Category Archives: SEA VEGETABLES

SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: why other people don’t like raw sauerkraut and how you can

POST #899
SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: Why Other People Don’t Like Sauerkraut, and How You Can

Swayze Foster recently posted a “low-sodium” sauerkraut-related video, in which she talked mostly about how she hates sauerkraut.

I’m a fermenter, and I do like sauerkraut, and I have been lucky that everyone who has tasted my sauerkraut has liked it (I do get lucky like that – people who say they are don’t like something that I am pushing  generally tend to like it once they have tasted it). 

Swayze says she put her sauerkraut in a jar covered by leaves, and topped  by cheesecloth to ferment for three days. That is, by me, the first mistake – if you are going to make “short-ferment” vegetables of any sort, you need to 1) press the vegetables down under the liquid, and/or 2)cover the recipient with a tight lid.

I’ve tried several ways to weight the vegetables, all of which involved putting a cabbage leaf on top and putting a weight on that, and then putting the lid on.  Each time, I have ended up with a slimy cabbage leaf, and an iffy batch of sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I make is low sodium (I use a maximum of 1 T sea salt to a large head of cabbage — 2 1-qt jars worth). The sea salt is already low sodium, and it helps to draw the liquid/juice from the cabbage.  I find that the kicker, or the trick, to making a successful, tasty raw sauerkraut is the addition of 1 – 2 capsules-worth (or 1 teaspoon) of probiotics to the mix  (you could mix it in by hand, but I worry that some might get stuck on my glove and not remain in the mix, or you could mix it into the water you add to top off the jar)  The salt works to ferment, but salt wants a while.  The probiotics go to work immediately, and practically ensure that your batch of sauerkraut will succeed (when I first started making sauerkraut, I was warned that my first batches might fail – the only failed batches I have ever had were the ones where I did not use the probiotics)

I usually let my sauerkraut batches go for 3-4 days before I open them.  With the tight cap on them, I need to open them over the sink, as the probiotics will have created a fizzy pressure, and the cabbage sometimes pops out of the top of the jar.  I like the sweetness of the 3-4 day ferment, but I have left it as long as 7 days with no ill results.  My batches rarely last more than 7 days in the refrigerator, as, when I have a batch of sauerkraut, it goes into almost everything I make up (wakame seaweed and vegetable salad, raw tuno, crackers – you name it!)  I often eat it on its own, as I love the flavor (I most frequently simply add jalapeno pepper slices, but often I add garlic, dill, cilantro, curry powder, or kimchi spices).

The way I figure it is, if you don’t like raw sauerkraut, most probably, you have gotten a bad batch, or you don’t like the flavorings.  A simple, plain raw sauerkraut made with just sea salt and probiotics will be tasty, sweet-ish,  to almost anyone, even children, and will be a good addition to just about anything you want to make up.

One last thing about sauerkraut, or any other fermented vegetable: If you don’t like to chew,  or if you don’t like crunchy, process your vegetables to a fine grate (not applesauce texture, but more like if you chopped for 20 mins) and be sure to include probiotics in your mix (many people tell me you can use sauerkraut juice from an older batch, but I never have that much juice left, and I don’t trust commercial batches.  For my first batches, I used a Zukay salad dressing for the probiotic, but, since Zukay salad dressings are not available in New York City as of this writing, and the company refuses to sell even crates of their product to individual buyers, I have never used that since).

Advertisements

CABIN FEVER DINING: What I made today post-Sandy

POST #848
With no public transportation on the day after Sandy, this week is definitely a stay-cation.  Worse, everything within walking distance is closed.  Cabin fever city!  Back to the kitchen!

This morning I got up and made some kale/cashew cheeze in my much beloved Cuisinart food processor (it has already outlasted each of the two economy food processors I had before) to go with the sunflower seed crackers I meant to eat later.

Later, I made a “surf and turf salad.”
I had some leftover torn-up kale from huge bunch I’d bought on Sunday, so I chopped it up a little more, added some soaked wakame seaweed, also chopped up, about 1/4 C chopped red bell pepper, 1/2  jalapeno, chopped, some freshly-ground black pepper, 1/2 galangal (don’t ask why, I have no idea), 2 chopped garlic cloves, about 1/2 C lentil sprouts, and about 1/4 C sunflower seed sprouts, then some apple cider vinegar and olive oil.  It didn’t seem like enough, so I took a heaping soup spoon of the kale/cashew cheeze and mixed it with water to make a creamy dressing which I poured over the top.  Yumm!

ANNIVERSARY MONTH: It was 10 years ago this month that I knew I had taken off 100 lbs. They are still off!

POST #833
Ten years ago, on October 2, my birthday, I realized that my clothes were rather loose.  I ultimately took off @100lbs.

So, now, it has been 10 years that  I have kept the weight off.  I hope you will understand if I reach around and pat myself on the back.  Yeah, I’m proud.  Today, instead of wearing a size 22, I am wearing a size 2.

 

9/27/12 CSA SHARE: What we got, what I took home, and what I am doing with it

POST #823
Spaghetti Squash – 1-3 pcs…….traded for .5 lb green beans
Green Beans – .5lb
Red Tomatoes – 2 beefsteak
Mixed lettuce leaves – 1 bag…..traded for 3 tomatoes
Carrots – 1 bun
Red onions – 2 tiny
Baby Arugula – 1 bag

  I was the first one to the share distribution, so I looked in the trade box and grabbed the tomatoes and green beans and promised to give back something as soon as I’d opened my box.  Someone was apparently assigned to make sure I did – she stood right in front of me as I opened my box, and didn’t leave until I had taken the bag of lettuce and the squash over to the trade box!  It was nice to have someone to chat with.

 These boxes are getting ever more parsimonious. Oh well!

Once home, I headed straight for the kitchen and pulled out all of my available mason jars, and started to work.  Washed all of the tomatoes – I had 4 that had survived since last week, too—and set them aside.  Washed all of the green beans (that bag of beans from the Chinese supermarket was about only half good – from now I will only buy green beans I can select by the onesies.

 Stood there and topped and tailed all of the green beans, and snapped the longer ones  in half (I can bear to chew for about half a green bean at a time).  This was the most time-consuming chore.  I began to think back to when my cousins and my sister and I used to sit with big bowls on the back porch at Grandmom’s and top and tail huge piles of green  beans.  Although it was a chore, it was still fun because we were together, talking and joking.  At last, I finished with the green beans and stuffed them down into 2 quart jars, along with a good amount of sliced garlic, chopped jalapeno peppers, and dill seed.  Poured on about 2 C of brine mixed with 2 caps of probiotics per jar, and lidded them.  One jar got one of my new re-usable lids (these are kind of weird – the middle part is plastic, the ring is probably rubber, and you have to put your own outside ring).

 I chopped up a large onion, more garlic, and some more jalapenos, and threw them, along with some dry cilantro, lemon juice, 2 caps of probiotic powder, and cumin powder, in the food processor to chop fine.  That done, I chopped up the tomatoes, and put as many as would fit into the food processor and chopped kind of chunky.  Then I emptied the food processor into a large bowl and processed the rest of the tomatoes, and threw them into the bowl and mixed everything very well.  I used my Champion juicer funnel to get everything into a quart jar and a pint jar.  I mashed the tomatoes down as firmly as I could, which brought up a lot of juice. Then, I lidded both, and set them over on the board I have over half the stove top, along with the green beans.

 It took me about 2-1/2 hours to do all of it.

 Along the way, at those moments when my mind strayed from the mindfulness of the job that I was working at maintaining, and I started to think about how my back and shoulders were feeling sore, I started thinking about how you just cannot get this kind of food if you don’t make it yourself.  That kept me going and helped me get back to that mindfulness thing.  Food prep as meditation.

 So, now, it’s all sitting there, waiting.  I will probably open one jar of the beans at 4 days, and leave the other one to 7 days, which will be about the same time that the first jar is empty.  That way I can decide which one tastes better.

I still have some lovely carrots, and I want to do them with garlic and gingner.  Not tonight, though.  I’m done for now.

 I need to get some more mason jars.  I looked on amazon.com, but they wanted @$22.00 for 12 (not too bad with my amazon prime, which gives me free 2-day delivery, but still it is @ $1.50 per jar.  Then I found out that you can order mason jars from Ace Hardware on-line and have them delivered to your local Ace Hardware (if they don’t carry them normally), and they are shopped to the store free. (This is even cheaper than ordering directly from the Ball/Kerr jar company website).  You just have to pick them up.  I’m looking for the Ace Hardware closest to the subway which will give me the most direct route home (12 mason jars are heavy to carry)

 Meanwhile, I’m eating a salad made with chopped baby bok choy, lentil sprouts, chopped wakame (sea weed), hijiki (seaweed), onion, garlic, a little jalapeno pepper, sesame oil, and apple cider vinegar. Yum!

6/7/12 CSA SHARE: WHAT I ACTUALLY GOT & WHAT I AM GOING TO DO WITH IT

I love it when the CSA is in season. It is so nice to go there and see so many happy people picking up their shares. Sometimes they are even friendly.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to pick up my share (early shares are always slim pickings, and overloaded with lettuce-t kinds of things, but… hey! That’s the way it is — they really really want me to start liking salads.

Yesterday, we got:
Baby Arugula – 1 bag
Romaine Lettuce – 1 head
Boston Lettuce – 1 head
Swiss Chard – 1 bunch
Garlic Scapes – 1 bunch
Japanese Salad Turnips – 1 bunch
STRAWBERRIES!  We got strawberries in the box, and I also got strawberries as my fruit share! Yum! Smoothies!

ARUGULA – I decided to keep it. I’m not overly fond of arugula, but I decided to make a raw version of the Greek beet, arugula, and goat cheese salad (I’ll post it later
ROMAINE – I kept it. I think I’ll make some wraps.
BOSTON LETTUCE – I like this stuff well enough.   I can deal with a salad or two a week.  This is a fairly big head, so I might be having three salads. I like to mix in seaweed (I stalk the Japanese supermarkets for sales on the mixed, or else I just get wakame when it is in the bulk bins at Integral Yoga Foods, my favorite natural foods store) and sauerkraut, along with onion, and, if I have it, some red bell pepper.
SWISS CHARD – I am still not ready to even try to like this stuff.  It is high on my yuck scale. I traded it for more turnips.
GARLIC SCAPES– these look weird, but they are GREEN, and they taste like garlic, so I like them.  I chop them up or grind them in the food processor,  and put them in everything as a garlic (they are a part of one kind of garlic).  These will get chopped or ground and put in salad, or go into pates.  Since I was lucky and got two bunches, I will probably experiment with my next sauerkraut, and put some sliced garlic scapes in there with lots of sliced jalapeno.
JAPANESE SALAD TURNIPS – I have no clue why they call them Japanese Salad Turnips (my Japanese room-mate did not recognize them.  When I was testing a recipe with them, she said she had never seen them before).  So, okay, they are all white, where other turnips have some purple on them. Never mind. They are turnips and they taste like turnips. I grind them in the food processor to almost an applesauce consistency, then add apple cider vinegar, olive olive oil, and any seasonings which strike my fancy (usually garlic, sometimes coriander, sometimes Spike)
STRAWBERRIES – These are going in smoothies. I am not really into eating right now, but I know I need some protein, so I will put these into a hemp or soy protein shake in the morning. I am also thinking of making some strawberry leather in the dehydrator.

So! I have things to do with all these vegetables!  I got into a use- everything -in-the-box a few years ago, when the CSA issued a challenge.  I continued it when my job went south – the CSA box was my food for the week (I’d have maybe $5 more to get other food.  Good I have that experience because I am back there now. Smart people who have full-time work tell me about all the things I should do, like save money, or invest in a 401K, but, when you can barely pay the rent, and you have to think twice about what food to get, and you can’t afford your health insurance and medicine copays on top of all that, well, the CSA is very very important — at least I will not die from malnutrition. I feel so blessed that my CSA has jumped in this year and allowed me to make payments as I can.)

Seaweed Noodles

I’ve recently learned that, if you soak the seaweed noodles in water with a dash of lemon for an hour, they will get softer.

That’s cool.  I have always relied on marinating the noodles with oil and vinegar and then dehydrating them.

I BELIEVE YOU COULD CALL THIS CHEEZ WHIZ

Last night I had the brilliant idea to try to make my cheddar cheez recipe be solid.  I had made up one solid cheez once before, using agar flakes, so I figured it would work.  Even sitting overnight in the refrigerator, however, it never hardened, just thickened quite a bit, to a texture a little like that cheese product that used to come in a jar.   It still tastes okay, though.

I have a party tomorrow, so I will pack it up and take it along.