Amy’s Corner: Soaked Bran Muffins

Yield: 1 doz.


Wheat Bran*:  1 ½ C.
Flour**:  1 C.
Water Kefir:  1 C.
Raw Milk:  ⅓ C.
Coconut Oil or Ghee:  ⅓ C.
Sucanat:  ¼ C.
Egg:  1 ea.
Orange:  1 ea.
Baking Powder:  1 ½ tsp.
Baking Soda:  1 ½ tsp.
Sea Salt:  ½ tsp.
Vanilla:  2 tsp.
Cinnamon:  ½ tsp.
Mixed Fruit***:  1 C.


  1. Combine the bran, flour and water kefir in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cover and set aside for 24 hours at room temperature.
  3. After the mixture has sat for 24 hours, proceed with the recipe.
  4. Juice and zest the orange and add this and the milk to flour mixture.
  5. Melt the ghee/oil.
  6. Combine the butter/oil with the remaining ingredients and stir into the flour mixture until completely combined.
  7. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and divide the batter evenly.
  8. Place into a preheated 425° oven.
  9. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.
  10. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.

*I use the bran that I sift from freshly milled flour
**Any flour (wheat, spelt, emmer, etc.) of your choice may be used
***I use a mix of fresh & dried fruit

Amy’s Corner: Fermented Cranberry Apple Relish


  • Cranberries, roughly chopped*: 1 lb.
  • Apples, finely chopped: 10 oz. (approx. 2 each)
  • Orange, juiced & zested: 1 ea.
  • Water Kefir*: ½ C.
  • Raw Honey: ⅓ C.
  • Cinnamon: 1 Tbl.
  • Ginger, julienned: 1” piece
  • Sea salt: ½ tsp.

*Chop cranberries by pulsing in blender or food processor

**Whey may be substituted for water kefir


  1. Place all ingredients into a large non-metal mixing bowl and mix to combine completely.
  2. Once all ingredients have been combined, pack tightly into a mason jar or crock, being sure to completely submerge the mixture under the liquid.
  3. Cover loosely and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 3 days before refrigerating.  

Amy’s Corner: Sourdough Spelt Crackers



  • 1 ½ C. Spelt Flour
  • 1 C. Starter (fed within 24 hours)
  • 1-2 Tbl. Honey, to taste
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • ½ tsp. Baking soda
  • ½ tsp. Baking powder
  • 4 Tbl. Butter, cold


  1. Stir together the flour, starter, honey, salt, baking soda, & baking powder in a mixing bowl.  I find this easiest to do with your hands.
  2. Add the butter to the dough & cut in the butter with your fingers until small pieces (approximately ½”) of butter are still visible in the dough.
  3. Cover the dough & allow it to rest for at least 6 hours, but no more than 12.  More rest time = a more sour cracker.



  • 1 portion rested cracker dough
  • 4 Tbl. butter, melted


  1. Divide the dough into two portions.
  2. Set one portion aside.
  3. Using either a small amount of flour or a silicone baking sheet, roll the dough out into a rough rectangle, approximately ⅛” thick.
  4. Brush 2 tsp. of butter over the surface of the dough.
  5. Fold the left side of the dough over to the middle of the dough.
  6. Repeat the process with the right side of the dough, folding the dough into thirds.
  7. Place the dough portion into the refrigerator & repeat the process with the °remaining dough portion.
  8. Remove the first dough portion from the refrigerator & roll out to a rough rectangle once more.
  9. Brush 2 tsp. of butter over the dough.
  10. Repeat the folding process once more.
  11. Return the dough to the refrigerator & repeat the process with the remaining dough portion.
  12. Remove the first dough portion from the refrigerator.
  13. Roll the dough out to a rough square, approximately ⅛”-¼” thick.
  14. Brush with 2 tsp of butter.
  15. Cut the dough into squares, approximately 1 ½”x 1 ½” and transfer to a lined baking sheet.  My preferred method to roll & cut directly on a silicone baking sheet so there’s no need to transfer.
  16. Repeat with the remaining dough portion.
  17. Place into a 375° and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until very lightly browned.
  18. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing.

Note: This recipe is very versatile & can be easily adapted.  Feel free to add herbs, spices &/or cheese, or different flours.  

Amy’s Corner: Kefir Cheesecake


  • Dates: 1 cup
  • Soaked Walnuts: 1 cup
  • Kefir Cheese: 1 lb.
  • Heavy Cream: 1 cup
  • Sugar: ¾ cup
  • Gelatin: 1 ½ tsp.
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp.
  • Sea Salt: ½ tsp.


  1. Soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes to soften.
  2. Place approximately ¼ C. of the cream into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cream and set aside while gelatin softens.
  3. Place the remaining cream and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whip until stiff.
  4. Transfer the whipped cream to a smaller bowl and refrigerate until needed.  Set aside the mixing bowl for use later in the recipe.
  5. Strain the dates and place into a food processor with the walnuts.
  6. Process until relatively smooth and evenly combined.
  7. Using wet hands, press the crust into the bottom of an 8” cake or springform pan. Set aside.
  8. Place the cream/gelatin mixture over low heat.  
  9. Cook, stirring constantly, until the gelatin has completely melted.
  10. Set mixture aside momentarily.
  11. Rinse out the food processor and replace on base.
  12. Add the kefir cheese, sugar and salt to the processor and blend until smooth.
  13. Add the cream/gelatin mixture to the processor bowl and blend completely into the kefir cheese/sugar mixture.
  14. Once combined, transfer the mixture to the mixing bowl.
  15. Working quickly, fold the whipped cream into the kefir cheese mixture until completely combined.
  16. Pour the mixture over the crust
  17. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

Amy’s Corner: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Yield: 2 ½ dozen


Soaked Walnuts or Pecans: ½ C. 
Cultured Butter: 1 C. + 2 Tbl.
Powdered Sugar: 2 C.
Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp.
Sea Salt: ½ tsp.
Sprouted Flour: 1 ¾ C.


  1. Place 4 Tbl. of butter in a small saucepot and place over medium heat.
  2. Cook the butter until the milk solids become a light brown and the butter smells nutty.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside.  Cool to room temperature before using.
  4. Place the nuts and 1 C. of powdered sugar into a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
  5. Pulse the mixture until the nuts form small pieces.
  6. Place the butter (both melted & unmelted), salt and vanilla into the processor and blend until the mixture lightens in color and is completely blended.
  7. Add the flour to the processor and pulse to combine.
  8. Scrape the dough into a bowl and cover.
  9. Refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour before proceeding.  At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days, or frozen for 1 month if tightly wrapped.
  10. Once chilled portion the dough into roughly 1 Tbl. portions and roll each portion into a ball.
  11. Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet, allowing at least 1” space between.
  12. Place into a preheated 350° oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown.
  13. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
  14. Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  15. After cooling, sprinkle the remaining 1 C. of powdered sugar over the cookies to taste.  You may not use all of the sugar.

Amy’s Corner: Golden Kraut (aka The Coldbuster)

Yield: 2 quarts


Green Cabbage, finely shredded: 2 lbs.
Carrot, julienned or grated: 2 large
Orange Bell Pepper, julienned: 1 ea.
Water Kefir: ¼ C.
Garlic Cloves, crushed: 4 ea.
Ginger Root, julienned or grated: 1 Tbl.
Turmeric Root, grated: 1 Tbl.
Sea Salt: 2 Tbl. (40g)
Black Pepper: 1 tsp.


  1. krautPlace the cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, water kefir and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix and squeeze the mixture by hand until the vegetables have softened and released their liquid. When done correctly, there should be approximately a 50% reduction in volume.
  3. Add in the garlic, ginger, turmeric and black pepper, being sure to combine completely.
  4. Pack the mixture into a glass jar or crock, being sure to fully submerge the mixture below the brine.
  5. Weight the mixture down with a weight of some sort to ensure the kraut stays submerged at all times.
  6. Set aside away from sunlight at room temperature for a minimum of 4 weeks, or up to 3 months, or until the flavor is to your liking

Amy’s Corner: Fermented Cherry Tomatoes


Yield: 1 Quart


Cherry Tomatoes: 1 lb., 4 oz. (approximately)
Water: 2 Cups
Fine Sea Salt: 2 Tbl.
Garlic: 2 cloves, lightly crushed
Red Pepper Flakes: ¼ tsp., or to taste
Fresh Herbs: 3-5 sprigs (optional)
Fresh Grape Leaves: 3-4 ea. (optional)


  1. Stir together the salt and water until the salt dissolves. Set aside.fermented-tomato2
  2. Place the tomatoes into a quart jar or crock, layering with the herbs and garlic as you fill. You may not use the entire amount of tomatoes. You want the jar full, but be sure to take care to not crush or split the tomatoes.
  3. Add the chili flakes to the tomatoes.
  4. If using, layer the grape leaves over the tomatoes, being sure to cover completely.
  5. Carefully pour the brine solution over the tomatoes, being sure to fill the jar or crock completely.
  6. Finish by placing on the lid/weight/airlock of your choice.
  7. Set aside at room temperature for 5-7 days, burping daily if necessary.

Amy’s Corner: Pumpkin Spice Granola


Water: 3 Cups
Water Kefir or Yogurt: 1 Cup
Coconut Oil or Butter: 1 Cup, melted
Rolled Oats: 6 Cups
Raw Nuts: 2 Cups
Pumpkin Puree: 1 Cup
Honey or Maple Syrup: ¾ Cup
Pumpkin Pie Spice: 4 tsp.
(Or 2 tsp. Cinnamon, 1 tsp. Ginger, ½ tsp. Nutmeg, ½ tsp. Cloves)
Sea Salt: 1 tsp.
Dried Fruit &/or Coconut: 2 Cups


  1. Combine the water, water kefir/yogurt and coconut oil/butter in a large non-metallic mixing bowl.
  2. Add the oats & nuts & stir to combine completely.
  3. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  4. Combine the pumpkin, honey/syrup, spices and salt.
  5. Whisk to combine.
  6. Pour over the oat mixture and stir to completely combine.
  7. Spread out on lined dehydrator trays or cookie sheets.
  8. If dehydrating, place the trays into dehydrator set at 110° & cook 24-36 hours, or until crispy & dry. Be sure to stir every 8-10 hours.
  9. If drying in oven, turn the oven to its lowest temperature, usually 170° & cook for 12-18 hours, stirring occasionally.
  10. Once finished, sprinkle the dried fruit/coconut over the granola before storing.

Amy’s Corner: Water Kefir Refreshing Drinks for the Summer

Strawberry BasilStrawberry Basil

Water Kefir, strained of grains: 3-3 ½ cups
Strawberries, fresh or frozen*: 1 cup
Basil Leaves, fresh: 8-10 ea.
Sugar**: 1 Tablespoon

*Thaw frozen berries before using.
**Optional, I find that it helps with carbonation


  • Strawberry Basil 2Place strawberries, basil and sugar into either a small blender cup or container.
  • Add ½ cup water kefir
  • Using either a blender or hand blender, blend the ingredients until completely combined
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 15-30 minutes for flavors to marry
  • Pour remaining water kefir into glass bottle
  • Add purée to bottle. If desired, the purée can be strained through a fine mesh strainer. Doing so will create a more clear beverage with a longer shelf life.
  • You may not use all of the purée. Reserve remainder to enjoy at a later time
  • Close the bottle and allow to sit at room temperature (65-72*) for 1-2 days. A shorter ferment will yield a sweeter end product. Be sure to burp the bottle at least once during this process to remove excess pressure.
  • Refrigerate at least 24 hours, but no more than 4 days before consuming.

Peach Ginger

Peach Ginger

Water Kefir, strained of grains: 3-3 ½ cups
Peach Chunks, fresh or frozen*: 1 cup
Ginger Root, peeled & sliced thin: 2 teaspoons
Sugar**: 1 Tablespoon

*Thaw frozen fruit before using.


  • Peach Ginger 2Place peach chunks, ginger and sugar into either a small blender cup or container.
  • Add ½ cup water kefir
  • Using either a blender or hand blender, blend the ingredients until completely combined
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 15-30 minutes for flavors to marry
  • Pour remaining water kefir into glass bottle
  • Add purée to bottle. If desired, the purée can be strained through a fine mesh strainer. Doing so will create a more clear beverage with a longer shelf life.
  • You may not use all of the purée. Reserve remainder to enjoy at a later time
  • Close the bottle and allow to sit at room temperature (65-72*) for 1-2 days. A shorter ferment will yield a sweeter end product. Be sure to burp the bottle at least once during this process to remove excess pressure.
  • Refrigerate at least 24 hours, but no more than 4 days before consuming.

Special Note from Sarica…. Second ferments like this are wonderful, but the risk of explosion from all the carbon dioxide being generated is very real–please heed Amy’s advice and “burp” the bottle throughout the second ferment cycle!

amy-cornerHello, I’m Amy!  I’m a former professional Research & Development Chef with 25 years experience in the field. I just recently left it all behind to move to Oregon & become a stay-at-home mom to my two kids, Lucas (6 ½) & Emmarie (4 ½). I continue to fuel my need for a creative outlet by using my home kitchen as my new R&D space, where I’m always working to make food as healthy & delicious as possible.

Urban Farming: Grow Fruits & Veggies in Your Backyard in 3 Simple Steps

I am so excited to share this interview I recently taped with my favorite man-about-the-garden, Greg Peterson of The Urban Farm! Greg’s ease and joy with gardening (even in the HARSHEST of climates—summertime in the Mojave Desert!) is absolutely INFECTIOUS!

He makes gardening so do-able, and that is incredibly important as it’s one of the best ways we can take care of ourselves–by getting out in the soil and the sun and harvesting the freshest of produce from our own yards. And don’t be swayed from this prospect if you have a tiny lot, live in the city, or even have a purported “black thumb” – Greg makes it all come together in the seemingly most challenging circumstances. So, take a few minutes and join Greg and me in his urban backyard oasis in Phoenix, AZ and learn about the possibilities of growing in your own yard!

Greg is offering a webinar, coming up soon, called 3 Simple Steps To Grow Fruits And Veggies For A Healthier Life (click HERE for more information). He has dedicated his life to learning how to grow healthy, nutrient­ dense food and transforming the global food system.

He is one of the leaders in the Food Revolution and I absolutely love what he does. Below is an article that he wrote about a day on his farm:

There is something to eat in my yard every day, 365 days a year. Last Thanksgiving it was a wonderful salad that included: Six different greens such as Nasturtium leaves and sorrel (a surprise find growing in the back ‘wild’ area); ruby red pomegranate seeds; an incredible citrus called limequat that was sliced up skin and all for a tangy/sweet sensation; and a little bit of the herbs tarragon and fennel, with a smidge of that pretty little three­leaf clover you see growing in some yards called sour grass. The flavors were so diverse and striking that I chose
not to add any dressing at all.

I have spent a large part of the past 27 years integrating edible plants into my landscape, from the Thanksgiving salad and my farm soup, to the occasional snack as I work through my weekly urban farmer tasks. All the hard work and experimentation has netted an incredible, edible yard and a hard­knock education about how and what grows best in my yard.

When I was in the eighth grade my family moved into a home with a very large yard where the back 1/3­ acre became our garden. We planted, the seeds grew and a spark ignited inside of me…I decided to be a farmer. Over time, my dream became farming 200 acres out there somewhere, and when I went back to school for my bachelor’s degree I was required to write a vision for my life. In that vision, “farmer” showed up, but with a twist: Instead of 200 acres, The Urban Farm was born on a 0.4 ­acre property in Phoenix, AZ and I was a farmer. My gardening hobby of 10+ years was in reality urban farming, an incredible canvas on which to paint my dream.

One outlet for my passion has been to re­landscape my entire yard with the notion that everything that I grow is either edible, or supports the plants that are edible. Over the past 27 years I have planted trees that produce edible fruits, nuts and beans such as mesquite; perennial herbs including basil, rosemary and oregano that I use a hedge trimmer on periodically; along with the standard annual vegetables – broccoli, snow peas, and cucumbers to name just a few.

Because of our name, visitors to The Urban Farm have an expectation that they will see long rows of corn and beans, and a full working traditional farm. To the contrary, much of what we have accomplished lives in standard garden beds, and if a person visiting did not know any differently they would just see a nicely landscaped yard.

Magic happens when I stand back and watch the natural processes that exist in my yard. A couple of decades ago I was fighting a basil plant ­ it wanted to bloom, I wanted the basil leaves ­ as if I KNEW what was best for it. After a long battle, which I finally learned that I could not win, I gave up and let the basil bloom, and boy did it bloom. What happened next was one of those secrets that nature only whispers if you stand back and watch. The bees arrived by the hundreds, and since then pollination has not been a problem on The Urban Farm.

My job these days has become helping others transform their outdoor living spaces into edible wonderlands. Offering a plethora of classes on a diverse list of topics is the most natural way for me to express my passion. Over the years topics such as vermiculture (cultivating worms for their manure), desert gardening, edible landscaping, fruit trees, and the always popular Keeping Chickens in Your Yard” have begun to reconnect Phoenix residents to the roots of where our food comes from.

Urban-Farming-Grow-Veggies-In-Your-Backyard-Sarica-CernohousNow I’ve expanded my reach to the global community by offering online classes, both free and paid, to inspire and empower people from around the world to grow their own healthy, organic food and join the food revolution. My latest free webinar, 3 Simple Steps To Grow Fruits And Veggies For A Healthier Life, will cover how to choose the right space to plant your edible garden, how to determine what to plant when, why soil is your most important asset and gardening hacks that will make growing your own food easy and successful. If you are excited to join the revolution and start creating your edible yard or patio but have little to no experience, this webinar was designed for you! Click here to learn more.

Farming the city spaces around us presents a whole new paradigm for growing our own food and reigniting our connection to nature. The tools are here, and the knowledge is available, you can kindle your desire by getting your hands dirty, taking a chance and spreading some seeds. The fruits of your labor are much tastier (not to mention cheaper) than what you find in the grocery store and come along with the satisfaction that YOU grew them. Many people tell me of their “black” thumbs as they admire what is grown on The Urban Farm. I reflect back to them the years of experimenting that I have done, noting the countless plants that did NOT make under my care… and that is how I learned.

Greg Peterson
Your Urban Farmer
May 2016