July 28, 2014: Wake The *&##@ Up!

We had a beautiful weekend here, unfortunately I was feeling kind of crappy all weekend.  When I was laying on the bench outside yesterday afternoon and Ray’s son came over and asked why I wasn’t feeling good, I said “sometimes women feel like shit once a month, it’s best to just leave us alone” and he didn’t get it, LOL!  He’s single.

Friday night I jarred all the bone broth (15L, thanks very much!), went to Costco, Liquor Store, Grocery Store and then came home and made potato salad and packed up picnic ingredients for Saturday morning.  I wasn’t feeling too awful on Saturday morning so I got up at 5:30am and took Gracie for a 4.4km walk (2.75 miles) and then went home, finished putting together the picnic, showered and we headed out on a day ride.  My first ride out of the area with Jezebel (who is now actually nameless since Ray buffed her name off the fender last night).  We were both really, REALLY looking forward to it, the weather was gorgeous and we were more than ready to get our cruise on.  We got about 90 minutes from home and stopped for gas and we should have just called it a day and gone home.  I’d gotten hit with a wicked headache and cramps and instead of listening to my inner self beg to go home and go to bed, I sucked it up, took an Advil and we pushed on….for another 3 hours.  When we were at our turnaround spot for lunch I realized what  huge mistake I’d made.  Now I was easily 5 hours from home in the heat with a borderline migraine and killer cramps…and no way to get back home but to ride.  Not cool.  Along our route there are 7 tunnels and every time we went into one, going from light to dark and back to light was like a hot poker in my brain.  Nice, right?

With around 2 hours left to go before we got home, all of a sudden I heard a voice in my head say, “Wake the Fuck Up! Sit up Straight, Pay Attention And Look Where You Want To Go!”.  If you don’t happen to ride a motorcycle you may not know…but it’s something you can’t really be lazy with.  It’s not like driving a car and zoning out or relaxing back in the seat.  Not at all.  It’s push, pull, lean, look, assessing each corner, your speed, your gear, the road condition, the oncoming traffic (especially around a left hand corner, you’d be shocked how many people cross the centre line).  It’s watching for rocks, wildlife, the person in front of you and the one behind you.  The only thing protecting you from disaster is your own skill and the clothes you’re wearing.  I’m not trying to be alarmist, not at all….but zoning out and not engaging in the process is a recipe for disaster. So anyway, once I sat up straight and took charge, things improved a lot. I still felt like shit and still just wanted to be at home…but I felt more in control and my riding performance definitely showed that.

Since I was all alone on my bike with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company I thought about how that relates to the rest of life.  Wake the Fuck Up, Sit Up Straight, Pay Attention and Look Where You Want To Go.  Engage with what you’re doing, give the right inputs so you get the right results.  Don’t just coast along, hoping.  Don’t look at the pavement right in front of you; at 100km/h (or the speed of life, whichever), what is 10 feet ahead is already happening and there is nothing you can do to change it.  Look AHEAD, as far up the road as you can, plan for what you can see, anticipate what you cannot.  There is no point in making panicky, last second alterations to your path because it’s ultimately a wasted effort. Better off, less energy and less potential for disaster if you can look way ahead, see what’s coming and have plenty of time to plan for it.  And so it goes in life, too, right?

Anyway….my bike-musings aside, after we got home on Saturday I was basically done.  DONE.  I went to bed at 8:30 after having a bbq hamburger patty, some broth and another Advil.  Slept until 9:30 on Sunday and called off a visit with my sister. As I texted to her, I loved the idea of having her come over and hang out but I really just wanted to be left alone.  Really, really alone.  Not ideal visiting situation.  Fortunately, she completely understood!  After a long coffee on Sunday morning we went out and picked up the new suspension for my bike to lower it and then came home and I did some cooking and otherwise sitting about while Ray worked on it.  Around 7:30 I was feeling a bit better so we went for a quick ride to ice cream and so I could test out the changes he’d made.  I love it!  The kit lowered it by almost 2 full inches which is fantastic and hopefully makes it a bit more manageable for me.  I’m no tiny woman but I’m not a 6’6” man either and having the bike lowered is only going to make it nicer for me.

This week the weather is supposed to be beautiful so my early am dog walk/jogs are still holding strong (another 4.5km this am) and in the evenings we’ll be tidying up the house and getting ready to spend a long weekend away…travelling on our bikes.  It’s just for three days but we’re very looking forward to it!

Do It!

What the….?  I had at least 1000 words in my head every day last week and now this week….nothing.  Blank.  I checked my phone to see if I’d taken pictures of anything in the last few days…..nothing.  What the heck has been going on?  Just….hanging out.  Early morning dog walks, morning coffee with the husband, working (sort of), sitting in the sun (except today in the bucketing rain), making and bottling kombucha, taking the dog to the vet, cooking.  All the things that make up a life….that are dead dull to write about!

The weather has been a bit spotty this past week, overcast, on and off cold, on and off rain, darker in the mornings that it was even 2 weeks ago.  It got me thinking about fall and winter (I KNOW, we’re not even to August yet, there’s still LOTS of summer to go) and what I might want to do in the fall/winter.  I thought maybe I would get back to cross stitching, I used to really like that.  Or maybe reading more regularly?  Maybe my sister could teach me how to knit?  Or quilt? None of those really spoke to me though.  I kept trying to drown it out but over the last week a little voice that I’ve been beating into submission for years, somehow gained some strength and started getting a little louder. 

“Do it.  You know you want to.  Do it.  You can totally do it.  You have always wanted to do it.  There is no reason you can’t do it.  Other people do it all the time.  Stop being scared and just DO IT!”

What is “it”?  [Seriously….cannot believe I’m about to put this out into the world]…………the “it” that I have always wanted to do and have always been too scared to try….is a triathlon.  A sprint distance triathlon; 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run. 

SBR

It’s terrifying to contemplate; swimming in open water with tonnes of other people, the transitions, the training, fueling, what to wear, swimming, the cost, the swimming….all terrifying.  I’m totally going to do it though and I’ve already picked out my triathlon and my “support crew” for it.  The one I want to do is in mid July in Penticton, about a 3 hour drive away.  My support crew is my sister and as I said to her, being my support team involves travelling there, checking out the venue/package pickup the day before, helping to calm my nerves, standing around for 2.5 hours waiting for me to finish, taking pictures and then celebrating afterwards.  Pretty easy job, if you ask me!

So the things that are freaking me out?

SWIMMING – I know how to swim.  Errr….I knew how to swim?  Once?  A really long time ago?  Errr….I won’t drown immediately if tossed into deep water?  Ya.  There’s that.  I have no background in swimming for sport or exercise.  But I have basically a year to figure it out and practice.  And, I’m very lucky because we have a huge aquatic centre about a 5 minute walk (or 2 minute drive) from our house. 

Pool Map

I’m a tad unlucky thought because right now their schedule permits lane swimming between 6am – 7am and 9pm – 10pm daily.  Not the best hours and I’m hoping in the fall the schedule changes a bit…but even if it doesn’t, I could actually make this work.  There’s also the problem of open water training, learning to swim in a straight line, sighting so you don’t get lost, not panicking.  Again, I may be lucking out in this, there is an open water triathlon drop in coaching group at a lake about 20 minutes away who have coaches in the water and on paddleboards giving assistance and training. 

TRANSITIONS – these are where you change gear between swim and bike and between bike and run.  From what I can tell there is a bit of an art to doing it and since I have no frame of reference, it freaks me the hell out.  Fortunately there are thousands of blogs and articles on the internet that give tips and tricks and training on how to set yourself up.

TRAINING – this doesn’t really scare me like swimming and transitions do…but it’s always been a hold up to committing to doing it.  Where would I find the time? And the commitment?  How long would I have to train for? Am I going to die?  There aren’t enough (daylight) hours in the day, do I really want to make this sort of time commitment against my evenings and weekends?  Because while I want to do a triathlon which would take up a weekend of my life and, acutely, 2-3 hours, “doing a triathlon” actually involves “doing it” for several months.  Right now I’m planning to learn the swimming over the winter months (October – March), and then focus on practice/training the bicycle March and April and focus on training the run in May and June.  Since I’ve basically given myself an entire year to get prepared for this I feel more comfortable with being able to have a more relaxed “training schedule” rather than trying to cram it all into three months, 6 days/week.  Not cool, I already know I would be unlikely to succeed at that.

FUELING/WHAT TO WEAR – again, because I have no frame of reference, it’s all a bit of an unknown…but not enough to make me not do it.

COST – this is going to be pricey.  A swimming pass for 4 months is going to run me $175.  The drop-in cost for the open water coaching group is $15/visit and I anticipate going 6 times at least ($90).  The race fee itself is around $100, the fuel, hotel, food is going to be around $300 and I anticipate about $200 in “stuff” that comes up, swim goggles, bike shorts etc.  So…..fulfilling a life goal is going to cost me a year in preparation and close to $1000 in cost.  Once again, good thing I have a year to sort myself out!

The last thing that concerns me now (which never bothered me before….because I was much more insane back then) is the MENTAL ASPECT.  Can I train and commit and fuel for a year in a manner that is respectful of my body and mind and not get sucked into an obsessive spiral of weight, fitness, appearance and perfection?  Can I knock down the angry voice that tells me “why bother”, “you can’t”, “don’t waste your time” and the scared voice that tells me to sit on the couch and self-medicate my fear with chocolate?

I’m going to do it.  I’ve been visualizing doing it, visualizing swimming 2-3 days a week in the winter, visualizing a healthy mental state, visualizing being excited about it and visualizing finishing it strong.  I’m going to do it. 

30+ Hour Bone Broth

Once again, the summary is at the top!

SUMMARY Get bones from butcher, properly raised animals…bones are cheap!  Get feet too! Roast them for 30 minutes if you want, not required. Put bones, carrot, celery, garlic, S&P, onion in the crock.  Fill with water. Lid on, low temp, come back in 24 hours.  Put broth through a mesh strainer into jars. Leave headroom.  Let cool.  Freeze.  Drink daily.  Try to heat on the stove rather than the microwave…you just spent the better part of 30 hours slow-cooking it, better not to nuke all the delicate nutrients!

I welcome my sister’s input on this topic as she has been creating bone broth for longer than I have.  I avoided getting involved in bone broth for…..what, 4 years now?  Obviously in my travels of the paleo/grain free blogosphere, I’ve read about the many wonderful benefits of bone broth and tried to put it out of my head.  For a few reasons.  First, I knew that I could not make bone broth with conventionally raised animal bones but I did not want to source properly raised bones.  Second, I thought it would be a shittone of work.  Third, I didn’t want to only do it for myself (this one I could explain to you but it would take paragraphs).  Fourth, I didn’t think I would like it, and finally, I didn’t want to spend an assload of money on mason jars to store it.

So….at a good quality butcher about 5 months ago (first hold up eliminated!), I purchased chicken bones (called a rack), a tray of feet and a tray of gizzards.  Threw them in the deep freeze and tried to forget about them.  I even tried to give them to my sister but she wouldn’t take them.  A little under a month ago, with a weekend totally to myself and a deep freeze full to bursting, I decided to get those bones turned into broth.  I texted my sister for her recipe (my modified recipe below) and fired up the crockpot.  I wasn’t fully committed to the process yet and so I basically half-assed it and broke 3 carrots in half, broke 3 celery stalks in half, cut an onion in half, poured in some ACV and a handful of coarse salt and peppercorns, tossed a full bunch of whole parsley in and filled the rest of the space with water.  Turned it on low and walked away. That was Friday night.  By Saturday morning it had turned into The Nectar of The Gods.  And….in that first mug, holdups number two and four were blasted.  No work whatsoever and delicious!  I think that weekend I drank about a litre of it myself….just kept dipping into the crockpot and replacing what I took off with more water.

Now that I had a giant crockpot full of this stuff I had to figure out storage.  A little voice in the back of my head reminded me that I’d seen some mason jars way in the back of the garage in a dusty, cobwebby, broken down old box.  Ray’s ex-wife used to do a lot of canning and those jars were leftovers from many years gone by.  Mine now!  Once I knocked the (enormous) spider carcasses out of them and ran them through the dishwasher, I realized I had at least a dozen 1 litre jars and another dozen 500ml jars.  I bought some sealer lids for about $10 and the final holdup was gone.  Part of the jar issue was also where to store the filled jars so I basically evicted everything old and freezer burned from our fridge freezer and moved the broth in.  Easy access to pull a jar every day and easy to see what stock is there.

All that was left was my desire to get Ray on board.  For the first week I heated it up in the mornings and took it to work with me, offering to make him some every other day or so.  The second week, when I’d acquired pig bones and feet (which Ray was interested in seeing/learning about), I poured him a mug the evening it was done cooking and he’s been a broth hound ever since.  I chalk it up to not pestering, to answering questions as they arose and his relative interest in the process.  Plus, the house smells so good when it’s cooking!  The only thing he did ask me to do for him is to skim the fat until he gets used to that texture and the fact that conventional wisdom is BS.  Can do, buddy!

So, want a recipe?  SO easy.  We like chicken the best but the pork is good also.  When the pork bones/feet are all used up next weekend I’ll get some beef bones and a calf’s foot and I will try my hand at a beef broth.

My crockpot is huge, adjust your bones/veg accordingly.

 

For every batch I use:

3# bones, feet, gizzards, skin, tendons etc, roasted 30 minutes at 400F first if you want

3-4 carrots

3-4 celery

3-4 smashed garlic cloves

1-2 yellow onions depending on their size (no onion peel, makes broth bitter!)

3 bay leaves (from my bay plant)

a palmful of coarse salt

a palmful of peppercorns

about ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 head of fennel (use the top green part) or dried fennel seeds

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

About 2 tbsp each dried thyme leaves (not powder) and dried rosemary leaves in the chicken one.  A sprinkle of sage if you have it

A bunch of parsley (I don’t use parsley anymore, I don’t like the aroma it gives the broth, but most recipes will call for it)

My sister uses a dried chile and I know recipes call for star anise which I don’t have but want to get

 

I run the crockpot on Low for around 26-30 hours before straining and jarring.  With the pork bones I bottled about half after 20 hours and then replaced what I drew off with more water and cooked another 12 hours.  If I’d had time that weekend I would have let the second incarnation go for longer because it seemed to be getting even richer in the second round.  My sister does a remouillage (a weak stock made by re-simmering bones that have already been used to make stock once) after she’s done jarring the main brew and then she uses that in place of/in addition to water in the next week’s simmer.  I don’t do that but I can understand why it would be preferable!

My broth never gels.  I’m not too concerned with that since we also take a gelatin supplement every day. I suspect I’m not using enough bones/feet for the size of my crockpot since I get an “almost” gel every time, but the flavour I get is good and the bones are basically paste when I’m done so as far as I care, I’m getting maximum nutrition from them.  We have our broth in the evenings, around 8pm as a nice wind down for the day.  I like going to bed with a broth tummy and whether it has anything to do with it or not, I have been sleeping great.  As much as I don’t want to wish my life away, I’m looking forward to broth in the winter and I think we’ll go through more of it after walks and outings in the cold….which is good because winter = cold/flu season and broth = nature’s elixir.

I usually let the jars sit out until they have cooled and are only warm to the touch, then I cap and freeze (leave an inch of headspace at least to prevent explosions).  Food-safety wise, I should probably cool in the fridge before freezing…but I don’t have room so I don’t worry about it.  I always refrigerate one jar which is the next day’s dose….mainly to see if it gelled or not.  Usually “not” or “barely”.

That’s it.  Bones, crock, time, jars.

July 16, 2014: Pride & Gelato

This whole “new bike, high expectations, frustration inducing” few days that I’ve had are, of course, teaching me a lesson about myself and about life.

Yesterday at work my boss told me of a top notch ice cream store about a 45 minute ride away.  After some consideration and deciding that nothing changes if you don’t make changes, I studied the map, memorized the directions and then told Ray that I wanted to lead a ride to a “mystery location”.  Normally I would never ride in the lead.  I’ve done it approximately a half dozen times in 6 years.  I always preferred riding at the back and taking my cues and confidence from him.  I also basically get lost in a parking lot so leading a ride to somewhere completely new is even more foreign.  Last night though, I put my confidence out on the line and went way out of my comfort zone.

And it turned out?  Pretty frigging awesome.  I didn’t tell him where we were going because I felt like it would be easier for me to “need” to lead if only I knew our destination (also, I like surprises so I thought I would give him one).  On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best riding I have ever done and 1 being “I’m done, abandon bike”, the ride out to the ice cream last night was a solid 6.  Not super great….but not horrible and I’m happy with that.  My stopping has improved immensley since Monday and now I’m achieving a smooth, controlled landing 90% of the time.  My accelerating from a stop still sort of sucks, I haven’t quite figured out the clutch/brake/throttle combo yet but it’s better than it was.  Blah blah blah…if you’re not a rider, you probably don’t care about that crap.  My point is, improvement!

For the ride back home I asked Ray to lead as I was a bit turned around and besides, behind him is normally where I’m most comfortable so I wanted to give that a whirl too.  If the ride out was a 6, the ride back was a 3.  Wha?!  Never, in my wildest imagination, would I have believed I would have more confidence beign in charge of myself and leading myself around.  Never.  Around halfway home, Ray took off ahead faster than I wanted to go which made us “independent riders” rather than riding as a pair (closer together and staggered).  Once again, higher skill level, higher confidence, better ride.  He told me when we got home that he’d noticed it wasn’t going as well as the ride out there so he spread us out to give me space to do my own thing. 

So…I learned a few things last night.  First, all my efforts at gaining my own space, time, independence has worked in ways I never predicted.  I will not, for one second, say that I was oppressed…..but I did, over time and circumstance, stop working on the things that are important to making me a strong, healthy woman.  Second, had I not just spent 5 figures on this new bike, I would have quit on Monday.  And Tuesday.  And a little bit on Wednesday morning.  I expect perfection right out of the gate and if I don’t have it, my first reaction is to assume that I am broken, useless or bad at whatever it is.  Instead, if I could learn to expect wobbles and a bumpy start and just keep pushing on, I would distress myself a lot less!  I’ll keep practicing and paying attention and I’ll get better.  Ray’s comment Tuesday was that Jezebel is talking to me, I just don’t understand what she’s saying yet.  Last night I figured out a bit of her language.  It makes me wonder how many other things I have quit in defeat because I wasn’t perfect at it right off the bat.

Finally, I learned last night to never make anyone else responsible for making you feel good, accomplished or proud.  I was very, VERY proud of myself last night.  I rode my brand new bike the furthest I’ve gone with her, I led the ride which I have rarely done and I took us to somewhere totally new which I have never done.  That is all HUGE for me.  Unfortunately, for a little while, I was feeling let down because I was really expecting (hoping) that Ray would be super impressed and proud of me.  And………..he wasn’t really.  I don’t think he really sees it as an accomplishment, just as something he figures I should be able to do.  It was very disappointing (and possibly led to the less-fantastic ride home) and took the shine off.  Along the way home I “turned the corner” and decided that my pride in myself is enough.  I am enough!  However………I did have a calm word with Ray before I went to bed; along the lines of “Honey, sometimes I need you to tell me that you’re proud of me.”.  He was basically shocked and couldn’t understand why I didn’t just know that he was impressed and proud of me because he always is, “duh.”.  It’s an ongoing communication issue that flares up from time to time. (remember how I told you my blog is totally honest and unfiltered these days? This would be one of those instances………..relationships are hard, we can be on different playing fields sometimes and we don’t always make our spouses feel very good………it’s life……..and even though I was screaming “You’re quite the confidence killer!” in my head on the way home, I pulled myself together and went at the issue much more gently………whether it worked or not?  Who knows.)

So to summarize. Bike = much better, Shanny = more confident, relationships are hard, ice cream is where it’s at!

Gelato

Home Brewing Kombucha, you SHOULD DO IT!

UPDATE – July 22, 2014, shown in blue

I’ve been homebrewing kombucha now for around a month and thought I would give a run down on how it’s going and what I’ve learned as the Brewmaster.  I put the summary here at the top in order to not scare people away from brewing…because this post is LONG!

 

SUMMARY! Time wise it will take you about 20 minutes every 6 days or so once you get going.  A little longer if you batch brew, a little less if you Continuous Brew.  Get/make scoby. Brew and cool sweetened tea.  Dump equal amounts tea and water into large glass vessel with scoby. Come back 6 days later and start tasting.  Put tea in bottles when it tastes good to you. Put fruit in bottles if desired. Refrigerate immediately if plain, counter ferment sealed & covered with towel if using fruit.  About 30 hours, burp daily.  Refrigerate.  Start again.

BATCH OR CONTINUOUS? I started out doing the kombucha as “batch brew” because I wasn’t sure how it would go, if we would like it and how much time, mess and effort it would take.  I did two batches that way and then switched over to Continuous Brew and am now on Batch #4.  There isn’t a huge amount of difference between Continuous Brew and Batch Brew, the main difference is that for Continuous, you need a large vessel with a spigot so that when you bottle, you draw off from the bottom and leave the scoby floating on the top liquid.  The other main difference is that with Batch you bottle 90% of it and then start completely over.  With Continuous, and because the jar is much larger, you bottle only what you would use in a week and then add the same volume of new sweet tea as what you just drew off.  Continuous, over time, will brew faster because you’re leaving a larger amount of more mature liquid in the vessel rather than starting from square one.  And…with Continuous Brew, you hit more of the ferment markers at 14-21 days than you do with Batch Brew where you stop and start every 7-10 days, never moving beyond that one small cycle.

So…..as far as I’m concerned, providing that your household can consume between 12-16 oz/day and you use a 2.2 gallon (7L) brew jar, Continuous Brewing knocks the socks off of Batch Brew in every way; less work, less mess, easier & quicker bottling and quicker brewing.  One final note on Continuous Brew is both positive and negative.  Positive is that you rarely ever touch the scoby in a Continuous Brew situation (in Batch Brew you handle it into a new jar every batch), thereby greatly reducing the chance it could become infected or contaminated.  Negative is that the scoby can get rather large and has to be pared down from time to time as it will take up valuable liquid brewing space. 

So….getting a SCOBY.  SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria And Yeast.  If you can’t get a scoby and some starter tea from someone you know (if you’re local, hit me up!), you can grow your own.  The downside to growing your own is that you have to wait quite awhile for it to mature so that you can use it.  The upside to growing your own is that you can grow a couple at a time so that you always have a backup in case one meets an unfortunate end.  To grow your own scoby, buy a bottle of plain kombucha, pour it into a glass jar (a canning jar works great), put a coffee filter and a rubber band over the top (you do NOT want fruit flies getting in there!) , wrap a towel around it for darkness and put it somewhere ambient and dark.  Don’t bug it.  Once you can’t stand the suspense anymore (around 10-14 days after starting), you can check on it.  There should be a layer forming on the top and once it’s about ¼” thick, you’re ready to go.  (when I did mine, my first scoby sank to the bottom around Day 7 and a new one started to grow on the top.  Between the two I figured I had enough ready and I used it successfully.) I did not feed mine, but after researching it, I would feed it next time (1 cup of strong black tea sweetened with 1/8 cup sugar and cooled, added to the plain kombucha) so that it grew quicker and healthier.

BREWING!  Now that your little monster is ready to go, you can brew up your tea mixture.  8 cups of water brought to neeeaaarrly a boil & then removed from heat (not a rolling boil as that boils off needed oxygen), 8 black, green or white (or combo) of tea bags steeped for 20 minutes and 1 cup of sugar stirred in to dissolve.  Then let it cool to room temperature!  Pour your cooled sweet tea and 8 more cups of room temp water into your brewing vessel, dump your scoby and nursery liquid in, cover the top with a coffee filter and elastic, wrap the vessel with a towel or t-shirt and place in your ambient location.  Depending on how warm your house is and the size of your jar, start checking on it around Day 6.  You’ll want to start tasting it (insert a straw just below the scoby bring some out.  Do NOT suck on the straw…the backwash will contain bacteria that can hurt your scoby.  Taste test it until it reaches yoru desired sweet/tart level.

BOTTLE! If you are going to fruit flavour in secondary fermentation, bottle your liquid and insert or pour in your flavourings (more on that below).  Around ¼ cup fruit/puree for 32oz brew is a good start.  Seal the bottles, leave on the counter under a towel.  BURP the bottles every 12 hours or so, letting off just a bit of pressure so you don’t have an explosion on your hands.  You can’t open the bottles in secondary enough to taste the product without losing all the fermentation so how long you leave them on the counter is your own experiment.  I usually refrigerate after 30 hours.  Refrigerating stops any further fermentation.  When you use fruit flavoured, you can strain if you prefer…or just go with it as is…and if you used whole fruit, eat the fruit chunks, they are delightfully fizzy!  If you’re just going to bottle plain you can seal and refrigerate immediately.

 

FLAVOURINGS!  So far we’ve done the following flavours:

  • Strawberry ginger (used whole fruit)
    • Very lovely color, good strawberry flavour, remaining strawberries were very fizzy
  • Watermelon Mint (used whole fruit)
    • Extremely light in color, almost a clearish pinky green, refreshing flavour…but couldn’t tell what it was exactly
    • Fairly fizzy, the remaining watermelon was CRAZY fizzy
  • Tri-Berry Banana (used puree – frozen blackberry, blueberry, raspberry & frozen banana blended together)
    • Nice bold color, reasonably fizzy, on the tart side which was surprising because I thought the banana would make it quite sweet
    • Couldn’t really determine the flavour profile…just generally fruity, I guess
  • Blueberry Nectarine (used puree – fresh bluebs and nectarine blended together)
    • Good color, extremely fizzy!!! Delicate blueberry flavour.  Tart but refreshing.
  • Cherry Vanilla (used puree – fresh pitted cherries & vanilla extract blended together)
    • Hands down favourite so far! This one I did for 60 hours in secondary fermentation because I didn’t feel that it was fizzy enough.  I burped twice a day until I was happy with the pressure.  It was delicious!
  • Blueberry Lemon (used puree – two cups fresh blueberries with about 3 tbsp. lemon juice (bottled)
    • used about 1/2 cup fruit mixture…which the secondary ferment consumed almost all of it. VERY fizzy in the bottles, didn’t leave any air space at all. Have not tasted it yet.  60 Hour secondary ferment on this one too.

I have plans for the next few flavours:

  • Peach (I’ll brew in first ferment with mainly white tea which is much more delicate and might compliment the peaches)
  • Date Vanilla (I’ve read that this tastes like cream soda!)
  • Apple Ginger (with a mainly white or green tea base)
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Strawberry Lemon
  • Lemon Rosemary (like a rosemary lemonade, I hope)
  • Strawberry Rhubarb

MY TIPS

  • When I secondary ferment with fruit, I leave it in first fermentation until it’s quite tart as the fruit will sweeten it slightly during the second fermentation and we prefer ours more on the tart side.
  • If I’m going to draw off and use it plain, I’ll take it when there’s just a teensy bit of sweetness left
  • Wash jars, vessels, tools & then rinse with white vinegar between brews.  Soap reside can kill your scoby
  • Do not use metal tools, the acidic nature of your brew can leach the metal.  Wooden or glass tools only
  • Flip top “grolsch” style bottles are the BEST.  You can use old screwtop Kombucha bottles but the pressure of the fermentation inside can make it impossible to get the lid off and burping can be really tricky.  IKEA has flip top bottles for a great price.
  • I keep a Brew Diary and log what I used for tea, how long I fermented for and what I used for flavourings (and if they were tasty, fizzy, attractive in appearance, etc)
  • Favourite tea so far is Stash Earl Grey Double Bergamot because it makes a gently citrusy brew…although I just heard that the oils in a Bergamot can hurt your scoby. Mine seems healthy but I will switch over to an unflavoured black tea in the next batch.
  • Use any combo of white, black or green…but to keep your scoby healthiest, try to always include a couple bags of black as your little monster enjoys consuming the tannins in black tea
  • You can freeze any leftover puree in ice cube trays, 2 cubes = around ¼ cup.  Just let them thaw out and then pour into your bottles
  • When bottling for secondary fermentation, put the tea in first and then the fruit/puree or you end up with a lot of foam and suds as you fill with the tea…..and then it’s hard to get the bottles full
  • For maximum fizz, fill the bottles all the way to the tippy top.  Don’t forget to burp regularly.

That’s it.  For equipment, I have the large beverage dispenser and the flip top bottles below.  I started out with 6 of the flip tops but I have them all in production right now so I’m going to pick up a few more just in case of a quick batch turnaround.

Bottle DelSol

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/del-sol-original-mason-2-15-gallon-beverage-dispenser/1042129226?skuId=42129226

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/40227983/

 

July 15, 2014: Expectations

You and me, Jez, we need to make nice.

You and me, Jez, we need to make nice.

 

As mentioned yesterday, we are currently living on the surface of the sun.  And, as mentioned, I knew it was coming so I planned for it accordingly. 

On Saturday & Sunday, in approximately 90 minutes total, I put together a kickass salad bar for the week.  We have four pre-cooked protein sources (gr beef, gr turkey, chkn thighs & hard boiled eggs), three fat sources (olives, nuts, avocado), various crispy veggie sources (spring greens, peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot, diced apple, shredded beet), two warm-able starchy carb sources (baked yam & roasted beet/carrot/potato) and three dressing sources (sunshine sauce, a middle eastern avocado style dip/dressing and a homemade ranch dressing).  Ray also has the option of a Kaiser bun and the addition of either goat or shredded cheddar cheeses.  I’m telling you, this could be the way of the future!  Salad bar one week out of each month?  And in the winter, soup and “salad bar” with warmed veggies as the base?  Don’t tempt me!

Salad Bar

On my way home yesterday I stopped in at a vacant, relatively shaded parking lot and did 20 minutes of stop and start trials on Jezebel to help get used to her weight and controls.  20 minutes might not seem like much, but 20 minutes of handling 800# at 10km/hour in the scorching sun is plenty long!  Unfortunately I left the parking lot feeling really defeated.  Jezebel is a heavy bitch and, for whatever reason, I assumed I’d just hop on her and ride away.  It’s taking longer than I thought to get used to her controls, weight, handling.  WAIT.  PAUSE!  Holy crap how stupid am I behaving!  I have ridden her to and from work once; 12km, 20 minutes total….and I’m disappointed in myself that I’m having some rookie-roughness.  Quite honestly, that is ridiculous and not fair to myself.  So that said, I’m doing something I’ve never consciously done before.  I’m lowering my expectations of myself.  I am not going to expect to be able to perform like someone who has been riding their entire life.  I am not going to expect to be perfect right out of the gate.  I’m going to forget everything that came “before” and focus on what is going on right now.  It might be a bit wobbly and rough and tentative for the next little while….but I’ll keep practicing, go to my lesson, focus on improving my skills with her….and accept my performance as it is in that moment.

Jez1

After salad-bar dinner last night we puttered around for an hour……………and then disaster struck!  I got sick with violent bathrooming and vomiting for about 2 hours.  It was awful and….well…..violent.  I know I was dehydrated yesterday and on the weekend and then I was messing around in the parking lot with my helmet on, baking my brain…..so I think I got a touch of heat stroke.  I felt kind of sketchy all night in bed but basically slept right through.  At 5am when it was time to get up and take Gracie for some exercise, I downgraded my 5km walk-jog plan to our 3km just-walk instead.  Seemed like the right thing to do rather than stressing my already questionable body and it felt good; refreshing.  I had bone broth last night after I stopped being sick and another 2 cups this morning and I don’t feel too badly right now, I’ll be sucking back the water today though!

Here’s a fun picture from work yesterday.  His name is Harley and he is a 185# bull mastiff and he clearly just hates the attention!  My co-worker brought him in because my boss is out of town this week and it’s air conditioned here instead of at home where he swelters.  He’s awesome and snuggly and so huggable!  And…he’s here again this morning giving out hugs and kisses!

harley

July 14, 2014: Jezebel!

Where should I start! It has been stupidly, ridiculously, unbearably hot and humid here in the last week or more.  I love the sunshine and I am NOT complaining….but it’s getting a bit wearing, honestly.  Need a teensy little break from living in an armpit!

In the last week or so and definitely this weekend I’d noticed that something wasn’t right in my nutrition.  Basically I’ve been having waves of feeling really nauseated and weak and like passing out might be imminent….you know that horrible weak, barfy, deep internal yucky feeling?  It’s been far too hot to be eating too much in one sitting so I’ve been “snacking” more than eating my normal three meals/day.   The snacks are decent food; 2 hard boiled eggs and an apple with almond butter or a hamburger patty w/ homemade mayo and a nectarine as examples.  Decent nutritious food and once I’ve eaten it I feel better nearly immediately.  But I still am not feeling quite right.  Ray thought that maybe I’m dehydrated from the excessive heat and after having reviewed the signs, I think he could be right.  So today I’ll be hydrating like crazy because I feel downright crappy.  Which seems rather unfortunate since I’ve been working really hard at self-care and overall feeling pretty solid about it.

Saturday morning I headed out to my motorcycle training for 9am…in order to beat the heat.  I was there not 20 minutes and my bike basically bit the dust again.  This time I caught the problem before it got too far and I was able to ride it home instead of having to get Ray to come out with the flat-deck.  Once I got home, disappointed and pissed off and irritated and bummed out, I sat on my bench and sipped some kombucha and tried to figure out what I was going to do.  We didn’t know for sure what the problem was, we have jobs that do not afford us flexibility in time off or alternate hours to deal with things that pop up and to be quite honest, I really didn’t want to put money towards that bike.  I felt like maybe it was a sign that our time together was up.

Jezebel

She’s a Harley Davidson, 2006 Electra Glide Standard. She comes with a detachable trunk and a feisty attitude! I love her!

Enter, Jezebel.  I traded in my Yamaha and Jezebel is parked outside my office right now!  She’s a bit rough around the edges, the idiot who owned her previously sprayed some sort of corrosive cleaner on her shiny bits and basically the motor looks like crap.  But….Ray worked on her all day yesterday and she’s ¾ of the way back to where she should be.  Fortunately for us, that corrosive, dull, rough looking motor was enough to get us a wicked deal on her.  A little (or a lot) of elbow grease and $40 in metal polish and engine brightener and she’ll be good as new!

The weight and handling difference between old bike and Jezebel is considerable.   Old bike weighed 593# and Jezebel is nearly 200# heavier at 789#.  It’ll take some getting used to in slow speeds but she cruises like a…..well…..like a cruiser.  Ray tells me that she’s “been hot-rodded”, “is a finely tuned machine” and that she “goes like snot”.  So…that’s good!  Cosmetic surgery aside, she was an amazing deal!

Update, I guess I’m going to have to change the bike in my header, LOL!

So…that was basically our whole weekend….we were at the dealership for 5 hours on Saturday and then came home and stripped stuff off of the old bike for 2 hours so that we could turn it in.  Saturday night we chilled on the back deck for hours, well into the deep darkness of a hot summer night.  Sunday morning we were up early, I did some cooking for this week ahead and then we went back to the dealership to bring Jezebel home.  Unfortunately I didn’t get her inaugural ride because I refused to go to Andrea’s baby shower with helmet hair and in jeans (see picture above, all dressed up, no riding for me!).

The baby shower was great, Andrea got completely spoiled with baby gear and clothes and the weather was….well……stupidly hot.   It was 36.5 (98F) in Judy’s backyard and we were all chasing the shade around.  Once the baby shower was over I raced home, showered again, changed into an even lighter dress and we went to a gala fundraiser for Kyle’s hatchery.  Happily, hat was held near the water so it was a bit cooler.  The food there was awesome…and the guy serving the bbq salmon was “paleo friendly”.  He took notice & commented on the couple of us who did not have pasta salad, noodle salad, rice or a bun and gave a double serving of the salmon to go with our green salad.  I was VERY impressed.  Plus he was a firefighter and super cute!  ;)

Sunday night after the gala we headed home, farted around with the new bike in the driveway for awhile, had a coffee with our neighbors (our H-D mechanic, actually) and then it was bedtime.

This morning Gracie and I were up at 5am and took our walk.  We did the shorter route and we just walked it instead of jogging because it was super warm out even that early and poor Gracie was suffering halfway in!  It’s supposed to cool off somewhat as the week goes by so hopefully we get some relief (and some better exercise).  And….sadly…..compared to this time last week, it’s not quite as bright out in the morning…..the shorter days are starting already.

Happy Monday out there in the interwebs!