Sparkles and the weird thing in my kitchen.

I have been roasting things all week.

Mainly vegetables.  And it has made me realize that I am SO over beets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love beets.  They are delicious eaten raw or cooked, and they are a superfood.  But messing with those red little guys suuuuccccckks.  They bleed all over my hands.  They take twice as long as anything else in the oven to roast.  And it looks like I stuck my hands in a pool of Barbie’s blood by the time it’s all over.  If I didn’t love Oatmeal so much, I’d never roast another beet again.  EVER.

But I do love Oatmeal so much.  And he loves roasted beets.  He says they taste like candy.  (Sort of true.)  So right now there is a mason jar of roasted beets in the fridge, and that will make him sooooo happy in the morning when he finds them.  Like giddy even.

Want to know what made me giddy last night?  Here’s a hint: not beets.

It was a pretty normal night.  I usually take it easy during the day and just hang out with Poppyseed, but yesterday I went to work and that made dinner prep pretty hectic. I usually cook most of our meals for the following day while I cook dinner from about 5:30-7pm so that I am really only in the kitchen one time a day.  But with work and everything going on yesterday it was pushing 10pm before I was done with everything. (Have I also mentioned that it’s impossible for me to go to bed without doing EVERY dish, wiping the counters and sometimes sweeping?)

Usually Oatmeal helps with the basic dishes and then leaves to go ride Rainy or take a shower while I finish up and clean downstairs.  But not last night.  Last night he was doing this funny hovering thing.  I usually ignore this behavior or else start asking him to help me and – POOF – he will disappear suddenly and allow me to turn on my computer and watch Modern Family reruns while I scrub my crockpot.  But last night he hovered around, giggling at Modern Family with me and then finally demanded I go upstairs and to bed.  I tossed the dish towel on the half-wiped counter and followed him upstairs.  He climbed into bed and began looking at his iPad while I jumped in the shower.  I threw on a sports bra and some pajama shorts I have had for at least 10 years, turned off the lights and walked blindly across our bedroom.   When I leaned into my side of the bed I felt some rustling.  I turned the light on to see what it was.

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I asked him what in the world was happening and he just continued to stare at his iPad and sort of smirk.  I put the following picture here just to show you readers that he is pretending to be so cool.  (I used Instagram to make him blurry because it seemed odd to put a shirtless picture of him on the internet – ha!  But you can see that he won’t even look in my direction and the corners of his mouth are turned upwards.)  He’s just staring at his iPad, not even looking at me.  But really I am certain he felt so triumphant for surprising me.

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“It’s your birthday present honey.”

“But my birthday isn’t until Saturday!  Wait… so THIS is why you were late getting home today… you tricked me!  What is this?  Honey I don’t need anything from that store!”

But let’s be serious.  I need lots of things from that store.  😉

I opened it up.  It contained a large box, so large that I actually thought it may have been a watch or something else sort of large.  But nope, diamond stud earrings.  Gorgeous.

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Oatmeal actually got me a pair of diamond earrings for our wedding anniversary last year.  I wore them every single day until last October, when we were having dinner and I suddenly realized that one of them had fallen out.  I was sooooo sad.  I kept the other one on my bookshelf and hoped that one day we’d be able to replace it.  But it was just one of those things that I hated to ask for, because we’d already paid for a pair once and I just felt like it would be wasteful.  It did teach us a big lesson, and we insured my engagement  and wedding rings the following month.

Well, Oatmeal had taken the earring from my bookshelf that morning (he’s lucky I didn’t notice it was gone!) and gone to Montelongo’s to have it replaced.  He was able to exchange it for a slightly different shape and slightly larger size, and I was literally giddy to open up that box.  I will probably never take these out other than to clean them and have them checked to make sure they are secure.  They are so pretty.  I am so, so, so spoiled and lucky.

And Oatmeal was (and still is) quite smug that he surprised me and made me so flabbergasted and excited!

So anyway, tonight was yet another night that I got home late (we had baby yoga at 6pm) and was in the kitchen until past 9pm.  I needed to finish making my first batch of kefir.  Never heard of kefir?  Yeah, me either until just recently.  You can read about kefir on your own, but here is a quote from Chris Kresser’s blog about what he calls the “Not-Quite-Paleo Superfood.”

One of the key components of a strict Paleo diet is the complete elimination of dairy products. Unfortunately, this may lead to many dairy-tolerant individuals missing out on some of the most nutritious and beneficial foods on the planet. One dairy product that not only offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but also provides a variety of probiotic organisms and powerful healing qualities, is kefir.

Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains, and is now enjoyed by many different cultures worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. It can be made from the milk of any ruminant animal, such as a cow, goat, or sheep. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.

Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. (2) Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.

So…. in a recent post I told you all about my reasons for bringing some dairy products back into our home after a 2 year dairy-free hiatus.  I began purchasing raw milk from a nearby farm, and I spoke to the farmer’s wife in detail about kefir.  She sold me some kefir “grains” and told me that making kefir is so incredibly easy.  I was skeptical to say the least.  Fermented foods have always weirded me out.  I hate sauerkraut, and the thought of eating fermented dairy made me a little queasy.

But I just keep coming across more books and blogs that recommend eating it, especially if you are dealing with a gut issue.  It was the one part of the Autoimmune Protocol diet (that Oatmeal tried a few months ago in order to help his psoriasis) that we did not complete because, frankly, I didn’t know where to buy it or how to make it.  So I decided to give it a try, and my results were great!

To clarify, I got the recipe by mouth from the farmer’s wife, but I compared it to this Cheeseslave blog, and she basically does the exact same thing.

First, I got out the “grains” from the farm.  They were stored in a glass jar and floating in some raw milk.  I strained the grains out of the milk, and this is what they looked like.  They are supposedly “alive” and as long as you keep them that way, you can use them to make kefir again and again.  They are sort of gelatenous and squishy to the touch.

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Next, I put half of the grains into one jar and half in the other.  (I only had small mason jars, so I had to use 2 jars.  One large one would have been more convenient.)  It is important to only use a glass container when making kefir.  I think that plastic and metals can harm the kefir grains.

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Then I just poured some of our farm fresh raw milk over the grains, leaving a little room at the top in case it bubbled or something (hell I didn’t know what may happen when the fermenting began), and put a lid on each jar.

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Now this was the weird part.  I left these two jars out on my counter (not in the fridge – weeeeiiiiirrrrrd) for 24 hours.  It felt SO odd doing this, but supposedly raw milk does not spoil in warm temperatures.  I was told that the warmer the room, the faster the fermentation process.  I was also told that the longer it sits out, the thicker and creamier it becomes.  I waited 24 hours and the end result was a liquid that I could drink from a glass.

When a day had passed, the jars looked like this.

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And when I tilted one of them, I could tell that it was thick and even somewhat separated.  Both the farmer’s wife and the Cheeseslave blog had advised me that this was how I would know that the kefir was ready!  (But again – weeeeeirdddd!  And ewww!)

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I used a strainer and pyrex measuring cup to strain my new kefir.  This made it go from a clumpy texture to a nice and smooth one.  It took quite a bit of stirring to get all of the kefir through the strainer.  When I found the grains, I put them all back into a clean glass jar and poured a little bit of raw milk over them.  I can store those grains in the fridge until I’m ready to make my next batch.

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Here was the strained kefir – ready to chill and then consume!

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I poured my kefir drink into a clean jar, put in the fridge for about an hour, and then added some honey and berries.  I enjoyed it with a spoon and was quite proud that it tasted very pleasant!  You’d never know that it was sitting on the counter for 24 hours!  Next time I will let it ferment for 36 hours so that maybe it will be the consistency of yogurt.  And I’ll definitely make a bigger batch now that I am confident that the recipe works and is so simple.

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So, how weird is that?

To finish off the post, here are a few food and life as of late iPhone shots.

Poppyseed is growing like a weed.  Here we are on a Target spree to replace her too-tight pajamas.

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A simple meal – Puerto Rican beef with sweet potatoes and avocado.

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I finally gave in and assembled Poppyseed’s water table!  Until this week I refused to do anything that required a screw driver.  Evidently I only did a s0-so job because she has already removed several pieces that should not be mobile.  IMG_2484

I just made a batch of meatballs using a recipe from PaleOMG.com.  These are awesome because you can make an enormous batch, be flexible with the ingredients, and freeze them for later.

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My happy little eater.  Well, she’s happy as long as I don’t try to feed her with a fork.

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I’ve been trying to incorporate veggies with every meal – even breakfast.  This was my breakfast today – 4 fried eggs (P had 1 of them), sauteed red cabbage and kale, and avocado.  I ate that at 7:30 and wasn’t hungry for lunch until 12pm.

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People ask me sometimes what I pack for Poppyseed to eat at daycare.  Here was her lunch yesterday….I’m told she ate most of it.

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Birthday shorts! Yes I’m wearing shorts!

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Delicious roasted veggies.  This is such a wonderful way to prep healthy food ahead of time.  For some reason roasted veggies seem to last so much longer than sauteed, steamed or grilled veggies.  IMG_2505

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