Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kimchi and Grape Leaves

On Saturday I set aside some time for making kimchi.  It has been an astounding six years since I made my last batch, which was from my own over productive cabbage patch.   I've discovered that Chinese cabbage needs to be grown if the fall around here.  It loved the heavy rain and then went straight to seed and in doing so, nixed my ability to make kimchi from my own cabbage. This time I bought the cabbage.

On Thursday I had ventured onto the Beltway to get to the international grocery.  I bought enough cabbage for two batches, but decided upon making just one (I'm now reconsidering that).  A curious friend came by to participate in the process.  So we chopped cabbage, then massaged salt into it. 
Cabbage, salt and water, doesn't look very appetizing.
While we were waiting for the cabbage to soften, we perused the edge of the yard for wild grape leaves and collected four dozen, enough for a double batch of brined grape leaves.
  The grape leaves were a breeze, mix leaves salt and water, let stand.  Go back in an hour, roll 2 dozen leaves together place in a glass jar and pour the salt water over them.  Let them sit a few days. Done.

Next we chopped the mu (Korean radish) and the scallions for the kimchi. We realized that we had significantly more than we needed, so we made radish kimchi (one of my favorites) too!

Mu, Korean radish
Radish kimchi, before fermentation
My friend patiently grated the garlic and ginger on the microplane grater. 

We had several cups of coffee and chatted.
Then we tossed the cabbage with the mu, the ginger, garlic, chili powder, scallions, and fish sauce. 

Coarsely ground Korean Chili
We bottled everything up, now just to wait a few days for it to ferment.

Fresh bottled kimchi, the mild version.

Grape leaves.
Need to find out how to keep them rolled.

Four days fermented, note bubbles in jar,
a very good sign, it'sbeginning to taste like kimchi.

The Radish is not quite as bubbly as the cabbage,
but still a few in there.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Garden Tour

A couple of folks have commented that I have not been blogging quite as often this spring, well, they're right.  I have been weeding this spring.  Three plus acres of lawn, fruit trees, vegetable gardens and flower gardens can be a bit of a time suck., then there are the chickens, cats, dog, parrot, family...oh yeah, my commitment to getting fit and...

Enough excuses, today I will give a tour of what I am up to.  I am sending my assistant for a nap, so that I can walk around to take pictures.

Aggie, my editorial assistant, critic, and lap warmer.

Out the front door and a bit to the left are the irises, divisions from the irises in my mom's yard in MA.  They really like the horse poop, I'm going to have to divide them this fall.
A little farther back in the bed are the peonies that are just now opening, they came with the house, a nice little surprise!

Heading south into the front yard veggie garden are the sunflowers that survived the chickens scratching.  They have really come along in the past two weeks.
The okra has just come up, near them and then there are the tomatoes...

They aren't very impressive, yet.  A little warm weather and there will be a jungle.  I'm using my mom's idea for using electrical conduit for tomato trellising, she has had hers for nearly thirty years, so I'd say the idea has been tested.

The stuff under the floating row cover is thriving.

Russian red kale, broccoli, head cabbage, flowering mustard spinach and bitty eggplants.

Swiss chard and Lacinato kale

Head cabbage that gets progressively smaller down the line.

The Asian cabbages loved the heavy rains that we have had, they doubled in size overnight and then went to seed immediately.  So, I've been pulling the plants and cooking them.  Blanching is necessary, they are bitter and do not pass the "kid" test.  I've start putting eggplant, basil and beans in their places.

The Sugar baby watermelon have just surfaced, August will come and they will be yummy. I planted just a couple last year and kicked myself for not planting more--they were fabulous.

Heading toward the back yard, I pass one of the Chicago Figs.  They do not seem pleased with the severity of the winter, the tops seem to have died back and it is coming back from the roots.
Chicago Fig

Near the back door I have the babies that  I just took out of the cold frame.  The tomatoes are waiting for me to drive a half hour to a store for the one piece of conduit connector that I haven't been able to get yet.
According to the book I just finished reading Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
the tomatoes I have there, currant tomatoes, are the richest source for antioxidants of all of the tomatoes analyzed by research, so far.    It's an interesting book, it goes through most of the varieties of apples on supermarket shelves and evaluates them nutritionally.  If you are a golden delicious apple eater, she has bad news for you.

Crossing the back yard, I pass the medlar tree that was planted last summer. It has several blossoms, I can't wait to try the fruit, so I hope a couple make it through.  It is supposed to taste like spiced applesauce.

The back veggie garden is doing well, despite the low light issues.




unripe strawberries

There are a few issues back there though.
The vole invasion
The voles are helping themselves to the parsley again this year, I bought a new plant at the farmer's market last night.  I'm going to sink a pot into the ground and hope the voles can't figure it out.

The fruit trees and plants are doing well.  When the new plants came in earlier in the spring, I looked at the bundle of tree seedlings and thought: We spent all our X-mas gift card on a small bundle of sticks, but those sticks are now putting out leaves and growing.  A few were slow starting and we feared the worst, but they were just waiting for a little warmth, like the figs.
Sea Berry

AU Roadside Cherry Plum

The cherry plum arrived this week and at first I was not pleased, it was substituted for a Meteor pie cherry, since the nursery had a complete failure of that variety.  Once we did some research, we found that much of its parentage is pie cherry and that it is resistant to all sorts of nasty diseases that are common in humid places, like this one.  In the end, it is probably better.

The fruit trees that were on the property when we bought it are coming along, we'll see what kind of harvest we have this year.
Pear, unknown variety

Plum, unknown variety, plagued by nasty diseases

Finally, a little success story, this rhododendron was completely covered with honeysuckle when we moved in, we didn't know it was hiding under the mass.  After three springs worth of yanking, this is how it is thanking us.

Time to get going, I have a friend coming over to make kimchi and brined grape leaves with me and I have just discovered that the garlic all has a funky blue mold growing on it.