Have you heard about kefir?
Have you tried it? Want to learn how to make your own kefir?
I have a really annoying quality, something equally irritating in myself and in others: when I try something new and love it, I want to tell everyone all about it.
…Even people who may have known or done this thing/product/whatever for years. I don’t care. I am a human loudspeaker for whatever piques my rapidly cycling interest. Bar Sculpt, kombucha, jello sake, matte lipstick, control top exercise leggings, Real Techniques makeup brushes, whatever. If I am enjoying something, anything, I want to share the bounty! I want you all to enjoy it, and for us to enjoy it together.
To be fair, I have been excited about fermented foods for a while. Fermented hot sauce is my favorite, but I also love fermented veggies, kombucha, and now, my newest obsession: kefir.
I haven’t decided if I should pronounce it KEY-FER, or KEFF-ER, and solve this problem by giving both versions equal airtime. Regardless of pronunciation, kefir is fermented milk. To make kefir, you mix kefir grains (which are small, off-white curds and not actual grains, and are a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) with fresh milk, cover the container, and then leave it to ferment in a dark place. Sort of like kombucha, but using milk. The end result is not thick like yogurt but is thicker than milk. It takes about 12- 18 hours for your milk to ferment, depending on the temperature of the room where you’re fermenting.
I was hesitant to try kefir. I am not a big fan of yogurt and don’t drink milk regularly. Kefir is slightly sour, bubbly, and creamy. The taste takes a little getting used to, but now I look forward to drinking it. I drink one glass daily because I think that food-based probiotics are good for you. I believe strongly in modern medicine, and I also believe that diet and exercise are essential for good health. Eating a diet that contains few processed foods, many brightly colored fruits and vegetables, local and organic meat and fish, and different fermented foods is important to me, and I’ve noticed significant improvements in my general health since I started eating this way.
Best of all- kefir is simple to make and takes less than 5 minutes daily to prepare. It’s the exact sort of commitment this single mama is prepared to take on.
I use kefir in a number of ways: in smoothies (with frozen fruit and spinach), in pancakes and waffles, in mac and cheese, and in any cheese sauce, as a marinade for my delicious homemade chicken tenders, as a salad with cucumber, dill, onion, and salt, in mashed potatoes (use 1/2 kefir and 1/2 milk) and in a real cooking victory, as a base for cream of asparagus soup. Now that is totally a recipe worth sharing. It should take less than 30 minutes, start to finish.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
- 1 bunch asparagus (or more! I think a bunch is about 1 lb)
- 1 large white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ stick of butter
- 2 to 3 cups kefir (to taste)
- 1 cup half and half (or cream)
- 1 cup chicken broth (or another type of mild broth)
- Salt and pepper to taste
*You need a blender or food processor
- Mince onion
- Mince garlic
- Melt butter in saucepan
- Saute onion and garlic in butter, stirring frequently. Cook until onion is translucent- maybe 5 minutes on medium
- Cut off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus
- Cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces
- Add asparagus to cooked onion and garlic, and continue to saute for about 3 or 4 more minutes- until the asparagus is cooked enough to eat, but still slightly crispy
- Add cream and broth to the pan
- Stir to dislodge everything stuck to the bottom of the pan
- Turn off heat
- Add kefir
- Put asparagus mixture into food processor. You may need to do this in batches- do not overfill. Blend until entirely smooth
*I am intentionally not cooking the kefir to try to keep the good bacteria alive. The soup can be served warm, but not boiling hot
PS. Did you think I was going to mention jello sake and just leave you hanging? Don’t worry friends, I’ve got your best interests at heart. Jello sake is bubbly, alcoholic jello. It is slightly sweet, entirely ridiculous, and totally weird. I rarely drink anything alcoholic, but this is my new favorite drink and you must try it.