How to Ferment: Sauerkraut, Sour Tomatoes, Kimchi

ferments in my kitchen

Sauerkraut

1 head of cabbage, red or green
Save outer leaves. You can also use a horseradish leaf for top layer.

1-5 tsp. Real Salt (or other sea salt, Do Not Use Table Salt) — in my opinion, just add a spoonful of salt to each bunch of cut up cabbage — no need to measure exactly.

1 mason jar (32 oz. large wide mouth mason jar)
1 glass weight *
Fermentation lid for the top **

Take off and save outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut cabbage into small pieces. Place cut pieces in large ceramic bowl. Sprinkle salt as you cut. Remove from jar and place in large ceramic bowl. Massage the cabbage with a masher or with your hands. Leave it under a weight like a large water bottle and plastic plate (if you have glass or ceramic the diameter of your bowl, better) for a few hours. Object is to get the water out of the cabbage.

After some hours (can be overnight), massage the cabbage once again. Pour liquid from the cabbage into the mason jar. If you do not have a cup of water (1/4 full), add more water. Pour the water/brine into another container. Add the chopped cabbage to the mason jar. Cabbage will shrink, so put more outer leaves if it is not filling the jar. Add the optional horseradish leaf. Add the weight. Add the brine so liquid covers the cabbage. Add top fermentation lid. Place in a cool spot out of direct light. Wait as long as you can. Check every few days. Enjoy.

Sour Tomatoes

Unripened green tomatoes
Real Salt (or other sea salt)
Filtered or bottled spring water
Garlic cloves, cut out from peel (optional)
Pickling spices (optional — dill, peppercorns, mustard seed)
Horseradish leaf (optional)

1 mason jar (16 or 32 oz. large wide mouth mason jar, depending on how many green tomatoes)
1 glass weight *
Fermentation lid for the top **

Fill a mason jar with unripe green tomatoes. Add garlic and spices. Add a few teaspoons of sea salt. Add water. If you have a horseradish leaf, place it on the top. The horseradish leaf holds the rest of the contents in place. Put the weight on top. Put on fermentation lid. In a week or less, you will see the fermentation juices bubbling up to the top. The tomatoes are often ready in about a week or two. When they turn an olive, cloudy green instead of a brighter green, you are on way to owning delicious sour tomatoes.

Kimchi

Real Salt (or other sea salt)
Filtered or bottled spring water
1 daikon radish
A few long red radishes (I bought some at the Jeff’s Organic stand at the Highland Park Farmers Market)
1 to 2 carrots
1 – 2 cloves of garlic
1 – 4 hot red peppery chili (or more, depending on how hot you like your kimchi)
3 Tablespoons grated or diced small ginger root
1 cabbage or horseradish leaf (optional)

1. Mix a brine of about 4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of sea salt. Stir well to dissolve salt.
2. Coarsely chop cabbage, slice carrots into small sticks, slice radishes and daikon into small coins, and let the vegetables soak in the brine covered with a plate and a large bottle of water (or any heavy weight) for a few hours or overnight.
3. Prepare spices: chopped garlic, chili peppers with seeds removed, chopped ginger.
4. Drain off liquid from soaking vegetables into another bowl. Mix the chili, ginger, and garlic into the vegetables. Pack the mixed vegetables into a mason jar, pressing down until the brine rises. Add the cabbage leaf if you have and then a glass weight. Cover with the fermenting lid. Check every few days. Enjoy.

Adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

About Fermenting in General

For healing benefits, consume some of the juice of your ferments each day.

Once you have the basics down for sauerkraut or kimchi, you can try experimental combinations, such as cabbage + carrots + turnip + fresh ginger root.

Of the three recipes posted here, sour tomatoes is the easiest. You just add green tomatoes to a brine, with optional garlic or spices. But not everyone has an abundance of green tomatoes in the fall.

———-
* Glass weights: Type “fermentation glass weights” into a search engine or into Amazon, and you will find plenty. Many are less than $20. I like the ones with the little knobs, but the ones without have the advantage of taking up less space.

** Fermentation lids: look at Jillmo Fermentation kit, available on Amazon. Eden Farmhouse Essentials also makes these lids. You won’t have to burp your ferments every few days if you use these lids. Put them on and just watch as the ferment bubbles up in a few days.

ferments in my kitchen

Lion, Eagle, Dog, and Dove Watercolors

Adam gave the animals names - lion, eagle, bulldog watercolors
One of my problems with blogging is coming up with text. When I used to use SEO tools (search engine optimization), they would say “you need 500 words or so to be” blah blah blah, something about meriting a golden spot in some grandstanding search engine. Well, if words are needed, here are some words.

A new year begins … we ended the fall holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simhat Torah. The Jewish year of 5783 has begun. I am hoping to do a little more blogging this fall … Learn How to Ferment (or whatever I will choose to name the post) is almost for publishing. Other blog ideas: How to See In Order to Draw Better. Highland Park Synagogues in Watercolor or Gouache. Highland Park Restaurants. Local Park Scenes. Not all of these will make it to production … but maybe one or two will.

Each week I aim to make an illustration for the parsha (portion of the Torah read in the synagogue on a weekly basis). For Breishit, the first parsha of the year I depicted (Genesis 2:20):

And Adam gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts;

וַיִּקְרָ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם שֵׁמ֗וֹת לְכׇל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּלְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה

Why did I choose the pasuk (sentence) about Adam naming the animals? I just liked the idea Adam gave out names. It was opportunity to draw an elephant. Except the elephant did not make it into the finished illustration. Lion is King of the Forest. So Lion is on top. Eagle is a majestic bird, so it got the bird spot. And bulldogs are cute.

He sent the dove to see if the waters land
After Breishit, the parsha is Noah. I get a little help each week from Rabbi Avigdor Bonchek, author of the What’s Bothering Rashi series.

I chose to illustrate the dove in the story of Noah because of a Rashi about this pasuk (sentence) (Genesis 8:8):

וַיְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֶת־הַיּוֹנָ֖ה מֵאִתּ֑וֹ לִרְאוֹת֙ הֲקַ֣לּוּ הַמַּ֔יִם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

Then he sent out the dove to see whether the waters had decreased from the surface of the ground.

Who was supposed to see if the waters had subsided? Noah or the dove? It was Noah. If the dove did not come back, then there was land for the dove. If she found a resting place, the yonah (dove) would not return.

Before the dove, Noah sent out a raven. Maybe next year I will paint a raven.

Wine Bottle and Lamentations on Fabric Watercolors

wine bottle watercolor
What is the motivation to choose a subject to paint? Why pick one object over another? Why would someone paint a particular person? I think the answer to all of these questions is emotional attachment. If you feel good or expect good feelings from painting a chosen object or person, you are more likely to enjoy the painting process and not feel like it is a task.

Why did I enjoy painting this wine bottle? I liked the looseness that I applied to the bottle. I also had fun with the patterned fabric underneath it.

Devarim, Illustrated Tehillim, and Lamentations by Yael Ziegler
A few weeks later, I painted these books on the same patterned fabric. It was in response to the theme of PATTERNS, an instagram challenge. I was able to pay careful attention to the details in part because I knew people on Instagram would be looking at the painting. I have emotional attachment to the fabric, as it was a purchase by my mother z”l.

The book of Illustrated Tehillim was given to me by my mother-in-law, as she knew I was looking for pictures of tehillim. Lamentations, the English name for the megillah of Eicha, is a book I am reading by Yael Ziegler, a wonderful speaker who I have met in person. Read it if you want a detailed, scholarly, and poetic approach to reading Eicha. I did this painting right after Tisha B’Av, the week we read parshat Nachamu, about comfort (Isaiah 40:1):

נַחֲמ֥וּ נַחֲמ֖וּ עַמִּ֑י יֹאמַ֖ר אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם׃
Comfort, oh comfort My people,
Says your God.

Those books rest under Devarim, the parshiot we are reading now at this time of the summer.

Tisha B’Av: Fox in Ruins Watercolor

Fox in Ruins: They saw a fox. Akiva comforted us.

Tisha B’Av (9th of the month of Av) is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. It occurs in the summer, sometimes in July, sometimes in August. This year it occurs on Sunday, August 7. I wanted to portray an upbeat story but still connect with the sadness. There is a famous story told at the end of the gemara of Makkot about Rabbi Akiva and a fox. The Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed on Tisha B’Av. However, when it happened, Rabbi Akiva laughed. He laughed because he saw a fox coming out of the ruins.

When they arrived at the Temple Mount, they saw a fox that emerged from the site of the Holy of Holies. They began weeping, and Rabbi Akiva was lauging. Why are you laughing, Rabbi Akiva? … the prophecy of Uriah was fulfilled, it is evident the prophecy of Zechariah remains valid. Akiva, you have comforted us. Makkot 24B

I painted the Fox in Ruins once before, back in 2011. That one had a little Maccabee beer can, as I had been in the Old City of Jerusalem and was dismayed to see litter. I skipped the beer can in my 2022 version and emphasized the text of the Makkot gemara story.

My brand new Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils arrived just when I was finishing up this watercolor. So I added a bit of watercolor pencil to the underside of the fox.

Self-Portrait of Leora Wenger

One often needs to come up with an image of oneself for social media on on the web. I went to a coding site that required a photo to publish on my profile. I had taken the photo off About Leora Wenger when I moved this site, as I couldn’t decide which one to use. I searched my blog to see if I had any of photos of myself, and I had none. For the coding site, I decided to put up my teacup watercolor in place of a portrait. Maybe I will replace with a photo or a watercolor of me or maybe I won’t.

I decided to correct the lack of self-portrait on this Sketching Out blog.

I settled on this one:
Leora with glasses watercolor

Recipe: Creamy Egg Salad without Mayonnaise

eggs in a bowl watercolor
I have been working on a recipe for egg salad. I do not want to use store-bought mayonnaise due to the unhealthy oils in the mayonnaise. Homemade mayonnaise is too much trouble to make. So how does one make egg salad creamy?

I came up with what I call an un-recipe: I suggest the ingredients, and you decide the amounts. Just about everything is optional. Well, not the eggs. Using real salt is a good idea, too (basically, use unrefined salt, not the kind that is all white — that stuff is like eating glass). There really is a brand called Real salt that I like and was recommended to me by a friend, but you can use any kind of unrefined salt.

Ingredients:

3 – 5 hard-boiled eggs
1 soft-boiled egg (adds to the moisture and creaminess)
Real salt (unrefined)

Choose 1 or 2 or more:
Chopped celery
Chopped sweet onion
Chopped radish
Chopped pickle

Possible herbs (chop finely):
Parsley, sage, basil, dill, chervil

Wet ingredients:
Mustard, tehina, water, lemon juice, cold-pressed olive oil

Spices (optional): cumin, paprika, chili powder, turmeric (Note: I often just use salt and skip the spices).

Chop the vegetables first. Slice the hard-boiled eggs with an egg slicer (if you have one). Add the soft-boiled egg. Add the wet ingredients, the salt, and any spices. Mash it all up. Add the chopped herbs.

Especially if it is your first time making this, add the “wet” ingredients in small amounts. These combined with yolks of the eggs will make your mayo. Add more water or olive oil after the first tasting if the egg salad needs to be creamier.

Enjoy! This is a great recipe for Seudah Shlishit, the meal that observant Jews eat at the end of Shabbat.

eggs on a colorful napkin cloth watercolor

In Search of Style: Little Boy Reads Watercolor

boy reading watercolor
What influences an artist to paint? For me, I have this idea in my head that I want to paint certain family members in a warm, appealing, and descriptive manner. I have been working to increase my skills, but mere technique does not equal achieving a style one wants. In this watercolor painting of my son (he is now many years older than seen in this painting), I felt I got closer. I was able to paint the face with a lighter touch than I have before. Also, I like the expressiveness of the background that adds to the portrait. The bits of pink add a reflectiveness and softens the overall bluish gray and white of the composition.

What are some more ideas that I want to explore?

  • Even more lightness of touch when I paint.
  • Better command of my palette (the colors chosen for the portrait)
  • Always working to improve my drawing!

Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing from readers.

Excitement of a Purplish, Red, and Pink Radish

radish watercolor on white fence in front of garden structure
I was fiddling in my garden, and I saw the top of something purplish red. Behold! It was my first radish, in my new garden structure built by my friend Yosef Schmidt. I was so excited that I took a photo. It felt like the first “fruit” of my new garden: the other produce so far has been greens.

It turns out that there is a challenge called #studyfromlifechallenge on Instagram. You are supposed to paint from real life based on a weekly theme. So this week the theme was pink. When a painter looks at that radish, it is not just one shade of color. So I started my watercolor with opera pink. I later added some alizarin crimson and a tiny bit of cobalt blue.

Below is a photo of the garden structure when it was first built. It is 7 feet tall, and I commissioned Yosef to build it because the deer kept eating my plants. And we used to have a groundhog that lived on our garage that would eat all sorts of goodies in my garden. It has a door in the back, and a row for a human to walk into the structure and examine the three garden beds that are in a U shape.

So far, I have grown micro greens, french chervil, parsley, lettuce, and now radishes! Pea plants are growing, but no peas yet. Hopefully, basil, tomato, cucumber, and beans in the summer.
garden structure March 2022

May Jewish Book Carnival

Siddur, Exploring Exodus, Dissolving Illusions books watercolor by Leora Wenger

Welcome to the May Jewish Book Carnival!

About the Jewish Book Carnival:

The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read and comment on each others’ posts. The carnival was started by Heidi Rabinowitz and Marie Cloutier to build community among bloggers and blogs who feature Jewish books.

On her blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, Deborah interviewed the editors of the new book The Ones Who Remember: Second-Generation Voices of the Holocaust.

Reuven Chaim Klein reviews four books on his blog The Rachack Review: Disputed Messiahs: Jewish and Christian Messianism in the Ashkenazic World during the Reformation, Moshe Emes: Torah and Science Alignment, Kabbalah and Sex Magic: A Mythical-Ritual Genealogy, and Understanding the Alef-Beis: Insights into the Hebrew Letters and the Methods of Interpreting Them.

Please read Howard Lovy’s interview for Publishers Weekly with Danica Davidson, co-author of I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz: Authors Bring Holocaust Story to Young Readers.

On gilagreenwrites, Gila interviews author Avner Landes about his debut novel Meiselman: the Lean Years.

Why is the Hebrew Bible different from all other Bibles? In April, Jill at Rhapsody in Books reviewed “The Grammar of God” by Aviya Kushner in which Kushner answers this question in a fascinating analysis.

Every day in May, Heidi Rabinowitz will post #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth daily kidlit book recommendations at the Facebook page Book of Life, featuring Jewish books from across the United States.

The Book of Life Podcast’s May episode features an interview with Dayna Lorentz, author of Wayward Creatures, a middle grade contemporary novel told in two voices: a troubled Jewish boy and a wayward coyote.

On her My Machberet blog, Erika Dreifus routinely compiles news of Jewish literary interest. Here’s one recent post, expanded for #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth and other notable May occasions and including a special Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut giveaway that continues through May 18.

At Jewish Books for Kids and More, Barbara Bietz interviews author Betsy R. Rosenthal about her new middle-grade novel, WHEN LIGHTNIN’ STRUCK.

Life Is Like a Library reviews Ayelet Gundar Goshen’s Waking Lions:

A Jewish Grandmother read a couple of young readers on Jewish themes from Kar-Ben Publishing and was happy to be able to give great books to a granddaughter. The Button Box by Bridget Hodder and When Lightnin’ Struck by Betsy R. Rosenthal both have wonderful stories with interesting Jewish themes, They both give some background on Spanish Jewry, which isn’t known by many people.

A Jewish Grandmother also reviewed Dear Cousin a great book with a strong moral message. It’s a very well-written eulogy/memoir by Elchonon Boruch Galbut about his cousin Brian Boruch Tzvi Galbut.

Bubby has been writing a series of posts on World War II and God’s role in Jewish history. The latest is called All the World is a Hidden Purimspiel. The plan is to put the posts together into a book.

Recent Figure Paintings

girl and her father dance with a flag
This is one of my favorite recent watercolor paintings, a girl with a flag in one hand, holding unto her father, and dancing down the middle of a street of trees. It is from the hachnassat sefer Torah that I posted about a while back.

man and his car
One advantage of not achieving likeness in a portrait is that I feel more comfortable sharing this painting of a long ago relative. He must have really been proud of that car.

Lenape Trail figures
We went on a family hike during Pesach. The morning before the hike I painted two pages in my sketchbook with exercises from Shari Blaukopf’s book Working with Color. When I got back from the hike I drew figures of our family hikers with ink on top of the pre-painted pages. I added a touch of watercolor to each figure.