~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, July 8, 2011

Homemade Kefir...and a small glimpse of my Mom's garden.

Homemade Kefir...and a visit to my Mom's garden. Over the July 4th holiday weekend, my husband and I got the chance to visit our folks...a rather quick visit. But I did manage to take a few photos of my parent's backyard...my mom's garden and my dad's trees. This is where I grew up...in the city....yet we still had homegrown fruits and vegetables. Thanks to my mom's passion for gardening and my dad's pruning expertise....We were blessed to have homegrown produce and fruits.
Over the years, some of the trees have changed, but there's still plenty of variety. My folks are getting on in age... but it seems they still manage to take care of the garden. I quickly snapped some photos of the fruit of their labor...didn't exactly catch everything they have, but it's a glimpse.
Everytime I visit, my mom and dad will ask us what we would prefer to eat while there. Sometimes I will ask to have a special childhood meal prepared...other times, it is good old-fashioned Romanian meals. But regardless what we have, it is always prepared with love... lots of it! This time around we enjoyed some homemade Romanian meals...along with garden -fresh tomato salad with onion and cucumber, just-picked corn on the cob, strawberries, raspberries, and freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. Oh, I can't forget my dad's coffee...Turkish style...every morning:).
Even though we didn't stay long, we enjoyed every minute of it! And every time I visit, my mom sends me home with whatever is in season...this time lots of tomatoes(some green so we could have them later when they ripen), cucumbers, dried herbs...and kefir grains.
I thought to share this simple recipe of making kefir at home with active kefir grains. Kefir grains multiply as you use them... so you can easily share some with others....sort of like when you have a sourdough starter. My mom sent me home with a tablespoonful worth of active kefir grains and I instantly made some kefir when I got home...my second batch is ready to be refrigerated. I simply love it...reminds me of the buttermilk I knew when I was a child. Real good. You can read up on kefir and its benefits here. I am sure there are a ton of other sites with useful information. Hope you enjoy...

A glimpse of the backyard:
Grapes, Guava fruit, Raspberries...

Yellow Beans, Cabbage, Beets, Leeks, Onions, ...

Yellow Squash, Japanese Cucumbers,
Bell Peppers, Corn...

Tomatoes... of all kinds....
heirloom varieties, cherry, orange, yellow, etc.

Trees of all sorts...Avocado, Grapefruit, Orange,
Meyer Lemon, Lemon, Mandarin, Cactus, etc...
And flowers...of all kinds.
And then I came home with fresh produce, dried herbs
...and kefir grains.

Homemade Kefir...using kefir grains. Tastes like the real buttermilk I knew back home...but done with kefir grains. It is slightly thick and creamy, with just the right amount of tartness. Yum!!

You will need: adapted from my Mom

1 TBS active kefir grains
3-4 cups whole milk*
* do not use ULTRA-Pastuerized milk

1. In a clean glass container, add the kefir grains...and then pour milk over kefir grains.
2. Place a tight lid on. I used a glass storage container that has a lid with a rubber seal.
3. Allow to sit on the counter for 18-24 hours...or until thick. This depends on the weather and how warm your kitchen is. Taste and verify consistency after 12 hours.
4. Strain the milk and kefir grains through a fine mesh strainer. Refrigerate and enjoy. The kefir will thicken a bit more in the fridge.


Mihaela said...

Ellie, can I come visit your parents, too? :)) I'm joking, of, course, but I love the garden, the tomatoes, and the kefir grains. I never used it, but I'm using store bought kefir, which is a good substitution. Do you have any idea where I can find kefir grains? Have a lovely weekend! :)

M Family said...

All I have to say is WOW and are your parents willing to adopt? I have a very tiny little garden plot at our community garden this year, but I soooooo want a real garden like this one! Of course, I would need someone like your parents to help since I really am just doing this by the skin of my teeth heheheh. I am only half kidding about the adoption thing, I love my parents dearly, so maybe your parents want a new niece? I have beautiful children they can call their grand niece and nephew? LOL

Esty said...

awww! This post makes me miss visiting you guys when we were really little.

It's so funny how similar our parents are. Tati makes his coffee every morning too. They've switched to decaf tho...haha :)


Ellie said...

Mihaela, I think you would have fun visiting...but I am thinking Romania would be ideal:)
The kefir grains can be found online...some come in a dried(inactive) state and you need go through a process to "liven" them up again. I am sure amazon, ebay,etc. sells them as well as private parties. Some sell them as active grains. The kefir grains I got are milk kefir grains...there are a few others such as water kefir grains....used for coconut water, etc.

But there are some links you can check out that have folks who sell or give them out for free in the area you live.
Here is one in chicago area you might want to check out:




You might even look on Craig's list in your area...maybe farmer's market or try a whole foods and see if they know of anyone who has the grains...not the powder.

I got mine from my mom who got hers from my sister...and so on:). When mine multiplies, I am thinking I might be able to send you some, if you like. Not sure how it will survive, but it's worth a try.

M Family,
:)))! Really made me smile...or chuckle more like it!
Yes, it truly is a blessing to have a garden....I struggle with mine constantly:)....so I resort to enjoying my folks.
I am thinking my parents would love to add to the number of numerous nephews and nieces...what's a few more:).
Thanks for stopping by....

Estera, Yes, those were the days:)...always look back with fond memories. Had some good times, for sure...
It was good to hear from you! Hope you are doing well...and thanks for stopping by.

kristyreal said...

Your post shows paradise on earth! I dream of having a backyard just like your parents. Quick tip on the kefir: you might want to switch to a plastic strainer because the grains don't do well with metal. You can freeze extra grains for a backup and they can be revived later. Kefir smoothies made with frozen fruit and honey are our special treat. I read kefir contains over 30 different strains of beneficial organisms.

Ellie said...

Kc, Thanks SO very much for the tip on not using a metal strainer...I'll definitely use a plastic strainer. I remember reading about not using metal. Just slipped my mind, as that is all I had... and I would have probably continued using it if you would not have mentioned it. So, thank you!
As for the freezing of the grains... My mom made sure to tell me not to throw any away... but to freeze them:). Actually she had frozen the grains I got... so that it would make it with me home:).
Thanks for stopping by... And for your tip as well as the recipe with the fruit and honey. I'll be sure to give that a try.

Mihaela said...

Ellie, gradina parintilor tai m-a lasat fara cuvinte...Ce oameni harnici si gospodari! Trebe sa fii foarte mandra de ei..! Acum cred ca iara mi s-a facut door de familia mea din RO....si poate am sa plang nitel :))

Ellie said...

Mihaela, Multumesc...sa sti cand eram mai mica, poate nu apreciam gradina asa mult, dar acum realizez si eu cat de multa munca este nevoie ca sa ai rod. Si parintii totmereu vor sa ne dea cele mai bune:)...
Si eu sant departe de parintii si familie, si te inteleg...poate nu asa departe ca ai tai, dar totusi. Da-le un telefon... si cine stie poate va veni si timpul sa-i poti vizita:)...Iti doresc o zi minunata, si mersi pentru vizita:).

Katherina said...

Hi Ellie...

I have looked over your recipes and I have to say they look great and eazy to make . Although I have not had the time to put them in use yet .. my baby daughter is all over them . With Christmas around the corner and Romanian traditions I'm sure will make a few of them ,including Cozonac our all time favored . Would you be able to tell me where I can find the Kefir Grains?- You cant have Cozonac with out the kefir (buttermilk).. right? All The best From LA - Katherina and Alexis

Ellie said...

Hi Katherina and Alexis, I am so glad you both are enjoying the blog...I hope you like at least one of the recipes I've posted:).

As for the kefir, you can read my comment to Mihaela ...in this post. I've explained some of the possible ways to get some. Amazon, I know carries them...
As I said in this post, I got my kefir grains from my mom, who got hers from my sister ...and so on.

Hope this helps... and thanks so much for stopping by!
It was great to hear from you both... and enjoy your visit here!