Friday, April 8, 2016
My family and I went to Disneyland during December and had a wonderful time. It was my first time to attend Disneyland with my daughter as a grown up lady. We took her when she was 4 and then 10 years old. Now, at 29, Miss Madelyn is still a very good time! There was only one bad thing that happened, and it was oh so bad... I got food poisoning! I'm so glad it was on the last day of our three-day park hopper. I'm also very glad no one else got sick! I had a harrowing night at the hotel. We were all worried that I wouldn't be able to endure the long drive home (6 hours) the next day. Fortunately, I did as well as could be expected on the trip home and Mr. Dwayne drove as fast safety would allow.
The result of this was more than a few days of feeling yucky, it really knocked my immune system for a loop. I didn't realize this kind of illness could result in a compromised immune system until I caught every virus I remotely encountered for the next three months! I was sick or getting better from being sick most of the first quarter of 2016. This had to change! So, I started more juicing and launched a diet rich in probiotics and gut healing foods.
Two of the things that have helped me the most are Bio Kult probiotics and grass fed gelatin.
Gelatin is an animal product, so the way the animals are raised makes a difference. You can make your own in the form of homemade bone broth or you can purchase plain grass fed gelatin. Vital Proteins and Great Lakes both offer great choices.
I'm still a beginner at gelling. I'm looking forward to making gummies and to adapting some of my family's traditional jello recipes. Those traditional recipes have a lot of sugar and all those crazy colors. Food coloring truly creeps me out! This "gello" is yummy and full of good stuff, including enough healthy fat and protein to make it a snack with staying power.
New Style "Gello"
1 lb. strawberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp. raw evaporated sugar
1/2 cup room tempurature water
2 tbsp. plain gelatin
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice or other fruit juice
1/2 cup ginger bug liquid (or more fruit juice)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Wash and hull the strawberries and place them in a large bowl. Add the maple syrup and sugar and mash with a potato masher until the juices start to release. Set aside.
Dissolve the gelatin in the water and set aside.
Strain the juice from the strawberries and place in a small sauce pan. To the strawberry juice, add the lemon juice and softened gelatin. Over a medium heat, simmer and stir just until the gelatin dissolves completely. Remove from the heat. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Stir in the ginger bug liquid and the vanilla. Place the "gello" in the refrigerator to cool. When it become thick but still soft, fold in the strawberries. Place in a serving dish and chill until set. Makes 6 cups.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
My BFF, Paula, called me from a Santa Cruz farmers market and asked me, "Do you need kumquats? These are the biggest I've ever seen!" Now, need may not be the exact word to describe my relationship with kumquats, but the question resulted in 3 lbs. of these beauties, gifted to me.
We have a lot of citrus in Sacramento. All kinds of citrus trees line our downtown streets as understory trees beneath the great Plane and Sycamore trees. As I take my lunch time walks, I often spy out oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins and kumquats. (I have the eyes of a forager!) In all my yard-food spying, I have never seen kumquats like these. They are much larger than what I usually see and have previously preserved. They are also softer, more pulpy and very fragrant. Based on a google search, I think these are Fukushu Kumquats - a hybrid of kumquats and mandarins. I don't know for sure, but the descriptions and photos make this my best guess.
These seemed too big to preserve in halves, as I did in Kumquats Preserved in Honey and Rosewater. They also seemed too small to separate the zest and segments, as I do for most of my marmalades. What I ended up doing is cutting them into quarters, lengthwise, cutting away the tough center membrane and popping the seeds out with the knife tip.
I then sliced the rind and pulp that remained into thin strips.
As is often the case, I made this marmalade over several days. Not because the recipe requires it, but because I was busy and received them during the week. One night, I quartered and seeded the fruit. Another night, I cut the thin slices and simmered them with water. I then added the sugar and popped the sweetened fruit back int he fridge until I was ready to can. Everything goes in the fridge between each of the steps, of course.
Even though the processing had some delays, the flavor is bright and fresh. I think that having the peels sit around for a while also made them more tender. They still give a nice bit of bite, but do not disrupt the overall texture of the marmalade as you chew.
If you happen to come by these unusual fruits, this marmalade is well worth your effort to try!
Fukushu Kumquat Marmalade
3 lbs. Fukushu or other larger kumquats
4 1/2 cups sugar
Thoroughly wash and dry the kumquats. Slice lengthwise into quarters and cut out the tough center where the membranes meet. Pop out the seeds. Slice the remaining quarters into thin strips. The prepared fruit should measure to about 5 cups. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remeasure the cooked mixture. It should equal about 7 cups. Add 4 1/2 cups sugar.
When ready to can, prepare water bath canner, 8 half-pint jars, lids and rings. Place some saucers and tea spoons in the freezer.
In a very large sauce pan, bring the combined fruit and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, keep a close eye on it and stir down occasionally. It foamed up quite a bit for me. The foam will subside near the end of the cooking time. When the marmalade begins to thicken and the bubbles are glossy and not foamy, begin to test for set. You can also use a thermometer and start checking when the temperature reaches 220 degrees. To test for set, scoop a bit of the marmalade out with one of the spoons from the freezer. Place it back in the freezer on one of the saucers and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Remove from the freezer and tip the spoon onto the saucer. Does it drop thickly? Does it wrinkle when you push the blob on the saucer? If it does, it is good to go!
Carefully fill the hot, prepared jars and wipe the rims. Top with lids and rings and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove carefully and place them on a tray lined with a tea towel.
Makes 7 to 8 half pint jars.