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The Farm Kitchen

My kitchen is never clean. Not in the way that you may think. Yes, things are wiped and all that, but if you look carefully, you will see things bubbling, steaming, working, growing, fermenting, in every corner of the room. I leave my crockpot out to throw things into as I harvest them. I have a gallon jar of Kombucha fermenting all the time, sometimes two!
My cast iron frying pans are never put away. You never know when you have to throw something together for the kids. And there is nothing worse than pulling out a pan and having it be slightly rusted from not being totally dry when  put away.
Then there is the wormbin. Yes, I have thousands of red wigglers growing and thriving on my counter. I cant say that it is tiny, the thing is 2 ft square and at least two feet high. Good thing they compost quietly and with no odor, or guests would never come into the house.
How about the stove? It is a restaurant style, with 6 burners and a huge griddle. I have to keep the griddle clean because it is impossible to clean otherwise (that and it’s gross not to), but the stove itself is stainless steel. Whomever thought of making anything shiny silver, is a dolt, in my opinion. It is never shiny or beautiful for more than a day after you take the time to shine and buff it. Lame
Today, I am going to make kombucha. This is a fermented drink that tastes sort of like sweet apple cider. I make it 3 quarts at a time, and it never lasts long around here. In fact, when served ice cold, it is the first thing anyone asks to drink. Kombucha  does have a little alcohol in it, less than the equivalent of 1 beer in a gallon of kombucha, but it is something you should know.
Here is how I make it:
Kombucha

3 quarts cold water
1 cup sugar
6 black tea bags
1 SCOBY pad
½ cup Kombucha starter
In large pot, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off heat, add the teabags and cover tightly
Steep 15 minutes
Remove the tea bags
Cover tightly to keep impurities from falling into the pan
Cool the tea to room temperature
Place the scoby into a gallon sized glass jar
Pour the Kombucha starter over the SCOBY
Pour the cooled tea into the jar
Cover jar with a coffee filter and hold it in place with elastic band.
Let sit until it smells like apple cider vinegar. It takes about 7-10 days in our house.
Pour the finished Kombucha off into a clean jar to use and keep about ½ cup in gallon jar along with the SCOBY, to start another batch.
The scoby can be peeled apart and shared after each batch of Kombucha is made.
Back in the day, I made kombucha for a customer who also bought my raw milk.   Once a week, I would carefully drive down the mountain, with coolers full of milk, kefir and kombucha. It was quite an exchange. I was sort of like the milkman, only I delivered eggs, milk, and other cool foods.
Fermented foods are so important to our diets. I am surely preaching to the choir, but I truly believe that there are good bacteria in them that our bodies really need, in order to digest whole foods like we should. 
So there you have it. My kitchen may seem quiet, but it is actually hard at work, making healthy things for our family. You have to appreciate that. 

Why Wash Dried Beans?

This photo  is the perfect example of why one has to wash and pick through dried beans before use. I love using beans in my cooking. They are:

  1. Cheap
  2. Yummy
  3. Filling
I admit to not always doing more than a glance and rinse before cooking them, however. Yesterday, while measuring out 3 cups of dried beans(I keep them in a gallon jar),  I noticed a small stone on the top of the pile. Removing that, I poured the beans into a colander for rinsing. There was another stone! 
Now, being a Root Canal Survivor, my thoughts turned to the feeling I would experience if I had chomped down on one of those stones!  I was a bit fearful, and decided to give my beans a thorough examination. Would you believe I had ANOTHER stone?! In all my years of cooking with beans, I don’t think I have come across more than 3 or 4 stones, ever. This small 3 cup batch had THREE stones!  
The whole point of this post is to remind any other sort-of-lazy-cooks-who-take-shortcuts, that checking over beans is a GREAT idea. Consider this a head’s up. 
PS, the chili I made was delicious, without any stones. 
Have a great day! 

Green Tomatoes Galore

Here is what happens when the season is not warm enough to ripen the tomatoes, but is plenty warm enough to grow them! What? That isn’t too many you say? Well, this is ONE box. We have FIVE and a 5 gallon bucket of them, in storage.

So, what do I do with all these tomatoes? Tonight, I am making fried green ones. Because we love to deep fry them, I make a slightly different recipe than many southerners would recognize. Trust me, they are still delicious!

The coating(based on a fish and chips coating):

1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/3 cup water

-Mix dry ingredients in one bowl
-Mix vinegar and water in another bowl
-Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk until smooth.

That’s all there is too it!

For the tomatoes, choose firm tomatoes of any size. Slice 1/4 inch thick(this will be slightly thinner than usual).

(EDIT: If slices are particularly juicy,  you may want to coat them with flour first, to allow the batter to stick).

Dip into batter and let excess run off for a few seconds before dropping in HOT lard.
Fry for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Yes, this means you have permission to taste one. 🙂

This batter is slightly salty and adds a great flavor to the tomatoes. You can use the same batter for deep frying any vegetables. Let me know how you like it!