Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Recipe: Grape, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Galette

All over the world, people in various cultures are taught that they must do a certain something in order to achieve prosperity for the new year. Growing up in Tennessee, I was taught that I should have black eyed peas - not that I ever did.

I'm sure you've heard of the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, one for each of the 12 strikes at midnight. I've heard variations on the tale, including that each grape represents a month for the new year. Sweet grapes represent a great month, and sour or bitter grapes represent a bad month. While I think that could end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, I also don't relish the idea of cramming grapes into my mouth - you don't have much time in between chimes!

The French have a lovely tradition of eating grapes with champagne, but I thought a grape galette would be nicer.

My mother cooks breakfast for us children the mornings of major holidays. Typically it's fairly simple pancakes and bacon, but last year she switched it up and bought some lovely pastries, filled with caramelized onions and brie. I figured grapes could be incorporated, along with some goat cheese since I didn't have any brie.

And I was right! This galette doesn't hold it's shape all too well, but it's delicious and sweet and a bit sour, and I'm happy to make this a New Year's tradition in my household.

1 cup caramelized onions (or 1 large yellow onion)
3 cups grapes, cut in half
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 cup crumbled goat cheese

If you need to caramelize your onions, start that first. If you're not sure where to begin, TheKitchn has an amazing guide up. You can also make this ahead of time, but it should take up to an hour.

You'll also need pie crust, which can also be made ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, add the caramelized onions, the grapes, the rosemary, and the goat cheese and mix.

Roll out your crust so that it's about 1/8" thick. Add the mixture into the middle, and begin folding the pastry edges over the mixture to form the galette.

Bake 30 minutes. Let cool 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Who's living in your gut? uBiome helps break down all the bacteria!

If you spent any amount of time with me, you know you don't have long before I start talking about gut bacteria. I love talking about the recent studies I've read, the link between the gut bacteria and the brain, and, of course, I love growing bacteria in my kitchen and eating it so it should come as no surprise that a few months ago I decided to get my bacteria tested to see who I'm sharing my body with.

After researching a few companies, I decided to go with uBiome simply because they were international company that also tested more than one sample sight. In fact, they test 5 sample sites: your gut, skin, nose, mouth, and genitals.

Originally I ordered the Gut Plus Kit, which just means that they would test my gut bacteria and one other site of my choosing. But an amazing thing happened! There was a screw up somewhere and the Five Site Kit came, which was sampling for all 5 areas. uBiome's customer service alerted me to the mistake and told me to go ahead and use the entire kit at no extra cost. Woohoo!

So I took all of my swab samples and sent them back off to the lab, and I then waited and waited. All in all, it took about a month before my samples were ready.

In addition to sheer curiosity, which I admit is the main reason I did this, I have also been diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disorder. I've picked up a copy of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a book that hypothesizes that many syndromes and disorders that plague our current population are due to an imbalance in the gut bacteria - or at least that's the gist I've gotten so far! I'm still early on in the book, so maybe there's more to it.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
However it is rather apparent that my bacteria is different than the average citizen scientist's bacteria. I seem to have an abundance of one time of bacteria and very little of other types of bacteria. While sometimes that's okay, other times a minute change can set off many unintended consequences.

I've taken a few screenshots of my gut bacteria so you can see how the website is laid out. You can compare yourself to different lifestyles (heavy drinkers, vegetarians, etc) and then, if you'd like, you can chart it out in tree form.

Best of all, if you're like me and have no idea what any of these different bacteria actually do, you can click on them to find out more information. Here's one of the good ones (and the ones I try to grow in my veggie ferments!):

And here's another bacteria chart and info:

Originally, I was trying to decide if this was worth it - did I really need to know the bacteria living with me? Was it going to make a difference? Would I even be able to understand the results with my minimal scientific background? (Okay, I have no scientific background to speak of unless you count my one biology class in college.)

Ultimately, I'm really happy I made the decision to meet my microbes. I've already spent a couple of hours going through my results, and I feel like I have many more hours to comb through all the data. I have yet to start the GAPS diet, but once I do start it, I would love to test my bacteria again, just to see what, if anything, has changed. It would be really amazing if what's causing my autoimmune disorder could be helped by changing my gut bacteria.

Are you curious as well? I'd love to hear if you've had your bacteria tested and what you thought.

If you want to go with uBiome and are looking for a last minute Christmas present for yourself (or your weird relative who's always creating life from brine and veggies), use this link and get 10% off.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recipe: Sweet Potato Burger with Avocado and Feta Cream Sauce

I have been trying for over a year now to make a proper veggie burger. And by proper, I mean that I wanted it to be vegetarian, not processed, able to hold its shape, and filling. I experimented a lot with quinoa and black bean burgers, and I could never get it quite right when I realized that sweet potato burgers could be a thing. After all, why do sweet potatoes have to only be relegated to desserts?
With some inspiration from How Sweet Eats, I set out to make my own version. There are lots of fermented goodies in my toppings, but I have alternatives as well.

Boyfriend review: Wow, this could be in a restaurant! I mean, your stuff is good and you should open your own restaurant, but a lot of it is weird. But this, this could be on a menu.

3 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
olive oil
bread rolls (I used challah bread rolls - found in the bakery)
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
2-5 tbsps milk kefir (or yogurt)
1 tsp fermented garlic (or roasted garlic)
fermented onions and peppers (or regular onions and peppers)

Clean sweet potatoes and stab with a fork a couple of times before placing them in the oven. Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Once they're finished, let them cool a bit before separating the skins. They should come right off - I sliced off an end and squeezed the innards into a mixing bowl. If you're having issues, feel free to toss into a blender (along with the beans) to speeds things up.

Add in the beans, bread crumbs, flour, egg, and spices and mix. Place in the freezer while you make the sauce: combine the crumbled feta and the fermented garlic. Pour just enough milk kefir (or yogurt) to cover. The sauce will still be chunky, as the cheese is chunky.

To cook the burgers, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan. Form patties with the mix - I take a large spoonful and put it in the skillet. Then, with my spoon, I flatten it out and, if necessary, correct the shape. Sometimes you may need to add a bit more; you should be able to judge the right size and shape of your own patty.

Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, until browned.

While the patty is cooking, toast your burger buns.

After toasting, I took part of an avocado and spread it on like butter. The other side of the bun got a nice heaping of the sauce we made.

Add the burger when it's ready and top with your choice of veggies. I added fermented onions and jalapenos.

Serves 6.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Recipe: Apple Pie with Gruyere Crust

 One of the perks of living in the northeast are the amazing apple orchards that let you go in and pick apples each fall. It's become a fall tradition to rent a car and drive out to the countryside and return stuffed with apple cider, apple cider donuts, and lots and lost of apples.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
And, for me at least, whenever I get apples, I think of apple pie. Which makes me think of Pushing Daisies, a dark comedy with a silly premise. You know what pie is mentioned most on the show? (Or at least most in my memories?)

Apple pie with gruyere baked into the crust.

Typically something like this would be rather daunting, but at a book fair on the street, I found this wonderful book called How to Build a Better Pie, by Millicent Souris. While I tend to modify the recipes in her book (and I think there's a typo in the basic crust recipe about salt!), I absolutely love how down to earth the tone is.

I've always felt like pies were an undertaking, especially rolling out the dough, and something that should only be accomplished when you have lots of time and space - and maybe someone to clean up after you! But Millicent points out that pies were designed to be simple, and designed to be quickly made, without all the fancy gadgets we think of as necessary in today's kitchen.

Thinking about how many people have baked pies before me has really encouraged my pie baking, and it really shaped this recipe, as I made several attempts before finding one that I just loved. Luckily, I brought back plenty of apples from the orchard.

(Don't worry, no complaints were had as I tested out different recipes!)

Pie Crust
1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
12 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded gruyere
cold water

Apple Filling
4-5 apples (I used braeburn)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp thickener (I use flour - but you can also use cornstarch or arrowroot)

Pie Crust
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Slice the cold butter into chunks and mix it into the flour with your hands, being careful not to let the butter break down too much. You want it to have larger chunks, as it will make the pie crust flakier. Add in the gruyere cheese and mix.

Slowly add cold water. There are always suggestions, but I always find myself going over. I add in cold water about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing carefully and thoroughly. Add in enough so that the dough sticks together, but you also don't want the dough to be too wet - so it shouldn't stick to your hands either. If you find that you added too much water, add more flour back in.

When you're satisfied with your dough, separate it into 2 flattened circles. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Apple Filling
Thinly slice the apples and add them in a large mixing bowl. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and your choice of thickener and toss with the apples. If you're not making the pie right away, add some lemon juice to preserve the color of the apples, though that's completely unnecessary.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out one ball of dough and fit it to your pan. I tend to roll out the dough as flat as I want it to be, then place it carefully in my pan. I'll cut off the excess dough (and freeze and reserve for galettes) and crimp the edges of the pan. Place in the fridge for a bit if the dough becomes too warm.

Pour your apple filling into the pan.

Roll out the 2nd dough ball and place it on top. I made a lattice pie crust, but if you just want to place the entire thing on top, go ahead, but remember to cut in 3 or 4 ventilation slits.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool for one hour.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Bruschetta

I can't even tell you why I made this dish originally. I don't really care for tomatoes, nor do I like making side dishes. Or even flavorings. (Mostly, I'm just lazy.)

Spicy Bruschetta on toast, with cheese
But when I made the first batch, I had so much of it and it was so spicy that I had to do something with it to get rid of it. I then discovered that this is the most perfect addition to most meals, and as the recipe has evolved over the years, I've grown more and more attached to it. 

I try to keep some in the fridge at all times now, and if I do run out, it's a really quick recipe to make.

Side dish, with stuffed peppers
Mixed into pasta, with goat cheese sauce
Vegetable soup, with mung beans

3-4 large tomatoes
2-3 medium red onions
4 tbsps olive oil
2  tbsps dried thyme
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 cloves of garlic, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the tomatoes and the red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Add in the olive oil, garlic, and spices. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into an oven safe pan, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, stir the mixture, and then bake for another 15 minutes.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Fermented Potatoes

I am a huge fan of potatoes in all forms, and I think most people would agree with me. A few years ago I noticed that potatoes, again in all forms, began to upset my stomach and caused bloating. I was forced to limit my intake on that deliciousness.

However, I have found something that helps!

It's fermenting, of course.

(And no, we're not making vodka today.)

When you soak potatoes in salt water, you lower the starch in them considerably. You also lower the amount of acrylamide, which is a "heat reduced reaction between sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fuctose) and asparagine." This reaction causes the potatoes to brown, and also, just so you know, is a carcinogen. Fermenting can reduce the carginogen by up to 90% - you can read more about that here. (And on a more positive note, they're unlikely to burn in the oven!)

And apparently, the brine leftover is great for starching clothing, as reported over on the Pickl-It blog.

Of course, as you're typically going to be either baking or frying the potatoes, you'll lose a lot of the probiotic benefits due to the heat, but it will be easier to digest and you'll be less likely to have negative health risks so it's worth it.


Gently wash your fresh potatoes and cut them into the desired shape. As I was making french fries, I made sliced them, but you could leave them whole if you'd like.

Add your potatoes to your container.

Prepare a salt brine. I used a 2% brine. (If you're using unsure how much salt to use for your size container, the Probiotic Jar has an excellent chart at the bottom of this page.)

Add your salt brine to the container with the potatoes. Cover and let it sit for 1-3 days.

Once you're ready to use them, drain the potatoes from the brine and pat dry. Either fry or bake your potatoes, as you would normally.

I baked mine at 350 degress for 30 minutes. I then added a bit of Parmesan cheese and thyme for half. The other half just get my homemade ketchup. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Recipe: Verde Sauce

I was first introduced to tomatillos a few years ago; before that I had never even heard of them!

In case you're new to them like me, tomatillos are small and green; they look sort of like tomatoes with a paper husk around them. If you're picking some up, make sure the husk is good quality, and make sure the tomatillo is firm when you give it a little squeeze.

Verde sauce is one of my favorite spicy sauces. It can be added to pretty much whatever you can think of in terms of meats, especially Mexican dishes, like enchiladas, etc - but sometimes I love to mix it with pasta and make a creamy pasta sauce.

This is pretty easy to make, and the recipe yields about 2 quarts of green sauce.

1 large onion, minced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
6 tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 bunch cilantro
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1.5 tsp cumin
4 cups water

olive oil

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Saute onions until soft and lightly browned, about 3-6 minutes.

While onions and garlic are sauteing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro in a blender. Process until smooth.

Add tomatillo mixture to onions. Add garlic, water, salt, pepper, and cumin.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down. Simmer for 45 minutes. 

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Recipe: Perfect Drop Biscuits

I have been working on perfecting this biscuit recipe. Every weekend, I make a slightly different version, and then I force my friends and family to eat it and tell me what they think. It's really hard work, but it's worth it. 

The good news is that this recipe is amazing! It's a bit rich because of the butter, and I thought about cutting a bit of the butter out, but then I came to senses.

This biscuit recipe is perfectly fluffy and practically melts in your mouth. I want to write more words and wonderful adjectives to describe how happy you'll be when you place this in your mouth, but I think that sentence says it all.

I cannot vouch for the recipe if you use margarine, as I think the butter plays a huge role. I use grass fed butter and it's incredible, though I understand not everyone has access to such deliciousness.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsps baking powder
1.5 sticks (or 12 tbsps) of butter
1 egg
1 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) together in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it in with your dry ingredients. I prefer to use my hands to gently knead the butter in. As it melts with the dry ingredients, it creates clumps of flour. You want the butter mostly mixed in, but some larger pieces are okay as well.

Add the egg and the milk and mix well. You should have a wet mixture, but it should still be able to hold its form.

Knead a few times. (I'm lazy and like to just squish it a bit in the bowl so that I know it's been mixed really well.)

With a spoon, get a heaping amount of dough and plop it into your oven-safe pan. (I LOVE cooking mine in cast iron.) The dough makes about 7-8 large biscuits.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


(And if you want to add goat cheese and honey blueberries and syrup like I did - go right ahead, it's delicious!)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipe: Honey and Blueberry Ferment

I belong to quite a few fermenting groups online. It's where I get a lot of my ideas, inspiration, and support. Last year I started seeing blueberries fermented in honey, and I have to be honest: I was not totally on board.

In fact, this year, when it seemed everyone was trying it out, I still was not impressed.

But then an excess of blueberries changed my mind.

Blueberries fermenting in honey is probably one of the best ferments I've done this year. At least, it's the best ferment so far in the "new" category.

I took a pretty terrible video one morning BUT you can see the amazing bubblies doing their work.

The blueberries remain crispy, but get a bit sweeter than normal. The honey mixes with the blueberries and you get this amazing syrup that I drizzled onto my biscuits - but you can also use it in salad dressing or beverages.

raw honey

Gently rinse your blueberries before putting them in your fermenting container. I don't know if you can tell, but I recycled a salsa container and used that. (After cleaning and sterilizing it, of course.)

After a layer or two of blueberries, grab a spoon and drizzle in the raw honey. It's much easier to get the mixture evenly spread if you layer the honey.

Continue layering with the blueberries and raw honey.

Do not fill all the way to the top! I mean, you can, of course, but it gets messy. Did you notice my jar in the video above was sitting inside another container? That's because the honey oozed out as it mixed with the blueberries. It was delicious, and a tasty treat every time I checked on my ferment, but I'd probably avoid losing so much next time.

Let the mixture sit out for about 3-5 days.

Taste as you go - the longer you leave the ferment out, the more alcoholic it becomes. Feel free to taste as you go. When you think they're perfect, stick them in the fridge for storage. 

Just a warning: the blueberries will rise to the top. It's okay that they're not covered all the time - don't even both trying to submerge them with weights. I would push the ones on top down every morning, and that's it.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Deodorant/Antiperspirant (that Works!)

The very first "crunchy" skincare product I ever made was deodorant. My work contract had just ended and I didn't have anything lined up right after, which meant at least a week off of work, which was plenty of time to test out some homemade deodorant.

I'm not going to lie. I had an odor problem. And a sweating problem. My deodorant would last maybe an hour two, sometimes half a day. I used prescription strength. I even asked my doctor for botox injections in my armpits. He laughed and said no. (Jerk.) So I just carried anti-antiperspirant deodorant in my purse and re-applied whenever I could.

I was not excited to try out homemade deodorant, but I figured I'd give it a shot. And I only gave it a shot because another stinky sweater at Crunchy Betty, like myself, wrote a post about homemade deodorant being better than traditional deodorant. And not just better, but AMAZING.

So I tried it out one of her recipes. The first day I had to reapply mid-day. And after that? No problems whatsoever. I've never been stinky since. I've never had to reapply mid-day.

As for the awful underarm wetness I used to have, and I'm talking completely soaked and ultimately stained shirts, I've never had a problem with that either. I'm not saying there isn't some wetness. It's hard to avoid when it's 100 degrees outside, but I don't have underarm wetness just walking down the street anymore. I don't have to toss shirts. I don't have to worry about anything getting stained. I feel amazing.

And you can too!

Another note on this amazing concoction: I've always had rather rough feeling, generally bumpy armpits. I hated raising my hand if I wasn't wearing sleeves of some kind (and even then, I tended to avoid it because God knows what you could smell). After using my homemade version, I have silky smooth pits.

A quick word about rashes and bumps: They do happen, especially if you're allergic to the ingredients. I find that when I don't mix all of the ingredients as well I should, I'll get too much of a certain ingredient on my skin and it will cause problems. For example, too much coconut oil not mixed properly with arrowroot powder and baking soda causes my pores to clog. Too much baking soda in a clump causes my skin to turn red.

For me, I find it's easily avoidable as long as I mix well. I have also found that cornstarch (which can be substituted for arrowroot powder) is not something my skin likes and it gets sore and red and a layer will peel off. It's nasty. But I have no problems with the arrowroot powder so it's worth it to me to seek it out in stores or online and pay a little extra.

If you're new to the crunchy lifestyle, as I was, it can be a little expensive to buy your ingredients, but you'll have them on hand to make many, many batches and, if you do make other crunchy cosmetics and household items, you'll find that the items overlap.

So it's expensive at first, but really cheap if you stick with it. I think I paid $30 for the 3 ingredients, and I've only had to replace the coconut oil in two years, and that's because I use coconut oil all the time!

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
5 tablespoons coconut oil
5-10 drops essential oils (my favorite is lavender!)

Mix dry ingredients together.

If your coconut oil is solid, heat it on the stove until it's liquid. Add in the liquefied coconut oil. Add in the essential oils of your choice. Stir well.

For storage, you can keep this in a container and use an applicator to apply. I actually kept the last deodorant container I bought. I cleaned it, rinsed it out, and I pour my homemade deodorant into that so I can roll it on per usual.

Because this has coconut oil in it and coconut oil liquefies at room temperature (and way over - for those of us living without central air conditioning!), I keep my deodorant in the fridge. It's really easy to put it on in the morning when I'm getting ready for the day and I don't have to deal with a mess in the bathroom.

When I'm traveling and don't have access to a traveling fridge, I keep it in a small container and carry an applicator. It may sound complicated, but it's pretty simple and part of my routine now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Recipe: Summer Frittata

While I'm not typically a fan of eggs by themselves and egg-heavy food items like an omelette or certain types of quiche, I do really love a frittata in the summer time with lots of fresh produce.

Look at all the delicious summer squash!
In case you're not sure what exactly a frittata is, let me explain. (It's okay, I didn't know what they were until I read the French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook!) Essentially, you mix eggs with veg, cheese, meat, whatever you desire. You cook it a bit on the stove before popping it in the oven or under the broiler to finish.

A quiche, just for comparison, usually has a crust and some type of milk or cream added to the mix.

So to sum up: it's a quick, easy, and a delicious breakfast!

5 eggs
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
2 tbsps fresh parsley
5 stalks of kale, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan, grated

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat with a fork.

Add the squash, kale,

goat cheese, and parsely. Stir to combine.

Heat the olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium heat. Preheat the broiler.

Add the mixture to the oven-safe pan. As the eggs cook, gently lift the edges up with a spatula and rotate the pan so that the uncooked eggs run underneath. Do this for the first 1-2 minutes, until the eggs begin to solidify. Once they have, cook for an additional 5-6 minutes until the eggs are set.

Cover the mixture in parmesan and place the pan under the broiler for 1-3 minutes. The eggs will puff up, and the cheese will melt and brown slightly.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I look forward to making this dessert every summer. I troll the farmer's markets carefully, always on the prowl for bright red rhubarb stalks that my grocery store never carries. I can usually spot one or two stands at the market who offer it, and usually the rhubarb is right next to the bright red, plump, and juicy strawberries that nature intended it to go with.

Okay, maybe this recipe isn't inspired by the heavens, but it's pretty close to perfect - and the fact that I can only have it a handful of times each summer just makes it all the sweeter!

3/4 cup of flour
2/3 cup of sugar, plus 1/2 cup
large pinch of salt
6 tbsps unsalted butter
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds or walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound of strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 3.5 cups)
12 ounces of rhubarb, ends trimmed, chopped

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, 2/3 cup of sugar, and salt. Add the butter to the mixture, blending in with your fingertips until the mixture is clumpy. Mix in the oats and nuts.

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add the strawberries and rhubarb and toss to coat with the sugar mixture.

Scrape the fruit into your baking dish until it covers the bottom evenly.  Sprinkle the oat topping evenly on top.

Bake until the filling bubbles up and over the oat topping, about 45 minutes.

Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve with ice cream.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Bacon Jam

This post is a bit late, but since my Father's Day gift was a bit late (sorry, dad!), I suppose it's okay.

What do you get for the dad who doesn't like watching sports or playing golf? My father doesn't work in an office so ties and cuff links are out. His company is woodworking so buying tools is sort of like giving a housewife an iron. Not cool. (Also, I can't afford the tools he does want.) Oh, and he doesn't drink. Gifts can be hard.

So bacon jam has started popping up on menus here in NYC, and I knew after the third time I ordered it from yet another restaurant that I needed to make some and send it as a Father's Day gift.

I'm not going to lie, it's pretty incredible.

I decided to base my recipe off of Martha Stewart's recipe and while it doesn't look pretty, it's very tasty. There isn't any fruit in this so calling it jam is a bit of a misnomer, but it is sweet and it does have a jelly-like substance to it. The bacon is rendered so it isn't crunchy; typically I dislike non-crunchy bacon but it works perfectly with the texture.

So what does one do with bacon jam?

I suppose you could slap some on a piece of baguette, perhaps with a bit of brie cheese and eat it like that. I've been putting it as a condiment on my sandwiches - as you can see in the photos with  my cheddar, pepperjack, and avocado sandwiches.

I put it in pasta as well, which was good, but not as delicious as the sandwich. I'm looking forward to mixing some in with my eggs, as well as maybe stirring some into some fried potatoes!

1 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 ounces pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, cook bacon until the fat has been rendered, about half an hour. If you haven't rendered bacon before, the goal is to turn the fatty parts of the bacon into liquid grease; you'll end up with a skillet of it!

With a slotted spoon, scoop out the bacon pieces, leaving the grease, and place bacon pieces on a paper towel.

Add onions and jalapeno and cook in the bacon grease for about 4-6 minutes. When onions have softened and are turning translucent, add the garlic, vinegar, sugar, syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil.

Boil for about 2 minutes and then add the bacon pieces back into the mixture.

Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Cook uncovered on high for 4 hours, until liquid is syrupy.

Transfer to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

You can enjoy right away, otherwise store in the fridge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Toothpaste

So not only do I make most of my food from scratch (or try to, at least!), I also try to make most of my toiletries from scratch as well, for generally the same reason: I'm trying to cut out the high number of preservatives and potentially harmful ingredients I'm exposed to on a daily basis.

When I ran out of toothpaste one day, I figured I'd give toothpaste making a go.

After a bit of research, it turns out that we don't necessarily need to brush our teeth with anything other than water and a toothbrush. Flossing is much more important as we really need to get the food out from in between our teeth.

As you can imagine, my breath was awful so I gave up on that after a day.

So with a bit more research, I tried making a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and brushing with that. My breath was slightly better and, WOW, my teeth were sparkling white. After 2-3 days of this mixture, my teeth became very sensitive from the whitening.

I tried just baking soda by itself, but that is nasty. Also, it doesn't really neutralize bad breath. And if I remember correctly, just baking soda still leaves grit on your teeth. Gross.

I think I experimented a bit more, but now I have this recipe that I love, adapted from Wellness Mama. My teeth feel clean, my breath smells great (generally speaking), and the calcium in this recipe potentially remineralizes teeth. (She explains how that works on her site.)

I'm not a dentist or a researcher so I'll not claim anything here, except my own experience. Between this toothpaste recipe and regular flossing, my teeth look and feel better than they ever have before.

5 parts calcium powder (dried, powdered eggshells will also work)
2 parts baking soda
3 parts xylitol
5 parts coconut oil
10-20 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops orange essential oil

Note: I tend to use tablespoons for mine so it would 5 tbsps calcium powder, 2 tbsps, baking soda, etc.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Heat coconut oil if necessary until the oil liquefies. Add oil one part at a time until desired consistency. (I like about 5 tablespoons in mine; you may prefer more or less.)

Stir in essential oils.

Store and use!

I keep mine in a ceramic container in the bathroom. If it's just you and you're confident in your hygiene, you can just dip your toothbrush into it.

If there are multiple people in your household, you could add an applicator or try putting it in an icing/frosting tube and squeezing it out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recipe: Spinach Gnocchi in a Parmesan Butter Sauce

For lots of reasons, I've been rather lax about preparing meals lately. I'm not proud of it, and I've definitely not felt as amazing as I usually do BUT I'm still trying to eat as fresh and healthy as I can.

I came up with this dish due to lack of time and energy and it is very tasty and very rich considering the little effort that goes into it.  Because this is one of my last minute, go-to recipes, I don't have exact measurements or ingredients. I tend to make it with whatever I have on hand, and it's even tasty plain. Of course, I much prefer it with vegetables in it because it's much heartier and more filling, but use what you have on hand for this quick dish.

I found fresh (and affordable!) gnocchi with spinach ground into the pasta. So that's the base. I whipped up a quick butter sauce while the gnocchi was boiling. If you're feeling ambitious, toss fresh vegetables in the butter and saute them. If you're lazy and have fermented vegetables on hand, just wait until everything is ready and add a spoonful on top when it's finished baking. (You can guess which one I did...)

1 pound of gnocchi
3-4 tablespoons of butter
parmesan cheese

optional: shallots (or fermented onions), garlic, fresh spinach, bit of lemon juice (or zest of preserved lemons), chili flakes, salt, pepper

Place a pot of water on the stove. Add the gnocchi once the water begins to boil. Keep an eye on it as it usually only takes 4 minutes.

Place your butter in a pan on the stove as well.

If you're using fresh produce, you'll need a bit more butter, it should be on medium heat, and you should begin sauteing. Start with the shallots/onions and saute until they're golden brown - about 4 minutes. If you have anything else crunchy you want to add, do it now. Otherwise, as the shallots/onions brown, add the rest of your ingredients: spinach, lemon juice/zest, garlic, and spices.

If you're not using fresh produce, keep your butter on low heat.

I like to add the cheese (after the veg have softened) and let it melt into the butter. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

As the gnocchi finishes (it will get all fluffy and float to the top of the pan), I add it to the sauce/veg mixture and saute it for a few more minutes.

Add the gnocchi and sauce to your bowl and let it cool for a moment or two. If you're using fermented veg, now would be the time to add it and stir it into the dish.

And there you go! Very simple and delicious.

Total time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 2 people

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Do You Know When Your Ferment Has Gone Bad? (AKA Fermenting is Really Easy, I Swear!)

One of my favorite things about fermenting food isn't the health benefits or the idea of using it as food storage, though those things are great, but I really love how it easy it is.

If you look at vegetable fermentation, at it's core you just essentially put some vegetables in some salty water. Sure, sometimes you can get more complicated that - maybe you want to chop everything, maybe you're fermenting salsa, maybe you're making something alcoholic - but at it's core, fermenting is fairly simple and straightforward.

My biggest concern when I started fermenting foods was that it would go bad. I'm the type of person who throws out the whole container when it gets moldy rather than carefully clean it and disinfect it for future use so trust me when I tell you I hate mold and bad bacteria.

As an American, I was raised to think all bacteria is bad. Obviously, we've been learning in the last few years why that attitude is not only incorrect but can be very dangerous. Some bacteria is good. We need bacteria to live, to thrive. If you're having a little freak out right now because you don't know if you can eat living bacteria, I'd just like to point out that if you eat yogurt, saurkraut, cheese, olives or drink beer, wine or kombucha, then you already consume fermented foods. Congrats!

Now let's move on to what happens if you follow a fermentation recipe. If you look at my fermented jalapeno pepper recipe, you'll find that it's very simple. Peppers. Salt. Water. You get the basic steps. But what's happening in there? What if something goes wrong? What if you accidentally eat the bad bacteria and get really sick?!

Don't worry. I don't want you to die from using my recipe either. 

Here's what's going to happen. On the peppers you bought (and on everything, really) are thousands, maybe millions of bacteria and yeast waiting for their chance to thrive. After you clean the peppers with hot water and toss them in the brine, the salt in the water suppresses the "bad" bacteria and allows the "good" bacteria to do it's thing.

If all goes according to plan, after a few days you'll start to see bubbles at the top of the brine. That's good. It's working. Sometimes you get a lot of bubbles. Sometimes you only get a few. It doesn't really matter.

Then your bubbly ferment will start to turn cloudy. The colors on the fruit will dim. Don't panic. The cloudiness you're seeing is dead yeast. Did I mention that there's also a lot of yeast along with the bacteria? Anyway, it's all going according to plan.

Let it sit a bit longer. Check your recipe. Sometimes ferments are ready to go after a few days, sometimes after a few months, and the annoying thing is (especially when you start out and you're really concerned about bacteria) that the length of time depends on you and your kitchen.

Basically what happens is this: when you start your ferment, it takes a day or two as the bacteria start to wake up. Then it turns into a party. Then the party starts to wind down and everyone goes home (aka dies).

Ideally you want to stick your ferment in a fridge (or somewhere below 60F) right as the party winds down. When your bubbles start to dwindle, that's a very good indication that you should tighten the lid and move your container to a cooler place.

Warmer environments speed things up. So if you live somewhere without air conditioning and it's 95F, then you need to check on your ferment quite a bit because you could have something ready in a few days. If you live in a much cooler place and it's only 75F, then it'll take a bit longer.

If you're ever unsure, which could happen because maybe you didn't get that many bubbles or the temperature fluctuated, I recommend taking a deep breath to brace yourself, then smell it, and taste it. The deep breath is to help calm your nerves - even though I usually know what I'm making and eating, it's still scary to taste-test something! But really, smell it. Does it smell like food? Or does it smell off? Taste it. You'll know immediately if it's bad. (It's probably not bad.)

Here's how you know when a ferment has gone bad (and pay attention, this is important):

1. It has mold. Mold is fuzzy. Mold is usually green. Mold is on the surface. If you have something slimy on the bottom of your ferment? Something white on the sides? Not mold, probably yeast and normal, so go ahead and eat it.
See the fuzzy cloudiness? Normal.
Some cultures feel that mold is normal and okay and they happily scrape the mold off and let it continue. Some others will scrape the mold off the top once and hope it doesn't come back. I'm not really there yet. I don't want to chance it at all so it gets tossed.

2. You have kahm yeast. Kahm yeast grows on the surface. It's white and has little bubbles. Technically it's harmless and you can eat it. However, sometimes it doesn't have a good taste to it and you have to toss the whole thing*. The downside is that you have to taste your ferment to know if yours is fine or not.

That's it. That's really all that can go wrong.

But what about botulism?
Botulism is a common fear for people who can their food, and for good reason. It has serious side effects, including paralysis. In case you're not aware, it's caused by the bacteria clostridium botulinum, and sometimes a few other strains. Obviously, this is a bacteria you want to avoid.

C. botulinum is, like other bacteria, everywhere and is just waiting for the right conditions to grow and thrive. The right conditions: an anaerobic environment that's not too acidic, not too salty, and not too crowded with other bacteria. All of these conditions are the exact opposite of what you're trying to achieve when you're fermenting, and assuming you follow the recipe, to add vegetables in brine, you're going to be fine.

The only time botulism has been linked to fermentation is when you're fermenting fish and meat, and for some reason, they're all reported from Alaska.

So yeah, fermenting can be really easy and you'll know right away if it's safe to eat.

Now get to it!

*I have recently discovered a "cure" for kahm yeast. I'm currently testing it out to see if it works so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fermentation: Not Just Good for Your Gut, Good for Your Budget!

The coolest thing about fermenting is the idea of using fermentation as food storage. Obviously fermenting produce has numerous health benefits and that's why most people are interested in it (aka part 1 in this series), but I find the idea of long term storage to be even better!

I try to cook all of my meals from fresh ingredients, but sometimes I don't always have time to cook it (or I get ambitious and realize not only do I not have the time to make it, but I don't have a small army hanging around) and quite a bit goes bad. It's definitely not good when my food goes bad before I even get around to making something with it.

When you ferment food, you stick produce, generally vegetables, in brine and the salt makes sure that the "good" bacteria can do its thing while suppressing the "bad" bacteria. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to be fully fermented. Once it's fermented to your liking, you don't have to consume it right away, you just pop it in the fridge.

So guess who's not affected by the lime shortage? ;-)

To slow fermentation, the jars go in the refrigerator (or a cool room like a basement or cellar - generally just below 60F). This is important because the cooler environment does not kill off the bacteria. The bacteria is still alive, it's still doing its thing, and it's still able to keep your food from spoiling.

So for example, I've always wanted to make my own condiments, but how can you justify creating a large batch of ketchup that's just going to go bad in a week? Unless you're prepping for a giant family picnic, you're going to have to toss it or hope that your fridge is cold enough to prevent mold from growing. But when you ferment ketchup, suddenly you have more than a week before it goes bad. Suddenly you have months to enjoy it.

This goes beyond just condiments.

Last year I would buy bags and bags of produce from the farmer's market for  much less than you can buy in the supermarket. I bought bags full of jalapeno peppers and garlic and onions for only a few dollars. There's no way I can eat that in a week or two before it spoiled, and I certainly couldn't pass up such a great deal.

But when you get home, rinse the vegetables a bit in hot water, slice them up, and put them in brine, suddenly they're good for months. Yes, it is March and I am still munching on onions that I picked up from the farmer's market last summer. Yes, they taste delicious. Yes, they're even still crunchy.

It's not witchcraft, it's fermentation!

So you're interested in this food storage idea I hope. But what do you DO with a jar full of onions?

I'll tell you.

1. You snack on them. This makes a little more sense if you have fermented salsa in the fridge, but you can definitely snack on your fermented vegetables. I know this sounds weird because who would snack on onions? Well, when you start fermenting foods, you will start be the weird one snacking on them.

Obviously, you'll need to take a bite of it before you put it in the fridge to make sure everything's okay. You'll think to yourself, "Wow, that's actually pretty good." So you have another one. Then you realize that your stomach really likes it. Not in the way that it likes pizza, but more like in the way that you can tell it's happy you just gave it a fermented onion. Then you stick it in the fridge and kind of forget about it until one day you're hungry and you open up the fridge and you go, "Oh, there are some onions in here." (Don't worry, fermented onions taste MUCH better than raw onions.)

2. You use them medicinally. Now I'm not trying to imply that fermented foods are better than medicine, especially because I'm not a doctor and have no medical training. However, I have seen plenty of articles that mention that your gut bacteria needs more bacteria to feel good. I also know that when I have an upset stomach, I eat a few pieces of fermented vegetables and I feel much better. I've also seen this work on other people. Are you one of those people? Only one way to find out! (I know it sounds really wrong to give a nauseous person a fermented jalapeno, but I've seen it work wonders!)

Cranberries still perfect 6 months later
3. You use them as a condiment. Let's say you ferment a container of carrots. You throw in a few spices. It's delicious. You're not really into snacking. Unless you threw in a bay leaf or something similar to keep the vegetables crisp, they're limp and somewhat unappetizing...

A perfect remedy for this situation is using your fermented veggies as a side dish or a condiment. Sauerkraut and/or mustard on a sandwich are perfect. I love putting my fermented cranberries on a sandwich with cheese. You'll slowly start to find uses for your new foods that you never would have thought of before! And if not, you can always...

4. You use it in cooking. This is certainly an unpopular answer among some in the fermenting crowd because you just spent days (or months) of your life waiting for the bacteria to reproduce and do their thing so you can eat them and be healthy and do your thing so why, WHY would you cook with fermented food and kill all the probiotics? Simple. I'm lazy. If I don't want to run out to the market when I just came back from the market (and who would?), I grab a few slices of jalapenos and toss them in the pan. After all, I get plenty of probiotics in other meals so I don't think killing them once will cause any problems.

Additionally, if you have a ferment that you can't really stomach, like your milk kefir is too sour, it's perfect to bake with. Or make pancakes. Any milk substitute, really. My favorite my soured milk kefir has to be making cream cheese and adding herbs. There all sorts of uses!

I will mention that bacteria tend to die over 105F so a great option can be to toss in the fermented veggies after everything has finished cooking and you're about to serve it. After all, you don't need to saute or cook anything as the vegetables are generally going to be soft and palatable. I have pretty much stopped cooking with garlic because I stir in a spoonful of garlic paste at the end of every meal. The end result being my food is flavored with garlic, I don't have to worry about burning the garlic when I add it to the hot oil, and I get the good bacteria in my gut.

What do you think? Are you excited about food storage? Any hesitations before you being fermenting? Next week I'm talking about making sure the good bacteria you're consuming is actually, you know, good.

You can also check out part 3 in this series: How to Know When Your Ferment has Gone Bad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Introduction to Fermented Foods: Getting to Know Your Bacteria

Fermented Jalapenos
A lot of people flinch when I tell them I eat bacteria. However those same people know that eating yogurt is good for them, especially if they're sick and have just taken a round of antibiotics. Whether you want to call it bacteria, probiotics, or pretend they don't exist while you're munching on some kimchi, there's an invisible world of creatures out there waiting to help or harm us.

For the longest time, we thought bacteria was bad and needed to be eliminated. For example, there was an attempt to eliminate helicobacter pylori since the 1980s because it can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancers, and combined with science and an abundance of doctors, it has mostly been wiped out in this country.

 However, it also calms the immune system (so less allergies and asthma) and it regulates acid in the body so a person without h. pylori often suffers from acid reflux which can eventually lead to esophageal cancer. Perhaps most alarming of all, h. pylori also regulates an appetite hormone that tells you when you're full and when you should eat. It is speculated that we have so many problems eating today because of the lack of this bacteria.

I'm not suggesting we need to re-introduce h. pylori back into everyone's diets, as it can cause many devastating problems; however it's time to recognize that our gut bacteria has a huge affect on us, positive and negative, and being exposed to more bacteria at a younger age is the better option. Because we eat so many processed foods, we're essentially starving our gut. Many of our ailments, from autism and schizophrenia to cardiovascular disease and cancer are now being linked to inadequate a problem in our gut. Scientists are still studying it so most doctors aren't treating you with probiotics (though some are), but I can't see the downside.

Playing devil's advocate - let's say the link and early studies showing how bacteria work with us and against turn out to be wrong. How does eating and preserving foods harm us in anyway? I still love my yogurt, pickles, cheese, fish sauce - I love all my bacteria-laden foods, regardless of science.

While studying bacteria and our microbiome is a relatively new science, there is more than enough evidence out there to know that we need to begin making some radical changes in our diet and lifestyle. For some people that means letting their kids play in the dirt outside, and for others, those of us who are grown, with no children, and many prescriptions of antibiotics over our lifetime, that means turning our kitchens into a lab experiment.

Fermented Mustard
I started eating fermented foods for the bacteria. Bacteria live in and on us and outnumber us 10 to 1. We are not really human when you think about it or study it. If we ever develop the technology (or have advanced aliens drop in on us), we might be able to see completely new versions of ourselves, versions that might not necessarily even take us into account.

I decided I needed to start feeding the bacteria that I support, especially to help lower stress, anxiety, depression, and my general aches aches and pains - all things that are normal when you're approaching 30 and living in NYC.

When I read about what our bodies are capable of (with and without bacteria) and how dependent we are on bacteria (seeing as how we aren't even "human") and then in thinking how my body was struggling in the aforementioned ways, I felt that I needed more and better bacteria right away.

I briefly considered taking a probiotic in pill form, but that's generally a waste of money, as homemade is almost always better*. Anyway, I like being more hands on in my life so I started experimenting.

I have to say, while I don't always feel perfect, I think that has more to do with my environment and stress level than my diet. (Although when I feel absolutely terrible, I tend to reach towards take-out food, which only perpetuates the cycle.) A few weeks after I started adding fermented foods into my diet, I stopped craving take-out food and I only wanted to make my own version of everything. I found that snacking on fermented onions and peppers improved a stomach ache. Drinking a glass of kombucha made my stomach feel fuller. I started drinking milk kefir every day and instantly my mood got noticeably better. Milk kefir also works wonders as a moisturizer... but that's another post.

Fermented Hot Sauce
I don't want to turn this into ways fermented foods might have saved my life as there are plenty of those stories out there. Instead I want to present some facts on why bacteria is important and should be in your life. Because I'm not a doctor and have zero medical training, you should check out linked articles if you're interested. You should read Wild Fermentation and the The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, which also has a lot of great articles. Michael Pollan's Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation has an excellent section on fermented foods - the whole book is about food and is a treasure.

Find out more. Our body is fascinating, especially because it isn't even ours.

This is just a very brief intro to bacteria and our bodies and will hopefully get everyone interested! Next week, I'm going to write about how easy it is to cultivate and grow bacteria - and how to know when it's unsafe to eat. Stay tuned!

*A recent study looked at 14 probiotic products on the market and found that only 1 of them contained what was stated on the label.

Read more:
Fermentation: Not Just Good for Your Gut, Good for Your Budget!
How To Know When Your Ferment Has Gone Bad (AKA Fermenting is Really Easy!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Recipe: Cheesy Mexican Pasta

Sometimes I make kefir cheese, and I'm not really sure what to do with it. Sometimes it's too sour, sometimes it's too hard, and other time I don't have any herbs to mix with it - or bread, for that matter.

But then, sometimes, I stumble on brilliant websites that inspire me to create something fun and new!

When I make macaroni and cheese, I tend to favor the healthier versions... but if there isn't a ton of cheese, and if it's kefir cheese, well, I'm sure that's all right.

This is mostly made of fermented items. The sauce is added at the end to ensure a lot of the priobiotics (aka the good bacteria) survive and make it into your belly in one piece. Like my other fermented pasta sauce, the end result is warm enough to eat and enjoy - but nowhere near hot enough to burn your tongue. Just perfect!

8 oz kefir cheese (or cream cheese)
1.5 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 fermented jalapenos, sliced
2-3 rings of fermented onions, sliced
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste

Place bacon in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until desired level of crispiness.

Boil water - and cook your pasta.

While pasta and bacon are cooking, combine the kefir cheese, cheddar cheese, and sliced jalapenos in a bowl. Mix well.

If you're not using fermented foods, saute the onions, garlic, and peppers per normal. Once they're soft enough to eat, let them cool and add them to the cheese mixture.

Once pasta is finished, drain and divide into bowls. Spoon a mixture of the cheese sauce into the bowl. It will slowly melt over the pasta. Stir to distribute the cheese evenly. Add bacon, garlic paste, and scallions on top. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Recipe: Fermented Jalapeno and Cayenne Peppers

I think I've made my position known here before: I am not a huge fan of spicy foods.

However, I make a lot of spicy food anyway because the boyfriend loves it. I'm slowly learning to love it, as apparently spicy food is an acquired taste, but often that means I have a lot of spicy peppers left over and I certainly don't like to eat them. While I did make hot sauce so he could season his food appropriately, I found another great fermenting idea to satisfy us both.

I started doing this last year when I noticed a lot of jalapenos on sale at the farmer's market for $1. Obviously I'm not going to use the entire bag in a week, so I decided to ferment them in brine.

In addition to the health benefits for fermenting (which, coincidentally, is the reason I pass these out to nauseous people), the peppers become a little softer and are a great snack. They also become a little more mellow and not as spicy so I can use a bit more in my food.

Even though the spice factor has been taken down a notch or two, if you're not used to spicy foods, I do NOT recommend drinking the brine. You could probably mix it with alcohol for a fun drink though.

For this I used jalapeno peppers and cayenne peppers.

A decent amount of peppers - enough to fit in your jar
Optional: Garlic, Onions, Pepper, any other spices

The amount of salt to water depends on the size of your container. I usually make a 2% brine, which is 1 tablespoon per quart of filtered water.

I fill the quart jar about halfway and add a tablespoon of salt. Dissolve the salt.

Gently rinse your peppers. Slice however you like and place them in the jar.

Pack the peppers (and other optional spices and flavorings) in until the jar is full - leave about an inch of room at the top. If necessary, add more filtered water until all the peppers are covered.

Because vegetables have a tendency to float, add a weight of some kind. Some people use rocks, glass balls, a small glass, a plastic bag filled with water - anything to keep the vegetables from popping up. I wedged a long piece of pepper under the mouth of the jar to keep everything down on the jar on the left.

Wait about a week, depending on the temperature of your home. Taste the peppers and if you love them, stick them in the fridge to slow down the fermentation. Enjoy!