30 August 2007


The kimchi that I started at the beginning of the week is done. It's out of the crock and into the jar; it's beautiful, and delicious, and better in many ways than the bok choy version that I made (which was good and I did finish 1+ quarts in a week and a half). This is just one napa cabbage, one fresh daikon and five stout, short carrots and a handful of scallions, all from local farmer's markets. The cabbage is coarsely chopped, the daikon and carrot cut into bâtonnets (large julienne), and then there's salt, lots of ginger and garlic, anchovies and Korean dried chillis -- the latter making a huge difference, a vast improvement on fresh Thai peppers that weren't strong enough (and didn't make the kimchi that rosy red color).

26 August 2007

kimchi or pickle?

So I started with this:
And ended up with this:
Part pickle, part kimchi: I had some daikon left over from the last batch of kimchi, and a handful of Japanese cucumbers, so I thought to do a summery kimchi. Opps -- the cucumbers had gone off, and I was all prepared. I gathered a half dozen ripe lemon cukes from the garden. And there you have it. It's very tangy, I think from the sweetness of the cucumbers, and it has a nice bite. It does have pepper, a good handful of Thai peppers, but those won't turn it red. (I got some Korean pepper at Kim's Market in Hadley for a more traditional batch of kimchi with napa cabbage).

And then a few days ago I made spaghetti squash with parsley and kale from the garden and kale. That with some vegetarian bratwurst that weren't too bad. It was quite good, but even better the next next mixed with ricotta. Mnnnn.

Lastly, I've decided that natto and brown rice is even more satisfying than off-brand Cheerio's and raw milk for breakfast.

20 August 2007

natto for breakfast...

...is actually very delicious.

I had some natto the other day and found it a little bland; I think it was because it hadn't come to room temperature, as others have also noted. It was nutty and a little pungent and very crunchy and the neba-neba (the strings that connect the crunchy soy beans once they've been stirred) was sticky and coated the rice nicely. Mmnn. Towards the end I added more rice and an umeboshi for some saltiness. It worked.

Natto was originally the byproduct of fermenting soybeans in hay, which contains Bacillus subtilis, or Bacillus natto. The stuff ferments and makes this sticky mess. They so sell B. suntilis, if I ever had the ambition to make my own...

19 August 2007

squash blossoms, steak frites

I bought ten squash blossoms yesterday morning at the market -- and then stuffed them with a mixture of sorrel, ricotta and pine nuts. I beat an egg white with a pinch of salt until airy but still soft, beat in the yolk and then beat in some brown rice flour. I coated them in that and fried them until light brown. They were very very good.

Since we had the oil (grapeseed), and hadn't really had dinner (it was probably nine by this point), we wanted something fried for dinner. And I thought "steak frites" -- given, I've never cooked steak, in fact I hadn't eaten it in a very long time. But it sounded really good. We made small-cut fries, sautéed spinach and seared four portions of steak cooked from medium-rare to well-done. It felt really decadent and was really delicious. It also turned into a heated discussion of meat ethics, which seems appropriate for four one-time vegetarians eating steak.

And I finished that with my first tarte tatin of the season. Today felt like a day in September, and that was nice.

18 August 2007


After a week, the the bok choy kimchi is done. it started filling a 5-quart bowl to the brim: a head of bok choy (the kind with light green stalks), carrots, half a huge daikon, garlic, ginger and thai chilis. After brining, I barely packed it into a 2.5 quart crock. It's now about six cups, and tastes incredible. It's more gingery than hot and crunchy and has a real nice kick to it. It could be one of the most delicious things that I've made in a while.

(the partially transparent triangle is daikon,)

I thought that I was done with the pickles for a bit but they had the most perfect pickling cucumbers that I have ever seen today at the farmer's market -- I bought almost three pounds. I also got some beautiful dill flowers, three heads of which made it into the pickles (the rest in a bottle or with other pickling folks at the market... I'm not sure why one would need such a huge bunch).

15 August 2007

day 11

Day eleven and I sent the pickles to the fridge. The plump white cucumbers got soft -- one way too soft, mushy, yet with no signs of being bad per se. These had less salt than the first batch, so they're half-sour, and less garlicky (they tasted a bit better super garlicky). The small green and white ones are really good. Being wide at a larger size, the white ones get too seedy. If I use the lemon cukes in my garden they'll have to be very small, I think.

The kimchi is coming along -- slowly. It smells good, and is getting very gingery. The Thai chilis (fresh, not dried), aren't as hot as I'd have expected. They are seeded, but nonetheless I'd expect a bit more. The vegetables ones filled a five-quart bowl and now are 2/3 of a 2 quart crock.

13 August 2007

day 8; summery dinner

I'm on day 9 of this last batch of pickles. They're going a little slower and are not as flavorful as I'd have expected at this point, but they're getting along. I thought that smaller would be quicker, but it's not.

I also started a batch of kimchi! LD thinks it smells really bad. And it's only been 48 hours. It tastes mild, and I think it's going to be really good. It's got bok choy, daikon, carrots, scallions and onions as well as garlic, ginger and thai chilis. LD says that these projects will be quarantined to the basement of the new apartment. I wanted the spare bedroom to be there for such purposes, heh.

I also bought some natto the other day. We'll see how that goes.

And tonight I made potato gnocchi with pesto tonight. It was really great: the pesto was relatively coarse, which was nice: bits of parmesan melted just right, chunks of pine nuts. All that with roasted purple cauliflower: just olive oil and salt was all it needed. It's nuttier than regular cauliflower. Crunchy, warm goodness.

06 August 2007

a very massachusetts meal

Tonight was a particularly Massachusetts meal. I bought wild-caught Massachusetts bluefish and cooked it following
D.L.'s recent creation: simply dipped in brown rice flour (and he was right, it does make all the difference not using wheat flour) and served on a bed of zucchini that he told me about. (We discussed my -- until recent -- aversion to zucchini, mostly in that it's almost always overcooked and squishy). It's julienned zucchini tossed with hot olive oil and almonds: not cooked; just warmed. The zucchini was from Hadley, as well as the haricots verts that I blanched and tossed in olive oil, and then there were these incredible fingerling potatoes that I believe to have come from Deerfield. They're the Russian -- not French -- fingerlings, if I remember correctly, from Linda at the farmer's market. So creamy that it was incredible.

The the bluefish was done perfectly, rich and moist, and the vegetables complemented the fish very well, not overpowering, just there and fresh. The zucchini was just pliable enough to be twirled on a spoon like spaghetti.

05 August 2007

last day/new day

So I'm retiring the pickles that I've been making to the fridge, and started new ones yesterday with yellow and green pickles from the Northampton market. I have a real crock, about 2L in size, where I can actually use a saucer as a weight. (The glass jar had two little sauce bowls in it, but they slide down as the pickles settle/get eaten and can't stop garlic from popping up without a network of grape leaves). Same recipe, I added yellow and brown mustard seeds this time.

03 August 2007

day 10

A hardboiled egg, a tomato and a pickle for dinner.

It's day 10, and last night the pickles were half-sour dills, and quite good. I'm going to keep on going for a few more days and see how they continue as we go along.

Sorrel + ricotta + pine nuts + paramsean = this.

Throw it in the food processor, add it to fresh pasta, top it with parsley, and that's it.

(And there's wild purslane growing in the garden!)