This is a few days late, but I was in Vermont, blissfully removed from all things digital. For the September Chronogram I talked to Sandor Katz about his excellent new tome The Art of Fermentation. Whether you’re a curious would-be amateur or a seasoned fermenter, the book is a trove of practical knowledge.
Photo by . . . → Read More: Back To School
I make a lot of kimchi. I ferment other pickles–kosher dill pickles, giardinera, sauerkraut, green tea, and more–but kimchi is far and away my favorite. Other people love it, too; at a dinner party a while back I gave two friends each a pint to take home and they ate it all with forks right out of the jars as we talked. I do not pretend for a second to have any cultural attachment to this food, and I know that there are countless recipes and techniques for it. But I thought I’d share my method, since it’s easy and very good.
Keep reading Seoul Power…
Last winter I wrote a post about my first attempts at making vinegar. I set a few types in motion on the kitchen counter, and over the course of the winter I added several more. Now, at the six-or-so month mark, I thought it would be helpful to check in on their progress to see how the different kinds have fermented, aged, and matured in that time. Given that it’s cider season, I’m eager to bottle as many of these as I can to make room for the next batches.
Keep reading Foster Child Of Silence And Slow Time…
My Grandfather was an engineer. As such, he liked to describe the world with equations, and to apply those principles and laws that govern the behavior of materials to human society as well. Sometimes they made for a good fit: one of his favorite social formulas was I/E, that the ratio of a person’s intelligence to their ego was the principal determining variable in their success. I think about that one regularly.
He was a brilliant engineer, but also a largely self-taught immigrant from a very poor hamlet in Poland whose Father, my Great-Grandfather–who died when I was ten–was a Rabbi, a scribe (he repaired Torahs) and a brick maker. That knowledge of kilns turned out to be inheritable; my Grandfather was a great ceramic engineer, my Mother was a potter, and here I am making my own plates out of clay. As a cook, he knew his limits and hewed closely to them so that his results rarely varied from excellent; he was the grill and smoker man, and he made the pickles. Beyond that, he didn’t cook. He did garden enthusiastically, but other than the cucumbers, the bounty was entirely my Grandmother’s domain. The cucumbers, though, were his. And his passion for turning them into hands down the best dill pickles I have ever eaten was a formative influence on my culinary development.
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Sidelined with injury, I’m not going to be cooking a whole lot for a few days, so I thought I’d put up something about the vinegars’ progress. It’s been a very satisfying endeavor so far, and I encourage everyone to give vinegar-making a shot. It couldn’t be easier, and the rewards are many. My first post about it can be found here.
Keep reading Sleeping In A Jar…
I was pretty excited to learn recently that there’s locally produced soy sauce in the Hudson Valley. Organic, no less, and made from New York state-grown soybeans and wheat. And so it seemed like a worthy subject to pair with the very high-quality artisanal miso made over in Western Mass. Read about it here in the new issue . . . → Read More: Soy Gestalt
I soaked some beans overnight, (for once) obviating the need for pressure-cooking, and allowing them to get extra soft and luscious over the course of two simmerings: the first, just with water and a piece of kombu, the second in the company of papaya juice, tomato paste, herbs, maple syrup, three different vinegars, salt, and smoked paprika. As I pondered the seasonings for stage two, I considered the spectrum of beans; a couple of spices make them Mexican, while some pork fat and the sweet/sour opposition yield the Bostonian variant. Since Mexican chorizo was on the menu, courtesy of the farmers’ market, I naturally chose the counterintuitive route and got all kinds of retahded with the beans. The result was handsome enough, with dense and toothsome legumes under fat, juicy sausage with wilted greens beside, but honestly I’m not really feeling it in the kitchen these days. My urge to experiment and take risky leaps of imagination has been sapped by the heat. Plus, it’s all I can do to keep up with the garden; pick, cook (as little as possible), and eat is the rule right now.
In this season of vegetable excess, even our gardenless neighbors are not sufficient to absorb the surfeit of green goodness that pours forth from within the hallowed fence out back. So I’ve been making jars of pickles, since they’re way more interesting than blanching and freezing. Which I’ll also be doing, as soon as standing in front of a huge boiling pot of . . . → Read More: That Pickles
I was out of town, so this link is a few days late. The new issue of Chronogram came out on the first, and in it is my profile of a Benedictine monk who makes extraordinary vinegars. I’ve been messing around with them a great deal in the kitchen, and they are a joy to use and to eat.
photo by the not-at-all sour . . . → Read More: Sour Grapes (But In A Good Way)
Right after Thanksgiving I semi-accidentally got a job as the food writer for Chronogram magazine. My first piece, about salt pickling and curing, is out now in the January issue.
You can read . . . → Read More: In Print