Lacto-Fermented Carrots

This lacto-fermented carrot recipe is a yearly go-to in our kitchen. It can be whipped up in very little time and is a family favorite with the adults and kids in the Fagan house. The carrots stay crispy, can be as tangy as you wish, all while giving your body the fermented bacterial goodness that we all need during this crazy health crisis. And the best part: It’s incredibly cheap to make!

This year I planted Dragon and Scarlet Nantes carrots in the garden and both varieties seem to work great in this particular ferment. But in all honesty, I have never had a carrot that did not work great in this recipe, so any fresh carrots will do!

Making of a Home Lacto-Fermented Carrots

1 pound fresh carrots

4 garlic cloves

2 cups of warm water

2 tablespoons sea salt (be sure your salt contains no added fillers or anti-caking agents)

1 cabbage or collard green leaf

1 glass quart-sized canning jar

Peel your garlic cloves and place them in the bottom of your jar. Next, place your trimmed carrots vertically in the glass jar, nestling them in there nice and snug. Continue to pack your jar until you have an inch of headspace remaining.

Mix together your warm water and salt until the salt is dissolved. Then pour this mixture over the top of your carrots and garlic.

Finally, take your cabbage or collard leaf and tuck it into the jar, helping to keep all of those cute little carrot tops submerged under the brine mixture. Tightly cap your jar.

Allow your jar to sit on your counter at room temperature to ferment for 6 – 10 days, depending upon how tangy you would like your ferment to taste. ***In the beginning stages of fermentation (the first 2-3 days), you will have to “burp” your jars to allow some of the carbon dioxide to escape. If you don’t “burp” your jars, there is a chance your jars could explode.

Once your ferment reaches your desired “funk” level, place it in the refrigerator. Your fermented carrots can remain in your fridge, unopened for up to 6 months.

Rhubarb Sourdough Sweet Rolls

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Our rhubarb crop is thriving right now, and I have been in the kitchen testing out some new recipes that showcase this first-of-the-season gem.  I recently fell down the sourdough rabbit hole and have been in love with all things sourdough, so this recipe features a bit of that fermentation love as well.  I hope you enjoy!

Rhubarb Sourdough Sweet Rolls

In a stand mixer bowl, mix the following:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 cups flour

After the ingredients are thoroughly combined, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and add the following to the mixture:

  • 6 tablespoons melted salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Attach the bowl to a stand mixer and mix with a dough hook for 1 minute.

Slowly add 2 additional cups of flour, while continuing to run the mixer on low speed. Once all the flour has been added, continue to mix on low speed for 3 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly for about 3 minutes.  Then form a ball with the dough, place it into a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Uncover and stretch and fold the dough in a circular fashion until all of the dough has been stretched and folded.  Again, cover the bowl and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.  Repeat this process a total of 3 times. (Your total rest time for this step will be three hours.)

During this resting period, heat the following in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat:

  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/ teaspoon cinnamon

Continue to cook the mixture until the rhubarb becomes tender, then remove from the heat.  Once removed from the heat, add 1 teaspoon almond extract. Allow the mixture to fully cool.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into the shape of a large rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick.

Next spread the rhubarb mixture over the entire rectangle-shaped dough.

Roll the dough, starting at one of the long ends, until you have one long roll.

Next cut the roll into 2 inch pieces.  Place the pieces snuggly into a greased cast-iron skillet or greased 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

An hour before baking, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and uncover them.  Allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.

Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the rolls become golden brown on top.

Serve and enjoy!

The Equinox

fullsizeoutput_c72fullsizeoutput_c70fullsizeoutput_c73fullsizeoutput_c74IMG_6612IMG_4884IMG_6291IMG_6290IMG_4885fullsizeoutput_c71As I grow older, I feel my connection with Earth and her rhythms strengthening.   Becoming more intertwined.  When I first began gardening in my late twenties, I found that cord of connection beginning to weave and form itself, as the growing and providing of food for my family from our garden space was dependent upon the cycles of the seasons, weather, and so on.

But as I near my forties (I can’t believe I just typed those words!), I find the strength of that cord widening, becoming more tethered to my inner-self.  This connection became very apparent to me on Friday, the autumnal equinox.  On this day of equal light and dark, I could feel a sense of profound balance that I have never experienced before.  It seemed that on this day, I was able to face negative elements with the positive.  I was able to keep my head up and keep my eyes on my daily intentions.  And I was able to fully engage my girls in this special day that only comes around twice a year.

In addition to our daily school tasks on Friday, my girls and I set out to fully embrace our day with time spent in the garden, bringing some new art pieces to life, and celebrating with neighbors.

I hope on this Monday you are able to find a snippet of balance in this world that often seems to be spinning a bit out of control.  Have a wonderful week, friends!

 

Makin’ Kraut

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I love cabbage in an obsessive, kind-of-creepy way.  I adore it raw in salads, sautéed in butter, and cooked down alongside a big ole’ roast in a low and slow oven.  But perhaps my favorite way to enjoy this curciferous comestible is in its fermented form as sauerkraut.

I have been starry-eyed about kraut my entire life.  In elementary school, I was the kid ordering ruebens with extra sauerkraut.  In high school, I could be found asking for sauerkraut as a pizza topping.  And when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, sauerkraut was one of the few foods I could eat while battling morning sickness.

Beginning to make sauerkraut at home has only increased my passion for this food.  The taste and texture of home-fermented kraut is unmatched, and the nutritional value is even more unfathomable.  Loaded with literally millions of healthy bacteria, homemade sauerkraut is one of the healthiest foods you can consume.  And, one of the easiest to make.

Here’s how we do our kraut:

Step 1:  Thinly chop up a head of cabbage (green or red).

Step 2:  Spread a layer of chopped cabbage in the bottom of a glass jar or crock, sprinkle with some salt, and bash away at it with a wooden spoon.  (This will break down the membranes of the cabbage, allow the salt in, and pull water out.)

Step 3:  Continue the layering process (cabbage, salt, bash) until you have used all your cabbage and there is enough water to cover the cabbage leaves.  (You may need to add a bit of unchlorinated water.)

Step 4:  Use a plate or glass to weight down the cabbage so that every tiny piece is submerged beneath the surface of the water.  (This is very important because any cabbage leaves exposed to oxygen will grow mold.)

Step 5:  Allow to sit on your counter or in your basement.

Step 6:  Check on your kraut every couple of days until it reaches the tartness and funkiness of your liking 🙂

Lavender Rosemary Biscuits

Lavender Rosemary Biscuits

We Fagans LOVE us some biscuits! And the only thing better than a biscuit is when we can load it up with fresh garden goodness and therefore call it “healthy” 🙂  My girls and I loved how these lil’ dumplings turned out, and we hope you do as well.

Lavender Rosemary Biscuits

In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar.  Next add 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lavender blossoms.

Then add 3/4 cup cold salted butter (cut into small cubes) to the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork.

Using your fingertips, mix 1 1/4 cups buttermilk into the mixture until just combined.  Turn out onto a floured board, roll until about 3/4 inch thick, and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass.

Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes (or until golden on top).

Enjoy!

*A note about all my recipes: I use all organic ingredients, local when available. I use non-homogenized milk, and all of the dairy we use is from animals raised on pasture. I also use oils that are non-GMO verified. All our meat is raised locally on organic feed, and our beef is grass-fed, grass-finished. All our spices and cane sugar are fair-trade certified and purchased through a cooperative.

Recharge

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A while back a friend said to me, “In an airplane emergency, first you must put on your own oxygen mask, then help those around you. Have you put on your life mask first?”

Since December, I have diligently tried to remember to practice self care as a means of improving my own life, and also the lives of my family members. This has been a difficult task for someone like me. Someone who often says yes to everything others ask, without any thought as to how this decision will impact me on a personal level.  Someone who puts the thoughts and feelings of others before my own.  Always.

Last week we ventured to the Northwoods of Wisconsin for a family vacation, but also for a personal recharge. While Up North this year, I tried to carve out some “me time,” where I could breathe in the positive energy around me, and release any toxic, negative energy that was holding me down.

I ended up finding time in the early morning hours, while my family still slumbered. The sun cast a faint glimmer upon the mirror-like surface of the lake, while the frogs and toads sang me a melodious tune. I found myself in the many green spaces on the property, pulling weeds and tending to the small plants that managed to survive the feast of the nearby deer. With my hands beneath the soil, I could feel the energy of the Earth pulsing through me, filling me with a profound sense of peace. It was during these moments that I felt connected, not only to the Earth, but also to those in my life whom I have lost and to the God who placed me here at that moment to embrace the spirit of my surroundings.

Yes, these moments of recharging my mind, body and spirit have proven to be my life’s saving grace. And for that, I am so very grateful.

Better Late Than Never Garden Update

Well friends, it’s June 16th, and I am coming at you with my first garden update of the 2017 growing season.  Hum.  Where exactly did the time go?  And better yet, what on earth have I been doing?  Time has somehow slipped between my fingers so rapidly, that I cannot even seem to identify the activities that filled these minutes, hours and days.

But nonetheless, this garden of ours is surely well underway, and perhaps the furthest along we have ever been come this time of the year.  I believe I can owe a great deal of this success to the fact that my girls have been real, active participants in our homestead this year.  While in the past the girls surely had “jobs” like collecting eggs in the morning, watering their fairy garden, and picking ripe cherry tomatoes from the vine, but this year the girls have been logging some legit man-power hours.  Gianna hauls spent dishwater outside to water plants, and she moves the sprinkles around to various locations throughout these hot, dry days we have been experiencing.  Addie tilled all the garden beds this spring, and she does a great deal of the wedding that needs to be done in the veggie beds.

And let me tell you, this year these littles are much more appreciative of the strawberries gracing their breakfast table and the cilantro and lettuce making its way into their tacos come dinnertime.  And isn’t this what homesteading and forming connections with our food is all about?  With the knowledge of the human labor and natural resources needed to grow our food, we are much more humble and filled with an awe-inspiring sense of gratitude when we are able to bring that food to our tables.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, in which you are able to nourish your body with food that gives you strength in body, as well as soul.  

In Gratitude

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Awhile back, I use to post trinkets of thanks each week.  I felt that in expressing my gratitude I was able to put positive vibes out into the atmosphere, and illustrate that it is often those seemingly minuscule or insignificant items or events that end up constructing a full life.

So, after a four year hiatus, on this 13th day of April, I am so very grateful for…

~a new computer and refreshed space in which I can write.

~Apple Support and their aid when this non-techy gal tried to set up the above mentioned computer. Whew.

~my seven year old, who led me through on the of the best yoga sessions of my life.

~this new book by Ashley English, and the fabulous recipes it contains.  Many of these recipes are sure to find themselves on my kitchen table in the very new future.

~a freshly mulched garden. (And yes, that is a glass of wine on the fencepost.  One needs some mode of relief from the back pain of hauling said mulch, right?)

~several days with family this upcoming weekend—sure to be filled with farmer’s markets and swimming, farm-fresh food and tasty cocktails, laughter and tears.

From Dawn to Dusk

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One of my favorite times of the year arrived this week!  In the wee hours of Monday morning, we began pouring over our 2017 seed catalog (We order our seeds and transplants from The Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa.) and envisioning what it is we want our garden to look like this year.  Now that the girls are older, they too have taken on an added interest in this task and our day was filled with talk of which herbs would grow best inside their cinder block garden boarder, and whether or not we want to skip growing cucumbers again this summer.  (My girls no longer eat pickles.  Say what?!?)

We normally peruse the seed catalogs in February because this seems to be an especially difficult month to get through for us.  So dark.  So very cold.  This year, however, proved to be a bit strange in that this particular February day was unseasonably balmy.  So, we packed up our seed-browsing-paraphenalia and headed to the backyard.  There we started a nice fire and continued our quest for garden goodness outdoors, well into the evening.  Such an incredibly nice treat.