Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What in the world is Water Kefir?

Water Kefir is a cultured/fermented product that can easily be made in one's kitchen. I use it to kickstart the bacterial/yeast activity in my gluten-free sourdough starters. The natural acidity in the water kefir also protects the starter from spoilage. (I had a lot of spoiled starters when I began experimenting with gluten-free sourdough starters, water kefir prevents spoilage)

Water Kefir is loaded with natural probiotics and is used by many people as a tasty tonic to strengthen the digestive system. Examples of other cultured/fermented products are yogurt, milk kefir, cheese, beer, wine and sourdough bread.

Photo, top: Water Kefir Cultures
Photo, middle: Ingredients to make water kefir liquid. (water not shown)
Photo, bottom: Finished water kefir liquid. Notice the raisins are floating due to the natural carbonation!

I use water kefir in my gluten-free breads because I am sensitive to all dairy products and water kefir is free of dairy.

You can order water kefir culture from: Cultures for Health.
They carry an excellent product at an excellent price.

Here is my water kefir recipe:

Water Kefir for Boosted Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
(water kefir is the booster for Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Fermentation time: 2-3 days

2-3 tablespoons Water Kefir grains
2 tablespoons sugar (I find organic dark sugar works the best, but any sugar works)
20 raisins (or a comparable amount of figs or prunes)
1 quart of filtered or spring water
1 slice of lemon

Nearly fill a wide mouth quart jar with water.
Add 2 tablespoons sugar, stirring to dissolve, 20 raisins and a slice of lemon or lime.
Add the water kefir grains to the jar.
Cover with a paper towel or cloth and secure with a rubber band.
When raisins float to the top, after around 24-48 hours, use a nonmetal tool and scoop the raisins and the lemon slice out and discard.
Ferment the water kefir for 6-12 more hours on the counter with the paper towel.
Then store, covered, in fridge and use as needed.

To replenish:
When you have used the liquid down to about an inch in the jar start a new batch in a new jar, with water, sugar, raisins and lemon. Then pour the water kefir grains plus the remaining small amount of liquid right into the new jar, cover with paper towel or cloth and ferment.
Stays potent in the fridge 2-4 weeks.

Resources: Water Kefir Grains from www.culturesforhealth.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Restaurant Review: Nevaeh Cuisine

Recently I had the pleasure of having dinner at an amazing little cafĂ©/bistro in Pleasantville, N.Y. called Nevaeh, (that’s Heaven backwards) I found this excellent place through the Triumph Dining Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide. I was on my way to vendor at a conference and we were ready for dinner after the first leg of our trip.

I’ve had so many problems dining out that I mostly avoid it. Dining at Nevaeh was a completely different experience. Most of the dishes were gluten-free as well as dairy free. Everything was already cooked and stored in refrigerated cases and we got to look and taste before we ordered. These two fabulous chefs, knew their ingredients hands down and when I mentioned multiple food allergies they were able to instantly give me a run down of what I could eat.

The food was very high caliber, in my humble opinion, fine-dining quality! The seasonings were well-balanced without the high amount of salt that is often found in restaurant food. We also bought some food “to go” to supplement us through the weekend, which worked really well.

How fortunate for us that we were able to be served fine-dining quality food at a relaxed, everyday establishment. If you’re traveling through Westchester County it would be well worth your while to check out this wonderful gluten-free oasis.

Nevaeh Cuisine
146 Bedford Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570