Editor’s Note: Gina of Modschooler & Albany Kid is back with yet another informative post, this time she discusses her love for the FSC Book Club, The Homemade Pantry & Kimchi. Gina’s other pieces include: Slow Cooker Dulce de Leche, Vegetable Bouillon, Slow Cooker Beans, Empire Boardwalk & Downton Abbey- Inspired Drinks, Homemade Grenadine, and Serious Business Chocolate Gelato. –Christina
I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon From Scratch Club. As someone who’s always loved to cook, and to try new things, having a community to learn from and share with is just wonderful. Cooking, for me anyway, can be a lonely experience. My kitchen is tiny, tucked at the unfashionable back end of the house and far from the main action. Sometimes, this is a good thing – sometimes, though, I’d like some company.
My latest foray into new culinary worlds has been via the From Scratch Club’s online book club, on GoodReads, where a bunch of internet strangers get together, and chapter by chapter, cook from the inspiring and incredibly useful “Homemade Pantry” book by Alana Chernila. There’s a whole bunch of people who are learning right along with me, and we are all able to share our successes, not-so-successes, and tips to fix things. Finally, via the miracle of the internet, I have kitchen company! All without judgement! Or scoffing! HEAVEN!
My daughter and I have done the butter making project together, and had a blast. I made some instant oatmeal which was a major hit with my husband – he’s been stealing it to bring to work to have on hand, which can be annoying, like when I think I have my breakfast all set, but find the supplies have dwindled. Than again, it is really flattering, so I’ll just take it as a complement.
For my third project, from the canning and food preservation chapter, I decided to try lacto-fermentation. Alana has a sauerkraut recipe, and at the end she mentions kimchi, its spicier cousin.
I’d never had kimchi before, but after some poking around on the internet, I learned that there’s no one single way to make it. Kimchi, even in its native Korea, is something that every kitchen does its own way, depending on personal taste, and what vegetables are available at the time. Using the same lacto-fermentation techniques as sauerkraut, kimchi is punched up with more variety in the veggies used, plus its loaded with my favorites: garlic and hot peppers. Right up my alley!
Given the vagaries of my home audience, the challenging flavor and odor of kimchi is not a universal favorite in the family. I am alone in my ardent devotion. Which works out well, since I get to hog all of it without reprisal. I just have to make sure to ventilate the house well when enjoying it.
Using Alana’s inspiration, and having a community of fellow cooking enthusiasts to draw on and share with, I got out my giant glass jar and went to town.
RECIPE: KIMCHI – GINA’S RIFF
- Napa Cabbage – a bunch, cut in big pieces about 2” square
- Garlic – so much garlic. Like, about a cup of it, roughly chopped
- Red (slightly hot) Peppers – not jalapenos, but some other brand that was just this side of sweet, with a little heat at the end
- Jalapenos – about a dozen big ol’ fat ones
- Scarlett Turnips – they are beautiful, and came from my weekly vegetable delivery courtesy of Field Goods.
- Kosher Salt
- Big Giant Glass Jar (2 gallon size) – I like this one from Anchor Hocking, you can find them at WalMart or Target.
Roughly chop the cabbage and garlic, do big fat slices for the peppers, and nice thin slices for the turnips. Toss together in a giant bowl, with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.
I made my version using a liquid brine, as I was worried there wouldn’t be enough liquid generated from the veggies to keep things covered and fermenting properly. The proportion of salt to water used was 10 grams kosher salt per 8 oz (which gives about a 4% solution) (link: http://www.pickl-it.com/blog/636/brine-recommendations/), and I ended up using about 5 cups total to cover. To keep the chopped veggies from floating up out of the brine and drying or getting gross and moldy, I used one giant whole leaf of the napa cabbage as a “lid”, and then filled a Ziploc bag (Ziploc brand specifically says they don’t use BPA) with a couple of cups of brine to use as a weight, and then pushed all that down with the cover of the jar I used, making sure to release any air bubbles before capping.
While the concoction sat on my kitchen counter, it slowly began the lacto-fermentation process. After a day or so, I started noticing little carbonation bubbles, and basically just let it sit for about 5 days total before tasting. By that time, the pigment in the turnips had leached out into the brine, turning it a glorious and beautiful pink. Taste testing confirmed that it was ready, and at that point, I just strained out the veggies, reserving the brine, divided it up into smaller jars (adding enough reserved brine to keep it saturated) and stored them in the fridge.
USES: My favorite use for the kimchi, besides just eating it as a condiment or side dish, is to lightly saute it and add beaten eggs to make a kimchi omelette. That’ll get your morning going!