A couple of hours in the studio yielded a heART journal page for Mix It Monthly. It felt Good. But simplicity tends to inspire Good feelings. And clarity. I'll be nurturing more of that in my life. Yes. I. Will.
I made other things too, and still am making things, so I better get back to that!
Over the past 10-days or so, I've been harvesting the Elder blooms to make batches of elderflower "champagne." I've never made this before, though I have made other wild fermented beverages. I was inspired to make this soft-drink by Susun Weed's recent video. And I am glad, for this is a delicious, sparkling and loving wild ferment!
Susun's recipe, for a one gallon batch, calls for:
1 gallon of boiled water
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
a handful of dried lemon rind
7 elderflower blooms
I've been working with single, one gallon batches, which has afforded me the opportunity to play with added ingredients like this elderflower/black currant variation (pictured). I've made others with additions of hibiscus and rose petals and orange peel. I have over a dozen bottles of various sizes crowding my dining table. We definitely need more shelves in our main living space … I don't dare put these downstairs in the pantry cabinets for fear I forget about them, for they are intended as soft-drinks, to be imbibed not long after their bottling, as they are volatile and could become what brewers call "bottle bombs."
Today I'll be creating a batch (or two) that will receive a full second fermentation to be bottled as wine. It's an experiment, one that may or may not yield enjoyable results, but I have a Good feeling about it. To make the wine I'll be adding an organic banana to the simmer as well as organic/fair-trade camilla sinensis (black tea). The banana adds to the mouth-feel and the tea will offer some tannic acid to enhance the dryness that I love in my wines and meads.
While I still have elder budding, it is blooming fast .
Many blooms are already moving into the phase of berry production.
So I don't have much time left to make this happen. And the bees (of every variety) are, like me, acting with a sense of urgency, so negotiating for the blooms poses added challenges! But happen it shall, and I look forward to the months ahead (possibly a year or more) to taste how this wine matures.
The magic of the elder is worth preserving. In so many ways.
This week's CSA share from Dineberg's Farm delivered, among other things, a lovely cabbage, and I decided to ferment it so it might be enjoyed for weeks (and weeks), as other farm-n-garden goodness come ripe.
I created a ginger 'n' pepper kraut, making use of what I had on hand. Now, if you follow me at all, you know that I'm really not a recipe user/follower, and this is most true when it comes to summer fermenting, when I'm using what's fresh out of the garden, from the CSA or the farmers' market, and what I have on hand.
For this not-quite-half-gallon batch I used:
a head of cabbage
three carrots (for color and sweetness)
grated ginger (a couple inches - just a piece that I wanted to use
fresh cracked black pepper
red pepper flakes
… and you can use whatever you have on hand and whatever tickles your taste buds.
I sliced the cabbage, shredded carrots and grated the ginger (all organic) and tossed it all into a large stainless bowl. I added salt to the mix "to taste" and massaged the the vegetables to get the salt well blended. At this point I took a coffee break and allowed the mix to begin the water extraction aspect of the process without me. I do this a lot, allowing mama Nature to do her thing without interference from me. It's one of the reasons that so many "permaculture" concepts resonate with me. But that's another story.
After my coffee break I nibbled the mix and added a bit more salt, again—to taste, and massaged it in and worked the vegetables to release more of their natural fluids. To this I added some fresh cracked black pepper and hot pepper flakes, not measured, just trusting my intuition. I added it all to a half-gallon jar, handful by handful, pressing down the vegetables and rising up the liquid between each handful. I filled a half-pint jelly jar with water, capped it and used it to weigh down the vegetables below the fluid. I covered it with a linen napkin and secured with a rubber band (to keep "unwanteds" out).
This will sit on my kitchen counter for a few/several days and I'll be tasting it daily. Once it reaches the tang that suits me, I'll put it all in cool storage, and enjoy some beautiful, delicious, living food daily, on bread, as a side-dish, in salads, mixed with vegetables, grains, meats … whatever!
I had some (more) fresh-picked garlic scapes and I needed to do something with them. I had procured some gorgeous, organic chard from Dineberg's Farm, and figured I'd make a chard-scape pesto. This way I could use some with dinner and freeze the rest in little dollops to use in the days ahead. So that's what I did.
I stripped the washed chard leaves from the stems and set them aside. I placed rough-chopped scapes in the food processor, a handful at a time, and processed them fine with a little salt. Then I added the chard leaves, also rough-chopped, a handful at a time, and processed it all together, adding a little salt with each addition and then drizzling in some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, organic extra virgin olive oil. I tasted it, added a little more salt, to taste and that was it.
Oh, sure, you can add roasted pignoli (pine) nuts (or walnuts, or sunflower seeds, or any nut/seed that you like) and a parmesan cheese (I'm fond of pecorino) at this point, but I prefer to add those things later if I feel they belong in whatever I'm serving.
After all, pesto just means paste and has nothing to do with the ingredients. And it's not just for pasta.
In fact, tonight I took some of my spouse's homemade, organic, wholewheat flatbreads, sliced them and and slathered on some of this pesto, topped them with a nice slice local cheddar, and popped them under the broiler 'til the cheese was warm and melty. It was quite tasty.
As for those chard stems, I sautéed them with snow peas, green ones from Dineberg's Farm and golden ones from my own little garden.
So today I heated a little olive oil in a large-ish pot and added a handful or two of chopped garlic scapes. I grated a bit of fresh ginger into the pot, added the chopped stems of some beautiful, organic asian greens from Dineberg's Farm and stirred it around. I forget the name of the green, I'll have to check with Farmer Karl, but this would be delicious with any Brassicaceae family green). Anyhoo ... When the stems started to show the slightest bit of translucency (mere minutes) I tossed in some sesame seeds, sliced radishes and then the rough-chopped leaves of the mystery greens, added a bit more ginger, gave it another stir, and placed the lid on it for a few minutes before taking it from heat.
This took less than 15 minutes, including the time to wash and cut the greens.
I let it sit, covered, until it cooled to a mild-warm while I cleaned up the cutting board, knife and prep bowls, and then stirred in a splash of fish sauce and some unpasteurized shoyo sauce (any true soy sauce will do).
I ate some on the spot. How could I not? De-freakin'-licious! The rest is tucked in the refrigerator to enjoy with a "cold" dinner on this upcoming hot summer evening, when I might garnish it with some chopped roasted peanuts.
Today was one of those mostly-at-home productive days, the kind that feel good, you know? I did laundry, vacuumed and dusted, tidied and re-messed. I redesigned some labels, drafted my June-to-July flyer, took photos of new Spirit Pouches which now need to be edited so I can begin listing. I planted more seeds and seedlings in the gardens. And I harvested the garlic scapes and the small patch of oregano.
Some of the scapes will make it into this evening's dinner, some will become pesto and some infused in vinegar. The bunches of oregano are hanging to dry in my living space, next to the motherwort, where I can enjoy their transformation ... and gift.
Coffee. Organic and fair trade. It is my favored morning beverage, though I do alternate with a nice organic, fair trade Irish breakfast tea. But today we focus on the glorious beverage born of the beloved Coffea arabica, grown in the traditional way, under the protection of tree cover, lovingly fermented, roasted fresh, and ground and brewed in my little hut, because that's the theme of this month's Mix It Monthly. So that's what I sipped this morning and that's what landed in my art journal.