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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lacto-Fermented Pickles and Pickled Ginger.

 Sunday morning Chance and I realized we had enough pickling cucumbers in the garden to make a medium sized batch of  Lacto-Fermented pickles, so of course we dug out the pickling crock,went to the store for dill and got busy.

We used a friends recipe; that she developed to rival the ones in the Deli's in L.A,the hometown of both our friend and Chance. ( If you are from L.A,think Canter's) I am not even from L.A but have had the joy of some of those pickles and I am happy / sad to say, "Grandma,your recipe may sit in the book for a long while,these pickles beat yours."

 Since I did not think to ask our friend to share her recipe before I started this posting ,I won't be sharing it.Sorry,maybe she will stop by here and give permission.

 Lacto- fermented pickles are super easy and fast.An added bonus- the project did not heat up the house on  a hot day.All we did was make a hot brine,poured it over the cucumbers,placed a heavy plate over the top of the brine and pickles to keep the cuc's under the brine and left the crock on the counter over night.The next morning we put the crock in our extra fridge,the recipe says to wait at least three days before eating but longer is better.

These pickles are not canned and processed but are kept in the fridge for their whole life.The salt in the brine and the cool temps of the fridge  keeps the pickles from rotting and breaking down.If you link to the very first link I shared above,there is some interesting science going on when pickles are made this way.A fact I had no clue of.I have been seeing a lot of stuff around about Lacto-fermentation but have not gotten around to reading any of it until I went to write this post.

Once I started to do my reading I realized that Lacto-fermentation is helpful for maintaining a healthy gut an ever important issue in our house.And then I realized that I was yet again being followed around by the thought of food as medicine.Oi!  I really hope I get into school,I don't think the universe is going to let this one rest.

I also learned,grape or raspberry leaves are sometimes added to the crock of pickles to insure they are crisp and crunchy.Both plants have tannin which inhibits the growth of enzymes that make pickles soft. To late for this batch but we will be making more so I am hoping we can fiddle around with that since we have both grape and raspberry here.

A bit ago I had seen this recipe for Pickled Ginger and since we were going to the store anyway and having a pickling day I thought we might as well try this out too.We had everything but the ginger.

Now in hindsight,I should have gone over this recipe with Chance before I set out to make it,he's the pickle/curing person in the household not me.And the issue didn't come up until I was actually finished,Chance had left the kitchen when I started my project so didn't see where I may have gone wrong.

Once I had finished and the jars were sitting on the counter Chance and I went over the process.The question we came up with is "why didn't it call for heating the brine before you poured it over the ginger?"
 Yeah,there is enough salt in it to kill anything and the jars do go into the fridge but by heating the brine the vinegar and sugar would have become "married".That is, the sugar would have melted into the vinegar causing the two to blend better.

So not sure if my project will turn out.I have yet to taste it so we shall see.The brine did taste simply like vinegar.Cross your fingers it does some sort of science based magic while it is pickling and turns sweeter.

But I had fun messing around.I used all rice wine vinegar but would like to tinker with other kinds of vinegar next time.I did not color the ginger since I actually like the look of the natural ginger better.

I made one jar just ginger and one with a Thai inspiration.One comment in the comments section mentioned using red basil for the coloring,this was my ah ha moment on this one.We have Thai basil in the garden so I thought that maybe it would color the ginger and add some flavor.I also added to the bottom of the jar one very small chili pepper from the garden for a bit more heat.Ginger,chili pepper and basil three of my favorite flavors in Thai cooking all in one jar,yum.There's no coloring coming from the basil but hopefully the flavor will come through.

Chance also picked our red currents to make jam with.We ended up with 4 pounds of berries which we figure will give us plenty for the winter.When looking for a recipe to use for the current jam Chance found out the red currents are on the rare side here in the States so finding a recipe took some digging.He has ended up choosing one that is for Lingonberry Jam,the closest berry in flavor he could find.We love the Lingonberry jam we sometimes buy from Ikea,it is sweet and tart,perfect on warm toast in the winter.Since we are in the middle of a heatwave here we froze the currents until we have cooler weather.

My Mom has moved in and so far so good.It's going to take some time for all of us to find a routine and get used to living together.My Mom has lived alone since I left home so I think the bigger adjustment will fall on her.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finding Lemon aid in a huge bowl of lemons.

I can not begin to tell all of you what a crazy time it has been here at Hrafinstaad.My head is spinning from it all.Figuring out how to turn the biggest bowl of lemons into lemon aid has been a  bigger challenge than all of the medical stuff we went through with Issac.I think it's all squeezed out with only a few bitter parts left.

Where to begin.....

How about with a bitter sweet thing first? As some of you know we have fruit trees in our front gardens,a grafted apple with 6 varieties and an Italian Prune.This year after waiting 3 years for a real crop of apples and 2 years for a small handful of prunes it was looking like we were finally going to have a bit of our own fruit.Yeah! Right? This past Saturday when Chance and I came home someone had stolen ALL of the fruit from our trees.

What a heart ache.I was dreaming of Apple Pie warm with a dab of vanilla ice cream.But noooo,poof our fruit was gone.We were so upset by this we posted signs on both trees.We nicely told the thief that we had been waiting three years for that fruit and it was for our family to eat.If they were hungry and in need they were welcome to knock on our door and we would help them with a meal.

Last night a lady neighbor and her little girl came to our door.These were new faces to me and that little one was sooo cute.They had read our signs and it sadden them since this was their first year getting a good crop of apples too.To show their camaraderie as fellow Urban Farmers, the lady baked us an Apple Pie! Ah dang that pulled at my heart strings.And I got to meet new neighbors.

A not so nice part to the past few weeks,Chance and I have been working,working and working with our schedules being changed almost daily.It was like we were inside the pitcher of lemon aid getting a good stir around to the point that none of us knew which was up.That's done and over with,whew.

The garden though has suffered. Well kind of,it has just grown into the biggest craziest jungle of food.It's still there and looking bountiful somehow.You just gotta rummage a bit to find what you are looking for.

And somewhere in there I decided it was time to get back to school and do something I had passion for.I have submitted my application for a program where I will become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.Which is a Holistic approach to food as medicine.That is a tiny nutshell of an explanation ,so here's a link with better information. I am trying to keep this a short-ish post.I will say though,this is something right up my alley and something I truly believe in,the proof being Issac and I's own health through this approach.

Finally the part that I don't know if there's enough "sugar" out there to make it sweet.Due to an emergency my Mom is moving in with us for 4-6 months.This my friends is as much of a jungle of chaos as our garden.All I will say is pray for our sanity.Donations of chocolate or booze gladly accepted.

I really can't say what the coming weeks will hold as far as blogging.Chance and I do want to make Current Jam using our Red Currents,not stolen but would have puckered the thief's lips making it easier to find them.And I have Apples for Sauce and Butter on order so that will happen.Oh and Pickles.

I am wanting to find the time to get back to my posting series and now that the time consuming  parts of life have slowed down it will happen.I know this does not sound all that insane but really we were stuck in a tornado waiting to land in Oz but came home to Hrafinstaad instead.There's a whole list of little things that just kept coming one after another,boring things like the washing machine needing to be fixed (Yet again thankful for Chance's useful hands and mind.) that I don't need to list but sucked.

Last of all I would like to thank Mercury for going into retrograde but next time keep your chaos to yourself!