Homemade Blueberry Kefir

how to make blueberry kefir

Today, we started our morning with homemade blueberry kefir—a beverage that’s becoming something of a staple in our home—creamy and satisfying, sweet and tangy, loaded with good probiotics and convenient to grab on the go.

Even though making our own kefir is something we’ve talked about since before we were married, it’s only been in the last few weeks that we’ve finally ordered live kefir grains online and begun the process of combining them with raw milk and watching them grow. And, just as it is with ice cream in this household, the person behind the process is the one much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition in this marriage, Tim—which is why today’s FAQ-style post is all from him!

Below, he answers questions on how to make kefir, why use live grains, why it’s so good for you and more. Enjoy!

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Blueberry Scones + UPrinting giveaway

I am not even ashamed to admit that I love a good bargain. I clip coupons; I buy $15 desks. When Jeni’s celebrated its new Nashville location with free scoops of ice cream last week, we were front in line. And when Whole Foods had a $1.99 sale on organic blueberries June 17, you know I bought a whole case.

A whole case.

mixing blueberry scone dough

Organic blueberries, which typically go for more like $4 or $5 a pint, are definitely on my top five list of favorite fruits. They are packed with antioxidants. They’re delicious by themselves, and even better with cream. They’re great to freeze for morning smoothies; they’re great to eat with milk and cereal. And, on top of all that, they remind me of Tim—because he wrote about them in one of the first ways we got acquainted.

blueberry scone dough unsliced

So really, I guess you could say it was my bargain-loving instinct—and the 12 pints of blueberries that accompanied it—that we can thank for this recipe, a pretty basic adaptation of a simple blueberry scone. Mixing the dough couldn’t have been simpler: it took 15 minutes, maybe, and even with the added 20 minutes of bake time and more to clean the kitchen, it was still somewhere under an hour total, which is a pretty small investment for what you get in return.

blueberry scone dough circle

These scones are really beautiful to look at, flecked with the deep purple stain of blueberries and nicely shaped into golden triangles of dough. Fresh out of the oven and topped with a little butter, they are pure heaven. I ate four.

scones on baking sheet

I told Tim, while we ate them yesterday afternoon in his kitchen (where I, yet again, forget to bring my camera and resorted to iPhone/instagram tactics), these scones feel like something you’d be served at a bed and breakfast in Maine, where wild blueberries are simply everywhere, worked into menus from breakfast to dessert.

fresh scones

I think I’d rather like to go back to Maine, if only for all those blueberries. But for now, I’m glad to have a freezer full, as well as these scones, to enjoy.

Oh and hey! Before the recipe, one more thing: A UPrinting Giveaway!
[UPDATE 7/25/11: The winner of the giveaway was Jessie V! Congratulations!]

Details of the Giveaway from UPrinting:
The winner receives:

  • 50 pieces 8.5″ X 11″ brochure printing
  • 100lb Paper Gloss
  • With Folding (Half Fold, Trifold/Letterfold, Z-Fold, Roll Fold, Accordion Fold)
  • Outside and Inside printing, 2 Business Days Turnaround
  • Free shipping

Restrictions:

  • Open only to US residents
  • 18 years old and above only
  • Contest ends tomorrow, June 30, 2011 at midnight CST [NOW CLOSED]
  • Winner cannot have won another UPrinting contest in the last six months

How to Enter:

  • Simply leave a comment on this post, stating what you’d do with the prize AND/OR telling me your favorite way to eat blueberries.
  • Winner will be chosen via random number generator July 1

Disclaimer:
This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, an online printing company. Visit UPrinting.com for more information about brochures and available brochure templates. UPrinting will get in touch with the winner for the prize claim within 30 days.

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finally getting it now

fresh strawberries

I don’t remember the first time I ate a strawberry. Do you?

I wonder if I liked it right away or if it took some time. I wonder if it was like tomatoes, where at first I hated the texture, and then I had some sliced on pizza and didn’t hate them, and soon started to want them (on pizza, on sandwiches, growing more plants every year). I kind of feel like I always liked strawberries, but who knows? I mean, some things take time to warm up to.

soaked spelt berry muffins

For example, I do remember the first time I soaked flour, and it was no strawberry. Remember that bittersweet soaked whole grain bread experience, the one where I was never quite sure if I’d done it right and the yeast plus my inexperience added up to ho-hum? I could have given up right then. I could have said no more soaking! It’s not easy to like! But then again, where would that attitude get me? I’ll tell you where: to a world without tomatoes, cherries, cheese, kefir, eggs, exercise and, heck, even some of my favorite people.

So I persevered. And go figure! I think I’m finally getting it.

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here’s to the new (maple blueberry coffee cake)

blueberry coffee cake

As this week marks many lasts of 2009, my kitchen and I are marking a first, one I hope to continue into the new year, and it’s as simple as a new ingredient: whole wheat pastry flour, a fresh player in our cooking arsenal.

Do you already know whole wheat pastry flour? Very fine in texture, whole wheat pastry flour comes from a whole white wheat made with softer berries than the kind used for regular whole wheat flour. It’s very fine in texture, high in starch and low in protein, with lower gluten than what’s in white flour. It’s particularly good for using in crumbly baked goods as it yields results similar to those made with regular white flour, though admittedly not as light and airy, and it’s more nutritious. You can substitute it one-to-one for all-purpose flour in cakes, pies, muffins and some cookies.

Working from the recipe for Huckleberry Maple Coffee Cake at 101 Cookbooks, I christened my new-found flour last weekend in a sparkling blueberry coffee cake, the kind that is dense, with sweet crumbles all over the top and chock full of dark blue berries that stain all the dough they touch, creating bursts of almost-purple throughout.

blueberry maple coffee cake

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we will have salad

summer salad

What you who are not from the Midwest might not know is that Chicago gives us many seasons, in the same week—in the same day—anytime it wants to. Saturday, for example, I spent the gloomy morning at the library, watching dark skies send rain onto waving maple trees and brick houses, but by early evening, the sun was bright and high, the air warm, charcoal breezes around us while we walked to dinner. Later still, the breezes turned cold again, when I pulled on my thickest coat to step onto the street and get in my car.

This has happened before, like when the air turned near-balmy in February or when we had our first snow before Halloween; it will happen again.

So when you visit, please bring a coat and t-shirts, sunscreen and an umbrella. We make no guarantees. All you can really be sure of is that we’ll be here, smiling, ready for whatever comes next, with bare trees turned to thick green clusters along the highway, spindly bushes turned to pink and red blossoms in yards, the threat of rain in the eastern horizon.

salad on the table

When you come in June, we will have salad—light and refreshing, cool and crunchy. Where winter (or early June sometimes, ahem) is hearty beef stew, summer is salad, even if it’s raining or the air turns cold and there are puddles to our doorway. This isn’t California—you can’t eat our produce year-round—but this is summer after all, and, some say, it’s smarter to eat for the weather you want than the weather you have.

making salad

Sometimes, in fact, when you eat like summer, summer comes. After I made this salad, a combination of greens and fruit and a homemade vinaigrette, we flipped and flopped from hot to cool, but by Sunday afternoon, when I met Jacqui for lunch at one my favorite places, it just so happened that the weather was absolutely perfect, and, even with temps predicted to drop below 50 in the evenings, I’ve heard most of this week will be hot and dry, sunshine everywhere. It’s summer, people. This is salad weather.

bowl of summer salad

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in the timing

blueberry buttermilk pancakes

A few years ago, when a friend was visiting, I offered to make her chocolate-chip pancakes the morning she’d leave. I am terrible at making pancakes. Of an entire bowl of batter, I think we ended up with two, she and my brother and I standing in the kitchen in our pajamas, wearing glasses and zip-up sweatshirts. The rest of the batch were either burnt and charred or, worse, still goopy inside, wet and uncooked. It’s a good thing there was also cereal around or, frankly, we’d have starved.

I probably don’t have to tell you my problem was timing: Over and over, I’d leave the batter on the skillet too long or, instead, not long enough. I am fairly terrible at timing, and, as the girl who decides her career path after college, I think it’s safe to say this is not just with pancakes.

You probably already know this past Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, was also National Pancake Day. They were even giving away free ones at IHOP to celebrate (How did I miss this?). The origin goes back to England, when people prepared for Lent by clearing out their pantries of all dairy products (butter, eggs, milk) which would be forbidden during the 40 days until Easter.

So just chalk it up to bad timing that I’m posting mine not on National Pancake Day but, instead, six days later later, on the first Monday of March.

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