All you need is……..

In the most generalised, sweeping statement of all time, I guess the notion of a holiday is to break from the norm and remove oneself from a situation you are possibly not so fulfilled in, an effort to escape the banal nature of life.

When you remove yourself from your most comfortable place of existence in the burning quest for new adventures, it can feel a little compromising.  Unless you decide to make this adventure ALL about what you love to do.

And so, thanks to the nudging me the right direction bacteria once again, I put everything to sleep in the fridge, stored the epic collection of things fermenting in the coolest room of the house, (just in case the Irish summer should surpass itself and actually offer some heat) and headed to Portugal to share the skills I have been mastering for some time now.  With an open offering to spread the love of fermented foods, the requests to host such a thing have lead me to the beautiful people, in beautiful places, doing beautiful things.  That’s my kinda holiday.

 

So how complicated is this fermenting malarky?

 

I have really come to understand that the most complicated aspect to fermentation is our own perception and the moment that we let ourselves relax into the magic of the microbes, a deep ancestral light bulb goes off and life makes a lot more sense!

 

I have had the pleasure of witnessing these light bulb moments, as people experience them for the first time, further added to by the subsequent giddiness that ensues as the idea ferments in their mind and their gut!

 

Fermentation is integral to life, fermentation is part of so much of what we already enjoy and fermentation connects to so many other bigger concepts of life from philosophy to geography, history to cultural evolution.  It is truly alive and part of natures’ mystery.

 

It was intentional that I left Ireland minus all my kitchen comforts with little to set me up in Portugal, relying on what I could find easily there.  By this I mean starter cultures as I wanted to show how easy it all this is harnessing natures free starter kit!

I will admit that in my hand luggage, I skimped on the clothes and packed my nutirbullet and some electric scales.  You may note that in nearly every photo I am wearing the same ensemble!

I will excuse these because:

  1. I have children to feed and I rely on the nutribullet to make smoothies which in turn allows me to hide an aisle of whole foods & superfoods in there….. without them actually realising they are ingesting something potentially healthy
  2. I was going to be teaching and scales just make life easy.

 

These two items of choice were a small luxury, the rest, as intended I picked it up the day I arrived thanks to the unnecessarily large selection of goods at ‘Casa China’.  (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Mr.China or plastic, I appreciate that the quality is lacking, but it was all that was available and I was sure that with some exploration I would eventually find a reputable shop selling some delicious glassware from Italy or the like!)

The inventory:

1 manual juicer € 2.25

1 knife                 € 2.95

1 flip top bootle  € 2.95

1 2L jar                 € 2.85

1 sieve                   € 1.95

1 funnel                €2.00

 

TOTAL                      € 14.95

 

For the small total of €14.95, I was ready to make at least one bottle of ginger bug lemonade and one big jar of whatever ferment of the moment, preferrable seasonal with a quick turn around……so that will be copious amount of Salsa thank you!  Clearly the contents are an additional shop.   Lemons/sugar/ginger/water will be required for the ginger bug drinks and some tomatoes, pepper, onion, garlic and salt needed for the salsa.  This wish list was for personal consumption and not workshops per say, BUT lucky for us the journey would take us to delightful permaculture projects and organic farms with a summer abundance of lemons straight from the tree, tomatoes from the vine and whatever else we fancied, particularily beetroots, oh so many wonderful beetroots.  More on the workshops another time!

 

There was one last item which money could not quantify and that was our day trip to the waterfall in the mountains near Benefeita, to search for fermentation weights a.k.a. river rocks. If this is a reason to start fermenting, then I would say get your swimmers on!

 

As you can see, fermentation does not require much, no fancy equipment, no real specialised ingredients, just a little know how, lots of magic and patience.  Yes, unfortunately in a world of instant gratification, you have to wait for the magic part to happen BUT time makes wonders and the rewards are many.

 

Join me to discover just how easy all this can be….NEW DATES COMING SOON FOR SEPTEMBER 2017

 

****I will admit that I brought a small amount of milk kefir grains, because I was particularly in love with them at that moment.

It is common to fall in and out of favour with ferments from time to time and I see this as the body’s cue that it has had enough a particular profile of bacteria.  They actually ended up being the biggest pain, as raw, fresh milk is practically unheard of in Portugal.  It is pasteurised UHT all the way, I doubted that my clever little kefir friends would see this as food.

However, thanks to the wonderful people of the land I met along the way, I did manage to get some raw milk eventually.  It made some delicious, but strong milk kefir thanks to the soaring temperature of 40C, and it lead me to meeting some beautiful goatherders, who also allowed my children to do the milking.

 

In an ideal world, that how’s I would like it to be, so for this opportunity, I am grateful.

 


Being Wild in the Woods

 

There is a certain amount of trust and intuition that allows one to literally pack up and head to a country you know little about, except for the Algarve of course, with sheer curiosity.  Perhaps it is more of perceiving it as something you have just yet to know.

And so it is, this summer, The Cultured Club embarks upon an exciting trip to Portugal to meet wonderful people, discover wild landscapes, learn of new wild foods and finally be guaranteed some summer sun.

Really, The bacteria make me do it!

I am beyond excited to detail a very special course at out first destination in the beautiful mountains of Central Portugal.

We will be joining Lynn in A vida Fausto, a paradise where she has consciously chosen to live off the grid and to build a healthy habitat. I can think of now better playground to explore the world of fermentation and the foraging potential of the local terroir.

The Cultured Club is offering a 5-day retreat solely focussed on this lost skill with the added deliciousness of foraging walks and an abundance of organic food  for a happy gut, commencing on July 2nd.

You are welcome to arrive at A Vida Fausto on the Sunday from 2pm onwards.  With a relaxed getting to know each other and settling into our new environment, we will offer an introductory talk on the various aspects of Fermentation and gut health, followed by a shared dinner under the canopy of trees.   A very unique sleeping experience in the middle of nature awaits you as the evening closes.

 

Over the subsequent next four days we will have a morning and afternoon workshop on the practice of Fermentation.

This will include:

 

  • Making probiotic drinks
  • Capturing our own wild yeasts and bacteria from the forest.
  • Making vinegars
  • Fermenting food with a variety of techniques
  • Making fermented condiments
  • Improvising with foraged ingredients
  • wasting less in kitchen
  • Ways to serve and implement into gut happy meals
  • Exploration and understanding of Gut health.
There are no musts – you decide for yourself how much group and how much alone time you want.
╰☆ The Location
A vida Fausto is located on the foothills of the Sierra de Estrela mountain range, near Coja in Arganil. Read and watch more about these stunning surroundings on her website: www.avidafausto.net/well-being
╰☆ Accommodation
Lynn has transformed small green houses into comfortable bedrooms, which are placed in cozy corners around her Birdhouse. They are equipped with a twin or double bed, cabinets for clothes and a little terrace with 2 chairs and a coffee table. These greenhouses are transparent and provide you with a unique 5 billion star sleeping experience close to nature.╰☆ Facilities
At A vida Fauto there is a vermicomposting flush toilet, which isn’t any different from the one you use at home. The hot shower, fuelled with wood can be used in the morning before breakfast or at the end of the day before dinner. There’s unlimited drinking water straight from the natural spring. The birdhouse provides electricity to charge phones and laptops. However the use of hair dryers and other high power equipment is not possible.
╰☆ The Package
We offer this retreat for the friendly Early Bird price of 449 euro per person if you pay before June 1st, 2017. After that the pakage price is 499 euro per person.
The package includes:
☯ 5 nights accommodation in a shared greenhouse room
☯ 15 organic plantpowered organic gut friendly meals prepared fresh and with love
☯ 8 focussed workshops on fermentation
☯ A foraging hike exploring wild edible plants and flowers of the area
☯ trip(s) to the waterfall when it is just to hot to do anything else
☯ Bedsheets and natural soap (due to the water going straight to the land, we use only 100% natural products
☯ Tea and fruitwater during the day and in addition beer and wine in the evening
☯ Electricity to charge phones/laptops
☯ Wifi around the Birdhouse. Cafes in the village provide free wifi too.
╰☆ How to get there
It’s a 3,5 hour drive from Lisbon and 2,5hrs from Porto. Rental cars in Portugal are very affordable, it’s a fun roadtrip and we encourage carsharing. There are also great, convenient and fast public bus services (with wifi) running from both cities to the busstop Catraia de Mouronho.╰☆ Booking & Reservation
To reserve your spot send an email with in the description “Wild in the Woods” and your full name to avidafaustso@gmail.com and by transferring 100 euro as a deposit after receiving bank details.If you think one of your friends may be interested in joining us, feel free to invite them to this page. For further question you can reach me on here info@www.new.theculturedclub.com

For practical questions about the accommodation, food and other things it’s best to reach out to Lynn (Loetje Loe on Facebook) directly via message or email avidafausto@gmail.com

Give your microbiome the holiday of a lifetime!


The Bacteria make me do it.

I frequently feel like I don’t play this game of life like one is supposed to.

I read the papers so infrequently simply because they cause a deep unease that I know little of the world, how it works and even less about how to change it.  Politics, economics, business strategy, the property market, investments, style trends, current affairs, what’s in, what’s out….all of it hurts my tiny mind!

 

This is not to say that I am introverted and without regard for the world I live in, it is more to suggest that it all seems to involve too much thought, a cerebral, cognitive, over analysed process.

I let go of all that thinking and I started to pay attention to the feeling, not the thought.  It has not always been apparent or logical, but that is the point, it has been intuitive and it has helped make sense of my world and my place in the larger picture.

I turned my attention to the invisible, to the microbes which live inside me.   You see I need them more than they need me and that takes care of a lot of the chaos the ego creates!  I am merely their host, and if I am not available for rent, well they will clearly take up residence somewhere else.  However a home without them is a barren place, missing the diversity of chitter chatter that keeps us alive.  Understanding this is key to inviting them in.

My life used to look a bit like this:

Young, ambitious, artificially blonde, still a dreamer, working in the arts, catching the wind.  I have always operated from great intention, but often without strategy or much guidance.  Intuitive thoughts and a chance meeting led to co-ordinating an epic show for the Opening Ceremony of The Special Olympics, Ireland.  A highlight from another life ago.

A spontaneous trip down under brought me to my ‘family’ on the other side of the world and a new perspective of life’s offerings.

 

A matter of timing co-ordinated the meeting of the man who is now my husband and the father of my children.

Today life looks a little different defined by motherhood, awakened by a new need to learn and, as it happens for most, a chance to reflect on ones own upbringing.

They say when you become a parent you meet yourself as a child.  You view your own parents with new regard and suddenly your own early years are in sharp focus.

My intuitive acceptance of my invisible friends has made complete sense of me.  My upbringing had me primed for them to move right in.

With great intentions and strategic logic, my father wished for me to inherit his pharmacy.  A kind thought, which would undoubtedly have lead to a financially comfortable but dissatisfied kinda life.  From the age of 13 I was in his ‘old school’ pharmacy at weekends and holidays. It was not a bright, shiny Boots experience, it was old, without much of the cosmetic additions and hinged on this desire to truly help people.  Half his pharmacy was a long line of chairs for people to sit and wait for his advice.  I was learning the ropes, dicphering the aliments and prescriptions solutions and translating the farmer’s speak as they requested worming doses or similar potions for their pigs.  My dad had a potion for it all and I continued to ponder on why the hell everyone was so sick.   I remember the long days, standing from 9-5 looking busy.  It was WORK.

I would hang by with mother of an evening, eager to help in the kitchen and continually impressed that everyday, day in and day out, she would have dinner on the table, an epic feast of wholesome portions.  She taught me the five mother sauces of cuisine amongst other things like the wonders of whipping egg whites, allowing me to free style sometimes with culinary experiments for the family.

“An extravagant cook” she used to say which I choose to interpret as a compliment.  I know she meant otherwise as I freestyled, but with a good Roux, what can go wrong?  

For me it meant I  had an imagination.

Jeez, it is the occasional gripe which raises its head in my marriage, that my love of cooking has to be exercised daily to feed the family!

Today my life looks like this.  A published author, launched into the fascinating and competitive world of the culinary arts guided by my intuition and a desire to make food as medicine.

Like I need the microbes, my children need me to set them up for their life ahead, offering them safe place to grow, learn and be nourished.  All of it instinctive, most of the time requiring vast amounts of perseverance and half of the time hard work.  That laundry pile brings out my dark shadow, there is actually nothing more dull than putting away the clothes!  The dreaming of those days of  independence, that fantasy BOOK TOUR, the chance of a chefs’ stage in a michelin star restaurant, to even flirting with the notion of opening my own establishment are currently all rudely grounded mid-thought by having to rush a five year old to the toilet. But like music to my ears, they say things like  ‘fermentation’ and joke about kimchi in funny accents. And they talk about probiotics & the good bugs, weighing up the food they eat as a good thing for the bugs or something they might have to ration.

I am proud.

“The bacteria make me do it”

The engaged process of creating fermented foods is my meditation, keeping me aligned.

They have made sense of my life and the decisions I make.

It is all a thought on the wind and when the logical mind is applied, fear could easily blanket the dreaming and halt any of these seemingly crazy decisions.

This summer we head to Portugal, en famille,  a notion from nowhere, but intuition.

I have a good feeling about this one, my gut tells me so.  The trip is peppered with retreats and workshops, allowing me to transport the bacteria, allowing them to spread their joy.  This allows us to engage with new people and experiences offering a diversity which keeps life sweet.

The Bacteria make me do it.

So here’s the facts:

  1. You have about 90 trillion bacteria in your microbiome. You only have 7 trillion cells – they outnumber you 13 to one!
  2. They have 75,000 genes to your 25,000. They make three times more messages – proteins, RNA and so on – and you cannot live without them.
  3. Your microbiome gets ill first, then you get ill. And, you cannot get better fully until it get´s better fully.
  4. It gets ill? It loses volume and diversity. A healthy microbiome can have 800 or more species of bacteria, including the one you picked up when, as a 1 year-old, you touched the neighbour´s dog and put your fingers in your mouth, or in my case, picking chewing gum off the road and eating it!
  5. But take drugs or antibiotics, or smoke, drink too much alcohol, eat too much sugar or processed foods, become overly stressed and some of the good guys  will die. The pathogens will come out to play.
  6. There are thought to be somewhere between 4,500,000 and 5 million different types of bacteria on this planet.  We are surrounded by them.

Around 4,000 have so far been identified by scientists.  These include the dangerous ones that cause illnesses such as Typhus and Cholera, certain E. coli strains, strains that produce the toxin Botulinum, varieties that infect NHS hospitals, SalmonellaListeria and other bacteria, amoeba variants and even yeasts like Candida.  They cause disease, infections like tonsillitis, thrush, and severe chest ailments whilst others like Helicobacter pylori are linked to stomach ulcers and even cancer.  They can invade our cuts and our wounds causing fever, even death.

Right now, you have them on your skin, in your eyes and ears.

There are more bacteria on your tongue than there are people living in the world.  For too long we have seen them as scary, horrible and clearly here to attack us.

Roughly 400 species of bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines have been identified.  Probably there are really more than double that number found there but scientists have yet to isolate them all.  Some of these bacteria (e.g. bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) are beneficial to us, others are harmful and some may be positively dangerous.  The trick is to try to make sure the activities of the beneficial bacteria are dominant. If you have too few of the beneficial bacteria, then the result is more bad guys, more circulating bad guys, more disease and sadly less intuition.

Now you can appreciate that the bacteria make me do this!  Together, we have a job to do.

See you when we get back…..if we get back, or maybe even see you Portugal!

 

 

 


Eating the whole egg!

 

In all honesty, if it weren’t for eggs, I would be vegan.

I am quite particular about my eggs.  Having kept chickens (that’s them below!) for many years whilst living the rural life, they are a great feature of daily life and now that the domestic situation does not lend itself to this currently, I like to choose my eggs wisely.

 

This generally means they are more expensive and always organic.

With that in mind, I like to make sure that I am getting the most out of my foods, this goes across the board and I will always question if there is more nutrition to be gleaned than meets the eye!

My curiosity was aroused when I was occasionally feeding my kefir grains some egg shell, as a mineral boost.  Well if it is good enough for my bacterial friends, then it is good enough for me!  Egg shells are  are 95% calcium carbonate (incidentally, this is the main ingredient in an antacid to relieve heartburn, acid indigestion, and upset stomach) with one single egg shell containing around 2g of calcium.  In other words between two to four times our RDA.  Calcium has been shown to reduce pain and bone loss in women with senile osteoporosis

So next time your are breaking eggs, instead of throwing out valuable nutrition, boil up the shells firstly to remove any harmful bacteria. After the shells are nicely boiled, bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes with the temperature turned up to 90C/200F to dry them out.  They will grind nicely into a fine powder in a blender for long term storage and as a great source of calcium to add into various meals.

I love to add it into smoothies for the kids, along with a host of nutritionally potent powders such as maca, camu camu and Diatomaceous Earth.  Little do they know!

 

 

 

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring rock made from the skeletons of fossilized diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. When ground into a fine powder, diatomaceous earth works mechanically to destroy a wide range of pests, insects, parasites and pathogens by cutting through the exoskeleton, absorbing bodily fluids and causing them to die. Food grade diatomaceous earth is chemical-free and non toxic.

Diatomaceous earth has many uses including detoxification of the body — inside and out; protecting pets and livestock from parasites and insect infestation; and keep your yard and garden pest-free.

How to use it:

Add diatomaceous earth to your diet to detox parasites that can contribute to food intolerance, nausea, bowel discomfort, pain, itching, asthma, sinus infections, Morgellon’s disease, and a host of other allergic-type reactions.

DE detoxes mercury, cadmium, lead and other heavy metals; removes poisons from chemtrails, radiation and may alleviate the effects of GMOs. DE possesses antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties.

In addition to detoxing and destroying pathogens, diatomaceous earth helps to lower blood pressure and contributes to the production of collagen to improve skin tone, strengthening the tendons and joints.

To consume DE orally, start with half a teaspoon and work up to two heaping tablespoons. Mix thoroughly in four ounces of water. Drink immediately and follow with another eight ounces of water. Take on an empty stomach. Continue drinking water throughout the day, because DE can cause constipation.

Initially, you may experience a Herxhemier reaction, which can cause abdominal discomfort and flu-like symptoms. This is a normal response to detoxing, as parasites and pathogens die, releasing their toxins into your system for elimination. The symptoms disappear after a few days.


Something incredible is on offer

I cannot begin to express the rollercoaster of the past few months.  I am so grateful for all your feedback as you leaf through the pages of The Cultured Club, Fabulously Funky Ferments book.

Now what?  Suffice to say that is accounts for stretches of quiet interspersed with the joy of sharing.

I have been battling the standard-procedure of society, the suggestion that growth would mean following the normal business model.  I hear your requests, I feel frustrated I cannot meet your demand nor force a square peg into the big circle before me.

I have edged forward tentatively and realised my biggest enemy is FEAR and I am breaking those chains that keep me tied to the belief that I must do as others do.

I cannot help that I see the world from a different perspective, and although my thinking is indeed DIFFERENT, I see it as great possibility for change and the opportunity to reconnect a broken culture.

Something special is on offer: And it is based on SYMBIOSIS.

This is not about the model of business growth and projected sales, it is inspired by the direction of nature of these very foods and it if a focus of collaborating, of sharing, of helping, of togetherness and re-establishing community.

At this foundation it is about enabling and strengthening healthy and organic eating and making this as widely accessible and available as possible.

It is promoting a slower life and slow food, conscious consumerism and getting to know who is producing your food. The small farmer and the small producer are relevant to the whole chain of production, delivering something of value.

Food production is one of the basic fundamentals of our society. If we change our mindset, our eating habit and our way of consuming, we are creating a new market.

We are taking a bold step with a view to enable your community to have access to these wonderful foods and offering the opportunity to establish The Cultured Club, Fabulously Funky Ferments™ in your area.

WE are enabling you to start up as an independent food producer of the artisan, small batch w0nder foods, under the  trusted brand of The Cultured Club.

 

  • If you have a passion for Fermented foods.
  • If you believe in healthy eating and slow food
  • If you wish to service your community, build community and create inspired networks
  • If you wish to be part of an engaging movement and a fulfilling job
  • Whatever time you have to dedicate, get in touch and register your interest HERE

 

We will be launching ten licensing agreements as part of our pilot program in April 2017 and currently we are accepting expressions of interest.

I have been waiting to share this for some time, We are a Club after all.

Dearbhla x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tickled pink pancakes

Every year I have to remind myself of this tradition of eating pancakes on Pancake Tuesday.  Why do we do it again?  Somehow I feel I have a responsibility to give my children valid reasons to justify why we do certain things…….sometimes!

To be honest, in this case, it is just an excuse to get stuck into a stack of pancakes for dinner, who doesn’t love them?.

Traditionally Pancake Tuesday is a Christian custom marking the start of Lent, a period of time for fasting and all sorts of abstinence, so hence a day to use up food that could not be eaten during this time.

With the latter in mind, I often spy a jar of beet kvass in my pantry which I have decided needs using up TODAY.  What better way than throwing it at a pancake batter to give me a neon disc to complete my daily rainbow eating targets!

These are really worth the detour from the plain pancake batter, although in saying that there is no such thing anymore as a plain batter, because so many wonderful gluten free, paleo, dairy free options are within our kitchen repertoire now.

This one is made with buckwheat flour and it will be the basis of my lunch today.

I always go for savoury,it is personal choice every since I said goodbye to sugar BUT if sweet is your thing, I can imagine this served with a few shaving of cheese and a drizzle of honey would rival any pancake pile dripping in maple syrup.

 

Buckwheat Beet Pancakes

Makes 6-8 pancakes

Ingredients

  •  1 cup (240ml) beet kvass (beet juice can be used instead)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz/1⅓ cups (175g) buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • a little coconut oil, for frying

Suggested serving

  • hummus
  • cheese & honey
  • avocado & saurekraut
  • arugula & sprout
  • chimichurri
  • or simply, a squeeze of lemon juice

Method

1. Put the beet juice and eggs in a blender add the buckwheat flour, cumin, and salt and blend, then add olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to stand for about 15 minutes at room temperature to thicken slightly ( I left mine overnight and it was perfect consistency)

2. To cook the pancakes, heat a pan over a medium-high heat and rub a little coconut oil over the pan. Pour about ¼ cup (60ml) of the batter into the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until bubbles gradually pop over the surface of the pancake. Flip the pancake using a spatula and cook for a further 30 seconds before removing from the pan.

3. Repeat with the remaining batter using a little coconut oil each time and simply tuck in!

 

 

 


Cultured Butter

There are certain domestic achievements were you feel you are connected to a story.  A beautiful story of food and how it used be.

Some of these domestic moments have become regulars in the kitchen, as we buy less products yet have a fridge and pantry overflowing with delicious staples all made from scratch.

Butter is the latest to the list, as an abundance of cream  became cultured cream which then became cultured butter. (see the note below)

There is no comparison, NONE.  Bought butter and your own homemade butter are two completely different experiences.  Add a little culture in there and you are slipping back in time, when butter was the hug on the ancestral plate.

We are continually tweaking diets in search for the perfect way to get the most from our food but did you know that our vegetables need a little fat paired with them to help the body absorb valuable the nutrients found within?  In a salad this could be some olive oil or avocado based addition, but for the greener veg such as kale or chard which benefit from a gentle steam, I am thinking BUTTER…….probably with a generous garlic note.

 

To make CULTURED BUTTER first you want to  make cultured cream:

KEFIR SOUR CREAM

I love when you discover a shortcut in the kitchen and the precious ferment that you have been nurturing can perform another alchemic trick for you. Milk kefir is a living beverage teaming with good bacteria that can culture cream for you too, turning it into sour cream – it’s easy when you know how!

  • 1 litre double cream
  • 50ml milk kefir

1 Pour the cream into a clean 1-litre jar and inoculate with the kefir, mixing it well. Leave 2.5cm of headspace at the top of the jar. Close the lid and let this sit out and ferment overnight, then transfer to the fridge for up to one month.  Then with your cultured cream you can make cultured butter:

  • 500ml kefir sour cream
  •  250ml ice-cold filtered water

1 Sour your cream. Put half of it in a food processor and blend until it separates, then pour off the liquid. This is buttermilk, so set it aside and use it wherever buttermilk is called for in a recipe. The yellow solids that remain are the butter.

2 Pour some cold filtered water in with the butter and process again. This is called washing the butter. Pour off the water and discard it. At this point you can scoop your butter into an airtight container and store it in the fridge, but I prefer to go rustic and make rolls of wax paper. Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and spread the butter lengthways on it in a rough cylinder shape. Use the paper to roll the butter into a cylinder, then wrap it up in the paper and twist the ends. Chill until firm. To use, just slice off a disc of butter. It will keep for one month in the fridge.

 

I have had fun playing with butters.  We all know how to make garlic butter so why stop there?

I have added in kimchi.

I had added in avocado.

I have added in herbs

But this one has me.

It must appeal to my more “extravagant cook.”  The flavour profile is touching off every sense, now that I am collecting ingredients to venture into the world of Cafe du Paris butter, I guess I better find something other than a steak to plate it up with!

I have managed to sneak Chimichurri into a lot of places it has never been, similarily a garnish served with a steak in Argentina, so I am confident I will not be wasting my time on this one!

Ingredients

Butter
  • 1 pound, 5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ounce ketchup
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 ounce capers, rinsed
  • 2 ounces shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, snipped
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon madeira
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/4 Orange
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

For the Cafe du Paris butter
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter by hand or use an electric mixer set to slow speed, until it has a slightly creamy texture.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to the butter and beat again until all the ingredients are completely combined.
  3. Place a double thickness of foil, about 12 inches long, on a flat surface and line with a similar-sized piece of silicone paper. Spread half the butter along one of the foil edges and roll up to form a long sausage shape — roll it with your hands like a rolling pin to get a tidy shape and eliminate any air pockets. Twist the ends to seal. Repeat this process with the remaining butter. Place in the fridge to chill before use.
  4. To use, slice a ½ inch thick disc of butter and place on top of a grilled steak (or a steamed spud). Traditionally, the steak is placed back under a hot grill (broiler) to soften and brown the butter, but I don’t reckon you need to do this, just let it melt from the heat of the steak.
  5. The butter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for several months.

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Za’atar wha?

I love creating new flavours in my krauts, so it seemed a natural progression to include another kitchen love into the mix:  spice blends.

The joy of creating a spice blend not only fills my kitchen with a beautiful aroma, but having a little stash prepared means spicing up a simple dish is easy, fast and full of flavour.

For sometime now I have been making a Za’atar Kraut, and every time I list it, customers always raise the brow.

Za’atar what?

What’s that?

This unique spice blend is a staple in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years, so I appreciate that unless you are an adventurous cook, you may not have encountered it.

The primary ingredients of a za’atar are thyme (oregano or marjoram may be used instead), sesame seeds, and sumac, a type of bright, red berry that grows on bushes in the Middle East.  Sumac has a tangy, lemony flavor that adds a hint of sour. Za’atar’s combination of thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac results in a spice blend that is nutty, tangy, herbal, and very versatile.  It is just as good as my other favourite Dukkah

Add this spice blend flavor to meat and vegetables or sprinkle it over bread with some olive oil.  Stir it into soups or yogurt or add to your favourite dips.  I am thinking any kind of hummus, baba ghanoush, or tzatziki.

Better still, mix it into your sauerkraut and let the flavour infuse!

 

To make your own stash combine:

2 tbsps sumac,

2 tbsps thyme (rosemary/oregano/marjoram options)

2 tbsps sesame seeds (I prefer to toast the seeds).

Cover the spice jar, shake it up, and store in a cool, dark place.

 

So the next time I say Za’atar Kraut, you can say “Yes, Please!”


Catch your breath

Asthma is primarily an allergic disease — the immune system reacts with inflammation and airway constriction to factors in the environment (pollen, bacteria, viruses, molds, dust, proteins) that it has become sensitized to.

5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma:

1.1 million children (1 in 11)

and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12)

It is a pretty sobering thought considering how lethal it can be if an attack is not managed and I was not happy at all when in 2004, as I turned 28 years of age, I was landed with a diagnosis which left me feeling like the weak, wheezing, vulnerable kid in the playground.

Through a series of seemingly unrelated incidents which started with taking an aspirin, I was diagnosed as a full blown asthmatic.  I was in serious trouble if I forgot my inhaler and there were times when the inhaler simply didn’t hit the spot and I would have to seek the nearest doctors surgery for a go on their nebuliser.

From seemingly full health to a managed asthma plan, I loaded up on a serious stock of inhalers (thanks to my fathers line of business!) and a determination that it didn’t have to take over my life.

I was one of 5.4 million people so I was not alone!

But then something very strange happened.

In 2012 I was on a nutritional quest which had followed two intuitive protocols:

  1. I had removed bread from my diet, plus all simple carbohydrates
  2. and I fully implemented the regular consumption of fermented foods into my daily diet.

Kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut of all sorts, kombucha, kvass, traditional probiotic drinks, all in shifting combinations, offering a huge diversity of healthy bacteria.

Quite soon after I noticed that the occurrence of asthma attacks were lessening.   I would find myself in the trigger situations and there was no reaction.  The fear and panic at the thought of going away without taking my inhaler became a blasé affair. The normal irritants could be managed with deep relaxed breathing.

Yesterday (Feb 1st) was Imbolc, a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring, whilst this is more a symbolic suggestion, it actually felt decidedly wintry.  It is a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. A Spring clean is often customary and well, this is always a work in progress chez moi.

 

In fact this was a classic trigger as house dust would set me off regularly and whilst my cleaning skills leads towards the dust accumulating this too is no longer a problem.

However, yesterday I came across a remnant of my past.  My little magic box of life saving inhalers which came everywhere with me.  Brown ones, many blue ones, a chamber apparatus which would deliver an smooth blast, a little torch for emergency night time flairs and an old photo of asthmatic me, circa 2004!

I have to say that coming across this little memory box has been a reminder of how far one can come and how much can heal.

Whilst I cannot claim that the correlation between fermented foods and my lack of asthma are related, the evidence would suggest that this is MY case. My identity of being an asthmatic is now making its way to the bin as these inhalers all expired in 2012/2013  funnily enough- the last time I took a puff!

We all appreciate a good scientific study to gather the evidence and clearly present the case, as we have appreciated viewing the recent BBC 2  screening of Trust me I am a doctor (Episode 1, Series 6).  This was a delightful episode which focussed on my favourite topic of homemade fermented foods and their bacterial benefits.

The lungs and the gut may seem relatively unrelated, unconnected and understudied for this to hold its weight at a science conference, but all I can offer you is my personal story, an intuitive experiment with outstandingly positive results, asthma free!

Join me for a full sensory investigation into these foods and meet you micobres at one of our courses:

https://www.theculturedclub.com/project/the-sunday-sessions/

 

#guthealth #asthma #probiotics #kimchi #kefir #saurekraut #kombucha #goodbacteria #microbiome #theculturedclubbook

 

 

 

 

 


New Year, New Growth

Lose weight, detox, quit smoking, give up drinking, get fit, spend time with friends, learn something new, enjoy every moment, reduce stress…….empty promises and more stress.

After the imposed hectic nature of Christmas we continue to put pressure on ourselves as the new year rolls in.  We have indulged, and now we must be punished with new diets and a new look.  It is just the first week, where is  the time to just relax?

This year I sat back and observed.  I clocked off work a week before Christmas and dropped right into winter mode: being cosy, resting, making super nourishing food, eatings lots of the aforementioned food and making a few gifts of choice to share the seasonal love. It was my own personal RETREAT and  I made a promise that I would remain in this mode until the winter holidays were completely over and the first week of the new year had passed and the children back to school.

I must admit that to remain on holiday and truly rest has not been easy. There have been plenty of walks which have inspired great thoughts.  However the tsumani of new year enthusiasm drowned me in a wave of guilt.  My fault for swimming into the tide of social media.

 

New years resolutions have never worked for me.  I don’t believe in overnight transformation.  A slow organic shift of thought and action is more sustainable.  I see that as more of a year long project.  All that and a well stocked pantry and you are set for successful meander to reach your goal.

To take the stress out of dietary goals I have learnt to keep things relatively simple.  I follow plate advice from leading nutrition experts such as Robert Verkerk at the Alliance for Natural Health, choosing whole foods simply prepared (with love of course) and flavour loaded with an ALIVE fermented note and a side of the many previously prepped condiments or spice blends.  I have one fridge solely dedicated to ferments and such condiments as pestos, tapenade, mayos etc

A light meal could be as easy as a generous portions of greens, marinated, steamed or sautéed, with a small portion of starchy veg, such as sweet potato paired divinely with The Cultured Clubs favourite miso mayo.  Or a bed of salad with a poached egg, some avocado topped with this lush dukkah.

But here is your new year addiction: The nutrient-dense authentic Argentinian chimichurri!!!!!!!

Best to have healthy addictions than punitive promises.

I CANNOT GET ENOUGH CHIMICHURRI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar/kombucha vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor/blender and pulse until smooth. If you need to add more oil, add a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Reserve sauce in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Having nutrient dense food available to you makes any mental shift a hell of a lot easier.  Nourishing the body wakens the mind allowing for thoughts made up of positive energy.  There is a direct connection between your mental state and what you have just ate, however no amount of nutrition and healthy eating will benefit you if you are stressed.  The chimicurri is made and I am off to nurture perfecting my positive thoughts for  2017.
Work starts back tomorrow, stress-free, rested and relaxed.
There are workshops and collaborations to be planned, some exciting developments to be prepared  and more bacteria to be made and shared.  I Look forward to seeing you along the way in 2017

 

#Zenwishlist2017

  1. Let go of grudges
  2. Treat everyone with kindness
  3. Regard your problems as challenges
  4. Express gratitude for what you have
  5. Dream BIG
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  7. Speak well of others
  8. Avoid making excuses
  9. Live in the present
  10. Wake up the same time every morning
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others
  12. Surround yourself with positive people
  13. Realise you don’t need approval
  14. Take time to listen
  15. Nurture social relationships
  16. Meditate
  17. Excercise
  18. Live minimally
  19. Establish personal control
  20. Accept what cannot be changed

 


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About

The Cultured Club is dedicated to reviving this lost tradition and bringing the control of our health into our own kitchens.
'Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food' is a hard philosophy to live by when we are so removed from the food we eat.

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