Monday, 31 August 2015

Scenes From Our Table (iPhone edition)

Hello! We're still away (and phone blogging exclusively!), so these photos are old, but I meant to post them before summer slipped away from us. 

Waffles, nectarines, strawberry Kombucha. Mismatched everything.

Those pickled onions, changing my leftovers and LIFE. Seriously, I'm going to have to make them every week until I die.

Congee, greens, tofu, onions and lacto-fermented radishes. The stuff of my dreams, basically. 

 Plantains, beans and rice.

Pretty stationary, iced decaf. 

Not our table, rather our kitchen side. Just 'cause I love summer fruit.

Simple late-summer supper of baked tofu and veggies.

Iced nettle tea. For the discerning pregnant lady.

Rainy day watercolours.

And some dahlias!

Also, FYI, we're going to be attempting to participate in Vegan Mo-Fo (Vegan Month of Food) this year, so from tomorrow, expect DAILY food posts. I just hope I can keep up!! Here goes nothing!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Mocktail Hour: Lime in the Coconut

We're back from Spain, and soon to be off again to visit my family, hurray! I'm doing some last minute packing with a refreshing but super-simple virgin cocktail, and I thought, hey, I ought to blog that. This photo is old, and that day I added a little jalapeƱo garnish, but it's not strictly necessary. Also, I *might* have thought of the name before the recipe, but you don't judge, right? Makes me think of a particular scene in my favourite guilty-pleasure 90's chick flick - I won't out myself as having such dubious taste by going into it any further, but if you're with me, you're with me right? That house! Dreamy. Anyway, the drink:

Juice of 3 or 4 limes
2 tablespoons agave nectar (I know that agave is rather unfashionable at the moment, and this is a lot of it, but I think it's natural friends with lime - it's the tequila connection.)
Top up with coconut water

This should make two drinks, serve with ice and lime slices! Last time I mentioned that you have to cut the lime across the 'belly' to get cute slices? Well, this is what I mean:

See? Cute little segments. I did learn a thing or two bartending, and not just how to spot people having an affair (ordered champagne but paid in cash?) or make a chip butty. 

See you when we're in California! It's going to be phone blogging for a bit, so do bear with me on photo quality and font weirdness - will do my best!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Hello, August: Pickling and Fermenting Summer Veg

I'm not new to preserving, but I am new to pickling - we're just gonna go for it this year. Since I'm off sugar these days (it just makes me feel crummy - not worth it), I'm sticking to veggie preserving for now, although I may be tempted to put up some fruit later in the month. Anyway, using several methods, for the sake of experimentation, the most exciting of which is, surprise surprise, fermenting! These are radishes, and it really is the simplest recipe (from Phickle). Note how I'm using a smaller jar to keep the radishes submerged - that's really important.  

They will be ready in about a week at room temperature. Fermenting some daikon (mooli) as well, using a shot glass as a weight this time. 

I love this kind of cooking; anything that relies on a bacterial or chemical process (besides, you know, heating) to bring about a transformation just feels like magic to me. But it's not magic! It's science! Apparently, this is how veggies ferment: Their skin is loaded with bacteria, good and bad. We want the goods guys, in this case lactobacillus, to take over. Lactobacillus is salt tolerant, so a salt brine gives them an environment in which they can get a foothold. The other bacteria are still hanging around, mind, but as our good guys breed they also change the pH of the whole situation, which benefits them, and kills off the competition. So once our pickles reach a certain distinct point of sourness, we can be confident that the good guys won and our food is not only safe to eat, it's wonderfully healthful. Now, call me a nerd if you must, but I think that's cool.

I'm also doing some vinegar pickles, because I like them, and some quick pickles, which aren't intended for long term storage. 

There are some great recipes for quick pickles in Bryant Terry's excellent Afro-Vegan. It's not a preserving book, it just happens to have a handful of easy, yummy-looking pickle recipes. This is the cumin-pickled red onion. It's intended to go in the fridge and be eaten within a month or so. These babies are going to up our sandwich game significantly. 

Lastly, I'm doing some traditional vinegar-pickled cucumbers with dill, and some more radishes. I happen to dislike sweet pickles intensely, so these are spiced vinegar only. I'm using the Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbooks as a guide - it's a great book to learn with, for any kind of preserves, because it gets you started properly on the basics. I bought it several years ago when I was learning to make jams and chutneys - the recipes are a great jumping off point for experimentation. 

With the vinegar pickles, we won't have our bacterial Battle Royale keeping us safe, so we need to keep everything very sterile in the traditional way - I'd highly recommend sticking to a reliable recipe if you're a beginner like me. 

What about you guys, are you preserving this month? Whatcha makin'??