Monday, 10 February 2014

Fermenting Woes and Woohoos

I always check my kombucha of an afternoon because I find that in the morning, it's not as active and exciting so I take a look when it's most changed. I unveiled his towel and he's finally reaching puberty! It looks like a SCOBY.

In other words, my scoby is developing a hard part that doesn't squish down like other air bubbles do. Excitement plus! I'm still going to buy a scoby, because I'm too impatient for this.

As I checked stuff around the kitchen (slow cooker with osso buco, a nutella popcorn mess) I decided to have a peek at my gherkin and cucumber ferments. They've been smelling like chlorine for the last few days (well, every day since I put them together) but today they did not. Today they had mould. All everywhere all over the place. Take a gander at Exhibit A:

Yes, it's blurry. My phone wouldn't focus! (That makes two of us.)

Exhibit B. I opened this and for a second, I was convinced I'd managed to grow tiny jellyfish. I really did.

Maybe I should do that one day. Farm jellyfish in tiny areas, turn off their growth gene and DNA, and put them in pickle jars to speed up fermentation so I don't have to wait all year (ok, 5 days) to see what happens if you leave out chlorine smelling cucumbers. And they would blob up and down and move around and zap all the bad microbes and ferments would be so much more entertaining...

I think I might do that with kombucha. And patent it as MicroScoby™.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Broken Hearted

'This heart is male. You know why? It's broken.'

Took me a while to get.

And then when I got it home (all 2.5kg of it), I found that it WAS broken. It was sliced in two. On purpose to keep up with the story, I'm not sure.

I've been planning beef heart for Valentine's Day since last Feburary, and I wanted to make sure I planned this well enough to actually make them. So I ordered a heart, and I got all 2.5kg of it.

Sliced it up and put the other seven servings in the freezer. No Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies for me!

And out of the same freezer I pulled half an orange. Chopped it up and puréed with basic marinade (or salad dressing, depending how you look at it) ingredients until it was smooth. As smooth as orange pulp can be.

I should've thought about my beef heart skewers before making them. I could've made Cupid arrows shooting through the hearts but I disgress...

Marinaded the hearts for an hour (they're tough little guys and, well, I was a little too prepared that day) and roasted some sweet potato.

The hearts bathed in a hot tub of frying fat (they were pan seared, but same thing) and tossed quickly. Almost forgot about the sugar in the oranges. Almost.

Yummy love was served on the plate: beef heart skewers with orange marinade/sauce (I reduced the rest of the marinade) and sweet potato with butter. Lots and lots of butter. Because it's the day to spend time with what you love, right?

Just because heart is 'offal', doesn't mean it tastes awful. It's just a muscle. Like a bicep or a sphincter (read: eye fillet). It's just a little tougher because it's the reason that animal lived.

Cupid's Arrows in Hearts

8 strips of beef heart
1/2 orange
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2-4 cloves of garlic
fat for frying
skewers, preferably soaked in water for 30 mins

Put all ingredients except the heart and the fat in a blender or something for a stick blender and purée until you have a thinnish liquid.
Thread the heart strips onto the skewers.
Marinade the skewers for 20 - 60 mins.
Heat a large pan on medium-high heat and add the fat.
Fry the skewers on 1-3 minutes on each side, and flip three times (just to make sure it's cooked. If you don't want it as tough, only turn twice.)
Once they're out, bring the pan to medium-low and pour in the rest of the marinade and let it reduce/cook for 10 - 15 minutes.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Conversations with my Butcher

'Hi there. Can I order a beef heart?'

'Sure. What's it for?'

'Valentine's Day.'


They must think I'm bonkers at that place. I order suet every month or so, I buy four cuts of lamb just for the weekend, I get bolar bones every time I visit... And now this? Mum said that they're probably thinking I'll put the heart in a box and give it to some guy. Now that's weirding me out.

Later, when the guy who knows me best came up to me before I left,

'What are you up to this weekend?'

'Im making fermented tea'

'You could write a cook book'

'I hope so!'

I do have a desire to write a cook book, but I think it's just because I know I can actually gain money in some kind of way.

Anyway, if you read into it right, I'm making kombucha! Lovely booch, acidic Ceylon (I'm still confused if this is green or black tea), little mushroom. My ferments have been slimy and cloudy and I haven't been wanting to eat them (no surprises there) and I really only like ferments that are originally sweet and easy to consume (read: raw milk and fermented mango vomit) so I said why not and now that I've got a relatively large jar maybe I can make this stuff that I've been putting off for a year.

I brewed him up, added my yummy, refrigerated kombucha, and toweled him up. I present: Habib. My thinking is, if I name the jar, the names will be easy, but if I name the scobies, it'll be like naming rabbits! Too hard. So Habib is my first jar.

He's in his little cupboard with all the other friendly jars.

And this morning (3 days later) he had a bit of a scoby forming. Ok, so it's barely anything, but it's WORKING!

Don't laugh, ok? Every scoby starts from something very, very tiny.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Studying the Art of Crunchy Sprays

Tomorrow is the start of a whole new three terms + THE HSC so I thought maybe I should start thinking about what it's like doing school work.

I sat on my bed, picked up my chemistry notes, and tried to revise.

Study, just for a little bit.

Ten minutes later, I decided there was no way I could possibly get myself to 'get into the habit' of chemistry. Not yet. It's my first class when I go back to school. I'll do a warm up in class. I'll recite the periodic table (yeah, I memorised it - except the actinides), do a few practical equilibrium reactions, and possibly make my teacher wind up in hospital.

Bad thoughts, Jordie, bad thoughts.

So instead of doing that type of study, I chose to study in a DIY-natural-holistic-herbal tea-coconut oil-crunchy way. Helloooo shopping centre.

Not for clothes though! I found the two dollar shop and a pharmacy and bought myself some empty spray bottles. Got home and found that the two 'recipes' I wanted were on the same site at Wellness Mama and got to work.

It's pretty much the same idea as what we do in chem class anyway: put some protective goggles on, spoon some white stuff into a glass holder, stir it around a bit, and watch the reaction. If I really wanted, I could test the pH of my concotions using some red cabbage juice* but I know it'll be slightly acidic anyway (Woohoo! I've remembered the Bronsted Lowry theory!).

*PS. I tried pH testing the other day with purple yam juice as well, and it also works, so I think it's the anthocyanins.

The first mixture I made was the beachy salt spray to put on your hair because, now that my hair is actually an appropriate length and is quite nice (I chopped it all off last year), I sometimes want it wavy instead of just poofy and straight and not working, and this stuff will do the trick. I just tried a little on a bit of my hair and it works very nicely. If I didn't have to study or, you know, go to school, I could just go for the au naturale approach and go to the beach, but this is certainly a heap easier.

The other solution I made was magnesium oil. Oh hail thee, oil of mangnesia, may my energyless, restless soul allow you to transform me into a sleeping goddess, and erase the dark shadows and pits that my sleepless body creates under my eyes every time I collapse at moonlight. This stuff better bloody work, or there will be consequences. Whatever those consequences may be, it will be something I instruct someone to do for me. I CAN'T SLEEP! Ever!

Also, for those with eczema, I tried a little magnesium on my neck (no eczema there now but still pretty sensitive), and it KILLED. It was quite painful. If it was worse, it would feel like I was burning alive. So do yourself a favour and don't spray it anywhere too sensitive.

See, I studied...

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


I found myself staying up half an hour past my bedtime. But it was worth it. You know those random tv shows that come on that you've never seen and will never see again and you can't get away from it even though you've got better stuff to do? Ok, so maybe that applies to every time anyone watches tv. But I found a show called Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home, where the guy from Grand Designs makes a summer house (in England, so it's not all that summery) completely from recycled objects and lives off the grid. The episode I saw (I've done my research) was called Tower Planning and, by the end, he's made his little cottage into this crazy, childish, almost animated whimsy that has a scissor lift at the back of it and it was incredible. It almost looked ridiculous.

Part of him living off the grid was to make his own stuff, like soap and shaving cream and oil from mackerels and some snail face cream, which was last episode apparently. But this episode he made toothpaste. Completely natural toothpaste at that.

However, I must say, it's nothing near the baking soda and bentonite clay equivalents I see online.

First, he told us of the whitening benefits of urea. Yes, it's just what it sounds like. He boiled his urine in a glass tray over a fire to get it right down to the precipitate (non wet stuff). He then crushed up some cuttlefish backbone (the stuff you give your bird) and mixed it with some peppermint oil. He added the urea and tested it out. Apparently it was salty and tasted like wee wee, so I guess that's about half of what any other homemade toothpaste tastes like.

I tried to make my own toothpaste ages ago but I wanted to try it with some sort of clay. And I still have not found a single place I can physically get it. I bought a 'natural' toothpaste the other day but it has glycerin so my teeth won't remineralise, but it's better than that white fluoride crap. So I'm going to test out a million different recipes and try to make my own. Therefore this post will be constantly updated.

Here's Try #1:
(I didn't measure any of these)
2 capsules activated charcoal
equal amount of ground cinnamon
equal amount + half of baking soda
coconut oil

Mix the powders and add maybe a teaspoon or two until it makes a paste.

UPDATE 3/2/14

I read a few things about tooth powders where you dip a wet brush into some dust and then brush with it. Wanted to try it out a bit, but I wasn't 100% sure on it. Plus, mum's partner said he needed some more charcoaling for his teeth so to make it more nicer, I made half of my dust into paste.

To change up the recipe, I added some plain salt to it as well. I haven't seen many homemade recipes with salt, but my grandmother told me that her grandmother used to make toothpaste out of charcoal, olive oil (we're Italian, what do you expect?) and sea salt. So I gave it a shot. Needless to say, it's far from the sweet minty taste people are used to. Think of it more as salt and vinegar chips. But not crunchy.

Try #2:
8 capsules activated charcoal
1 1/4 tbsp bicarb soda
1 tbsp salt
pinch of cinnamon
coconut oil (1/2 tbsp)

Mix the dry ingredients. This batch turns out grey instead of black. Add the coconut oil until it makes a paste. Alternatively, if making a tooth powder, don't add the coconut oil.

Friday, 17 January 2014

New Blog, New Everything!

Yay! Finally, a blog where I won't be all

'Damn, I haven't blogged in a while. I should blog more often. I have so much to blog about. I wish I had time to blog. I wish I was funny enough to blog. I don't know what to say. I wrote too much! I won't blog today because I can just not think about how neglected my blog is until tomorrow when I do blog. Yeah, I'll do it tomorrow.'

like I was with

Don't ask me where I'll find time to do this. It will just happen. Photos or no photos. Long or short or phrases used as a single blog post.

Right now, it will be a long post with lots of photos. Of all my new stuff!

Yeah yeah self sufficiency blah blah blah. I buy all the stuff ok? Someone's gotta hold up the industry that makes real health foods. PS stupids: raw leaves are NOT 'superfoods'. Neither are sugary purple frozen Amazonian berries.

So I will list my recently-acquired items in list of ascending self sufficiency:

Vibrams and a GoPro. Now I can have hobbit feet and document having hobbit feet at the same time!

Raw honey and magnesium flakes from online, finally. Think of all those bees that produced that much honey... And I'm just going to dump it in my broth with a bucket of salt. Perfect. (Yes, I'm serious. I'll put a recipe up.)

Raw Goat's Milk!! AGHHH!! However, someone please explain to me why raw cow's milk is illegal, but not from little goaties. This one will be available to me one day if and when I have goats. I'm still debating it. But still chickens. Always chickens.

An accurate, jelly-like depiction of my vertebrates: a cucumber spine! This is what happens when it's so hot you only want to eat the easiest part to eat of a cucumber.

Homegrown veggies at mums, grown either by grandmother hands or by mine + water + sun. Please do not ask me how they survive on just water, but I love being able to grow living plants in our extreme environment. Nothing else grows but these guys.

Homegrown veggies at dads, grown by real nutritious ground and pulled by my own dirty fingers. Our potatoes are incredibly talented; as you can see, one of them (the muddy patch at the bottom) has already started mashing himself. My potatoes have a goal in life and nothing can stop them, so it seems. See, veggies do like being eaten. And my onions are adorable and long too.

I swear I got more stuff than this.