The Sidmouth Kimchi Queen

Hi All,

Well its official…I just fell under the spell of fermented foods all over again. My daughters will be grimacing as they read that sentence because I have been known to dabble in the fermentative arts on past occasions. I had a failed crafts cupboard for all of the crafts that I started and then my interest dwindled and slowly died for the evidence to be placed into storage in said cupboard. It’s just lucky that I don’t have a failed fermentation cupboard or the contents would be heinous to say the least! I made yoghurt, kefir (both milk and water) and let’s not forget the contents of my fridge crisper that must surely contain some long established microbial/fungi symbiosis that could split the atom. I have had a brief hiatus dabbling only in the more acceptable art of yeasty goodness of late but always…fermenting and brewing (forgive me…I couldn’t resist…) in the back of my magpie homesteading brain the desire to create bubbling pots of strange smelling creations lays latent and smouldering…I dare say it’s something primal from the beginnings of food storage. I dare say our ancestors learned to eat things that had turned to the dark and fuzzy side as they didn’t really have any alternatives and after a while decided that green and fuzzy or bubbly and even solidified and stinky wasn’t half as bad as it could have been and thus began humanities quest for preservation utilising our teeny little mates bacteria and fungi. Many times they form a little partnership to share the raw ingredients and occasionally one will start the project, and then they will hand the half-finished result over to their industrious little mate to finish it off. Without this active desire to change ingredients into other ingredients through the digestive systems of miniscule creatures we would have no alcohol, no cheese, no bread and umami would not exist.

With the crisp cold mornings that we have been having lately we headed off to walk at the boys favourite spot for their morning trot “Bonnie Beach”. We saw this pair of birds as we got out of the car.

I went off road with Earl and didn’t heed the warning signs with this (now obviously…) strange patch of ground. Steve made me keep my foot in so that he could first laugh, and then take photos to put on Facebook…

The end result was a shoe full of wet ash and clay that I stoically decided to ignore and carry on with our walk. The further we walked…the squishier the action of my feet made the new contents of my shoe and when I got home it took AGES to get the emulsified mass washed and scrubbed out of my trainer

I have been ruminating about making some generic “fermented things” for a while now and up until I actively took out Sandor Elix Katz book “Wild Fermentation” from the library (again…) it had stayed on the backburner raising its head occasionally as I muttered about “Must get some more kefir grains” and Steve would nod his head absently pretending not to hear me because most of the time my mutterings rarely amount to much but this time I decided to do something about it. I made Kimchi. I had a large quarter of a cabbage sitting in the fridge that was calling out for me to do something with it. I usually let cabbage take its natural course and turn into liquid plant fertiliser in my vegetable crisper (don’t you all say EWW! You KNOW you do the same!) But this cabbage kept lightly touching my hand as I delved beyond it to grasp the more familiar and desirable paper bag of mushrooms…red capsicums…spring onions…It must have felt so rejected :o(. I decided to use this small chunk of cabbage and what better to make of it than kimchi so that I could kill 2 birds with one stone. I collected together all of the ingredients along with my old standby sprouting jar that Steve had doctored for me in the past (another fad…) with metal mesh on the top so that the sprouts could simply be rinsed through the top of the jar. It was sitting on the top shelf of the pantry (along with the soy milk maker…the pasta maker…the mandoline and the high rise electric sprouter…I guess you could call it my failed fad cupboard: o) and was ideal for making kimchi. I will let the photos tell the story…

Garlic, ginger and Korean red chilli paste (no added preservatives) and a bit of white miso to help the flavour and the bacterial development

Hey…lets have a really CLOSE look at the resulting paste. This is the part that makes the cabbage kimchi and not sauerkraut…

This is my salting station. The veggies have to be soaked in quite a strong brine made from water and seasalt and here you can see the salt being weighed out before adding to the bowl

The salt needs to be totally dissolved and if you look carefully you can see the undissolved salt in the bottom of the bowl. I like to use a whisk to do this as it seems to take less time

The main reason for the recipe…here is the sliced up quarter of cabbage that I decided to use. The recipe called for Chinese cabbage but I didn’t actually HAVE Chinese cabbage and I am NO racist…so here we have common English cabbage and the kimchi is just going to have to live with it!

The recipe called for cabbage and carrot and radishes (which I also didn’t have…it being the middle of winter here in Tasmania made that somewhat difficult…) but it did say that you could put pretty much whatever you liked in it so I put some red capsicum…will I?…should I?…Yeh! Why not…

At the risk of ending up with Barbie pink kimchi I decided to add some purple carrot that had been languishing alongside the cabbage for more time than I would like to admit to the mix and it certainly perked up the colour a bit.

The vegetables needed to be submerged under the brine and this was the only plate that sit low enough in the bowl so I had to wing it…I added a bit more brine to make sure that all of the veggies were covered

The recipe said that you could add fish sauce (nope) and seaweed…NOW your talking Mr Katz! I knew that I had some seaweed in one of my ethnic food storage bins and went hunting through and found these 2. The lower seaweed was kelp (for my vegan sushi efforts) and as always the top packet was in an Asian language which I can’t understand so lets go with that one eh?

Hmmm…I wonder what kind of seaweed it is? They have kindly added “Dried Seaweed” to the top so that I know its not loose leaf tea but the actual variety remains a mystery…

After some further inspection I noticed the above directions and was able to identify the seaweed…WAKAME! My favourite seaweed and most DEFINATELY going into my Kimchi 😉

Aside from being the tastiest of all seaweedy comestibles, this particular brand is actually Korean which is the birthplace of Kimchi so its doubley fitting. This is what Wakame looks like when you first put it into water…

and this is how much wakame eventuates after a very short soak…BONUS!

Next we need to get some onion chopped up finely to add to the paste…

Heres the wakame, the onion and the paste ready for the vegetables when they have finished their stint in the brine.

Here they are mixed together ready to add to the soaked veggies when they come out of the brine.

I decided to warm the large repurposed jar that was once an ex delicatesen jar of Sundried Tomatoes in a past life to discourage any existing greeblies that might take up residence unheeded in my precious kimchi experiment…if it goes bottom up I want it to at least be because of something quantifiable so that I can work on it next time…

Steve used silicone to fix this bit of metal gauze to the top of the jar so that sprouts could be rinsed in situ and this makes a perfect non airtight jar to make kimchi and other fermented things in to stop the risk of the jar exploding…never a good thing!

Here’s the finished result with 2 small ziplock bags filled with water weighting the kimchi vegetables down underneath their resulting brine. This book has now become a “must buy” book and the more I look at the amazing fermented things inside it, the more I want to make them. I can actually feel Steve twitching as I type that :o). The small pot covered in the background with another little ziplock bag contains little cubes of cheese that we give to the Cuckoo Shrikes that come on a regular basis throughout winter to supplement their diet when the insects are conspicuous by their absence.

The kimchi’s current residence on my custom bread proving rack above Brunhilda where it sits snuggly festering in its own little warm haven… hopefully by the time I post again I will be able to use some of it

After making the kimchi I blended up my soaked (overnight) almonds to make the almond milk for my tea for the next few days and the sesame seeds to make the sesame milk for my morning porridge. I then put the left over ground up nuts/seeds individually into a baking paper lined tray and slid them into Brunhilda’s coolest drying oven to sit overnight and dry out slowly. Tomorrow I will remove them and will grind them individually in my Vitamix blender and turn them both into flour to be used in a future baking project. I like being able to make my own staple foods, it makes me feel sufficient. That’s NOT self-sufficient…just “sufficient”.  It’s now Wednesday evening and I have to post this post. “EEK!”…where did our week go? It went the same place that last week went…into the fervent world of AutoCAD and plan production and we arrive at this point tired but very happy with our progression from hair pulling incomprehension to actual understanding and utilising the potential of this difficult program to give us some pretty classy results. Our latest planting plan looks like something that we would see in a magazine and that, my dear constant readers, is what it’s all about :o). I would also like to thank Spencer from the amazing blog Anthropogen (Check on my blogroll as it’s one of my must read blogs) for sharing some quality precious information with us here on Serendipity Farm. Spencer has been dabbling in growing some of the trees that I lust after here on Serendipity Farm and I am watching the progress most carefully as Spencer lives in Greece and Greece and Australia are not all that far apart in their temperature variations. I have met some really amazing people through blogging that I would never have met if not for learning how to blog. My life would have been less rich and most definitely the poorer for not having met you all. Cheers for inspiring me to blog in the first place and for giving me the will to carry on. If you guys can do it…I can! :o)

We use the coolest of Brunhilda’s warming ovens to thaw the dogs meat from frozen and to dehydrate things overnight like this pulp left over from making the almond (on the left…I leave the skins on so its darker than it could be) and sesame (on the right) milk. The next day its dry and has a decidedly malty smell. I store them in separate jars in the pantry for future use. Dehydrating things allows you to extend their storage period and I love not having to waste the pulp from nuts and seeds as they are not cheap and using everything involved in the process is a much more sustainable outcome

Here is what Earl thinks of my kimchi making exercise…

And if Bezial’s expression here is anything to go by he would rather have been left asleep than forced to share his disdain with the world…

The sun was just coming up and Steve took this interesting shot on one of our early morning dog walks

We took this photo of a little native fern ensconced between 2 lichen covered rocks along the way on our walk

One of the old dead trees along the Auld Kirk dirt road on the way home from our walk that possums use for habitat. You can see the river down the steep bank in the background

Another cold morning on the river. This shot was taken just over from our front gate and shows you how pretty where we live actually is

The view back down Auld Kirk Road towards where we live gives you a good idea about where we head off to in the mornings when I say that we are walking the dogs.

My kimchi is sitting up above Brunhilda as I type this on the comparative warm haven of my customised bread proofing rack. I have tasted it daily as instructed by Mr Katz and have really noticed the flavour changing from predominately “salty” to a more complex mix of salty and tangy. I don’t like buying things that I can’t make myself and probiotics are one thing that I refuse to pay money for when they can be produced at home. Kimchi promises to satisfy my desire for savoury flavours whilst giving me the added bonus of being actually good for me. Next step is the more down to earth Sauerkraut to see if my German heritage emerges with a “Wunderbar!” It remains to be seen… Again I think that I will let the multitude of photos tell you a bit more about the last few days as I have over 30 photos to share with you. We seem to spend our days walking the dogs and studying in between rain showers and the odd bit of Zelda (me) and television (Steve) but they say that a photo can speak 1000 words…I am sure that you will be glad of the opportunity to see if they do :o) so I will finish up here for today and leave you all with this little reminder of why I love Brunhilda so VERY much…

Lastly…heres another great reason why I love the multifunctionality of Brunhilda. This coolest warming oven is perfect for drying off wet items without heating them too much…its perfect for dehydrating and in this case…for making “Shoe” pastry 😉 Oh go ON! You know you liked it :o)

Everything old is new again

Hi All,

Barley. Yes…barley…not in its eminently quaffable form of “beer” but in its hulled mild mannered Clark Kentish form sourced from the bottom shelf of the supermarket ensuring that marketers have checked it out and found it severely wanting and stored with the humblest of shelf mates, the dried beans and the soup mixes. Who would know where to find barley in their supermarkets unless they regularly made rich hearty soups? I have recently taken to eating barley in the form of pilaffs. Aside from being incredibly delicious and filling when combined with roasted root vegetables and garlic, I have discovered on my researching travels that barley is more than it’s humble components might lead us to believe. Far-be-it from being a one trick pony in the production of fermentation and alcohol, it was one of our very first grains and many worldly cultures have survived thanks to the cultivation and use of barley. I went hunting for a recipe for barley water. I remembered both of my grandmother’s lauding the benefits of humble barley water and making it whenever they were under the weather. I am not talking about the lemon barley water that you can buy from the supermarket but barley simmered in water for about 30 minutes, drained and the resulting liquid drunk. You get the added bonus of cooked barley that you can use in all sorts of recipes. On further research I learned that barley is an amazing grain, full of soluble fibre, nutrients and with all sorts of benefits especially for women and type 2 diabetes suffers…I also found a fantastic recipe for bread made from barley.

This website gives a really interesting rundown of barley, its nutrients, composition and who and what it is good for

And here is a recipe that looked really delicious for barley bread with the added bonus of a video should you feel like you need further instruction

Sometimes I find something out that is worth sharing with you all and this ancient and much maligned grain is just such a sippet. I now include barley a few times a week and am planning to increase it to my predominate grain after finding recipes for barley breakfast cereal.

This is for Christie and this is Brunhilda

I have been undertaking an experiment in weight management that I started after my mother died in January this year. Mum was plagued with health problems and there is nothing like a parent dying to remind you of your own mortality. I had a good look at my own diet and the state of my health and decided that it was time to make a few changes. I decided to end my lifelong dieting habit. No more feeling guilty about “breaking my diet”…no more exponentially growing lists of foods that I couldn’t eat (making them the focus of my desires) and no more damaging my health with yo-yo dieting. Instead, I gave up dieting, I gave up eating food that was nutritionally poor and I gave up processed food. Up till today I have been “undieting” for 5 months and in that time I have had no cravings, I haven’t felt the need to binge eat anything, I have never had to resort to using my will power once and I have lost a total of 15kg with absolutely NO effort whatsoever. I am completely baffled by this, but I have never felt so good about losing weight. There are no “start dates”, “end dates” or worrying about how to eat after I stop existing on a single food and I now totally ignore all of the “latest” and “greatest” dieting secrets because they are all bollocks. To anyone out there reading this blog post who has a weight problem that just won’t budge, give it a go. It’s incredibly liberating and completely attainable.  It’s dieting that makes you fat.

to much of this makes you fat. steves rooster burger 99% fat free 100 organic “would you like frys with that”

I am SO over roosters it’s not funny! We started out buying (what we thought were…) 8 hens and were assured by the seller that they were all hens…we got Big Yin. I have NO problem with Big Yin as he is an incredibly good rooster and he will be living on Serendipity Farm until he passes away of natural causes but my problem started with the romantic (and incredibly stupid) idea that it would be nice to allow our hens to reproduce. I am a savvy person and figured that more chickens = more eggs and so against Steve’s better judgment (oh WHY didn’t I listen to Steve!) we drove hundreds of kilometres to a tiny town to buy 2 dozen fertile eggs. Again we were hoodwinked by the seller and the eggs were NOT what she told us they were when it came to the breed that she represented. We ended up with all sorts of hens and roosters and we just killed the last rooster from that batch a few weeks ago. The main problem has been Houdini our amazing mother hen who chooses to raise her babies out in the wild and leave them there after a month of intensive mothering to re-join her sisters in the coop. These 2 batches of feral chickens are as close to wild chooks as you can get in Sidmouth Tasmania and live in a large overgrown conifer just off the driveway near our home. Houdini’s initial hatching resulted in 4 hens and a single rooster. We dispatched “Little Red” due to his incessant crowing with respect to our neighbours. Little Red wasn’t causing our other girls any problems and I felt quite bad dispatching him. Houdini’s last feral hatching resulted in 7 babies. Out of this batch we got 4 roosters and 3 hens. The 4 roosters in this batch have just reached sexual maturity and are all crowing and wreaking havoc in our small chook ecosystem and so they have to go. Not only is the ringleader spending his days hiding from Big Yin (his dad) knowing full well that he is going to cop a hiding should he show his reprobate head, but he is attacking poor Bob who only just got over being repeatedly targeted by the last rooster that we dispatched. I have NO idea why Bob is such a sexy chook! She is smaller than the rest and it would seem that every single rooster that matures wants to take a shot at poor Bob. Steve found a fair amount of feathers (that she had just started to grow back) plucked out underneath the deck (where the terrorist hides in waiting…) and so tonight has changed from a nice easy Zelda Skyward Sword playing night to mass rooster genocide. We are going to try to kill/cull as many of the 4 roosters as we can reach tonight and then we have Effel’s babies to wait and see who crows and I am totally and utterly DONE with breeding… roosters and all things crowing and raping. As soon as I notice a clucky hen I will be removing her eggs and tossing her into the chook equivalent of jail (their enclosed outside coop area). If I miss one (like Houdini) I will wait for her to hatch her babies and we will collect them all at night and integrate them into the coop. It’s a whole lot easier to dispatch roosters from the coop at night than it is to be climbing conifers in the dark and hoping that you grabbed the right chicken!

how do we use this machine ma?

Our friend who cannot be named dropped us off some firewood and a couple of skinned and gutted wallabies for the dogs the other day. I should have removed the meat and given it to my oldest daughter who loves all things kangaroo from way back. The meat is very lean and needs to be cooked with bacon or casseroled/stewed to ensure that it doesn’t get too dry. The 2 wallabies that we got yielded a large 4 litre icecream container full of badly butchered meat along with 2 meaty carcasses that the feral cats and crows have had a ball with out on the lawn for the last couple of days. The wallabies hung in a bag in the shed for the first day because we were too busy to deal with them and with it being so cold it was perfectly safe for them to do so. Both Bezial and Earl were very excited to be watching me butcher the wallabies and were eagerly awaiting a taste of fresh wallaby. I cut both begging boys a small piece of the very light coloured meat and Earl ate his piece with glee and Bezial spat it out with a most comical “this aint chicken!” look on his face. He must have been under the impression that we had killed some chickens and left them in a bag as both he and Earl get benefits from our rooster killing “events”. The look of surprise was quite comical and Bezial is NOT a fan of wallaby and refused to even consider eating any more. Earl on the other hand was totally enamoured of it and will be getting the 3 large bags of wallaby meat for his tea for a few nights to come. If we are offered any more wallabies we will take them gratefully. Earl and my daughter will both get some (I promise I will butcher it for you Madeline!) to play with and we will benefit from what our friend has to do to keep her garden wallaby free.  We are still using the firewood that she gave us as well and we are swapping a pile of old steel and metal that was left on the property with her partner for more wood…barter rules!

A man and a very cute pug we met up the road , the boys liked her to

Steve and I are undertaking a unit in model building at the moment with our course. Our poor long suffering lecturer had to take on the job of teaching me how to do everything to do with building. I am not known for constructing pergola’s and thank goodness Steve comes from a building background as otherwise we might still be attempting to make our 1/5th scale model of a pergola next year. I actually had a lot of fun and have learned to ignore my immediate desire to panic as soon as I get out of my comfort zone. I give it the “Old college try” now and have learned that failure is always an option and indeed, often the result but that’s where ground zero learning takes place and wherever learning is…so am I! I learned to use a chisel…I learned how to use a chalk stringline… I learned how to do all sorts of things and am now a wiser and richer person for the experience. I am sure that if our lecturer was showing Steve how to make a model Steve would have had the entire thing done and his second model also completed on the day that we had our lecture and I know that I slowed the process down incredibly but wisdom sometimes comes slowly and I was quite proud of my efforts in the joint project.  The next model will be constructed by Steve and I with only a plan to go by and our lecturer will have nothing to do with it. Should our lecturer throw us a curve ball like “dovetail joints”, “steps” or “doors” he might end up with something a little more interesting than he initially would have thought, but you know what? This little black duck is no longer scared to try and THAT my friends is a mighty big milestone for me.  Steve and I met up with a fellow Western Australian a few years ago when we were getting some timber cut for us at Bunning’s. Leighman is part hippy and all great guy and we often see him out and about and end up having a bit of a chat. He is most interested in what we are interested in regarding sustainability and economical food production. We ran into him when we were shopping and he mentioned to us that a fellow worker at Bunning’s was doing the Landscape Architect course at university that Steve and I are going to undertake soon. He said that his friend was having a great time and really enjoying it. That gives us a degree of hope that we might actually be able to get something out of this course. Polytechnic/TAFE is a great alternative to university because you pay as you go and in Tasmania, if you are unemployed, your fees are capped at $275 a year no matter what you choose to study making education an extremely viable way to avoid the Centrelink queue whilst improving yourself and making yourself “job ready” at the same time. University may be a lot more prestigious than Polytechnic/TAFE but it comes with a substantially larger price tag and an ensuing H.E.C.K.’s debt for anyone choosing to take this path. Steve and I are well aware that Tasmania is NOT the place to be unemployed in your 40’s and so we are doing what we can to give us the best chance of being able to start our own business in the future. My latent desire to become a mycologist may just follow on from this initial degree and I have plans to take some permaculture courses as well. I would never have thought that I would be comfortable with all of this studying but there is something very satisfying about learning and I was born to research.

Steve is preparing his rooster killing kit. We are going to attempt to dispatch the 4 young newly matured roosters tonight because even though we may be killing the offending rooster tonight, as soon as he is gone, the next rooster will step up to take off where he left off. Once we are able to remove the roosters from the scene, peace can return (until Effel’s babies start to crow and it starts all over again). I really don’t like killing things and I don’t imagine that there are too many vegetarians out there slaughtering their own roosters, but again…if you take on the responsibility of raising chickens it’s like an iceberg…there is a WHOLE LOT under the surface that you don’t learn about until it’s too late and you are committed to looking after them.  Both Earl and Bezial are well aware that its rooster killing time. They must sense our apprehension and should know it well by now as these roosters will be 8 through to 11 in the history of rooster dispatching on Serendipity Farm. For 2 city slickers who couldn’t face killing flies it has certainly been an eye opening journey. I guess I think of the poor long suffering hens that have had to put up with these reprobates and their behaviour towards our egg futures and it makes it a little bit easier to deal with. I think I will think about poor semi plucked Bob who has had a pretty rough trot of it for the last 3 months or so and it will definitely ease my guilt. Consider us 2 city slickers who have most definitely learned their lesson!

Frost and it wasnt even that cold , we had minus -9 – 7 in Tassie last week

Steve here. We are back and that wasn’t fun but we have killed the 4 roosters that we had to and we are now in the process of dealing with them to make some food for me and the boys. Yin will be a lot happier in the morning and so will poor little Bob. We are getting faster and have realised that that was easier because we had no attachment to them at all. Ok Fran is letting me pick the pictures today as she is now busy for a little and then we have to feed us so I will say bye all and thanks for dropping by and watching us get roosters from the conifer and to the table. A few more wishbone which I’m sure we will get very soon and Fran will have some new designer jewellery. Now if we can just work out what to do with feathers we will be good any suggestions.