I Don’t Think I’m Cut Out to Do Natural Remedies, Part I of III

Welp, the elderberry syrup was sort of a disaster.  I am so disappointed.  I’m going to try again, but I’ll show you what happened anyway.  First, let me explain the title.

I think there may be a pox on my house when it comes to natural remedies.  There’s this elderberry flop, the Classical Conversations Information Night Hindenburg Situation and then the more recent Christmas Eve Master Tonic Bomb.

Out of self-respect I never wrote about the Classical Conversations Information Night Hindenburg Situation but I may as well come clean as it falls into the “natural remedy fail” category.  Back in August, on one of those days that it was about four thousand degrees, we had a meeting for potential families who were interested in joining our particular CC group.  I was to be a greeter along with my friend Anna.  We just had to stand out in the vestibule of the church and direct people to the room where the meeting was to take place.  Easy, right?  It should have been a breeze but there should NOT have been a self-created breeze coming from the back of my tent dress.  But there was.

I’d decided earlier in the day that I was done with kombucha.  It was a pain, I was sick of dealing with making huge quantities of tea and I decided I’d just buy BioKult from Amazon and take that as my probiotic instead.  I’d consumed all the tea-like kombucha in the jars and all that remained was the starter and the SCOBY.  I used the scobies to fertilize my plants around the mailbox but I couldn’t let that starter go to waste.  My tolerance for sour had gone waaaaaaay up – I could drink apple cider vinegar straight – so I decided to pour all the left over starter into a cup and drink it.  I’d say it was eh…close to 10 ounces, maybe 15.  It was a good bit.  Oh it was sour and SO strong.  It was almost too strong for me, keeping in mind I could drink vinegar straight.  It never occurred to me that it might inadvertently start a cleanse in my colon.

I drank it about 2 pm.  The meeting was at 6, I believe.  Around 4 pm I noticed that my stomach had blown up like a basketball and I looked pregnant.  It hurt.  I could feel air moving around, I could HEAR air moving around inside.  Dave got home and I had to take a shower and get ready.  That’s when the air started coming out.  Oh my goodness.  I almost drove myself out of the shower.  Eye-watering, gag-inducing, “who pelted my bathroom wall with a dozen rotten eggs?” air was escaping from my body!  WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO?!  I HAD TO GREET PEOPLE!

“Hello, can I kill you with my gas?  Wouldn’t you like to join our group?  You might end up in my class!”

I was so bloated none of my pants would fit, not even my go-to fat jeans that always fit.  My J Crew capri pants I can always count on cut me in half like a blob of play dough and my gut stuck above and below the waistband like a cartoonish park ranger.  I only had one item in my closet that might work and I shuddered at the thought of actually wearing it in public as an actual garment.

My black swim cover-up.

It could pass as a maxi-dress but it was a $12 swim cover from Target.  There’s no denying, it was not a dress, not meant to be worn without a bathing suit underneath.  But it was the only thing that would conceal my gut, allow the gas inside to bubble and roil and make me entirely miserable.  So I put it on and threw on a short-sleeved crocheted jacket and went on my way.

No one seemed to notice.  The dress anyway.  I had to run outside a few times and hide in the bushes and pretend to “look” for something, sighing in relief and shaking out my swim cover/dress, hoping it didn’t carry my dirty secret with me.  Then we had to sit still in chairs for an hour in a very small, packed room.

Oh.  My.

Buns of steel.  That’s all I’m saying.  Nothing embarrassing happened, thank the LORD!!

Then I went home and let it rip.  And I will never, ever drink kombucha starter ever again.  Ever.  Unless I am going to be trapped in a small room with an enemy.

End of Part I

By Request – How to Make Kombucha (video)

Watching this makes brewing kombucha seem difficult.  It’s not.  Here’s a synopsis:

1.  Order a SCOBY off Etsy.  I bought mine from Wells of Health (I call them “savvy teas” in the video, I think that’s their billing name).  Follow the instructions they send you.

OR

2.  Buy a bottle of GT Dave’s kombucha from Whole Foods.

  • dump the bottle of kombucha (or at least 1/2 cup) into a mason or wide-mouth jar.
  • put a coffee filter over the top and secure with a rubber band
  • let it sit ON THE COUNTER TOP for about a week, until a SCOBY forms.
  • boil 5 cups of water for 10 minutes.
  • add 1/3 cup WHITE SUGAR, stir with a WOODEN spoon
  • add 2 family-sized tea bags, steep to your delight
  • let come to room temperature
  • add to mason jar with SCOBY and liquid it’s floating in
  • wait about a week, taste after day 4 with a straw to see if it’s vinegar-y or tea-y
  • if it doesn’t taste like tea any longer, its ready
  • pour into a jar with a lid you can tighten (you want to keep it carbonated)
  • I pour my kombucha straight from the mason jar (holding the SCOBY back with my finger) straight into the bottles via a funnel.
  • let it sit on the counter overnight, then transfer to fridge
  • enjoy!
  • repeat!

ADVANCED:

  •  try different flavor tea bags – just make sure there isn’t any oil listed in the ingredients section, this can make your SCOBY mold
  • add a squirt of lemon juice to your bottles post-pour as they sit overnight on the counter, this will give your kombucha a citrus zing
  • add some chunks of ginger to the large brew to make ginger aid.
Here’s the silly video with cameo by Dave.  The timing is off.  Trying to fix this!  I can’t fix this!  It’s idiotic!

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My SCOBY, Day 2

Check out that mother! It was just a flat patty when I put it in the tea day before yesterday and check her out today. There are strands of yeasty goodness all over the place – she has really grown! I added some lemon juice to the tea mixture yesterday because I’d read that it helped enrich the growth medium and perhaps so; either way, my SCOBY is coming along nicely!

It’s gone from smelling sweet to not really having a smell. I think it will take 4 – 5 days before it’s ready to drink, so maybe by Saturday I’ll have my first batch of home brewed kombucha ready for a taste test! I’m probably going to double ferment it to flavor it, so that will take extra time, but since I am addicted to the citrus flavor, I’ll just have to be patient and wait. Once I get a system rolling, there shouldn’t be any downtime without available kombucha.

This stuff apparently multiplies like friendship bread, or so an employee at Whole Foods warned me today (yes…I live there now…). I told him I had at least two friends on my SCOBY baby adoption waiting list. I always wanted to do some sort of adoption volunteer work but I did not envision it including yeast patties.

Making Kombucha

I have a new love and its name is kombucha.  It’s a fermented beverage, dating back thousands of years.  Yes, it kinda tastes like easter egg dye, but it’s fizzy and delicious at the same time.  And it’s full of probiotics and helps right all the wrongs in your GI tract if yours is like mine (i.e.; not moving).  I’ve drank it on and off for years, but recently got serious about drinking it routinely to see if it could help me feel better.  I figured it would just help me avoid eating a dozen prunes every night (no, I am NOT kidding) but it’s done a lot more than that!  Every morning I’d get up racked with pain.  It hurt to bend my fingers, hurt to stand up, hurt to hobble down the stairs.  I felt 100 years old, and I’ve felt this was since about 2006 (oddly, since I had Henry).

Speaking of hurting, it hurt every time I payed (avert your eyes, Dave) $3 a bottle for kombucha from Whole Foods.  But I love it so, and I swear it’s made my joint pain disappear and kept me from feeling like a snake that’s swallowed a barrel of rocks that needed to be blasted free by prune laden C4 on a nightly basis.  So instead of forking out a ton of money for it each week, I’ve decided to try my hand at making my own and I bought a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) off Etsy.  I followed the enclosed directions and improvised a bit, using hints from Modern Alternative Mama and Food Renegade.  Here’s how the SCOBY prep and incubation went down:

I brewed my tea. Some sites said it had to be green or black tea, some of the less…high maintenance sites said Lipton was fine. I am not high maintenance. I went with Lipton. Once water had boiled, before I added the tea bags to steep, I added 1/3 c. white sugar and stirred with a wooden spoon. Then added the tea bags, moved the pan to the counter top and let it come to room temperature.

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Oddly, it boiled, though watched.

The rest of my goods waiting to be mixed with the tea once it came to room temp. You can see the “mother” SCOBY in her package, my quart Mason jar and a funnel to get the tea in the jar.

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Mother and juice in a bag, Mason jar, funnel (duh)

SCOBY in the jar! *clap clap clap* SCOBY in the jar! *clap clap clap* (sung to the tune of “Turkey in the Straw)

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Sweet mother of SCOBY!

SCOBY from the top. Isn’t she pretty? No? Don’t you talk about my “mother” like that!

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This is not a "mushroom" mushroom, as my mother asked.

Adding the brewed sweetened tea to the SCOBY and liquid it came in. Sloppily, I might add.

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Do not pour and photograph simultaneously. Bad idea.

TADA!!! A coffee filter on top to keep bugs out, sealed with a rubber band and we’re done!

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Matches my countertops. It's a sign.

A closer look at the SCOBY in her new home. She should eventually float (I hope she’s not a witch – okay two people got that) but if she doesn’t, I think that’s okay too.

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I think the SCOBY is smiling at me.

This should be a before –> after –> after, after in my cup shot. My kombucha is SO DARK. I wonder if it will lighten? I can’t remember if the recipe calls for me to cut it with filtered water at the end. Who knows? Maybe I messed up. We’ll see.

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Delicious trio. Well, the last two are. The first remains to be seen.

It should take at a minimum, three days to brew. I smelled it today and it was still sweet, so I bet it will be closer to five, since we’re closing in on day two.

Next project: ginger beer!

Manic Multitasking

I was trying to explain to a friend today how exactly mania (bipolar mania) works.  I said it’s doing about 400 things simultaneously and doing none of them well.  To wit:

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I guess we are partial to Macs

I think two computers, an iPad, a printer and a smart phone all running at once is a bit overkill for a stay-at-home mom who blogs and plans homeschool for a kindergartner.  Tonight I’m working on a tri-fold board for his Classical Conversations memory work, hence all the technological goings-on.  Plus I had to post a funny on Facebook for my friend Amanda, because we all DO know what happened at the council of Trent, right?  Henry should have, but I got discouraged about switching from the Veritas Press history cards so we slacked off last week and alas, he and Amanda cannot carry on an intelligent conversation about it now.

 Good grief would you look at that desk?  It is the messiest thing I’ve ever seen.  It is a testimony to my current mental state.  Just scattered, random, all over the place…I mean, there’s a box of Christmas lights about to fall out of that middle cubby hole.  But actually those are Dave’s.  I think he might need some drugs too.  And my poor lovely china.  It has to sit up there above all that crap.  Some day, china, you will have a home.  Some day when we are not forking out thousands of dollars for homeschool stuffs and adding NEW KIDS to CC!  :D

Next week Rhys will be joining Henry’s class!!  He’s almost four and he can already do the memory work with Henry.  He is writing his letters (stop doing that to the screen, Belinda) and he enjoys drawing and the blasted tin whistle.  Glad they’re done with that portion of the fine arts segment this year.  I had been thinking about it for a couple of months and had talked to Dave about moving him into the class once we thought there might be a vacancy, but I wavered, not sure it was the right thing to do.  Well, after getting the report two weeks in a row that he spent the entire four hours in nursery, prostrate to the floor, coat over his head , sleeping or pretending to, while a herd of toddlers banged and toddled around and on him, I decided to attempt to put him out of his misery and move him up.  He seemed excited and grinned at his soon-t0-be tutor but let me tell you – if that boy so much as pitches a fit it is STRAIGHT BACK TO THE NURSERY HE GOES AND HE CAN STEW IN HIS OWN COAT’S JUICE.

That might sound harsh.  But living with Rhys is one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done.  There is no rhyme or reason to his whims,  he is mercurial at best, manic at worst; he is me.  And were I able to act on my impulses like a 3.75 year old, I’d be a holy terror.  He threw pork on the floor tonight.  Just because.  Just because it was not inciting to him.  He is not autistic, does not have ADD/ADHD or sort of thing that would be given a diagnosis.  We discipline him, though I do admit that he wears on me so at times I end up ignoring his histrionics where others might do something.  But once you’ve dealt with him touching every single piece of fruit in Whole Foods four times just because he can, because there’s liberty in that, if he climbs on my head, so be it.  He’s just the most difficult person I’ve ever encountered, myself and possibly one or two other people, excepting.

But the interesting, redeeming thing is that he’s the most loving of the three, so far at least.  He’s the one that I will go climb in bed with and snuggle with if I am sad, or need comfort.  Of course he’s asleep and drooling and doesn’t know it, but he’s a comfort to me.  He’s a comfort when he’s awake too, he loves to rub and pet and snuggle, he’s much snugglier than Henry was.  He’s also coy and charming, which scares me and makes me want to lock him in the basement beginning once he turns 13.  Henry is very straight-forward and outgoing and will make lots of friends wherever he goes.  Rhys, I predict, will have a small circle of close friends, or one best friend and a handful of close friends.

Henry is extremely outgoing right now in his circle of friends, he is mister social butterfly.  He’s constantly asking if we can “have a play date” with so-and-so and I have to keep reminding him that people have lives.  It will get even harder for him next year when his friend and neighbor Lukas goes off to kindergarten.  However, his school workload will increase somewhat so maybe that will help…him be even more miserable :(  Heh.  Poor thing.  I think Henry would enjoy being a movie star if given the chance.  Rhys would like to be a tortured artist, as long as said tortured artist got to ride his red bicycle with training wheels and had a Sprite every once in awhile.

Ah, and so here it is.  The trifold board I thought “wouldn’t take that long since it’s just tacking some plastic sleeves up on the board and then stuffing the weekly papers in there which would be easily found on the CC website.” HAR.  HAR.

THREE HOURS LATER:

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Isn't she lovely?!

I have to say, it turned out really well despite the fact I didn’t use a ruler to make sure everything was lined up like I wanted it. Best job of “eyeballing it” I think I’ve ever done.  I’ve got to go back and add the subjects above each folder to make it look a little more um…I was going to say “professional” but that’s sort of a strange word choice for a trifold homeschool board…how about “snazzy?”  To make it a little more snazzy.  And more great news?!  I got my wall back!  I can re-hang my decorative plates and stuff that were on the wall before I destroyed my eating area and turned it into a homeschool room!

Since I got three hours of sleep last night I am all full of ideas.  I plan to (not) do the following (but dream of doing it):

Make a batch of kombucha.  No, I am for real going to do this, in fact, I am going to order the SCOBY off amazon now so I am left without a choice.  I had a bottle of citrus kombucha today and I had forgotten how much I liked it.  I think one should drink it everyday, it is great for you, it’s full of probiotics (do not shake the kombucha) and oh boy do I need that in abundance.  Unless one is pregnant, or about to drive, one should fully consume the kombucha.  Or on benzodiazepines.  Oops.  Well, Henry knows how to dial 911.

Make a HUGE batch of chicken tortilla soup tomorrow and CAN it!!  The canning is going to come Friday, probably.  I’m going to get the stuff together to make the soup tomorrow and make one batch, perhaps two.  Then go to the store the next day to get the cans.  Then do the actual canning in my new pressure cooker (okay so maybe I should wait until Saturday when Dave is home) after all the cooking is done and all the supplies are at the ready.

Make a small batch of black bean soup to see if I like it enough to do a canning.

Basically find a reason to use the new pressure cooker/canner.  I am desperate to can some of that soup.  I also want to start a new batch of yogurt, but use honey to sweeten it this time or something else, whatever my BFF said had a lower glycemic index…it escapes me…Big Red gum?  Who knows.  Dave came home with several cans of high fructose corn syrup-ladened pie filling to use in the yogurt.  I almost passed out.  Purpose defeated.  I told him if he just used fresh fruit for the yogurt, I’d make him a pie with that hot garbage.  He seemed pleased with this compromise, so the boys have not been slurping down globs of (delicious) corny fructosy cherries yet.

Well, it’s late, which means I should go to bed, but can’t.  I should just get a third shift job and make use of the fact that I am a vampire at night and a zombie during the day.