Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fermented Salsa!

You know, I didn't set out to make the best salsa in the world... it just kinda... happened.


The above statement is a direct quote taken from my own facebook status update at 9:06pm on Saturday, August 11, 2012.  In my personal opinion, the statement is in no way an exaggeration or hyperbole. It IS, in my estimation, the most absolute and pure TRUTH that ever was, is or ever will be.

Okay, well... maybe it's not the most absolute and pure truth that ever was, is or ever will be.  But let me tell you this; the salsa was GOOD.

When I opened my book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, to page 103, little did I know that it would change my life; little did I know that this unassuming recipe in the "Fermented Vegetables and Fruits" section of the chapter "Mastering the Basics" would be the best salsa I've ever had; and little did I know that it would be SIMPLE.

Well, now I know! And after much pestering by my facebook friends and pressure to charge cash money for my knowledge (which was all Handsome Husband had to say about it publicly, but rest assured that he was almost as floored as I was by the total salsa awesomeness), I am now going to reveal the recipe to all inquiring minds! And taste buds! For free!

This is where the salsa used to be. Because we ate it. Sorry.

Below is the list of ingredients exactly as it appears in the book (fyi):

4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 small onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped chile pepper, hot or mild
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
juice of 2 lemons
1 tblsp sea salt

4 tblsp whey (if not available, use an additional 1 tblsp salt)

1/4 cup filtered water.

And here is the list of ingredients I used:

4 medium tomatoes, peeled*, seeded** and diced
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
5 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tblsp snipped cilantro (I would have used more but my plant failed to thrive!)
1/4 tsp dried oregano (I prefer just a hint of oregano)
juice of 2 lemons
1 tblsp sea salt
4 tblsp whey*** (Use the whey! Use the whey!)

(I added the water, but ended up with too much liquid so I recommend omitting it.)

  • Mix all ingredients and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar.
  • Press down lightly with a wooden pounder, meat hammer, wooden spoon, your hand... 
  • Add more water if necessary to cover the vegetables. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.
  • Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to cold storage.
  • My version makes a mild salsa.

* To peel tomatoes:  Use a knife and go for it.  Or blanch in boiling water for 5 seconds and then peel - the skin should come off easily.

** To seed tomatoes:  Cut in half at the "equator", hold tomato half in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze out seeds.

*** To make whey:  You make whey out of yogurt.  Just line a strainer with cheesecloth or a thin dishtowel and put it over a bowl.  Put the yogurt on the cloth and leave it there until the whey drips out (a couple of hours or so depending on how much yogurt you're... um... Done!  Now you also have cream cheese!  Go to the blog Our Nourishing Roots if you're visual and all of these instructions are causing your head to spin!

Now get out there and make some fermented salsa!!

Why? Because it's the best salsa in the world.  And it's brimming with probiotic goodness!  Seriously, your intestine would thank you... if your intestine could thank... you.

Happy fermenting!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beer Ice Cream: Part 1 of an Unintentional 2 Part Series

First Things First:  Please check your ID to make sure you are over the age of 18.  Or 19.  Or 21. Or whatever legal drinking age is in your neck of the woods.  (Just covering my butt, you understand.  Not that anyone under the age of 18 is likely to be reading this blog... unless it's some kind of natural consequence for some poor choice or something.  "Now, Tyler, because you told your mother that her healthy homemade granola bars "tasted like ass" you can just sit your butt right down here and google a recipe that you think will taste less like ass.  I'm sure that there is a nice blogger lady out there with a fabulous recipe that will do just the trick.  Once you've done that,  you can march yourself over to the kitchen and begin making those bars as soon as you apologize to your mother.  When the bars are done and you've cleaned up the kitchen, you are free to join your friends at the skate park to participate in the activities that, I'm sure, are already in progress.")

Second Things Second:  I would normally apologize at this point for my uses of the words "butt" and "ass".  However, as you presumably noted in the "First Things First" section, ID has already been checked so, in my opinion, no apologies are necessary.  I might throw one in for good measure later on, but I haven't decided yet.

Ok. Let's get down to business!!

Beer Ice Cream???  YES.  Stout, in fact.

The Handsome Husband is a beer snob.  That means that by proxy, so am I.  I love the stuff.  The GOOD stuff.  So when I'm going to make beer ice cream, I'm not going to use just any beer.  No Guinness here, folks!  No, siree!  And what's great about that is that when you use a really good stout, you don't need to add the molasses or vanilla beans or anything to flavour it up.  The beer does it all.  And so it should.

The reason that this is part 1 of an unintentional 2 part series is that, well... ok, you know how when you have a recipe there is the ingredients list and then the method?  Well, let's just say that the method part of this recipe didn't really go that smoothly.   Things were going great and then I left the beer/cream mixture on the stove while I left the kitchen for a minute.  DON'T DO THIS.  It's bound to end in catastrophe.  I came back into the kitchen to find my mixture boiling over everywhere.  There was screaming and running and even some crying and yelling.  But I managed to pull it together, salvage what was left and continue. 

In the end, the ice cream got made.  But it was a little on the "icy" side.  After the boiling over drama my head just wasn't in the game and I didn't cook it long enough.  Anyway, the flavour was delicious (H.H. loved it) even thought the texture was something other than smooth.  So, I will have to make it again.  And that, my friends, will be the part 2 of the 2 part series.  See?  Totally unintentional.

You can find the original recipe here, and of course you'll notice that I omitted the cocoa.  I chose Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout for this ice cream adventure.

 Stout Ice Cream


2 cups whipping cream
2 cups craft brewed stout of your choosing
1 cup sugar
8 egg yolks  


Bring cream and stout to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot.  In a large bowl, mix sugar and eggs, blending thoroughly and make sure you don't leave the kitchen.   Add a small amount of the stout cream to the bowl, whisking quickly to temper the eggs.  Add egg mixture to the pot and cook custard until thick (!), whisking constantly.  Cool mixture and then process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stay tuned for Beer Ice Cream: Part 2 of an Unintentional 2 Part Series coming soon and see how it all turns out.  I have no idea when, but soon-ish.  I promise.

And I'm sorry, but I have decided not to apologize after all.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid review.  We just like this beer.  Also, please note that if you don't like this beer, chances are you're not going to like the ice cream.  Therefore, I, the blogger, am not, nor will I be, liable or responsible for any damages you my incur due to the taste-buds, functioning or otherwise, on your tongue.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And Another Thing, Get Off My Lawn!!

My husband got a new cell phone.

His contract was up and his current phone was crappy.

Anyway, since the new iPhone whatever just came out, the not-so-new-and-barely-old iPhone whatever is now drastically reduced in price by $600 thereby catapulting it into our meagre price range and allowing us to have hip and trendy phoning, surfing, texting and whatever else-ing capabilities.

Of course, by "our" I mean "our". And by "us" I mean "him".

But that's ok.  I have a cell  phone.  Granted, it is a hand-me-down phone from my mother-in-law who handed it down to my father-in-law (remember him? The one who mumbles about pie?) who handed it down to me when he got a new phone.  Come to think of it, I think he's gotten one or two new phones since then...

But I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I have options, you know?  I mean, I could use my husbands old, crappy phone.  Or one of many old phones that still work that people I know have abandoned to get the newest iPhone this-n-that or slide out whatchamacallit.  Or I'm sure with little to no convincing I could even get a new free phone from the powers-that-be.

But honestly?  I don't even want to.

What was that?  Did I just hear a resounding "Why?" emanating from the blogosphere?  Am I boycotting this wonderful technology?  Am I sitting on a high horse, looking down my nose at all things "i"?  Heavens-to-Betsy, of course not!  It's not that at all!

It's just that my cell phone is AWESOME.

You know how when some people enter a room and all heads turn to behold their presence?  Well, that's how it is when I make a phone call.  All eyes are on me.  Well, actually my phone.  But at that point it's attached to my hand so we might as well be one and the same - bottom line: IT'S A SHOW STOPPER.  Take a look.

I pull my lovely (let's call it navy) blue phone from my bag - its wrist strap dangling wistfully as I poise my hand at the ready - but just when the onlookers think I'm about to start pressing numbers, they are taken aback (!) as I quickly flip open the... flip... thing to reveal the humble keypad and its classic silicone number buttons.  (At this instant, if one is extremely astute and perceptive, one might even catch a glimpse of the glimmer in my eye as I contemplate - just for a moment! - the artfully pixillated digits on the neon green display screen!)

 After the chosen number has been remembered and keyed into the phone, the onlookers are surprised once again (!) by a skillfully choreographed flourish of my hand as it PULLS UP THE ANTENNA in a glorious display of both grace and dexterity.

 At this point, I am filled with contentment because, once again, the use of my cell phone has brought happiness into the heart of whomever is with me.  I can tell because they are laughing.  (This laughter, however genuine, is often bewilderingly accompanied by shocked phrases such as, "WHAT is THAT?!" or "Is THAT your PHONE?!".  I'm not entirely sure why... but as long as the statements are paired with laughter, I'm of the opinion that it matters not.  Bringing a little joy into the world is enough for me.   I don't need to get bogged down in the details of things.  Plus, a little mystery is good for the soul, I always say.)

 And so there you have it.  Why on earth would I want to "upgrade" my phone?  It still works fine! I mean really, sliding keyboards? Pretentious!  Touch screens?  Lazy!!  And who really needs to text, anyway? It's just a passing fad!!  And another thing, get off my lawn!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just a Little Face Lift

First, it was Jennifer over at The Deliberate Mom who got all spiffy, sporting a "new look".

Then, Handsome-Husband (aka Andrew) launched his brand-spankin', shiny new blog, dig deep BJJ, into the blogosphere.

Needless to say, I was starting to feel a little drab over here at Stray Matter.  I needed to freshen things up.  Pronto.

So a little tweak here and little tweak there and voila!  Not a complete overhaul, but definitely better.

And, wow, does it feel great!  Kinda like adding some lovely, subtle highlights to your natural colour.  Or opting for lipstick just a shade brighter than usual but totally within your everyday colour palette.  Or getting a really, really great eye cream.  Or... taking a shower. By yourself. With the door closed.


What do you think?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Banana Cream Pie or How to Score Points With the Father-In-Law

We went on a family vacation to the mountains with my in-laws.

No, seriously. And it was great.  The accommodations were wonderful, the pool was awesome, the weather was amazing, the mountains were stunning, the hiking was invigorating - all in all an incredible holiday.

Except there was no banana cream pie.  Not a one.

So here's the story.

We're on vacation.  I want need to find a bakery. I'm on a mission to find a decent croissant (I mean, really, a vacation isn't a vacation unless you can find a decent croissant, right?).  So since we're planning to walk downtown and check out the shops, etc, I assume that my request has been heard and the websites that I have left up on the laptop have been noted by my dear husband/navigator and the plan to visit a bakery has been worked in to our itinerary.  At some point during all of this I hear my father-in-law mumble something about banana cream pie.

After walking for quite awhile and coming to the end of the quaint shop-lined street, I ask when it is that we were going to reach the bakery.  To my astonishment, my husband replies that there is no bakery on this street and he didn't realize that I thought the destination WAS said bakery to which I respond... um... well, let's just say that when a person thinks she's getting a croissant and she doesn't get it, she can be a little cranky.  Anyway,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Again! / Apology

I've been absent.

I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry that I have assumed that you have missed me so much and, therefore, require an apology.

I must also apologize for my apology... because at its core it's really quite selfish.  Most of my sorry-ness is simply because I have missed blogging so much and actually has nothing to do with you. Wow. Sorry.

But I'm back!  Regardless of my lack of character!

And you know what?  My next blog post is going to be about pie!  It's not sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, low-fat or healthy in the least.

And for that, you have my sincerest apologies.

But not really.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Favourite Things: The Angel Brush

... Bright copper kettles and chewy toothbrushes...

 As moms we all have those things (objects, products, inventions, etc) that we love and that save time or money and make life easier and more enjoyable. Here is one of mine:  The Angel Brush.