Bubble bubble – Wild Fermentation Time Travels

Cover of "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, ...

Cover via Amazon

My kitchen is bubbling these days. We discovered an amazing book, “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz, that breaks down the process of fermenting foods into easy, manageable steps. Food that we enjoy, but never thought of making ourselves, like ginger beer, yogurt, and sauerkraut, are now accessible.It is hugely empowering. A whole world of foods with tremendous health benefits are now part of my kitchen.

These are foods that our grandmothers and great grandmothers would make as a natural part of everyday life. The luxurious concept of eating locally was really the only option for our pioneering women. Everything that the land provided would be preserved, pickled or fermented. Consumed throughout the winter and bringing life to a harsh winter climate.

These skills and recipes would have historically been handed down from generation after generation. A lost art in the age of fast food and preservatives. This is why books like Wild Fermentation are so important. I watched my Grandma make all kinds of things in her bubbling kitchen, but I would never have attempted making any of it myself. Now I have recipes from around the world to test and try.

It is a reclaimed culinary adventure I am on. Every bubble takes me on a journey through time; back to a way of relating to food as part of a natural cycle. A symbiosis between consumer and consumed. I can see the line of grandmother’s bubbling kitchens that would lead back to these recipe origins. One recipe is over 5,000 years old from Egypt.

By making these age old recipes we connect to past, present and future in one gleeful bubbly crock. We connect to the farmers who grow our food, we connect to the process of life within the helpful micro-organisms, we connect to the wise women who would have tended to their family’s feast. Magic.

It is the ultimate in slow food experiences, however, as I now have to wait a week or two to enjoy my first sauerkraut and fizzy ginger beer. I’ll just have to make some sourdough and farmer cheese while I wait. 🙂

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Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookie Recipe

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I adapted this family shortbread recipe to be gluten-free to accommodate my friend’s allergy. I am quite happy with the result. The taste is delicious; you can’t tell they are made without wheat. The consistency is a bit different as they spread out a lot and they take less time baking, but overall they are great.

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb butter (yes butter)
  • 1 ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cup gluten-free flour substitute (I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 1 ½ cup white rice flour (You could increase the proportion of rice flour for a finer textured cookie. I just winged it half and half with the gluten free AP flour.)
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract (C’mon! It is the holidays, use the good stuff.)
  • ½ cup Skor bits.

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Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar with a high speed mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into the whipped butter and sugar. (I sift small batches into the bowl to avoid a flour dust storm. You will have to finish mixing by hand as the batter gets stiffer.)
  5. Drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you haven’t used parchment paper before, start! There are no issues with stuck cookies.
  6. Dent the tops of the cookies and add ¼ tsp or so of Skor bits onto the raw dough. You could use any topping you like here. Dark chocolate chips are a nice variation.
  7. Bake at 350 °F for 10-12 minutes.

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Watch them! They are little monsters, raw one minute, burnt the next. They are done when the bottoms are light brown. Let them cool for a few seconds on the sheet before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

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