Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Basic Sauerkraut (lactofermented) Recipe for a Healing Kraut

Directions for the sauerkraut I have been making lately (along with a link to my previous blog post to give basic directions):

Equal mixture of red and green cabbage, carrots, whey, fresh beets, greens and heirloom carrots, fresh lime juice and zest, cayanne, jalapenos, onion, dandelion greens, ginger

The salts: black and red Hawaiian, pink Himalayan, RealSalt from Utah, Gray North Sea salt.

The spices: Sesame seeds, Curcumin, Turmeric, fresh black pepper.

Prep by shredding the cabbage (reserve the outer leaves for the top), carrots, beets, jalapenos and onions. I use a french Fry blade on the food processor to get a nice, big, uniform size. Make sure that the cabbage is at least half of the total. Don't shred the beets and carrots too small or they ferment too quickly.

Next, mix these in a large container with about 1 tablespoon of salt per medium head of cabbage. Throw a few more tablespoons in for the other stuff too. Add the whey. Add the spices and begin mixing.

I like to give quite a bit of time to this process and allow the flavors to get to know each other and taste as I go.

After this process is working, add your other greens, zest your lime and your ginger, into the mix and hand chop your more delicate greens and anything else you want in there. Remember to taste as you go. You will notice that I am unable to give proportions. I just don't have them. I know that you do not need to have so much salt that you cannot eat it and it is good to use what is available to you.

Pack this into your container. Use some non-clorinated water if necessary to have enough liquid to get everything under liquid. Use one tablespoon of salt per quart of water.

Use the reserved outer layer of leaves and then a plate to push everything down under liquid. Use something heavy to hold the plate down.

Now just keep it all between about 55 and 68 degrees for a few weeks, taste it and if it is where you would like it, bottle it up and it can now go into the fridge to continue fermenting.

Happy Fermenting!

Sauerkraut Directions for four gallons 
Fermented Roots and Veggies 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hand Made Marshmallow Recipe

Today is the day that I finally make marshmallows in anticipation of wrapping them in caramel tomorrow (and maybe rolling THAT yumminess in some toasted, chopped nuts).  I adapted a few different recipes and threw in my own twist and love the recipe.


2 envelopes powdered gelatin
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sprinkling Mix:

One cup arrowroot powder 
one cup powdered sugar


1. Put parchment in a large baking pan or cookie sheet and sprinkle with the sprinkling mix.  Make sure you cover all of the bare spots.  If you don't do this now, it might be hard later.  It sets up quickly.

2.  In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water to dissolve.

3. In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and brown rice syrup with 1/3 cup of water. Place over medium/high heat.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour in the egg whites and beat on low speed until frothy. Add a pinch of salt.

5. When the syrup reaches about 210ºF , increase the mixer speed to high and beat the whites until they are thick and fluffy.

6. When the syrup reaches 245ºF, slowly pour the hot syrup into the whites.  Keep the mixer on high and try to avoid pouring the hot mixture on the whisk since the syrup will splatter and stick to the sides of the bowl (like glue!)

7. Put the gelatin and water into the warm pan that you used for the syrup.  There is enough heat left to liquify this and allow you to easily pour it into the mix.

8.  Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat on high until the outside of the bowl is completely cool (and the mixture looks white and fluffy.

9.  Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan. Allow to set up for at least 4 hours, uncovered.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Seed Starting around our house

Starting seeds and watching them turn into beautiful, early plants is one of my major hobbies.  I begin getting spring fever around January usually and have to restrain myself not to begin too early.  This year, due to several odd circumstances I found myself with time, energy and sunshine pretty early.  This allowed me to start lots and lots of seeds.  I had some really great help getting them started.

I wanted to line out my philosophy and the steps I take to ensure that my seeds thrive all of the time.

1)   This is a temporary holding pen, not your garden.  This is just a place to get seeds up and going.  You are not building soil or doing long term things, just getting a head start on the season.  I like to use trays and 9 packs that I get from Orchard Supply.  They are pretty inexpensive and can be used several times.  This gives me a consistent size of thing to move around.  It helps.

2)  I usually buy potting soil.  I know that I could probably make some, but it is pretty inexpensive.  Remember, it is just a holding pen.  This year I gathered some moss, cooked it in water on my wood stove, then left it to dry out.  Then I crumbled it up and mixed it - about 1 part moss to 2 to 3 parts soil.  I did this both to extend my potting soil and for moisture control.  It worked pretty well.

3)  I use commercial fertilizer almost every time I water.  Usually I spend about 15-20 dollars on a bottle of organic fertilizer and that will last me through this season.  This tends to make the plants stocky and strong.  There is just no good way for your soil in those little cells to last and produce great plants unless they are fed regularly.  You could probably make some, but I don't.

4)  Only heirloom, GMO free seeds.  These are the only ones you should even consider using.  This has been covered before in this blog, so I won't hit it this time.  While I was doing all of this seed starting, I was staying about 10 minutes from Baker Creek's Seed Bank.  I may have overspent there.

5)  LABEL EVERYTHING!  Spend a little money on labels that will last.  These are white plastic ones and I mark them with a sharpie marker.  You WON'T be sorry!

6)  I put the trays out all day, every day right from the beginning, whenever practical and possible.  I bring them every night until the weather is steady.  This is not something we like to forget.  The reason I do this is to harden off the plants right from the get go.  Otherwise what tends to happen is a great spring day comes along and you finally haul the trays of green plants out.  A few hours later you go check on them and they are FRIED!  I have done this many, many times.  Either harden them off a little at a time or begin by taking them out before they even sprout.

7)  Overplanting early, then separating the plants into individual cells works really well for me.  This allows me to have less trays to haul around early in the season.  A lot of the time once I begin separating them, it is warm enough to leave them outside at night.

8)  Once it begins to be warm and you are separating everything, you might need to water twice a day.  A good watering can is invaluable.

Follow these steps and you will have some beautiful plants, ready to go into the ground as soon as it is practical.  Where we are, NOT before Mother's Day for the tomato, pepper and cuke seeds.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fermented Roots and Veggies

This is a wonderful time of year in the garden.  If you got a winter garden in (which I did not) you probably have access to all kind of dark, leafy vegetables like kale, swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, cabbage, bok choy, mustard greens and dandelion greens.  You probably also have root vegetables growing beautifully.  Chives should be popping up from your onions and garlic (snip and use, they are wonderful) and the natural, local greens (some people call them weeds) should just be starting to look really good.

Note:  These beautiful greens came from a friend's garden.  I plan to use them all today in a batch of fermented veggies I have going.

Even if you do not have your own garden, this is a great time of year to purchase or trade for these nutritional powerhouses.  The next questions is how to either use or preserve this goodness in the best way.

There are so many recipes to try and ways to incorporate all of this.  Right at this moment, I am deep into fermenting in a sauerkraut kind of way.  The possibilities are endless and the health benefits non-stop.  Making up a batch of fermented veggies and using them as a condiment adds much to your meals and your health.  The colors, tastes and textures can all be adjusted to your what your family likes. 

You can turn this:

Into This:

or switch it up and get something like this:

And then, over time, it becomes something like this:
The basic steps are:  Find great ingredients, wash, chop, salt, inoculate (optional), season (optional), wait, pack it into some container so you can keep it under liquid, put it into a quiet, cool place for a while - one to six weeks, bottle, keep cool.  Once the pH level drops below 4.6, unfriendly bacteria just do not thrive.  It is helpful if it can drop within 4 days of mixing it up.

I always taste my sauerkraut "raw" (raw meaning as I am making it - technically, all of this is raw)  It tastes NOTHING like finished kraut.  The taste from the finished kraut comes from time and friendly bacteria.  The more time, the more flavor.  Don't like your kraut?  Wait two weeks and try again.  I sample over and over and over again so I understand as a cook what it tastes like at this stage.  Although it is not the most pleasant part, I now have a good idea what it should taste like at this stage.  When you are making a lot, it is helpful to know this.

What are some of the benefits?

Now that, my friend, is another post.  Stay tuned.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Preserving the Harvest

It has been so long since I wrote a blog post, it just feels awkward.  I guess there is no way to get past that than to just dive in.  

Preserving the Harvest:

 This week brought a large selection of roots and greens, much more than could be reasonably used fresh.  It only makes sense to preserve them.  The best way I know is to lacto-ferment these.

Spending a little time getting these beautiful things cultured has a dual purpose.  First, preservation.  Second, using a lacto fermented food as a condiment with your meal brings a host of benefits.  This has been covered in many, many blogs.  You might check a few of them out to find out the health benefits.

It is really easy to get this going, although somewhat time consuming because almost everything had to be hand chopped.  The steps basically are wash, dry, chop, mix, season, get the mixture under liquid and leave it alone for a few weeks.  The ingredients for today's mixture ended up being:

Sauerkraut from my last batch as a starter 
Fermented Carrot/ginger/lime
Fermented Ginger ale
Cabbage - red and green
Mustard greens
Kale - black and green
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Beet Greens
Hot Peppers
Fermented Soy Sauce
Sesame seeds
Black Pepper
Hot curry 

After prepping everything, it ended up looking like this:

A few weeks in anaerobic conditions and it should be a wonderful, healthy, perfectly preserved bunch of goodness.  Make some today!