Six Word Story #23

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“Refreshing Watermelon Smoothie Counters Sweltering Heat!”

 

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I have a never-ending love affair with fruit smoothies!

On almost every day I am concocting yet another batch for my lads here at home.  And it’s never the same blend twice – haha!

My base ingredients tend to be water, banana, pineapple, and apple (any kind that I have on hand).  And then things change from there on….influenced by whims and fancies or more simply if it’s all that I have in the fruit basket.  Anywhere from a mix of berries to fresh mangoes – although I freely add in frozen fruits, too – kiwi fruit or pears; always a surprise!

And my must addition is fresh plain yogurt.  Sometimes I add in hemp hearts for a special treat.

These days with the summer heat being particularly pronounced, I have been adding in fresh watermelon as well, lending such a light and sweet refreshing flavour.

Ooohhhmmm!  Looking at this photo is making me want to head into the kitchen and make another fruit smoothie!

 

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My new reference book…on fermentation

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Waited patiently,

Until the kimchi was done.

Crunchy with some zip!

 

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After its initial fermenting time of 7 days, I then put my jar of kimchi into the fridge; it slows down further fermentation – although it never stops the process – and also keeps the kimchi cool.

(please refer to my post dated April 28, 2016 Exploration in Fermentation for my experience in the making of it).

Not that I’d need to put it into the fridge, as fermentation is a way of preserving fresh food.  However, I DO enjoy having sauerkraut and kimchi nice and cold for munching!

So, today I decided to have a sampling of my own kimchi.  And boy, am I hooked!  Haha!

It’s so tasty!  See the little green specks in it?  That’s the finely chopped up jalapeño pepper that my group had added in our batch.  The pepper with the fresh garlic and ginger creates a lovely zip to the overall flavour.  And just as cool is the crunchy texture that is retained from the Chinese cabbage, the onions, the grated carrots, etc.

I have a feeling that I’ll be making kimchi on a regular basis!  I could easily make a little meal of it with some freshly steamed rice, and who knows what else I’ll come up with for ideas.

Now that I have raved at you on the delightful flavour of the kimchi, I will get to the other purpose of this post – to share with you my new reference book on the subject of fermenting foods.  Also, because one of my followers…lorac888890…specifically asked for some clarification.

 

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Excerpt:

“Fermented foods and drinks are quite literally alive with flavor and nutrition…..

One major benefit of fermentation is that it preserves food.  Fermentation organisms produce alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, all “bio-preservatives” that retain nutrients and prevent spoilage.  Vegetables, fruits, milk, fish, and meat are highly perishable, and our ancestors used whatever techniques they could discover to store foods from seasons of plenty for later consumption.  Captain James Cook, the 18th century English explorer who extended the far reaches of the British Empire, was recognized by the Royal Society for having conquered scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) among his crews by sailing with large quantities of sauerkraut….scurvy had previously killed huge numbers of the crews of long sea voyages.

…an interesting parallel that the Polynesian people who crossed the Pacific Ocean and populated Hawaii more than a thousand years before Captain Cook also sustained themselves through the long voyage with fermented food, in this case POI, a thick starchy taro root porridge still popular in Hawaii and throughout the South Pacific.

Fermentation not only preserves nutrients, it breaks them down into more easily digestible forms….for example, soy beans into miso, tempeh, and tamari.  Milk into yogurt and kefir.

Eating fermented foods live is an incredibly healthy practice, directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients.

Read labels and be aware.  Many commercially available fermented foods are pasteurized, which means heated to the point at which microorganisms die.

If you want live-culture fermented foods in our food-security-obsessed, instant-gratification age, you have to seek them out or make them yourself.

By promoting digestive health, live fermented foods can help control digestive disease processes….”

 

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I tried to give you highlights as an introduction to this book.

I hope you will find this information helpful, perhaps even intriguing enough to start your own exploration of fermented foods.

I wish you all the best of health!

Note:  Just now I invited my husband and one of my sons to have a taste test of the kimchi.  My husband found it too strong, although he did say that I’d do the Koreans proud.  That puzzled me, because he does enjoy eating spicier foods from time to time, like East Indian food. Perhaps he finds Korean food even spicier?

I, on the other hand, don’t find it all that strong.  It definitely has a good burst of flavour, and it has some good spicy zip to it.

My son’s assessment was closer to what I expected – he doesn’t find it particularly all that strong but that it does have a nice bite to it.  He said he liked it.

Now, I just need to have the rest of my kids try it out.

Either way, I know that I’m going to be having kimchi more often!

That old-style Natural Fizz!

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A fermented drink,

It requires a “mother” –

And a base of tea.

 

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I’m drinking some ginger kombucha – to me, since I’ve recently discovered it – the best kind of natural “ginger ale” there is and also doing me some beneficial good! And refreshingly cool!  It has just a slight sour taste and a light fizz to it.
On my list of things to learn to make myself…..in the near future.

Here is an excerpt from the book, “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz on the subject of Kombucha and the making of it (page 22):

“Kombucha is sweetened black tea, cultured with a “mother,” also known as “the tea beast,” a gelatinous colony of bacteria and yeast.  The mother ferments the sweet tea and reproduces itself, like kefir grains.  Kombucha is thought to have originated in China, and has been popular at different times in many different lands.  It is beneficial to health, like other live fermented foods…..”

People have been creative in extras they add into their making of kombucha, for example, cranberries, ginger, etc.  So far I have tried the fresh ginger infused kind and really enjoy it.

 

 

Exploration in Fermentation

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Chopping and grating,

Cabbage, radish, and spices –

For making Kimchi !!

 

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Remember when I posted about the sauerkraut-making workshop back in the fall?

Well, two evenings ago was the next workshop in the series – still focusing on fermented foods – and it featured the making of kimchi. Primarily known with Korean cuisine these days, but it originated in China.

There are more ingredients that go into a kimchi recipe; everything gets grated and chopped up, and with the addition of dried or fresh peppers and fresh daikon radish, the end result is a somewhat spicier food.

The fermentation process is similar to sauerkraut…..letting it sit for a number of days where it can then also produce those beneficial bacteria.

Yummers!

Once again we had a keen group of about 25 participants, and in teams of four, we busily chopped and mixed and hand-mashed our way through a fine sampling of kimchi. Everyone gets a share to bring home to take it through the next steps.

COOL!

Both of these workshops were so well received that there was talk about what would be covered at the next one – KOMBUCHA !! Moving into fermented drinks. Sweet!

And here’s a photo of my finished jar…

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The Culture of Cabbage

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Keeping it simple,

Natural fermentation;

Sauerkraut…..kimchi?

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Cabbage is one of those vegetables that pops up in various cultures and their cuisines, notably, as it is so versatile and can be incorporated in so many dishes.  It is also a hardy vegetable that can handle lengthy storage.  Added to that, cabbage has a list of beneficial nutrients, so our global ancestors living in the northern climates, in their efforts to extend the storage and consumption of this fine vegetable, came up with a smart and simple way to preserve it.  Fermentation.  In regional areas across Europe cabbage was preserved as well as in parts of China and Korea.  These days the two more common names  are sauerkraut and kimchi.  The traditional way was quite simple….using fresh cabbage and a bit of salt, along with a herb or spices.  A brine is created with the finely sliced cabbage and the salt, leading to the natural fermentation phase during storage in crocks for a specified amount of time.

Now for the personal connection.  I was born and grew up in Canada. My heritage is German, and so, for the first half of my life, it’s the German cuisine I was mostly familiar with and learned to cook.  And yes, I grew up with an appreciation for sauerkraut.  Both my grandmother and my mother did their share of preserving foods, but generally that was with fruits, so any sauerkraut dishes we ate was made with the store-bought kind.  They were always delicious!  Happily, I managed to pass along that sauerkraut enjoyment to my husband and kids.

So….are you still wondering about the photo (above) with the jars of sauerkraut in them?

Well, in mid-November of last year – it doesn’t feel all that long since it’s only been two months!  haha! – I received an e-mail from one of our local health food stores in town, highlighting one of their periodical workshops.  This one, you guessed it, was intending to tackle the fun in preparing one’s own batch of sauerkraut, using the natural fermentation process.  No doubt you can imagine how eagerly I grabbed my phone and called to find out if there was still room for me at the workshop!  Every participant was only asked to bring in two clean 500 ml jars (with lids) and a cutting board and sharp knife.  The cabbage, salt, caraway seeds, and juniper berries (for the featured recipe) would be provided for us there; covered in the workshop fee.

We were approximately 20 participants.  After a brief introduction on the benefits and process of natural fermentation of foods, specifically cabbage, then we all got busy working together in groups of four……slicing our cabbages up fine, then placing all that into big mixing bowls, adding in the required amounts of salt…..and just having a fun time together.  Everyone was handed some light plastic gloves for the “scrunching” part of the task, and we all took turns again and again….scooping and squeezing and pushing down, until the cabbage in the bowls visibly started breaking down and getting softer and, well, juicier ie. the brine was being created. The final touches of the caraway seeds and juniper berries was added once the “scrunched” cabbage had achieved the desired consistency.  Then everyone’s jars were filled.  With an accompanying sheet of instructions on the daily minor “scrunching” procedure to be done with our jars, all of us piled out of the store and headed for our homes with our much-anticipated future sauerkraut.

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During a little break at the workshop, before the heavy “physical” work was about to commence, the organizers put out some sample foods for us to nibble on….to see for ourselves what this type of sauerkraut would taste like; there were also samples of kimchi for us to try.  Along with a selection of natural crackers and some other finger foods, everyone had a little plateful of tasty food!

I am pleased and happy to say  that I thoroughly enjoyed those 7-10 days of daily “scrunching” in my two jars and seeing the development of the fermented sauerkraut.  Since then, one of my sons and I added “my” sauerkraut to sandwiches mostly, so it wouldn’t run out too soon!  But now my supply is gone, and I need to make a new batch.

It’ll be a bigger batch this time!