Category Archives: Thermomix Recipes

Charlie’s Rainbow Sorbet Cake

 

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Each year, I ask the kids what birthday cake they’d like, they look up cake’s in the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake recipe books, or we google ‘best cakes ever’, or they just think of ideas and let me know.    Charlie’s birthday is in the middle of January – Summer! – and she wanted  ‘rainbow sorbet cake’!  We had a look around google images but she could not find what she wanted.  So she drew it, coloured it in, thought of the fruits that we could have in each layer, and gave it to me…. and we managed to pull it off last weekend for her birthday celebrations.  The best part about this bright, colourful ‘cake’, was that it was all natural fruits giving it the flavour and colour!!!

Recipe for ‘Charlie’s Rainbow Sorbet Cake’

You need to think about the ‘cake’ a week in advance (unless you have an endless supply of cake tins!.. and loads of ice in the freezer).  It’s also handy to have a Thermomix 😉 or a really good food processor that can handle crushing a lot of ice.

Basic Sorbet Recipe

Pour 50g raw sugar into your Thermomix/food processor.

Mill the sugar on Speed 9 for 10 seconds.

Add 350g fresh or frozen fruit (peeled kiwi fruit, peeled oranges, blueberries, strawberries, banana, raspberries etc) and 1 egg white to the sugar. I added a banana to the fresh fruit for most of the sorbet layers as it makes a creamier, softer, ‘icecream’ type texture.

Mix on Speed 5 for 15 seconds.

Add 800g – 1kg of ice (4 to 6 trays of ice) to the bowl.

Mix for 1 min 30 seconds.   If the ice cubes start to get pushed to the top of the Thermomix bowl, then take the measuring cup out, and push the ice down with the spatula.  You can leave the spatula in the lid for the rest of the mixing time if you want.

Make a ‘batch’ of sorbet, and after feeding the kids a serve each, pour/plonk/scrape it out into a lined cake tin.   Flatten the sorbet into the tin using a spatula.    I used a ‘ring baking tin’ so that the layers would be thicker, so it would defrost evenly, and so that it was easier to slice up and serve everyone.  I lined the tin with baking paper on the bottom of the pan only.

Cover the baking tin with GLADwrap and put in the freezer for 3 hours, or until you make the next layer the following day.

Take frozen sorbet out of the freezer, dip a knife in hot water and run the knife around the edge of the tin to help ease the sorbet from the tin.  Turn the tin upside down and the ‘sorbet layer’ will pop out like a cake, onto your plate.  Leave the baking paper on the sorbet layer, as this prevents the layers mixing when defrosting, and it makes it easier to slice and serve.  Cover this layer with GLADwrap, and return it to the freezer.   Remember to refill your ice trays for the next layer of sorbet.

The following day, make another ‘batch’ of sorbet, and repeat the above process.

You can store each layer separately in the freezer, and put together on the day…. or you can clear out some freezer space and put the layers together prior to the day.

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Above: making a batch of sorbet… this one is blackberry sorbet….

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 Above: the ring baking tin I used for each sorbet layer.

Below: the blueberry sorbet layer resting on top of the kiwi fruit layer.

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By the time we brought the cake out to the table (on a hot Summer’s day!), popped some candles on top, took some photos and sang ‘Happy Birthday’, it was beautifully defrosted enough to slice and serve.  If it wasn’t such a hot day, you would take it out of the freezer at least 15mins before eating, so that it is soft enough to serve.

Here are some photos of Charlie’s birthday party ….

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Hills Homestead - Birthday Cakes

signed - hayley @ hills homestead

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Easy Sourdough Bread

 

 1 Sourdough Bread

Now that you’ve made your sourdough starter, have you tried making bread yet?

A lot of people have been making these sourdough crackers every week, and loving them.  They taste cheesy (but have no cheese in them), and most of the gluten has been broken down through the proofing time, and they have some lovely olive oil and sea salt crystals sprinkled over them.

I’ve been making our bread ever since we were married and received a ‘Country Loaf’ breadmaker for our wedding.  However, I’d only make it for when we had visitors or special occasions.   It was using the bags of bread mix (which I have since realised contain a whole lot of additives that I didn’t necessarily want/need in my bread – non-iodised salt, malt flour, mineral salt (E170, soy flour, emulsifier (E472), vegetable gum (E412), inactive dry yeast, ascorbic acid (Vit C), enzyme, Thiamine…. etc See here.).  Now we’ve been making our own bread for 2 years, and usually it’s the basic white bread (Thermomix recipe containing just Bakers Flour, warm water, yeast, salt, oil).  Since having the Thermomix we haven’t had to have store bought bread and I like knowing exactly what is going into my bread.  This has been the biggest saving for us as a family of 6.   With a large extended family and birthday parties and lunches/dinners with friends, we have been able to make our own bread rolls (white/wholemeal/seed loaf), bread loaves, scrolls for kids lunches (‘cheesymite’ scrolls, ham and cheese scrolls,  tomato and cheese scrolls, cinnamon scrolls, jam scrolls), danishes!, gluten free bread, fruit loaves, … and also loads of things like scones… for the cost of Bakers Flour (bought in 10kg bags) and a bit of yeast/salt/oil… Now, back to sourdough – sorry!

I have now started experimenting more with sourdough to decrease my gluten intake and increase the nutritious value of the bread I eat.  These HEALTH benefits are the reason why I’m starting to change my baking routines.

This sourdough loaf is slightly more time intensive than our usual white loaf (that takes 1 1/2 mins kneading time in the Thermomix, and 30 mins rising time, and 25mins baking time).   This sourdough loaf takes 5-10 minutes to ‘knead’, then it has to be left to rise or ‘proof’ for at least 8 hours (longer than this is preferable, as the gluten breaks down even more over time).  THEN it takes about an hour to bake.

This is how my sourdough ‘creations’ looked a year ago…

MY FIRST SOURDOUGH ‘CREATIONS’ – basic recipe – 1 cup sourdough starter, 1 cup water, 2 tsp sea salt, 3 cups flour (spelt, rye, wholemeal, any flour)

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The sourdough loaves left to proof for 24 – 48 hours.

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Sourdough loaf in the oven.

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Fresh out of the oven, kind of like little bricks 🙂 but delicious.  Chewy crusts and a tasty, dense, healthy loaf.  I would cut (saw!) it into slices and pop into the freezer to use a bit every day.

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However, only 2 people out of our family would eat this loaf.  So here’s the recipe for a different sourdough bread that my whole family (nearly!) eats.

After a bit of experimenting, my sourdough loaves now look like this (see below).

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 I was amazed that all the kids loved it – even Charlie!  Now don’t expect a light, fluffy loaf like your usual bread.   It is a denser loaf, with a thick, hard crust.

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    Easy Sourdough Bread

  PREPARATION – 10 MINS (then left overnight to ‘proof’ or rise)

  1. Put the following ingredients into a large bowl

–         330g sourdough starter

–         15g (or 3 tsp) sea salt

–         420g warm water

–         40g extra virgin olive oil

–         150g rye flour

–         600g Bakers Flour

 

2.Using a rolling pin, hold it like a ‘dagger’ in your bowl, and move it vigorously back (towards you) and forth (away from you) to mix and ‘knead’ the sourdough bread mixture.   It is like ‘goo’ and you cannot knead it on the bench.  It will take about 5 minutes.  Keep going until you see the ‘gluten fibers’ coming together and it gets thicker – it really tones the arms!!             (Alternatively, you can pop all of the above ingredients in your Thermomix, mix on Speed 6 for 10 seconds, then Knead for 3 minutes).

  1. Plop it onto a lined baking tray and with floury hands, shape it into a ‘log’.
  2. Cover it with a clean towel, and leave it overnight (or all day) to rise.

BAKING – 1 HOUR

1.  Preheat oven to very hot – 200 o C

2.  Cut slits into the top of your dough with a knife (to allow for more rising in the oven).

3.   Put in the oven for about an hour.  Test if it’s ready by tapping it and it should sound hollow.  Wait about 15 mins before slicing.

4.  Enjoy with butter and jam or melted cheese!

Print recipe  Blog Recipe – Easy Sourdough Bread      or         Blog Recipe – Easy Sourdough Bread – without header

Now, a few pictures of the sourdough ‘kneading’ process ….19-DSC_0819    11-2013-05-03_4880PortVicNetball 2013-05-03_4886PortVicNetball   2013-05-03_4895PortVicNetball  01-1 Kneading Sourdough

Enjoy !

signed - hayley @ hills homestead

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‘Made it in my Thermomix’ Monday

My ‘Amazing Thermo Machine’ – ATM

Have you heard of a Thermomix?

It looks like this….

My ATM - 'Amazing Thermo Machine' !!!
My ATM – ‘Amazing Thermo Machine’ !!!

It can …. “Chop Beat Mix Emulsify Mill Knead Blend Cook Stir Steam Weigh Melt and much, much more…

It’s like having another person (or two) in the kitchen at the same time as you!

It saves SOOOOO much time in the kitchen especially when you are trying to make things from scratch and buy less processed foods.

How long does it take?

  • 3-4 seconds any salad
  • 30 seconds peanut butter
  • 30 seconds any cake mix
  • 60 seconds sorbet
  • 30-60 seconds any juice or drink
  • 1 minute butter
  • 2 minutes pizza dough
  • 1 1/2 minutes for bread dough
  • 3-5 minutes sauce & gravies
  • 7 minutes custard
  • 10-20 minutes soup
  • 10-60 minutes jams & spreads

It’s also saving me money on groceries.   I now don’t buy any snack foods for the kids (except crackers – I haven’t attempted them yet) – we make sorbet, custard, muslei bars, pancakes/pikelets, honey baked granola!, biscuts, cakes, muffins in the Amazing Thermo Machine instead!   I don’t have to buy Gravox, chicken/beef/vege stock, any flavourings for savoury foods, bread/bread rolls, sweet buns for visitors, custard powder, icecream, yoghurt (we save HEAPS here), biscuits/cakes, etc.

I follow quite a few ‘real food blogs’ and I am amazed at how many people out there are making all their own food from scratch, not buying processed foods, avoiding additives like preservatives, flavours and colours, ….. AND they don’t have a Thermomix!!!!  They DO have milling machines, juicers, breadmakers, barmixers, digital scales,  food processors/Kenwood’s, icecream makers, yoghurt makers, rice cookers,  …… etc.    Having a Thermomix simplifies all food preparation and decreases clutter in your kitchen – none of the above appliances are needed anymore when you invest in a Thermomix.

I have one of these Amazing Thermo Machines – a Thermomix – on my kitchen bench!  How blessed am I????  I use it many times (at least 4 times – even if I’m out all day!) a day and I want to share just how much my ATM produces in an average week, for a family of 6 plus visitors ….

Savoury

Vegetable stock – a 1 L jar is now 3/4 full of homemade vegetable stock.  No special ingredients – just some old / leftover raw  vegetables from the fridge/pantry (I had extra zucchini, celery, a squash, a few cherry tomatoes and a couple of carrots), some olive oil and salt (himalayan salt or sea salt) and whatever herbs are in your garden (or fridge… or pantry) – I had sage, rosemary, basil, parsley, and another few leaves from a small green bush that smells ‘herby’… not sure what it is but I pop it in everything…

Dips – for my work lunches, kids snacks, and for visitors I made 2 huge dips – cashew/capsicum/parmeson dip and a Thai Chilli Hommus dip… Mmmmmmm.

Red Thai Curry Paste (to store in the fridge) and Red Thai Curry for dinner one night.

I had a huge green salad left over from the previous nights tea, I popped it in my ATM (my Thermomix ) and pressed turbo for 2 seconds and it was a perfectly chopped salad ready to add some dip for a lunch.

Found an extra 600 mL cream in my fridge left over from icecream making, so made some BUTTER.

Pizza dough – 2 batches used immediately to feed children and cousins, 2 batches to make mini pizzas to freeze for school lunches, and 2 batches to wrap in Glad wrap and pop in the freezer to use later.

Making mini pizzas for school lunches

Mini Pizzas
www.hillshomestead.com

Bread – a loaf every second day.  The Thermomix recipe here is the one I use – but without the sugar or bread improver!  Only when we have visitors I’ll bake an extra loaf or rolls to go with the meal.

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So easy you can make it every day!! It’s so much cheaper than buying bread (especially when you purchase flour in bulk). www.hillshomestead.com

Sweets

Yoghurt – 4 batches (Litres) of yoghurt made this week.  The kids are on school holidays, and they love it with honey and vanilla extract or with stewed rhubarb and apple stirred through it – if we have it for breakfast, we nearly go through the whole 1 L !!!  I make it in the Thermomix (recipe here) then pour it into a 1 L glass jar (from Gaganis), then pop it into my old EasiYo thermos and pour boiling water around the jar – it fits perfectly!!

Homemade Yoghurt in the Theromix
www.hillshomestead.com

                                                                                                         

Sticky Buns – I just use the Thermomix bread recipe, add sultanas, a Tbsp of sugar, cinnamon and mixed spice in the kneeding part, after it rises, I make the dough into rolls, bake, then once cool I put some icing on top.  Sickly sweet buns that kids and adults love!!

CADA – handful of coconut, almonds, dates, and an apple, pulsed X2 in Thermomix – great, light, (sweet) but no sugar, grain-free breakfast

For another quick breakfast with cousins who slept over – pancakes – pop 2 eggs, 2 cups SR flour, some vanilla extract, 1 Tbsp sugar (optional), and some milk (to make it the consistency you like) into the Therommix bowl, mix at speed 4-5 for 20 seconds – a smooth, perfect pancake mixture ready for the frying pan.

Whipped cream – to go with desserts x2 with visitors, to go with pancake toppings (maple syrup!!)

Banana/Walnut Cake – while it was baking we had people pop in (perfect timing!) and I had someone for coffee that night so we had a thick slice with some butter (hope you liked it Anne!!)

Banana Choc Chip Muffins – I used the basic muffin recipe in the Every Day Cookbook and added 2 bananas and a handful of choc chips.

Vanilla Custard x2 for visitors one night (to have with pie) and Chocolate Vanilla Custard (Vanilla Custard with cocoa added) to put in fridge for the kids snacks – choc/vanilla custard cold tastes like those little Milo custards from the shops.

Made chocolate, vanilla, and choc/peppermint ICECREAM for Charlie’s birthday dinner.

Mmmmmm, fresh raspberry sorbet @ www.hillshomestead.com
Fresh raspberry sorbet @ www.hillshomestead.com

And of course, sorbet – every day these holidays – whenever there are extra kids or visitors or just us, sorbet is always welcome – and now the leftovers are being frozen in little containers ready for kids school and kindy lunches – it’s the perfect consistency by recess/lunch time.  We’ve had mango sorbet, chocolate sorbet! the kids made, raspberry sorbet, watermelon sorbet, and lemon sorbet.

Our daily fresh fruit sorbet (sugar, fruit, egg white and lots of ice – all crushed in the Thermomix). Perfect for Summer!

 

Extras

I milled another lot of coffee beans to use in our plunger, and milled a whole  1 kg of raw sugar => castor sugar and icing sugar for the pantry.

I grated 1 kg of cheese and put it into a large container to use during the week (especially for all of those pizzas!)

** If you would like more information on the Thermomix, please see the official Thermomix Australia website  ** Note, I am a massive fan of the Thermomix, but HillsHomestead.com is not affiliated with Vorwerk (the manufacturer of Thermomix), and if you are looking to order a Thermomix, please visit the Thermomix Australia website here, or contact me if you are in Adelaide, SA and I can link you up with a consultant!!!!!

Have a great week,

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Birthday Celebrations Today – Cake Pictures… and Real Food at a Kids Party?!

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I LOVE birthdays.  My mum always made my sisters and I feel so special on our birthdays growing up.

I also want to make my children feel special as we celebrate the DAY THEY WERE BORN and how BLESSED WE ARE to have them in our lives!

Every year, I ask the kids what special birthday cake they would like me to make … and yes, they can choose anything… and this year Charlie wanted a ‘Carousel’ or ‘Merry-Go-Round’ cake.

 

She Googled this picture….

Source:  http://www.pinkfrosting.com.au/persistent/catalogue_images/products/301-1335b.jpg

… and said “I want this one please mummy!”   This picture is what we based our creation on.

So after 3 trials of different ‘icing’, and a leaning, top heavy cake sliding off of it’s post, and a lot of ‘fixing’ mistakes… and a LOT of licking of fingers… the Carousel Cake was completed in the early hours of this morning!!!!!!!!!

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It was put together in one night (last night) only because of a lot of preparation.

The cake…

A few weeks ago, I baked the chocolate cakes X3 and put them in the freezer.

I used ‘Mrs Ripberger’s’ recipe for ‘moist chocolate cake’ because it is –

1.  EASY to make

2. you can make TRIPLE the quantity in one big saucepan

3. you don’t need a machine (even the Thermomix sat quietly while I made this mixture in the saucepan!)

4. and it’s DELICIOUS !!! and MOIST and EVERYONE loves it at a party.

Recipe for ‘Boiled Chocolate Cake’ (I’ve just doubled the recipe – so it makes 6 log cakes)

Get out a HUGE saucepan (if you triple the recipe as I usually do for birthdays).

Pop it on the stove and turn it on low.

ADD a 250g block of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water, and 4 Tbsp of cocoa.

Turn up the heat and stir until butter is melted and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Take it off the heat and cool.

Then (once cooled) ADD 3 cups of Self Raising Flour, 4 eggs, and 1 tsp of Bicarb Soda.

Mix well.

Pour into baking tins or muffin trays.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius.

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For today’s Carousel Cake, I made 3 round cakes (in 8 inch or 20cm round baking pans) and a whole heap of muffins.

I pull the cakes out of the freezer a couple of hours before I decorate.  Half frozen cakes are easier to cut when making cake creations – they don’t crumble or break – and the icing ‘sets’ quickly on the cake too.

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The icing….

My aim for the icing was to make it ‘colour’ and ‘flavour’ free so I looked up some egg white recipes (we have a LOT of eggs at the moment).

The first icing I tried (see white icing top/centre in the picture above) was Royal Icing – just an egg white and 1 cup of icing sugar whipped up in the Thermomix for 2 mins.  It didn’t work.  I would have had to make  6 batches to cover the whole cake! and it went SO HARD before I could even spread it! and it tasted of course like ‘wedding cake’ icing which the kids aren’t keen on, just too sweet …….. so even though it was  a beautiful white I tried something else.

I then made my usual butter icing (whip up a cup of unsalted butter with a drop of water and vanilla extract, and  4 or more cups of icing sugar – yes, I do it in bulk) but I kept on adding too much water and needing too much icing sugar and the it was kids bedtime and I was distracted…. so I put the huge bowl of icing in the fridge to ‘set’… and went to Google to find another ‘colour-free’ and ‘flavour-free’ recipe.

And the I found THIS recipe on the Super Kitchen Machine blog for the most amazing ‘Swiss Meringue Butter Cream Icing’!!!

I had never heard of it before, but it sure looked delicious, and there was a Thermomix recipe for it so I gave it a whirl.  (You could also do it in your Kenwood /Kitchen Aid etc).

It has egg whites, sugar, pinch of salt, and unsalted butter – all real ingredients – no colour or even flavour added – it turned out a beautiful pastel yellow colour – AND tasted even better than any other icing I’ve ever tasted!!!!

I used this meringue icing on the top 2 cakes of the carousel, then the butter icing for the bottom cake, and for all the cupcakes.

The pink butterflies and flowers…

The ‘candies’ we made a couple of weeks ago with the kids.  Simple ingredients (icing sugar, gelatine, water, and a drop of red food colouring),  easy, and so effective.  The last few years we’ve even made ‘candy Easter eggs’ using this recipe.  I’ll do a post on these another day (because it is so cool to make ‘lollies’ or ‘candies’ for your own birthday parties – the kids love it and it saves money also!)

The horses….

They are little wooden horses from Spotlight, painted white one night with the kids, then the next day decorated (painted eyes, saddles) with coloured paints.  Another holiday activity with the girls.  The above horses were the same one’s that I used a couple of years ago for my other daughter’s cake, so they were already in the birthday box!

Other bits and pieces…

I received a new ‘Cookie Press and icing set’ from my in-laws for Christmas…  (what a cool gift!!)

   Its the SAVANNAH Cookie Press and icing set and I just found a review on it here

I used this to put the icing in the centre of the flowers, to stick on some of the obnoxious little pink flowers that kept falling off (most just stuck so easily and beautifully to the sticky meringue icing), and  to decorate all of the chocolate muffins.

The pink stripy patty pans/cups were 3.95 from Neds – I bought them in bulk a few years ago and use them at the girls birthday parties.

And with the help of my Thermomix, I was able to feed the kids some ‘real food’ this birthday party (aside from the musk sticks, mint leaves, and candies on the cake!)

Menu – Spicy Thai Hommus & Sundried Tomato/Cashew/Capsicum Dips

– Corn Chips

– Carrot/Capsicum/Celery Sticks

– Dried Apricots

– Fresh Cheese/Tomato Bread (pull apart)

– Meringues drizzled with dark chocolate

– Homemade Chocolate and Vanilla Icecream

– Caramel Popcorn Balls

– Fresh Fruit

Then for extended family and extras who stayed for tea, I made some extra fresh bread, had extra piles of carrot sticks, celery sticks, capsicum stick, and I had frozed some mince patties shaped into ‘sausages’ (minced meat from our grass-fed beef… by the way, did you watch Food Inc the other night on SBS??  It’s still on the SBS website for another few days).  I pulverised a whole huge zucchini, some squash from the garden (that I never know what to do with!), an onion, cloves of garlic, a capsicum, and a few stalks of celery in the Thermomix, then added this to the mince and mixed it with my hands – the veges made the mince go even further, and if the kids didn’t eat the vege sticks, it didn’t matter as the veges are in the patties! AND they tasted delicious (not just my opinion, others commented also!!) AND all the children ate them!!!

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Well, that was Charlie’s 7th birthday party today.  It was a lovely day.  And I’m going to go and fall into bed….

Addit…

I just looked up the above white carousel cake that Charlie found on Google images  – it cost $75 – and that’s with 20% off!!!!  So I saved a bit  (and I don’t mind ‘spending’ the time).

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Christmas at Hills Homestead

We are having Christmas lunch in our home with extended family this year, and the children and I have been busy with decorating and baking and putting together homemade / homegrown gifts.

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Some of the gifts this year ….

  1. Home grown cherries – our tree was laden this year with rich red cherries!!
  2. Raspberry Couli and Raspberry Jams – this is our 2nd year having raspberry bushes and the kids loved picking them – (and eating 1/2 of them!).  ‘Child Picked’ raspberries are perfect for couli or jam as they are a bit squished!!  I picked some ‘non squished’ raspberries to put on top of our pavlova tomorrow.
  3. Free range eggs – we get about a dozen eggs a day, too many to sell and people love getting fresh eggs (or they say they do anyway!!)
  4. Homemade Vanilla Extract – I’ve now posted the recipe  – I started it about 6 months ago, and it’s now ready to put into little jars for gifts.  It’s too easy, and I wish I’d started making my own vanilla extract years ago!!  It’s basically just vodka and vanilla beans in a bottle.  You leave it in the pantry and give it a gentle shake every day for a while, then every week or so…. not too much effort, cost effective, and so much healthier and nicer that vanilla flavour/essence …
  5. Kefir grains – for people I know are interested in getting more probiotics into their diets, I’ve popped some kefir grains and printed out my ‘Kefir Daily Routine’ for their gift.
  6. Gingerbread – last night I did 3 batches of this gingerbread recipe in my thermomix, had it in the fridge overnight, and this morning it’s ready for the kids to make gingerbread angels, stars and hearts.
  7. We are also making these little packages to put as table settings tomorrow.

 Thank you Ann Voscamp at A Holy Experience for the envelope template.  The packages will be folded and tied with red ribbon, and the verse below will be inside.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,

and they will call Him

Immanuel

which means “God with us”

Matt.1:23

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What’s that going off on your kitchen counter? Kefir !!

Have you ever heard of Kefir??  You may have seen it in health food stores, in supermarkets next to the milks and yoghurts, or you may have seen it ‘fermenting’ on someone’s kitchen bench!

                                           

I thought I should put together some of the research that I’ve done on kefir… for a few reasons….

  1. I give my kids a ‘kefir’ shake (milkshake) every day
  2. I have 2 jars sitting on my kitchen counter, full of kefir,
  3. Dealing with kefir is part of my daily routine,
  4. I drink it
  5. I give away the kefir grains knowing that they are an amazing source of ‘free’ probiotics, but I need to start giving an information sheet with my grains so people understand how to care for them and just how beneficial they are!

So, how do you say it??

It is pronounced “kef” as in deaf and “ear” as in fear.

WHAT IS KEFIR?

I describe kefir  as a yoghurt-like drink.  It’s ‘stronger’ than yoghurt, hence why I usually make a smoothie with the kefir + banana + vanilla extract + honey for the kids.   I can’t drink it ‘straight’ yet, and my husband can’t face it at all!!!  It has HUGE health benefits because it has a very high level of live and active probiotic cultures that are good for your immune system and gut health.

The following information is from Dom’s Kefir Website … (Dom, that’s his name, is the Australian guru on all things kefir!)

  • Kefir is a cultured-milk beverage which originated in the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains (which are in Europe) believed to date back over 1,000 years.
  • The tribes-folk of this particular region consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities, and they were known for living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.
  • Traditional, authentic kefir can only be prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains.
  • Kefir can be strained and consumed fresh (ie at room temperature… or I strain it straight into my Amazing Thermo Machine! (my Thermomix) and make a fresh fruit smoothie with crushed ice to make it cold… the kids aren’t too keen on warm kefir milkshakes!!)  OR it can be ‘ripened’ at room temperature over a few days (this reduces the lactose in your kefir, improves flavour??, increases Vitamin B1, B6 including B9 or folic acid, .. also increases the alcohol content I’ve found!!!… I don’t usually ‘ripen’ it)

What do kefir grains look like?

Kefir grains look like soggy cauliflower florets.       Here is a picture of mine….

 Straining kefir grains through a colander

This is my kefir grains after I’ve strained the milk kefir off in the morning.   I’m about to pop them back in the jar and pour some of our raw milk over the top of them (you can definitely use pasteurised milk, I did before we bought our cow!) and leave on the kitchen bench for around 24hours.

Health Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is the ‘original’ probiotic! – long before people even knew what probiotics were.

Probiotics…..

  • are friendly or ‘good’ bacteria that help strengthen your body
  • the word ‘probiotic’ means “beneficial to life”
  • are SO good for you
  • (research shows evidence that they ….)
  • help boost immunity
  • promote better digestion
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • help to restore gut health after you take a course of antibiotics
  • …..  research on the above and more potential effects   (list found here)
    • 2.1  decreases diarrhea 2.2 decreases lactose intolerance 2.3 helps to prevent colon cancer 2.4 decreasing cholesterol 2.5 noromalising blood pressure 2.6 increases immune function and infections ……… 2.10 aids in prevention and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and colitis 
  • Studies (see here)  have also shown that giving probiotics to children preventatively can reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, reduces the number of sick days from daycare, helps to prevent allergies such as exzema and hayfever, and it may decrease the incidence of ear infections.

The Kefir Association  state on their website that kefir contains 10 probiotic strains and is an excellent source of protein, calcium and fiber (VERY nutritious for children and women!)

Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria — more than 10 TIMES the number of cells you have in your entire body. Ideally, you should have 85 percent “good” bacteria in your gut, and 15 percent “bad” bacteria in your gut.     If you have an excess of unhealthy bacteria in your gut, it can manifest in many ways, such as gas and bloating, fatigue, sugar cravings, nausea, headaches, constipation or diarrhea. You may also find that, despite a healthy diet and exercise, you have difficulty shedding weight.   (See more detail on Dr Mercola’s website)

By adding things like yoghurt and kefir to your daily life,  it helps you to get the good bacteria in your digestive system.  Dr Mercola explains that this is important because an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located there (in your digestive system!).   So supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your number one defense system against ALL disease.

Things that interfere with your keeping your gut healthy –

  • eating a lot of processed foods (as they tend to destroy healthy bacteria and ‘feed’ the back bacteria and yeast)
  • taking antibiotics (of course, you sometimes HAVE to take antibiotics, so just ensure that you have adequate probiotics in your diet to replace the good bacteria that’s been wiped out!)
  • drinking chlorinated water
  • using antibacterial soap all the time
  • chemicals used in growing food and food production
  • pollution (need some of this fresh hills air!)

All of us are exposed to some or all of the above on occasions, so it’s a good idea to keep up the numbers of good bacteria in your gut by eating/drinking probiotics (e.g eating fermented foods/drinking kefir).

(Note: pasteurization kills the naturally occurring probiotics in milk, so pour your pasteurized milk over some kefir grains!!  OR even better, access some raw milk!)

In order to be considered probiotic, the bacteria must be present in sufficient numbers of live and active cultures, resistant to acid and bile, able to attach to the intestinal wall and colonize the intestinal tract and beneficial to health. Probiotics can be taken in tablet form, but most experts agree that it is better to get any nutrient through food consumption. Often the processing of tablets causes cultures to become inactive. With kefir, that’s not an issue since it’s ‘living’ on your bench, plus you’ll get the added benefits of calcium, Vitamins A, C and D, lactic acid and potassium.

Also, Kefir is so much CHEAPER than a tablet.  I’ve had a mum from school take home some of my kefir grains and now makes milkshakes/smoothies with the kefir each day for her children.  She previously had to purchase probiotics in tablet form for her children but can now ‘make her own’ probiotics.  The Microgenics Probiotic tablets cost $27.95 for 60 tablets – that’s nearly 50 cents EACH tablet – that all adds up if you have a few adults and a couple of children taking them every day!  Alive Probiotics (they are meant to have 25 billion friendly bacteria in each tablet!) cost $41.95 (on special) for 60 tablets – that’s 70 cents each tablet.  Yes, kefir on my bench, using milk that I have in my fridge anyway, is cheaper.

So why not try some kefir … look for some in the grocery store or health food shop (so you know I’m not making this up!), or see here (Dom’s Website) or here (source in Queensland) for Australian sources of kefir grains, OR if you know me, contact me and I’ll give you some grains (mine are thriving and I have SO many) so that you can easily make traditional kefir in your own home (and you never have to buy them again!).

 

For more information regarding Kefir – and sources of the grains – please visit Dom’s Website.  He’s the ‘King of Kefir’, from Australia, and has pages on the origin of kefir grains, benefits, and uses.

For more information on Raw Milk – see this series of blog posts from Kelly the Kitchen Kop on Raw Milk Benefits, Raw Milk Safety, and Farming Practices

Mmmm, I’m thinking of getting the kids to video the daily practice of making real kefir…. THEN you’d be impressed and request some grains from me immediately… or not….

 

Addit….

On another topic… if you have a Thermomix, check out this site for amazing, SIMPLE, additive free lemon tarts… and I LOVE the French accent.

I’m an OT – Occupational Therapist – it’s a GREAT profession, I LOVE my job, but NOBODY knows what it is!!!    Thanks Danielle for the link, here is a 3 minute, easy to watch,  YouTube clip describing OT very well!!

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