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.

 

 

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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!

 

A Natural Model

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Perched in her high place,

Fancying the window light.

She is motionless.

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One day in June of last summer, Hemingway decided to keep me company in the bathroom.  As I sorted and tidied, she got into her favourite look-out spot where she can peer into the backyard.  Clearly, there was much to keep her attention at the window, as she didn’t seem too perturbed when I snuck out and returned with my camera to snap a few pictures.  She’d turn her head towards me and then back to the window….with a small variety of poses.  I think in this instance a bird may have caught her eye, causing her to look up towards the trees.

I am filled with great admiration for her.  As a model, she exudes her cat-like  grace and naturalness.

I love her colours and her bushy tail.