December 14, 2014

DIY Cider Fire Water.

I just started making Cider Fire Water this year and I'm addicted. So is anyone else I've given it to. I have had good results from avoiding colds to getting rid of bloat from overindulging (hello holiday eating).

It works because the raw apple cider vinegar extracts all the goodness from the 12+ veggies, fruits, herbs and spices you put in it and shake for 3-6 weeks and makes a perfect antibacterial, antiviral, immunity-boosting, congestion ridding cocktail.

I take it by just shooting it. Sometimes I take a little water after I shoot it, but I don't mind the flavor. In fact some people make salad dressing and marinades out of it. It's in short supply over here, so I haven't used it to cook with, but people do.

I have used the recipe from here with a couple adjustments. Also this is a great video showing a variation of the cider fire water. If you don't want to wait the 3-5 weeks you can order some here. It's a little pricy, but so are all the ingredients you have to source. There's no shame in outsourcing.


try to source organic whenever possible. makes about 16 ounces.

½ cup peeled and diced horseradish
½ cup peeled and diced garlic
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced ginger
¼ cup peeled and diced turmeric
1 habanero chile, split in half
1 orange, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
½ lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
½ cup chopped parsley
2 T chopped rosemary
2 T chopped thyme
1 T rosehips
1 t black peppercorns
2 to 3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
¼ cup raw honey, or more to taste 

Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vinegar, covering all the ingredients and making sure there are no air bubbles. Cap the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment between the jar and the lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar. Shake well.

Let the jar sit for 3 to 6 weeks, shaking daily (or as often as you remember).

Strain the vinegar into a clean jar. Add honey to taste. You can refrigerate, but I go through it so fast that I don't.

Some additions or substitutions you could make:

Star Anise
Coriander Seeds
Schisandra Berries
Beet Root Powder
Habanero Powder
Bird's Eye Chili Powder
Whole Chili Peppers

Let me know if you make it. Or better yet take a picture of your process and tag me on instagram @desimckinnon I would love to hear your results.

October 28, 2014

DIY Basic Kombucha with a Second Fermentation.

Let's just say I have a few fermentation books. Wild Fermentation, Nourishing Traditions and Mastering Fermentation. I think I've even gotten rid of a couple. Plus there's other cookbooks that have sections on it. So when I saw Fermented: A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foodsat the library I flipped through it, checked it out, but didn't think I was going to learn that much.

I was WRONG. I love this book. Might even buy it, but for now I'm just really enjoying fermenting out of it. Jill Ciciarelli, the author, really breaks stuff down into information my brain has been able to absorb. As a result I was finally able to brew kombucha in my little kitchen without issue and get bubbles. Not just some bubbles, but effervescent like GT's bubbles.

This is huge for me. I have quite a kombucha habit. I use it as a reward for going and braving the crowds at Wholefoods. Or for a pick me up. I think it costs me about $20 a week. That adds up friends.

Hopefully I can share what I have learned.


Get one from a friend ( thx Shelly ). Or purchase a Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit.

Starter Tea
You need a small about of kombucha to brew a fresh batch. Hopefully your friend gave you some with your SCOBY, but if they didn't get some plain kombucha from Wholefoods or some other retailer. I would suggest getting GT's original in the brown containers.

Glass Jar for Fermentation
From 1 quart to a gallon. If you are local you can grab a one gallon jar from the Fermenter's Club or at Peoples. You can also order online.

Almost any tea will do, as long as it's actually tea from the Camellia sinesis plant ( with rooibos being the exception ). I will suggest that you start with black tea to build your confidence. Black teas are great. Assam, darjeeling, ceylon. Green Tea. Oolong Tea. White Tea ( I wouldn't use this until you are ready to go pro ). Rooibos Tea or Red tea. Unflavored is best. Try to always use organic teas because the pesticides from conventional teas can mess with your SCOBY's ecology and frankly your body's ecology. You can get nice quality teas online or from a local retailer.

Plain, ol' white sugar works nicely, but if that gives you the creeps, use organic raw cane sugar. I use organic raw cane sugar and so far, so good.

Cover for Jar
You can use coffee filters, thin dish towels, old handkerchiefs, muslin, or linen napkins. Just don't use cheesecloth because fruit flies are bastards and they will mess with your Mother. Don't mess with Mom. Secure cloth of your choice with a rubberband.

I use old GT bottles because I have them and they are easy to clean. You might like flip-tops. I like 16oz bottles because the serving size is just right for Josh and I.

Funnels, Straws and Juicers
Funnel for bottling. Straws for sipping to see if your brew is ready. Juicers for well... juice. All of these are nice for obvious reasons, but not necessary.


1 gallon of filtered water
⅓ cup of loose-leaf organic tea or 6-8 tea bags
1 scant cup of sugar
½ - 1 cup of starter tea

1. Heat water to just shy of boiling.
2. Brew tea. Usually 3 to 5 minutes, but it depends on your preference and the type of tea you are using. Remove Tea.
3. Add sugar and stir until it's completely dissolved.
4. Cool tea to room temp. ( your tea needs to be cool or it will kill your SCOBY )
5. Pour the tea into glass jar.
6. Add SCOBY and starter tea to tea sugar mixture. Secure cover with rubberband.
7. Put jar in a well-ventilated, warm ( 70ish degrees ), dry place that's not dark. Light and warmth will aid the bacteria and yeast in their sugar eating dance.
8. Let your kombucha sit out for anywhere from 5 days to a few weeks to ferment. I start checking at 5 days. I taste to see if most of the sugar has been eaten and if it's tart enough for me. You can also test with ph strips and when they read 4.0 to 5.0 it's done.
9. Bottle and reserve a cup of tea to start your next batch.


Doing a second ferment will enhance the flavor of your kombucha and hopefully give it some fizz. You can add another ½ teaspoon of sugar or the equivalent of 2 grams of sugar in juice form to 16 oz of finished kombucha. For instance 2 teaspoons of raw orange juice or 1 tablespoon of pear juice. This is where you get to be creative. Leave out on the counter for 3-5 more days. Refrigerate. Enjoy.

Be careful opening after a second fermentation because pressure can build. You can open over a sink to be on the safe side. I haven't had one explode, but I don't want to have it happen either.

September 29, 2014

Someware Goods.

Do you ever click on the explorer button on instagram and see what the robots think you will like based on your likes and people you follow? Well sometimes I do. Usually there's nothing, but sometimes there are real gems. People that I would have never found, places I wouldn't know about.

I discovered this shop, based out of LA, called Someware. I'm loving the goods that they are having produced. Their prices are reasonable and I'm enjoying the soft color palette.

Maybe it's the change in season, but I am finding myself in the nesting mode.

images via ( from top left to right ): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

September 22, 2014

The Beginning.

This week is going to be a little intense. I had a bit of a break at the end of last week for my birthday, which was so nice. I got together with friends and family over the weekend. Went to tacos and drinks, saw Norm MacDonald (love him so much), laughed, went out for more drinks, had a brunch at my house, went to the beach. It was all perfectly my speed and lovely.

Here's to a week of getting it all done and enjoying each and every moment that it takes to do it. Happy Monday!

September 6, 2014

DIY Natural All Purpose Cleaner

I've made a few cleaners over the years, but this is now my favorite. I don't know that I will be purchasing cleanser again. I love this mix that much. I'm also enjoying changing up the scent with essential oils too.

All Purpose Cleaner
2 cups water ( I use filtered )
1 T baking soda
½ cup white vinegar
juice of one lemon
10-15 drops of essential oil - some blends I like are (5) lemon + (10) peppermint,
(5) lemon + (10) lavender, (5) lemon + (10) tea tree, (10) grapefruit + (5) thyme

Heat one cup of water and dissolve the baking soda in it. When the baking soda is completely dissolved add the other cup of water.

Add the remaining ingredients in order. Stir. Pour into spray bottle. Shake before use.

Make sure to add the ingredients the way the recipe is written or you will have a nice chemical reaction on your hands and it will make a mess. * see 3rd grade volcano experiment.

Don't use on stone counter tops.

Bacteria Busting Essential Oils - cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, pine, tea tree, thyme grapefruit, lime.

September 3, 2014

For the love of indigo.

I don't know what it is about indigo that keeps me so captivated. It might be it's high contrast, the new age belief that it influences our intuition and perception, or it's long history.

It's both a color and a dye. It's been fought over until it was able to be synthesized in the late 1800's. Indigo has been utilized in art and textiles for centuries in Japan, Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, and Ancient Britain. Just to name a few.

It holds my attention and I just want to wrap myself in it. I even ( kind of ) enjoy it's pig shit scent when dying with it.

Any of you have a favorite indigo piece that you have had forever? Have you dyed with it?

images via ( from top left to right ): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 ( bought it ) | 8 | 9

P.S. Folk Fiber has some great blog posts on natural fabric dying.  

July 2, 2014

Taking the long way. Or my weight loss journey over the past year.

I have gained weight before, but it was hormonal. When Josh and I first got married I went on birth control and it most definitely did not agree with me. I have almost always eaten pretty healthy and that had not changed, plus I was still running and I gained a good twenty pounds.

After getting off birth control and running distance for a few months the weight melted away and stayed away for years. I ran and waited tables and I was fit.

Then I went back to school. The stress and time constraints made exercise a bit harder, but I kept it up. Inspite of that I gained 8-10 pounds in school. Then I started working at a studio right away. I was running 3-5 miles 3x a week and still gaining weight. After 4 years at a desk I was 20 pounds bigger and not very happy about it. 

I had already learned the lessons of calorie in calorie out not working, but I decided that all I needed to do was run more. I started running 5x a week again, but my weight would not budge. Would NOT budge. I ask my doctor about it and she said (after testing my thyroid, which was normal) that my 25 miles a week wasn't going to cut it because I was just sitting too much. 

I was learning to program more and spending a ton of time on the computer. I knew that 2+ hours of exercise a day was not sustainable and started to fret that I was going to be living like this until menopause at which time I would grow to be a house.

I had mostly cut grains out of my diet since Josh and I had done GAPS, but I decided to try a completely paleo plan and that's when I did the Whole30. I lost around 10 pounds doing the Whole30 and continued eating paleo, but didn't lose any additional weight. I kept drinking to the weekends and that also seemed to help keep the weight off. 

Then enter last Fall 2013. I made two major changes. Josh and I adopted Zeke and I started doing a 5 day - 2 day intermittent fast every week. The weight finally decided to start consistently dropping. 

I stopped running. I don't think it was working for me anymore. Having a dog has really helped me because I walk him every single day. Weekend or not for at least 40 min. I think that consistency in exercise has helped quite a bit. I would prioritize other things over exercise for myself, but I would feel like a complete ass if I did that to a little dog.

So a bit about intermittent fasting… I saw a PBS special on it with Dr. Michael Mosley. I only caught the end, but it seemed very promising. I have read a bit about calorie restriction and prolonged longevity, but this seemed like something I could actually do.

I looked up what 5/2 week looked like and why it worked. It's pretty simple for the days that you fast if you are a woman you consume 500 calories and if you are a man you get 600 calories. I'm not a calorie counter. I don't have the patience, so I decided that I would have my normal 2 eggs in the morning and skip eating the rest of the day until dinner. I usually have whatever I want for dinner. You would think I would binge, but I don't. I usually do Monday and Wednesday, but if something in my social schedule conflicts I just switch the day. 

Fasting has other benefits too. Longevity which I mentioned before. It helps protect you from age related illness, such as cancer. It turns on your repair genes. Even short term fasting does that, which is kind of amazing. 

I know everyone worries about being hungry and not having the brain power on the fasting days. I feel like that hasn't been an issue for me after week 2, but I would adjust the plan to meet your needs if that is the case for you. Some people don't eat breakfast or dinner and eat a large lunch. 

If I feel super hungry I make sure I'm hydrated. Water usually cuts any craving for me. In the winter I drank a lot of herbal tea, since it's a little hotter I'm drinking more iced tea and spa water.

Once you get to your goal weight you're supposed to switch to fasting only one day a week. I'm not quite there yet, but I will be soon.

So, anyone else done this? Tempted to try it?

images via: 1 | 2
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