Canning Cabbage Part 2 – Sauerkraut

A full three quarters of a mightily dense cabbage head remains in the fridge so my Mason jar odyssey continues. First came the Korean kimchee, then the Mexican curtido and now I’m going to finish off this great green beast by hacking it up, salting and fermenting it as a classic Northern European sauerkraut.

Now what we in America refer to with the blanket term of “sauerkraut” actually is part of a great Germanic-Scandanavian tradition of fermenting vegetables to keep during hard times thought to have originated in the Eurasian Steppes and spread by marauding tribes such as the Huns, Tartars and Mongols. Nowadays the name is synonymous with Germany, its culture and culinary traditions. (more…)

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Canning Cabbage Part 1 – Curtido

I found another post-Halloween head in my fridge. Unlike last time this particular head was never part of a large fish, it was pulled from the loamy back yard of my friends ‘n co-workers Cara and Karlee and gifted to me. It is a head of cabbage, and it’s not alone. I still had half a head in there from our last trip to the Willows Market. That’s over ten pounds of cabbage total!

Now I’m more used to cooking with members of the Chinese cabbage family, which are on average much more delicate, sweet and melt away at the hint of heat and salt. I can steam or stir fry pretty much any Choy in big chunks, but not so with these two bowling balls… These Celtic cabbages need to be sliced super fine and require time ‘n technique to get ‘em soft ‘n sweet. (more…)

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Beautiful Things : Notes From the NVICA Charcuterie Workshop

My father told me once that there are three things in life that we must do: Work hard, be honest and make beautiful things” With these words John Van Der Lieck plunged his hands into a dark, shimmering paste of pork liver to the reverent, nodding ascent of a roomful of chefs.

We were in the spacious commercial kitchen of North Island College’s Culinary Arts department for the NVICA Charcuterie Workshop; a two-day journey through the world of salting, curing, pressing and preserving meats. There were twenty or so of us foodservice pros gathered around John as he guided us from whole hog (literally!) to finished product and every critical step in between. (more…)

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Smoked Trout, Two Ways

Holidays are the balm of body and mind. It’s been a couple days into our long-awaited stay-cation and I’m already starting to feel my soul regenerating and plotting future adventures just like the hedonistic super villain I remember myself to be.

Ironically, one of the first recipes I got to work on between mountain biking trips was a banger I perfected at work. A sublimely simple way to take trout – a tasty and plentiful local river fish – clean up its mealy texture and enhance the profound sweetness buried deep inside. (more…)

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Sesame-Pickled Burdock Root

New ingredients are like amphetamines for kitchen creativity. From the moment I get home from a farmer’s market or an afternoon of foraging or hell, just back from a regular ‘ol grocery shopping run I’m jacked up! What is this crazy looking-stuff? Where did it come from? How do I process it and what can I do with all the bits? My mind is vibrating in a million different directions at once!

Last week I got a hold of some burdock root at the market in Courtenay and had just such a moment. These rough-looking tubers looked more like something dug out of a cat box than anything I’d serve for dinner, but The lady I bought ‘em from was insistent that they were a delicious spring delicacy! So yeah, I got ‘em home, mind ablaze and immediately starting hunting through my cookbooks for more info. (more…)

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