This week’s challenge over at Weekly Prompts is “Food for Thought“. They could not have chosen a better prompt for me today.
As frequent visitors and especially my Instagram followers know, I’m a huge fan of food, and particularly preparing my own food. As I looked through my photos for ones that seemed appropriate I noticed something: It’s been a very long time since I’ve done any sort of food canning or preserving and I really love that. I need to remedy that and this weekend I will do that for sure (watch for another entry on this subject). Here’s a small sample of what I’ve done to date. All of these are delicious with any meal – from breakfast (yes, I do like spicy food even at breakfast) to lunch and dinner.)
One of my first preservation projects was homemade sauerkraut. For years I thought it was disgusting as I’d only had the stuff sold at the store. It’s soggy and limp and smells a bit sulphurous. That’s because to increase the shelf life, it’s cooked after fermenting. This doesn’t have to be done for homemade sauerkraut if it will be eaten relatively soon and so the flavour is much nicer and the cabbage remains crispy – closer to what you might find in a cole slaw than the overcooked pasta texture you get at the store.
The same technique, brine pickling, can be used for many vegetables. I tried it with these small yellow beets. You’ll notice the jar on top. That’s to keep the vegetables underneath the liquid. This prevents contamination.
I also make all sorts of jams. They’re really easy to do and take less time to make than the average meal. Once canned, they can last literally for years. This one is one of my own creations: a balsamic habanero strawberry jam. While some of my more conventional fruit jams are great on toast, this one made an excellent salad dressing when added to vinegar and oil.
The grocery store near our house sells a locally-made “East African Style Carrot Pickle” that is a big favourite in our house. A bit of searching online turned up a recipe for it here. This was another one that didn’t take a lot of time and rewarded me with lots of flavour.
Kimchi is a Korean fermented dish with the most well known type being napa cabbage. There are a lot of ingredients in the recipe I use from cabbage, red chilli powder, and scallions to other more surprising things like small salted shrimp. Fermented together they make a spicy and delicious side dish that can also be used to cook with. I even use it in a sandwich that I invented: baked tofu with kimchi and hummus. Add some spicy sprouts and lettuce for even more deliciousness.
As you can see I like all sorts of spicy food. Aside from a few restaurants, though, liking spicy foods in Canada often means learning to make things yourself. After all, this is the same country where they sell this: