Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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My latest craze is making sauerkraut. I discovered Garden Goddess Ferments products at a farmer’s market in Scottsdale a couple of weeks ago. We returned to Phoenix the following weekend to buy more sauerkraut and attend a workshop about making fermented foods. Suzette Smith of Garden Goddess Ferments organized an expo with break out learning sessions at the Office Pile. The space was perfect for the event, and many interested patrons turned out to learn more about eating healthy food. Healthy snacks, bone broth, personal chef services, and health coaching tables greeted guests, and classes were held both upstairs and in a conference room.
The fermented food class Suzette taught was so basic, simple, and informative that anyone could leave and go make kraut after attending. She told us about the benefits of the natural probiotic cultures and how she created her own delicious line of small batch artisanal krauts which she sells to the public. She also has for sale hand made crocks and cabbage shredders for the home fermenter. She forgot to bring the tool with which she had planned to mash the cabbage, so while she gave her informative lecture she pounded the cabbage with her fist until it yielded enough liquid to submerge itself. It really drove home the primitive, and as Suzette stressed in the class, forgiving nature of this process. If you have a glass or stainless steel vessel, a cabbage, a small amount of salt and a fist you can preserve food like our ancient ancestors. The mixture was rubbing up immediately, demonstrating the basic chemistry involved. This is the most natural way to preserve food and keep it alive.
It is so simple I can’t believe we are not all doing it all the time. I am hooked. I had both succeeded and failed in the past with large batch kraut in a ceramic crock. After seeing the class I understood that I had used too much salt and left it in the crock too long. Other students reported the same thing. This is what we got for following directions. This is one of those hands on experiences, like bread baking, that can be best learned by personal observation. Suzette is enthusiastic about the healthy possibilities and has developed a range of zesty flavorful krauts containing very healthy ingredients such as ginger, garlic and turmeric. The difference between her products and commercial krauts is the living probiotic culture present in the home made version. Bubbbie’s is the only live sauerkraut I know on the market, but she does not have anything like the range of flavors Garden Goddess offers. Suzette also creates seasonal varietals. Right now at home I have Kowboy Kraut, finished with cumin, Kristmas Kraut with some apple and my favorite, Power Kraut, made with red cabbage, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. She is constantly creating new and exciting combinations. If you live in the Phoenix area I urge you to run right out and buy some Garden Goddess kraut. Your digestion will thank you for it.
You probably know about the doomsday preppers, who build bunkers and buy machine guns and prepare to survive Armageddon. This has no interest to me. However, the other popular group of preppers, the ones who prepare food ahead of time to make sure they have healthy meals ready when they want them, are very attractive. I started following this idea in 2015 as a way to branch out of my food habits and try new dishes. I had a bad habit of making too much of one dish and tiring of it before we finished it. This was such a waste of time, energy and money. The remedy is simple. Make exactly the amount you need for each meal, or deal with any excess on the spot. I have not started a good freezer regimen, but I have managed to come out even with prepared food. This was one of the benefits, but not the only one. I decided to make at least two different dishes from each basic staple I cook.
I created a calendar in order to finish all my meal preparation in 4 days in order to leave the kitchen clean and undisturbed for 3 days a week. This is such a great change because it means a lot less clean up for the same amount of food. I make a big specific mess, clear it out, and enjoy the meals in the fridge ready to heat or add dressing. I think I can move toward 4 days out of the kitchen if I concentrate. Most of my fellow preppers do a whole week in one day, so surely I can pick up my pace on this. It does not take that much time, but it does require planning and strategy. The time off feels like I have hired a chef to make all my favorites. The fact that I am the chef does not intrude on this fabulous feeling when I waltz into the clean kitchen to find dinner. There is no drudgery involved because the prep days are very creative with research and invention. The magic chef days are wonderful because I reap the harvest of time as well as the pristine kitchen.
I have been a vegetarian for 65 years, so I am not planning to implement any new phase. I am fine as a lacto-ovo vegetarian eater. I have no desire to be gluten free or vegan, but I do really appreciate all the available recipes in those categories. I go very light on wheat, eggs and dairy, so many treats I enjoy are raw, vegan, and gluten free. I also happen to have a kosher home, but I go to no extra effort. This week we came into a giant harvest of cherry tomatoes. I am drying them, roasting them, marinating them, and next I plan to make a salad dressing from some of the roasted ones. I also saw a good looking focaccia recipe with cherry tomatoes and olives on top..That will be a new way to use them. If you have interest in trying these methods or learning about the food prep movement, find everything you might want to know on Pinterest. Happy prepping, gentle readers.
I recently reached the conclusion that I have never in my life done menu planning. I love to cook and be creative, and I also aspire to healthy eating. I own so many cookbooks they are running out my ears, and I am tuned in to all kinds of digital food situations including television’s Food Network. I have never examined why I don’t follow recipes and don’t do meal planning even though my food life is very big. I tweet about dishes and preparations with my friends at #Mmgd all year. We sometimes gather under that hashtag for twitter parties that include recipes and pictures. Some of us have met in real life, but all of us are food friends forever. Digital food is non threatening and completely calorie free.
I like to watch people make food at least as much as I like to eat it. Iron Chef was always popular at our house, as are many of the holiday specials traditional to this time of year. On weekends we take in all manner of victuals visually before we venture out to taste anything in real life. We follow our instincts and our mood to decide where to dine or which farmers market to attend. We have favorites but are always on the lookout for new places to try. We don’t like to overeat, but enjoy being very gourmet in our selections.
I now see that my aversion to menu planning has been an excuse to avoid realistic assessment of my diet. I eat well, and shop pretty well, but the specific desire to freestyle every meal I prepare is a real flaw. I have been pretending that I need to be plan free in order to reach my creative potential as a chef. Nothing could be less realistic. Chefs know how they will use ingredients and tightly budget to make the most of all the provisions they purchase. I shop with wild abandon and then later I must put it all together and avoid waste. I am going to shift the emphasis from improvisation on random seasonal ingredients to balanced menu planning. I will still have a wild card from the fresh produce in season and in abundance. I will not be entirely without my creative hobby, but will elevate my planning to a more strategic level. I will still be spontaneous, but for the first time I will be working with a plan. What a concept!! How do you like to arrange your food preparation, gentle reader? Do you follow a plan, or like to freestyle in the kitchen? Do you make up your own meal plans or take advise from other sources? Bon Appetite! May your days be tasty and bright!