood stove. Anything in between seems to work- warmer = faster.)
a coffee filter or cloth

kefir grains up close

 That's pretty much it! I just stir in the grains (which look like small boiled cauliflower to me), cover it with a coffee filter or cloth, and walk away. Enjoy your day, or evening or whenever you made it. I secure the coffee filter with a rubber band or the band for a mason jar. After 12 or so hours, I give the jar a little swirl to see how it's going. I like to use my kefir for several things so sometimes I let it go on until it visibly has separated. Other times, I just let it become a little thicker than milk but a bit sour. Usually not. We strain our kefir through a strainer (non metal), save the grains for the next batch and refrigerate the kefir.

kefir cream cheese up close

Here's how we make cream cheese at our house: Take some kefir that has been strained and allow it to sit at room temperature for a little while until it separates. I use a flour sack tea towel to strain it. I pour all of it into the towel draped in a bowl or pitcher. Keep in mind that there's alot of liquid so it needs to be something big enough to hold all of it at once. I tie the towel into a bag and let the whey drip into the bowl below. Actually I have a wooden spoon that holds the bag that I attached to the bottom of my kitchen counter. I leave it to strain overnight- sometimes longer. Once it has stopped dripping, I bottle the whey for other things and scrape out a soft cream cheese into a dish. I salt it a little bit (my own preference) and stick it in the refrigerator until I need it. It usually doesn't last very long. We eat it on kefir bread most often.

Kefir bread (the best thing ever)

In my attempt to feel better, I have been trying not to eat yeast. Well, not that one strain that comes in the one pound blocks I've been buying in bulk for years. I do love bread. We have spent almost a decade making bread at home, most of that we have milled our own grain to do so. Whenever we are in Boone I have bought this awesome sourdough bread from a Owl Creek Breadworks and it is delicious! I am not really having much luck at making sourdough in this house- maybe it's the fluctuation in temperature, or the water from the well, or just me. Anyway, when I'm at home, I make this bread for myself and my family.

5 cups of freshly ground flour (I like mixing kamut and hard red wheat)
1 cup kefir whey + 2 cups of milk (or 3 cups of kefir, but I like using up the whey)
2 tsp. sea salt

I mix it all together in a removable crock from a slow cooker that was broken. I leave it on the counter for 24 hours, covered. Sometimes it's only 22 hours, but it has a nice bit of time before I need to do anything else.
After the elapsed time, I add a little more flour because it's quite wet. I suppose I could just make it with all of hte flour in it at the beginning but I haven't. It's been delicious as it is. Also, I don't grease my pans at all. I'm not sure if it's my stoneware pans or the flour I dust on the outside, but the bread doesn't stick. Bake it at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Let it sit and cool in the pans for just about 10 minutes let it cool and then enjoy! It's delicious!
kefir bread cooling along with my lunch- kefir bread with chickpea salad (like chicken salad but with chickpeas).