Homemade kombucha is easy!...

... You just have to find someone who will give you a scoby (the paddy of living organisms).

You can actually be pretty lax with ingredient amounts and play around with it until you find a ratio that tastes good. Mine often ends up pretty acidic since I don’t add much sugar.

Mini chemistry lesson: the scoby is alive, similar to how yeast is a living organism and it feeds off of the sugar. The raw apple cider vinegar contains the enzymes that start the fermentation.

Let’s assume you are starting with one scoby.

Ingredients and material:
  • 1 large wide mouth jar (I use a large mason jar) but something bigger would be even better
  • 1 kombucha scoby
  • organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • water
  • tea (any flavor you prefer, mango has been the yummiest so far)
  • sugar

Make sure all of your materials are super clean

Boil the amount of water that fits into the mason jar in a large pot on the stove. Remove from the stove and stir in anywhere from 1-2 cups of sugar. Add anywhere from 3-6 bags of tea. Remove tea bags when cool, stir up the sugar if any is remaining on the bottom. Pour team into the large, clean jar, leaving 3-4 inches at the top. Add ~1/4 cup vinegar. Add the juice that the scoby was sitting in (kombucha enzymes, yum). Put a clean dish towel or washcloth over the top of the jar with a rubber band (it needs to breath!)

Let sit for 2 weeks.

Important notes:
  • Keep things super clean otherwise it will grow mold, if anything looks off on the scoby like discoloring (other than turning darker as you re-use the scoby ) or moldy-looking spots, dump it and start over!
  • Only use glass containers and don’t let the kombucha touch anything else, like metal, etc.

To bottle it:
Remove scoby and put in a clean glass bowl in a bath with some of the kombucha. I always just use my hands (after washing thoroughly). Cover with a loose glass lid or cloth. Pour kombucha into smaller glass bottles with tight fitting lids. Store in fridge. You can pour out the very bottom if it’s got a layer of sludge or you can drink it….

Yeah, those are cupcakes in the background

Scoby in it's juice (actually ,plus one tiny scoby on the side)

scoby, top-view

Check out how thick they can get: some scoby image from some hippie


Vegan Banana Cupcakes with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

It seems I am working my way through Isa and Terry's Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, similarly to how Julie cooked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (here is the archived Julie/Julia Project blog), but this is a much smaller task and more enjoyable- I don't have to worry about lobster murder, or even any animal products at all :)


After one bite my roommate says, "never make banana bread again, just these cupcakes."

I love that this process is happening organically. This past weekend I had no intention of baking but I  ran into the recurring problem of over-ripe bananas in the kitchen and felt the recurring compulsion to make something out of them rather then toss the. So I turned to the book and loosely followed their recipe for Banana Cupcakes. Here it is:

Vegan Banana Cupcakes
  • 2 over-ripe bananas (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 2/3 C unsweetened plain soy, almond or rice milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 C chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F and line cupcake pan with liners

Mash bananas until their are no chunks. Sift flour, baking soda, powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl and mix.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, vanilla, almond extract and bananas. Create a well in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle some chocolate pieces into each cupcake and swirl it gently into the batter with 2-3 stirs. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a knife/toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 3/4 C Crisco butter flavor shortening
  • 2/3 C peanut butter (whatever type you prefer)
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-2 1/2 C confectioner's sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp soy, almond, rice milk or soy creamer

With an electric hand-held mixer, cream the shortening until smooth. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and beat until very smooth (2-3 minutes). Beat in sugar. As the mixture begins to stiffen, add in the milk a tiny bit at a time. Beat until frosting is light in color and super fluffy (around 5 minutes). Make sure cupcakes are cool and frost away!


I found Gluten Freedom

Well I finally did it, and it really was no easy feat, what with having no car in SF and needing a handful of random ingredients.

I convinced my friend from out of town to drive me to Rainbow Grocery by talking up what a totally awesome meat-free co-op it is. She even shopped with me and hung around while I searched their extensive bulk food section for the five different flours I needed to bake the "vanilla" cupcakes (they tasted a bit like corn cakes, but with enough frosting the cake flavor was harder to pin down.) Dear Ashley did at least walk out with some type of vegan breakfast burrito. Laiden with a very heavy bag of groceries she even drove me back to my place before taking off on her journey back home.

Then began the real adventure- baking gluten-free, which is actually a breeze once you have all of the ingredients gathered and have an awesome recipe (courtesy of Isa and Terry). Exciting things are happening in the world of gluten-free baking. This time a year ago, it was near impossible to find a decent gluten-free baked good. But now bakers are beginning to figure out which alternative flours (like quinoa, almond, rice, etc.) bake well together to create great flavor and texture.

ground flax seeds are used to replace egg in many recipes

Later I added more frosting...

Check out this recent article from the NY Times about gluten-free baking and a link to recipes.


Vegan Raspberry Chip Cookies

They taste just like regular cookies!

These are an amazing alternative to chocolate chip cookies. This recipe was so good that I am going to experiment with other types of cookies with this recipe as the base (like oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies, etc.)

oops, I ate one

Vegan Raspberry Chip Cookies
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, plain soy milk
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chip
  • 3/4 cups raspberry "tidbits" (or any flavor chips, nuts, dried fruit, etc. you like) 
The only thing that isn't great about this recipe is the dough- it's oily and strange, I recommend waiting until they're baked ;)