21 June 2016

Three-Cheese Baked Ziti with Homemade Alfredo Sauce

100_7480This is comfort food, y'all.  It's rich.  It's heavy.  It's creamy.  It's cheesy.  What more could you want?

The original recipe came from Southern Living's Dinner in a Dish.  It calls for a whole pound of pasta, and everything is baked in a 9-x13-inch pan (resulting in 8-10 servings).  I cut the amount of pasta in half, and baked all in a 7-x9-inch glass casserole dish.  So if you prefer more pasta than sauce, go the way of Southern Living.  My desired pasta-to-sauce ratio will always be heavy on the sauce side.

I'm not a big fan of grocery store Alfredo sauce.  Maybe I just haven't tasted the right brand.  Who knows? Well, I may never know since I found Dawn's recipe for Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce.  It is scrumptious.  And easy.  (I don't do anything "quick" in the kitchen, so can't vouch for that.) Dawn says, "The secret is cream cheese!" -- I believe her.

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A pot of water takes absolutely forever to boil on top of my RV gas stove, so I try to get that started first thing.  Then I make the Alfredo sauce.  After those two are done, I make the other filling and transfer all to the casserole dish.  Bake until things are bubbly and starting to brown on top.  Serve with a side salad and a thick slice of French or garlic (or both!) bread, and you have a satisfying meatless meal.

For the Alfredo sauce:  Melt a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese and 2 teaspoons garlic powder, stirring with wire whisk until smooth. Add 2 cups milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out lumps.  Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan (I use the kind often found on the pasta aisle) and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I eyeball it; probably use more). Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency (I usually let it thicken a bit).  Try not to drink it.

Three-Cheese Baked Ziti

100_7482Adapted from "Three-Cheese Baked Pasta" in Southern Living's Dinner in a Dish.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dried ziti pasta (penne or rigatoni could also be used)
  • a batch of Dawn's Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce (recipe above or here)
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 lg egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup dried parsley
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Stir sour cream into Alfredo sauce. Toss with pasta. Spoon half of pasta mixture into a lightly buttered 7-x9-inch casserole dish.
  3. Stir together ricotta cheese, beaten egg, grated Parmesan, and parsley. Spread evenly over pasta mixture in casserole dish.
  4. Spoon remaining pasta evenly over ricotta cheese layer. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until set, bubbly, and starting to brown.

Yield: about 6 servings

Enjoy!

Shared at Making a Home Linky, This is How We Roll, Thrifty Thursday, From the Farm, and Happiness is Homemade.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs happy.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

17 June 2016

Don't Fret! says Psalms 37 (Finding Faith Friday)

100_7905Life for me is pretty peaceful right now.  I am happy and content.  Yet, I know at times I can be a worrier.  Even though I've been telling myself to "give it to God" for years (and years), some days are better than others.  So this morning's devotional spoke strongly to me.  Strongly enough I knew almost immediately this post would be written.

I suppose worrying is not all bad.  If it gets you and me up off our respective rear ends to correct something that is within our control, good.  But I think we all know that's not what I'm writing about.

Before I go further, it should be noted that making the decision not to fret, does not mean those (some valid, some probably not) concerns magically disappear.  If I were to allow myself, I could list numerous worries, and get myself all wound up, in under 30 seconds.  Unfortunately, I cannot turn off that woe is me feeling in the same 30 seconds.  So I try not to go there.  Not fretting is a choice.

The devotional I was reading this morning is part of a short series called "Fully Satisfied In His Love" by Thistlebend Ministries.  A portion of it was focused on the promises made in Psalms 37:3-7.  An oft quoted verse is found in this passage (verse 4, KJV):

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Without typing out each verse, you can see the kinds of promises being made in this passage of Psalms.  What my attention was drawn to is found as verse 7:

Rest in (be silent to) the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself
because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man
who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

This one sparked me to go back and read the whole chapter, so I put down the kindle and opened up the Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible (NKJV), as well as the almost-as-old-as-I-am King James Bible given to me by my grandparents.  (Can you tell I was a highlighting junkie when I was younger?)

100_7906

Some preacher teachers (not intended to be a derogatory term) use this passage to speak on jealousy.  In general.  Like, you shouldn't be upset when your neighbor gets a new car.  As Charles Stanley wrote,

Jealousy…can poison good relationships, ruin our witness, and keep us from experiencing God's blessings.

And I believe he's right.  I also think Psalms 37 is more than that.  Just look at verses 1 and 2 (emphasis mine):

1. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

More than the jealousy you might have toward your neighbor and his/her new car, right? I love what Matthew Henry had to say.  Bear with me, as he's a bit wordy.

We are here cautioned against discontent at the prosperity and success of evil-doers… Now, 1. When we look abroad we see the world full of evil-doers and workers of iniquity, that flourish and prosper, that have what they will and do what they will, that live in ease and pomp themselves and have power in their hands to do mischief to those about them. So it was in David’s time; and therefore, if it is so still, let us not marvel at the matter, as though it were some new or strange thing. 2. When we look within we find ourselves tempted to fret at this, and to be envious against these scandals and burdens, these blemishes and common nuisances, of this earth. We are apt to fret at God, as if he were unkind to the world and unkind to his church in permitting such men to live, and prosper, and prevail, as they do. We are apt to fret ourselves with vexation at their success in their evil projects. We are apt to envy them the liberty they take in getting wealth, and perhaps by unlawful means, and in the indulgence of their lusts, and to wish that we could shake off the restraints of conscience and do so too… Yet that is not all; for, 3. When we look forward with an eye of faith we shall see no reason to envy wicked people their prosperity, for their ruin is at the door and they are ripening apace for it… The flourishing of a godly man is like that of a fruitful tree, but that of the wicked man is like grass and herbs, which are very short-lived.  They will soon wither of themselves. Outward prosperity is a fading thing, and so is the life itself to which it is confined.  They will sooner be cut down by the judgments of God. Their triumphing is short, but their weeping and wailing will be everlasting.

To be honest, I really don't like the terms envious and/or jealous in this context.  How dare anyone say I am envious of the drug dealers (illegal or "legal") that conduct an immoral, crime-filled business! Right? But don't get hung up on that.  Have you ever thought it unfair these people profit (greatly!) from their deeds? And wondered why they profit (greatly!) while the God-fearing, law abiding citizens struggle to make ends meet? That is the area where we are being told to fret not.

And I dare say this can be applied on any scale.  Going back to the seemingly mundane, mentioned earlier, of course.  And all the way to the terrorism that threatens and desires to take over the world today.  Again, we would never say we are envious of them.  Yet, it's not "fair" the power they seem to hold.  And, it's not "fair" the millions of dollars funneled into their cause from outside sources.

But fret not.

12. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.

13. The Lord shall laugh at him: for He seeth that his day is coming.

Fret not.

14. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.

15.  Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

Fret not.

35.  I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.

36.  Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.

The loss of life is gut wrenching and heart breaking.  I do not think we should live in la-la land, waiting on God to rid the world of evil.  I believe we are to stand with Him and confront it.  I believe we should be mindful and watchful, protecting our physical selves.  And I also believe we should guard our hearts.  It is in this vein, where I will decide to fret not.

Shared at Faith Filled Friday, Chain Linky Climb, and Tuesdays with a Twist.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs happy.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

16 June 2016

Ham & Pineapple Pasta Salad Recipe

100_7818I've been trying quite a few new recipes of late.  Until just a few months ago, I didn't cook.  (True story!) But it's a skill I want to get better at, and it's been said practice makes perfect.

When I first began gathering recipes, I hit a lucky streak.  Either the recipe was delicious as is, or I at least knew what I could do to make it more to our liking.  Recently, however, that luck has gone.  It seems everything I've tried has either been ho hum or plain ol' yuck.  Frustration has set in – I'm ill from wasting money, and tired of eating stuff I don't want so as to not waste more money.

Ever been there?

Enter this simple, seemingly modest pasta salad with a classic flavor combination, and a base of only four ingredients:  ham, pineapple, green onion, and macaroni.

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I'll bet that caused a mixed reaction.  Some of you might think I'm just plain crazy, and others are on the side of ho hum.  Please allow me to finish.  I haven't told you about the dressing, yet.

The sweet, yet sour, and oddly creamy – more like a sauce – dressing.  It takes this pasta salad from um, ok to wow.  Jack. Pot.

100_7817

There are a few more ingredients needed for the dressing, but nothing too crazy – mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  You just might have all that in your fridge and pantry right now.

100_7820You really ought to try this maybe weird concoction.  I can eat it all alone for a meal.  We even ate it as a side dish with barbecued pork chops and zucchini patties.  Regardless of how we ate it, two adults finished the bowlful in 24 hours.

Here's how to make it.

Ham & Pineapple Pasta Salad

Adapted from The Recipe Critic.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. dry elbow macaroni
  • 1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks (in juice, not syrup), drained -- reserve juice for dressing!
  • 2 cups cubed ham
  • 3/4 to 1 cup green onion (green parts), sliced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Rinse in cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pasta, pineapple chunks, cubed ham, and green onion slices. (I used 3/4 cup green onion, then went back and added more.)
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and reserved pineapple juice. (I needed more juice to combat the cider vinegar, so start with a 1/2 cup and taste.)
  4. Pour over pasta and combine.
  5. Try not to eat it all in one sitting!

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

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Shared at Thrifty Thursday, From the Farm, Happiness is Homemade, and Tasty Tuesdays.

Hope you find it as tasty as we did. From my mountaintop to yours,

09 June 2016

Blueberry Butter & My First Attempt at Canning #tbt (Throwback Thursday)

Here's a little something I wrote almost three years ago. This was well before the RV and move to the mountains, but blueberry butter is something I still adore. Have some in the fridge right now!


Though sometimes my stage in life doesn't permit me to be zealous about it, I am hugely into preservation. I want to preserve the past, I want to preserve cemeteries, I want to preserve the earth, and I want to preserve food. ;-) Why not, right? I've actually been wanting to get into canning for a very long time -- years. Remember, though, I am so NOT into cooking the savory. I'm all about the sweet stuff. So butters, jams, jellies, and the like are right up my alley.

I've hesitated with these delectables in the past mainly because I thought it was time-consuming and a little silly when there are just two people in the house. Even though both of those reasons are nonsense, I feel better about it when partnering the process with canning.

Since I've been doing a ton of reading on the subject, I've become mildly obsessed with the Food in Jars blog. And that is where I found my first recipe -- Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter. (That just sounds awesome, doesn't it?)

I was a little nervous about waste if I screwed something up, so I made a very small batch, beginning with 3 pints of pureed blueberries.

Marisa (at FiJ) wrote about leaving the blueberries in her slow cooker for five hours on low, then notching it up to high for the sixth. I have a 1.5 quart Crock Pot that has only one setting (supposedly low), and it worked just fine. I did have my butter in for a total of seven hours, though.

After five hours, I added the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg (just halving her recipe). I did zest a whole lemon like she put in her full batch.


I'm not sure I can express how delicious this stuff is. I thought the blueberries alone were pretty tasty, but the nutmeg and lemon are standouts that make it divine. I've had it with my toast every morning since.


How did I fair with the canning process, you ask? Very well, thank-you! I literally had only one pint jar to go with, but I got my experience. I have a Ball Canning Discovery kit that had been sitting in my pantry for at least a year. It comes with a basket that I used with my deepest pasta pot -- about seven inches. Right away I could tell that was pushing it in depth, but I pressed on with fingers crossed.

After processing for ten minutes, I set the jar on the table anticipating the "ping"! Twenty-four hours later I tested the seal. The lid was firm when pressed, no movement at all. And I could lift my jar by the lid alone without worry of it coming off and spilling my beautiful blueberry butter. Success!


Shared at Thrifty Thursday, This Is How We Roll, Chain Linky Climb, Happiness is Homemade, Tuesdays with a Twist, and From the Farm.

I was featured!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs happy.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

08 June 2016

For the Love of Carbonation III: Fruit Infused Honey

100_7381The final installment of For the Love of Carbonation is here! (Part one is there.)

I mentioned yesterday, I have a Soda Stream.  I bought it originally, a few years ago, to save money.  (I already confessed my soda addiction.) Truth be told, I never calculated the cost per glass.  But I was drinking so much soda, that it didn't seem like I was saving any money.

When I decided I wanted to quit drinking soda to improve my health, I considered getting rid of the carbonator.  But before that happened, I stumbled on to homemade soda syrups.  Well, I figured this was the answer.  So I started a Pinterest board, of course! Some of the recipes, I think, are overly complicated.  The best advice I read was to make a flavored simple syrup to add to your carbonated water.  Simple syrups are easy (I shared one for vanilla not that long ago) and customizable.  The only caveat is in how much you require to flavor your soda water.  If it's a lot, then you're still ingesting a lot of sugar.  I do believe it's better than traditional sodas you typically buy at the grocery store, but moderation is still important.

sodastreamboast

Even more time passed before I took my decision to stop drinking soda to a serious level.  When I finally did, this is one of the routes I took – using fruit infused honey to flavor my soda stream water.  Moderation is still required, too much honey is still too much sugar.  But if you use real, raw honey, you are actually getting some benefits from the syrup in your soda water.

I apologize for not having pictures for this recipe / process.  I fell down on that job, but didn't realize it until I sat down to pen this post.  So sorry.

But it's easy! I'll share my favorite recipe thus far:  lemon and ginger infused honey (and a place you can go to see lots of pictures).

Want to make a mean ginger ale?
Combine 1 cup finely chopped ginger (you might want to peel if not organic), the zest and juice of 2 lemons, and 1/2 cup raw honey in a pint mason jar (or similar container).  Stir well and allow to sit covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  Strain out all solids.  Stores in refrigerator for up to a month.

Shrub and Syrup-001

I use 2-3 tablespoons per 16 oz. soda stream water.  De-licious! I encourage you to visit The Yummy Life.  Monica has at least 8 different Natural Fruit & Herb Honey Syrups waiting for your perusal (with pictures).

That's it for the series! Three ways I've made a fizzy beverage at home to help combat my soda addiction.

I hope one or more of these work for you!

Shared at Chain Linky Climb and Tuesdays with a Twist.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs happy.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

From my mountaintop to yours,

07 June 2016

For the Love of Carbonation II: Fruit Flavored Vinegars

100_7381We'll continue on with the Love of Carbonation series – read part one here - with shrubs (fruit flavored vinegars).  Now I'll admit, I've only made a shrub twice, one cooked and one cold processed.  The cold processed recipe is a simple 1:1 ratio, so I'm confident sharing it here.

What are shrubs?
They've been around for centuries.  From Wikipedia:

The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America. By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit — traditionally berries — which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterward the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails. Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration.

I actually wrote about my first attempt at the cooked version of a strawberry shrub way back when this blog was first started, using a recipe from Canning Across America.

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100_7581This cold processed version of the same strawberry flavor is even simpler.  The ingredients are strawberries, organic cane sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  Use any amount you want, as long as it's a 1:1 ratio (the same amount of each ingredient – I used a cup of each).  First, half or quarter your clean strawberries.  Place them in a bowl and muddle or mash them just a little to get the juices running.  Mix in the organic cane sugar.  Cover bowl as is and place in refrigerator.  I'm space poor, so I transferred the mixture to a pint mason jar.  Keep in mind, you want to be able to stir this around every so often over a 48 hour period.  So do what's convenient.

After a couple of days, strain the mixture to remove the strawberries.  If you were using a bowl, now is the time to transfer to a container you can pick up and shake.  Be sure to mash the strawberries more, if necessary, to get all the juice out.  Also, scrape any sugar left behind into the container with the juicy syrup.  (Eat the strawberries!)

Mix in the apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg).  Shake to dissolve sugar.  Put back into the refrigerator and let sit, shaking every so often to further dissolve the sugar.  All should be dissolved, and the shrub ready to use, in about a week.

You'll end up with a sweet and sour concoction to add to your beverages.  Mix two to three tablespoons per 16 oz. seltzer water.  (I use a Soda Stream to carbonate water.) How much flavored vinegar you add is really to personal taste.

Shrub and Syrup

Part three tomorrow!

Shared at Making a Home, Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist, You're Gonna Love It, and Chain Linky Climb.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs happy.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

From my mountaintop to yours,

06 June 2016

For the Love of Carbonation I: Water Kefir (What Works for Me)

100_7381I have an addiction.  To soda.

But not for much longer! I have been able to cut my soda intake waaay down.  And to be quite honest, the number one reason for that is having the will power not to buy it.  Simple, right? (Not.) Anyone that gets a severe craving (don't we all from time to time?) knows will power sometimes needs a little help.

So I'm going to share a three-part series of posts detailing what I have been able to use in place of soda to combat my cravings.  I've titled the series For the Love of Carbonation because that is one of the top things I miss when trying to replace soda with another beverage.  The other is sugar, but that can be a whole other dragon to slay.  The replacements I'm going to share, however, do all have sweeteners.  They are just of the natural variety.

100_7199First up, is water kefir.  Don't worry, you are not about to endure a lengthy dissertation on this beneficial beverage.  I'll leave that to others who are far more intelligent than I on the subject.  Basically, water kefir is a symbiotic colony (or culture) of bacteria and yeast that ferment a certain liquid (usually sugar water).  The scoby is in the form of "grains," the word used for describing the look of the culture.  Ingesting this fermentation adds to the good bacteria in your body (it's probiotic).

And that's all I have to say about that.

Oh! One more thing.  I think the proper pronunciation is keh-FEER, but I always say KEE-fur.  So if you ever hear me do that, feel free to laugh.

Water kefir is real easy to get started, but I'm going to try not to take up too much space (we'll see) with the process.  Just a quick rundown with a few added things I learned along the way.

When you first get water kefir grains, they will likely need to be rehydrated.  Soak them in water for 3-5 days.  After that's done, get the ball rolling by adding 1/4 cup organic cane sugar to a quart size mason jar, or similar vessel.  (I've read that plastic might be ok, but glass is usually recommended.) Add enough warm water to cover the sugar and stir to dissolve.  Fill up the jar the rest of the way with cool water.  (I use filtered water.) Add your rehydrated kefir grains, and top it off with half a lemon.  Loosely cover the top of the jar so air can get in, but bugs can't.  I use a coffee filter held down with a rubber band.

About that lemon.  I honestly don't know if it's "necessary" or not.  From what I've read, the lemon helps with the pH balance.  It took a while for my grains to get started even after the rehydration period.  I'll bet I brewed at least four batches before I could tell things were really happening, and I initially began with nothing more than sugar water.  In my opinion, the lemon seemed to help.  Now that things are established, I don't need the lemon.  Or the warm water.  I dissolve the sugar in water from the previous single fermented batch.  Take that experience for whatever it's worth.

The average time advised for the first ferment is 48 hours.  Temperature plays a role in that, though.  Warmer = quicker.  I learned to tell when mine was done (in addition to a "cloudy" appearance) by noticing whether or not all the sugar was gone.  If I strained out my grains too soon, I would see a bit of residue left in the bottom of the jar.  Waiting just one extra day would "clean up" the rest of that sugar.  But remember! No sugar means no food for your grains.  Leave them too long like that, and they will starve.  With a bit of practice, you'll learn what's best for your taste.  I know I'm going to reintroduce sugar in the second ferment, so I try to let the grains eat it all in the first cycle.

Finally.  The second ferment.  For the love of carbonation.  This was the hardest thing for me to get down.  Now that I'm doing it, I don't know why it was so hard.  Here's my experience.

A lot of recipes I found for the second ferment said to simply add a 1/4 cup of fruit juice to the strained (grains removed) water kefir and place it into an air-tight bottle / container for an additional 24-48 hours.  But that didn't work for me.

Water Kefir-003

I tried it first in a standard lidded mason jar, even though it is not truly air tight.  I'm pretty cheap frugal, and didn't want to spend money on flip-top bottles when I have a load of mason jars all around me.  But I got little to no carbonation, so I broke down and bought a couple of those bottles.  That helped a bit, but not enough to my liking.

Water Kefir

Then I tried fresh fruit.  BINGO! It works fantastically.  I get serious bubble action, folks.  Highly effervescent, slightly stingy carbonation.

Water Kefir-001

And with the fresh fruit, I returned to the mason jar.  After a day or two, I strain the "finished" kefir and pour it into the flip-top bottles to store in the refrigerator, where the process continues at a slower pace.  This has turned into my best practice.  (I now consider the flip-top bottles worth the purchase.  I have two - I think 24 oz. each - bottles in rotation.)

Water Kefir-002

I've used strawberries, blueberries, apples, lemons, and pineapples.  I started adding dried spearmint on a whim, and now won't be without it.  I discovered that I'm not fond of the blueberries as flavoring by themselves, or in any mixture (though I adore them fresh and in baked goods).  And my favorite combination thus far is pineapple mint.

100_7692I have no strict recipes for the second ferment.  I just add whatever fruit I have on hand and mint.  I slice the strawberries, halve the lemons, and chunk apple or pineapple.  There are no rules.

Just remember to "burp" your concoctions at least once a day.  I haven't had an explosion, thankfully, but I have had overflows upon opening the flip-top bottles.  And I've had oozes using mason jars.

I know this wasn't a traditional how-to, but I hope it provides you with some tips and ideas for getting your second ferment of water kefir to a taste of your liking.  And maybe, if you're like me, it will help to cut down your intake of bad-for-you soda without having to give up the love of carbonation.

Stay tuned for parts two and three (they might be a bit shorter).  Sign up now to be notified of each new post by email.  You can also find and follow me on facebook and feedly. From my mountaintop to yours!

Shared at The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Monday of Many Blessings, Thank Goodness It's Monday, Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist, Chain Linky Climb, and From the Farm.



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs happy.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

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