Raspberry Kombucha
Raspberry Kombucha

While at lunch on day, a coworker had a bottle of Kombucha and I asked her for a small sample.  I loved it.  Honestly, if you don’t like sour, vinegary, tart, slightly fermented flavors, I suggest you discontinue reading this piece.

I like kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, sauerkraut, sour pickles, and other food items that can be made using fermentation.  In all sincerity, most of us know that these foods were once created by natural fermentation are now processed and produced in mass quantities. Food in general is not nearly as healthy as they used to be back in the day.

So, while at Fresh Market, my wife Cat and I picked up a few bottles of commercially prepared kombucha. One was a ginger flavored bottle and the other a cranberry flavored one.  The are especially good when cooled and very effervescent.  Probiotics are all the rage now and kombucha also called “booch” by enthusiasts and are rather easy to make.  There is a little bit of SCOBY at the bottom of most bottles.  A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture (or Community) Of Bacteria (beneficial, of course) and Yeast.

SCOBY – Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast

I recall, when making my last home brewed beer that I saw kombucha SCOBYs in the local brew supply shop.  They had them in a large jar stacked together. It`s called a SCOBY Hotel (no joke). So, I ventured down to the brew shop and asked to purchase one.  I later learned that purchasing a SCOBY of size is only necessary if you wanted quicker gratification in making your own.  You can start your SCOBY from a commercial jar of plain, raw Kombucha, some black tea, non-chlorinated water, and plain white sugar.

The proportions for making 1/2 Gallon of the sweet tea are:

  • 1/2 Gallon Non-Chlorinated Water
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 4-6 Bags of Black or Green Tea (or mix is fine)

I had already prepared a 1/2 gallon batch of sweetened tea which had cooled to room temperature.  I added the SCOBY to the tea which was in a 1/2 gallon pickle jar which I cleaned and rinsed in white vinegar.  I did not have any left over kombucha since this was my first batch, so I added about a 1/2 cup of vinegar.  When I got home, I simply poured the SCOBY and a little of the kombucha liquid into the room temperature tea.  I then took a coffee filter, placed it over the jar and secured it with a rubber band.  Then, I waited for 7 days.  The kombucha tea can sit and ferment for up to 30 days.  The longer you allow it to ferment, the stronger the vinegar taste and less sugar.

Ginger Ale on left, Cranberry Apple Kombucha, then Plain Kombucha on the right

Since this was my first brew, I waited only 8 days and bottled it in flip-top bottles. I made one bottle of plain unflavored kombucha and added about 1/2 cup of apple-cranberry juice to the other bottle.  These were 1/2 liter bottles.  I place to wait 1-2 weeks before refrigerating.

Here are the next batches of 1/2 gallon Kombucha brews:

Black and Green Kombucha Tea beginning their transformation


Hot Garlic Dill Pickles Heat Up

Hot garlic dill pickles have become an obsession. I use the same tried-and-true recipe with minor variations at times.  This small personal batch has been slightly perverted with the addition of the powdered cayenne being introduced directly to the jar and not in the vinegar solution.  Also, I added ghost peppers, scorpion peppers, habanero, big hot chilies, and tabasco peppers to the jar in addition to the usual cayenne  pepper flakes.  I have said in the past that “you can’t really get them too hot..”, but in the case of this run, I may change that statement.

I carefully chose the nicest peppers out of my dried collection from the garden.  Most of these are for cooking only.  They are really too hot to eat alone.  However, in the case of this fresh pack pickle batch, they will be working in a “hybrid” culinary culture.  They won’t be eaten. They will be infused with the cucumbers along with the dill and garlic.

In a few days, I’ll cool these down in the fridge and try a few out.  I’m excited to see if they are going to be as hot as I suspect they’ll be. Holy Hell Batman!!

“Get Down” Brown Ale – All Grain Recipe

BROWN ALE (All Grain)

Roasted malt, caramel-like and chocolate-like characters should be of medium intensity in both flavor and aroma. American-style brown ales have evident low to medium hop flavor and aroma and medium to high hop bitterness. The history of this style dates back to U.S. home brewers who were inspired by English-style brown ales and porters. It sits in flavor between those British styles and is more bitter than both.

9.5 lbs 2 Row
0.5 lbs. Chocolate 375 Lovibond Medium
1.00 lbs. Crystal 120 (Briess)
0.5 lbs. Aromatic Malt (Castle)

1.5 oz. Fuggle Hops (60 min)
(Save .5 oz for final 10 minutes)

YEAST: WLP001 California Ale

Saccharine Rest: 154° F for 60 minutes
Mash-out: 170° F for 10 minutes
1.5 oz. US Fuggle (at hot break)

O.G: 1.044-1.053 (actual 1.047)

Suggested fermentation schedule:
2-3 weeks primary fermenter or 2 weeks primary and 1 week after racking to secondary
2 weeks bottle conditioning

The “Original” BBQ Sauce Recipe

Salsa de Barbacoa

(Original Spanish BBQ Sauce brought to Mexico from Spain)

1/2 Cup of Fresh Lime Juice
2 Cloves Finely Minced Garlic
Chop up 1 Large Onion
1/4 LB Butter
2 Teaspoons Dry Mustard
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Can Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
Bay Leaf
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Marjoram Powder

1. Place Butter, Garlic, and Onion in pan and cook until tender
2. Add Lime Juice, Mustard, Salt, and Chili Powder
3. Add the Tomato Sauce, Water, broken Bay Leaf, Cumin, and Marjoram
4. Simmer for 5 minutes

This sauce can’t be easily verified, but regardless, it is still a very good sauce.


An Orchestra of Spices from Around the Globe


These spice groupings go well together and provide a framework to make improvised dishes. The groups represented here are basic, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Latin. These various spice groupings will turn simple rice and bean dishes, soups, or stews into flavorful meals.


sauteed onion
pepper lemon juice

olive oil
canola oil
peanut oil


bay leaf
brown mustard seeds
fresh or dried chilis

peanut oil


lemon juice
bay leaf
red wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar

olive oil


black pepper
bay leaf


soy sauce (tamari, shoyu)
rice or wine vinegar
Chinese five spice
chiles fresh or dried
black bean garlic sauce

sesame oil
peanut oil


chilies (a variety)

Smoky Hot Honey BBQ Sauce


1 Tbl Vegetable Oil
1/2 C Finely Minced Onion
1- 8 Oz Can Tomato Sauce
1/2 C Honey
2 Tbl Cider Vinegar
1 Clove Finely Minced Garlic
1 Tbl Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Tsp Ground Cayenne
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Chopped Smoked Ghost Pepper (Minced Very Fine – Use Gloves to Mince)


1. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion and garlic and sute on medium-high heat until onion is transparent.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes
3. Remove from heat

Makes 1 Cup

Cassoulet -Casserole Recipe from the South of France

This recipe originating from the south of France, is a combination of beans, smoked sausage, and vegetables that takes no special ingredients and tastes delicious!


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ pound smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 15-oz can of rinsed and dried kidney beans
  • 1 15-oz can of rinsed and dried white kidney beans (or Navy beans)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

When you begin, heat the oil in a large skillet, add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, then cook and stir for a few minutes until your onion is transparent. Next, add the sausage into the skillet and cook through until the meat has turned a golden brown.

Add the beans and tomatoes, and use the bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper as seasonings. Cover the top of the pan and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once everything is fully simmered, remove the bay leaves. Pair with a fresh salad and bread.

Tips Learned During the Great Depression

1. BUY LESS – Spending creates more spending. Sometimes it feels like the more you buy, the more you need. Spending less stops this cycle.

2. MAKE DO – flip side of buying less is to make do with what you have. That means getting creative with what you have already.

3. DIY – We’ve lost a lot of the skills we used to have. DIYing is a great way to gain back those skills. Learn to lay tiles or pavers, paint, hang pictures or doors.

4. MAKE YOUR OWN – Need a new table, bench, or set of shelves? Try your hand at making your own. Improvising for purpose also helps save money and creates utility.

5. REPAIR – It’s too easy (and often cheaper, unfortunately) to toss what’s broken and buy a new one. But if you can, repair instead of replace. It reduces landfill, which is also an important consideration.

6. MAINTAIN WHAT YOU HAVE – One of the most important ways to save money is to maintain what you own so that it lasts as long as possible. A maintenance schedule helps you keep track of maintenance tasks.

7. REPURPOSE REUSE –  In the past, nothing was thrown away, everything had a second or even third life. Bread bags can be used as freezer bags or garbage bags. Old clothes can use cut down into new clothes or used in quilting or in cut into rags (saving the buttons and zips of course). Containers, jars and boxes can be repurposed for storage.

8. DITCH DISPOSABLES – On the other hand, the first ‘R’ in the maxim is reduce, so it’s better to avoid than reuse or repurpose. Disposables force you to spend money on the same thing week in, week out. Reusable alternatives means you have a once of payment, saving you money over the years.

9. MEND CLOTHING – and make it last as long as possible.

10. SEW YOUR OWN – and if you make your own clothing, linen, bedspreads etc., you’ll be more likely to want to make it last as long as possible after putting in all that work.

11. BUY SECOND HAND – and save you money, reduce consumption and keep things out of landfill.

12. WEAR AN APRON – an apron will protect your clothes from stains, helping them to last longer.

13. LEARN A HANDICRAFT OR MORE – handicrafts make useful hobbies. Avoid boredom and end up with something useful as an end product.

14. INCLUDE HOME REMEDIES – I’m not against modern medicine, it’s a wonderful thing and we use it a lot. But there’s a place for home remedies too, and they can be just as effective as modern medicine or compliment modern medicine when it comes to symptoms management.

15. CLEAN NATURALLY – Natural, homemade cleaners are usually just as effective as chemical cleaners, but they are cheaper and reduce the toxic load in the home.

16. USE A HOT WATER BOTTLE – a cheaper way to warm the bed and stay warm in winter.

17. PUT ON A JUMPER – layer layer layer before turning on the heat.

18. SPEND MORE TIME OUTSIDE – too hot inside? Take your inside work outside and enjoy a cool breeze in the shade.

19. HAND WASH – rather than relying on the washing machine all the time.

20. WEAR CLOTHES MORE THAN ONCE – if the clothes aren’t dirty, wear them again before washing and reduce the number of washes you do.

21. WEEKLY WASH DAY – having a weekly wash day may seem a bit out-dated, but in a time when people wash towels and clothes every single day washing things like towels and linen weekly instead of daily will reduce your number of washes.

22. HANG CLOTHES TO DRY – instead of using the dryer. Raining? Here are some ways to dry clothes without a dryer.

23. BAKE WHEN THE OVEN IS ON – make the most of the oven and throw in a slice or some bickies while you’re baking something else.

24. HAVE A BAKING DAY – Ever read old books and they’ve always got a chocolate cake or some bickies in a tin in the pantry. That’s thanks to the weekly bake day. We have the benefit of being able to freeze our baking for later.

25. PRESERVE – Freeze fruit and vegetables or make jams and other preserves so that today’s harvest doesn’t go to waste and you can make the most of it out of season.

26. SAVE GREASE – and cook your food in the saved fat. Potatoes fried in bacon fat – cheap and delicious.

27. HAND WASH DISHES – washing in a dishwasher saves you water, but it can cost you a fortune in electricity. Instead, hand wash dishes in minimal water to save.

28. FORAGE – an almost forgotten skill, feed yourself for free with plants that grow around your neighbourhood (not the neighbours veggie patch, though). Just make sure you know how to identify plants before eating them.

29. SCRAPE THE LAST FROM THE JAR – a small rubber spatula is the perfect tool for this. Making jam milkshakes with the last bit in the jar is another alternative.

30. HAND MIX – or grate or chop. Use manpower and save.

31. COOK FROM SCRATCH – and eat healthy food that’s cheaper than processed and packaged food.

32. HEAD TO TAIL EATING – The most nutritious part of an animal is the organ meat and it’s cheap, but it’s rarely eaten. In the past, no part of the animal go wasted – from sheep’s head stew to making stock from the bones and sausages from the intestines.

33. DON’T BUY WHAT YOU CAN MAKE – yoghurt is a good example of this. It’s easy to make at home and costs a fraction of the price of store-bought.

34.MAKE SOAP – most soap from the supermarket is stripped of glycerine (the good stuff for your skin) and includes chemicals. Make your own better quality soap. If you use scraps, it will cost you next to nothing.

35. DRY YOUR SOAPS – Soap, whether hand made or purchased, will last longer if it has been dried. Place your soap in your clothes cupboard to dry out, give your clothes a nice smell and to ward of silverfish.

36. REUSE WRAPPING PAPER AND CARDS AND SCRAP PAPER – back to waste nothing. Save on wrapping presents by keeping and reusing wrapping paper and cards. Use junk mail as scrap paper and envelopes for the shopping list.

37. CURL YOUR HAIR WITH RAGS – instead of using a curling iron and save electricity.

38. SQUEEZE OUT THE LAST OF THE TOOTHPASTE – by rolling the tube to use up every last drop. Use a q-tip to get out the last of the lipstick. Cut open the shampoo bottle or add water to use the last drop of shampoo.

39. FLUSH LESS – If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down. Do I need to say more? A brick or a bottle of water in an old fashioned toilet will reduce the amount of water per flush, but if you have a modern toilet, this probably isn’t necessary.

40 SHOWER LESS – eww right? But why shower on days that you’ve spent all day lounging around at home? People haven’t always had (or needed) the luxury of showering every day. A sponge bath will save water and is sufficient to get clean on many days.

41. REUSABLE FEMALE HYGIENE PRODUCTS – thanks to modern updates, this doesn’t mean using rags every month. The Mooncup, for instance, is a better, healthier, more convenient alternative to disposable products and it saves you money.

42. USE THE LOCAL LIBRARY – the local library has so much more than just books. Watch DVDs, use the computers, borrow puzzles and board games, listen to music. And most importantly, use the books to learn new skills.

43. ENTERTAIN YOURSELF IN USEFUL WAYS – Useful hobbies like gardening, sewing, handicraft, woodwork, tinkering, DIY etc. will not only keep you entertained, they will make you happier and save you money.

44. FREE ENTERTAINMENT – Instead of spending time at the shops, cafes, theme parks or even in front of the TV or Xbox, frugal entertainment includes hanging with friends, picnics at the park, a day at the beach, playing board games, reading, telling stories.

45. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT – Getting involved in your local community is a great way to meet new people, be happier, give back to the community and enjoy yourself at the same time, without spending money.

46. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD – Even just a few herbs on a windowsill is a good start towards supplementing your budget with your own fresh produce. Organic food comes at a premium, but home grown organic food will save you money.

47. COMPOST – In the spirit of waste not, composting scraps to add to your veggie garden is the ultimate in recycling and saving money.