No, it is not a racial slur. I made a sauerkraut with Rudy, (the Rutabaga who was featured in a previous post). My plan was to make a latke-like pancake with shreds of the vegetable but today I was more in the mood for rot. (by Rot, of course, I mean fermentation, which is a process of preservation by way of breaking down and effectively salt dehydrating the original material)
Did you know you can ferment most vegetables? And that sauerkraut doesn't have to be limited to cabbage? Here's my version of kraut that includes Rudy and some other stuff I had lying around the kitchen.
First I had to weigh it again. When I first started working with this behemoth I did 'before' and 'after' shots, (omg am I spoofing weight-loss commercials... buh...) and for some reason I kind of want to stay true to that. So here it is before and after the kraut process.
I peeled the rutabaga and took two thin slices out of it and placed them aside. For the kraut I chopped it up into matchsticks (you could grate it for convenience if you like) and did the same with the cabbage and carrot. I grated about 1 tbsp of horseradish in there and added a bunch of herbs from my freezer, some caraway seeds, and mustard seeds.
Next, I tossed the whole lot with 1 tbsp of sea salt and smashed it into a jar. Topped with the thin slices of rutabaga to keep the kraut submerged and left on the counter for 10 days. Now it's a little sour (fermenting slow cus winter) but still flavourful and crunchy. I think I should have added a little more salt.
Next week I might try using the kraut in a beet and veggie soup with some of the fermented cucumber pickles that are disintegrating at the back of my fridge. Sound disgusting? We'll see...
varieties: var. lupus (European) and var. neomexicanus (native) -- (although poorly studied)
Common Name: Hops
Hops are most commonly known for their bitter/floral/citrusy contributions to the flavour of beer, notably the iconic Westcoast IPA. The reason an Imperial Pale Ale from the Westcoast of North America should taste hoppy is because our wilds, rogues, and roadsides are covered in renegade hops. Here in BC, the district of Squamish was founded by its hop industry at Alice Lake, and since then, the farm escapees have travelled around the province, a boon for wild harvesters and Indigenous Gatherers seeking a lovely spring shoot or floral medicine.
Key Features: Smells like beer, especially the flowers! The mature leaves are shaped like the baby of a maple leaf and a club while younger leaves or leaves of different varieties may simply be one toothed lobe. The entirety of the plant is covered in brisk hairs to help it climb even the smoothest of surfaces. Shoots are in season during the spring and flowers in hot summer.
Edible/Medicinal Parts: Shoots can be steamed, blanched, stir-fried, and pickled like asparagus. As the plant matures its aerial parts become tough and spiky. The flowers are heavily scented and contain cannabinoids and phytoestrogens which are helpful in relaxation and menopause, respectively. It's best to collect flowers to flavour beer while they have lots of pollen and before they have developed seeds because the seeds get into filtration equipment. I have made teas from the flowers as well as potpourri, and pillows for their soothing effect (especially when I'm on the rag).
Tinctures are a way to support your health that is outside of the corporate, capitalist, pharmaceutical industry. As a person who has had some very bad experiences with western health care, and as someone who has totally annihilated my gut flora because of chronic strep throat and inappropriate prescription of antibiotics (wrong strains, wrong regimens, wrong application, etc), I prefer to make my own medicine.
Making natural medicine has caused me to look inward and tuned me into the state of my body. It has helped me gain a sense of empowerment and autonomy. That said, if I had an illness that required one-dimensional treatment like a terrible infection, acute pain, or surgery, of course I would take whatever treatments would be effective.
Remember that it is up to you to determine what works for you. Even when western medical doctors say it a treatment is imperative, remember that your body and life are your own and understand the consequences of your choices. If making natural medicine is something you think will empower you and help attune you to your body, all I can say is, I feel it works very well for me and have heard the same from many others. There is nothing like the intimacy of collecting your own plants for medicine , eating them for their nutritional healing properties, and studying them and preparing them for acute situations and ongoing support. I would argue that this is a spiritual connection that cannot be fostered through mainstream western medicine and if your ailment is spiritual, this process is what will heal you.
However, also remember that dogma can kill you - I don't recommend sticking to your guns for the simple principle of it. Be honest when you're in over your head and take help when it's helpful.
There is a wealth of information on the internet about making tinctures so it's easy to learn. However, before I delve into the process I want to mention a few things.
1) Make sure you understand your herb. Some herbs, like stinging nettle, are safe and helpful to take everyday while others like turkey tail are immune stimulators so may not be the right application for autoimmune disorders. If you are preparing a tincture of cottonwood buds for propolis, remember that it is antibacterial and behaves like an antibiotic so don't take this stuff everyday! Read up, share, study!
2) Ask Permission. This is the spiritual part of natural medicine and was taught to me by an Indigenous Warrior Woman. I didn't really understand how important it was until I noticed its effects. Medicines I have made from plants who came unwillingly have tasted ungodly, gone a strange black colour, or seemed less effective. Try to perceive the condition of the plants you are harvesting and ask their permission. If they scratch, make you feel paranoid, or fall apart this may be a sign to leave them be. If you need them I think the herb's generosity will abound.
3) If you are collecting your own herbs, make sure of their identification. I know a woman from wildcrafting school who thought she was making an Angelica tea for her cramps. Instead, she poisoned herself and nearly died because she made a decoction of poison water hemlock. If you're not a plant ID expert, be safe and grow your own herbs to harvest or purchase them from a trusted source.
4) Be mindful of botulism. This is really important. All the fuss about pop-top lids, acidity and salt levels, is all to prevent botulism sporulation. Here is information on botulism and how to safeguard against it when you are canning. For alcohol tinctures, remember that botulism can sporulate in a mark (the liquid used to extract the herb) that is under 25% ABV. Be mindful of this when using fresh herbs and fungi, as they contain water! To be entirely safe, if you're using fresh herbs, don't bother adding any water to your 40% alcohol.
And now, finally...
how to make an alcohol tincture
This is a basic recipe using 40% grain alcohol (vodka). For harder herbs with resinous constituents, a higher proof alcohol like Everclear could be useful, as could the application of heat in either a water decoction, or warm oil or glycerin extraction. Some extractions can even be made with vinegar because acid will pull out different things than heat, water (tea/decoction), fat (oil/glycerin), alcohol (vodka/everclear), or salt.
For now, let's keep it simple and do 3 tinctures with vodka and herbs that are in season right now: Turkey Tail Fungus, Stinging Nettle, and Cottonwood Buds (Propolis). I've done the measurements in ratios to fit into any container. I usually use small mason jars.
THE PROCESS varies but Step 1 is always the same: LABEL AND DATE IMMEDIATELY!
Step 2: Macerate
For fresh, leafy herbs like fresh nettles, you only need 48 hours to extract. Any longer and it could 'cook' your menstruum and that tastes yucky. For dried herb, roots, resinous buds (Cottonwood) or tough fungi like Turkey Tail, 8 weeks in a cool, dark place will do. Agitating daily will help the alcohol get into hard to reach places but don't sweat it if you forget.
Step 3: Strain
For fresh nettle tincture, strain your greens out after 48 hours and bottle in a dropper.
For dried Nettle, the Cottonwood Buds, and fresh/dried Turkey Tail, strain after 8-10 weeks into their applicators. I like Turkey Tail tincture in a dropper and Cottonwood Propolis in a spray bottle to spray onto sore throats or wounds.
Step 4: Label, Date, and Store
Label and Date your alcohol tinctures in their new applicator containers. Alcohol tinctures can stay viable for up to 6 years if stored in a cool, dark place.
This depends entirely on what you are trying to treat. I recommend a good herb book (not necessarily the internet) for this stuff.
My personal treatments involve:
-1 dropperful of nettle tincture daily for allergies and iron
-3 X dropperfulls of turkey tail for acute treatments of an immunity nature (feeling run down)
-2 spritzes, 3 X per day of my "throat spray" at the back of my mouth for sore throats. **Throat spray is a spray bottle filled with 35 ml of cottonwood tincture, 10 ml devil's club tincture, and 5 drops of wild oregano oil. Only use this one for acute treatment because it is antibiotic.
'Booch is what I call Kombucha. I love this shit because it's volatile, inconsistent, explosive, and sweet-tart, just like me. Kombucha is a living culture -- specifically, it is a sparkling, fermented tea made possible by a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (henceforth known as a SCOBY).
SCOBYs are an ancient and very weird culture that humans have been consuming for the benefit of their enjoyment and gut flora for centuries. From what I've researched, its origins are in China, however I'm sure many cultures who enjoy caffeinated tea made their own ancestral versions.
Kombucha is made through a fermentation process, which means it takes days, although it is relatively simple. The number of days depends on the season and weather because temperature affects how quickly sugars can be consumed by yeast. This means the 'Booch recipe is another that will require you to invoke your intuition (sorry). Really, though- fermentation, baking, cooking, and tasting is all a process of intuition and sensation. It's a process of learning to trust yourself and feel confident about what you like.
For oversimplified / general steps, just scroll to the bottom of the page.
'booch - the recipe
*you must use real 'sugar' (not stevia) that contains glucose because the SCOBY needs to consume this to survive and make kombucha. Very little residual sugar remains in the finished product.
This depends on how you are starting. If you have received a Scoby and a splash of starter liquid from a friend, that's great. If not, you can make your own with GT's or another Raw Kombucha - just drink half of the container and leave it open on your counter. In about a week it will develop a SCOBY and you'll be able to start making your own.
I use a sterilized (I wash in the dishwasher), large, glass mason jar. You can use any size jar that will suit your needs, just don't use a 'reactive' container made of material that will leach - so no: metal, ceramic, plastic, or any porous material.
Pop your tea bags into your jar. Boil some water and pour over the teabags, filling the mason jar about 3/4 of the way. Allow to steep 10 minutes, remove the tea bags, and pour in 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir, taking care not to whack/crack the glass jar. The residual warmth of the tea will help to dissolve the sugar crystals. Cool to room temperature.
Make sure that your tea is completely cooled and add your Scoby plus a splash of its mother liquid. I have noticed if I add the Scoby too early my kombucha ends up tasting sulphurous, which I find positively revolting.
Cover the jar with a porous material like a cloth and fasten either with a mason jar ring or an elastic. Store in a cool, dark place (like inside a cupboard) and ferment it until you think it tastes good and a fresh layer of Scoby (a baby!) develops. Depending on the temperature this could take 3 to 10 days.
Hint: If you want to speed up the process store your kombucha above the stove or fridge where it's warmer.
When your kombucha tastes good it is ready to drink. However, if you like flavoured or really bubbly 'booch, then I recommend a second fermentation. By bottling kombucha and encouraging it to ferment again with the addition of something sweet, you'll trap gas in the bottle. This gas becomes suspended in the kombucha and creates a carbonated effect.
To do this, pour your finished kombucha from the jar into a bottle with a pop-top (like an old Prosecco bottle). Add a little of something sweet - like a date, piece of fruit (avoid citrus), ginger, or straight-up sweetener. This is also the time to add any spices or flavourings. I love ginger and blueberry, especially if I'm using a green tea. Fasten the lid and allow to ferment at room temperature until desired carbonation is achieved (in my experience it's about 3 days for black tea and a little longer for green).
BURPING IS IMPORTANT! If you are using glass bottles, make sure you 'burp' them every day to release excess gas while your kombucha ferments at room temperature. To do this, you need two hands - one to hold the lid down while another releases the fasten. With the metal fasten undone, use your one hand to slowly allow gas to escape by gently easing pressure on the lid. Keep your other hand prepared to quickly fasten the metal brace if the kombucha threatens to overflow. Remember, these two hands could belong to you or -- one could be yours and the other, a helper's.
If you forget to burp your bottles, the kombucha may end up exploding the glass which is a dangerous situation. To be on the safer side, you can use old plastic pop bottles with screw caps - they could still explode if you don't burp them but they won't lead to broken glass. I just hate plastic so avoid it at all costs. I have never broken a bottle, but I have had sky-high, explosive 'booch as a result of forgetting to burp it, so try not to forget!
Gas can also build up if you have been storing your kombucha in the fridge - this mostly occurs if you've left it a week or more without popping its top. That's why it's good to date your kombucha and remember that anything that has been fastened for a week or longer should be opened slowly, with the burping method.
If you forget about your kombucha, chances are the Scoby will start to form a bigger 'mothership' (a really fat Scoby) and the liquid will become incredibly acidic. I use this liquid as a vinegar in dressings, soups, cocktails, and for cleaning - it is naturally sour and can actually work to biochemically fight bad bacteria. I've heard of some people using it in their 'fire cider' to kill illnesses and to clean their hair instead of Apple Cider Vinegar, too, but I have never done that myself. In any case, kombucha vinegar is tasty, homemade, and an alternative to buying citrus from faraway lands.
OTHER FERMENTED SODAS
Yes, just like kombucha, you can make fermented sodas from other sources. This can be done with things like the natural yeast occurring on fruit plus sugar; with water kefir; coconut water; milk kefir -- even something as simple as dates suspended in water in a bottle will make a soda. The thing to remember is that any fermentation process with sugar and yeast will yield alcohol, so many of these sodas will be slightly alcoholic (like 1%).
basic 'booch steps
1) make a caffeinated tea, add sugar, cool
2) add a scoby
3) ferment at room temp until tastes good (3-10 days)
4) to make bubbles put in a pop-top bottle and add something containing sugar
5) ferment on the counter, burp the bottle daily (3ish days)
6) refrigerate when its good and bubbly
This intensely pungent wild rocket is a wonderful addition to salads and blended into salsa verde. It can be fermented nicely to bring up its nutty flavour and calm its horseradish sensibility. I have collected something of a twin version that is painfully bitter with an eye-watering mothball aftertaste, so sample a piece before committing to a large harvest. It does have many relatives in the same genus that taste and look very similar - none that I know of have been reported with any toxicity. Because this plant is very pungent it can cause acid reflux if eaten in quantity.
The leaves can be a little waxy which serves to protect the foliage of this plant through the winter. Collect as soon as it begins to build its rosette in February and continue through to early summer when its flowers make a beautiful addition to salads. Because Wintercress loves disturbed areas, be mindful of pollution and abuse as it can accumulate heavy metals as it functions to remediate the land.
Key Features: Lacy, pinnate leaves, Yellow four-petaled flowers, growing in disturbed and flooded land.
Edible Parts: All parts of this plant are edible, though the stem can grow woody as it matures. Use as you would arugula, keeping in mind that winter cress is much more pungent. I love it with meat as a horseradish substitute.
Common Name: Stinging Nettle, Nettle
Growing up, I remember being warned that it was a dangerous and pesky weed and witnessed Nettle being vehemently mowed down. I also remember a friend of my dad's - much his elder - noting that because of the removal of nettles by Municipal Workers, a vulnerable population of moths on Vancouver Island had nearly disappeared. Indeed, this plant is an incredible source of nutrition not only for people, but also other plants (they share their nutrients), animals, and insects.
When I collect nettles early in the spring or late winter (right now it's the perfect time!), I snip or break the tops 1/3 of the young plants. This encourages them to re-grow and develop more heads and increase the possibility of flower production and seeding. They are a vigorous grower and can populate large spans of land, but heed their growth cycle and remember that you are not the only organism that enjoys or in fact needs this plant for survival.
Pictured in the first picture below are nettles in their flowering stage - avoid collecting leaves during this stage of growth because their mineral components become hard for human liver to break down. After the flowers are pollinated, the develop tiny seeds which are nutritious and useful in tinctures.
The second photo features other plants that are in season at same time as nettles later in the spring - chickweed, lady ferns, salmon berry shoots, bracken fern shoots, curly dock leaves and shoots, and common oxalis.
The last photo is a dish I posted on my old blog, consisting of ricotta gnocchi and creamed nettles.
I often see these weird pointy cones wrapped in cellophane and sometimes framed by an annoying styrofoam plate. They remind me of Dan Akroyd and that awkward alien sex scene I accidentally witnessed when I was too young, and also really bad raspberry dressing with chunks of processed blue cheese (omg 1990 was not good to the Endive).
My point is, the Endive is a queer ingredient. And the memories it invokes are purely awkward, queer, weirdness... and it's not bad. It's just... queer.
To be fair, this cone-headed vegetable is delicious. Endives are crunchy, sweet, and tender. Individual leaves are perfect little boats for all sorts of lovely mousses and seasonal morsels and dressings and cheeses... actually, they are like little love boats... (Maybe that cone head movie is actually super romantic? I dunno, I've had a couple glasses of wine and feeling really emotional rn)
Endives are actually a species of Chicory, which is a group of plants that is found in most parts of the world. This particular species is best as a winter vegetable. I used to think its seasonal and local availability was why it might be a little pricey, but after I did some research I realized the price point is not only because of its availability, but also because Endives are a creative and weird, weird, weirrrrddd thing to produce. They're kind of like the foie gras of lettuce, minus any cruelty.
According to Rodale's Organic Life, this is how you grow an endive (paraphrased though queer nostalgia and red wine):
...sow seeds outdoors in late spring in loose soil [...] Dig up the roots in fall, and cut off the tops 2 inches above the crown. Trim the roots and set them upright in boxes, deep pots, or a plastic 5-gallon bucket. Fill the containers with potting mix to the tops of the roots; add 6 to 8 inches of sand on top of that (wtf who has that much sand, ever). Set the pots in your fucking closet or in another spot where the temperature stays between 60° and 70°F. don't forget to water it, obvs. Harvest the heads (teehee) when their tips (hehehe) peek (heh) up through the sand.
So basically, you take these roots out of the ground when they are already producing normal greens that are bitter. To make them not-bitter, and strangely delicious, repot them in a big bin or something and cover them with sand. Hide them indoors and don't forget about them. Eventually these chicory roots will produce tight, coney clusters of joy and love. Apparently this technique was popularized in Belgium, hence the name Belgian Endive, although, of course, wasn't initially discovered by a white dude named Jan because other parts of the world were far ahead in their culinary adventures (see: Indonesia, Egypt, et al). No, I won't call it 'White Gold,' thanks.
I'm going to try doing this with my red varieties of chicory for a light red or pink version of an Endive. You can actually do the same thing with asparagus to get that weird 'white' asparagus that has no flavour and less nutrition, which seems silly to me, but apparently royalty enjoys that kinda shit so if you have that kind of a sparkly crown, go for it.
That good ol' nugget, HuffPost has a bunch of recipes for endives if you're interested.
Anyway, endives are cool, and they are a true winter delicacy and available locally or you could try to grow them if you're really keen or whatever.
this is a post that I end in a question mark, maybe.
Making bread is intuitive and heavily influenced by style and personal preferences. This recipe and its directions are derived from Annabelle Choi’s incredible and refined process of making tartine-style artisan sourdough. There are many steps to the process, but not everyone will feel up to doing it all, so I am offering some alternatives. The fine-tuning aspects like pre-shaping or scoring, and steaming the oven are fun when you feel creative, confident, and energetic. That said, these steps are not essential to making delicious bread!
The only things that are really important are:
1) a vigorous starter
2) good ingredients, and
3) an instinct for knowing when your bread is ready to go in the oven.
In today's post I'll share my approach to making sourdough, including an addendum that features the step-by-step process of my exact timing.
The reason I call this my 'full-moon' sourdough is because I find the best, high-hydrated recipes can be executed most beautifully during the full moon. This might be hocus-pocus, but I put a lot of stock on my permaculture and biodynamic studies, and I do consider the fact that gravity and dew-points can actually affect how we garden, bake, and live effectively.
FULL MOON SOURDOUGH
-200 grams active starter (or levain)
-700 grams room temp water plus 50 grams hot water
-1000 grams flour (white bread flour is easiest to work with when you’re learning, but any high-gluten or bread flour will work great. Avoid bromated flours.)
-20 grams sea salt
-baking scale** (this is important!)
-two medium oven-proof* pots or one large pot with their accompanying oven-proof lids
-(opt) 2 batonnets
-(opt) a baker's blade
-(opt) a baker's paddle
Begin at least 24 hours ahead with the starter - feed it and keep an eye on it. If the weather is cold, your starter might need 24 hours to get really bubbly. If it’s warm and the starter is super active quickly, feed it again the morning (or 6 hours) before you plan to make bread. If your starter has been in the fridge for a long time without being fed, it may need several cycles of feeding before it’s vigorous enough to ferment a dough.
The indication that the starter is ready is that it has doubled in size, feels light, and it will float on room temperature water. It should smell yeasty, sour, and pleasant - often the aroma of a good, healthy starter reminds me of Elmer’s glue.
DOUGH - I like to begin in the late afternoon, say at 4pm. Measure out the water on a scale first - 700 grams. Then add 200 grams of starter. Whisk together water and starter vigorously to evenly distribute. Reserve the leftover starter to feed again and store. (see notes below on ‘feeding the starter’)
Next, I work in the flour with my hands making sure it is evenly hydrated. Once it all comes together in an even but sticky mass, the dough has been formed. If you can't or don't want ton use your hands, feel free to use a stand mixer or the hands of someone you know :-)
SALT - dissolve 20 grams of salt in the remaining 50 grams of hot water. Set aside to cool. (It’s ok if the salt doesn’t fully dissolve!)
AUTOLYSE - leave the dough for at least 20 minutes to properly hydrate the gluten before adding the salt. The salt water should also be cooling during the autolyse period so it reaches the right temperature to add to the dough.
POST-AUTOLYSE - add the cooled, salt water to the dough to evenly distribute. This means poking around and getting your hands dirty again.
REST - If you begin folding immediately after whacking it around with salt water, the dough will be very hard to work with, so best to give it some time to relax. The picture above is what your dough should look like after you have added the salt water and allowed it to rest for 20 minutes after which you may...
FOLD - This usually starts happening around 5pm if you began at 4. Simply fold in each side (there are 4 sides) - left/right, then turn the dough and fold in the remaining 2 sides left/right. Repeat this process 5 more times at 30 minute intervals for a total of 6 folds. This process takes 3 hours which should bring us to 8pm.
BULK FERMENTATION - I like to bulk ferment in the fridge overnight because it gives the dough more time to develop flavour. To do this, put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and tuck it into the fridge for a good night's sleep.
PRE-SHAPING - the following morning, remove the dough from the fridge. Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before working it. Then, dump the dough onto a floured surface and divide into two.
To begin shaping the two halves into ‘boules’ or ‘rounds,’ repeat the folding process in addition to a final step - drag the dough toward you, along the surface you are working with to tighten the ball.
Leave boules to rest for 30 minutes and then,..
FINAL SHAPING - Repeat the pre-shaping process and then put the boules into a rice-floured (or other fine starch) bowl. If you have a banetton, that’s amazing to use, too, but not essential.
FINAL PROOFING happens in the floured containers, and takes 2-3 hours. You’ll know when the dough is 30 minutes away from being fully proofed when it springs back nicely from a poke from a floured finger and has doubled in size.
PREHEAT the oven complete with bakeware and tray 30 minutes in advance of the end of proofing so that the boules don’t end up over-proofing while waiting for the oven.
Most recently, I used a tray on the bottom rack and two medium-sized, oven-safe pots with lids. It is important to heat the entirety of the bakeware including the lids to maintain a very hot surface so the bread doesn’t stick.
Once proofing is done and the oven is at exactly 470* F, the bakeware should also be thoroughly hot. Begin by removing one of the pots from the oven, sprinkling with some kind of rough meal like corn or oats or sesame seeds. Dump one of the boules into the pot, seam side down. At this point you could score (cut) the boule with a fancy design or just leave it to crack the way it naturally would. I have used a razor blade, a pair of scissors, or simply a sharp knife for this process. Replace the lid, return to the oven, then repeat the process with the second pot.
STEAM now take a cup of water and pour directly onto the baking tray that is on the rack below the pots. This steam will help create a nice crust.
BAKE with lids on at 470* F for 20 minutes, after which you will remove the lids so the crust gets golden. Set a timer for 15 minutes. If the loaves aren’t brown enough, leave them in until you achieve the colour you want. If you desire fool-proof that your loaves are completely baked, insert an instant-read thermometer in the centre. It should read 190*F or higher when your loaves are done.
COOL the loaves completely before eating them, lest they be doughy and less flavourful.
Ahead of time - FEED YOUR STARTER 24hrs (roughly)
DOUGH 10 mins
DISSOLVE SALT 5 mins
AUTOLYSE 20 mins (minimum)
ADD SALT 5 mins
POST-AUTOLYSE 20 mins (minimum)
FOLDS 3 hrs
BULK FERMENTATION 12 hrs in the fridge
PRE-SHAPING 30 mins
FINAL SHAPING 20 mins
FINAL PROOFING 2-3 hrs
PREHEATING 30 mins (to occurring during proofing)
OVEN STEAM 20 mins
BAKE 20 mins
COOL 1 hour
FEEDING YOUR STARTER
- 150 grams water
- 30 grams leftover starter
- 150 grams flour
Weigh ingredients in a tall Tupperware (I reuse 750ml yogurt containers) starting with the water then following with the starter. Whisk the water and starter together vigorously, then slowly incorporate the flour. Store in the fridge or leave on the counter to activate again and use for another loaf once bubbly and doubled in size.
PS: the full moon in Vancouver, BC is coming up in two days (on January 31) which means it's the perfect time to wake your starter to bake with the lunar cycle.
Mmm oil-slathered skin shimmering in the summer sun. Crispy chicken skin. Soft baby belly skin raspberries. Fuzzy peach skin. Skins over Shirts, always and obviously.
So what about potato skins? I don't mean those ridiculous deep-fried, bleached, twice-baked, smothered-in-cheese and bacon bits and caramelized onions and sin-stuffed potato skins from TGIFriday's. I mean the scraggly bits of dirty, crusty peel left over from making the best, old-fashioned mashed potatoes.
I always tossed them into the compost until dreamy Mr. Mark Singson from FAM INC showed me an amazing broth he made from baked russet potato skins for a potato agnolotti we served at a plant-based popup. I was converted. The earthy, rustic flavour satisfied my craving for minerals and gave me flashbacks of potato skin swimming pools filled with my mom's roast beef (or beets, if you're Vegan) gravy.
I've found a lot of ways to use this byproduct of luscious meals that is equally as crave-worthy and comforting-- the following recipe being my favourite.
russet skin crisps
WITH CULTURED CREAM AND ONION
Leftover potato Peels from 4 large russet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
Generous pinch of fancy salt (I used hickory smoked)
Pinch of Chili powder
Sprinkle of Fresh Ground Pepper
1/3 cup cultured milk (yogurt, thickened kefir, sour cream, or creme fraiche)
2 green onions, minced
Soak the potato skins in cold water on the counter for 5 minutes, This removes the excess starch so they can get mega-crispy (you can see the leached starch at the bottom of the Tupperware in picture 2 above).
Submerged, you could ferment the peels on your counter with a pinch of salt added to the water. This would take a 5-7 days at room temperature and give the peels a salt-and-vinegar flavour. For the sake of ease, don't ferment them, and simply drain and pat dry.
Pre-heat your oven to a low Broil.
At this stage we want to get the peels as dry as possible. There's lots of ways you could do this - dry in the sun, dehydrator, low oven... whatever. I just dabbed them with a tea towel and it was great and a little bit like bathing toddler.
Toss the peels in oil, fancy salt, Chili power, and pepper. Lay out in a thin layer on a parchment-lined tray. If you don't have parchment, also not a big deal.
Broil for 5 minutes, take out of the oven, turn, broil another 5 minutes. If they aren't crispy/brown enough, broil longer! They taste best really crunchy and brown. Keep your eye super close on them or they will burn.
Dip into cultured cream with green onions while you're watching the sports or RuPaul's Drag Race. In the picture I globbered on some gravy, too.
HANDS UP IF YOU LOVE RUTABAGAS!
Their farty smell?
Their weird, woody, deep-set skin?
Over-cooked, mashed, watery and simply septic-flavoured?
Undercooked, intensely radishy similar to skunk cabbage (not good)?
The drowsy feeling associated with colonial, heteronormative family holidays and sad, cold, yellow. mush that nobody ate still sitting on the stained table, staring at me in my food-coma, wafting its memories of a butt once loved but never travelled?
This is a queer ingredient if I ever saw one. Especially the elephant-heart sized version I have featured in the photo (it was gifted to me as a, "... please? will you do something with this... thing?")
This fucking behemoth weighs nearly 7 pounds and I need to find recipes that don't suck (no thanks 'creamy-liquid-smoke-whipped-root-bag_of...pfft'). I have been handed a challenge and I shall rise to it like a noxious cruciferous gas. The plan is to weigh this impossible vegetable before each recipe, slowly butchering dear Rudy chunk by chunk, and hopefully ending up with something that doesn't make us all feel very sad.
Everything is going to be delicious, is the thing. It's just intimidating because we don't know it very well, yet. And even if it tastes like fartypoopoo, that's ok because the results may be hilarious and that is maybe more fun. Anyway, let's get started. Here's Rudy Recipe # 1:
(that's a play on shwarma-wannabe)
this is another fermentation recipe...
...and this huge vegetable needs some prep work, so keep in mind the duration of the process may take place over several days.
(ahead of time)
bitcher - Butchering a gigantic Rutabaga is a bitch. It's heavy, dense, and rounded (sort-of) so it will bobble all over the cutting surface. The important thing is to make sure it is fully secure. I started with some straight edges already cut into the vegetable, but you may not. To secure a rutabaga, use a tea towel wrapped around its base so it won't go flying. Work your way into the vegetable slowly, with confident pressure, and with a nice, heavy knife to help do the weightlifting. Once you have a smooth flat slice, get rid of the towel and place your rutabaga with it's flat sliced side on the surface (as pictured in the second photo of the series above).
de-skin - sometimes the skin of rutabagas and similar vegetables like kohlrabi or turnips can have a very woody or thready texture that penetrates into the flesh. It's for this reason we remove the skin with a knife, not a peeler. Notice the different shades in the chunk in picture 4 above - we want to get rid of all lighter coloured flesh because it could be like chewing on a stick with floss running through it. Test your veg, though. If you can bite through it cleanly and it has a pleasant, crunchy texture then it may be fine.
cut rutabaga into pinky-sized chunks. You could try and find something creative to do with the skin but I thought the compost felt more in tune rutabagas today, so I handed over the torch.
Toss the prepared rutabaga chunks with fine sea salt. You can use any kind of salt you want, but avoid preservatives or iodine because they may interfere with fermentation. At this stage they should be way too salty to eat and that is what we want.
Boil the 2 pints of water and pour over the grated beet and hot chilli pepper. Steep like a tea and then allow to cool completely while the rutabaga chunks macerate in the salt. You could leave the whole, unmixed lot on the counter overnight if that suited you.
Next, pack 2 very clean pint jars with the salted root and top with the cooled beet tea. You could strain it, or not. It doesn't matter. (nothing matters. everything in life is weird)
Leave it covered with a cheese cloth on the counter until it ferments to the sourness you prefer. I left mine 10 days and it's mid-winter (like 0-8 celsius outside). You'll know it is fermenting because tiny bubbles will appear on the surface, eventually creating a layer of Kahm's yeast if you don't skim it. This is totally harmless (similar to the bloomy rind on a brie cheese).
Jury's still out on this one. I am waiting to hear back from the CSA members who desperately gave the thing to me in the first place - the pickle jar is sitting in the back of their fridge, blinking its eyes ever-so-sweetly at them...
Stay tuned for RUDY RECIPE # 2 when we knock a couple more ounces off this bad boy and shred it into pancakes.