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Rustic Blueberry Bars

Just this summer I came to realize that kombucha (the fermented beverage I rave about for it’s health benefits, flavor, and frugality) is a wonderful dough/batter enhancer for quick breads.   If you remember vinegar and baking soda experiments from elementary school you can imagine how kombucha starter liquid would react with baking soda due to its similarity to vinegar (but without the vinegar taste or smell).  It puts fizz in the dough!

I do not have the patience of a tadpole, so if I want to eat delicious healthy baked goods I have to plan ahead and make-ahead wherever possible.    I put dry ingredients in mason jars as you see in my top photo.  The flour I used for these make-ahead mixes includes Premium Gold’s “Gluten Free Flax & Ancient Grains All-Purpose Flour” which is made from brown rice, flaxseed, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth.  These are exactly the same things I used to have to buy separately and grind up myself to add by hand to make healthy baked goods, so this product saves me a lot of time.  My mix also includes sprouted spelt (or wheat, kamut, or rye) so it is not gluten-free.

I used to put baking soda in with the dry ingredients, but I am learning that with kombucha bread it works better when mixed fresh with the liquids and that using kombucha as an additional leavening agent makes quick breads completely idiot-proof.  That means that if I stick with the basic chemistry, I can use my make-ahead mix to create portion-controlled batches of just about any kind of quick bread in just a few minutes.

Today I used up some fresh blueberries that were not sweet enough to eat out of hand, and a little bit of left over Naked Juice Company’s Green Machine (which has kale, spinach, wheatgrass, seaweed, and broccoli in addition to 5 fruits) .  This I added to the baking soda and a generous splash of kombucha.  Quick, while it bubbled up like a volcano, I stirred all this into the flour mix.  Voila, blueberry bar batter!  All that was left to do was sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top, drizzle it with maple syrup, roll it in oil to form a log, slice it into bars and bake.  Even I was a bit skeptical about this process, but the final result was not green at all, and did not taste a bit like veggies.  In fact, I plan to try putting Green Machine in my next batch of chocolate chunk cookies.  Note that a little baking soda goes a long ways, so too much will be noticeable.

These days I am usually cooking for just one or two, so my oven of choice is Gourmia’s 10-in-1 Multifunction Robotic Cooker which got bad reviews when some test bakers tried to make cookies in one without elevating them.  Duhh, that is sort of like putting your steak right on charcoal instead of using the grill.  I admit the directions that came with the unit were a bit lacking.  Anyway, it has a preset that works perfectly for this recipe, so all I do is put the food in the cooker on top of an inverted silicon baking pan, select “grill” and push the start button.   Gotta love technology!

What do you think?

15 points

Written by Ann Hartley

The whiskered cat is a lucet, a mediaeval tool still in use today to hand weave I-cord, which you see coming out of the hole in kitty's head in my profile photo.  I hand carved this lucet a) to see if I could, b) because I needed a lucet, and c) because I didn't see any cute cat lucets for sale online.  I weathered it a bit (is "distressed" the correct term?) because  that seems to be the trend these days, and because it is probably going to get banged up anyway.

I like to camp and as my late husband's motto was "If you have seen one tree, you have seen them all!" and he has been gone ten years now I have gone on a camping frenzy of late.  Love it!  One of my challenges is to find ways to take my interests camping with me.

Cats:  Why do I list cats as an interest but not have one?  Because I am nomadic and even when I am not camping, I have trips to take from my summer residence to the winter one, and then there is spring, and my favorite season fall.  Can't expect cats to put up with all of that moving around.  Not getting up at 5:30 to feed something just because it meows, either.  But I can draw and paint them, carve them in wood, and weave them in tapestry.   That and I am blessed to have friends with cats.  The cats, of course, know I belong to them and those other people are just their caretakers.  Right?

Camping:  I cannot take golf with me camping either, but all of my other interests I can.  I can take a lucet, a small tapestry loom, tools for drawing,  painting, and carving, and live plants if I'm not crossing state lines.  All that and I can still fit in a comfy pillow, fresh sheets, and a double sleeping bag.

This is the first year that I have taken beet kvass and kombucha with me on a camping trip and it worked fine.  My favorite picnic lunch is home-made sprouted grain bread, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, sauerkraut, kvass, and kombucha with nuts and chocolate for dessert.  Of course I take a sub-zero ice chest and when I come out of the forest my first stop is for a double-double cheeseburger with caramelized onions.  Yep.

Plants:  Unlike cats, plants are pretty easy going about the travel.  I just take cuttings, and where legal, of course, transport them with me.  Almost all the plants I like are fast-growing nutritious edibles that come from cuttings or regenerate from scraps, so I am constantly experimenting with and learning about these little green guys.

Fermentation:  Fermentation is not only and age-old and effective way of preserving food for safe consumption, but it adds nutritional value.  So I take diverse kinds of fermented food on trips and it grows along the way and keeps and if it doesn't get eaten right away there will be more of it for later.   I also like to take pictures of and write about different kinds of food that I have fermented, so I won't enumerate them all here.

Weaving and other arts:  There isn't a wholesome art form that I've met that I didn't like, but I have some training in drawing, painting, and fabric arts, and have just recently decided to learn something about woodcarving because I have recently taken an interest in weaving and needed some custom tools, which I've found to be fun and easy to make.  For years I avoided weaving in part because it looked very expensive, but then I discovered repurposed fabric yarn, particularly "tarn" which is twine made from old t-shirts and the like.

Golf:  I read 19th century writer Sarah Cleghorn's prize winning poem "The golf links lie so near the mill / That almost every day / The laboring children can look out / And see the men at play" back when I was a starving college student and resolved never to play golf and ended up living near a luxurious golf course for 30 years without ever playing.  But we grow and change.  When I was a kid the other kids loved to play marbles but I didn't have any, so a 6-year old friend loaned me hers and told me to go play for "keepsies" and win and give hers back and keep the rest.    What if I lose, I asked her.  I was terrified.  She said she was willing to take a chance.  I didn't believe in myself then, but she believed in me.   Pretty soon I had lots of marbles.  The friend who taught me to play golf was in his 90's when I met him and he told me before we even started that if I learned to play I would soon be making money.  He believed in me.  Hey, I don't make a lot, just enough to cover my entry fees, balls, tees,  and a new club every year or two.  But now I love to play golf and as there is a positive correlation between golfing and longevity, I plan to play it for a long time.   I had the best of teachers.

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    • When we first moved to where I am now we had to submit an architectural drawing to get permission to remove the range top and oven to reduce power consumption enough to add an outlet for my computer, Alex. When the inspector came out he was angry and turned to my husband and demanded to know “How is your wife going to cook?” Dear late hubby stood up tall and replied “My wife is an executive, she doesn’t have to cook!” Well, I cook every day, but I haven’t used a conventional stove or oven in over 40 years.

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