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Category Archive for: ‘Vegetables’
Plant Based Diet Progress Report

Three Weeks

It has been close to 3 weeks since I ventured into the realm of meatless eating.  The results so far have been surprisingly good.  I’ve told a few people that I’ve been meatless for 3 weeks and they instantly laugh, like that is no big deal.  Try it, I respond.  I’ve even been able to cook meat for other people without craving it myself.

Where’s the Beef

I haven’t missed meat in the very least.  I’ve been posting meatless recipes lately with the help of my followers and they are very good, not to mention, filling and satisfying.  Finding recipes and adjusting our family shopping habits has been more difficult than not eating meat.

System

My system has changed, and without becoming too graphic, suffice it to say that I am now very regular and seem to process my food very efficiently.  I actually like eating this way.  I’ve been drinking Matcha Green Tea, which has most definitely increased my metabolism and I still drink copious amounts of filtered water.

What foods I find to be Good

I have been eating a lot of beans and gourds.  We have found at least 5 different types of dried beans which have been the staple of my diet and we’ve eating at least 4 different types of squash.  I eat lettuce or cabbage at almost every meal.  I haven’t worried about being vegan since about the 3rd day, but I still avoid eggs and cheese when I can.  For snacks I’ve been eating dried fruit, like cherrys and cranberrys and also roasted peanuts. I have found tofu and other soy products to be “good eats” when prepared properly.  Flavorful sauces  and dressings are very important.  I am developing a bean and soy based burger patty and when I get it right I’ll post the recipe.

When will I Quit

You know, I’m not sure when I’ll ever revert.  If I do it will be to only add meat once or twice a week or only on special occasions like Thanksgiving or when invited to someone’s house.  I’m trying to clean my arteries of plaque and improve my chances of living longer by avoiding cancer causing chemicals.  I’ve had cancer twice, I’m avoiding a third strike.

Should You Do It?

No.  If you have to ask that question then you probably aren’t ready.  Eating a plant based diet is a life style choice.  If you are obese, like I am, and you show signs of other problems, like I do, then you shouldn’t be asking this question, you should be doing it for you and your loved ones.

Weight Loss?

Have I lost any weight?  I really don’t know, because I haven’t weighed yet.  I feel better and I feel smaller and people tell me I look better, but I’m not going to weigh until November 1, because that is not the main reason I started this “life style” change.  I don’t want to be disappointed if I haven’t lost weight.  I’d rather make the transformation first and worry about the results later.

 

Any Questions? – Jughandle

Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkins.  What ever you may think about the Halloween holiday, it remains one of the most interesting holidays of the year.  Not only do we have parties, we dress up, exchange food and generally do things we wouldn’t think of doing any other time of the year.

I’ve always enjoyed carving the pumpkin, but my problem is that I’m a remodeler and not a designer.  I can easily add to or improve someone else’s original idea, but given a blank pumpkin, I’d be clueless.  So assuming that we all aren’t Brad Copeland (one of the world’s best designers) I’m providing some ideas.  I’d love it if you’d send me some pictures of your results.  – Jughandle

  

 

Pumpkin Ideas

 

Day 1 – Egg Plant

Yesterday was day one of my journey into a plant-based diet.  I’m not calling it vegan or vegetarian.  That sounds too much like I joined a cult.

Expensive

We went to the new health food store near our house.  I thought they’d have vegetables and such but it was just a bigger version of every other health food store I’d ever been in.  You know, dried over priced, packaged, grains and sea weed.  We bought some organic vinegars and soy sauces.  I found my favorite pickles, Bubbies.  They had Kosher Dills and bread and butter chips.  We got both.  I got a honey lemon-aid and Darlene got a regular.  I did find black and white Quinoa and a couple of different rice mixtures, nothing special and it was 75 freak’n dollars.  Looks like the transition to a complete organic diet is going to be delayed for a while.

Lunch

I had Red Quinoa for lunch seasoned with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  I was satisfied then, I’m not so sure I can speak for another round today.  I do drink a lot of water, which seems to help fill me up.

Dinner

I tried to be interesting for dinner.  I fried egg plant slices in my newly acquired toasted sesame oil with sweet onions in rings and a clove or two of garlic.  I arranged a nice bed of alfalfa sprouts on a plate covered with rocket arugula leaves as a nest for my eggplant.  After pulling the eggplant from the skillet (possibly a little to late) I added the remainder of the Quinoa I had for lunch to the hot pan with the onions.  I tossed those around a little and seasoned everything with tamari sauce and plated it.  The meal was ok, but neither of us went for more and Darlene didn’t eat all of her onions.  I finished the meal with a pot of hot tea.  I was far from full, but not hungry either.  I didn’t photograph the process or the final product because I was embarrassed.

Conclusion

I conclude that there must be better, more satisfying plant-based dishes out there and I intend to find them.  If you have a special sauce or dressing for your greens, please let me know.  I don’t want to sound like a whiner but I’m pissed that the system has screwed up everything, even eating, and that I have to forage for food that won’t poison me or clog my arteries.  I’m in the first stage of grieving but I’ll get better.  Hang in there with me, I’ll still be looking for interesting meat recipes, I’m just trying to correct for years of improper diet right now. – jughandle

Beef Wellington – How to make it tonight

Want to make a killer presentation to your guests tonight try this –

Yes, it looks extremely difficult, but it isn’t.  Beef Wellington is beef tenderloin covered in a layer of prosciutto ham, a button mushroom paste then wrapped in a coat of puff pastry.  Easy.  This isn’t a soufle, you’ll get this right the first time.

At the Store

You are going to make Beef Wellington in a green peppercorn sauce with fingerling Potatoes and warm wilted winter greens.

Purchase:

for the mushroom paste

for the beef
  • 1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 pound puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator – keep it cold
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Minced chives, for garnish
for the green peppercorn sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 box beef stock
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup green peppercorns in brine, drained, brine reserved
Directions:
for the Mushroom paste
  • Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat.
  • Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • This paste should be fairly dry so as not to make the pastry soggy
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
for the beef
  •  Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil – about 2 to 3 minutes if you want your meat med rare.  Cook 2 -3 minutes longer for med.
  • Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board.
  • Overlap the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef.
  • Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of the mushroom paste.
  • Season the surface of the paste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
  • When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard.
  • Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the mushroom paste covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together.
  • Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic.
  • Set the beef in the center of the pastry upside down and fold over the longer sides, brushing the pastry with egg wash to seal.
  • Trim ends if necessary then brush the ends with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef – saving the scrap ends to use as a decoration on top if desired.
  • Top with coarse sea salt.
  • Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash to brown, then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife – this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. If the beef is a little low remember it will continue to cook while resting.  It is more important to not burn the pastry.
  • Remove from oven and rest 20 minutes before cutting into thick slices.
  • Garnish with minced chives
for the green peppercorn sauce
  • Add olive oil to pan after removing beef.
  • Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then,
  • off heat, add brandy and flambe using a long kitchen match. Please keep your hair and face out of the flame
  • After the flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half.
  • Strain out solids, then add 2 cups cream and mustard.
  • Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add green peppercorns.

 How to Roast Vegetables

 

 

Stuffed Jalapeno Pepper Poppers

Stuffed Jalapeno Pepper hors d’ouvres.  These meet all the qualifications of a great hors d’ouvre, starter, or appetizer.  They can be eaten with your hands in one or two small bites, they aren’t too messy and they are very good.  In fact, the spiciness stimulates the appetite.  Don’t worry too much about the heat of the pepper.  Capsaicin, the active chemical that causes the the “fire”, is reduced when cooked.

You’ve heard me talk about all the good food we eat when we visit our Alabama relatives.  Well, that inspired me to ask Brent if I could release his stuffed jalapeno pepper recipe to the world and he graciously said yes.

I’m going to have a separate post for Brent’s recipe, but in this blog I’m going to talk about the different variations and components you can use to create great poppers.

Methods

The Cut-

the peppers can be cut in a varitiey of ways.  I’m going to post some pictures below to show some of those great ideas from top cut, half cut, lengthwise cut, cut and capped, end cut to side sliced.

    

    

 

As you can see, there are also many ways to cook them and many things to stuff them with

Ways to cook –

After market devices like the holders shown in the pictures above allow the peppers to be grilled, baked and broiled.  You can also deep fry the little buggers, breaded or not. If your stuffing is just cheese all you have to do is cook the peppers until the cheese melts or gets crusty.  If you use meat, you should either partially precook the meat or cook the peppers until the meat is done.

Ways to stuff them-

Peppers can be stuffed with hard cheese, soft cheese, rice, sausage, quinoa or a mixture of any of those.  I sometimes cut cheddar cheese into long square pieces just large enough to push up into the bottom of a pepper when the end is cut off.  Brent cuts his peppers in half lengthwise then stuffs each half with a cream cheese mixture and finishes by wrapping them in bacon.

To wrap or not to wrap –

Many people like to add flavor and texture to the peppers by either coating them or wrapping them.  The most popular wrap is with bacon.  The coatings could be egg wash then dredged in  flour and bread crumbs or other things like grated hard cheese and cornmeal.

      

 

 

Precautions

When you are cleaning the peppers, ALWAYS, DID YOU READ THAT, ALWAYS, WEAR GLOVES.  You may not write to thank me if you follow my caution, but you will most definitely think of me if you don’t and then either rub your eyes or use the bathroom.  Don’t laugh, it is hard to explain that your “junk” is on fire and you need help putting it out because when you touch it with your pepper hands, it just gets worse.

 

Look for the recipes I’ll be posting in the near future, or better yet, please send me some of your own.  Thanks again to Brent for his inspiration and great recipe variation – Jughandle

 

 

 

5 Other Blogs on Canning/Pickling

I’ve been reading a lot on pickling and canning the last couple of weeks and I thought you might be interested in a couple of other blogs I found helpful, funny, interesting or all three.

1. Starving off the Land -“My week of pickling dangerously” –  One of my favorite on-going blogs to follow

2. Serious Eats – Garlic Dill Pickles – Great site for recipes of all kinds

 

3. The Smitten Kitchen – bread and butter pickles – A very sophisticated blog on all things food.  Great recipes fantastic pictures

4. Hunter Angler Garderner Cook, Sunchoke Pickles – This blog is everything about living off the land, hunting and fishing.  Great recipes

5. david lebovitz – Moroccan Preserved Lemons – This is probably my favorite blog, I’m not sure why, maybe it is just nicely designed.

How to Make Kimchi

Kimchi is a tradional Korean dish made from all kinds of different vegetables with an emphasis on cabbage.  I remember seeing it first in the vegetable department of the grocery store in pint jars.  The redish chili stained vegetables pressed tight against the glass jar.  I picked one up to inspect the contents and bubbles rose from the bottom in a effervescent manner.  I was intrigued enough to buy a jar to try.  When I opened the jar the contents fizzed like a warm coke.  Timidly, I first smelled first (I have been burned by Limburger cheese before) then tried a bite.  Wow, the great spicy flavor with the effervescence and crunch of the vegetables was great.  I ate the whole jar in one sitting.

I’m considerably older now and I’ve learned that a true Korean cook would be embarrassed to buy Kimchi in a store.  Every one makes their own in Korea.  So I’m going to give it a shot.  Here is a recipe that sounds pretty good and complete and very Zen.  Try it yourself.  – jughandle

This recipe comes from Treelight.com

Ingredients

Organic foods

1 Napa cabbage

3 Carrots

2 Cucumbers

3 Heads broccoli

2 Bunches scallions

1 Apple

2 Small oranges

1 Lemon

 

Health food store

Unrefined rice vinegar

Unrefined sesame oil

Kosher salt (or sea salt)

Korean foods store

Crushed red pepper (coarse)

Crushed garlic

Sesame seeds

(Roasted more flavorful.

Raw may be healthier.)

 

Cooking tools

Large mixing bowl

Small mixing bowl

Cutting board

Cutting knife

 

Directions

Rinse all vegetables in water and salt.

Cut out stem of cabbage with a V-notch, then cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise once again, and slice crosswise into strips.

Cut up the cabbage stem into thin strips.

Sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt.

Scoop and stir with hands.

Let cabbage sit while peeling carrots and cucumber. Peel carrots completely. Take strips from the cucumbers.

Section the carrots and cut into thin strips.

Section the cucumbers and cut into thin strips.

Cut broccoli heads into byte-size pieces, cut stalks diagonally to make thin oval slices.

Add salt. Scoop and stir.

Trim scallions, slice the white part down the center, then cut into strips diagonally.

Core and dice the apple and add.

Skin the oranges and lemon.

Slice the oranges, separate into pieces, and add.

Put a handful of chilli pepper into a sauce bowl. Add from a third as much to an equal amount of sesame seeds, and crushed garlic.

Add enough sesame oil to moisten everything, and approximately an equal amount of rice vinegar (enough to make a paste).

Dice the lemon and squeeze into the bowl, add the remaining pieces.

Mix the ingredients in the sauce bowl to make paste, then gently spread the paste into the vegetable bowl.

Note:  When it comes to the amounts, there are no hard and fast rules. It’s all done “to taste”, and I can tell you that when GrandMaster makes it, it tastes a lot better than when I do. (The taste you’re going for is one that balances all of the flavors, so you’re aware of each of them as you eat.)

Preparing the Basic Ingredients

Cabbage

First, cut the Napa cabbage in half lengthwise. Then you are ready to wash all of the vegetables. This is a very important step. Don’t neglect it. Run cool water into the sink or into a bowl. Sprinkle some Kosher salt into the water, and put in a bit of vinegar. Then swish the vegetables around in the water. Let them stand for a little while, but not too long, so they get a thorough rinsing. The salt and the vinegar act to purify the vegetables, washing away any toxic residues from pesticides and any clinging dirt.

As you wash the vegetables, focus on your inner cooking. As you prepare the food, prepare your mind. Recognize that the way you prepare this meal is the way you are preparing your life. Put your total energy and attention into it. Clean your mind of all surface troubles and tribulations, all worries and fears. Focus on this exact moment in time. Observe the colors and textures of the vegetables. Feel them in your hand. Relax. Connect with your purpose and with the purpose of those who will be eating this food. Recognize that you are preparing totally healthy, life-giving fuel. Feel the love that you are demonstrating for yourself and for others as you perform this important service. Smile inside. This is going to be great! Its going to taste awesome!

Now its time to slice up the cabbage. The secret to all Korean cooking is to cut the food into bite-sized pieces, just right for putting in your mouth and enjoying. That way, the meal can be eaten calmly, instead of hacking away with a knife and fork every minute or so!

Put half of the cabbage on the cutting board, flat side down. Then, at the base of the cabbage, cut a V-shaped notch around the stem, and remove it. (If you are an old hand, you can skip this step and leave in the heart of the cabbage. But at first its better to leave out the heart because its pretty tough to chew.) Then cut the cabbage lengthwise again, but leave the two halves together. Now, starting at the base and working towards the top of the cabbage, cut across the cabbage making strips about one inch wide. As you cut, the pieces will begin separating. When you are done, put all the pieces into the large bowl.

Cut the other half and add those pieces to the bowl. Then sprinkle them all with a layer of Kosher salt. This again is a most important step. As the salt interacts with the cabbage, it draws out its natural juices and begins to break down the cell walls so that the spices in the chili paste can penetrate. Salting the cabbage is done early, so the salt can work while the other ingredients are being prepared.

After sprinkling salt, gently stir it into the cabbage. Do this with your hands, rather than with a tool. (We’ll discuss more on this later.) Use your hands like you’re hugging the cabbage. Move them gently around the sides, and then gather them into the center. Then push the cabbage to the sides (gently) and pull your hands around the edges like you’re swimming with a breaststroke.

The hugging motion is gentle. Generate love while you’re doing it. Its hard to overstate the importance of this step. Whenever we make Kimchi, it comes out good, but nearly as good as Grandmaster’s. We’re pretty sure that the missing ingredient is love. No one generates love with the intensity and purity that Grandmaster does. Its interesting to watch Grandmaster at times like these, too. If someone speaks to her, she may nod, or smile, or she may not react all — but her concentration never wavers. She is completely absorbed in what she is doing. She is also completely aware of everything going on around her — who is saying what, who is doing what, and where they are — but she has her attention focused on one thing — and that concentration makes a big difference in her kimchi.

After you hug the cabbage, taste. It shouldn’t taste “salty”. At the same time, you should be able to taste the salt. Try adding little at a time, and test it frequently. When you reach the point where the cabbage “zings”, you’ve got it. The right balance of salt makes the cabbage come alive, so its exciting on your tongue. Practice! You’ll get it.

As you prepare each of the next vegetables, work them into the bowl with the same hugging technique. Add additional salt as required to keep the flavors tingling on your tongue.

Carrots

The carrots are next. Cut off the ends, then cut the carrots into sections about one inch long. Then stand the pieces on end, and cut downward into flat strips about a quarter of an inch thick. That gives you bite-sized carrot morsels that will taste great and be easy to chew. Go ahead and try one. Sing out “Lachaim” first (“La-kheye-em). Let it ring out! It means “To Life!” After all, that’s why we’re cooking!

In addition to making the carrots easier to chew, this method of cutting them exposes the maximum surface area of the inner fibers, so that they wind up as tender as can be! If you happen to have a very wide carrot, you can cut each “cylinder” in half vertically before making the downward cuts, then turn the piece 90 degrees, and continue cutting downward — every vertical slice now makes two carrot slices. (Don’t try this on the cucumber, though. The interior of the cucumber is too soft — the extra cut makes it go limp too quickly.)

Cucumber

Before cutting the cucumber, use a peeler or knife to take off the skin. Leave thin strips of skin between the areas you peel — they add color and texture — but remove most of the skin. Then cut off the ends, and cut the cucumber the same way you cut the carrot (except for not cutting down the middle unless the cucumber is huge).

Broccoli

Before cutting the broccoli, remove the little leaves growing in and around the stalks. Then cut up the broccoli heads into mouth sized pieces. You can also add parts of the stalk if you cut them on a narrow angle. To see what I mean, try cutting straight across the stalk. That gives you a small circular piece with a lot of rind and very little of the soft, white middle. But if you move the knife to angle the blade up the stem, you slice off a long oval with a lot of the white inside. These pieces are in good balance, with enough rind on the outside to keep a firm texture, and enough fleshy white part on the inside to make them a delectable treat.

Scallions

The scallions are the last of the “standard” vegetables in this recipe. Actually, none of the vegetables are standard. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi. For example there is cucumber kimchi, that uses no cabbage. And there is mostly-cabbage kimchi with a few scallions and not much else. That’s the kind of kimchi you usually find in Korean restaurants, and Koreans love it. But the basic kimchi we are making here is one that is designed to be a tasty treat for people who have never had kimchi before, and who may not even like spicy food all that much! Whenever you make kimchi, don’t be afraid to experiment. Use whatever you have on hand. That keeps it exciting.

No matter what kind of kimchi you make, though, always include the scallions. Scallions are a vital part of Grandmaster’s cooking, and of Korean cooking in general. Onions and garlic have for centuries been eaten as regular staples by the longest living peoples on earth — Asians, Russians, and Bulgarians. That is not a coincidence!

To prepare the scallions, first cut off the hairy ends and cut off as much of the green parts as have started to wilt. The topmost layer of skin on the onion is frequently soft and wilted, too. If you peel it off, you’ll find fresh, crisp onion underneath. All of the onion that remains should be that crisp.

Once the scallions are ready, cut them once lengthwise, from about the middle (where everything joins into a single stem) down to the end of the stem. Opening the scallions in this way unlocks their flavor, and lets their juices mingle freely with the other ingredients in the Kimchi. After slicing them lengthwise, hold several (or all or them) at one time, and cut short sections — about half an inch long. But, rather than cutting straight downward, cut at an angle to expose the maximum amount of surface area.

Fruit

With the last of the vegetables in the bowl, check the salt level one more time, then start on the fruit. Different fruits can be used. Each gives a different flavor. I have seen a pear used, for example, and it tasted great. But the standard blend that Grandmaster makes usually has an apple, a couple of oranges, and one or two lemons. Although the Korean kimchi you find in stores or restaurants generally does not use fruit, I love the little bits of fruit in Grandmaster’s recipe. They taste great! (Hint: If anyone in your family tends to dislike spicy foods, use more fruit and less red pepper. They’ll love it.)

To prepare the apple, either core it or slice it into sections and remove the core from the sections. Then dice the apple into half-inch cubes. Add them to the bowl.

For the orange, first remove the skin, then slice it like a pineapple, making slices between a quarter-inch and a half-inch thick. As you put the slices into the bowl, gently separate them into sections of one or two pieces. These pieces act like little surprise packages, giving you little bursts of flavor now and again as you enjoy the kimchi. They’re wonderful!

When adding the lemon, first remove the skin and slice it into round sections, the same as the orange. But then dice the lemon into tiny bits before adding it to the bowl. Brush off the juice on the cutting board into the bowl, too. It adds a lot of flavor.

Note: Rather than adding the lemon to the bowl, it can also be used for extra moisture when making the chili paste. I’ve seen Grandmaster do it both ways. Actually, I’ve seen Grandmaster do a lot of things differently each time. What matters most is the energy you put into the project, not strict attention to detail. If you perform each step with a purpose, and are consciously aware of that purpose, then that is sufficient. If something doesn’t work out, then rely on Grandmaster’s second principle of mental conduct: Learn from your mistakes! And if it does work out, great! Adding your own creativity and ingenuity to the process makes it that much more wonderful!

Preparing the Chili Paste

That takes care of the basic ingredients. Now for the chili paste. This is the big step! So far, its easy to see why Kimchi is healthy. After all, its all raw fruits and vegetables, something we all need a lot more of in our diet. But much more healthy and energizing surprises await!

Chili Pepper

The first ingredient is Korean ground chili pepper. This is a very coarse grind of pepper. It consists of large flakes that are very flavorful and very hot. Take out about as much as you think you’ll need to cover the Kimchi and put in the small bowl. (Usually a small handful will do.) Don’t worry about taking too much — anything that doesn’t get used on the kimchi can be used later on as a flavoring for soups or rice or sandwiches. (Sparingly!)

Along with garlic and onions, chilli pepper has been recommended by some very long-lived peoples! Its worth using, even if you are not all that fond of spicy foods. Remember to keep it in balance — it should add flavor and zest, not cry out for a fire hose!

Garlic

This is without a doubt the secret ingredient in Kimchi — large amounts of fresh, crushed garlic. Grandmaster recommends eating kimchi with every meal. Anyone who looks as young as she does at 46 has got to be on to something. Along with meditation, exercise, stress release, and positive thinking, the garlic in her diet has a lot to do with that.

You need about half as much garlic as chili pepper, or a little more. You can relax, though. You don’t have to crush it all yourself. Any Korean store (or a good Oriental store) will have small tubs of crushed garlic in the freezer section. Later on, I’ll go into a lot more detail about how Kimchi and garlic act to make you healthy. For now though, let’s finish up the recipe so we can enjoy the eating!

Sesame Seed, Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil

There are only a few steps left. Now that you have added the garlic to the chili powder, add an equal amount of roasted sesame seeds. The total mixture so far is about 1/2 chili powder, one quarter crushed garlic, and one quarter roast sesame seeds. Add rice vinegar and knead the mixture with your hands. Add enough vinegar until you begin to form a smooth paste. Then add a dash of sesame oil — about a tablespoon. Now is the time to add the diced lemon, if you haven’t already added it to the large bowl.

Test the chili paste for flavor — it will be hot, but the sesame and garlic flavors should also be pronounced. Add more ingredients as needed. Blend the ingredients until the paste has a uniform color. The dry chili pepper will be bright red. As you add rice vinegar and other ingredients, it becomes more orange. Try to keep it on the bright side, rather than a dull orange.

Spreading the Chili Paste

Ah. The final step. Take a bit of the chili paste in your hand, and rub it into the top of the Kimchi. Softly. Gently. Now practice your hugging exercise, gently moving the Kimchi around until all of the pieces are evenly coated. If you can see uncoated pieces, then you need to add more. The goal is to just cover the Kimchi — any more chili paste than that, and its going to be a lot hotter. If you are not used to spicy foods, add the chili paste a little at a time. Try it as you go. When you get to the point where your tongue says, “Wow! That’s exciting!” then its time to stop. Get a bowl, put in some rice, and treat yourself to one of the best dishes you could possibly make.

The goal of this step is not just to spread the chili paste, but to put your energy into the food. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of “energy circuits” in your body. This is a very traditional concept in the Orient.

One of the body’s main energy pathways runs along the arms down to the palms of the hands. It terminates right at the base of the hand, in the center of the palm heel. For an exercise in energy sensitivity, put your hands out to a fire (from a distance), or up to the sun. Be aware of your body. Note how much more you feel the energy in your palms than elsewhere on your skin.

As you spread the chili paste and hug the kimchi, focus on generating energy through your palms. Generate all the love, strength, and power that you can. Put your heart into it. You will feel stronger, and the kimchi will come out that much better!

Bottling

Transfer seasoned cabbage leaves into a large glass bottle. Be sure to use firm pressure with your hands to push down on cabbage leaves as they stack up inside the bottle.

Transfer any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process into the bottle as well – this liquid will become kim chi brine. Some liquid will also come out of the cabbage leaves as you press down on them as they are stacked in the bottle.

Be sure to leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the bottle before capping it tightly with a lid. Allow bottle of kim chi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Your kim chi is now ready to eat. Refrigerate and take out portions as needed. The refrigerated kim chi will continue to ferment slowly in the refrigerator over time. So long as you use clean utensils to take out small portions, it will keep for up to a month in your refrigerator.

Fermentation

Why Fermentation is Healthy

The definition of fermentation is “breaking down into simpler components”. Fermentation makes the foods easier to digest and the nutrients easier to assimilate. In effect, much of the work of digestion is done for you. Since it doesn’t use heat, fermentation also retains enzymes, vitamins, and other nutrients that are usually destroyed by food processing.

The active cultures that pre-digest the food as part of the fermentation process actually generate nutrients. So there are more vitamins–especially B-vitamins–and minerals like iron are released from the chemical bonds that prevent them from being assimilated. In effect, the nutritional value of a food goes up when it has been fermented..

The fermentation process also preserves the food. You start with a wholesome, raw food and preserve it in a way that leaves its nutrients intact, so you have the health benefits of raw food with having to run to the grocery store every other day for more–which is what happens, unless you’re lucky enough to have a garden.

Note, too, that it’s especially important to ferment (or otherwise prepare) the cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabibrussels sprouts, and turnip greens.) Those vegetables have important anti-cancer properties. But if they’re not cooked or fermented first, they tend to depress the thyroid, which lowers your energy and gives you a tendency to gain weight. (That’s generally not a problem in small quantities, but it can become one if you eat a lot of these vegetables.)

On the other hand, the cruciferous vegetables can be overcooked, too. That makes fermentation an ideal way to unlock the nutrients in cruciferous vegetables, because there is no risk of overcooking.

The bottom line is that fermentation is an important part of the process, when making cabbage-based kimchi.

How Fermentation Works

The critical ingredients for the fermentation process are:

  • Salt (sea salt)
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Cool temperature

Salting the food preserves the food and protects it from bacteria, so it doesn’t spoil before it ferments. Sea salt is most desirable for that purpose, rather than table salt. (Table salt has been bleached and has had other important minerals removed.)

Once the food is salted, it needs to be kept in a cool place with minimal oxygen.

To keep the contents cool, Koreans have traditionally placed their Kimchi pots in the ground, which stays at 55 degrees year-round. Basements and root cellars are also good. For the rest of us, one author recommended using a small refrigerator at the least cool temperature setting.

The final step is keeping the air out, which allows fermentation to occur. It’s a process that only takes place in the absence of oxygen. That’s why an apple core rots at the bottom of a garbage can, but simply dries out at the top. So you keep stirring compost to keep it from fermenting (and smelling), but you want your kimchi to ferment. Go figure. (The fermentation does produce a bit of an odor, but you get used to it.)

The ideal way to keep the air out of the process is to put a stone (or a plate)  in the jar that fits to the edges. The stone keeps constant pressure at the top, continually squeezing air out as the contents condense and settle