Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Missing Kimchi Recipe and My Search for a 12 Step Program…

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I am looking for a 12 step program for my new Kimchi addiction! I’ve been eating it with absolutely everything. The first step is admitting you have a problem…

Here is the recipe for Becky’s Killer Kimchi.

Makes about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of Kimchi

Ingredients

For salting cabbage:
6 pounds napa cabbage (3 to 4 heads of medium napa cabbage)
1/2 cup Kosher salt

For making porridge:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour) regular flour is fine too
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (brown or white sugar)

Vegetables:
2 cups radish matchsticks
1 cup carrot matchsticks
7 to 8 green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped Asian chives (buchu), optional (substitute with 3 green onions, chopped)
1 cup water dropwort (minari), optional (Becky didn’t use this)

Seasonings and spices:
1/2 cup garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup fermented salted shrimp (saeujeot) with the salty brine, chopped ( Becky didn’t use this)
2 cups hot pepper flakes (gochugaru) ( This is Korean red pepper powder)

Directions:
Chop cabbage into small pieces, rinse in a large basin of water, and sprinkle with salt:

Let the cabbages rest for 2 hours. Turn over every 30 minutes, so they get well salted. From time to time you can ladle some of the salty water from the bottom of the basin over top of the cabbages if you want to.
After 2 hours, wash the cabbage a few times under cold running water. Giving them a good washing, to remove the salt and any dirt. Place in a strainer over a basin so they can drain well.
While the cabbage is salting for 2 hours, and in between the times you’re turning it over, you can make the porridge:

Porridge making:
Combine the water and the sweet rice flour in a small pot. Mix well with a wooden spoon and let it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until it starts to bubble. Add the sugar and cook 1 more minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and let it cool off completely.
Place garlic, ginger, and onion in a large mixing bowl. Add fish sauce, fermented salted shrimp, and hot pepper powder. Mix well with the wooden spoon until the mixture turns into a thin paste.
Add the radish, carrot, and green onion, plus the Asian chives (or more green onions) and the water dropwort if you’re using them. Mix well. Add cooled off porridge and mix well.

Make kimchi:
Spread kimchi paste on the cabbage so that it’s evenly distributed. When it is all covered with paste put into your jar or plastic container.
Eat right away, or let it sit at room temperature for a few days to ferment.

On fermentation:
The kimchi will start fermenting a day or two at room temperature, depending on the temperature and humidity of your room. The warmer and more humid it is, the faster the kimchi will ferment. Once it starts to ferment it will smell and taste sour, and pressing on the top of the kimchi with a spoon will release bubbles from beneath.
Once it starts to ferment, store in the refrigerator to use as needed. Storing in the fridge slows down the fermentation process, which will make the kimchi more and more sour as time goes on.

Enjoy!
Stan (and Becky!)

More things to ferment and brew…Kombucha!!

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After our adventures in Kefir making, Becky thought it would be a good idea to start making Kombucha. I have to say that I had no idea what it was.… And so it began.

Kombucha is a sweet tea which is left to ferment with the SCOBY and within two weeks turns into a another drink entirely which is highly beneficial to your body. HEALTHY OR NOT, IT TASTES AMAZING!

After Becky managed to get a free SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) from a friend, we were off and brewing. We are currently brewing our fourth batch of kombucha.

Our second batch caused some concern with the expected growth of a new SCOBY on the surface of the liquid. Each time a batch is brewed you end up with a new SCOBY. Becky’s approach is just to leave it alone and check it after two weeks, where as my approach is more of checking it four times a day to see what’s happening. My concern grew over what looked like abnormal SCOBY growth. Eventually I reached out to contact people wise in the ways of the SCOBY. They were both amazing and responded very quickly to the pictures I emailed to them.

As it turns out, the biggest thing that can ruin your batch is mold. But we did not have any, thankfully. After a minor relocation to a warmer part of the house things seemed to get back on track.

Here are the two resources who were so kind to help.

http://www.kombuchabrooklyn.com/

http://www.kombuchakamp.com

Oh how I love the scent of a fake Christmas tree!

Many years ago Becky and I bought our first Christmas tree. It was a good quality artificial tree which we have used up until last year. In the box, which we dragged home on public transit, was a natural pine oil scent kit and about a dozen real pinecones to put the oil on.

In our excitement (….and lack of any experience with scented oils) we used the entire bottle of oil. It was a tiny bottle! You can probably guess what happened next. Overwhelmed by the smell of pine, with tears actually in our eyes, we realized that the tiny bottle was probably a 10 year supply! We quickly collected the pinecones and put them in the trash. Not before they probably dripped all over the tree in the process.

It was a ‘fresh’ December day so we opened all the windows and put our jackets on to air out the room. It eventually became bearable again. At least our eyes didn’t sting too much anymore.

So that is the history of our existing tree. Every year for probably the past 10 years we have discussed buying a real tree, but in the end decide to stick with our fake. Until this year. Finally we got a real one!

Once we brought it inside I felt like it should be decorated very simply. Some white lights and Becky and I were inspired to string some popcorn for a garland. That’s it so far. Not sure if we should add any more to it.

Here’s what it looks like so far. The best part of having a real tree in the house…..the natural pine scent!! 🙂

So what do you have? Artificial or a real tree?

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All We Want For Christmas is…

Becky and I have a very short wish list for Christmas. It only had two items. We have both found ourselves in recent years not wanting more “stuff” in our lives.

For years now Becky has had a rule, and it goes something like this… “If we bring something new in the house, something has to leave the house.” Huh? But I don’t want anything to leave the house. I am by no means a packrat, but that seemed a little harsh. But catch me on the right day and you can get rid of whatever you want because we probably don’t need it. I tend to gravitate more towards the rule of – if you haven’t touched it in six months you can safely get rid of it. I’m sure Becky might say otherwise but in my mind I like to believe that that’s my way of thinking.

We decided this year to not exchange gifts, even with each other. Yes it’s fun to open things up on Christmas morning, but we’ve decided that we have enough in our lives right now that we don’t need more.

However, we do have two things on our Christmas wish list. To further our homesteading skills and abilities we have our eye on an Excalibur Dehydrator and an All American Pressure Canner. We’ve discovered after jarring several different food items that these two devices would serve us very well and enable us to expand what we preserve.

So here goes our shameless pitch to Santa….We’ve both been really, really, really good this year and are surely on the ‘nice’ list.
P.S. – We will even get rid of two items from the house once these arrive!

We hope you are all enjoying the wonders of the holidays.

Stan and Becky

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Fresh Baked Bread!

The taste of freshly baked bread is always amazing. Nothing beats the wonderful aromas of baking bread on a cold fall or winter’s day. At least that’s what Becky tells me. Although the smell of still warm from the oven chocolate chip cookies when she comes home from work is rated highly as well.

I can still remember the feeling of coming home from school and my mom having chocolate chip cookies on a plate for me. It’s creates such a warm feeling of home, coziness and love. That’s probably why I like to do it for Becky.

I’ve been baking cookies since I was around 10 years old, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I eventually found myself working in a small bakery which sold only homemade cookies. Baking bread is something more recent for me. Probably beginning just a few years ago. In the past year we have only purchased bread from a store a few times (usually when I’m feeling lazy).

Bread making is said to be a very accurate science with no messing around with quantities. I would completely agree…..except for the recipe I’ve been using. The basic recipe is from the Joy of Cooking. It’s a white bread recipe which I began substituting whole wheat flour for white bread flour on my second batch. Everything else stayed the same with the exception of 1/4 teaspoon extra yeast.

Subsequent batches saw many things added and the recipe only being used as a quick reference. In the world of baking this usually turns into a disaster. However, after baking many loaves I have never had a failed batch. I’ve added whole wheat flour, dark rye flour, red fife flour, bran, wheat germ, quick oats, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax meal, spelt flakes, and maca powder. The results…..total awesomeness!!

Why bake your own bread? I do it for several reasons. Mainly because I like to bake, but after that other reasons include: knowing exactly what ingredients are being used; having no preservatives added; flexibility to make exactly what you want; and, some money savings when compared to buying an equal quality artisan store bought bread.

Most reluctance around baking ones own bread comes from a belief that it’s too difficult or time consuming. Not true. If you can follow a recipe, you can bake bread. As for it being time consuming, think about it like doing a load of laundry.

When you do laundry it doesn’t take 90 minutes (30 min wash and 60 min in the dryer). It really only takes a few minutes to load the washer, a few minutes to transfer everything to the dryer, and finally a few minutes to fold everything. Total working time on your part might be 10 minutes or less. The rest of the time you are doing other things. The same is true for bread.

Mix a few ingredients and let it sit while you do other stuff. Mix it again and put it in a loaf pan to sit some more. Go enjoy yourself. Put it in the oven. Set the timer and go do some fun stuff. Remove and enjoy! Simple!!

Here are a few pictures of my bread. The everyday bread which we use for toast, and a new recipe I tried recently for a rustic country loaf. I ate almost half the loaf with butter within a few minutes of coming out of the oven!

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