Bribing My Friends Blueberry Rolls

Hiya eaters!

Boy, have I got a recipe for you. And it’s from Pinterest.

Ya see eaters, I miss one of my best friends, Marisa. I haven’t seen her in months. And since I’m now working every single Saturday and she lives all the way down in Georgia, I can’t go visit her anytime soon. That means I’m constantly trying to entice her to come visit me in good ole Greensboro.

This is my newest way of convincing her to visit me — by bribing her with Pinterest desserts.

A few days ago Marisa pinned a recipe for raspberry cinnamon rolls. I normally don’t bother with any of the dessert recipes from Pinterest because they’re always so complicated and time consuming and that’s not my bag (baby), but this dessert was pretty straight forward and I have a ton of blueberries and blueberry jam on my hands (for reasons I’ll explain later) so I figured why not! And I figured that if she saw these delicious rolls that I made with my very own hands she would immediately hop in her car and speed straight to my house to eat them.

Is it working, Marisa?

Here’s what I did: I followed From Here to Paris’ recipe to a T except for a few things.

I halved the recipe for the dough.

For the filling I used ¼ c blueberry jam, ½ c fresh berries smashed with a spoon, and 1 T vanilla extract. I didn’t cook it down or anything. It was a little liquid-y when I was rolling the dough, but I managed just fine.

I cut the powered sugar in the frosting to ½ c because that’s all I had, but I added 2 T granulated sugar to sweeten things up. Oh, and I didn’t wait until the rolls were cooled to frost them. Warm is best for frosting cinnamon rolls.

And then I ate them.

blueberry sweet rolls1

Imagine me saying “o’m’gosh, so good!” with a mouth full of roll while giving you a thumbs up. Because that’s kind how it would have gone if Marisa were here.

Since she wasn’t here, though, I just stuffed the whole thing in my mouth really fast. It’s kind of the same thing, except not as amusing in hindsight.

So there you have it, eaters — bribing my friends with Pinterest things. I’ll let you know if it works. If it doesn’t work, at least I have a bunch of really sweet sweet rolls to keep me company and laugh at my jokes.

Your turn, eaters:

What was the last recipe you made from Pinterest?

How do you keep in touch with long distance friends?

Later eaters!

Taco Truck Tortas

Howdy-doody eaters!

That was kind of a weird greeting. Let’s move on.

There’s a taco truck that parks down the street from my house every night — the La Azteca truck, for any locals who are interested. It’s actually right across the street from my Crossfit box and there have been many nights during running WODs that I’ve very seriously considered just running right over and getting some tacos.

Leon and I have been there a few times. We walk down with Charlie and sit in the folding chairs. The food is pretty great. It’s not like our regular dollar tacos, but since the truck is owned by the same restaurant the food is just as good.

Charlie has pretty bad manners.

Charlie has pretty bad manners.

And it only took us a couple of visits to establish our favorite dish — the torta with chorizo.

It’s this ah-maze-ing sandwich made with ground meat, jalapenos, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and refried beans.

The torta.

The torta.

The refried beans really make the sandwich. They take it from being a lame ground meat sandwich to being a serious thing.

One of us has gotten it every time we’ve gone to the taco truck. It’s that good.

(The fish tacos, which I think is what they were originally known for, were good, but not phenomenal.)

Fish tacos.

Fish tacos.

And while I’m not normally one to try to re-create my favorite restaurant dishes at home (because they’re really never as good and it takes away my excuse for getting take out), I figured that this sandwich was an easy one to make myself.

Ingredients:

Ground chorizo, red cabbage slaw with lime, jalapenos, plain yogurt, and refried beans on a small loaf of wheat bread.

Red cabbage slaw.

Red cabbage slaw.

Verdict:

Ehh, not as phenomenal. I could have gone with a firmer, less doughy bread. The slaw was good, but I think I should have gone simpler and stuck with lettuce and tomato. But even with those little misses, m’gosh this was a delicious sandwich.

This is one serious sandwich.

This is one serious sandwich.

A really, really delicious sandwich.

So delicious that I literally inhaled in. It was messy and beastly and amazing. Not quite ah-maze-ing, but close enough. And it still gives me an excuse to walk down to the taco truck.

taco truck torta6

Your turn, eaters:

Do you like to re-create restaurant meals at home?

What’s your favorite kind of food truck?

Later eaters!

Simple Couponing 101

Okay eaters!

Tonight we’re talking coupons and it’s going to be a bit of a lengthy one, so let’s skip the pleasantries and get right to it.

Ready…set…go!

I started couponing last summer because I was barely employed and I thought it sounded like something a pre-books, TV shows, insider trading Martha Stewart would have done. I was then, and still am, a very simple couponer.

Where I get my coupons:

As of right now, I get almost all my coupons from the newspaper. I get some from catalinas (those coupons the print out with your receipt) and some from off packages or the random store advertisement.

I’m lucky that my local newspaper puts the potential coupon savings amount on the front page. If it’s less than $100, I buy one paper. Between $200-$300, I buy two. More than $300 and I buy three papers. Once, and only once, the count was $608, at which point I bought five.

What coupons I clip:

I don’t clip every coupon.

Let me repeat that — I do not clip every coupon!

Those couponers from Extreme Couponing clip every single coupon.

“Cat liter? Sure. Diapers and baby food? Of course! Yogurt? The more the merrier. It doesn’t matter if I’m childless, cat-less, and allergic to dairy. If there’s a coupon, I’m clipping it!”

That’s not the best way to go about it.

I only clip the coupons I will use. That means that I rarely use coupons on food, because most food coupons are for crap meat and sugary snacks. I don’t have too much brand loyalty, which makes it easier to find coupons I’ll use. I mainly find and use coupons for house goods and toiletries. I also find a ton of coupons for coffee.

How I use coupons:

I use coupons two ways — the right way and the more right way. The right way is when I use them to save money. The more right way is when I use them in connection with a sale on an item (and sometimes also at stores that double the coupon value and/or have some kind of buyers’ rewards program) to save even more money.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

There’s no wrong way to use coupons. Anytime you save money is good.

But to save the most money I go through store flyers, most of which come in the same newspaper as the coupons. I take a Sharpie and circle whatever sale items I also have coupons for, I write what the coupon is (i.e. how much it’s worth, how many I have to buy, etc) next to that, and then I write how many total sale-plus-coupon opportunities I find on the front of the flyer. Then, after going through all the flyers, I pick the one or two best stores.

By “best,” I mean the store with the most items to buy and/or the store with the highest percentage of savings. I absolutely refuse to go to more than two stores. I’m a little lazy and I’m not trying to build an apocalypse-grade stockpile. So I force myself to be picky about what deals I go out of my way to get, which ultimately ends up saving me more money.

Once I have my stores and items selected, I make a neurotic list. I list the exact brand, type, and count of the item along with the sale price, the coupon value, the quantity I plan on buying, and what the final price should be. I break things up into different transactions, if necessary, and list the total estimated cost for each transaction.

When I go shopping:

Whether I’m going on a couponing-specific shopping trip or not, I always make sure to take my little coupon folders. Because there’s no wrong way to use coupons, and since it’s common for me to find a surprise sale item, I always want to be prepared to save money.

When I’m going on a couponing-specific shopping trip, I take all my coupons, my neurotic list, a calculator (on my phone), my frequent buyer card, and the sale flyer. This way, when I’m feeling extra neurotic, I can double and triple check the coupon against the item against the advertised sale.

That’s about all the tips I have.

A lot of couponers will tell you that to get the most out of couponing you have to change the way you think about shopping and only buy what’s on sale and what you have a coupon for.

That’s not how I go about it at all. I changed my thinking to allow me to buy things that I normally would when they’re on sale, even if that means going a little over budget one week, in order to save money in the long run. And once I started I had to change my thinking so I wasn’t jumping at every single sale-plus-coupon opportunity and wait for the really good ones.

More than anything, I had to learn that couponing is about restraint and persistence.

So enough talk, let’s see all this in action.

Everything I bought from Harris Teeter.

Everything I bought from Harris Teeter.

coupons2

Everything from Harris Teeter that was on sale (plus the creamer and salsa).

coupons3

Everything from Harris Teeter that I used coupons for.

My total from Harris Teeter was $35.65. I saved $16.58, which was a 32% savings. Not too bad considering I made my list without thought to what was on sale or what I had coupons for.

Everything I bought from Whole Foods.

Everything I bought from Whole Foods.

Nothing from Whole Foods was on sale. I didn’t use any coupons. That’s fine with me.

Everything I bought from Walgrees, all of which was on sale and I did have a coupon for.

Everything I bought from Walgrees, all of which was on sale and I did have a coupon for.

My total for Walgreens was $43.62. I saved $58.09, which was a savings of 57%. This shopping trip was specifically for couponing.

As you can see, I don’t live off my stockpile, nor do I eat crap because it’s cheap. I still buy things that are full price, but I manage to save a good bit of money nonetheless. And now that I finally have a printer, which means I have access to a whole world of healthy coupon websites now, hopefully I’ll be able to save even more money.

coupons6

What do you think, eaters:

Did I leave anything out?

How do you feel about coupons?

Later eaters!

Science and Beans

G’day eaters!

How have your lives been?

It still feels a bit weird to me that I only post once or twice a week now. But now that I have cut back I marvel at the fact that I used to come up with things to post about 5 days a week.

But then again, I’m doing a lot less experimenting and recipe creating these days. I’ve gotten busier and dinner has to be on the table every night, so playing and picture taking has taken a back seat.

I did get to play a little yesterday, though, which was…interesting.

Actually, the words I used to describe dinner when I texted Leon was that it was a “science experiment.”

Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

Yeah…

My plan was to make a big pot of black beans similar to these delicious ones and serve them along side some tofu tacos.

Doesn’t that sound like a really great dinner? I sure thought so. And I’d been excited for it since I planned it out on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I had a little bean hubris.

As I was draining and rinsing my soaked beans I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m so glad I cook my own beans. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t cook their own beans. It’s so easy.”acid and alkaline beans1

I totally jinxed myself, because at 6 o’clock (we eat around 8 o’clock), after literally multiple hours of boiling my beans, the beans were still hard.

They weren’t little rocks, but they were far from the soft pillows that these black beans are supposed to be.

So I Googled. And here’s where the science comes in.

Did you know that adding acidity to beans stops them from tenderizing? You’re supposed to fully cook beans and then add wine or lime or vinegar or whatever acid you’re adding.

Did you know that adding something alkaline (like a pinch of baking soda) to the cooking water speeds up the tenderizing of your beans?acid and alkaline beans2

Did you know that if you totally screw up your beans by adding the juice of a whole lime after only boiling them for a few minutes you can add a couple of pinches of baking soda and it will help (but not totally save) your beans?

Did you know that since I learned this I have been obsessively looking up the alkaline levels of foods? And doing that has confused me a lot, which is just one of the many reasons I’m not a scientist. (Another reason is that I got a 25/100 on the botany exam I was studying for in that original black beans post.)

Yeah…

Now we know!

And luckily, Leon claims to like his beans a little crunchy.

Isn’t he sweet?

Your turn, eaters:

What was the last cooking trick you learned?

Are you any good at science?

Later eaters!

Valentine’s Treats! And Sprinkles!

Sup eaters?

I’m going to make this a quick one because it’s all about Valentine’s Day, which means you have roughly 48 hours to make these before they become unseasonable.

First, I f’ing love Valentine’s Day! Seriously, it’s great.

You give people candy/flowers/stuffed animals/cards. You get candy/flowers/stuffed animals/cards.

And I’m not just talking about trading gifts with your better half. Until this year I’ve only given treats to my friends and that hasn’t made it any less fun.

It’s a not-so-subtle reminder to tell people you appreciate them (and to feel appreciated!) because chances are you don’t tell them enough and who gives a crap if you’re telling them on the same day as everyone else in the world.

And seriously…did I mention the cutesy, girly treats? And the sprinkles?!

valentines candy5

Sorry for the poor photos. I was too impatient to eat them to wait until the morning.

Oh the sprinkles!

So if you’re not the V-Day equivalent of a Scrooge, I HIGHLY suggest you take the less than 2 hours it took me to whip up about 5 dozen peanut butter cups and about 3 dozen pretzel bites.

I used this awesome little tutorial to make the peanut butter cups.valentines candy1

A few little fyi-s about the recipe:

A whole bag of Wilton chocolate melts will yield roughly 5 dozen chocolates.

I only used ½ c powdered sugar and used coconut oil instead of butter, which worked great.

Also, I definitely suggest you buy two candy molds.

And beyond that, make sure you let the chocolate in the bottom of the mold harden a little before you put the peanut butter in or else it’ll show through the bottom.

Oh, and don’t forget to add sprinkles as soon as you put the top layer of chocolate on.

valentines candy3The white chocolate pretzel bites are even easier than that.

All I did was crush up some pretzels in my grubby little hands and put a few pieces in the bottom of the mold. Then I spooned a bag-worth of melted white chocolate over the pretzels and added sprinkles!valentines candy2

Have I mentioned that I love sprinkles?

Because I really do.

I made all of these little cuties on Saturday and then passed most of them out that night. And while it did take me about two hours from start to finish it certainly wasn’t a grueling two hours.

You could easily do this after a day at work when you brain is a little mushy. Which means…you have no excuse not to make something cute for Valentine’s Day.valentines candy4

But if for some crazy reason you actually have other things to do — like cleaning or having a social life — and you don’t make these little cuties by Thursday then just swap the sprinkles for something more all-occasion and you’re golden.

Like Willy Wonka’s chocolate.

(That worked in my head. Just go with it.)

Your turn, eaters:

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Which chocolate will you keep for yourself — peanut butter cups or pretzel bites?

Later eaters!

Two Tips Tuesday

G’evening eaters!

I’m fading fast, despite the fact that I really didn’t do anything today. But you’ll hear about all that tomorrow.

I promised you two tips/tricks from my Thanksgiving and here they are. (Oh, and this isn’t going to become a regular thing. I just like alliteration and triplets so I added “Tuesday” to the title.)

1) Everyone loves risotto, right? It’s thick and creamy and unbelievably comforting.

Unfortunately, the way it’s usually made require lots of milk and cream and butter and cheese. Now if you know me at all, you know that I don’t have a problem with any of those things, but they can be the kind of specialty ingredient that go bad after you’ve used the splash or two a recipe calls for. And they’re not super flavorful on their own, so you have to add extra ingredients. And if you’re cooking for a crowd then chances are at least one person is going to be vegan, lactose intolerant, or doesn’t like cow’s milk.

That’s a whole lot of reasons not to make risotto.

Or it could be a whole lot of reasons to make risotto with broth and pureed soup!

Yup, that’s my risotto trick. I forgo the dairy and alternate splashes of broth (chicken or vegetable, depending on the crowd you’re serving) and pureed soup.

For Thanksgiving I used some butternut squash soup and vegetable broth to accommodate my vegan guest. And just for funsies I chopped up a mix of dried wild mushrooms and tossed them in dry. They soaked up the liquid and added a little mushroomy background without adding lots of blah tasting water, like if you soak them before hand.

That mushroom bit is another trick I use often, but that’s not the second trick for tonight. Nope…

2) Does your chocolate ever seize up when you’re trying to melt it? It happens to me about half the time and, honestly, I’ve got no clue why. Here’s what happened on Thanksgiving in case any of you can tell me:

I was melting dark chocolate chips with coconut oil in a crock pot. Everything was melting just fine. I decided to thin out the chocolate a bit with coconut milk. And immediately it seized up into an angry little ball.

Like I said, I’ve got no clue why that happened. Chocolate is a mystery to me.

But now, at least I know that adding a little room temperature brewed coffee helps smooth out seized chocolate. Luckily I had some on hand and after a little stirring the chocolate was almost as good as new. It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly wasn’t an angry little ball of fucked up-ness like it was before.

And that’s all I’ve got for you tonight. I’m sure at least one of these tips will eventually come in handy. Heck, if I was better at this whole internet thing I could make some awesome pinterest-able graphic.

But if I was better at this whole internet thing I probably wouldn’t cuss so much, so I’ll call it a draw.

Your turn, eaters:

Got any good little tips for me?

What’s something you wish you had a magic tip for?

G’night eaters!

Frittata Formula

G’day eaters!

Ya know how last week I said that I thought I was losing my blogging mojo?

Well, this week I realized it’s not that I’m losing my mojo. I just don’t have enough time for my mojo to flow.

I have been endlessly bombarded with homework all week. I have to clean the house in preparation for the family coming on Friday. I should probably wash some linens before Friday, too. I haven’t gone grocery shopping because I’m doing a big shop for Thanksgiving tomorrow and it appears that I’m just not capable of two shopping trips in one week. Oh, and I have Crossfit, work, class, and the chiropractor, too.

Oh, and Charlie ate my camera memory card and USB card reader so I need to find time to go buy new ones.

I think that’s it. Hell, I hope that’s it.

All of that stress is making blogging sound very unappealing, not to mention that I have nothing to blog about. It’s also making dinner my least favorite time of the day because, let’s be honest, in a situation like this take out ALWAYS sounds way better than scrounging for somehting in the fridge.

But in an effort to save money and my gut (because I’m trying to tighten up my eating just a hair to make up for my considerably scaled back Crossfit WODs), I do scrounge. I make meals that aren’t exactly thrilling and certainly aren’t blog recipe-worthy in an effort to scrape every possible penny out of my fridge food and not eat Chinese food every night. (Though a big box of Mongolian beef sounds so damn good right now.)

And on nights like this, frittatas are my best friend.

I’ve probably blogged about frittatas before. (And spelled them every which way before, too, because in this post alone I’ve spelled it three different ways.) Deities know I’ve made them often enough. So I’m not going to call this a recipe. Instead, it’s a formula.

Vegetables pre-saute plus HOMEMADE bacon.

Chop and saute whatever vegetables you have on had.

Whisk together 5 eggs with a bit of whatever seasonings you’re feeling.

We love smoked paprika in this house.

Spray the bottom of a pie pan or oven-safe pan with oil (if you didn’t saute the vegetables in the pan you’ll be using, because, oh yeah, that’s a good idea).

Bake it in a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the middle doesn’t jiggle.

1/3 of the frittata plus cheese and hot sauce.

And really and truly, eaters, that is it. Sometimes I serve it with a grain. Sometimes I just eat a little extra dessert to make sure I got enough carbs. Or sometimes, like tonight, I have a beer or two or three.

My beer on the right: Sweet Water Festival stout.

Because let’s be honest, eaters. I really freaking need a drink right now.

And a Guinness, because I love them so freaking much.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s an easy, formulaic recipe you fall back on a lot?

What’s the first life-thing to fall by the wayside when you’re stressed and busy?

G’night eaters!

PS — Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos. I JUST bought a new memory card and reader so Thursday’s post should be better (because I already took the photos for WIAW).

Meal Planning 101

Hiya eaters!

To say that I’m mentally exhausted would be an understatement. I am definitely paying for putting off all my homework this weekend. And I still have more homework to do after I post this.

College is fun, isn’t it?!

But enough griping about homework. Let’s talk about class.

I realized today, while I was sitting in class making my meal plan for the week, that I have become pretty dang awesome at meal planning and grocery shopping. So awesome, in fact, that I almost feel qualified to give you advice on it.

And since there’s no “almost” in the blog world, here’s a little insight into how I go about planning and shopping for my food every week.

First: Figure out how many meals to plan.

I generally plan for a week, knowing that we’ll eat out once and wing it (leftovers or odd bits put together) once. So I know I should plan 4-5 meals each week.

If you can't tell, I do have more in my freezer than Smirnoff and coffee.

Second: I check my freezer for protein.

I base my meals around protein, whether it be plant or animal. And Leon and I tend to buy it in bulk whenever it’s on sale (which is why we currently have 6 blocks of tofu, a couple balls of ground beef, and two chicken carcasses), so it almost all ends up in the freezer.

So when planning I aim to use at least three pieces of protein from the freezer. It cuts down on paying full price for what is usually the most expensive part of a meal. It also gives me some limits to make figuring out meals less overwhelming.

Third: I check my favorite basics.

I may not be as predictable as serving spaghetti every Thursday, but I am still predictable enough to go back on my favorites — tacos, stir fries, pizzas, one pot meals. I make at least one, if not two of those a week.

For example, this week I’m planning to make pizza and seitan chili. Knowing that I’ve got those two meals on lock makes the rest of planning easier.

My groceries this week.

Fourth: I check Pinterest.

Yes eaters, Pinterest is for more than pictures of DIY projects you’ll never do or hairstyles you want to try. It is also a pretty great place to find recipes. Because when you think about it you eat with your eyes first, so seeing pictures of recipes is really rather helpful.

I pin things throughout the week, so when it comes time for planning I just pull up my “Cooking Springboard” board and see what I either have the protein, time, or random ingredients for.

All of these were once specialty ingredients.

Fifth: I fill in the blanks.

No one is enough of a meal planning wiz that they can use ever ingredient for two meals and not waste a single bit. Or at least, I’m not.

I buy ingredients that I only need a tablespoon of. I buy two kinds of cheese when I could probably make due with one and save a little bit. But I don’t have too much brand loyalty. And I do know that once that specific ingredient is in my arsenal I’ll use the heck out of it.

Left: groceries. Middle: costs. Right: meals.

Sixth: I make a list and stick to it strictly.

Isn’t that everyone’s trick? Stay away from impulse buys. Know how much things cost and buy in bulk when they’re cheap. Clip coupons. Plan. Plan. Plan.

And that’s about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got homework to do.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s your meal planning process?

What’s your favorite meal to make? My basics could use some refreshing.

G’night eaters!

Abbreviated Cobb Salad

‘Ello eaters!

I’ve had a really trying day — both mentally and physically. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow for WIAW, so I’ve save you the sob story tonight.

Instead, let’s talk about salads, shall we? More importantly, dinner salads.

Everyone knows that salads are great for lunch. And who doesn’t love a nice salad before a fancy restaurant dinner?

But what about salad as a dinner entrée? Why does that feel so rare?

It really shouldn’t, especially considering how easy a salad can be.

But I do want to point out that, at least in my house, a dinner salad is not the same as a lunch salad.

A lunch salad is generally light, with more emphasis on vegetables. A dinner salad, though, should have a bit of heft to it. It should have at least a few sources of protein and fat. Oh, and something purely for fun.

By these standards, a Cobb salad is pretty much my perfect dinner salad.

Eggs, chicken, and bacon for protein. Bacon, cheese, and avocado for fat. Tomatoes and lettuce for veg.

With plenty of fat, protein, veg, and fun, this salad is so close to perfect. The only problem: it’s so complicated.

Who honestly has all those ingredients just lying around waiting to be put in a salad? Or who has the time to cook each individual thing for a salad, which is supposed to be a quick dinner?

Certainly not me!

So, I introduce you to the Abbreviated Cobb Salad.

A mix of green leaf and a local bib lettuce.

It’s got lettuce like a Cobb, but I prefer Romaine, green leaf, or bib instead of iceberg.

It’s got bacon like a Cobb. I suggest two slices per person.

Bacon makes everything better. As long as it's crispy.

It’s got cheese, specifically some super sharp Dubliner cheddar, but a nice Swiss would be good, too.

It’s got chicken like a Cobb, but mine is sliced off a Whole Foods rotisserie chicken (which at $8 is a bit steeper than most rotisserie chickens, but is still cheaper than buying a whole, raw chicken from WF).

Convenience is key.

It doesn’t have avocado, because I’m lazy.

It’s got green bell peppers instead of raw tomatoes, because I hate raw tomatoes.

It’s got balsamic vinaigrette instead of the Cobb’s customary blue cheese or ranch.

It’s got chia seeds, too. Because why the heck not?!

So it may not be quite as fancy as a Cobb salad or look as good with each ingredient laid out like a rainbow. But it was a heck of a lot easier, tasty as hell, and still plenty satisfying to qualify as a dinner salad.

Who says salads are boring?

What do you think, eaters:

Do you eat dinner salads or are they strictly a midday meal or side dish?

What’s your favorite kind of salad?

G’night eaters!

How to Brew Kombucha

G’day eaters!

Life at the beach is still pretty grand. I’ll give you a blow by blow when I show you WIAW (which will be posted on Thursday because tomorrow I’m taking the day off).

But for now, I’m going to get all wordy on you and teach you how to make kombucha!

Yes, you know that really delicious, but really expensive carbonated, fermented drink you buy far too often for your budget at the grocery store?

Well, it’s so wonderfully easy to make at home that you now have no excuse for spending so much money on drinks.

Step 1: SCOBY

A SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the mushroom that your ‘bucha grows off. If you want to buy one I hear Kamp Kombucha is really good.

I’m broke so I grew my own. If you want to do that you’ll need:

1 jar GT’s Original Plain Kombucha

1 c filtered water

1 plain black tea bag

2 T cane sugar*

1 jar large enough

1 breathable cloth**

1 rubberband

Brew the tea in the water and mix in the sugar. Once the tea cools to room temperature, pour it and the bottled kombucha into the jar. Cover the lid only with the cloth, secure it with a rubberband, and place it in a warm, dark place (I used the cabinet closest to my stove) for up to 3 weeks.

A SCOBY and a baby sitting in kombucha.

A film — the SCOBY! — should start to form after about a week. It usually forms on the top, but it’s fine if it falls. Once it’s about ¼” thick (a little less is fine), remove the SCOBY to a bowl and cover it with at least ½ c of the liquid you grew it in. Throw out the rest of the liquid. Now you’re ready to brew!

To brew you’ll need:

1 SCOBY

1 gallon jar

1 gallon filtered water

8 plain black tea bags

1 ½ c cane sugar

1 breathable cloth

1 rubberband

at least ½ c kombucha (this can be from a bottle, a previous batch, or the liquid you grew it in, but it has to be plain)

Ready to ferment!

Brew the tea and mix in the sugar. Once the sweetened tea cools to room temperature, pour it into the jar. Add in the SCOBY and the liquid it’s sitting in. Cover the lid with only the cloth and secure it with a rubberband. Place the jar in the same warm, dark place for 4-10 days.

The length of time you let the ‘buch ferment is up to your taste. The longer you let it sit the more acidic it’ll taste. I like it sour, so I left it the full 10 days, but I suggest tasting a little bit with a straw every couple of days after day 4 until you figure it out.

Once the kombucha is to your liking, it’s time to bottle.

To bottle you’ll need:

~8 16-ounce bottles with an air-tight cap

funnel

juice, as desired

A new, smaller SCOBY — a “baby” — will have formed. You can keep it or throw it out, but generally a SCOBY will only be good for about 6 brew cycles, so eventually you’ll need to keep one.

Remove the SCOBYs to a bowl and cover with at least half a cup of kombucha. Put the funnel in a bottle and pour in as much or as little juice as you’d like.

I put about a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice and a combinations of about 2 tablespoons of 100% apple-raspberry and 100% apple-cherry juice in each bottle.

Then, using a ladle, pour kombucha into each bottle until almost entirely full. Put the lid tightly on the bottles and place them in the same dark, warm spot for up to 5 days.

This next step is optional. It allows the kombucha to carbonate more and for the flavors to mellow a little. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice. After the bottles sit for up to 5 days, move them to the fridge. Once they’re chilled they’re ready to drink!

It may seem like a lot of steps, but each step requires less than an hour of work. And in the end you have about 8 bottles, a roughly $24 value, of as fresh as it gets kombucha.

Not bad for a couple of hours of work, right?

PleasepleasePLEASE do let me know if you brew some and if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer what I can.

What do you think, eaters:

Would you ever brew your own kombucha?

What’s your favorite flavor?

Later eaters! And have a very happy, safe (no drunk driving or blowing yourselves up with fire works) 4th!

*You can try a sugar substitute, but from everything I’ve read it won’t work. The sugar is a vital food source for the SCOBY, so be careful with any tweaks.

**By a breathable cloth I mean a dish towel or a paper towel. You need to let the air in and the dust and bugs out, so a cheese cloth won’t work.