Kefir

25 November 2010 § 4 Comments

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Kefir ready to be poured, kefir grains are swimming on the top by fabrivelas on Zooomr

I got my milk kefir grains on 4 Nov 2010 from one source and on 11 Nov 2010 from another source. They came from sources in Belgium, Australia and Spain, but have been cultured in Belgium for a while. My milk kefir grains are growing relatively fast. I already gave half of them away to a colleague. If I find a way to send them I’ll send some to friends.

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Close-up of a small kefir grain by fabrivelas on Zooomr

At the moment I make 500 ml each day, but if they keep growing I need more than ½ litre or have shorter milk changes. At the moment I am trying to have a rotation of 2 kefir containers going: I take half of the kefir out of each and refill with fresh milk every other day on alternate days, so far I have been using organic cow’s milk, either raw or pasteurised and either full or half fat, depending on what kind of milk I find. My method of making kefir still has to be improved, though.

At the moment I am experimenting with hermetically closing my container, last week I left it open, and it seems that it does not make a huge difference. If I want to stick to my half litre measure, I will have to give away or eat half of my grains every week, so that I have a nice not too fermented kefir after 24 hours.

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Another close-up by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Filtering the kefir grains is not easy because of the curd substance adhering to the grains, so if a strainer is used it has to be shaken quite vigourously, or a wooden spoon or your hand has to be used to stir the grains in the strainer. Shaking the container with the kefir before straining helps, too. There are lots of videos on youtube explaining this.

UPDATE spring 2012
Of course this first batch died in the summer 2011 because of my carelessness, but meanwhile, over Christmas 2011, I got new grains from Canada, that were bought in Germany and I improved my kefir making method: Now I am making a small amount of kefir (100 to 200 ml) for 24 hours outside the fridge with the kefir grains and 24 hours inside the fridge without the grains. I have the kefir jars always closed, never open. I never shake the glass jars. This gives a well tasting kefir. I don’t strain the kefir anymore, I stir and then I just take out the largest kefir grain and re-use it. The smaller pieces that stay I drink with the liquid. At one point I only had 12 very small pieces. Then I used a colander with 4 mm sized holes to strain the kefir.

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Aristide Maillol in Paris and Brussels… and everywhere?

29 September 2010 § 1 Comment

Having spent the weekend in Paris, I revisited the sculptures by Aristide Maillol in the Tuileries gardens. I really like those sculptures, especially the once that show some disequilibrium, in the state of falling. They show expressions of static movement, simply great. This example shows La rivière in Paris.

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La rivière, Paris by fabrivelas on Zooomr

On my return I went straight to the sculpture garden of the museum for fine arts in Brussels and took another few pictures:

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La rivière, Bruxelles by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Looking around a bit I found also the one in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, one in the Middelheimmuseum in Antwerp, one in Hamburg and also one in the Norton Simon Musem, Pasadena. Are there more Rivers anywhere?

Finally some more pictures from Paris and Brussels:
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Front, Paris by fabrivelas on Zooomrdscf6439
et à Bruxelles by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Here are some more links about Maillol:

AD-Mary 44

Christiane Moreau

Sugar-water kefir

12 September 2010 § 14 Comments

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Close up of sugar-water kefir by fabrivelas on Zooomr
This summer I got some sugar-water kefir crystals from the South of France. They have been living there for years of spring water, brown bio sugar and figs. The batch I got have been continuing eating the same ingredients apart from the water which is filtered tap water and mostly rapadura instead of crystallised sugar. I also like to give my kefir ginger, which it seems to like very, very much.
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Sugar-water kefir with cent coin by fabrivelas on Zooomr
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Sugar water kefir in strainer by fabrivelas on Zooomr
As you can see, kefir is not very difficult, it supports a metal strainer contrary to information found elsewhere on the web. The largest crystals that I have seen so far are the size of a little larger than a cent.
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Close up of 5 grains of sugar-water kefir by fabrivelas on Zooomr
In 24 h the amount of kefir doubles on good days. It is quite impressive. The taste of kefir crystals is rather neutral.
This is how I keep the kefir:
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Storage of the sugar-water kefir by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Sugar-water kefir (tibi) forms on the leaves of the Opuntia cactus (orig. Mexico) as hard granules (Lutz, L.: Recherches biologiques sur la constitution du Tibi. Bull. Soc. Mycol. France 15, 68-72 (1899), and Stacey M. and Youd, F.R.: A note on the dextran produced from sucrose by Betacoccus arabinosaceous haemolyticus Biochem J., November 1938; 32(11): 1946–1948.

These two references seem to be the only ones referring to the origin of the sugar water kefir (tibi) grains which seems a bit strange given the age of the publications. I cannot recall seeing tibi on my grandmother’s Opuntia when it was still living (1990s), but I did not really look for them either.

German resumée of the Lutz article:

Lutz, L., Recherches biologiques sur la Constitution
du Tibi. (Bulletin de la Societe Mycologique de France. 1899.
p. 68-72.) 

Unter „Tibi" versteht man kugelige, durchscheinende, wie gekochte
Reiskörner aussehende Massen, die sich in Mexico auf den Opuntien
finden. Sie variiren von der Grösse einer Erbse bis zu der eines
Stecknadelknopfes. In zuckerhaltigem Wasser rufen sie Gährung hervor;
es entsteht ein wohlschmeckendes leichtes Getränk.
Bei der mikroskopischen Untersuchung zeigen sich die Tibikörner
aus Bacillen, Spirillen und Hefen zusammengesetzt. Wenn das gegohrene
Getränk eine Zeit lang ruhig steht, so bilden sich an der Oberfläche
Zoogloeen, die aus Bacillen und Spirillen bestehen. Es ist nicht
schwer zu sehen, dass beide nur Entwickelungsstadien einer Art sind,
indem die Spirillen bald in Bacillen zerfallen. Zur Isolirung der Organismen
empfiehlt es sich, das Getränk zu benutzen und zwar sind flüssige Cultur-
medien geeignet. Indessen hat Verf. die Isolirung auch auf Kartoffeln
durchgeführt.
Man erhält dann einen Kapselbacillus, der sehr variabel in der
Grösse ist (von 1,5 bis 3,3 µ Länge). Die Spirillenform kann die
Länge von 250 — 300 µ erreichen. Der Bacillus ist obligat aërob und
wächst leicht im Tibigetränk, auf Möhren, Opuntia und Heuinfus.
Dagegen wächst er schlecht in Bouillon. In neutraler Raulin'scher
Nährlösung wächst er ebentalls. Von festen Substraten zieht er
Kartoffel vor und Gelatine mit den oben genannntee Flüssigkeiten.
Der Bacillus ist beweglich, producirt kein Indol und färbt sich nicht
nach Gram.
Die Hefe lässt sich leicht in flüssiger oder auf gelatinirter
Raulin'scher Nährlösung züchten. In Möhren und Opuntiainfus
wächst sie ebenfalls. Kartoffel und Möhren sind zusagende feste Nähr-
böden. Die Sporenbildung gelingt in einer Lösung von Candiszucker in
destillirtem Wasser. In jeder Zelle bilden sich vier abgerundete Sporen,
die leicht wieder auskeimen.
Um die ursprüngliche Symbiose in den Körnern wieder herzustellen,
verfährt man so, dass man in Möhrenabkochung den Bacillus impft.
Nach einigen Tagen zerreisst man durch heftige Bewegung des Cultur-
gefässes die Bakterienhaut und impft die Hefe ein. Es bilden sich nun
Körner, indem die Bacillen die Hefezellen einschliessen. Durch vor-
sichtige Zuckerzufügung lässt sich der Process sehr lange fortsetzen.
Beide Organismen vermögen zusammen die Gährung einzuleiten und zu
unterhalten, während einer allein es nicht kann.
Es ist wahrsclieinlich, dass beide Organismen neu sind. Bevor
Verf. aber eine definitive Beschreibung giebt, stellt er weitere Unter-
suchungen über ihre Eigenschaften und die von ihnen erzeugte Gährung
in Aussicht.
                                                       Lindau (Berlin)
(from a summary in: Beihefte zum Botanischen Centralblatt, Cassel, vol 9 (2), 1900, Verlag von Gebründer Gotthelft.)


Lutz writes also in 1906 about the symbiotic associations of saccharomyces Radaisii here is a summary of his article:

Lutz. — Associations symbiotiques du Saccharomyces Radaisii (Bull. Soc. inje. l906, p. 96). 

Le Tibi, dont on se sert an Mexique pour obtenir une liqueur fer-
mentée, est constitué par des masses sphéroïdes dont le centre est
occupé par le Saccharomyces Radaisii et la périphérie par le
Bacillus Mexicanus. Le rôle de ce bacille consiste uniquement
à préserver contre le contact de l'air le Saccharomyces, qui est un
organisme anaérobie. 

L'auteur a, en effet, réussi à opérer une symbiose analogue en
associant ce Saccharomyces au Bacillus subtilis. Ce dernier bacille
enveloppe de toutes parts le Saccharomyces qui, ainsi préservé
contre le contact de l'air, végète et fonctionne comme ferment. 

La seule différence importante que l'on constate, suivant que l'on
emploie l'un ou l'autre bacille, est le développement, avec le Bacil-
lus subtilis, d'une odeur marquée rappelant la groseille. Ce « bou-
quet » peut d'ailleurs être extrait par agitation avec de l'éther et
évaporation du solvant. 

Dans un précédent travail (1), M. Lutz avait déjà constaté que le
Saccharomyces du Tibi, cultivé sur divers milieux sucrés, pousse en
aérobie et ne produit aucun dégagement de bulles gazeuses; qu'au
contraire, en milieu gélatine (bouillon do carotte gélatine placé
dans une étuve à 30°, de manière à conserver l'état liquide), ce
Saccharomyes produit une fermentation active. 

Le rôle des deux organismes du Tibi est ainsi expliqué. En
culture aérobie, la levure vit aux dépens du sucre ou de toute autre
matière carbonée : l'oxygène lui vient abondamment de l'air et elle
n'a nul besoin de brûler le sucre pour s'en procurer. En culture
anaérobie, au contraire, elle fait fermenter le milieu et décompose
le sucre pour y puiser l'oxygène nécessaire à sa vie. 

Rappelons à ce sujet que d'autres ferments (Saccharomyces) vi-
vent en symbiose avec des Bacilles, par exemple celui du Képhir
{Rev. mycol, XIV,161, du forment de la bière de Gingembre
(XV,33) et celui du Leben d'Egypte (XXV, p. 55). (1) Lutz. Nouvelles recherches sur le Tibi. (Bull. Soc. mycol. 1899, 157).

from REVUE MYCOLOGIQUE JANVIER 1906 (28th year, number 109).

Tea in Brussels

11 February 2010 § 1 Comment

Here is a collection of all specialized tea shops in Brussels (centre, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Uccle) that I found. Attention, the opening hours might not be up-to-date.

l’Heure bleue

Avenue des Arts 12
1210 Bruxelles (Saint-Josse-ten-Noode)

Tel: 02 223 40 75
Fax: 02 223 40 74
Email: info@lheurebleue.net
Web:http://www.lheurebleue.net/monsieur-the
Monday and Tuesday: 12 to 18h, Wednesday to Friday: 10 to 18h, Samedi 10-12h30 and every first Sunday per month exept in August, September and January: 10 to 18h
reasons to go: wulong teas, darjeelings, tea courses

Nong Cha

Rue Dansaert 4
1000 Bruxelles

Tel: 02 502 02 77
Email: nongchadansaert@gmail.com
Monday to Saturday: 10 to 19h
reasons to go: Chinese teas, tea pots

Cha Yuan Bruxelles

Rue du Bailly 97
1050 Bruxelles (Ixelles)

Tel: 02 325 95 12.
Web: http://www.cha-yuan.com/
Monday: 14 to 19h; Tuesday to Friday: 10 to 19h
reasons to go: large selection of different teas and accessories from all over the world

La Septième Tasse

Rue du Bailli 37
1050 Bruxelles (Ixelles)

Tel: 02 647 19 71
Email: infos@7etasse.com
Web: http://www.7etasse.com
Tuesday to Saturday: 11 to 19h
reasons to go: large selection of different teas and accessories from all over the world

Comptoir Florian

Rue Saint-Boniface 17
1050 Bruxelles (Ixelles)

Tel: 02 513 91 03
E-mail : comptoirflorian@skynet.be
Web: http://www.comptoirflorian.be
Tuesday to Saturday: 11 to 20h
reasons to go: to have a cup of tea

La Maison du thé

Plattesteen 11
1000 Bruxelles

Tel: 02 512 32 26
Email: lamaisonduthe@skynet.be
Web: http://www.lamaisonduthe.be
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:30 to 18h

Le Palais des Thés

Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés 45
1000 Bruxelles

Tel: 02 502 45 59
Monday to Sunday: 11 to 18:30

et

Chaussée de Charleroi 25
1060 Bruxelles (Saint-Gilles)

Tel: 02 537 89 07
Monday to Saturday: 10:30 to 18:30
Web: http://www.palaisdesthes.com
reasons to go: large selection of different teas and accessories from all over the world

Univers du Thé

Grand Sablon Rue Bodenbroek 14
1000 Bruxelles

Tuesday to Sunday: 11 to 18:30
Tel: 02 513 20 67
Email: info@universduthe.be
Web: http://www.universduthe.be

Tea for Two

Chaussée de Waterloo 394
1060 Bruxelles (Saint-Gilles)

Tel: 02 538 38 96
Fax: 02 791 95 09
Web: http://www.tea-for-two.be
Tuesday to Saturday: 11 to 18h and Sunday: 13 to 18h

The Tea Box

Rue Edith Cavell 216
1180 Uccle

Tel: 023742493
Email: contact@teabox.be
Web: http://www.teabox.be
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 to 18h30
reasons to go: if you are in Uccle…

The Tea House

Rue de Rollebeek 5
1000 Bruxelles

Tel/Fax: 02 511 81 17
Email: info@the-teahouse.be
Web: http://www.the-teahouse.be
Tuesday to Sunday: 11 to 19h

Tea & Eat

Rue de Stassart 121
1050 Ixelles

Tel: 025134000
Web: http://users.skynet.be/tea-eat
also in Woluwé-Staint-Pierre et Woluwé-Saint-Lambert

Eden

Rue du Page 27
1050 Ixelles

Tel: 02 538 22 27
reasons to go: Japanese teas

There are also Chinese supermarkets that sell teas, one of them is
Kam Yuen, Rue de la Vierge Noire 2-4, 1000 Bruxelles

Brussels

20 January 2009 § 2 Comments

Brussels is a strange city.

It has curbsides that can kill, especially if you want to cycle across them in an angle not steep enough.

There are public places with tiles that are so slippery that you have trouble walking when they are wet, which is almost every day (Naamse Poort, Brussels).

When you move here you have to register, fair enough, but there is an agent who has to check that you really live at the address which you registered, this sounds like from the middle ages (and does not prevent people to be registered somewhere and live somewhere else!!!)

The commune sends you letters that never arrive, either they don’t send them, or the postal system is awful. There seems to be some indication that it is the latter: parcels sent from abroad got sent back without us being notified about anything.

Or the commune sends you 2 letters (probably in case one does not arrive) inviting you for an interview, with the same content, but different quantities of things to bring (photos, euros), when you go to the meeting they demand yet a third quantity of photos and euros from what they demanded in the two letters that were sent by the same person on the same day.

There are several electricity companies but the Belgian does not care, because it is too difficult or too much effort to check the differences that most people stay with the once state-owned company. When you switch then they charge you 5 times the amount the previous tenant paid, because they do not have a record of your consumption.

There are also several telephone companies and the same thing happens as with the electricity companies, but they use an outdated system and the lines are overloaded.

Belgians are nice people, though. Otherwise nobody would stay probably.

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