Home-Made Organic Sauerkraut
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Making your own homemade, organic sauerkraut is easy and fun, and you’ll get a better crunch and flavor than store-bought. The lactobacilli that actual do the work of making the kraut are already in the air. You just set things up so they can go to work.
Use a ceramic crock with a fired, non-porous surface, a glass jar or jug, or a food-grade plastic container. Make sure it’s food grade plastic or it will leach toxic chemicals into your kraut.
Use a mandoline or vegetable grater to make cabbage shreds. This recipe calls for three tablespoons of salt. If you are on a salt restricted diet, you have two options. Reduce the salt by half (this will result in a limp sauerkraut rather than the crunchy kraut we’re really after) or pass on making your own sauerkraut. The reason is that salt creates an inhospitable environment for pathogenic organisms, keeping your kraut safe to eat. Lactobacilli are salt tolerant, and not only that, they are a main component of your intestinal flora, and by eating homemade kraut, you’ll be recharging your intestines with natural, wholesome, and health-promoting bacteria.
The weight that’s called for can be a simple plate laid on top of the cabbage and weighed down with two or even three closed quart canning jars full of tap water. Eat a test sample of the sauerkraut after two weeks to see if it’s to your liking. It should be ready, and it should increase in sourness for another two weeks. It can be—and maybe should be—refrigerated after three weeks from inception, and eaten within six weeks from the day you made it.
If it turns brown and has any off-taste at all, discard it. But in all likelihood, you’ll find that your own sauerkraut puts almost all store-bought krauts, especially those that have been pasteurized (canned), to shame. And it will be 100 percent organic.
You can add other vegetables, such as spicy, fresh-split chilies, peeled and crushed garlic cloves, even a few juniper berries. But for your first batch, stick with cabbage alone.
2 heads of organic cabbage (about 5 pounds)
3 tablespoons non-iodized (kosher or sea) salt
1. Grate one cabbage and place in a vitreous crock, large glass jar or jug, or food-grade plastic bucket, not in a metal container.
2. Sprinkle half the salt over the cabbage. Grate the second cabbage and add it to the crock. Sprinkle on the rest of the salt.
3. Crush the mixture with your hands until liquid comes out of the cabbage freely. Place a plate on top of the cabbage, then weigh down the top of the plate. Cover the container with a loose lid or cloth.
4. After two days, scoop the scum off the top of the liquid. Place the plate back on, add the weight, and check every three days, removing scum as necessary.
5. After two weeks, sample the sauerkraut to see if it tastes ready to eat. The flavor will continue to mature for the next several weeks. Canning or refrigerating the sauerkraut will extend its shelf life. Yields about two quarts.
Remember that I reported to you a few months ago that the current Federal Secretary of Agriculture, like his predecessors before him in the Bush administration, brought in agribusiness flacks to help define what’s organic and what’s not? Well, they’ve done their work well, and the organic purity law is under attack by Big Ag again. Read all about it and see how you can protest at this link:
The Organic Center in Colorado has an excellent website devoted to disseminating evidence and science-based information about the health and environmental values of organic agriculture and foodstuffs. I really encourage you to check them out at www.organic-center.org.
Ajinomoto, the company that makes aspartame, has changed its name to AminoSweet. It has the same toxicity as before, but a new, nice-sounding name.
Aspartame was invented as a drug, but upon discovery of its sweet taste was transformed into a food additive.
This latest aspartame marketing scheme is an attempt to fool the public into accepting the chemical sweetener as natural and safe, despite much evidence to the contrary.
Peach Melba: Heaven in a Bowl
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Is it just me, or does everyone think peach melba is heaven in a bowl? I don’t exactly remember where I first had this luscious dessert, but I think it might have been a small French restaurant called Le Cheval Blanc in midtown Manhattan in 1958. Peach melba, of course, was invented by Escoffier himself to honor Dame Nellie Melba, a popular Australian opera singer of the late 19th Century. If Escoffier had invented nothing else, he would rank among the great chefs of all time, because, done right, this dessert is incomparably delicious.
You will want only organic ingredients, because otherwise, the dessert will be fouled by additives, hormones, antibiotics, and god knows what else.
Get the best organic peaches you can find. Have on hand a pint of organic vanilla ice cream. Find a pint and a half of organic red raspberries. The recipe calls for red currant jelly. If you can find it in its organic glory, all the better.
Here’s the recipe. If you have never had peach melba, prepare yourself for a treat you will never forget.
First, make the melba sauce:
1 ½ pints organic ripe red raspberries
½ cup red currant jelly
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Puree the raspberries in a blender, then put the puree into a fine-mesh sieve above a bowl. Scrape back forth until the mashed pulp and juice is all collected in the bowl and the seeds remain in the sieve.
2. Place the pulp in a heavy saucepan with the jelly and bring to a simmer, then add the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
3. Simmer about 10 minutes until the surface is glassy and the foam has died down. Set aside and allow to cool, then chill in the fridge before using on the dessert.
Now, process the peaches:
2 ripe, organic peaches
½ cup sugar
Vanilla ice cream
1. Plunge the peaches into boiling water for a minute, then run under cold water to cool. Peel and cut into halves, removing the stones.
2. Poach the peach halves in a saucepan with the sugar and enough water to cover, just a few minutes. Remove peaches to a bowl and allow them to cool, then chill them in the fridge.
3. When you’re ready to serve the dessert, place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in two chilled bowls, then cover each scoop with a peach half, hollow side down. Drizzle half the melba sauce over the peaches and ice cream in each bowl. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
Yes, that’s right, President Obama has appointed Monsanto executive Michael Taylor—the man who brought the bovine growth hormone into our food supply—to be in charge of America’s food safety. The results have been immediately. The Senate Appropriations Committee has urged the FDA to finalize rules on the use of antibiotics in factory farming that poses a serious health threat. According to Food Democracy Now, “You’ll never guess on whose desk those urgent rules are gathering dust. That’s right, Michael Taylor.” Food Democracy Now is sponsoring a campaign to have the Obama administration give this Monsanto flack the heave-ho, and over 43,000 people have already done so. If you want to add your voice, visit:
Cooking Comments Off on summer camping
My summer food memory is making s’mores around the campfire at our family campground in central Oregon. We meet every 4th of July at our property on the Little Deschutes river, and eat and drink for a week with family and friends!
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One of my clearest summer memories is waiting for the barbecued chicken legs to come off the grill. What a delicious smokey smell!