Friday, 24 August 2012

pickled bean fail, lacto-fermented pickles, more thoughts on over-eating, and today's anti-misogyny rally

yesterday i threw out my lacto-fermented pickled bean experiment. i ate a few of them, and they tasted alright... but smelled pretty funny, looked pretty funny, and my roommate said they tasted bad and is more paranoid than me so i think he is a good judge. i hate throwing things away, but with fermentation experimentation i have resigned myself to the fact that it will sometimes happen and that it's better to throw things out than to make myself (and others) potentially ill eating things that don't even taste particularly good. it's not a waste, cause i'm learning... or something. well that's bullshit, it's still a waste, but if eating them will make me sick that's a bigger waste and i can't go back and unferment something and just eat it. so at the point of throwing the thing out, it's no longer a waste. hah.
here's what the pickled beans looked like a few days ago.. they got cloudier and pretty gross looking, it's possible i actually just left them too long.
my cukes were a greater success, though. today i fridged my lacto-pickles and i think they are pretty yummy. it's hard to say if they 'turned out', as i've never had lacto-fermented pickles, just the vinegar kind, so i don't actually know what they're supposed to taste like. i've done some reading and all the things that i think seem odd seem to be normal/not dangerous in lacto-pickles. things like: cloudy brine, slight fizzing of the pickles (likely because some of them were airlocked in a way that kept the pressure in), and a not super sour flavour. they were getting a bit soft so i've slowed the fermentation by sealing them in the fridge, but i think they might still get a bit more sour with time.
i am giving them away for FREE (except a one dollar jar deposit) so you can see what you think. i wouldn't give them away if i was not pretty darn confident that they are safe. and tasty.
today i made a salmon, carrot, radish, cuke, pickle and kraut salad and it was SO GOOD. oh, i splashed some apple cider vinegar on there too. and i still feel good. so i declare the pickles edible!

i wrote the other day about my over-eating struggles. since then i had a brilliant revalation/solution!
i eat too much (not in a fat phobic/food negative way, but an unhealthy for my body way) and also spend too much time on the computer. i am almost always checking facebook/email while eating, and therefore do not pay attention to what i'm eating, so when i am done i have the residual taste in my mouth and think "oh, that was good, i want more!" since i didn't really experience it as i ate. i then repeat the process over and over...
no more eating while working on the computer. by making this rule for myself, i not only avoid the above problem (and actually fully enjoy/experience my food), i also limit my computer use. when i think "i should go check facebook AGAIN even though i was looking at it ten minutes ago" but i am hungry or mid meal, i must hold back. when i think "i want to eat something [but i'm not actually hungry]" and i'm in the middle of some debate over the wording of a men's feminist group title... i prioritize my online intellectual pleasure/engagement over my food fixation.
win/win. yay! it's worked really well so far (2 days) and i'm feeling great.

aside from pickles and eating in a way that feels good, today was also great because it involved friday's weekly anti-misogyny/pro-choice party!
today i didn't even have to hear anything stinging (i'm sure some things were said, but i didn't hear them) and was energized as always by our group and the positive feedback we receive from passers-by (the community, in other words).
a friend of mine from out of town who i had tea/breakfast with this morning asked if we hand out condoms at our rallies... so inspired by that idea (fun!) my buddy j and i went to a sex pos clinic after the rally today and asked if they had condoms we could hand out at the rally tomorrow. they said, "yeah, we have some..." and walked away, to return with a GIANT (clinic size, i guess) package of condoms!
j and i went home, he split them all up, taped the instructions manuals to some of them, and put them in cute baskets to hand out from tomorrow. i won't be there, unfortunately, but look forward to doing more of this next time. i'm so stoked about this development. promoting safer-sex AND fighting hatred and misogyny??! fridays are the best.
oh, and on our way home we ran into some street punkers and they commented on j's sign (rights = choice) and i asked if they wanted condoms and they were so stoked. these are the things that make days great.

just one more thing: i just just tasted my kimchi-ish kraut (org. green cabbage, pureed red onion, garlic, and ginger) and it's amazing. i'm going to let it get a little more sour til tomorrow afternoon when i have time to sanitize some distro jars... but i'm very excited. i might not give more than 1 or 2 jars away, because it's just so tasty. will have to do that combination again.
here are some pictures of this one, a few points in its process and depicting my brilliant fruit fly deterrent scheme.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

distro #1 and personal food struggles

as i write this, i am eating food that not only am i not hungry for, but that i know makes my body hurt.
my food obsession, while mostly a wonderful passion, has some nasty elements as well. i have a mind/body disconnect, a battle over what my body knows and my mind thinks. typically, the struggle goes like this:
body: aaah that [food] was satisfying.
mind: it tasted so good! we like good tastes! must keep that sensation going!
body: no thanks, i've had enough.
mind: fuck you! it's not about you!
body: but it is! it really is!
mind: i'm higher up, and i think that since eating is pleasurable and pleasure is good then surely eating all the time is good. so there. (convinces me to eat more)
body: oooouch.
mind: hahahaha fuck you i won.

today i read that for leaky gut, not overeating is crucial to healing. grrr8.
i was about to write that i don't know what to do, that i am stuck. i'm not though, i know exactly what to do. get the fuck out of my apartment. having a lot of time on my hands spent at home is consistently one of the worst things for me health. i love spending time at home, and am very grateful that i am able to, but for now, i haven't found ways to convince myself not to eat [things that make me sick or that i am not hungry for] when i have time on my hands and food ever-available. i am aware that both of these things are huge privileges, but i'm not going to pretend that i don't struggle with them anyway.

really looking forward to september, all the exciting projects i'll be starting, and being necessarily limited by time.

but! i must still find the time for all of the fermentation!
so far there are nearly 30 people interested in my home ferments, and at this point i've got capacity for 3 distro jars per week! something's gotta give.

today i sent out my first batch, which is delicious. here's what it looks like, and another one bubbling behind.
as i mentioned last time i base a lot on colour, and this one was challenging because the colours were rather odd and at one point i was convinced it would just stay ugly. but then, suddenly, it changed! i must learn to have faith in the culture.

Monday, 20 August 2012

counter-culture kraut #1

time for my first blog post! exciting!

today it is time to taste my first counter-culture distro kraut. it's been fermenting since last sunday, so 9 days now, and it's looking and smelling pretty good. my sense is that it might be best with one or two more days, but i'm stoked to taste and see. for those of you who aren't sure about the safety of fermentation and tasting as you go, my understanding is that the first couple of days sometimes involve some nasty bacteria, but from then on it is quite safe (the lacto-bacillus wins out and kills off the rest). i've heard others say they taste it all the way along and that there is no harm. of course, i taste with a clean fork and am careful not to contaminate the happy bacteria that are growing. i tend to wait at least a week before tasting, and base the timing mainly on colouration. in the first few days of fermentation, the vegetables become rather ugly greyed tones, and as it becomes ready it gets bright and beautiful.

this kraut has a blend of (organic-) green cabbage, golden (and one red) beets from the farmers i work for, and fennel bulb that i salvaged from the back of an organic grocery store. because of this blend it's been harder to base my tasting time on colour, as the colour blend is a bit odd itself and i'm not sure what it will look like at it's best.
before i'd even started this ferment i had two folks signed up to eat it, and i've got a list going already of folks who want my next one. i am so excited and grateful for the support i'm getting in my experiment and adventure.
so here it is, on day one. after i've tasted it and am sure it's ready, i'll show you what it looks like when it's bright and delicious.

for folks who haven't done lacto-fermentation, here is what you see:
shredded veggies that have been salted and massaged to get their natural 'brine' out, then tightly pounded and packed into quart jars. i top them with some rolled up cabbage leaves (to keep down the wanna-be  floaty bits) and jam jars full of water to weigh everything down and keep the brine level above the veggies. i also added additional weight, as you can see. after a day or two the brine often overflows, and then a bunch of fermentation bubbles form and kinda solidify on the top. a few more days and the brine level drops again, making the weights really important. then like i said the colour and smell improves, i taste it, and ta-da, delicious sauerkraut exists. for a more sour flavour it can be left longer, as well, increasing the bacterial content. i am usually too anxious to eat it, but it does continute to ferment slowly even in the fridge.
i'll make sure to take pictures throughout the process of my next one so you can see the progression.

today i'm also going to start my first sour-pickles! i'm using cucumbers from the farmers market and i'm told they're not the variety usually used in pickling, so they will taste a little different than folks are used to, but i'm sure they'll be awesome anyway.

yum yum!
fermentation femme