Lately, my kitchen lately looks like a crazy bunch of science experiments gone awesome.
I have wild fermented kimchi, sauerkraut, salsa, chutney and 2 kinds of pickles in the fridge, mead in the pantry, kombucha covered under a towel by the stove and a batch of sourdough starter hanging out on the counter. And like a nervous first-time mother, I am babying all of them, fiddling, stirring, readjusting their covers, and double checking all my recipes and resources a gazillion times a day. Are they warm enough? Is there too much sunlight? Is it bubbling in the right way? Is there a wrong way? Should I stir them? burp them? Sing them lullabies? Do they need to be angled 45 degrees away from the window when the moon is waning and Venus is in retrograde (does Venus even go into retrograde? And wtf does that even mean? Excuse me, I need to Google now, because the future of my fermented foods hang in the balance).
Really, with all my little projects around, it's getting a little crazy. But I never did find much value in being sane!
My nutritionist/dietician/all-things-good-health guru, Pat, pointed me in the direction of a book called Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Pat, being the clever woman she is, knew that my between my love of cooking and my fascination with homesteading, I would get a lot of inspiration and motivation from reading it. She also knew that it would help me focus on my health in a positive way.
You know what? She was totally right.
The book, while a little preachy at times (especially in the beginning- but I interpreted it more as passion than being on a soapbox) was full of information- a ton of stuff I found totally useful. I'll tell you up front that there was a lot that was so scientific and in-depth that I had to read it a couple times to really understand it- and I can't guarantee that I have the best grasp on it all.
I got SO much out of the book, and it really validated a lot of those gut-deep feelings that twine so perfectly with paleo and the beliefs that keep me enjoying my Cavemom lifestyle. Sidenote: I'll point out that I read the information about grains and legumes and enjoyed perusing the recipes, but I won't be including those in my diet, since I'm not willing to risk re-igniting my food addictions.
I got curious about some of the recipes, and in doing a little more research online I stumbled on the book Wild Fermentation. I read it in just a few days, and was intrigued. So I tried my hand at wild fermented salsa first. I was dubious, when I took the first bite.
Holy crap, it's so good! Like..GOOD. Omnomnom-spoon-from-the-jar-cause-who-needs-chips good.
And then I was officially hooked.
I'm pretty fascinated by the whole concept of this… creating amazingly wonderful (and healthy) foods using traditional methods, free of preservatives, chemicals, stabilizers and processing. It's a fun challenge, a crazy (and tasty) series of experiments.
So now my blueberry mead is happily bubbling away in it's carboy in the pantry (and after the sips I tried when straining it and setting it to rest, I'm gonna have a hard time waiting for another 11 months to drink it!). Pickles, chutney (which I'd never had before), the salsa, even the kombucha. And let me tell you, it took a hell of a lot for me to get up enough nerve to try making fermented tea.'
Let me repeat that.
Kombucha is fermented tea.
Totally weird to think about, and more than a little disconcerting to make. But you know what? It's pretty damn delicious.
The sauerkraut and kimchi were a bust- I'd only made quarter batches the first round, to see how it went, and boy, was my math off. I had WAY too much salt in there! Attempt number 2 is on the counter now, and so far, so good…I'm excited to try it again.
I'll be posting some of my recipes and attempts in the coming weeks. I'd love to know if you try any of them and what you think!