Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of 29, I can tell you that I’ve seen some trends come and go, and come again. Those colored corduroy pants I used to wear in 7th grade? Totally cool again. Canning? That used to be a necessity in our grandparents’ time, but now it’s gained traction among the hip and cool urban-dwelling folks. Red lipstick? Cool again. Overalls? Not cool yet, but I can feel the trend coming back. In the meantime, you can enjoy the resurrected trend of jean vests (yes, your uncle IS onto something). Anyway, I tend to think of cool in terms of food, fashion, and design, and I find that a key lesson in life is to never throw things out. Ok, that may be a bit over the top. Maybe a better approach is to remember that things you really really love may come back into fashion.
Kefir is something I never thought would be cool again. My mom likes to remind me that I grew up on the stuff and while at first I hated it (it’s tart), I eventually grew to love it. I’ve been drinking kefir since I was a baby, literally. But until recently, I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a glass. Kefir is a fermented dairy product that is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, folic acid, calcium, and iron. In Russia, where my family is from, and many other Eastern European countries, it is a diet staple. I had frankly forgotten about kefir and my love of dairy products expanded towards yogurt (which I eat virtually every morning) and cheese. Then I started seeing kefir popping up seemingly everywhere.
Shanna makes homemade kefir (!!!). Lisa made muffins with kefir. David and Luise shared a recipe for a chilled summer soup made with kefir. Then I had lunch at Bar Tartine’s new sandwich bar, which included not one but two menu items made with kefir: a kefir pound cake and a shake made with strawberries and ginger. I watched glasses and glasses of the latter come out of the kitchen, light pink in color and looking quite refreshing. I promptly made a plan in my head to buy a quart of kefir and try to recreate these shakes.
As I mentioned earlier, kefir has a rather tart taste, so unless you want to dump A LOT of sweetener into it, you should expect that your drink won’t be overly sweet. I used some strawberries and a bit of freshly squeezed ginger juice in my kefir, stirred two generous spoonfuls of wildflower honey, and whizzed everything together in a blender. The result was quite delicious and filling. If you prefer your shakes on the sweeter/more indulgent side, you may consider adding more honey to your shake, or trying another sweetener (like maple syrup). Since I have a powerful juicer, juicing the ginger was no problem. If you’re doing it by hand, you can use a zester to zest the ginger, then squeeze the juice out through a fine mesh strainer. Start with just a bit of ginger juice, and add more to taste (you may find the ginger taste to be too overpowering). I have now also made shakes with kefir and bananas, which is great for breakfast (and quite a bit sweeter than this version). I’ve been wondering what kefir would taste like mixed with Nutella.
Especially now that I’m pregnant, I’ve been even more mindful of making sure I get all of the vitamins and minerals my body needs to grow a healthy baby. Reintroducing kefir into my diet seems like a great plan. Have any of your tried kefir (either store-bought or homemade)? Got any fun recipes to share with me? I’d love to know.
Strawberry-Ginger Kefir Shake
inspired by Bar Tartine
*makes 2 shakes
2 cups of plain kefir
1 cup of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon of ginger juice (more or less, to taste)
2 tablespoons of honey
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more honey, if desired, and blend to combine. Serve chilled.
Musical Pairings: Cat Power – Sun + Strawberry-Ginger Kefir Shake
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