Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘cabbage’

Can any ol body make Kimchi?

I’ll admit, the thought of it was very intimidating.

I was picturing something very exotic, or spending all day in the kitchen over large vats of something or other.  Requiring group of friends working feverishly to complete it in one day.

Or the need for hard to find equipment or ingredients.

Trouble was, I guess I didn’t really even know what Kimchi was.

What it comes down to is pretty much Korean style sauerkraut.

Something people have been making for years with little more than a bucket or crock, some salt and a big rock!

So why was I getting myself in a tizzy over it?  Why not just give it a try? Cabbage is pretty cheap, if it doesn’t work out…..oh well.

I’m almost embarrassed at just how easy it really is!

Then again, fermenting of food has been around a LONG time.  That’s how many cultures have survived by being able to preserve the bounty of the Summer for the long Winter ahead.

And then don’t even get me started with just how very good for you it is!  Talk about probiotic!!  This stuff is where it’s at!!

So not even knowing where to start, I did what any smart person would do, I looked up some recipes on the internet!   Admittedly, there were several and true, some did sound a little exotic and involved but I managed to find one that made sense.

Many of the recipes also called for “fish sauce” or “shrimp paste”, two things I actively avoid due to my shell-fish allergy but found no trouble working around that.

There were many many recipes, but I finally decided on this one:  Homemade Vegan Kimchi

I did not have, nor had the time to look for, the Kochukaru ( Korean chili powder) so I improvised on that.

I also didn’t make as huge of a batch as this recipe appears to make, in case it was disgusting and then I would have went to all the trouble and then would have to toss it!!

Here is what I used:

  • 1/2 large napa cabbage
  • 1/2 (maybe less) daikon radish
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Salt  ( Kosher or sea)

For paste:

  • 4 green onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 birdseye Thai chilis ( small red ones)
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

I peeled the leaves off the cabbage one at a time until I had taken off about half of them.  Use your judgement depending on how big your cabbage is.   After washing them, chop them into about 2 inch chunks,

I used only 1/2 of the daikon because it was quite large.   Peel it and then cut it into strips.  Smaller than French fries but bigger than match sticks.

Slice the red onion into full circle rounds about 1/4 inch thick.

Place all of these ingredients in a large bowl and then sprinkle generously with salt and toss to make sure everything is getting some salt on it.

 

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Then let it sit for a few hours until it gets quite whilty and releases some liquid.

 

When the cabbage mixture is ready to go, it is time to make the paste.

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Add all of the other ingredients ( except the green part of the green onions, just chop and mix those in   with the cabbage, but do it now, not during the wilting part) to the food processor and combine till it makes a nice paste.  ( Add a bit of the cabbage water if it is too thick)

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Then add the paste to the wilted cabbage and toss well until everything is nicely coated.

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Then carefully shove it all into a super clean Mason jar ( or more).  The other recipe suggests poking it down with a chop stick.  Really pack it in there, making sure there aren’t any air pockets.  And then pour in any remaining liquid from the bowl that will fit.

Seal it up tight and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours, then into the fridge for at least a week before testing it!

 

ONE WEEK LATER:

Time to check out the magic!!

A huge word of caution here that no one seems to mention in any of the recipes I saw…….

Kimchi is ALIVE!!  Fermenting is done by live ( but very friendly) bacteria and so after they have done their work on your cabbage, they are eager to show you!!

So when you open your new Kimchi for the first time, DO IT OVER THE SINK!  It is almost like a bottle of soda that has been shook! And it WILL spew everywhere!!

I had NO idea!!

Once that nonsense was over and I safely got the lid off…….I gave it a sniff.  It had a strong odor and it wasn’t particularly appealing, but the time of truth had come.  Time to taste it.

 

I was fully ready to dislike it, but instead I was surprised, amazed and delighted by the taste of something that I quite honestly can’t say as I have tasted before!   I was expecting something tangy, vinegary or pickley.   But it was none of these.

Instead, it was the most delightful mixture of salty, sour and a little bit spicy.

I was absolutely delighted with my experiment!

Since then, I have become obsessed with my Kimchi!!  As the lady in the commercial says “I put that @#%$@* on EVERYTHING!”

It is particularly wonderful for livening up any old boring sandwich!!  Fabulous as a burger topping, adds zing to any rice bowl type dish.  Add it to salads or as a condiment with eggs or omelets.  I could go on and on and keep trying it with everything!

Just DON’T heat it!  It is a live food, heating it will destroy all of its goodness!!

So don’t be afraid, give it a try yourself.

I would be very interested to hear just you make out!

 

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Vegan Challenge-Week 1 check in

Well…… I’ve DONE it!!  One whole week with not a hit of animal product past my lips! As suspected, it really hasn’t been that hard because we already enjoy many vegan dishes a week, so it’s not like it feels all “weird” to be eating the things we do, it’s just the every meal aspect of it and of course the cow milk in my tea! Oh and much to my dismay, discovered that most, readily available, chocolate products all seem to contain dairy!!

So what have I been eating you ask?

vegetables II

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On the first night I whipped up a little “Spicy Tofu with vegetables and noodles”.

Start a little before and marinade the tofu for maximum flavour.

Marinade:

  • 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
  • 1 inch knob of fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of your choice – I used brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy  or Bragg sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

I whizzed it all up in my mini chopper but if you do your mincing and crushing by hand, just mix it all in a bowl.

Meanwhile, chop up a block of firm tofu into 1 inch cubes.  I put them directly into a glass baking dish in one layer and then pour the marinate all over them and make sure they are evenly coated.

Let sit for at LEAST half hour, but the longer the better.

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When you are ready to eat, assemble your goods.

So now like any “stir fry” type thing, feel free to use what ever vegetables you enjoy but this is what I used:

  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 medium size cremini mushrooms cut into fours
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach with a rough chopped

Meanwhile:

Put on a pot of water to boil for the noodles.

I was surprised to find out that “Catelli Multigrain” noodles are in fact vegan.  I use these most of the time anyway but had never registered that they were egg free before because it wasn’t a priority, but good to know.

Then while the water is boiling, you might as well prepare a little garnish to go on top.

I chopped up a couple of green onions and made some carrot juliennes ( match stick size) with my new julien peeler ( I’ll show you that another time)

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Okay, let’s get started.

Firstly, in a large skillet or wok,  you want to pan fry your marinated tofu ( adding the marinade in a little at a time till it cooks down)  in a little neutral oil, till it gets  a little crispy on each side, just to give it some texture and the marinade makes a bit of a gooey sauce.

Then remove from the pan and keep warm in a heat safe container.

Add a little more oil and then toss in your vegetables.

Put you noodles in the boiling water and give a little stir.

Keep tossing the veg around until the cabbage starts to get nice and wilted.

Once the noodles are done, drain quickly and keep a bit of the cooking water.  Then toss the noodles into the pan with the veggies and toss them together.

Turn off the heat.

Give them a generous shot of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and then keep tossing it everybody is well acquainted.

Place into your favorite bowl,  spoon on a helping of tofu, then top with the green onions,  carrot sticks and a sprinkle more sesame seeds.

Voila!  Vegan!

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A little mid week Chinese chicken

Back in the day……

There was nothing I loved more than a great Chinese Buffet!

I had this one particular friend, who she and I would dawn our most spacious sun dresses and steal away to the buffet and eat till we could barely walk!

But times of have changed.

Now I try to eat healthy and then since I developed that pesky shell fish allergy, going buffets where I don’t know exactly what’s in everything, is simply just high risk behaviour!

But every now and again, I get a strong craving for some Chinese style chicken!

So last night I googled “Sweet and Sour Chicken” and so this recipe is loosely based on the first three or four that I looked at.

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Start by cutting and appropriate amount of  fresh chicken ( I used boneless breast) into nice manageable strips or bite size chunks.

Place the chicken in a bowl with one egg white,  2 tsp of cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of salt.   Mix throughly till the chicken bits are well coated, then set aside.

Meanwhile chop up a bunch of your favorite Asian style veg into nice strips.

I used:

  • red pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • red cabbage
  • broccoli

But any nice firm veg will do.

And some finely chopped fresh ginger, about 1″ knob or at least 1 tbsp.

 

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Oh yes…..and you will probably want to be cooking some rice or noodles or something on the side to go with it……or not.

Okay, now you are ready to go.

Get out your wok, or in my case big skillet and get it pretty smokin hot!

Then add about 1 tbsp of high smoking temp oil.  Do NOT use olive oil!!  I used coconut, it has a nice neutral flavour and can get nice and hot before burning.

 

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Once the oil is nice and hot, dump your chicken in the pan and quickly spread it out to a single layer.  But then DON’T touch it!!  And yes it will immediately stick!

But then after a minute or two of cooking, with a good strong spatula, flip it over and let it go another minute or two.

Then remove it to a CLEAN bowl or plate.  Don’t worry if it still looks a little pinkish, it will cook some more soon.

Then add a little more oil to the pan, let it heat, then toss in all of your veg, including the ginger and give them a good toss.

 

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NOTE:   now in all the “Sweet and Sour” recipes I looked at, they were using pineapple as the “Sweet”.   I didn’t have any so I substituted in the sauce (coming next) but if you WERE to use pineapple chucks, this is where you would toss them in, with the veg and then use the juice in the sauce.

 

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Sauce:   So as mentioned, the real recipes called for canned pineapple and then the juice in the sauce.   But the closest thing I had was oranges.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 white or rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • and in hind sight, I would have used a pinch of chili flakes

Mix that up well.

Once the veg have cooked for a minute or two, pour in the sauce, mix well and turn up the heat until the sauce starts to bubble.

Then add the chicken back in to the pan.   Stir it all up, put the lid on and let simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is well cooked.

Serve with your favorite side dish!

Easy chicken!  And the best part is……you know EXACTLY what’s in it!!

 

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Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

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I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

To the new garden

I’ll admit that I haven’t been to the blog too much lately.

But I have a very good reason. ( Other than the fact that my WordPress was broken!!)

The Chef and I have moved to a new place and it has been one thing after another stopping us from getting on with it.

So I haven’t been doing much cooking and I haven’t been doing much gardening and I certainly haven’t been doing much blogging!

But I am looking forward to this being a full weekend of no outside responsibilities, so I can concentrate on getting things in order, so we can start “living our life”!

There!

But have a LOOK at the new kitchen! Coarse this is before we moved all our stuff into it!! I will update you when it is settled!

The New Kitchen

And this is the new patio, again, before we moved in!

But how are the plants in my garden doing you ask?

Chick HERE if you want to catch up on the trials and tribulations of my balcony garden!

Well, when we got back from the Oregon trip, the birds had really had their way with things!

They apparently got a taste for beet greens and so they didn’t make it.

beaten beets

And then they went for the cabbage!

Tormented cabbage

But since we’ve moved, the new deck is pest free so any of those who made the move are faring quite well.

The crazy arugula just keeps on growing! We cut it and eat it and it just grows back! Marvelous!

Active arugula

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Do you remember my ONE tomato? Well this is him!! All grown up and red. I must eat him soon!

Original tomato

And look, now he has all kinds of friends! Didn’t I predict that? That come October I’d have all kinds of tomato!!

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And these are the cabbage now, since being bird free and able to grow in peace. They still don’t seem to be turning into a nice cabbage ball that I am accustom to at the market, but they are at least decorative!!

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And last but not least, the most pleasant surprise!

BEANS!

It took forever for them to even sprout! And now the little plants are growing all kinds of beans!!

Fantastic!

But it is October now and even though it has been sometimes warmer than in the dead of summer lately, I think it might be time to wind things down for this season.

A turn in the weather

It’s disappointing  that I feel the need to write a blog like this in July, but it really has been a weird weather summer  all around.   Scorching heat and drought some places while others are cold, raining and flooding!

I remember that when I lived back east in Montreal or Toronto I would cherish a summer day like this.  We would usually have suffered weeks of blistering heat, so a cold rainy day would be very welcome.   We never get “blistering” heat here in Victoria but summer is usually a good solid “nice”.

But why not make the best of it??   Actually I couldn’t be happier with this kind of activity!

First I popped a batch of  BREAD IN A POT into the oven that had been “festering” over night and will take it out in a few minutes.

And then why not have a nice bowl of soup to cheer you up!

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I had some left over spicy Italian sausage from my STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS the other day so I started with that.

Heat up your Dutch oven or sturdy pot and then add in the sausage ( loose sausage not in casing) and stir it around until it is well browned.   Then add:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 stock of celery finely diced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 green CABBAGE shredded

Add those to the sausage and stir them up until well wilted.

Once they are all well acquainted I tossed in a handful or two ( 1/2 cup) of my favorite legumey soup mixture.    It comes from the bulk section of my grocery store and is a combo of  green and yellow split pea, barley, lentil and maybe a bit of rice for good measure.  I really enjoy this combo because some of the items cook down while others keep their shape.

So toss that in and then stir making sure the legumes are well covered with all the juices etc of the sausage and veg.   Let that go for a few minutes and then add enough stock or water to just cover everything.

Bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a nice simmer.  It will need at least 45 minutes to cook but that’s why it’s a good “go about your business” kind of dish.   But do check on it and stir it from time to time.

Then about 10 minutes before you are actually ready to eat it, toss in a very large handful of chopped kale.   This step IS optional, but you know me……..KALE is our friend!!

Let that cook in and then you are ready to enjoy!!

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Growing things and veggie storage tips

What with it officially summer now and the growing of produce in full swing, I thought I would share this veggie storage chart with you to help maximize the life of your produce!

veggie-storage

Meanwhile, life on the balcony garden is doing as well as can be expected.

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The cabbages are growing like gang busters!  But cabbage is a hearty plant so I suppose we can count on them.

But I don’t know, in the close up I’m not really seeing what will be a head of cabbage some day.  I don’t think that these big leaves suddenly curl up in a ball??

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The beans are still pushing away.  But doubt anything will come of them with their late start in the season!

Beans

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The tomato plants have lots of flowers now but no little tomatoes yet.   The wind lately has just been relentless and so I think it has tired them out.

Tomatoes

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And the potato plant is so big and strong and flowering.  I only hope that the potatoes growing underneath are half as hardy!   And I really have to resist the urge to “look at them”!  Last year I couldn’t help myself and pulled them up way too soon.   But luckily I shoved them back in the dirt and they kept growing until that “unfortunate incident” that occurred last year!  ( click here to see that )

Potatoes going strong

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I have had an unfortunate development with the patty-pan squash plant.  Heart breaking really, for no apparent reason he seems to have given up the will to live.

It was neither over watered, nor under-watered, nor do I see any evidence of foul play when it comes to squirrels or other critters.  The only variable to report is the incessant wind of late.  Maybe he just got exhausted.  He started off so strong and healthy.   Sad development.

Poor poor patty pan

I did however add some arugula seeds to the rest of his box and they are sprouting beautifully!

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The beets are in fine shape, but I guess like the potatoes, I will have to be patient and not yank them out to see “how they are doing”!

Beets

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And last but not least, I am very pleased to say that the Swiss Chard has made a fine come back.  It was touch and go there for awhile.

Although, I must admit, I have not yet let them stay outside.  They continue to be in the living room away from those nasty birds!

Swiss Chard

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Happy Gardening!

Click here if  you would like to catch up on my adventures in the balcony garden.

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