Sunday, March 13, 2016

Look At Me...I'm Old But I'm Happy

As I spent last week working on my take-home final exam for Master Food Preservers and preparing for graduation night and the presentation of ceremonial aprons, I’m even more excited than I was at the start, more than five weeks ago.  I’m so looking forward to the growing season so I can try some new sauerkraut.  

I have never been a fan of sauerkraut and generally thought it was a perfectly crappy thing to do to a perfectly good hot dog (or corned beef on rye).  Several classmates were already experienced in fermenting sauerkraut and Jeffrey brought some for me to try, promising not to take offence if I winced and even gave me a napkin to … purge into should I feel the need.  As it happens, fresh (I use the term loosely) sauerkraut tastes NOTHING like the noxious stuff that comes in a can.  It actually tastes like cabbage.  With a kick.

A few years back I fell in love with a cabbage salsa served at a (now defunct) Mexican restaurant here in Eureka and made a decent attempt at replicating it though it wasn't quite right. Now, I have begun wondering if it was actually fermented. 

I did some online research and found a number of spicy kraut recipes that added jalapenos so I jumped in and started my first batch of kraut...with a few jalapenos tossed in. Now, I wait for the bubbles, showing me the fermenting process has begun. Soon, my kitchen should smell like....well, like the kraut should be aging out in the barn. If it turns out, I plan to make more this year when my Bayside Park Farm CSA share is overflowing with cabbage. I also pickled a few jars of asparagus this weekend while they're in season. With new skills acquired, seasonal abbondanza is anticipated greatly.

I recommend the Master Food Preserver program highly. The State Ag Extensions make these programs available as a way to get the information out to the people.  There is a Facebook page that you can follow to keep up on upcoming classes and demos. The Master Gardener program works similarly.  Ours was a fun class with awesome fun people. Though I’m not much for public speaking and waxing eloquent in front of a crowd, I’m looking forward to maintaining my certification by sharing the information I now posess. Food Security is more than just a buzzword around here and I hope to help people to recognize that feeding their families well IS possible, no matter the income. Taking advantage of gleaning opportunities and planting just a few vegetables in the summer that can be preserved to last through the off-season can greatly expand your food budget. PLUS, it’s fun and few things are as satisfying as a collection of jars filled with a rainbow of foods that you have canned yourself.  


Kym said...

I love the photo of the canned food. It inspires me to be all homemakery...I won't do it but it inspires me.

Kristi Patterson said...

So glad you did the program. It's terrific to have all that knowledge to share and to make things. I loved it. Except meetings. God, I hate meetings. xo

Monica... That One Girl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Monica... That One Girl said...

I can't wait to try your kraut. I'm so glad you did this program.

gabriele gray said...


I was doing one of those 'blog follows' where you find yourself on a blog page and decide to see what blogs that person likes. Sometimes it leads to a great find, sometimes it's just nice to see what people are doing.
And yes, I do like what you're doing and glad you write about it.

I used to live in Humboldt (Willow Creek, 73 to 84) so even here in LA I have my collection of canning jars which I use more for dry storage (yes, I do need several sizes of bulgar) than preserving but I still have all my old Canning Jar cookbooks as well as the government one that was more modern. I know which recipe I'll want by the amount of use a particular page has gotten.

I went to a Salvadorean restaurant because I wanted to try pupusas (the authentic kind) and they were served with a slaw-like side. I liked it enough that I asked to buy some to take home and also to make me go looking for a recipe This is close to what I saw and how it tasted (but they didn't use oregano.
Hope it helps you explore and see if this is what you had at the old restaurant:

I have always liked Indian food and there's a store nearby (I used to drive 20 miles in traffic before they opened, that how much I like the real ingredients).
That store also has a FB page and they feature recipes from food bloggers. Here's one (the pickle page). I haven't made her pickles but other recipes are good and she's easy to understand:
and another generous blogger:

What I really rely on is a mail order only (unless you're in SF) but worth the effort ($35 minimum).
We moved to Willow Creek and were used to SF's great selection of foods and markets. Had a good veggie garden but getting spices was not just pricey, it was uncertain as to how long the actual product had been sitting on the shelf. In SF we had gone to a small store (bulk grains, etc--in business since the 50s) and bought by the ounce. Went there on a trip and they had been sold...and no herbs in stock.
Went to the Yellow Pages and found a store...(hallelujah), easy access but a one pound minimum. Then we saw the prices. Pound of cinnamon for under $3...pound of Ceylon BOP tea...around $5...and so on. They buy bulk, pack in cellophane (or used to) and I discovered that the natural food store on the Plaza in Arcata got their bulk herbs from SF Herb also...
I was a member of a food buying club (thru the Co-op) in Willow Creek and I mentioned I was going to place an order if anyone wanted anything. Cost plus tax and percentage of shipping. The first order was over $100! One woman made soaps, everyone had a need and it worked well. Some friends in WC still buy from the company as do I.
Used to be 1# minimum but now some items are available in smaller sizes.
Anyway, that's what a lot of the old mason jars are used for...
Here's the link:
Perhaps you already know them.
They sell to so many places that the stock turnover is very it's very fresh.
I hope you find some of this helpful. I might live in LA but I still have the Humboldt/Trinity mindset of sharing what you find useful.
I look forward to whatever you explore in your next post.