Tag Archives: inthekitchen


I’m on a big kick of things that can be fermented right now! In various corners of my kitchen I have:

  • Kimchi
  • Sourdough
  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha

Long time readers may remember that none of this is really new for me. But my puttering in the kitchen went on pause after Windsor was born. She was not the kind of baby that tolerated mom spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

The big change these days is mostly out of my control. The last 12 months have included a lot. And one of those is I’m lactose intolerant now.

Lactaid milk is just fine for putting in tea and for baking. But it does mean doing a lot more of my own baking. And lactose free yogurt is shockingly expensive. So now I have a yogotherm:

It’s just a tight sealing styrofoam cooler. But it makes large batch yogurt a breeze.

And my digestion is generally happier with more fermented things in my diet. So I dug out my old kombucha jug:

Those scoobys are over 2 years old. (for those of you not familiar, that’s unheard of.) The tea they’re sitting in smells very vinegary, but not off. And there’s no mold at all.

So I brewed a fresh batch of sweet tea and I’m running an experiment. I have one quart with a very old scooby in it. To the second quart I added a cup of raw, store bought kombucha. I’ll report back on how they do!


Sourdough success!

The loaf of sourdough I made this weekend is pretty munch perfect. Soft on the inside, not too crumbly, good crust, perfect tangy flavor.

Windsor ate two slices the first day, plus the centers out of two more while I wasn’t looking.

Sourdough is a bit imprecise, but here is how it went:

Hold over about 1/4 cup of starter when making the previous loaf. Mix in 1/4 cup each of flour and water. Tuck in the back of the fridge for 3 days (Saturday, sunday, and monday.)

Add another 1/4 cup each flour and water and put back in the fridge for another 2 days (Tuesday and Wednesday.)

Feed the starter again, this time leave it on the counter overnight (Thursday.)

Friday: take a 1/4 if starter and put it in a clean mason jar. Put the rest of the starter in a bowl. Add about 1 cup of water and 1.5 cups of flour. Mix briefly, you want the dough to be just a bit wet and right at the point where you’d turn it out to knead it. Instead put a lid on it and let sit for 24 hours.

Saturday: mix bread yeast in a little water with a bit of sugar and let it start to bubble. Turn the bread dough out onto a floured surface and make a well. Pour the yeast in, sprinkle on some salt (I used 1tsp and that’s about right.)

Knead! Add flour as necessary. Let rise for at least and hour (we went to a birthday party, so it was more like 5hrs) Punch down, knead again, put into an oiled loaf pan.

Let rise for about an hour. Bake at 350F I think this was about an hour too. But I forgot to pay attention. Next time!


Years ago I had an awesome sourdough starter. I cultured it out of the air when we lived in Johnson. It was tangy and stable and made good bread.

Around the time Windsor was born (five years ago, how’d that happen??) I realized I wouldn’t be baking so much. And after a little googling I froze my starter and hoped for the best.

This summer Windsor decided she loves sourdough. She’s making pb&j on sourdough bread. Almost 5 year olds can eat a lot of bread. So I dug the starter out of the deep freezer and let it thaw. I fed it, and 24 hours later it was bubbling.

That’s the first dough I made. I didn’t give it nearly enough rise time and it baked into a delicious smelling brick.

The second week I let the kneaded dough rise overnight. But it barely puffed at all. In the morning I folded dry yeast into it and kneaded it again. This loaf was edible, especially with home made jam. But it was still pretty dense.

The great thing about this hobby is it doesn’t require much. I just add a little flour and water a couple times a week, then do the kneading and baking on the weekend.

For my third loaf I acknowledged the sourdough starter needs some help. So I added bread yeast to the batter starter the night before, and kneaded and baked in the morning.

It looks great! I mean, it is great. It’s light and fluffy on the inside. But it’s not sour.

So I’ll try again. I think this weekend I’m adding the yeast AND all the bread flour 24hrs before baking. Then letting it ferment longer…


This Wednesday is not wordless. Oh well.

Two weeks ago we made pickles. This past weekend the girls and I made jam. On the left is peach jam with cherry brandy. On the right is plum cardamom.

The cherry brandy was not the good stuff. It was literally the dregs of a bottle of cheap brandy that tasted like cough syrup and had been left behind by the previous owners when we bought our first house in 2006.

But it adds a decent, not overwhelming. amount of cherry to the peach jam. And I can finally recycle the bottle. Phew.

The plum cardamom is a redo of the jam I made on a whim a few years back. Sadly I didn’t have any dried orange zest this time. So it’s not quite as good. But it’s still really tasty. It’s just blue ribbon jam and not best of show jam.

Also? The date 9/9/18 is really fun to write over and over.


Canning with kids


The first thing I did with those currants is steep some in a good, local, vodka.

The rest will be handed off to my Dad who makes amazing hard cider. He’s tried wild grapes, and always makes some with cranberries. So black currants seem logical too.

I’ve been making some really nice fizzy, fruity drinks too. That one is fresh blueberries with mint.

This one I left out the mint and added blood orange bitters. Also this is a great chance to use up those artisanal ice cubes I made last spring.


I took the girls blueberry picking the last weekend in July. This is becoming a tradition, I remember taking them last year when Willow was just 3 weeks old.

This year the berries were so plentiful there were clean, ripe ones literally falling off the bushes. So that occupied Willow. With Windsor’s help I picked seven quarts.

Next came one of my favorite times of year. The week when we all just eat as many blueberries as we can stand. It’s amazing.

But this weekend,,, whole week out from the harvest some were starting to go soft. So I sorted them, put the best quart back in the fridge for snacks, and put the rest into jam:

Five pints of blueberry cinnamon jam. It’s been a long time since I dug out the canner. It felt good!

Ramp season

If you’ve never heard of them – well I’m not surprised. They’re a member of the allium family (along with garlic and onions) but ramps (or ramsons) grow wild throughout much of eastern north america.

I’ve actually never foraged for ramps before this year. And I was starting to think that’s a good thing. Ramps have been in the news ’round these parts for some pretty serious over-harvesting. But we went out for an early season hike, and along with all those wildflowers I posted about, we found these guys:


And lots more where they came from. I’ve heard you shouldn’t harvest more than a third of any wild thing when you’re foraging. We harvested less than a tenth of the ramps growing on the hillside we found.

What we brought home was just the right amount for us. I’ve got two jars of refrigerator pickles steeping at the back of my fridge:

ramps for pickling

And we made a ginger beef stir fry with the remaining ramps and all the leaves. The first green harvest of the season:

ramps with ginger beef

Of course this was two weeks ago. The dandelions are blooming now, so they’re up next! And just in case you’d forgotten, my book (Cast Iron, Cast On) has two recipes for edible dandelions!

What’s cooking

Nothing. Nothing is cooking in this post, because I have a new fermentation project instead! I got some kimchi starter from my mom over Easter weekend. Kimchi, in case you’re wondering, is a fermented cabbage product similar to sauerkraut but different. (It’s an east/west thing: I think kimchi is Korean and sauerkraut German – but my food geography is fuzzy at best)

I started with the simple kimchi recipe from The Kitchn. In fact I decided to follow it very closely since this is my first try. The big change was that after I’d packed everything in the jar I added some juice from my mom’s kimchi. This is a basic microbiology principle, instead of just letting it sit and hoping the right bacteria take hold adding raw kimchi juice inoculates the cabbage mix with some bacteria that I already know make good kimchi.

I made a couple of small substitutions as well. I swapped out the daikon radish for carrots and I left out the red pepper flakes. I also took their suggestion and used seaweed flakes instead of fish sauce to add umami flavor. The author recommends this as a vegetarian alternative. I was just a little weirded out by the idea of fermented fish products.

I let the jar ferment for five days, tasting it every day. The kimchi had that fermented bite by about day 3 and the extra two days it was more a fading of the fresh cabbage flavor that I noticed. I’m sure the flavors will continue to meld in the fridge.


Now I just need to decide what I’m doing with all this kimchi besides eating it as a side dish with the occasional sandwich. Luckily it keeps long-term in the fridge.

Bacon Gingersnaps

In the grand tradition of putting bacon into random things I would like to present this recipe. It’s AMAZING. Possibly because gingersnaps are not really a sweet cookie, so they go with the bacon much better than some other things I’ve tried (bacon ice cream, I’m looking at you.) I hope you enjoy it, I’m probably just gonna leave this here until next year. It’s a wonderful way to wrap up the season!

bgs ginger

Bacon Gingersnaps

3/4 cup bacon fat*
1 cup white sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 TBSP chopped crystalized ginger
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp cinnamon

bgs ing

In a big bowl cream the sugar into the bacon fat. In a smaller bowl beat the egg, then add the egg and molasses into the mix. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and all spices. Mix until a smooth dough forms. You can mix everything by hand. Or break out the kitchenaid, use a metal blade, and this dough whips up so quickly you’ll be able to make it AND chase a toddler around the kitchen to keep her entertained.

bgs mixer

Chill the dough for at least an hour. I’m not kidding. This dough is much softer than butter based doughs. I actually left half in the fridge while rolling cookies with the first half.

Preheat the oven to 350F and prep your favorite non-stick cookie sheets.** Put a layer of white sugar in a flat, open bowl or plate.

Once the dough is nice a firm break off tablespoon sized lumps and roll into smooth little balls. Roll these balls in white sugar and arrange them on the sheet with about 2″ between each. The cookies will spread out as they cook.

bgs balls

Tuck the cookie sheet into the oven for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will spread out, then puff up a bit (that’s the baking soda) then flatten as they cool. You want them to be dark and just starting to crackle on the top – but not burnt around the edges. Good luck with that (I rotated 4 trays through the oven and only *almost* burned one) Once out of the oven let them cook on the sheet for a minute, then transfer them to the cooking rack.

bgs cookies

Enjoy them! But don’t eat the whole batch, even if you want to. That’s a lot of bacon fat to consume in one sitting… This recipe originated from a newspaper. Somewhere. My coworker’s father copied it and sent it to her. She modified it and passed it along to me. I tweaked a couple more things before I was totally happy with it.

*Note: We save our bacon fat and use it in many recipes. I’m not going to pretend it’s healthy. But if your subbing it in for lard, crisco, or butter – it’s probably not that much worse for you either.
Also note: I’m not a purist when saving fat, some mornings it’s darker than others. Sometimes there may be bacony bits in the mix. I have never, not once, used this mottled jar of fat in cooking and thought “gee, I wish this was less bacony.”

**say whatever you want about the ugly patina on my old cookie sheets – but they don’t really need anything to be “non-stick” these days…