Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Rains

This week I have been mourning the passing of a very dear friend and colleague from Ovarian Cancer. She and I shared a great many interests, food and cooking being one of them. Seeming to sense my despair, the weather here has been torrential, rainfalls and wind storms, leading to flooding in some areas.

In order to combat the doom and gloom I am feeling, I set about to create a few living beings in my kitchen. First I tackled, yet again, a sourdough starter. I have done a few of these in the past but yielded only an insipid slurry of wheat and water. This time, taking a hint from some other blogs on wild yeast and breadmaking, I started out with wheat berries from my sister-in-law (I am still trying to connect with a local Vancouver Island producer of wheat so I can have my own wheat berries). I ground about a cup of berries in the blender with two cups of water until the berries were completely smashes and a sweet, yeasty smelling slurrey was the result. I decided to attempt the sourdough started without sugar this time, relying instead on the inherent yeast on the covering of the wheat to get this party started. I poured the slurrey into a nice glass jar with synch lid, covered the opening with a cotton square held securely by an elastic rescued off some broccoli stalks. It now sits perking away (hopefully) on the mantle of the fireplace where it is nice and warm.

Conventional wild yeast thinking convinces me to allow a couple of weeks minimum at this warm temperature to allow fermentation to begin. We shall see. In the meantime I am salivating over the recipes at "Beginning with Bread"

Two other projects are on the go in the kitchen this month. One is my second attempt at homemade sauerkraut. Using my bean pot this time, I have shredded a large white cabbage, liberally salted it and added a little water (not necessary if your cabbage is very moist but mine seemed awfully dry). Instead of weighting it down with a plate and a stone to push out the air, I am using a ziploc bag filled with water. This method can fill any weird space and exerts enough pressure downwards to force out any air pockets. Tested it yesterday morning and a nice sauerness is beginning. I had to add a bit more salt water as the mix was very dry.

I then covered the inside of the pot with a layer of plastic wrap, put on the lid and then covered it with more plastic wrap....trying to keep out any germs that might spoil the party.

Finally, since I had a primary fermenter sitting around doing nothing, I mixed up a new batch of merlot. This time, and for something different, I added about 75g of dried Elderberries. Two weeks in the primary then off to the carboy for long term aging.

All in all, I am at peace now. My home is alive with positive energy and the promise of good food soon. My testament to Janet is good living and I know she would approve.