Tag Archives: food

Fermentools ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Fermented foods is something I thought I would dive right into but have found myself languishing, even after having such a success with it the first time around last year. However, with a second chance at a review, I decided to try again and see if I could ferment a love for these healthy foods. Fermentools makes it so easy! With the starter kit, I picked it up again to see if I could love it.

The Fermentools system is easy peasy. It is almost foolproof, actually. The starter kit comes with everything you need to get started except for the jar. The components include:

  • 1 Stainless Steel Lid – stainless steel, corrosion resistant lid to last a lifetime
  • 1 Glass Fermentation Weight – Made to fit inside your standard widemouthed Mason jar, won’t react with your food
  • 1 Air Lock.
  • 1 Rubber Stopper
  • 1 Rubber Canning Gasket.
  • Himalayan Powdered Salt – Himalayan sea salt contains 80 trace minerals (healthy for you!), ground fine
  • Instruction booklet

With all this unpacked, I just needed to locate a wide-mouth glass jar. I grabbed the only wide-mouth we have, a quart, to get started. This time around, I attempted two different recipes. Both were easy enough to get going but I botched the first one.

I started with carrots, because we had quite a few in the fridge. I peeled and scrubbed and followed the directions but something must not have been quite clean. I got icky mold at the top of the jar and the carrots were slimy when I opened it after 4 days, which was the recommended time from the recipe on the Fermentools website.

I didn’t have others to try again, so I looked at what I had to work with. I had some bell peppers and onions so I decided to do a modified Israeli salad, which I have enjoyed making several times since I was introduced to it during the previous Fermentools review. I chopped my bell peppers and onions and put them in the brine and let it sit for a day and a half. It was perfect when I opened it. I ate some of it right away and put the rest in an air tight container in the refrigerator. I enjoyed the salad several times over the next few days.

Now, Fermentools may not be for everyone and I fall somewhere in between the love it and just not quite right for me. Part of that is my shopping habits. I am not a gardener so I don’t have a ton of extra produce sitting around. I have to plan ahead for a batch of anything fermented and I don’t do a great job of that. But I know some who do well at that and I know some who have tons of garden produce so that needs done up somehow and Fermentools is just right for that. In fact, while I was working on eating my yummy Israeli salad, my mom told me she had just started a big batch of sauerkraut using her Fermentools lids. She got a big set after my previous review and she has used them a good bit. Maybe I need to make some more sauerkraut. I enjoyed that.

Anyway, I recommend checking out Fermentools. They have high quality materials that make the fermenting process not so daunting and, dare I say it, even simple. Definitely worth a look.

And don’t forget to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about what fermented foods other Crew members worked on during this review. I know at least one family tried ginger ale so maybe I need to get that going today to have a surprise for the girls.

Lori, At Home.

Vanilla Scones

Facebook can be dangerous because some of these people cook such yummy looking things. These vanilla scones got me. A Dash of Sanity shared their Starbucks copycat recipe. Of course, it contains flour so I had to adapt but that is all cooking is, right? Adapting the recipe to what you can eat or what you have on hand? So, adapt I did and they are tasty!

Here’s the original recipe over on the blog by A Dash of Sanity.

I made two adaptations.
1) I subbed in 1/3 c almond flour, 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour (chickpea flour), and 1 T coconut flour. Make sure you sift these together as it really helps the overall texture of anything baked with these types of alternative flours.
2) I skipped the vanilla bean and doubled the vanilla extract.

That’s it. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. Have at it and enjoy! They make a great late breakfast treat or a snack.

A couple more snapshots of the making –

Lori, At Home.

S’more Snacks for the Homeschool Day

So the Homeschool Review Crew challenged us to share about snacks in our homes. Snacks here are the responsibility of the one who desires a snack. We don’t plan and everyone is on their own. I don’t have to worry too much about the girls snacking on unhealthy treats. I don’t know why but they all seem to get that a snack needs to have some umph to it so they choose healthy 90% of the time. So what do they choose?

  • apples
  • oranges
  • cucumbers
  • bell peppers (we tend to keep these sliced in the fridge)
  • nuts (we keep almonds and pecans all the time and peanuts when it is requested by those who can eat it)
  • hummus (often eaten with bell peppers or pita chips)
  • cereal (we keep a strawberry cereal similar to Special K but a lot cheaper and yummier and we often have rice crispy cereal)
  • carrots (one child loves ranch dressing with hers)
  • graham crackers
  • nut butter and honey (we keep both peanut butter and almond butter)
  • slice of bread with butter or honey or a nut butter
  • roll ups (tortilla with lunch meat and/or cheese)
  • cinnamon roll ups (tortilla with butter and cinnamon sugar)
  • muffins (when I have made them for breakfast and we have leftovers)
  • cheese
  • chocolate milk/chocolate almond milk
  • slice of bacon (they can all cook it in the microwave and clean it up easily)
  • grapes (if we buy them they have to be reasonably priced and look good)
  • strawberries (in season, otherwise they don’t taste good)
  • other fruits, in season (peaches, plums, sometimes apricots, pears, etc.)
  • summer sausage (we buy this sliced as a treat sometimes and a few slices with cheese make a fabulous snack)
  • goldfish
  • trail mix (nuts, raisins, craisins – each one makes her own combo)
  • granola bars (we tend to keep these for dance bags so they can have a decent snack if they get hungry between classes)
  • craisins
  • raisins
  • peanut butter crackers (make with crackers and a nut butter)

But what about those unhealthy times? Well, we keep cookies around for lunches or packed dinners. Sometimes they ask for that. Ice cream is another of those treat snacks but most often it is after dinner. We have recently had a bunch of candy around that was freeze dried (a fun, special experiment sent to the girls by grandparents) and that made it to snacks a number of times.

Because the girls have proven themselves pretty good decision makers when it comes to food, we allow them free reign in the kitchen when it comes to snacks. They know they can get something healthy when they are hungry. They have all chosen to ask if they would like something that is unhealthy.

Today, we had a fun snack time that inspired this post – mini s’mores. It fit into the unhealthy snack category but was tons of fun and fulfilled a science lesson. Miss J is working on kitchen chemistry and today’s lesson was about the oils found in nuts.

Did you know that Brazil nuts are extremely high in oil? You can actually light one on fire. So, this is what she did to experience the oil burning. Using that flame from the burning nut, the girls made mini s’mores. They broke graham crackers into small pieces and used toothpicks to toast mini marshmallows. They added the toasted marshmallow and a chocolate chip to the graham cracker pieces. They were cute and tiny. They had a lot of fun and really enjoyed having a different kind of snack.

A Gift Idea for that Child who loves to bake and cook

My youngest just turned 12 and she has been baking and cooking for a good long while now. But I knew that something to encourage her baking and cooking was what I wanted to get her for her birthday. I looked and looked at subscription boxes for her, knowing she would love getting mail and getting to cook. But I just couldn’t justify it. The cost was high, HIGH! And, you had to buy the food to make it with. It might come with some of the spices but that was often all it had. Plus, she already knew how to cook the sorts of things that I saw in the examples. So, what to do?

I thought I would go buy her a bundle of good baking and cooking things. Then the winter storms hit and we have not left home since last Wednesday. (Her birthday was yesterday.) So, that left without a gift. Time for a brainstorm. . .

Birthday Baking Subscription to the rescue. I whipped out this simple tabbed card just for her.

And it was a hit. She spent some of her time that afternoon planning out her first bake. She scanned some of her cookbooks for a recipe and then decided what she wanted. Now, when it thaws out and it is safe for us to hit the grocery store and/or the craft/baking store, we are tackling hot cocoa bombs. Unless she changes her mind. 🙂

It spreads out the cost for something that she is excited about and it feeds her interests and curiosity. It is the gift of experience and time, both of which are invaluable for our children. She is so excited to have unlimited opportunity to explore recipes that may be technically out of her reach. But she can try!

Lori, At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Round Up for more great posts to read.

Christmas Time = Sucker Making Time

Holiday traditions are special. This is just another one of them because it has a long-standing history in our family, dating from my mother’s childhood. Enjoy the pictures of making cinnamon suckers.

Lori, At Home.

Breakfast ~ a list of options and ideas

Breakfast ideas

As I did with snacks, I am going to attempt to do with breakfast. We do a “get your own” breakfast because we allow the girls to sleep until they wake naturally and my husband works hours that mean mornings don’t start until at least 9 am. So, options are always good and appreciated. Especially when you have children that don’t like the typical breakfast foods on a regular basis. They have learned that high carbohydrate breakfasts don’t last them very long so they do tend to eat a pretty good breakfast, when they eat. I do have one child, who has always needed lots of sleep. (She slept through the night from birth and was a premie child at that! Yes, I count my blessings with that.) She tends to wake late enough in the morning that she gets more a of snack when she is hungry rather than a full breakfast.

So, ideas –

  • leftovers
  • oatmeal (regular, not the sugary prepackaged kind)
  • nuts
  • fruit (oranges, apples, canned fruits, bananas, etc.)
  • lunchmeat
  • cheese
  • bacon (we cook it as needed in the microwave)
  • eggs – scrambled, omelet, hard-boiled
  • homemade granola
  • Greek yogurt – adds in can include granola, maple syrup, fruit
  • cottage cheese – often add fruit
  • breakfast casserole – like with eggs, spinach, and a meat of some sort
  • breakfast burritos – scrambled eggs with your choice of add-ins like cheese, green chili, bell peppers, onion, meat, etc.
  • smoothies – all sorts of options here!
  • homemade pancakes or waffles with pure maple syrup (I do a wheat-free, corn-free version for myself and my husband)
  • homemade donuts (lots less sugar this way and we can add applesauce and other healthy things; again, I have a wheat-free, corn-free recipe that I use for myself and my husband)
  • muffins (see note on donuts)

There are probably more options that come to mind for you and I would love to add them to my list. Grab-and-go options are definitely the most common option around here or those with simple, short cook times. Obviously, you could add cereals and poptarts and granola bars or breakfast bars. We just don’t tend to use those things for breakfast so they aren’t listed here. But please – add your favorites in the comments. I like adding more to my list.

Lori, At Home.



Fermentools for Easy Fermenting ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Fermenting made Easy

Have you heard more and more about how good fermented foods are for you but are a bit timid about getting started? Me, too! Fermentools is a company that really simplifies what is needed to get started and has kits available that get you going right away. I received the Starter Kit for this review.


Fermentools is a family company, begun in 2013. Cassie and Alex Deputie are the current owners and they have a passion for healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. They want to share this with others and run Fermentools as a family. Every package shipped from Fermentools is packed with care.

The Starter Kit contained the following pieces to get me started on my fermented foods journey:Starter-Kit

  • 1 stainless steel lid
  • 1 glass fermentation weight (fits into a wide mouth jar)
  • 1 air lock
  • 1 rubber stopper with hole for air lock
  • 1 rubber stopper without hole
  • 1 rubber gasket
  • Himalayan powdered salt
  • Instruction guide and information, including a basic sauerkraut recipe

I had to find a wide mouth canning jar but this system will fit on a pint or quart jar. I used a quart because it is the only wide mouth jar I could find at the house.

All materials in the Starter Kit are of the highest quality. Surgical quality stainless steel and thick glass weights allow you to have an easier time of learning to ferment food. The salt is powdered, which means it dissolves more easily, and it is high quality containing many of the trace minerals our bodies need. Whether you are ordering a started kit or any of their other sets and pieces, you will get this same high quality and it will be packed with care.

Sauerkraut getting ready with Fermentools

Fermentools air lock system with sauerkraut

I started with sauerkraut since it was inexpensive (a head of cabbage was only a couple of dollars), just in case I made a mistake and had to throw the whole thing out. I chopped the cabbage, pounded it until the liquid came out, packed it into the jar, and added the brine (based off of the size of jar and using the measurement on the salt package).I added the thick glass weight to keep the cabbage submerged during the fermentation process. I added the lid and the air lock system, designed to allow some safe air flow but to keep out pests and bacteria that you don’t want. I covered it and left it sitting in a dark corner of the counter for about 10 days.

sauerkraut made easily with the Fermentools Starter Kit

I bravely took the cover off and then the lid and air lock system. The sauerkraut smelled right and looked right, so I braved a taste, absolutely sure I had bombed somehow. It tasted – well – good. Salty but good! The briney taste was just right. I was so surprised but pleased. I replaced the air lock lid with a regular canning lid and put it in the fridge. I have eaten a couple of tablespoons a day since, especially enjoying it with sausage one night at dinner. No one else has wanted to eat any but that’s okay for now.

sauerkraut with sausage and cauliflower made with Fermentools

My other food trial was fermented Israeli salad. I was, happily, educated on this yummy salad by another Crew member. When she talked about it, I just knew I had to try it. I mean, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions? What else could you want? Plus, it had a short ferment time. That was really good because I really wanted to try this salad.

fermented Israeli Salad

I found a recipe for it on the Fermentools site and just layered it all into the jar.  I added the brine and let it sit for about 24 hours. YUM!!! I ate about 2/3 of it for dinner that night. The rest I ate for dinner tonight. 🙂 This is a definite recommend!

I am going to continue trying a few different fermented food using this simple system. I know that with the family medical history I have, eating fermented foods is a great way to try to stay healthy and keeping a healthy gut. This system makes fermenting small amounts of food easy.


However, if you have a bigger harvest or find a great buy at the farmer’s market, Fermentools has kits in larger quantities and/or you can buy the pieces you need. I highly suggest that if you are interested at all, take advantage of the coupon the company is offering right now. You just might find yourself surprised at how easy it is to ferment food and change one small part of your diet to be a bit healthier.

Coupon Code: CREW2020
Amount: 15% discount
Good through: June 30, 2020

If you have questions, the Fermentools website has lots of answers and a contact form to ask questions through. You can also connect with them on social media:




Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew had over 60 families trying Fermentools and their Starter Kit. Visit the Crew to read what they had to say by clicking on the graphic below.

Review Crew Banner



Snacks – a list of (mostly) healthy ideas


Years ago, I made a few different lists of healthy options for various times of day that we need to eat. I had two young children at the time and the lists were invaluable for my scattered thought processes. It made it possible for me to quickly pack a food bag for my husband who was working 12-18 hour days and I could also get a healthy snack for the girls without too much thought.

We have been talking about needing to redo those lists since we don’t eat so many of the food on them now, mostly due to allergies. This list will not necessarily be allergy specific since our allergies are all so varied. Here’s the “new” list:

  • fresh fruit – apple, orange, banana, grape, blueberries, peaches, pears
  • dried fruit – dates, apricots, raisins, craisins
  • nuts – we keep almonds and pecans
  • cheese – stick or cut a couple of slices
  • lunch meat roll-up – just a piece of meat, maybe with a piece of cheese
  • applesauce
  • almond butter and honey
  • peanut butter and honey
  • graham cracker with almond butter or peanut butter
  • hard boiled egg
  • granola
  • yogurt (can add granola)
  • cottage cheese (can add fruit)
  • goldfish (two of the girls like to mix this with crasins)
  • Cheez-its
  • canned fruit – mandarin oranges, pears, peaches, mixed fruit
  • homemade pudding or jello
  • veggies – carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers
  • hummus (dip with veggies or crackers)
  • tortilla – can add cheese
  • crackers – I prefer the HEB store brand of rice crackers
  • salad
  • leftovers
  • smoothies – tons of recipes out there to choose what you like
  • popcorn – air popped on the stove top is our favorite

Few of these require pre-planning, other than shopping, which is important for us. We often need to grab a quick snack on the way to dance classes and I need to add 2 or 3 each day to my husband’s food bag for work since he works 10 hour shifts now with unpredictable ability to stop and eat. I know he likes to have something different so having a list like this helps me vary what I pack for him.

What would you add to the list? Choices are fabulous to have!

Lori, At Home.


Linking up with the Crew for a healthy eating post over at A Net In Time.

snack ideas

Pizza Yum ~ recipe


I have been trying to find a decent recipe for wheat-free, corn-free tasty pizza crust for a long time. We have, over the years, found a couple that were fine. Nothing made with a bought mix. Those mixes, for some reason, do a number on my stomach. A few weeks ago, though, I thought a good deal about what I like in a pizza crust and what there was in the crusts that were “okay”. I then took that and wrote my own.

It must be cooked on parchment paper and we have found that it cooks best on parchment paper over a heavy-duty aluminum cookie sheet. A stone works fine but it does prohibit some of the crispness. Toppings are totally your choice. We typically have turkey pepperoni and cooked ground turkey on hand. We make our own sauce using a can of tomato paste and adding the desired amount of water to get it to the consistency we want. We also add Italian seasonings to it. I like onions and bell peppers and black olives on my pizza, too.

So top it with whatever you like. I’ll bet a garlic butter sauce instead of the typical tomato would be yummy, also. Maybe this week I’ll try that.

Wheat-Free Pizza

2 T ground flax seed
4 T water
6 T almond flour
2 T white rice flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t xantham gum
6 T grated parmesan cheese
6 T grated mozzarella cheese
1-2 T milk or water

Combine flax seed and water and set aside.

Mix together the remaining ingredients, except milk or water. Add the flax/water mixture to the dry ingredients and 1 T milk. Mix until it all comes together to form a ball. Add more milk if needed.

pizza crust

Crust after the first cooking time. A little brown on the cheese just adds to the yummy taste!

Dump it onto the parchment paper and use a wooden spoon dipped in water to flatten it out as thin as you can. Continue to dip the spoon in water and flatten with the back side of the spoon as often as needed so that the mixture will spread and not stick to the spoon.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degree F.

Take out and top as desired.

Bake for 5-10 minutes more. 5 minutes will get your cheese melted. 10 minutes will get it really gooey and just a tidge of brown on the melted cheese (my perfectly cooked point).

Let sit for 5 minutes or so and then cut and enjoy.


We have tried this recipe a number of times now and I feel like we have it down to a decent place. It is still pretty easy to feel like it is a bit salty so if you are sensitive to salt, you might want to cut that back some.

Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the Crew through A Net In Time in this week’s healthy eating challenge.

Allowing Cooking (and an idea to make it easier on you, Mom!)

Allowing Cooking

Does the thought of allowing your child to take over the kitchen scare you? It does me! At least in some ways. I KNOW I will have more clean up. I KNOW I will have a ton of questions. I KNOW I will be exhausted by the end of it. But, I also know that it will be good for her.

Miss J absolutely loves cooking. I mean it is one of her favorite things and she gets super excited to get a cookbook as a gift. She has been gifted a number of cookbooks over the past couple of years and she reads through them, dreaming of making the lovely food found inside.


For Christmas a few weeks ago, she received The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs. She has gone through it over and over, marking recipes she wants to try. Tonight, she dove in. She made dinner and dessert for me. She made the tear-and-share pizza rolls for dinner and she made cakepops for after. She did a fabulous job.

One idea I want to share about helping youngsters learn to cook well – I acted as sous chef. By getting out and putting away ingredients, cleaning up small messes as they occur, helping prep and guide, the recipe ran smoother and I was able to guide before an issue happened. I was able to do the clean up for her and she felt very confident in her ability. She made a beautiful dinner and we had a great time cooking together. But she was in charge.

** I know someone out there is thinking “But she needs to learn to clean up after herself in the kitchen!” True. I agree. She does. And we talk about that. But we enjoy cooking together and, as I said before, this is a great way to guide the process without the child feeling like mom is watching over her shoulder and not trusting.

Learning confidence in the kitchen is a huge life skill. It is one that can save literally thousands of dollars. I know people who claim they have to eat out a lot because all they know how to make is frozen pizza and cereal. That is not a good claim to fame. So, let’s teach our children better, healthier, cheaper ways. And they will love it. The more they cook, the more they will enjoy it.

Yes, it will be challenging sometimes. Yes, it will be rough. Yes, it will be messy. Yes, it will require lots and lots and lots of clean up. (Did I mention I still have a floor to sweep and mop?) But it will be worth it all in the long run.

So, what is your family going to cook tonight?

Lori, At Home.

Allowing Cooking and idea


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