Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three Saucey Beverages

papaya pineapple agua fresca
We've been busy in the kitchen lately.  I thought I would share some recipes for our favorite DIY beverage specialties.   These are the recipes that we make religiously and they are way better than anything you can buy in the store!

Jamaican Sorrel
If you have never had this tropical drink you are in for a treat.  The hibiscus flowers and lemon are high in vitamin C while the ginger is a blood purifier and creates heat in the body making this a great beverage to consume when you are feeling a little low.  Not to mention the deep red color is stunning.  Sorrel is a staple in our house all year long.  

Ingredients:  fresh organic ginger root- lots, dried hibiscus flowers, juice of fresh lemons, cinnamon sticks, filtered water, sweetener of choice
fresh hibiscus flowers
The first rule of making sorrel is- use as much ginger as you like!  We use a very generous amount!  Now bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash ginger root removing any dirt and cutting off any thick pieces of skin.  Either grate ginger by hand or cut into pieces and blend in blender with more water.  Add to pot of boiling water.  Add about six cinnamon sticks-you can also use powder.  (Sometimes I throw in a few pieces of astragalus root too.)  Add more water until pot is 3/4 full.  Cover and allow to simmer on low for several hours.  Remove pot from heat, uncover and add 2-4 handfuls of hibiscus flowers, stirring well and allowing to steep for at least an hour or as long as overnight.  Gently reheat without bringing to a boil, sweeten to taste, add fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste and stir well.  Strain and pour into bottles which you can store in the refrigerator.   

Agua Fresca
This is the easiest and most versatile of beverages to make as long as you have a good blender.

Ingredients:  any ripe fruit (the juicier the better), filtered water, sweetener of choice

Simply  wash and peel your fruit then blend with water and sweetener until you have a thin uniform liquid.  You can either strain and bottle or drink with the pulp.  Some nice combinations...papaya/pineapple, papaya/orange, cucumber/lime/mint, watermelon/ginger, the possibilities are endless.  Agua fresca is usually thought to be a cooling summer drink but we enjoy it year round.  

Ingredients:  organic black or green tea, organic sugar, kombucha scoby, large crock or gallon glass jar with wide mouth

Kombucha is easy to make and there are a variety of recipes online.  Click here for a basic recipe.  Experiment and have fun!  Some favorite kombucha additions; elderberries, fresh squeezed juice, hibiscus flowers, or rose hips. 

kombucha with mother forming on surface

*last two photos courtesy of, and

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Notes From A Six Day Permaculture Adventure

Almost always, the creative dedicated 
minority has made the world better.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

building hot compost pile

turning steaming hot compost after 5 days


using laser level to find contour

staking beds on contour

building no-till garden bed

We had an fantastic turnout for the intensive with international permaculture consultant, designer and teacher, Rhamis Kent.  Our six days together were filled with knowledge, friendship, community, sharing, authenticity, healing, empowerment, hope, faith, nourishment and oh yeah...we can't forget the amazing masseuse. Students traveled from Berkeley, Oakland, SF, Humboldt  Alabama, and as far as away as Japan.  The class was packed with useful, exciting, and intellectually stimulating information, not to mention everyone went home pretty well fed too.  One of the hands-on activities we participated in was building and turning a huge hot compost pile in our chicken area that reached a temperature of 165 degrees after about 5 days.  We learned about earth works and how to identify a keyline.  We practiced how to survey the land on contour using a laser level, water level and line level.  We proceeded to stake and rope off the area on contour then build a no-till permaculture garden bed with on site materials.  Equally as valuable as all the inspiring information and knowledge shared, a new community was born that we hope will be the beginnings of an East Bay Permablitz group.  One thing is for sure, we all left the group yesterday pumped up and ready to get busy transforming not only the little pieces of earth we inhabit, but also the minds and hearts of those we are blessed to connect with.  Kudos!