I took a class from Kirsten Shockey and got a signed copy of her book: Fermented Vegetables, and the crock above is filled with a batch of basic sauerkraut using her methods (which is to say that it's one of the simplest recipes for sauerkraut there is, not that that's a bad thing.) I got the crock from Ace Hardware, which is a remarkably good source for fermentation / food preservation supplies.
Ma femme noticed that on the back of the book, the two recommendations at the top are from Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, and Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy. She then pointed out that Vegetable Literacy is currently on her nightstand, and Katz's book is currently on the dresser by my side of the bed. That is serendipity if ever there was; this is the right book for the right time in our household. She even found a recipe for a ferment that she wants me to try, and I never thought that would happen. We've got a bunch of surplus garlic from a friend, so I'm going to turn it into a fermented garlic paste that can be used in place of fresh garlic, but all the peeling and processing is already done, plus it takes the edge off of raw garlic. If it's good, it might become a regular thing.
In other fermenting news, I have about had it with vinegar. There's something I'm just not getting. One jar got fruit flies (I didn't even think that was possible, and it makes me believe in Spontaneous Generation.) One jar tastes like puke, and one jar tastes like ashes. What. The. Heck. I'm done trying to turn shitty beer into amazing vinegar, I think that's a "garbage-in-garbage-out" proposition. I tossed a bunch of failures out this weekend, and started a fresh batch with a nice hunk of mother and a bottle of Cabernet. I set it up on the counter so I can see it every day, with a clean piece of cheese cloth. If this doesn't work, I'm giving up for a while.
On a more positive note, the New Year's Ale remains steadily active, in the way that those big beers do. There's less of a burst and retreat, the way a smaller beer can be ready to go to secondary (or straight to bottling) after just a week or two. This beer is just marching, with about an inch of kreusen and a relentless bobbing of the airlock; it shows no signs of slowing down just yet.
I transferred my Chianti, and it tastes bold and belligerent. It will benefit greatly from another six weeks of slow maturation, followed by some heavy toasted oak. The Sour Series continue their patient slumber, with the Berliner Weisse starting to get really clear almost all the way to the bottom of the Carboy of Truth. By Early November, it will be ready to make way for a new resident, and join its brothers in silent watchfulness along the wall.