Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hotel Heaven

I love staying in hotels.  I have these little rituals and routines that I savor and save for hotel stays.  I know some people have a very negative view of hotels...they're all the same, dirty, substandard service, living out of a suitcase, smoky, bad mattresses, lumpy pillows, thin walls, cheap toiletries, noisy hallways, tacky decor, overheated or freezing cold...and the list goes on.  I've experienced probably all of those and more (once I was hit in the head so hard by a rowdy guest that it about knocked me silly...and I won't even go into the missionary stories!).  But when it's a decent hotel I'm booking into, I'm in heaven.

I am a project-oriented person, always on the go, never bored, but never really at rest either.  When I do sit down, say to watch a movie, I fold laundry, iron, or do some other project...recently, my recipe books.  But when I go to a hotel, I lounge, I leisure, I laze, and I love it.

I'm at a conference today and we are staying at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Washington.  It's not a resort or high-end hotel, but it is nicer than a Best Western or Holiday Inn.  We upgraded to a fourth-floor room, not a suite but a few extra amenities like better mattresses and shower heads, breakfast, evening refreshments and snacks in your room, and things like that.

My hotel routine goes something like this:
1.  Check-in - While Jeff is checking in, I peruse the travel brochures or browse the gift store, peek into the restaurant and check out the pool, if it is visible from the lobby.
2.  Check it out - Once in the room, I give it a once-over.  I see what toiletries they have.  I look out the window to see the view (last year we overlooked a wooded creek; this year, even though we have a better room, we overlook the parking lot).  I pick my side of the bed.
3.  Settle in - I'm very territorial.  I like my space organized and categorized.  I use the luggage rack for my suitcase and set it up near my bed in an empty corner.  My shoes go in the closet.  My laptop is instantly set up on the desk.  My snacks are unpacked into the fridge.  My purse is stored out of the way.  I open the curtains and the window if it is a nice day or I close the curtains and turn on fresh air if it is dark and chilly.  I turn on the side lamps.  I put my toiletry bag in the bathroom.  Jeff sets up too, but much faster.  Suitcase in a corner, shoes off, keys and loose change dumped, TV on, flop on bed.
4.  Set up - Oh, what to do first?!  I open my bag and pull out whatever special project I've set aside for this trip or the magazine I've saved to read or the nail polish I've brought to do a slow and careful manicure.
5.  Go out - This is one of my favorite aspects of staying in a hotel...I actually get to spend about an hour doing nothing but getting myself ready.  I do my hair with a little more care and I put my make-up on in the mirror...not the car!!  I NEVER get ready like this at home...never.  It is sheer luxury for me to get ready at the hotel.
6.  Come back - When I come back to the hotel room after a night of meetings, it's always late and I'm always tired.  It is soooo nice to not have one single thing to do but get ready for bed.  No dishwasher to empty.  No cat to put out.  No living room to tidy up after the kids.  No messages to check.  No laundry to start.  Just brush my teeth and go to bed.  I layer all the pillows and prop myself up to read until I start to drift off to sleep.  Then I toss the extra pillows on the chair and do just that...go to sleep.  Jeff kicks off his shoes, dumps his keys and loose change on the desk, turns on the TV and flops on the bed.  I usually don't even know when he turns out the light and goes to sleep!
7.  Get up - I'm always an early riser and I never sleep in late when I'm at a hotel.  Nope, I'm up bright and early and into my LuluLemons and running shoes and off to the exercise room.  I always go for the elliptical (it's really the only machine I know how to use!).  I rarely have to share the room with anyone else that early in the morning so I get to choose my own TV channel, which is either the cooking channel or the home channel.  There are only two times I watch cable TV...in the dentist's office and in the exercise room of a hotel.  It's my special routine!  When I'm done working out, I go into the pool (again, no one is ever there so early in the morning so I have it all to myself), and when I'm done swimming, I soak in the hot tub for about 5 minutes to warm up.  I am feeling relaxed and energized all at the same time!
8.  Get ready - I hit the shower in my own room.  If the toiletries are good ones, I'll use the hotel's.  If not, I always bring my favorites from home, like my Philosophy Amazing Grace travel set.  Then I do the leisurely get-ready hair and make-up application again.
9.  Wait for Jeff - by this time Jeff is awake, so he jumps in the shower and I relax while I wait for him by checking my email and Facebook.
10.  Check out - We pack up and head out, always with a Starbucks for the road.
11.  Come home - Ahhh, nothing like my own bed...and a dishwasher to empty, a living room to tidy up, a load of laundry to start, mail to sort, suitcases to unpack, work to be done, etc., etc., etc., which is why I love a night at a hotel!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I love a good {cook} book

While doing the Daniel Fast I had a revelation...

my recipe storage system needed an overhaul

Not only were my two main recipe binders full to capacity and disorganized, I had recipe books and magazines all over the house and garage...literally!

My two main recipe files, one for desserts
and the other for everything else.  Some recipes
were hole-punched and fastened in the binders
while others were loose.  The binders were
stuffed, the recipes exposed to the elements
(of cake batter, marinades and tomato sauce!)
and I had a basket full of recipes to be filed
that had not yet made it into the binders.

My cookbook shelves in the kitchen, the ones
I use most frequently

The basket on my counter with my binder and
three favorite cookbooks and all the
loose recipes needing to be filed

My pretty cookbooks are on display

My unattractive recipe magazines hidden away
 on the top shelf of a cupboard

And my seldom used recipe magazines
tucked away in the garage, next to
the breadmaker, which is also seldom used!
I felt my system was not very efficient, and I decided to do some research on recipe organization.

The cat joined me as I worked on my laptop.  I'm usually at
my desk and rarely work anywhere else, so she loves it
when she finds me in a comfy chair!
After looking at magazines, blogs, organizational websites, and online cooking shows, I decided that I still liked the binder system the best.  I haven't used a recipe box or card system for many years...too cumbersome.  I like the idea of an online system, but I don't want to have to scan all my existing recipes into the program, and I also don't like the idea of having my laptop so close to heat and liquids (an iPad could be the solution to that problem).  My current binders are too small, and I don't like having to re-write recipes onto pages or tape or glue them to pages, which really doesn't work when a recipe is written out on the front and back of a card.  Also, I wanted to keep recipes that were handwritten by the original cook for sentimental reasons or if I had written notes to myself on the recipes (like, "This was delicious!" or "Too sweet," "Too thick," "don't substitute with whole wheat").  And I wanted to be able to store recipes I'd clipped from magazines without having to copy them onto recipe cards.  So, I opted to stick with the binder system, but make it more efficient, flexible and organized.  I began the process by emptying out my old binders and baskets and separating all my recipes into piles by category.  I began with broad categories and then narrowed them down to specifics...like "Main Courses," which I then broke down into sub-categories of "Meat," "Seafood," "Pasta," and "Brunch" which I broke down into "Sweet" and "Savory," categories, etc.  Same with desserts, which I separated into "Cookies," "Cakes," "Pies," "Creamy," "Frozen," and "Christmas."

I sat on the floor and made piles in a semi-circle around me.
Sometimes you have to make a mess before you can bring order!
For the old magazines on my shelves, I have begun to go through them and tear out the pages with the recipes I want and then I recycle the rest of the magazine.  This is a time-consuming job.  I'm still not done.  One thing is helpful, and that's the fact that most of the time I would turn the corner of the page down to mark a recipe I wanted to try or had tried and liked.  When I sorted through magazines like that my work was easy.  But sometimes there were no down-turned corners, and then I couldn't remember if I had looked at the magazine and didn't like any of the recipes or if I had simply forgotten to turn down the corners.  That's what takes the most time...perusing all those recipes to see if there is one worth saving!

As for my cookbooks, most of the actual books I own I have because I like the photos as well as the recipes.  These I left on my shelves.  I always put sticky bookmarkers on the pages of recipes I like best or want to try, so no problem there, and the books themselves are a pleasure to read or browse, so I chose to keep them as is.

One of my recipe books is very special to me.  It's an antique...a big, fat book with EVERYTHING you could possibly ever want or need to know about cooking.  It was my grandmother's.  When she gave it to me she told me that she had read the whole thing in one night when she went into labor with my dad and couldn't sleep for the contractions, yet knew it wasn't time to go to the hospital.  In the wee hours of the morning she distracted herself with recipes for deviled squab and pickled cow's tongue, how to thread fat through a roast, what made a good hostess, and how to be a thrifty, economic cook.

This is the cover...it has that "old book" smell
that reminds me of going to the library when
I was a little girl.

This is the binding : (
I really want to take it to a bookbinder and have it re-bound.

This is the inside cover...very old-fashioned photographs
in that funny "chromatone" color processing of the late 1930s.

And then the handwritten page
from my grandmother to me.  It says,
To: Karyn Wells
May 23, 1942
David James Davenport
Born May 24, 1942

If this is the "new revised edition," I'd like to see the original!
This book, while very useful, is also very interesting reading.
It is full of historic facts, cultural practices, quaint values from
the 1940s...and some very funny poetry and gross recipes!
Perfect "pinkish" eggs???

Green peas in fried bologna cups?
This is what the caption says: "Slice the bologna straight,
leave on the rind and broil for perfect cups."

This is what happens to a muffin when you bake it at too high
or too low a heat.   Now that's practical!

Throughout the book are little rhymes and anecdotes full of pithy advice for the young cook and hostess.

"You'll be one up on the rest of the crowd if you serve them this luscious chantilly sponge."

"Rolled veal roast is delicious when larded with salt pork or the fat of smoked beef.  Use the larding needle and draw it through carefully or fold frankfurters into meat as you roll."

"Somebody shook the dreamland tree and down came all these luscious cookies!"

"Add this golden crown to your laurels as a hostess." (golden crown cake)

"Revive your drooping spirits on a hot day with a frosty glass of sherbet."

"Unexpected guests will not daunt a hostess who knows how to make a fish roll."

"Red layers of tomato aspic with potato salad between will tempt
the most wilted summer appetite."

"Starring meatloaf with a supporting cast of onions, tomatoes and duchess potato planked for company dinner."

"Don't fret over fritters
Just prepare them plain
Or fill them with fresh fruit
For lots of fame"

"High-vitamin vegetable stuffing is the clever meat stretcher for savory beef roll."

"Creamed chicken takes on new glamor when it appears in a noodle or rice ring."

The book covers such necessary topics as, "The Fine Art of Carving," three different methods for boiling eggs, how to set a table, the names of the cuts of beef and pork mapped out on the animal, home canning, menu planning, and how to please your family and impress your friends with your cooking skills.

And now you can see how easy it is to get distracted!  I had to put my book away and refocus my efforts on my recipes.  I think this is the main reason projects take so long...we find ourselves taking pleasant rabbit trails and trips down memory lane and forget what we set out to do.

So, with renewed effort, I headed to the store to purchase supplies.  I switched from the small binders to large, standard size 8-1/2" x 11" binders.  Then I bought see-through colored dividers with pockets, plain tabbed dividers for notebooks, and clear photo page protectors.

I set up my binder like this:
- Clear colored divider - Appetizers, Main Courses, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Salads, Breads, Soups, Sweet Sauces/Jams, Marinades/Sauces/Salsa, Breakfast/Brunch, Beverages, Health Food/Daniel Fast, Entertaining, Nutritional Information 
- In the front pocket of the colored divider - recipes I am planning to try
- In the back pocket of the colored divider - information pertaining to the category (for the meat section, this is where I would tuck the diagram of the name of meat cuts)
- Plain tabbed dividers - sub-categories under Main Courses (meat, seafood, pasta, casseroles, Asian, Sandwiches), Side Dishes (potatoes, rice, pasta), Salads (fruit, green, grain, dressings), Brunch (Savory, Sweet).
- Clear photo page protectors - I slid my recipe cards into the page protectors.  These work great for a number of reasons. 1) You can see the recipe but it doesn't get dirty while you're cooking.  2) Because the page protectors are pockets, you can see both sides of your recipe.  3) You don't have to re-copy recipes from magazines or newspapers, just slide them in.  4)  If you have a handwritten recipe, it will stay archived in the photo page protectors.  (This is especially useful if you have a recipe from your mother or grandmother written in her handwriting that you want to keep as a momento and not just for the recipe itself.) 5) Get two styles...one that holds an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper and one that is divided into four sections so smaller recipes don't slide around inside the large pockets. 

Binder, colored dividers with pockets, tabbed dividers
The inside pocket of the binder I used for blank recipe cards
and a handy measurement guide

In the back pocket of the binder, I've got
ideas for entertaining.

Here is a picture of a colored divider for "Salads" with information
in the pocket...this one is for making vinaigrettes.
See how the recipes are displayed in the photo page protectors?
Easy to read, easy to take out, easy to clean, easy to see both sides.

Even newspaper and magazine clippings
can easily be stored in the page protectors.

Now when I want to make Grandma's scuffles,
I can take the recipe out, prop it up on a stand,
and not worry about it getting splashed, stained
torn or wrinkled while I'm using it.

It took me quite awhile to finish my first binder.  I worked on it slowly, sometimes renting a movie and working while I watched.  I kept all my supplies in a big box, including scissors, pens, glue and tabs, so I could take my project out when I was ready to work and then easily put it away when I was done.

For the outside cover of the binder, there are options:  I can either keep it plain and label it, use an already decorated one, or make a cover of my own using computer graphics, my own art work, or a picture from a magazine, maybe a picture of cookies for my dessert binder and a picture of a beautifully prepared table for my "Meals" binder.  I haven't decided yet, but here are a few examples.

Generic...just add a label on the spine of the binder

Christmas Cookies!

As I was putting my recipes into the page protectors, I realized I had a lot of recipes that I had kept but never tried, or tried but didn't really like, or used a lot when I was a young cook but would never make again, or I found doubles (even triples) of the same recipe.  So I chucked them.  It's okay.  Give yourself permission to throw things out.  Think of it as "culling."  That's a very positive administrative term.  You're culling your recipes...making room for years of new recipes based on new trends, new tastes, and new triumphs as you progress in your skills as a cook.  I also took the time to clean my recipes up by trimming torn or rough edges and re-copying if they were especially dirty and smeared.

Now my recipe binders are super functional and much more attractive!  I am very happy with my finished product, and I hope this system serves me well for many years...at least until I am retired and looking for a new project!  Or maybe I'll just save my photo albums for that day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'll Scratch Your Back, You Scratch Mine


That's a big word that probably isn't part of most people's vocabulary.

It means:


The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, a mutual or cooperative interchange of favors or privileges
It forms the basis for a lot of relationships...government, foreign countries, business associates, boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife.

Jeff and I are going to Brazil in a couple weeks to speak at a marriage conference.  Besides buying airline tickets, we have to purchase a travel visa.  We have to pay Brazil to let us visit their country.  They call it a "reciprocity fee."  It didn't used to exist.  But then the U.S. decided to charge Brazilians (and other countries) to come to our country.  The Brazilians thought, "Hey, if we have to pay, you have to pay!" and they came up with the reciprocity fee that Jeff and I are now paying for.
When we found out we had to pay this fee, it made me think of the whole concept of reciprocity.  Usually, it is used in a more positive sense of the word.  Negatively applied, it usually means revenge; but positively applied, reciprocity simply means, "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine."

Jeff and I do this all the time.
Me:  "Will you run to the store for me while I make dinner?"  (Implied:  "While I make your dinner")

Jeff:  "Do you want a latte?"  (Implied:  "If I bring you a latte this afternoon when the kids aren't home, then you owe me.") {and "You owe me" in man's language always means sex!}

Me:  "I'll type that up for you right now, but I'll need you to finish loading the dishwasher."

Jeff:  "I'll go for a walk with you, but then you owe me."
But this Valentine's Day is my all-time favorite example...
You must know by now how much I enjoy all things holiday.  I love to decorate and make special food and give presents.  We always exchange small gifts on Valentine's Day.  I wrap them in our special Valentine's bags and tie each one with a long ribbon.  Then the gifts are piled in the center of the table in a pretty jumble and the long ribbons are trailed to each plate.  Each person simultaneously pulls his or her ribbon to retrieve the gift.  This year I got my son a pair of Nike shorts, my daughter a pair of funky slippers, my other son a package of guitar strings, my other daughter a stainless steel thermos with a world map holder, my husband a pair of Nike track pants and his favorite soap, my college kids those cool head massagers, and my mom a black toile drying mat and a small square baking dish.  Jeff got me nothing...not because he doesn't love me, just because he waited too long.  I wanted a Kangaroo water bottle---a cool bottle that has a little compartment that holds a car key, money and your driver's license.  And the bottle is leak-proof.  Perfect for Zumba.  Only problem...you can only buy them online.  So by the time Jeff collaborated with Kate, it was too late.  That was Sunday, because we celebrated the day we had the whole gang together and a big dinner.

On the actual day of the holiday, two days later, it just so happened that at dinnertime all our kids were away.  (This is a very rare occurrence).  So when Jeff called to see what I needed at the store I told him to pick up our favorite marinated steak.  Then I decorated the table again and lit candles and turned the lights down.  I even dipped strawberries in homemade chocolate ganache.  I thought for sure Jeff would give me my gift at dinner.  But he didn't.

He thought we could order it together online because then I'd get exactly what I wanted.

Not romantic.

So I played my reciprocity card:  "I bought you a gift, I made a wonderful dinner (twice!), I lit candles and dipped strawberries and wore your favorite perfume and a special outfit, so as long as we're shopping online for my water bottle can I get a couple extra things too?"  Of course he said yes...get whatever I need.  So I ordered a travel blanket and a travel pillow for our all-night flight to Brazil.  I did wonder for one moment if my reciprocity wasn't bordering just a tiny bit on manipulation, but then I thought that the other items were things I would have probably purchased anyway, so now we both felt better because we bought them together "for Valentine's Day."

Practical, even acceptable, but still not romantic.

Then yesterday after my morning shower I was drying my feet when I noticed my winter-rough heels and chipped-paint toenails, and I wistfully wished for a pedicure before I went to Brazil.  I didn't say anything out loud to anyone...didn't so much as drop a hint.  When Jeff came home from work that day, he handed me a bag.  It was from The Allison, my favorite spa.  Inside was a gift card for a pedicure and a manicure.  How could he have known?  I was excited.  It was the perfect gift.  Apparently, the online shopping for a water bottle didn't settle well with Jeff.  The reciprocity was just a little off balance, so he made it up big-time by lavishing on the "favor and the privilege."  So I was happy and felt more than amply reciprocated (and impressed!).

But, alas...the law of reciprocity is still in effect.  Now it's my turn again.  And I know what Jeff is thinking.
"You owe me!"

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kombucha Kombustion!

I've been looking forward to this blog entry, because it's been an interesting journey to get to this day!  In my three weeks of Daniel Fast posts, I mentioned Kombucha  a couple times.  It's a beverage, in case you've never heard of it.

It is fermented tea.

Sounds gross.

I love it.

It's a fizzy, zippy, refreshing drink with bite.  It's brimming with good-for-you organisms like probiotics, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants and other things that are difficult to pronouce and spell.  It is considered a "live," raw food---also good for you.  It comes in cool flavors, like raspberry chia, lavender, ginger-pear, multigreen, and spiced apple, to name a few.  I would drink it every day if I could, but it is expensive.

Then I found out from a friend that you can brew it yourself at home.

So I'm now makin' my own moonshine!

Kombucha in the process of brewing
(see the "mushroom" floating on top?)

Read this excerpt for a quick overview, without having to read piles of research papers: (taken from http://www.seedsofhealth.co.uk/fermenting/kombucha.shtml)

Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the kombucha culture. The result can taste like something between sparkling apple cider and champagne, depending on what kind of tea you use. It's not what you'd imagine fermented tea to taste like.
green tea kombuchaThe origins of Kombucha have become lost in the mists of time. It is thought to have originated in the Far East, probably China, and has been consumed there for at least two thousand years. The first recorded use of kombucha comes from China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was known as "The Tea of Immortality."
It has been used in Eastern Europe, Russia and Japan for several centuries. It's from Japan in 415 AD that the name kombucha is said to have come. A Korean physician called Kombu or Kambu treated the Emperor Inyko with the tea and it took his name, "Kombu" and "cha" meaning tea. Russia has a long tradition of using a healing drink called "Tea Kvass" made from a "Japanese mushroom."      

My friend brought me my kombucha culture in a jar.  I set aside an evening to brew my first batch.  From the reading I had done, it looked as though it would take about an hour.  I got out all the ingredients and supplies and my camera so I could record everything for my blog.  This was going to be fun!  I felt like a real "Earthy."

Step 1 was to wash everything.  Your supplies must be scrupulously clean...and your hands, too, or you'll contaminate your brew and then you'll be brewing trouble with your tea!  I must admit, I was/still am a little scared about this part of it.

Clean jar, clean sink, clean hands!

So I washed everything, double rinsed, air-dried and then set up my work space.  Then I washed my hands again and carefully poured the kombucha "mushroom" into my clean jar.


The water, sugar and tea go into the jar first.  Then after the sugar is dissolved, the tea is steeped and the water has cooled, you slip the mushroom into the jar.  Okay.

Start over.

Fresh filtered water brought just to a boil

Organic cane sugar is the best sugar choice

I poured the mushroom back into the original jar and re-washed, re-rinshed and re-dried my kombucha jar.  Then I started the tea kettle and measured the sugar into the jar.  Right before the water reached the boiling point, I carefully poured the pre-measured water into my jar full of sugar.  I heard a very funny sound.  "Tick."   Uh-oh.  That was the sound of glass cracking!  I cautiously turned the jar very slowly, inspecting it for cracks and found none.  I stepped back, still uncertain, eyeing it warily.  Suddenly, with a soft "pop," water gushed out of the bottom of the jar and spilled over the counter top like a waterfall, down my cabinets and all over the floor---1 gallon of sugar water!  "Nooooooo!!"  I cried out in disbelief.  I could do nothing but watch it pour.  I sent my daughter running for beach towels and then began sopping up that sticky mess.  The whole bottom of my jar had blown out!  I don't know why...my jar was already hot to begin with from having just washed it and I didn't even let the water come to a boil.  But why or why not didn't matter.  I would have been pretty irritated if it hadn't been for the saving grace that I could blog this!  So I pulled out my camera and started snapping pictures while my daughter shook her head at me and rolled her eyes every so slightly.  Not only was the syrup running over my counters and down the front of my cupboards, it was inside my cupboards!  My pitchers and platters were full of liquid, as well as the pull-out drawers.  Oh, what a mess!  So after I had a sink full of sticky, wet towels, I threw them into the washing machine and began all over again...for the third time!

A sugary water fall!

Sticky floors and cabinets!

The drawers, pitchers and platters that were filled with sugar-water

The blown-out bottom of my glass jar

This time I was a little smarter...I put my jar in the sink when it came time to fill it, and I added the water slowly.  Everything held together.  But my slippers kept sticking to the floor if I stood too long in one place.  I knew it was going to take a few times with the mop before I'd get that sugar clean!  (Four times, to be exact...plus wiping down the counters, cabinet fronts, cupboard interior and drawers, and washing all my platters and pitchers that were stored inside!!).

We are so much smarter the second time we do something!

This slimy-looking blob is the kombucha culture...
also called the mushroom, the scoby, or the mother

Pouring the mushroom into the sweet tea

I washed my hands yet again and then poured the mushroom into my tea.  You must be wondering if I'm talking about a real mushroom.  No, of course not.  Here's another excerpt to explain:

The Kombucha culture looks like a beige or white rubbery pancake or mushroom. It's often called a 'scoby' which stands for ' symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts.The culture is placed in sweetened black or green tea and turns a bowl full of sweet tea into a bowl full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-giving organic acids.
Three  cultures or scobysAs the Kombucha culture digests the sugar it produces a range of organic acids like glucuronic acid, gluconic acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, butyric acid, malic acid and usnic acid; vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C; as well as amino acids, enzymes. And of course there are all the benefits of the probiotic microorganisms themselves. The Kombucha culture is a biochemical powerhouse in your kitchen.

So, I covered my jar with an unbleached coffee filter (to keep it clean but allow it to breathe) and then set it in an out-of-the way corner of my dining room to ferment for the next week...or weeks....or even month, depending on the taste I'm looking for.  The longer it ferments, the less sugar there is and the more vinegar-y it will taste.  That's another reason I like this drink...there is only about 2 grams of sugar in a serving, which is nothing compared to soda, which carries a whopping 36 grams. So my little mushroom fed off that yummy sugar and grew a little bit bigger all week.

And today is tasting day!

See, underneath the mushroom it just
looks like a pitcher of iced tea!

I carefully peeled off the filter and sniffed...it had a sweet, vinegary odor, which was good.  Then I slipped my blue straw underneath the mushroom and cautiously took my first sip.  It was delicious!  I said right out loud, "Oh, it's good!  It tastes good!"  My son says to my daughter, "Who's Mom talking to?"  My daughter replied, "Her kombucha."  So they came to check out the excitement.  But they weren't nearly as excited as I was.  "Gross," my son said when he saw it.  "What is that thing?"  He wouldn't taste it, no matter how I glorified its attributes.  I guess on that point, like father, like son!  I didn't care.  I bubbled on enthusiastically and took another sip.  Then trotted off to the kitchen to wash my bottles and mix by first batch of finished kombucha.  Pomegranate and lime!

Soooo good!  I made everyone take a sip.  Justin pronounced it, "Good, okay," with a slight shrug.  Jeff screwed up his whole face and said, "Ewww."  Kate also screwed up her whole face, and then said, "Oh."  Her face relaxed and she said, "It's weird."

Bottled blueberry-pomegranate Kombucha on the left
and a glass of lime kombucha on the right

And I took that lovely kombucha and poured it into a glass over ice with fresh pomegranate seeds and a splash of lime.  I am very pleased with my first attempt of making kombucha...so pleased that I went into the kitchen and started up a second batch!