Kefir starters

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasian Mountains near Turkey, where it was used for centuries as a healthy drink. Kefir is a probiotic – a source of beneficial bacteria and yeasts which help maintain a healthy digestive system. These include Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc, and Saccharomyces kefir.

It is best to introduce homemade kefir after homemade yogurt, when healing of the gut wall has taken place.

Kefir starters are available from your local health food store, although it is best to ring and check they have some in stock first. They are sold as ‘grains’, even though they are not a grain. Alternatively, in Australia you can order direct:

If you are overseas look for:

If you don’t want to make your own kefir, you may like to try Babushkas Kefir which comes in plain, strawberry and honey.

Yogurt starters and yogurt makers

You can make home-made yogurt with goat, sheep or cows milk and select your own live cultures for fermentation. It is also possible to make yogurt from coconuts, soy and nut milks. Yogurt needs to incubate for 24 hours or more so that the fermenting bacteria consumes all of the lactose and is therefore easier to digest.

There are two ways to start off making yoghurt at home. The first way is to use a store bought yogurt and the second is a yogurt starter.

Yogurt

This yogurt is suitable for your first batch:

  • Farmers Union Greek style natural yogurt (contains bifidus)

Yogurt starters

Yoghurt starter contains cultures of bacteria that are used to inoculate the milk and begin the fermentation. The bacteria to look for in a yoghurt starters are:

  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (optional)

Here are some of the safe yogurt starters available in Australia:

Here are some of the safe yogurt starters available overseas:

Yogurt makers

Your yoghurt maker needs to be designed to maintain the ideal temperature for making SCD and GAPS yoghurt. It also needs to be able to ferment for 24 hours. There are two suitable yogurt maker available in Australia:

Some people use their dehydrator to make yogurt.

If you are overseas look out for the Yogourmet electric yogurt maker (available from Amazon with starters, or Lucy’s Kitchen Shop).

Note: If you are following the SCD, then it is sometimes recommended to avoid the Bifidus strain as it may cause a strong die-off reaction.

Pink almond milk jelly

milk-jelly

This recipe took a couple of attempts to get right. The original recipe contained evaporated milk, which I’ve changed to almond milk. I also tried coconut milk but found it too over powering. I split the mix on my first attempt, so please make sure that the mixture is cool before you add the milk, otherwise you’ll get a layered effect. I’ve used strawberry jelly – but any flavour will work – try to look for a pack that has natural flavours and colours, otherwise make your own juicy jelly.

1 packet of jelly crystals (85g) – strawberry
1 cup hot water
1 cup almond milk, or alternative
1/2 cup cold water

  1. Dissolve the jelly crystals in the hot water. Stir well with a fork.
  2. When the mixture is cool (important!), stir in the almond milk and cold water.
  3. Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Serve with fruit salad and grated chocolate.

Serves 4.

Rainbow jelly cake

jelly-cake

This recipe for kaleidoscope jelly cake came from the beautifully illustrated Food fashion friends by fashion designer Fleur Wood. I’ve adapted the amounts to account for our freezer which is probably not as reliable as newer ones. I discovered the more time you leave between layers, the more chance your layers will come out cleanly. It’s also best to cut the jelly cake with a non-serrated knife to give a cleaner finish. Stick to natural flavours that match each other (lime was not so good) and alternate the colours to make them stand out more. Good luck in turning it out.

5 x 85g packets of jelly crystals in different flavours
powdered gelatine

  1. Line a large plastic container (2.5 litres) with plastic film.
  2. Mix the first packet of jelly crystals with 1 tablespoon of gelatine in a large heat proof jug, and follow the jelly packet instructions. (We dissolved the crystals in 1 cup of hot water, and then added 1 cup of room temperature water).
  3. Pour the first layer into the plastic container and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes until almost set.
  4. Meanwhile, as the first jelly layer sets, prepare another packet of jelly and allow it to cool at room temperature.
  5. Remove the first jelly from the freezer, then gently pour the second layer over the back of a spoon onto the set jelly. Return to the freezer and chill for another 30 minutes until almost set.
  6. Repeat again for remaining jelly crystals and gelatine powder.
  7. Refrigerate the jelly overnight.
  8. The next day, turn out the jelly onto a chopping board lined with plastic film and cut the jelly into thick slices.

Maybe you could make a green and red one for Christmas?

Alternatively you could also try the recipe using natural juicy jelly.

Serves 6-8.

Nuts berry crumble

This is a raw nuts berry crumble inspired by the Renegade Health Show’s recipe for Blazing Berry Crumble. The only problem was my food processor has given up the ghost, so this is a quick version.

LSA stands for linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds. Linseeds are also known as flaxseeds. It’s better to grind these up yourself fresh using a coffee bean grinder or a mortar and pestle. If you do buy them pre-ground from the shop, make sure they were stored in the fridge. When you get them home put them in an air-tight container and keep in the fridge for up to a month. They are packed full of fibre, calcium, essential fatty acids, protein and minerals.

1 Tbsp LSA
1 Tbsp hazelnut meal
1 Tbsp honey
1 small punnet of strawberries

  1. Hull and quarter the strawberries.
  2. Add the LSA and hazelnut meal, stirring to mix.
  3. Add the honey and stir well to serve straight away.

Serves 1-2.

Vanilla apples

Did you know that inorganic apples can be sprayed up to 16 times? One way to reduce your exposure to chemicals is to peel your fruit and vegetables, as the chemicals will be concentrated there. Unfortunately, you’ll also be removing many of the natural nutrients, which are also located in the skin.

I’m going to warn you these are very sweet, but oh so good. You could serve them with a cake or ice cream to balance out the flavour. The vanilla pod will sprinkle black flecks through the sauce, so you can use vanilla essence if you wish.

3 cm vanilla pod
2 Tbsp butter, organic
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup

  1. Place the split open vanilla pod and butter in a frying pan over low heat and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the apples and sugar and cook for about 20 minutes or until caramelised, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the golden syrup and 1/4 cup of water. Cook for a further 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Serves 2.

Berry coulis with chocolate cake

As this blog is supposed to be about fruit and vegetables try to ignore the chocolate cake for a moment.

How easy is coulis to make? Absolutely lick-out-the-container-delicious and dead easy. You don’t even really need a recipe. Well, you won’t after the first time.

Raspberry Coulis

¼ cup of raspberries blitzed in the blender
add juice from half a lime (or quarter of a lemon) and 3 teaspoons of sugar to taste

You can try other fruits to make coulis (French for uncooked fruit sauces), such as strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, and kiwi fruits.  If you are  pedantic, you may like to  strain out the seeds. Drizzle over chocolate cake or dessert of choice.

Chocolate Cake

For this gorgeous gluten free chocolate cake I used Cocoa Farm chocolate to give it a hint of fruity shiraz. It’s great to see an all Australian company coming up with innovative products. I can’t wait to try their Orange Organic Dark Chocolate.

150g chocolate
100g butter
100g brown sugar
150g almond meal
3 eggs, organic and free range

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C
  2. Melt together butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. (Or use microwave on low if you are game).
  3. Separate eggs and set whites aside.
  4. Cream together yolks and sugar until pale and doubled in size. Add melted chocolate to egg mixture and beat on slow speed until combined. Fold in almond meal with a spatula.
  5. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks.
  6. Fold whites through cake mixture.
  7. Transfer mixture to a greased cake tin.
  8. Bake for 25 to 40 minutes.
  9. Cake should be springy in the middle and skewer should come out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

B.T.W. Try to avoid blitzing frozen raspberries near clean washing up. It was hard to mop up and hide the evidence of all the red segments flicked all over the place. Blend in the sink people.

Bananas in coconut milk

Growing bananas in Queensland unfortunately requires a permit. Home growers are allowed up to ten plants, which sounds like plenty to me. We  probably won’t ever grow any in our backyard, which is a shame as I always find it hard to pick the optimal time to eat a banana. Lady Fingers are easy – Maggie recommends waiting until they are half black and then devouring them. The shops usually only stock Cavendish and sometimes Ladies. I’m yet to try all these other varieties: Blue Java, Bluggoe (plantain or cooking banana), Ducasse, Goldfinger, Kluai Namwa Khom (Dwarf Ducasse), Pisang Ceylan and Red Dacca. I feel like I’m missing out….. anyone tried these?

small tin of coconut milk
2 tbsps sugar
2 bananas, chopped

  1. Put the coconut milk, sugar and ¼ cup of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  2. When the sugar has dissolved, add the bananas.
  3. Gently cook until the bananas are soft.
  4. Serve half the mixture in a bowl, either warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2.

Written for DK‘s A Worldly Epicurean’s delight in short A.W.E.D Thai Event

Juicy jelly

Home made jelly tastes completely different from the store-bought jelly crystals. The little secret that I’m going to let you in on is that it is just as easy as pouring in some boiling water and mixing. Ok, maybe there are a few more steps, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Recently I took some orange and passionfruit jelly to a friend’s place for after dinner. They turned their nose up and missed out. Later they found out that it was home made and regretted not trying it. Please don’t make the same mistake.

We’ve had the odd alpine strawberry from our hanging basket. They taste of sweet sorbet but would never sell in the shops because they are no bigger then my smallest fingernail. The strawberry seeds we planted in the vegetable beds haven’t shown up, which doesn’t really matter because the melons have happily taken over the space and spilling over the sides!

1 cup of fruit juice
1 cup of boiling water
sugar
4 tsps gelatine (or equivalent agar agar)

  1. Squeeze fruit to make one cup of juice.
  2. Strain the juice through a sieve to remove seeds and/or pulp. (optional)
  3. Add sugar if needed to taste. Usually about 1 tbsp.
  4. Add boiling water to a cup and then quickly mix in gelatine with a fork.
  5. Combine the gelatine and juice mixture.
  6. Pour in to molds and set in fridge overnight.

Note: I’ve used this recipe with lots of different fruit juices. It’s a great way to get rid of lots of passionfruit and withhold the seeds. Experiment and let me know what you try.

Jason’s winning Christmas pudding

This is Jason’s Christmas Pudding recipe which he won first prize in the local show. Last year I regrettably made a different version, but we didn’t like the addition of nuts and it was more work . I also bought a special pudding tin and it went rusty after only a few months! Anyhow I’ve gone back to this winning one which was well received the year I made it. I’ve made a few changes, mostly notably I’ve divided everything in half which you’ll find is still plenty.

375g sultanas, sundried
375g raisins, sundried
200g glaced cherries, or cranberries
50g dried mangos, or your favourite
125g butter
½ large cup of rum
1 cup sugar
2 cups plain flour
½ tbps baking soda
pinch of salt
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, organic
Parisian essense or vanilla

  1. Soak the dried fruit in the rum overnight. You can use any combination of dried fruit – the original recipe had 500g mixed fruit, 250g raisins and 250g sultanas, but I wanted to use up some things in the cupboard.
  2. The next day, cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and beat well.
  4. Add the fruit and essence, then the remaining ingredients.
  5. Place mixture in an oven bag. Tie bag tightly with some string about 3 cm from the mixture. It’s important to make sure that you get all the edges tied with the string so no water gets in.
  6. Place in the fridge for 2 hours.
  7. Put small plate upside down or rock in the bottom of a boiler. I use a large pasta pot with an enclosed strainer. Add water to nearly cover the pudding and bring to the boil. Cook for 4 hours.
  8. As needed top up with more boiling water.
  9. Mature for a few weeks in the fridge.
  10. To reheat: place in boiling water for ½ hour. We just use the microwave.

Notes: Suitable for freezing, but keeps for ages.