Canning, Fermenting, Food

Fermentation Fridays

Welcome to Fermentation Fridays.  I’ve decided I have gotten so into making fermented things that I want to make this a regular Friday post for the foreseeable future.  Not to mention there seems to be some interest in it, especially after my last post.  So, you can join me in the fermenting process not to mention enjoy watching the successes and failures as I learn.

Sauerkraut

It’s not everyones favorite way to eat cabbage.  I know it took me sometime to enjoy sauerkraut after years of my West Texas German Grandmothers cooking.  I won’t go into detail but it’s been a decade and I can finally enjoy purple cabbage. In honor of the German side of my family, I’d like to introduce to you: The Zesty German.

Before getting started, I highly recommend having some sort of Fermentation Crock on hand.  Whether you buy one, this is the one I have, make one which you can find plenty of videos on YouTube, or use multiple 32 ounce Mason Jars with the Ziplock-bag method.

The Zesty German

This is not for the faint of heart.  There is enough garlic in this recipe to cure whatever ails you. If you’re scared of garlic or have a first date anytime within a week, you can definitely cut back on the garlic.

  • 5-6 pounds of green cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBSP caraway seeds
  • 1 TBSP red pepper chili flakes

*Important: make sure that everything is as clean as possible from the vegetables to utensils and containers*

  1. Slice cabbage in thin chunks.  How you prefer your sauerkraut is up to you. If you like it in a small diced format or perhaps long and thin strips (which is how I like mine).
  2. In small batches, mix salt and cabbage and let salt begin to draw the water out of the cabbage and transfer to the fermentation crock. Then continue to massage and mix the salt/cabbage. Juices will begin to release.
  3. If you have whey from your previous sauerkraut mixture, go ahead and add a tablespoon.  If you don’t… don’t worry!
  4. Mix in smashed/minced garlic, caraway seeds, and chili flakes making sure to massage all items together.
  5. Use weight to make sure the cabbage mix is condensed and covered fully by liquid.
  6. Cover your container and set in a cool, dark place for 7-14 days.  (I always go with ten).

Note:  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Embroidery At It’s Best

IMG_0020_2A year ago, a couple girlfriends and I took an embroidery class at a small sewing shop, appropriately named Stitch Lab.   Embroidering was something I always wanted to pick up, but the thought of needle and thread, or any needlework craft, seemed very intimidating.  My Grandmother is incredible with a needle and thread.  She could sew anything. Her embroidery and cross stitch work, all done by hand, looked as perfect as if it were done by a machine.  I felt like I had a lot to live up to.  I realize when you are learning something new you have to be very kind to yourself.  Even thoughI know this, when I get in front of people, I immediately feel as if I have to get it right, and perfect, on the first try.  I will say, it was a humbling experience. French knots and the stem stitch were the only things standing in my way from my first timer perfection.

Immediately after taking the class, I became an embroidery fool.  Sitting and impatiently waiting at the Doctor’s office, I would bust out my needle and hoop.  Every time I send off a gift basket of jams & jellies, I would throw in a towel.  It is therapeutic and relaxing.  It forces me to slow down in a wold that is constantly go, Go, GO! The best thing I have gotten out of embroidery is the bond that has been created between my Grandmother and I.  Whenever I start a new towel, napkin, bag, etc. I always think of my Grandmother.  Would this be something she would want in her kitchen? On her table?  I have been completely in love with embroidering flour sack towels with herbs or produce.  I have gotten the Nettie Stamp of Approval.  Now, I’m not quite to her level of mastery, but I think I’m on my way!

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Better than Bread & Butter

B&B PicklesAbout few year ago, I discovered canning.  I can hear it now… you are gasping! “How could you discover canning?!” or even, “It can’t be, no!”   It is true, I truly discovered canning.  I discovered how truly amazing it is.  I had previously heard tales of canning from my grandmother or as an urban myth from Martha Stewart, not ever really believing that it ever really existed.  A bit nieve.  At the time, I thought it was something my grandmother and her sisters and mothers before did to preserve their hard-earned harvest and seasonal crops.  In a time where technology was just evolving (picture horse and buggy, dirt roads, gas lanterns, etc.) Women were born already knowing how to sew, clean, butcher a chicken, and, yes, can.

Myself, I am not a grandmother and I certainly did not know how to can from birth, but I can tell you my grandmother is an inspiration.  Nettie Imhoff.  What a woman.  Born and raised in Texas.  Really… what a woman.

I was baffled the first time she came to the Paisley’s Farmstand and asked for all of their day old pickling cucumbers.  What on earth was she going to do with 10 plus pounds of cucumbers?!  “Make Bread & Butter Pickles,” she said so matter of factly, that I didn’t dare question her.

Weeks later when I was living in a tiny, second story apartment in the heart of downtown Boston I received a package from my Nana.  Low and behold, I found what you can do with ten pounds of cucumbers.  As a foodie, at the time and even now, I am ashamed to say I didn’t like pickles.  Hated them.  If you know my grandmother, you kn0w can’t turn down her food or else lightening will strike you where you stand.  I remember squeamishly opened the jar, pop! Dipping my fingers in the vinegar, pinching a slice between my fingertips, closing my eyes, and throwing it into my mouth.  I didn’t believe it!  It was the most delectable thing I had ever had.  I requested that I receive the packages as often as she could send them, if not sooner.  I tried to make them last, but I couldn’t.  I scowered every grocery and specialty store in the city to find a pickle that could keep me satisfied between batches and seasons.  Nothing.

Years later of just settling with a store bought pickle, I still cringe at the thought, I finally asked my Nana for her secret recipe.  An email later, I began my canning endeavors.  Through trial and error, keeping my fingers crossed, a little bit more bread, and a little bit more butter and now I send my Nana her package of Nettie’s Bread & Butter Pickles.