- Use the most gigantically deep containers you can find. Trash cans? Great! (Preferably new or sanitized with a healthy dose of vinegar followed by some boiling water.
- Companion Planting! Do it! Basil and Marigolds with your tomatoes are a great way to keep your tomatoes naturally pest-free. Also, PRETTY!
- Water deeply and regularly. Stick your fingers in the soil, if it feels wetter than a squeezed out sponge, you watered too much. Some varieties of tomato are more prone to cracking than others. If your non-cracking varieties are cracking and have mushy flesh, that’s another sign of overwatering, so be particularly careful when fruit is ripening
- Plant a couple of beefsteaks among your beautiful heirlooms. Beefies have been bred for disease resistance, among other things, and they can help keep your garden healthy.
- Make sure and pinch the suckers out of the crotches (teehee!) they are not going to do you a whole lot of good, but they will sap energy that could be better used making you great, gorgeous pieces of fruit!
- Tomatoes love a ton of hot sun. They will not complain about being on a burning, reflective roof. Don’t try it in the shade. You’ll just end up sad and light on fruit at the end of an arduous growing season.
- Tomatoes really hate wet leaves. Direct water at the soil. Mulch them well and prune lower branches to avoid angering your tomato friend and making it more susceptible to disease.
- Tomatoes are resource heavy. They need lots of water, lots of sun and lots of nutrients. Make sure that you are fertilizing regularly. I use a combination of kelp meal and tomato tone to keep my guys happy.
- Avoid tomato blight by watering them with whey or spoiled milk. I dilute my whey to 50% and make a milk mixture of 1 part milk, 5 parts water.
- Stroke your tomato leaves and tell your plant you love it. Supposedly this encourages the tomato to be stronger and stockier. If you smoke, be sure to wash your hands before you touch your plants because tomatoes have sided with the surgeon general, and they may passive aggressively die to prove their point to you about smoking (actually they can catch tobacco mosaic virus from your cigarettey hands).
There’s the easy way to flavor milk kefir, and then there’s the really easy way. The easy way consists of secondary fermentation. You basically strain your grains out as usual, then chop up whatever berries, fruits, spices or other flavorings you want to use, and put them into the strained kefir. Let it sit for another round (up to 24 hours), strain out the fruit (or not) and enjoy your flavored kefir! You may want to add a bit of sweetener to taste if that’s your bag.
The second way to flavor kefir is just to throw fruit or ginger juice or cinnamon or whatever sounds delicious to you into your strained kefir and blend it all together (I usually go hand blender when using this method). This is preferable for anything highly acidic, such as citrus fruit or juice, which will make your kefir too acidified in secondary fermentation. Again, if you want sweetener, just add your favorite kind before blending!
For me, the whole point of making my own kefir is customization. I can make rosemary ginger kefir with whole, organic milk from a local farm and happy cows. This destroys the idea of some filler, hormone and chemical-laden grocery store product that I can only get in strawberry, mango or pomegranate açai flavor!
If this post were audio, I would groan with pleasure. As a 3rd generation American Pole, I love both the fatty, carby, bland food and pickled things. It’s in my genes (and let’s be honest, my jeans)! I rarely give in to the temptation of eating mac and cheese, but sometimes, it’s worth it!
Here’s my recipe, and yes, you basically make a mac and cheese and then mix some kimchi in before you eat it. It’s all those Polish things I love, plus, the tang of a delicious ferment! Oh, wait, ferments are Polish, too. Guess I’m my father’s daughter through and through.
This recipe is easiest and less mess in a French oven that can go right from your stovetop into your oven. If you don’t have one, just start in a large saucepan and transfer to a large, greased casserole after mixing in cheese and pasta.
MAC AND KIMCHEESE
Serves 8-10 as entree.
- 4-6 onions, caramelized
- 16 oz brown rice (or regular) pasta, cooked 5 minutes and immediately drained
- 5 cups milk
- 4 T cornstarch
- 1 T prepared, whole-grain mustard
- 1 t ground mustard seeds (optional)
- 2 t salt
- ground pepper to taste
- 4 T butter
- 16 oz. of shredded cheese, divided (your preferred! We like to change it up, but cheddar and gruyere always make a great combo)
- 1/2 cup seasoned, homemade breadcrumbs
- Jar of homemade kimchi
Preheat oven to 375°. Pour milk into your 5 quart or larger French oven. Thoroughly stir in cornstarch, mustards and salt and pepper. Once combined, add butter, stirring constantly until butter is melted and the mixture has come to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 of cheese. Keep stirring until it’s melted. Stir in your partially pre-cooked pasta and caramelized onions. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and top with bread crumbs. Stick it under the broiler for 5 minutes to get it good and crispy brown.
You can serve it fresh from the oven, but I think it’s tasty after it has had a few minutes to sit. It’s even good then next day. For serving, just put the jar of kimchi next to the bubbly vat of cheesy love, and let your guests top it off to taste!
When I make water kefir I like to try a different flavor every time. Mixing up your sugar source is a great way to impact the flavor of your water kefir.
Some sugar sources I like:
- Cane sugar
- Black Cherry (or other organic) fruit concentrate
- Vanilla Bean
- Sassafrass Root
- Shiso/Stone Fruit (plum works great!)
- Strawberry Basil
- Any seasonal fruit
- Lemon Thyme/Lemon
- Parsley Lemon
- Lemon Mint
- Earl Grey Tea
- Dried cherries