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Whilst this blog was mainly started to share my love of food, I did enjoy it more when I shared snippets of our life as well as just what we’re eating. In a brief return to that, here’s what we’ve been up to recently (it makes me realise perhaps I haven’t shared general life happenings as much because they’re a bit unglamorous)…
We don’t look at the bottom of the garden and what is supposed to be my vegetable beds – it is a jungle and a mess. Misery making. It never used to be like this, when did life get so complicated and busy that I couldn’t grow tasty things to eat?
So, my kefir making is going well – yey! I haven’t killed it off! I was worried that I wasn’t going to do well with it as it requires a little bit of love each day, but I actually enjoy taking care of it.
You might have seen my first post when I received my kefir grains in the post, well since then I’ve been nurturing each evening and this is what it looks like…
Each evening when I come to open my jar of grains and milk it looks something like the above. I think because the weather has been so warm it’s been splitting more than normal, but I just ignore its looks and get on with it.
You might imagine that raw milk that’s been sat in a jar on the counter top for 24 hours would smell pretty rank – but it doesn’t. I’ve even had some raw milk out on the side for a few days to make it sour (great for making soda bread I’ve read) and I was convinced there would be that terrible ‘gone-off’ milk smell I’m sure we’re all familiar with – but no, barely a smell at all, just a hint of sourness.
I have pretty much given up sugar in the past couple of months, I’d like to share more of my experience of cutting it out, but for now I wanted to share my first attempt at a sugar free sweet treat.
I found this nice sounding recipe for lemon bars and liked that it was simple and didn’t use a list of weird and wonderful ingredients. Mr Rigg loves lemon drizzle cake and this sounded like it might make something pretty similar. I’ve make cakes before with ground almonds and they usually come out moist – this lemon cake was no exception.
Because there’s no raising ingredients, it’s pretty much the thickness of the batter you pour into your tin, but what it might not give in depth it provides in flavour and texture.
It’s sticky and moist and sweet, but with a lovely tangy lemon taste. I even made a ‘drizzle’ to go over it, using raw yoghurt and maple syrup (as suggested in the original recipe) – however, the original looks more like whipped cream (I think this is because Greek yoghurt is very thick), whereas the raw yoghurt I used is much runnier.
If you’ve never experimented with natural sweeteners (like me!) then I would really recommend giving this recipe a try – you might be surprised how delicious it is. It would make an excellent pudding served warm.
To begin with I preheated my oven to 180°C.
Firstly I placed my butter (1/2 cup) into a little saucepan on a low heat to melt it. Once it was melted, I mixed in 1/4 cup of local honey and 1/4 cup of organic maple syrup, and a 1/4 tsp salt.
In a separate mixing bowl I beat together 2 eggs, 2 additional egg yolks, and the juice and zest from 1 lemon (our lemon was a jumbo one which made for a very lemony cake).
Then I added the melted butter and syrup into the egg mixture and gave it a good whisk. Finally, I added 1/2 cup of organic whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of ground almonds. Mix that together and pour it into a baking tin I’d lined with greaseproof paper. Bake it for about 30 minutes.
Finally, I made a yoghurt drizzle by mixing in a bit of maple syrup. I found that you don’t want this yoghurt to be really sweet as the tartness of the yoghurt is perfect against the lemony cake. We ate ours warm with a tiny bit of lemon zest to make it look pretty.
I wanted to add that just because I’ve given up sugar (as in the white stuff, and its counterparts) I’ve not gone made on the natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, fruit juices etc. I have been cutting it all out as far as possible, just having a tiny amount in dark chocolate, honey, and watered down apple juice. This lemon cake was primarily to satiate Mr Rigg’s love of sweet treats and I have only eaten the tiniest of pieces.
Have you heard of kefir? I hadn’t until a couple of months ago and now here I am attempting to make my own. That makes it sound like there’s a lot of hard work on my behalf, but there isn’t really – the kefir grains work their magic without a lot of intervention from me.
I ordered my kefir grains online from Kefir Heaven, this is what they say about kefir if you’re not sure what it is: “In a nutshell, a kefir grain is a gelatinous, convoluted particle obtained from fermented milk.”
And why am I making my own kefir? Well, it makes a very good for you kind of yoghurt (I’m sure kefir experts might say that’s not quite right), but somehow these little glue-like grains do something magical to milk to produce a thick yoghurt like mixture that’s full of beneficial probiotic bacteria.
So this morning my kefir grains arrived from Kefir Heaven, carefully packaged up and with instructions for me to follow to ensure my grains get the best start in life. All I needed was a clean jar with a lid and 200ml milk (I used some of my raw Jersey milk).
To start with, all I have to do is carefully remove the grains and the tiny bit of milk they’re in from their plastic pouch, pop them into a clean jar, pour over the milk and seal the lid.