Thursday, February 27, 2014


Is just what it sounds like: guacamole with kale in it.  The secret ingredient is tomatillo salsa.  The non-secret ingredients are kale (it's in the name) and avocados (it's guacamole.)  It is not the best guacamole I ever had, but the taste:work:healthy ratio is great.  Next time it needs more spice, I've been eating it with hot sauce sprinkled on the top and that's pretty tasty.  

The kale is cooked (not a lot, just in a large pan with some water to blanch it) and then everything goes in the food processor, whereupon I apply the doctrine of "if it's worth blending, it's worth blending the shit out of it."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kim-Kim-Ka-Chi, Kim-Kim-Ka-Chi

Good luck will rub off when you shake hands with me.

But right after I've been making this stuff there will be a lot of garlic, ginger, and hot sauce that rubs off with that good luck.  Maybe that's what good luck is...

This was the thickest batch of kimchi sauce I've made yet.  I've been adding more rice every time (which is twice) and it seemed to get better, so under the doctrine of "you don't know how much is enough until you know how much is too much," there's a lot of rice in this batch, which made it really thick.  

I added cucumber to this batch, which was a suggestion from a coworker who said he had cuke's in kimchi once, and couldn't find them anywhere.  We'll see how it goes.  Also, I put a burdock root into this batch.  When we were at the Food Hole picking up ingredients, I said "Ooo, burdock root, I'll put some of that in it."  Ma femme asked what it tasted like, and I said "I have no idea."  Fresh, it tastes like a really sweet delicious carrot with none of whatever it is that makes carrots taste like carrot.  Funny that I always considered burdock to be a weed.  Maybe if I had known they were so delicious, I would have thought different.  The sheep always loved them; you'd turn them into a new pasture, and the really experienced ones would head right out into the open areas and eat the burdock first.  We would pick big leaves and take them into the barn as a treat, and they would devour them.  I tried to eat the leaves, and they were really awfull, so I never understood what the sheep saw in them.  I suppose some would say the same about the kimchi I'm making; there's no accounting for taste.  

Run Rocks Rhymes

Peter Piper's got nothing on these.

Several nice big banana peppers, sliced into rings; a couple heads of garlic, husked and smashed, a bit of salt, and just enough water to cover.  Then the age-old pickling routine: weight, wait, great.

Actually, they are a little soft and not hot enough.  I think for the next batch, I should add some hotter peppers.  I'm also going to experiment with making a small fraction of the brine with some live vinegar.  Not so much that they are "pickled" by it, but I'm looking for ways to reduce the salt content and add bacterial diversity.

They'll be great on burgers or hot dogs, or on some juicy barbecue.  I'll probably end up taking them a serving at a time in with my lunch to work.  A nice salty snack for warmer months.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The wild-fermented ginger beer in bottles.

It's so gingery.  Holy moley.  If you are not super-into ginger, this is not for you.  It is also coming out flat, which is disappointing, since I primed the crap out of it.  Perhaps it needs more time, but it's been a few weeks, it should be done.  I think next time I am going to add way more than 3 lbs of palm sugar for a stronger drink.  Still good, though.

Wine in Line

Second Malbec bottled: 

Cabernet Sauvignon begun:

I've learned a few things, and got a few good tips at a Northern Brewer mead class.  Number one: I think I leave my oak in too long.  After 6 weeks it starts to impart a woody flavor.  In a bad way, like actually sucking on a piece of wood.  So I'm going to rack it out of there before that happens.  Also, more racking, more better, so I'll probably try a tertiary, quaternary, whatever-five-is-ary, until it's as clear and well-aged as I want it to be.  I think a little exposure to oxygen is a good thing for wine, too.  It helps keep fermentation going, and you actually want it to oxidize a little, apparently, especially for reds.  And shaking is a good thing for wine.  It helps degas and keeps things well mixed, which also supports strong and complete fermentation.  In later stages of racking, I will probably also degas with my whip-on-a-drill mixer.  Wine is pretty great.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wine Sheves

The first one, with space for 16 bottles in 48 inches.  It's a little crowded, so for subsequent shelves, I made space for 15 bottles, and that makes a huge difference.  There are still some bottles that clink together, or don't quite lay flat, but you can usually arrange them to fit.  The bottles I used for my Port are the worst offenders.

I would have liked them to fit a little closer vertically, but between the unit spacing on the shelf rails, and the space you need for the bracket itself, that's as close as they get.  Perhaps I could have been a little more strategic matching the spacing of the rails with the spacing of the bottles to squeeze things a little closer.  In the end I am happy with them.  They are the same style of construction as the beer shelves, so theoretically, I can stack beer over here, or wine over there, and they are totally modular, so I can remove them and reconfigure to whatever I need.  

The vertical spacing thing doesn't really bother me either, since as you can see, if I make a few more shelves, and can store ~120 bottles of wine, I should just stop.

Fermentation exchange

Part of the Fermentation Revival/Revolution is the building up of community around the things we ferment.  In this case, I've traded kimchi for pickles.  This fall, my coworker Susan gave me some Napa cabbage from her garden, which I turned into delicious kimchi.  I gave a jar of it to her, and she gave me a jar of these Chinese pickles which she made.  They have a brown sweetness that I can't quite put my finger on, other than that they are "Asian."

I'm beginning to wonder if I like traditional pickles any more.  There are a few brands I still love, particularly Bubbies from San Francisco, but something tells me I just don't like the texture of fermented cucumbers.  This is reinforced by how much I love the texture and taste of fermented cabbage.  I am excited to try some fermented kale and collards out of my own garden this summer.

Back on Track

No long musings about why and how long it's been since I posted.  On to the good stuff.  This happened:

Pre-blog aficionados of my brewing legacy will know this as my first and best beer, not yet repeated.  It sits patiently, waiting to be tested; or perhaps I am waiting for it...  It had a rocky start in primary, sort of getting stuck but coming back strong with a vigorous restart after racking.  It tasted wonderful when we bottled it, with that characteristic estery essence, unadulterated by too much malt but enhanced by alcohol, because of the sugar addition.

There's plenty more going on.  Rather than make one huge post, I'll split it up.  Perhaps I'll come back here and add links...