Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Experimental Kimchi

I've been concocting some more great food experiments in this kitchen. Yesterday I harvested a bunch of red cabbage leaves that grew back on the plants after we harvested the cabbage heads months ago. I was amazed how much grew back on the plants after we cut off the heads and decided that I might as well try to use this second growth for something good. I decided a nice batch of kimchi would be a nice experiment that I haven't tried before. Kimchi is a great Korean fermented food used to help in digestion. Most often consumed in small amounts after a meal. I've only had it a few times but I love all things that are going to be beneficial to for my gut flora and overall body health. 

There are really numerous methods that I found but here's how it went down for me:

  1. Chopped up about 5 pounds of red cabbage leaves with one large head of napa cabbage. Typically kimchi is made with all napa cabbage but I am always altering something here.
  2. Added about a pound of sliced carrots.
  3. Mixed that all up and put into a giant crock. Covered the veggies with a brine made of 1/4 salt per quart of water. This was allowed to sit overnight so that the veggies could start leaching out their water.
  4. Drained the veggies and added the spice mixture: 5 cloves garlic, 3 T. fresh ginger, 3 T. dried chili peppers, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, about 1 T. soy sauce, several dashes of lime juice, 1 1/2 t. sugar. Some of thee recipes I found suggested fish sauce or anchovy paste which is probably pretty authentic for the Korean delicacy, but I went without since we don't have fish sauce in this house. 
  5. Then I pressed the mixture into my jars and covered with the reserved brine so that the veggies were submerged. 
  6. They will sit on my counter for several days as I check them daily, push the veggies under the water and wait until I feel like they are properly fermented. Pretty simple and magical. Then they'll go into the fridge for safe keeping.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Brewing Kombucha

I've been back at the brewing station with my kombucha science experiments at home. It is seriously so fun to try new things that involve real food and real health benefits. After returning from my month long traveling trip I was a little worried that my kombucha was dead. It was exhibiting some symptoms of death as I pulled it from the fridge. For one it had not fermented the tea at all. It was still sweet tea tasting and I noticed a few very minor specks of mold on the top of the tea. The SCOBY was also not floating but instead had sunk to the bottom. In my desperate plea to revive it I simply gave it a fresh feeding of new sweet tea and left it for a couple of weeks in our dark basement. I was so excited to come home this weekend and noticed a very healthy looking SCOBY floating on top and a nicely sour smelling kombucha. 

 I also managed to acquire two nice brewing bottles this weekend in KC and found three more in this farmstead house so that I could give a second fermentation to my kombucha. I hoping to finally create a nice sparkling carbonated kombucha beverage. I have fallen in love with a specific brand available in stores for almost $4 that is made from kombucha and ginger juice. I've got to figure out how to replicate that action for this frugal lifestyle. For this second ferment I used approximately 16 ounces of kombucha plus 2 ounces of juice. I made three using a cranberry juice and two with an apple cider. I capped them and put them in the basement for the second ferment. Here's to hoping for a science experiment success!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homemade Mayo Success

I was helping my mom craft up some deviled eggs for tonight's social gathering and decided to give homemade mayonnaise a try again. Last time I tried this feat it resulted in a runny mess that tasted really good but was more of a mayo flavored sauce than thick creamy mayo. Today I tried again and I experienced success! The trick is definitely to add the oil as slow as humanly possible.

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Beat together in food processor. I used a smaller processor this time that definitely helped to make sure the contents actually touched the blade.

Add: 2 T. Lemon juice
1/2 t. Salt, Blend

Slowly add while the machine is running 1 cup oil blend. I used 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 grapeseed oil. I think that coconut oil would also be good.

We made the deviled egg filling by adding out mayo, mustard, hot sauce, paprika and black pepper to the yolks. I also did a curry filling by using mayo with curry powder and garlic powder. Pretty tasty with our farm fresh eggs!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Apple Abundance

I love free things. Especially when free comes in the form of amazing beautiful apples. My free fruit search began recently when walking around Salt Lake City. I noticed that many houses had fruit trees in their front yards. It seemed to me that a much larger amount of front yard orchards existed in SLC than other cities I have walked. I ate several apples right off the ground during my time there. 

As I returned to the great state of Kansas I was blessed to be introduced to an amazing loaded tree in the town of Ottawa. On my return trip to the farm I loaded up with three large bags of granny smith green apples there and then also found another loaded tree between Lawrence & Topeka on Hwy 40 that screamed for me to stop and pick another two bags of lovely red apples. With applesauce in mind I knew that a nice variety of sweet and sour was essential for a good sauce and having two rather tart apple varieties I was on the look out for a sweet variety. Here is where the jackpot comes in. Here is where I encourage everybody to open their eyes, ask questions, and take home the bounty. I have a great apple relationship with some random folks that happen to live near a friend's parents' home. Several years ago when the house was for sale we loaded up on the jackpot of free apples just falling from unattended trees. The next year when the house was occupied I decided to go back and ask if I could pick some apples. Sure enough, these wonderful folks told me to pick as many as I wanted. They have an excellent variety of yellow delicious, granny smith, and pink lady apples. I came home with three more giant bags full of apples.

Yesterday my mother and I spent 12 hours in the kitchen cutting, coring, cooking, pressing, and canning applesauce and apple butter. We managed to go through about half of our apple bounty and stored up 34 quarts of applesauce, 7 pints and 4 half-pints of apple butter. Preserving the abundance is definitely a lot of work, but oh so rewarding. Knowing exactly where my food comes from and exactly what I put into it makes it so real. Our apples ended up being not so juicy so we added some pure apple cider to the cooked apples and have 100% pure applesauce, no sugar added. This is the greatness of real food. So simple, so delicious!