Sauerkraut

My housemates wish I would stop fermenting things.

I’ve told them I don’t just ferment. Sometimes I bake cakes. Sometimes they’re good. Sometimes I feed them fresh, local, and organic vegetables and honey. I’ve told them to stop complaining.

But it’s true – I do ferment a lot of things. And this is one of those things.

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A while ago I made borscht and found myself with most of a cabbage leftover. This prompted me to try one of the easiest fermentations that I’ve never actually done: Sauerkraut.

I cut up my cabbage and removed the core.

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Then I chopped the rest into fine strips and threw the strips in a bow with 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt.

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I smashed it all around with my hands for about ten minutes. Perhaps ‘smashed’ is too strong a word. The recipes I’ve come across online are fond of the word ‘massage.’ After ten minutes of gentle massage, the cabbage released a lot of its water and became wilted.

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I plopped my wilted cabbage into a jar, tamping down with my hand after each plop to release air bubbles and more liquid.

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I covered the whole thing with a kale leaf to protect it from the air, and weighted it down with a jam jar full of water. The name of the game with sauerkraut seems to be keeping it out of contact with the air with a layer of water. At the moment the water released naturally from the cabbage is a little sparse. I may have to add more.

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I rubber banded a piece of fabric over the whole jar to keep critters away and stuffed it away in a cupboard. The pictures of that weren’t very glamorous, though, so I’ll leave you with beautiful shot of my sauerkraut to be.

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In a few days it should be ready to eat.

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Bacon

Sometimes I think that we as a culture are going a little overboard in our glorification of bacon.

And then I eat bacon.

And I realize we’re right on track.

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Lunch today: kale, summer squash, peppers, and basil sauteed with bacon and salt.

 

 

Candied Bacon

My community garden has lovely bi-monthly potlucks. Everyone else brings delicate vegan quinoa salads. And I bring candied bacon. At least I give fair warning.

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Despite being out of place, it’s always a hit. It’s not actually my recipe – my mom found it in a newspaper years ago and mailed it to me as a joke. It turned out to be amazing and very easy, making it ideal for a party. Here’s what you need:

1 lb bacon

4 tbsp packed brown sugar

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cinnamon

Dash of black pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper

Self-control

That’s it! And the last two are optional. Preheat your oven to 400F and mix up all your dry ingredients in a bowl. I tend to do very generous spoonfuls.

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Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. This is a messy dish, and you’ll be glad for the foil when it’s time to clean. Cut your bacon strips into thirds and lay ’em out flat. It’s fine if they overlap.

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Mix your dry ingredients together into a tasty powder.

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Shake it out over your bacon so it’s evenly coated, and pop it in the oven.

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Take it out 15 minutes later. By this time your house will have filled with a smell. The smell will make you wonder why you ever eat anything else. This is normal.

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Transfer the bacon to a few layered paper towels. Take it to your engagement or function, or eat it all yourself if your heart’s had it too easy lately.

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Christmas Crackers

I went home for Christmas, which meant more big baking projects. My favorite was one my dad started doing after I left home, meaning I’d never made it before. I’m talkin’ rosemary garlic crackers.

First we made a big harvest of the rosemary bush in the basement. No matter how much rosemary you pick, it always seems like too much.

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We added it and some diced garlic to a flour and salt mix.

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Olive oil to hold it all together.

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We split the dough into four balls and rolled them out a bit.

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We broke out the pasta maker. This was a gift for my dad when I was about five. We’ve made pasta with it a few times over the years, but it turns out pasta is a serious pain to make, not to mention one of the cheapest things you can buy in the store. So now it’s a cracker maker.

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We ran the dough through four times, each time on a thinner setting.

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We laid the flattened pieces out on parchment paper and baked them.

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And just a few minutes later had crisp, savory, rosemary garlic crackers. Best eaten compulsively in the dead of night when the rest of the house is asleep and there’s no harm in banging out just one more episode of Downton Abbey.

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