Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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The Metal Arts Village has a party every month with open artists’ galleries, live music and food trucks. This month was special because there as a DJ’d yoga class in the parking lot, and some acrobats on silk fabric hanging from a big tripod. The crowd was happy and the entertainment was fantastic. The fuel that kept the fun going was as ancient as human partying itself–fermentation. Beer is a fermented beverage, and pizza dough is a fermented grain product as well. Brewers and bread makers often combine to use the leavening from a beer in a bread. This kind of artisanal food production is rampant in Tucson, which is a happy thing for us. I am not the biggest beer drinker, and try to keep my pizza eating to a minimum, but do indulge when the time and the quality is right. Full Moon Party at metal Arts Village is just such an occasion.
I drank a glass of excellent stout aged in a bourbon barrel as a starter. Bob had a more bitter stout, which he stuck with for the day. I switched to a cappuccino stout from Lagunitas Brewery that made me happy. We sat with a couple drinking a red pilsner that was yummy also. This is the kind of place where people taste each other’s beer, no fear of cooties. Our table companions were interesting and cool with two dogs under the table. We enjoyed chatting with them. We all noticed Luke of the pizza truck trowing a towel in the air, pizza style. From a distance is certainly looks like dough. I went to investigate the situation and enjoyed learning about Luke’s dough and fermentation process.
He uses a sourdough proofing to create an amazing crisp thin crust. His wood fired oven takes 4 hours to heat up, but once it is hot the pizza cooks quickly. We ordered the pesto pizza from the menu and added jalapeño and garlic. This rates as one of the pest pizzas we have ever eaten. We will now become groupies of Luke and follow him around town when he parks at breweries and events. I can highly recommend this pizza with Lagunitas cappuccino stout..it is dreamy on the tastebuds. It would be good with any beer….or without beer.
The flying acrobats were fabulous, but the night was still young. One of my favorite artists in Tucson had set up a table top sell little stuff from her garage, and I was able to buy a piece of her art for almost no money. I now own an original signed Lynne Rae Lowe metal sculpture, that was derived with an amazing story. It is a Shabbis angel. She is highly symbolic, and now has a place of honor in front of a lamp I made myself. This is huge, and unexpected. I bought her on Shabbat, right before sunset on Saturday, then I walked home. OY!!!! Magic Moon!
I had a sourdough starter for about ten years. I enjoyed using it and finding new ways to put my homegrown yeast to work. After a while I was kind of done with it, but my dog was crazy about it. She fixated on the bread, and the more sour the better for her taste. Eventually I baked for her but we ate little bread in the house. When she died last year I gave up the sourdough start. Recently I have become interested in raw fermented food for both health and mad science. I do still like to grow cultures and experiment in my kitchen. My fermentation lab is simple and requires no special equipment.
I have made some decent sauerkraut, but my big thrill is drinking the juice from the kraut. This brought be to study the other fermented beverages I could make. I have not yet purchased kefir grans because it sounds like a big deal keeping up with the growth of them once they start to multiply. I probably will try it at some point because it is possible to make flavored fizzy drinks with water and fruit juice that sound pretty delicious. I bought a couple of books for my kindle to study the options and learn more about the various ways foods are fermented around the world. I can heartily recommend Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller.
My favorite drink I am making these days is ginger beer. I started a ginger bug, a starter which lives on ginger, water, and sugar. The care and feeding of the ginger bug is much like the sourdough starter. It catches the yeast in the air and stays alive by eating sugar. The dosage is important because it is possible to kill the yeast by adding too much sugar at a time. Mine sits on the kitchen counter with a cork cover. It is really easy to keep it happy and growing stirring it with a wooden spoon daily. When I make my ginger beer I simply add some of the starter to a larger container of water and add ginger and sugar to that batch. After a week or so of growing I start a secondary fermentation in a tightly covered bottle (I use a beer growler). This is the same way champagne is made, with a secondary fermentation in a corked bottle.
I also love my beet kvass. This is easy to ferment as well, just by adding salt to water and beets in a container for a week or so. It is tasty and very health promoting. Beets themselves are great for the liver and other organs. The fermentation adds probiotic cultures that conquer less than desirable cultures we may have in out digestive systems. Now that the happy healthy probiotics have taken over in my intestines I actually crave the fermented drinks. I have sauerkraut juice first thing in the morning when I take my vitamins and all through the day. Don’t knock it until you try it. This simple, amazingly cheap habit I have started is probably the best practice I have added for my general health in decades. If you wonder if you will like the taste I recommend that you start with the ginger beer production. It is universally enjoyed, and takes little skill to produce.
There are some other traditional fermented drinks I plan to try, all with the same basic procedure. I have yet to use the culture I bought just because it works without adding any culture. Have you ever made any fermented beverages, gentle reader? It is a fun hobby with fabulous health benefits.