Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Update on Sauerkraut

My doctor suggested that I eat homemade, raw sauerkraut often. Since I was unable to find one that didn't contain preservatives yet was affordable, I decided to make my own

So, it's been a while since my homemade, spicy sauerkraut became ready for me to eat. As of today, I am still the only one eating it and have been doing so every day for about a week. Which brings me to an interesting side thought: Why do some people think that if something is homemade, it can't be good?

This recipe is a little spicy and reminds me of a mild kimchi, but it is nowhere near being something that a person like me, with acid reflux, can't have. I have to tell you - just a couple of tablespoonfuls each day on top of my salad has really been wonderful. Probiotic goodness! 

I am storing this in my refrigerator where it will continue to ferment slowly until I have used it all up. When this batch runs out, I will try a plain version without the spices, just for kicks.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


In my quest for better health, I have discovered home fermented sauerkraut. Previously, I had purchased all of our sauerkraut needs, which weren't really needs. Already prepared kraut from the store is almost always canned, and you don't want that because the bacteria gets killed in the heating process, though you can find some fresher versions in the refrigerated meat case. If you buy that fresh version in the store, check it carefully. I have not found one yet that does not contain preservatives, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of eating sauerkraut.

My doctor suggested that I eat more fermented foods for my never-ending digestive issues: fresh yogurt, sauerkraut, fresh fermented pickles (not in vinegar), kimchi, etc.

I have made my own yogurt in my dehydrator as well as larger amounts in my slow coooker. Great, but in order for the sugars (lactose, which bothers me) to completely "burn out", the yogurt must be fermented for 24 hours or longer. The longer it ferments, the tangier it becomes. I can't find dairy yogurt in the stores that is fermented longer than a standard 12 hours.

I have never tried kimchi, but I have made my own fermented pickles. I am not a huge fan, but I am going to try some different flavors and see what happens. I am a pickle fan for sure, but usually the standard canned in a vinegar brine kind. 

Now, as for the sauerkraut, I had only tried making it once in my crock. That didn't work out for me. The kraut was moldy and buggy and spoiled.

This Christmas, my husband bought me the fermentation kit below. The jar is a wide mouth quart mason jar. The kit includes a bag of celtic sea salt and a packet of spices. I decided to try making a jar of sauerkraut using the recipe (included) for a golden kraut (uses the spice packet). 

To make the sauerkraut, I took a small head of green cabbage and put it through my food processor (grating blade attached). I was in a hurry that day. Then, I put the grated cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkled in a tablespoon of the sea salt (important - must use non-iodized salt). I didn't have a mallet at the time, so I didn't pound it, opting to rub and rub the cabbage with the salt. It's kind of like kneading bread; just keep working in the salt. Before long, I had a good amount of liquid and I just let it sit for a bit (about 1/2 hour). Then I put in the spice mix and worked it a little more before putting it all in the mason jar. It all fit! I did not grate up the outer leaf and I placed that on top of the cabbage in the jar. Pushing down with that leaf, I found that I had plenty of liquid in the jar as is and didn't need to top it off with a salt water brine.

I put the plunger on and pushed down, squeezing everything down, and then placed a wide mouth ring on the jar. Then, I put the bubble cap on top and put the whole jar in a bowl (to catch any spillover during the fermentation process). I put a bit of water in the "moat" at the top of the jar and put the whole thing in my basement, where it is cool but not cold and out of direct sunlight.

Today, after five days, I am seeing bubbles as the cabbage ferments. I will leave this to ferment for another five days before taking off the top leaf and capping off with a regular lid, then placing it in the refrigerator. It is ready to eat after 10 days from the time it is begun. My sauerkraut is yellow because of the turmeric. I can't wait to try it, as it smells wonderful already!

Has anyone tried fermenting other vegetables? I would love to hear your success stories.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How Do I Get all of These Great Books?

I review some books for BookLook Bloggers and then post my reviews on this blog. In exchange for those reviews, I receive either a physical copy or an electronic copy of the books in advance. I can't honestly review a piece if I have never seen it. That said, I always read all or most of the books before reviewing them. I also give my honest opinion.

The publishers represented by this review site are Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, and Westbow Press. Yes, they publish Christian content. I chose them because of that.

Another review site I have used in the past and am just now using again is NetGalley. They are not exclusively Christian, but they often have Christian content available for review. With NetGalley, physical copies are not available, but copies for Amazon Kindle are. One thing to remember with NetGalley is just that - the reviewer is reading a "galley", or final draft before publishing. Galleys are sent to the writers for review before publication. Authors can submit changes or give the go-ahead for publication. If a reviewer is reading one of these galleys and finds a mistake, no big deal; just keep reading and accept the errors (if any). If the writer is reading one and finds a mistake, big deal; it gets changed.

I do not review a lot of books simply because I am a freelance writer who writes my own materials. I really don't have time to read and review a ton of other authors' books, though I do admit to having an addiction to reading. I think great writers are first and foremost great readers.

Now, if you are someone who would like to receive free books in exchange for writing HONEST book reviews, below are some options that might work for you. Most of them require that you post your reviews on a blog, consumer retail website, or some other place, so keep that in mind. If you need to set up a personal blog, do that first.

4. MoodyPress
5. Book Hub

There are others, so if you are serious about book reviews, do an internet search for more.

Book Review - The Gift That I Can Give by Kathie Lee Gifford

The Gift That I Can Give is written by Kathie Lee Gifford and is illustrated by Julia Seal. It is published by Thomas Nelson.

First off, I just want to say, "Wow!" for such a wonderful children's book. The Gift That I Can Give is a picture book - not a lot of words but gorgeous pictures. The "story" is told in rhyme with illustrations that move the message along. What is the message? We all have a gift(s) that God gives us in order to use for His glory. In this book, the little girl is asking what her gift is, how will she know what that gift is.

The message is a beautiful one and not one based upon a "me" society. It is one of a giver's society. We all have gifts to use for the Kingdom. Those gifts are almost always to be used for others. The Gift That I Can Give illustrates that message very well for young children. I found it to be well-written and beautifully illustrated - a book that I would want to keep for my future grandchildren.

*I received a copy of The Gift That I Can Give in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Monday, January 07, 2019

Book Review: The Teacher's Bride by Kathleen Fuller

The Teacher's Bride is written by Kathleen Fuller and is published by Zondervan.

Kathleen Fuller has long been a favorite author of mine. She writes a lot of Amish stories, true. Sometimes I am really in the mood for a good, well-written Amish tale and Ms. Fuller is sure to deliver.

In The Teacher's Bride, Ruby Glick is a young woman who has moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to live with her brother and his family in Birch Creek. Her aim is to find a suitable Amish husband and she keeps that aim in mind as she gets to know some of the young people there. She is accident prone and happy-go-lucky, so to speak

Christian Ropp is from New York and is living in Birch Creek as the school teacher. He is sort of the opposite of Ruby in that he is disciplined and almost stiff. He is also looking for a mate.

Neither Christian nor Ruby consider each other for a future spouse. Instead, they team up together to help each other get to know their chosen intendeds. It doesn't work out so well, however.

This story has been a fun one to read. Yes, it is sort of predictable. Almost every light romance, especially in the Amish series, are. Still, we love them. Ms. Fuller is adept at weaving a good story, mixing in the Amish Dietsch, and getting her readers invested in the characters.

*I have received a copy of The Teacher's Bride in order to write my opinion of the book. It is my opinion only.*

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Book Review: Once Upon a Farm by Rory Feek

Once Upon a Farm is written by Rory Feek and published by W Publishing Group.

When I began reading Once Upon a Farm, I didn't know whether this book of remembrances and thoughts would be a tear-jerker or not. In some ways it is not, but at other times, when something hits me just so, it is. I have read every word with anticipation of what Rory Feek was going to say next. And sometimes I braced myself before delving into the next chapter.

The book contains many memories and bits of wisdom gleaned from happy, sometimes sad, and always meaningful times. The memories of Joey, his late wife, are especially poignant and make me feel sad. Sad because she was taken much too early. Yet, somehow, I feel joy too. Joy, because she is in the presence of God. She believed and loved Jesus and is now with Him. That makes me feel very good.

Rory Feek is not kidding when he says that his gift lies in telling stories. He has written numerous "stories" in song as well as in book form. He knows how to be real and yet keep you wanting to hear more. His stories touch the heart. Once Upon a Farm is no different.

The book contains a section in the middle of pictures of the Feek family and the family farm.

I really enjoyed reading Once Upon a Farm. Rory is a great author.

*I received a copy of Once Upon a Farm in exchange for my honest review. My thoughts are my own.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Lessons from Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel DeFoe, is a classic. That is, it has stood the test of time and is one that folks keep reading. As I find it to be rather dull and difficult to really "get into", I have to wonder how it ever made the classics list.

In order to understand books like Robinson Crusoe, the reader really needs to look deeply at what the writer is trying to say. DeFoe wrote Crusoe during the enlightenment period of literature. In art, the movement was called neoclassical. The enlightenment period followed on the heels of the renaissance, which included authors such as Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. Great writing and classical works formed the renaissance. Authors such as DeFoe and Jonathan Swift turned the tide with works that challenged the reader with reasoning, often with religion as the base, and the social and political issues of the time.

In Robinson Crusoe, the reader must read through the eyes of a person living in 18th century England. Slavery was legal and the buying and selling of slaves was a regular thing. The middle class was also a real thing, distinct from both the poor and the rich.

Robinson Crusoe, DeFoe's main character, was a middle class lad who decided to rebel against his father and travel aboard ship. In the first half of the book, Crusoe has adventures that only get him into trouble. He is made a slave in Africa - hmmm, Africa from which the British captured their slaves. He later escapes and winds up in Brazil, where he has a sugar plantation. Is he now rich? Then, the infamous shipwreck happens and he lands on a, so he thinks, deserted island.

Bad things happen to Crusoe - bang, bang, bang. Every time something good happens, Crusoe sins and then something bad happens. Then, he repents and the good happens once again. It becomes a cycle, much like the sin and repent cycle of the early Israelites of the Bible. They sinned and God brought disaster upon them in order to bring them back to Him. Once they repented, things went well. But they would forget God's goodness and again sin. And the cycle continued.

Robinson Crusoe follows this pattern and Daniel DeFoe wrote that pattern in his book on purpose. The book fits right with the enlightenment. DeFoe wanted to illuminate sin and repentance. The slavery issue was in there, but was not really the issue that DeFoe wanted to use to enlighten the reader. Salvation was.

As the novel reaches the climax - the point when Crusoe realizes he isn't living on that island alone after all and meets Friday - he has learned something. He has found repentance and forgiveness. His life has changed with this new spiritual awakening. Like the Prodigal Son of the Bible, Crusoe returns home. He brings Friday with him and becomes rich off of his sugar plantations. There is a happy ending, yet the book ends with the promise of a sequel.

So, the difficult to read story has a very deep, and pertinent meaning buried inside of the sometimes boring narrative. It was Daniel DeFoe's plan to bring the news of Christ and salvation to those readers in his day. Little did he know that Robinson Crusoe would still be read today and be considered a great classic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review - The Orphan's Wish by Melanie Dickerson

The Orphan's Wish is written by Melanie Dickerson and is published by Thomas Nelson.

Melanie Dickerson is one of my favorite authors. The Orphan's Wish did not disappoint me. The story starts right out with a very young Aladdin. It's not hard to tell which fairy tale Dickerson is using this time around, is it? Aladdin is an Arab orphan living far away in his native land. There, he has learned to steal to get by. It isn't long before he is whisked away to Hagenheim and finds himself in an orphanage. That is where he meets Lady Kirstyn.

As they grow up, Kirstyn and Aladdin grow up together and develop a strong bond. Aladdin would like to marry Kirstyn, but he must first impress her father with a fortune. Aladdin moves away and finally has enough, but Lady Kirstyn gets kidnapped. Everything is thrown out of whack. Do Kirstyn and Aladdin eventually marry? You'll have to read for yourself.

I flew through this novel rather quickly because I had trouble putting it down. The story is captivating and I loved the bit of danger presented. The characters are actually believable. Loved it all.

*I received a copy of The Orphan's Wish in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*