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Kimchi: Another easy to make, live food

Kimchi is a traditional spicy Korean pickle, it is in essence an eastern take on sauerkraut. It is delicious, full of good lactobacilli bacteria and vegetables. It makes a pleasant condiment or as an accompaniment to rice. It is also a useful way to use up and preserve surplus hardish vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes and beetroots.

Here is the basic recipe, it is adapted from Sandor Ellix Katz brilliant book entitled ‘Wild Fermentation‘.

Cabbage & beetroot in brine at the start of the process

Equipment (what I use)
1.5L crock pot
small plate or saucer
weight (stone mortar)
around 1L capacity pickle jar with lid

Ingredients and method
Part 1.
A mix of vegetables to make up 1.5L or the size of your crock pot, for example, cabbage, carrots, radish, beetroot, (I have made one with sliced runner beans, carrot and broccoli, I have yet to try it). Slice these vegetables or grate them coarsely, place them in the crock pot and cover with brine. Brine in this case is made up of 1L of water with 4tbs (60ml) of non-iodised salt dissolved in it. Cover the veg with the brine, weigh it down with the saucer and the weight so as to completely cover each piece of veg with the brine. Leave for a few hours or overnight till softened.

Part 2.

Veg in brine weighted down in crock pot

Once the vegetables are soft, drain off the brine (and reserve it for the next batch, strain it, boil it, bottle it and when cool, store in the fridge for use in the next batch) and taste the veg, if it tastes unpleasantly salty, rinse and drain it. Make up the spice mix, this is composed of finely chopped onions (leeks, spring onions etc will also do), fresh, grated ginger, hot peppers (either fresh or dried) 3-4 cloves of garlic. Pound the garlic, ginger and peppers up together, mix in the finely chopped onions and mix into the vegetable mixture, fish sauce can be added at this time (traditional ingredient, I omit it as I like to keep this pickle vegetarian friendly, even though I am not a vegetarian) Pack the vegetables into the jar (scald the jar first with boiling water) really pack the veg in so that you expel most of the air spaces. Either weight it down with a smaller upturned lid that pushes the veg down into it’s juice using the pressure from the jar’s own lid or check it every day for a week and push the veg back down using clean fingers. I am inclined to keep the jar standing in a bowl as it does seep as the veg is fermenting. After a week, or when you deem it is pleasantly sour, seal the jar and put it in the fridge to slow down the ferment.The kimchi is now ready to eat.

The brine is good for a second batch, after which I would be inclined to dump it. If it does not taste salty enough, add an extra teaspoon or two of salt.

4 jars of kimchi made in the last two weeks.

Bread, front yard gardening and broad bean hummus

View of our west facing window, cucumber plants
I am going to share the best (most fool proof) yeast bread recipe that I have ever used with you. It is adapted from a post by the blog Chickens in the Road, where it is called Grandmother bread.
To make 2 medium sized loaves
3 cups liquid, gently heated to body temperature (water, whey, buttermilk, milk or kefir will work),
to this add 2tbs sugar, 10g yeast and 2tsp salt. Wait for 5 mins till the yeast goes fluffy before adding 3 of the 7 cups of flour. Work the 3 cups of flour in with a stiff wooden spoon and add more flour gradually until a nice, non soggy ball of dough is achieved. At this time, add your extra options such as half a cup of linseed and half a cup of wheatgerm or oat bran or anything to hand that will add fiber and nutrition to the bread.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface till such time as it stops being sticky and it looks more elastic than the dough you started with (this will take 12-15 minutes). Put it in a bowl and leave in a warmish spot till the dough doubles in size. Grease your loaf tins and punch the dough down, form it into loaves so that it sits half way to two thirds of the way up the tin. Any surplus can be formed into rolls, or twists or whatever you like. Allow the dough to rise again till it doubles in size. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and gently transfer your dough into the oven without knocking or bumping it, you don’t want any of the air to escape from the loaf at this point as it will result in a heavy loaf. Spray some water into the oven when you put your loaves in and again a minute later, this will allow the dough to expand in the heat a bit without being hindered by the forming crust. This will also result in a crisper crust.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, remove to a wire rack, and remove the tin, knock the bottom of the loaf as if knocking on a door, the sound should be fairly hollow (Thwackable as the bread experts say) If it does not sound right (this comes with practice) return it to the oven and turn the oven off.  Let it cook in the residual heat for 15 minutes or so. By the way, do not be tempted to eat your bread fresh out of the oven, it is still cooking and its proteins are still changing and setting. It will still be warm after 45 mins when it would be a safe time to tuck into it.
At- a- glance guide to making “Grandmother” bread
Where the mixed seeds were planted
3 cups liquid
2tbs sugar
2tsp salt
10g yeast
7 cups flour
Optional extras
oat bran
Heat liquid to blood temperature
Add sugar, salt and yeast, wait 5 mins for yeast to fluff up
Add 3 cups flour, stir in
Add rest of flour gradually, mixing it in as you go
Add optional extras
Knead it out on a lightly floured surface for 12-15 mins
Place in a bowl with a lid  (cling film) till it doubles in size
Punch dough down, form into loaves
Allow dough to rise up again
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Gently transfer to oven
Spray inside oven with water
Let bread cook for 25-35 mins
Check for thwackablility
Let loaves rest for 45 mins as they cool
The south facing wall 
Enjoy with butter!
We live in an apartment type dwelling surrounded by concrete. So this year, I decided to actively make our neighbourhood prettier using plants. This first area tackled was the walk up to the apartment, there was some soil there (hard and compact) and this was raked one night in April and a mixed bunch of seeds planted. Thus far, a calendula, a dill plant and a cosmos plant have come up. So exciting. The next task was to deal with the south facing wall adjacent to the houses (apartments) So, the fishbox that was already there got appropriated (filled with soil and then with surplus plants, mainly beans, nasturtiums, a lettuce, a lady’s mantel and some sweetpea. And another fishbox was added. I know that the fishbox is the property of someone else, but they let said fishbox wash up on the shore, and become litter on the beach. So I de-littered the beach by removing it. (If someone wants it back, they can come and get it) Anyway, this one was planted up with sunflowers (I never would have guessed that sunflowers are such thirsty creatures) and bush beans (dwarf french beans). My next project is to spread the word that this is free food for the neighbourhood. I am not entirely sure how to go about this, perhaps a handmade flyer to each house. I have also planted up some shopping bags with sweetpea, sunflowers, zinnia and runner beans, these stand guard beside the door  leading to our apartment. (The landlord swung by a few weeks ago and made a comment on all the 
plants  growing, my immediate response to him was “its lovely isn’t it?” and he could not help but agree)
This week, I had access to a load of broad beans that had passed their best.
So I spent some time removing the beans from their pods, and simmering them for 20 or so minutes till soft. These are now in the freezer ready to turn into hummus.
Broad bean hummus
Lightly cooked broad beans, mashed and thrown into food processor with:
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Tahini is optional I think
Blitz till a nice consistancy is reached.
Refrigerate and use within 3 days