Thursday, July 29, 2010

Somethin's a Brewin'

Jeff's birthday is coming up, and he was hinting ever so slightly (hah!) that he wanted a homebrew kit. This is really exciting for me too, because I love making stuff that seems like is only sold on shelves. I ordered lots of stuff from amazon. Brewing bottles, kegs, root beer extract for sodas, and to get us in the hang of it, I got some Mr Beer's premix packs (Oktoberfest blend, and Hard Apple Cider). As soon as it got here, I couldn't wait anymore (it's a family issue, we're working on it), and I let him open it. With Jeff's stealth present guessing skills, it seems the only way to surprise this man is to give it to him two weeks early, haha!

 Now that I've seen the ingredients in the premixes, I'm bummed I ordered them, because I could so easily make it myself!

Anyways, I gave making root beer a shot yesterday, and it was so simple! Unfortunately, I have to wait two weeks for it to be ready to drink, but my justification is that the first batch will be ready in time for Jeff's "real" birthday.

I went with a low sugar approach, but used agave nectar to do most of the sweetening. So... in a few weeks, we'll have two gallons of  homemade root beer!

This is the homebrew brand extract I got from ebay. It came with  the champagne yeast required, and a recipe that I tweaked.

1/2 tsp champagne yeast
2 oz homebrew root beer extract
2 cups raw cane sugar
2 gallons warm filtered tap water
and I didn't measure the agave nectar, just added it until it tasted sweet enough. You need a certain amount (a few tbs) of sugar per gallon though, so the yeast can thrive).

Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of warm water for 5 minutes so that it's completely dissolved.

Mix the extract in a large pot with warm water and sugar/agave until completely, then add yeast mixture. Mix until dissolved.

Put in sanitized bottles and make sure they're completely sealed. Keep in room temp for 3-4 days, then move to cold dark place for the remainder of the week. For better flavor you can let it brew up to 2 weeks.

Are we there yet?

Baking's more fun with two helpers on the counter

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cake.... that's kind of good for you?!

Our juicer is amazing, but it leaves a lot of pulp. We have a compost bin, which I am beginning to use so we have awesome fertilizer for the garden we're planning, but I hate to use it all for that. I've been saved it here and there, just based on what I've juiced, and keep it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. So... what can a girl make from a bunch of pulp...... I got to thinking! Here's a recipe I made, and WOW!!!!!!!!!!! It was delicious to say the least. We still transitioning to being completely organic/ natural, so my icing and spices weren't, but you can make whatever way if you want.

Original Recipe Yield 1 - 9x13 inch cake


  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups raw cane sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla agave nectar)
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 cup pulp from juicer (mine had lots of carrot in it, as well as apples, pears, and peaches)
  • 1/4 raw almonds, chopped
For icing, I stuck 1/2 cup raw cane sugar in the blender to make my own powdered sugar, then mixed it with blended cream cheese to taste, with a tad of vanilla agave. I still didn't end up using all the sugar. You can also use agave as a substitute for the sugar. 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots/ pulp. Fold in nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and coolcompletely.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

Starting an Adventure.

For the past year or so, my husband and I have slowly been changing our minds about what we eat. In the past 3ish weeks, we've started the transition into eating organically.

Organic.... for some reason I really, really do not like that word. It makes me picture hippies/granolas and environmentalists, and doesn't seem to fit who I am as a person. It's expensive, too. I remember accidentally buying organic bananas when I was pregnant with my first, and it being putrid. I used that as fuel to make fun of the crazy organic guy at work, but I realize now that it simply wasn't ripe enough. *Cringe*

After some research, and listening to only a few minutes of a wellness seminar from, Jeff and I looked at each other and knew this is what we'd been looking for. We'd go to bed exhausted, we'd wake up even more exhausted, and didn't have much energy left for our kids after barely surviving the day. We started to analyze our diets. We realized nearly our only fluids in the day were coffee, and for Jeff, the "all knowing" energy drink. Some days I'd be too tired to make enough food during the day, and though my poor body started to protest, eventually it gave up trying to send me signals. No good at all for a nursing mama.

My, how things are changing. To me, it's not about saving the world, to be quite honest. It's about saving my life. I look at how my great grandma lived, and this is the reason I'm changing my lifestyle. She lived in this house (we live in now ) from the time it was built, for seventy-some-odd years, to the age of 99. She lived a year shy of a century, and never got sick and guess what? She grew her own food. I want that!! And I want it for my entire family, too.

It's been three weeks since we've made the leap. We got a water filter for our sink, and a juicer, and I'm not turning back! Instead of  waking to a cup of coffee in the morning, I make juice, with Josh up on the counter with me, and we all love it. We haven't had a single caffeine headache for either, stopping cold turkey, and I wake up in the morning (even when Josh breaks in at 6:30) and feel refreshed with energy. It's amazing!

I have lots of plans. Plans for planting our our garden to live off of so this change is more affordable, to make all our own bread, to make our own yogurt, and plans to make our own juice.

This is a blog of our journey.