Jumping Back Into Normal… well, almost

It’s been such a blessing to be home for the past few months. We have been trying to put the events from last year in our memory but the reality is that we will never be able to completely forget the health scare that we faced with our little one. It has helped us to see just how truly blessed we are to have such a beautiful family and we have been reminded of just how precious life is… and how quickly things can change.

While being cooped up in a small hospital room for such a long time was not anything that I had ever planned it did give me quite a bit of time to think about things that I had wanted to do but never had the chance to do them. Now that we are home and things have been settling down a bit we’ve been tackling some of the things that I had been thinking about.

I had been trying to make some healthier changes with our eating and with things around the house like making our own cleaners. While we were at the hospital we did have to revert back to buying some things as we ran out of things that I had prepared and it just wasn’t feasible to make more at the time. We also had many people helping out and it was easier to buy/prepare convenience foods most of the time.

One thing we have been using a lot more lately has been our sourdough starter, Fran. ‘She’ has been with us for a few years now but she had been quite neglected for a bit. With some love and attention, she has been restored to health and she has been providing us with lots of delicious breads, rolls, donuts, and other items. We have been doing a lot of experimenting with sourdough and have been using it to make batters for fish and chicken as well… so good! Fran has helped us to pretty much say ‘Bye-bye’ to store-bought bread and no one is complaining one bit.

Another couple of things that I’ve been wanting to try out were making my own kombucha… love this stuff… kefirs, and some other fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut. I decided that we weren’t going to wait any longer and we jumped right in. I bought my first SCOBY and grains from Facebook. I also lucked out and found some bottles and supplies on Facebook… it cost me around $100 to get started. Everything was super simple to get started and we have been enjoying fermented, probiotic-rich beverages for a couple of months now… well, everyone but Mr. Awesome as he refuses to drink it.

I enjoyed the Kombucha so much that I later purchased another SCOBY from Amazon along with this book full of great information. My son had given me an Amazon gift card for my birthday so that went towards that purchase as well as buying some supplies to start up a batch of Jun Tea... another variety of Kombucha which uses green tea and honey.

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We are now doing the continuous brew method for our Kombuchas and our water kefir. I bought the water kefir grains and the milk kefir grains off of Facebook and I have had great success with them but you can also find them on Amazon. We have been using the water kefir to make fizzy drinks for the kiddos… they love it with grape juice. They also love a root beer flavor that we have been making with some sassafrass tea concentrate and we currently have a Dr. Pepper flavored bath fermenting to try soon. The kids always get a kick out of the ones that get super fizzy as they spew everywhere if you aren’t careful.

Our milk kefir has been used to make deliciously tangy smoothies for evening snacks. We have also used it to make kefir cheese which we use in place of cream cheese for a variety of recipes. I have also used the kefir to make some cultured butter and buttermilk… so delicious and healthy! Last night I used some kefir in place of buttermilk to make some sourdough fried chicken and it was so good! I’ll try to get the recipe posted soon.

In addition to these beverages, I have been getting my feet wet with some food preservation skills as well. At one time I did a lot of canning and preserving but I had gotten away from it for various reasons. Nothing like a health crisis during a pandemic to get us back on track. We’ve made some homemade sauerkraut that even the kids enjoy. We have some pickles pickling right now as well. I also bought this great fermenting kit with my birthday gift card.

Last week we made some jams, jellies, and fruit syrups. The first batch of jelly didn’t set well so we left it as syrup which is so good over pancakes and French Toast. The others set up pretty well and make great sandwiches with our homemade bread. We ended up with several jars of strawberry and grape jams/jellies as well as a few jars of strawberry syrup.

There are so many great resources available to learn these skills or to help refresh your memory if you haven’t done them in a while. A couple of my favorites right now have been Mary’s Nest and Farmhouse on Boone. They both help make things so simple and easy to follow that it really helps keep me motivated to keep trying new things. As far as learning more about Kombucha, I really like Kombucha Kamp channel/blog.

I’ve learned how to make vinegar from Mary’s Nest and have already made one batch of citrus vinegar. We now have some more citrus vinegar going as well as a batch of apple cider vinegar and a couple batches of strawberry vinegar. I can’t wait to give these a try!

While things have been starting to get back to normal with us, they aren’t quite normal as we have been making so many changes. An important thing to remember is to start slow when adding new foods to your diet because you could have adverse reactions… we haven’t really experienced anything major and everyone seems to be tolerating the diet changes rather well. Some of us have even been seeing some weight loss with these changes… whoo-hoo!

I know I’ve been rambling on a bit but I just want to encourage you to try something new that you’ve been putting off for one reason or another… don’t wait until the ‘time is right’ because you may find that the time never seems right. If it doesn’t turn out like you expected then don’t be afraid to try it again. If it turns out that you really don’t like whatever it is then don’t be afraid to walk away … you never really know if you’ll like something or not unless you give it a try.

We thank you all for your continued love, support, and prayers for our family as we continue to recover from the past year and move forward with this new chapter of our lives.

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