on the monkey trail

chocolate cake, salad, books, flowers, kids, and other important stuff


purple sauerkraut and other virtuous stuff

Grating cabbage for a batch of sauerkraut was pretty low on my wish list this morning. Especially given two out of the four kids were pretty much up all night (one cutting his eight tooth and one in chicken pox hell). I would rather have stayed in bed, or failing that I would have liked to have been sitting in one of our lovely local coffee places with a big shot of caffeine and a large slab (not slice – slab) of something decadent.

But instead, I used the moment of ‘free’ time I had this morning in between breakfast and getting the well contingent to football, to make some sauerkraut, turn the pork stock that had been simmering all night into a soup for lunch, and put some lamb shanks in the slow cooker for dinner. Frankly I’d rather not have bothered.. from my perspective (and the kids) we could have had cheese on toast for lunch (they, in fact did, not being lovers of the old pork broth)  and nipped down to the Thai for a take out supper. However, the man of the house is trying to avoid eating starchy food (apparently starchy food can aggravate inflammatory conditions..). He’s even considering doing the full on GAPS to try and kick his condition and get off the medication which he has been taking for the last year. Thinking about all this, especially now, is daunting. Frankly thinking about cooking some ‘starch free’ options for every meal makes me want to give up before I’ve even begun. It makes me crave a big bowl of real fresh pasta with a side of fries chased down with a mud pie.

So in a sense, for us, in our little world, then grating a purple cabbage at 9am this sunny Wellington morning really was a symbol of true love. (If anyone is wondering what the man of the house was doing while all this sauerkraut making was happening; he was tending to the chicken pox, playing with the little guys and probably doing a few loads of laundry, having not slept himself… yes folks, four kids makes life a little a little crazy)

To make purple sauerkraut you just grate or shred a head of cabbage. I got mine – which is, if nothing else, an absolutely beautiful colour,  from Common Sense Organics. Add in 2 tsps of sea salt (or a mix of salt and whey if you have whey  – I don’t .. and clearly now is not the moment in my life to start making whey). Pound the cabbage to release the juices and then put it into a sterilized jar. Bash it down in the jar so it’s about an inch from the top. Seal the jar and leave it on the bench for about 3 or 4 days by which time it should have fermented. It’s then ready to eat and will keep in the fridge. For more technical information on fermenting food then it’s worth taking a look at Nourishing Traditions (Sally Fallon). You can also read my other post on lacto-fermented vegetables here.

Leave a comment

‘rollover’ slow cooked pork with chickpeas

I wrote a post yesterday over at barefoot and soul about real food , which addresses writing about food in a way that’s helpful and inspiring and accessible. Tone is a big deal to me.   I’m sharing my kitchen diaries because they’re real and because I care about real family food, and I hope in some small way that writing about is useful.

So on the theme of being useful …. here’s a tip that will make your life easier, give you a big injection of bone broth magic and save you some cash…. Include some ‘rollover’ meals each week. A ‘rollover’ is just my way of saying ‘leftovers’ but I like to think of it more as one dish rolling into the next bringing all the goodness and flavour with it. We have a lot of rollovers here. Top of the rollover pops is the slow-cooker casserole into broth.

This started as a slow cooker casserole; Bone in pork steaks, garlic, cinnamon stick, turmeric, star anise, bay leaf. cardamon pods, carrot, pumpkin, persimmon (yes, I put persimmon in everything last week) tin of chick peas, cider vinegar, water, salt, pepper – probably a slug of red wine … so basically a totally random array of stuff thrown together in complete haste during the pre-school chaos that is our house. I didn’t even bother to cut up the meat or brown the meat or really think through the flavour combinations – literally just chucked it all in and hoped for the best. As it happens it tasted absolutely fabulous – pretty much everything does that goes into the slow cooker I find, especially if there are some bones in the meat and some spices).

Reheated the leftovers with water and some fresh baby spinach (and yes those are more lacto-fermented ginger carrots on the top…for more on the lacto-fermenting fandango read this post).

Leave a comment

lamb and pumpkin broth with lacto-fermented ginger carrots

Hard to think of a healthier lunch, and it was pretty tasty too (at least the adults of the house thought so – kids were more into their post footie pastries and fair play to them).  Made with left over slow cooker lamb casserole (bone-in lamb leg steaks, pumpkin, carrot, garlic, onion, fresh ginger, red lentils, a random selection of spices that included turmeric, star anise, cinnamon stick, paprika, cumin and possibly more besides but was throwing things in pre-school drop off so wasn’t exactly keeping notes. Seem to recall a tin of chopped tomatoes going in, some cider vinegar, red wine….you get the idea, slow cookers are seriously forgiving of general acts of randomness)

Leftover casserole mixed with some leftover pumpkin soup (see last post) with some fresh baby spinach leaves added just before serving,  topped with lacto-fermented ginger carrots (recipe from Nourishing Traditions). For more on lacto-fermented veg read this post. The ginger carrots are just made with grated carrot and ginger using same method.

Now, must be time to think about chocolate cake again after all that crazy healthy stuff….

1 Comment

lacto-fermented carrot, courgette, beetroot, chilli and parsley

Some words just sound tasty, like ‘molten’, for example. Other words do not get most people reaching for a fork; ‘lacto-fermented’, for example. I know this to be true because since I’ve started dabbling in fermenting, whenever I talk about it, people give me a look that is somewhere between confused, blank and horrified. Which is exactly how I probably looked, when I was introduced to the term about a year ago, through working with Helen from Nourish-ed. Let’s face it – ‘lacto’ and ‘fermented’ are not particularly appealing independent terms… together they sound really scary.

So why is this jar of lacto-fermented vegetables now sitting in a cool dark spot in my kitchen, patiently waiting 3 days to be opened? The honest answer is that I was worn down. There’s only so many times you can hear how fabulous something is, how it will change the health of your gut (and therefore your whole body), possibly even change the world, without becoming curious. I must add at this point that no-one was actually physically standing on my doorstep, like a Jehovah witness, trying to convert me. No, nothing like that. It’s just I was editing a blog series we ran ‘Diary of a Barefoot Healthfreak’ for the clinic and there was just a whole lot of fermented stuff being credited for some small miracles. Then we had a clinic educational session during which some lacto-fermented carrots were passed around (wow – that sounds more illicit than it actually was). By this stage I was intrigued… I was also suspicious. But you know what, they tasted OK. Not good enough to have me reaching straight for the grater but good enough to get me thinking about reaching for the grater, and thinking about different combinations that would work.

With me, once I get curious, I start reading. The best thing to read, if you’re curious about fermented vegetables, is Sally Fallon’s ‘Nourishing Traditions’. Some people see it as a kind of bible, but she’s a bit down on sugar so I take it all with a large pinch of salt. No one’s going to be talking me out of my chocolate habit any time soon. Anyway, I digress, the point is that after hearing a lot about it, trying it, and reading up on it I came (albeit rather slowly) to the conclusion that lacto-fermented veg is a really good thing, with a really rubbish name.

I also came to the conclusion that whilst there is a bit of an underworld out there of fermentors, trading special, secret, fermenting knowledge then regular people can do it too…with a couple of spoons of sea salt…Shall we just call it preserving and move on?

If you want to follow a recipe then get hold of ‘Nourishing Traditions’. I’m not so good with recipes so here’s how I do it;

Sterilize a jar – like the one in the photo ..needs to be glass, with an airtight seal. Get a pile of vegetables (preferably organic) and grate them. Today I used carrot, beetroot, courgette with a fresh chilli (for kicks) and some parsley (because I’m drowning in it). If you have an electric grater of some kind then this will be easier. Make sure the pile of gratings is  about 2 – 3 times the size of the jar because you are going to pack them down. Add 2 tablespoons of salt per jar (assuming you have litre jars as per the photo).  You can also use a salt / whey mix, but I go with the easy salt only option. Mix the salt around and then give the veg a bit of a bashing with something. I imagine there is a kitchen gadget that is perfect for this, but I have successfully bashed with a variety of kitchen objects (bottom of clean cup etc). Once you’ve got a bit of juice coming out of the veg then scoop it into the jar and bash it down some more until the juices cover the gratings. Leave a little gap at the top of the jar, seal it and put it in a cool spot on the bench (out of direct sun ) for 3 days. Then it’s ready to eat – you can keep it in the fridge , for an eternity.

If you’ve read this post and you’re intrigued, then take a look at the Nourish-ed website. I’m just a converted skeptic, having a go..trying to make it sound a bit less intimidating…because it really will change the health of your gut for the better (maybe not the world though).


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 204 other followers