Archives for the month of: September, 2014

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Several weeks ago I endeavoured my first #fastfortheclimate, thoughts on which I’d written here.  I’ve been meaning to reflect a little. Yesterday began the UN Climate Summit, a major effort to galvanize government action in a real way, and one wants, with all one’s heart, to retain some hope.  Hope for what?  That if we’ve already lost the best future, we can at least avert the worst one.  “Hope and fear in equal measure” — an appropriate existential response — as Naomi Klein is quoted as saying.

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A short film about the beautiful, intense, terrifying Mystery of Existence.  Wanted to share.  Filed under: Kitchen Tips.

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A quick post.

SO GOOD.  A few months ago I began a fermentation of jalapeño peppers, just cut in half, with some garlic– you know, salty brine etc. etc. etc.  Impulsively I added some garlic scapes, the stalk with the unblossomed flower head that you take off your garlic so energy stays in the bulb.  I enjoyed making spirals of the long stalks, laying them in the jar,  kept them under the surface of the water with a glass weight, and then, truth be told, forgot about that jar.

Well the Jalapeño-infused Scape is one of the most delicious, mildly hot, surprising crazy pickle I’ve had!

And so fun to eat, or rather, to gobble as it descends a bit, centimetre by centimetre, like a snake, which of course when long it looks like.  Here’s just a fragment in a horse-shoe shape to show you, and actually, to remind myself in the future to make this again.

REALLY EASY, REALLY DELICIOUS.

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Ah, the marrow.  Kind of seemed like a monstrosity of a vegetable to me when I first encountered it.  So huge, so flavourless, so… perverse? lazy? wasteful? to grow your courgettes so big that they became unappealing. And yes, you can stuff them (as I’ve done) and yes you can make jams and chutneys (as I’ve done) and yes you can grate the flesh into sauces and stews (as I’ve often done) and yes, you can even lacto-ferment them (as I’ve often done and am about to blog on).  But marrows have nonetheless remained “other” to me.

At the same time, I’ve been moved by how some friends genuinely LOVE marrows, and by the way you can hold a huge one like a baby, rocking it in your arms, and by the way people who grow them in their gardens and allotments always go around asking you if you would like one?  And of course you say, “Yes please!”

Apple is for size comparison only.

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This time I was thrilled to have happened upon an old recipe recorded in the 70s on Bardsey Island for a Marrow Tart in my treasured copy of S Minwel Tibbot’s 1976 Welsh Fare: A Selection of Traditional Recipes.  To my mind this is the most beautiful record of “traditional” food of Wales, because as a historian and ethnographer, Tibbot’s work reflects respect and affection for the women sharing their old recipes in their old kitchens.  She worked for the National Museum of Wales’ Welsh Folk Museum, who published the book.

Like the Plum Tart in the Wales Gas Board pamphlet, this is a recipe that illustrates a kind of culinary simplicity in the sense that its guided by austerity (basic staples, seasonal eating) which is the beauty in much traditional Welsh food.  It’s so different from the world enabled by supermarkets in which everything is available year round, without any references to a seasonal calendar.

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A beautiful confluence of events: Coming back from collecting plums from (and beneath) my friend Pippa’s very laden trees, I stopped to drop a bag of outgrown school uniforms at one of our much-appreciated local charity shops.  And what should be there, just on the counter before my very eyes– a water-stained, truly-in-tatters, mended-with-yellowing-tape, pages-in-the-wrong-order copy of Croeso Cymreig, A Welsh Welcome, a small book of traditional Welsh foods, first published in 1953, my copy a revised 1959 edition.  Published by Wales Gas Board (Bwrdd Nwy Cymru).  A true treasure for 30pence!

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This is the kind of book that lifts my heart, even if I felt a brief pang of disloyalty to S Minwel Tibbott, whom I’d pledged would be my guide to old fashioned Welsh cooking through all her wonderful writings and ethnographic gatherings.

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This is my fifteenth autumn in the UK, and the fourteenth time I’ve taken part in an annual ritual of chutney making with all the abundance of fruit, much of it “windfall” (on the ground, fallen from the tree) and pretty much always part of a seasonal glut that demands quick attention.  I mean chutney not as a raw accompaniment or cooked decoration on a plate, but a vinegary, quite sugared preserve of a jam or compote that is processed and jarred for eating with cheeses and meats and, of course, for sharing with family and friends.

And I’ve been lacto-fermenting vegetables for about ten years I reckon; much of this natural, healthy and no-cook food tradition has made me question the value of preserving fruit and veg in jams and chutneys.   Whereas ferments add health and nutrients, jams and chutneys involve cooking the life out of living food, and adding so much sugar– at least in the typical British style that we know them.   And they use so much energy, unless I were cooking on a wood-burning stove like an Aga or Rayburn that was on anyway for home-heating (in which case that wouldn’t be the most energy efficient way to heat a home).  And anyway my stove is electric (induction to reveal all). Read the rest of this entry »

Spend 25 minutes to watch this video of an amazing effort made by people to eat with real consciousness of health, good foods, historic cultural tradition and treating bodies with love and respect through the eating.  It’s very inspiring– and particular here to Pueblo people but totally applicable to all of us in various ways — to note how much in the modern, junky diet is making us sick– we know this.  But observe the radiance, beauty, and committed focus of people in the film, particularly the Elders, as they speak of their healthy transformations.  It’s truly inspiring.

The Pueblo Food Experience is a project of the wonderful Permaculture people at FloweringTree Permaculture in New Mexico.  I seem to encounter them on line and always feel in awe of their beautiful approach to people and food.  Click the Vimeo badge on the video above to be taken to further explanation of  the program.

Changing how we eat can change everything, and helps us connect, through food, to place and to people, to our ancestors and to “a new me,” which all of us sometimes long for.  “It’s part of reclaiming ourselves, so it’s more than a diet, it’s cultural preservation in a living form.”

The film also includes quite amazing discussion and footage of salt collecting in the dessert  — was new, and fascinating, to me.

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Dharma Plums, in which KitchenCounterCulture rises to the Plum Glut occasion with the savoury inspirations of salt, chili, ginger, garlic and beyond…

Plums are ripening on the trees and falling on the ground, and my friend Pippa has more plums than she and all her friends can manage. What a hectic thrill and opportunity to make Plum Kimchi and a British style chutney inspired by the same ingredients… with lessons learned from lacto-fermented pickles and dried plums a few years ago…

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Hello to you!  Am in busy desperate preserving mode– so much to do, race against time and the forces of overripening, but wanted to share a few random things.

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I’ve made a really nice blackberry jam and threw in actually quite a number of very very soft pears.  (I mushed them through a strainer first, and retained the skins/seeds etc for a scrap vinegar.) Then added a cinnamon stick too.  Decided to strain through a sieve so the jam wouldn’t have that bramble grit of the teeny seeds.  The jam is wonderful, glad to have done this. I put the seeds from the sieve  in water with water kefir grains and have a really lovely bubbly drink happening– didn’t even bother with the whole first and second ferment thing.  Blackberry Pear Soda Pop, pictured above……

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