Well, it’s suddenly Easter. I’ve done kind of a lot of nothing, though I did get us these pretty Lake Champlain chocolate carrots, and I gave the dogs the end of a real carrot I was grating. So I guess that’s something.
So far, 2016 is shaping up to be a fairly ghastly year. Seems like every day there’s a new horrible thing. Bowie’s death still sucker-punches me with grief sometimes, and I have days my re-herniated disk really hurts and I have to take something for it. But this post isn’t about that, dammit! No self-pity! Easter-y rebirth-y stuff! (If you write it with a lot of exclamation points, it has to be true, right?)
I went to a vegetable fermentation class at Denver Botanic Gardens a few weeks ago. Class was interesting and tasty. I especially liked a curried cauliflower that the instructor made, so I made some, based on her instructions. I wish I’d taken a photo! It was delicious. I “riced” the cauliflower (that is, chopped it so the pieces were rice-like in size), and then massaged it with salt. The massage and salt draw out the moisture, so soon there’s enough brine to cover everything. I added an apple and curry powder and let the whole thing sit out on the counter for about a week. We used it on top of curries and salads and really enjoyed it. Strangely, though, when I moved the stuff to smaller jars and put them in the fridge, the brine seems to have disappeared entirely. I was a little worried because my book insists, “Submerge in brine and all will be fine,” but it aged well enough in the fridge.
Next was a fermented salsa of red peppers and jalapenos, which the book calls a sweet pepper salsa, but it’s pleasantly spicy. I may increase the jalapeno ratio next time, though. For this one, I chopped up all the peppers, onions, and garlic in the food processor and salt, so everything is quite small–salsa, after all, right? It was a little tricky to keep the little bits of vegetable submerged, but a bit of plastic wrap tucked around the sides did the trick. In summer, I’m going to preserve some of my grape leaves to use instead of plastic wrap. This one had to sit for 2 weeks, but it’s really good. It just tastes like a really nice salsa, and you can’t really tell it doesn’t have tomato in it. Nice as a dressing for taco salad, too, mixed with a little olive oil.
After that I did some spicy Brussels sprouts with smoked salt, which are okay but not that fab. I love the idea, and I love Brussels sprouts, but these are a little disappointing. I was hoping they would take on more of a coleslaw texture, but they’ve retained their rawness, and the spicy flavor really only hits when you get one of the sliced jalapenos. Still, the sprouts are good sliced up in salads, and they’re probably doing magical things for our microbiomes. I’m not quite sure how we would know this, so let’s just assume it’s true. There’s some fairly compelling research out there about gut health having an impact on overall health, after all. Maybe we can get paid as poop-donors for fecal transplants or something. (No, seriously, that’s a Thing! http://thefecaltransplantfoundation.org/what-is-fecal-transplant/)
Today’s endeavor is a red cabbage kimchi. I soaked the cabbage overnight in a brine (which turned a sort of charming purple color), and then this morning, I massaged in all the other ingredients: carrot, daikon, garlic, scallion, red pepper flakes. My extremely traditional fermentation vessel is the sun tea jar I found on sale at the grocery store a couple of years ago. I don’t actually ever make sun tea, but the jar has turned out to be a good size, and I think it was something like $2. It’s perfect for these ferments. It’s big enough that I can pack everything in, with lots of headspace, and then the Ziploc with brine on top. Fermenting veg bubble up a lot of excess liquid, so I’m keeping the jar on top of a disposable pie plate. (No idea why I even had a disposable pie plate, but it was in the cupboard.) This will ferment on the counter for a couple of weeks. Not sure what will be next, but we do tend to like the spicy ones a lot.
So no self-pity! Let us enjoy happy fermented goodness. Happy Easter, all.