Wild Fermented Soda

What you need:

  • 2 cups of sweetener-sugar, molasses, syrup
  • 1/2-2 cups of freshly picked fruit or flowers
  • A pint jar
  • Tea (I use the term tea as an umbrella for heated water flavored with botanicals and sweetened with sugar)
  • A large pot
  • Flip top bottles

 

You start by making what is called a bug. Fill the pint jar with some plant material. I’ve used many things—a stalk of rhubarb, rose hips, lawn daisies, green figs, blueberries—anything that seems like it would have a good bloom of bacteria and yeast and that you don’t feel too squicked out to not wash. Put it, uncleaned, into the pint jar. Add one cup of sugar or a big dollop of molasses or both if you feel like it. Fill the jar with water and stir. Loosely cover the jar and set it aside for four days, being sure to tighten the lid and shake it at least once a day. You’ll notice bubbles starting to form in the liquid. This is your starter bug. You might see some white film forming on the liquid. This is a certain kind of yeast and you can skim it off or leave it. If you see mold or if it smells bad, chuck it and start over. Ferments smell funky, but they don’t smell spoiled.

A nice bubbly bug from yard daisies.
Green fig and green rose hip bug.

After your bug is nice and bubbly, make a big pot of tea. I use a six quart pot and it makes about eight 16 oz flip tops worth. You can use anything to make the tea. My favorite is berry tea. In this recipe I added about a cup of black currants from my garden, some dehydrated carrots, a bunch of lemon balm from my garden, and a cup of dry elderberries. Add the second cup of sugar to this tea (one cup per six quarts of water, reduce sugar for less water). Let the tea cool completely. Your finished drink will taste like this tea, but carbonated and less sweet.

Carrot, lemon balm, and black currant tea.

Add three tablespoons of your bubbly bug to each flip top. Pour the cooled tea in and cap it up. Leave it to sit for 1-3 days. You may need to release the pressure, depending on how strong your bug is.

Voila! Wild fermented soda! You can keep your bug alive by adding water and feeding it some sugar (1/4-1/2 cup) once a week. I use molasses and brown sugar to feed my bug as well. Keep it in the fridge between uses and let it get to room temperature each time you use it.


Be careful when you open these! Make sure they are cold and be ready to pour it right away to avoid losing 3/4th on the floor. It gets bubbly!!
I took a picture of the yeasts under a microscope! This is what’s making that soda bubble.

Papaya Seed Cream Sauce

What you need:

  • a nice ripe papaya
  • 1/4 c cider vinegar, wine vinegar, or berry vinegar
  • 1 t mustard powder
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c Avellana easy soy yogurt

How to make it:

Papaya!
Papaya seeds! Packed with health and flavor.

Cut the papaya in half and scoop out 1-3 tablespoons of seeds. I like to use a lot because they have SO many health benefits! Plus they are slippery and fun to crunch. Add the seeds and the rest of the ingredients except the yogurt to your food processor/blender/mortar and pestle. I used this cool little rip cord chopper that I LOVE. I originally got it for my camper, but I use it all the time because it’s easier to clean than the food processor or blender. Plus it’s fun to pull that cord a million times like a crazy person.

Grind up all the ingredient to your preferred level of chunky-ness. I like some texture, so I only ground it a little bit. Then add in the yogurt and stir in up. Voila! You’ve got a delicious and healthy dressing and/or marinade! Its a little sweet and a little savory and a little tart. Delicious.

Serving suggestion: I made a batch of cream sauce with yogurt and a batch without yogurt. I used the non yogurt batch to marinate a block of torn up tofu. I let it marinate for 30-45 minutes.

I baked the marinated tofu at 425 for about twenty minutes, stirring often to keep it from sticking. I roasted some butternut squash and yellow squash at the same time. I put it all over a bed of saffron infused rice (add a pinch of saffron, 1/2 t of turmeric, a splash of roasted sesame oil, and one t salt to the rice before you bring it to a boil), drizzled on the cream sauce, and sprinkled some smoked paprika on top for a flavorful fall meal.

Cultured cashew cream

What you need-

Blend the cashews until smooth, adding just enough water to blend easily. You can make it thicker but you may need to scrape the cashew butter down from the sides. Stir in salt and cultures, cover to avoid developing a skin, and place in your fermentation station for 8 hours.

You can add in any number of seasonings. I make it plain so that I can utilize it for multiple applications.

Roasted romanesco broccoli with cultured cashew and persimmon sauce

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What you need-

  • 1 head Romanesco broccoli
  • 4 tablespoons cultured cashew cream
  • 1-2 persimmons
  • 2 apples
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • seasoning

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Chop the apples, potato and shallots, drizzle with olive oil. I sprinkled on a little Italian herb spice and salt. Roast until soft.

Lightly core and cover the Romanesco broccoli with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Uncover and roast for another five for a little browning. Check from time to time to ensure it doesn’t burn.

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Place cultured cashew cream in the blender along with the flesh of the persimmon, 1/2 shallot, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of chipotle (optional). You can add other seasoning as desired.

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When everything is done roasting, drizzle the cream sauce on and serve! The light sweetness of the persimmon cashew sauce perfectly matches the sweetness in the roasted apples. It makes for a great sweet and savory dinner.

Vegan spaghetti carbonara with cultured cream, smokey shiitake, and black salt

Traditional carbonara is a hot pasta dish made with pork, cream, eggs, and pepper. Here I veganized the recipe, also making it a lot healthier, using a base of baked zucchini, cauliflower, and cultured soy yogurt for the cream sauce.

What you need-

Cream sauce

  • one small head cauliflower
  • three-four zucchini
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • one tablespoon tamari
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 easy soy yogurt
  • one teaspoon black salt
  • one small onion
  • one teaspoon lemon juice

Shiitake bacun

  • 1/2 to one pound shiitake mushrooms
  • tamari (drizzled)
  • olive oil (drizzled)
  • one tablespoon liquid smoke

Pasta

  • one package spaghetti of choice
  • salted water

I ran across this vegan parmesan cheese at Whole Foods the other day and WOW! It’s really good. I used it at the end of the recipe as the “hard cheese” component of traditional carbonara.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop up the zucchini and cauliflower, put it on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil, tamari, and black pepper. Put it in the oven.

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Chop the shiitakes into slices and drizzle with tamari, olive oil, and liquid smoke on a sheet pan. Put in oven with the vegetables.

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You’ll need to check and flip both the veggies and the mushrooms several times to avoid burning them. When the veggies are finished they should be soft and browned. The bacun should be chewy and NOT burned to a blackened crisp 🙂 They will get crunchier as they cool.

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Put the salted water on to boil once the veggies and bacun are finished.

Put the roasted veggies and the rest of the cream sauce ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth and warmed through. If the vegetables are still hot from the oven you can blend them for a shorter period. This sauce doesn’t get cooked again though and will need to be warm enough to cook the onion. It doesn’t have to be smoking hot, but definitely warm.

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Cook your pasta and plate everything up. I use more black pepper, Italian herbs, and a little Frank’s hot sauce to finish the plate. Delicious!!

Prairie Fire bean dip with vegan cheese sauce

In the late 90’s, one of our most favorite things to do was to go to Don Pablo’s Mexican restaurant and order a bowl of prairie fire bean dip. It was sooooo good and soooo cheap. They made fresh flour tortillas to dip in it and it was awesome. Alas, Don Pablo’s closed and we moved away. Recently my little sister mentioned this dip and oh dang, I couldn’t stop thinking about it!! So I went about making a vegan version…I think I did pretty well, though admittedly, it’s been about a decade.

What you need-

Cheezy sauce-

  • one small onion
  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/4 c nutrition yeast
  • 1/4 c salsa
  • one jalepeño
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 c water

Place this all in your blender and blend til heated through (around one minute).

For beans-

  • two cans refried beans
  • one can green chilis
  • one cup easy soy yogurt
  • Tortillas (flour or corn) oven heated in foil for 10 minutes.

Heat the beans, add as much cheese sauce as you like, salt and season as desired. If you like it chunky, leave it as is. I prefer the the smooth creamy like Don Pablo’s used to do, so I put it all back in the blender and blended it smooth. Add sour cream yogurt, salsa, garnishes and serve!