Fermenting Experimenting

ferments in my kitchen
I’ve been experimenting with pickling and fermenting vegetables. I tried a macrobiotic recipe that just called for sea salt, water and kombu (seaweed) with vegetables, but I didn’t care for the result. Then I found a video that shows Sandor Katz teaching how he makes fermented cabbage. I tried it. We will eat the results on Friday night or Shabbat (I don’t care to wait a whole month). Sandor Katz wrote a book called Wild Fermentation. I ordered the book, and maybe after I read it, I will be able to explain why fermenting vegetables is good for you.

Notes: you do most of the work one day, and then a week or a month later you enjoy the results. That works well for those who like to plan ahead. Also, you will note both these videos talk about mold growing in the fermenting process (and Steve’s shows him throwing it away). Hmm, guess one has to get used to such things! My vegetables didn’t produce as much liquid as Sandor’s. But his recipe with cabbage, carrots, garlic and onion already tasted much yummier than the cucumbers in seaweed I tried last week. I hope to update you next week with photos of my finished product.

Pressed Salad

Pressed Salad: cucumbers, radishes, kale, lettuce
Cucumbers, radishes, kale, lettuce waiting to be pressed

Why press a salad? According to macrobiotics, a pressed salad makes the vegetables easier to digest. It is a way of preparing the vegetables without any cooking.

At first I thought I would need to buy a salad presser to press a salad, but then after an email from Klara convincing me to try putting a heavy bowl on top of the salad I came up with this homemade version of pressing:

My method of pressing: plate, vegetables, bowl and heavy jug of water on top
My method of pressing: plate, vegetables, bowl and heavy jug of water on top

How to Press a Salad

Gather up some vegetables. Here are a few suggestions:

  • kale, chopped or torn into pieces
  • cucumber, sliced (my understanding is peel if it is not organic, you can leave peel on if organic)
  • radishes, sliced (they will be less sharp after pressing)
  • lettuce, torn in pieces
  • sweet onion, chopped
  • parsley, basil or another fresh herb

Put your vegetables on a plate. Sprinkle with sea salt (or whatever salt you have). You can put on some apple cider or rice vinegar, too, according to some recipes (I just use salt). Put whatever heavy objects you need on top of the vegetables for an hour or two or three. The vegetables should soften and release some water, too. You can rinse off the salt and drain any excess water.

Lemon juice might be tasty as an addition, too. Enjoy.

The definition of a pressed salad, from Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook, by Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko:

“Very thinly sliced or shredded fresh vegetables, combined with a pickling agent such as sea salt, umeboshi, grain vinegar, or shoyu, and placed in a special pickle press. In the pickling process, many of the enzymes and vitamins are retained while the vegetables become easier to digest.”

Watercolor: Carrot

Here’s my carrot watercolor. I used both watercolor and gouache.

Carrots are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashana, and a “yehi ratzon” is said on the carrots:
“Yehi ratzon milfanecha she-yikara roa gezar dinneinu, v’yikaru lfaneacha zakiyoteinu”
“May it be God’s will that the evil decrees against us be torn up and our
good merits be read out before You”.
The play on words here is the Hebrew word ‘gezer’, which sounds like gezairah, the Hebrew word for “decree.”

The same “yehi ratzon” will show up again for squash, as the Hebrew for squash is kra, which sounds a bit like the Hebrew for “tear up.”

I discovered that some display carrots in slices to resemble coins, as we hope for prosperity in the new year. You can read more about the history of these food symbols from the Rebbetzin’s Husband.

A traditional dish made with carrots that one might eat on Rosh Hashana is tzimmes. Some recipes (I haven’t tried these, no endorsements here):

I prefer mine plain (naturally sweet!) and raw. The tsimmes salad sounds best to me, though it seems a stretch to call that recipe ‘tsimmes’.

Finally, a request to all pomegranate lovers: if you find a link to a pomegranate photo that you like, please leave the link in a comment. I’m going to have to work from photos in order to paint a pomegranate.

Tomato Recipes

An elegant way to serve a tomato that I learned from my mother, z”l:

Slice the tomato. Put sweet or red onion in between each slice. Dribble with olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh basil or dried oregano (or any other favorite herb). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Other ideas:

My easy kettle method for a simple sauce: Cut slits in the skins of the tomatoes. Place in a bowl. Pour boiling water, enough to cover. Wait 15 seconds. Peel tomatoes and place in a 2nd bowl. Drink up the remaining water; I’m sure it has some nutrients in it. Chop tomatoes; add fresh basil and/or sweet onions, maybe garlic or olive oil or scallions or parsley. You can serve this on pasta, rice or fish. I ate mine with some feta cheese.

Cabbage Mustard Garlic Salad

Cabbage Mustard Garlic Salad
Do you like garlic? mustard? Here’s an easy, no cooking necessary salad for those of us that like strong flavors.


  • 1 savoy cabbage or napa cabbage
  • olive oil to coat
  • brown mustard to coat
  • 2 or 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 fresh orange or lemon
  • for color: bits of shredded purple cabbage and/or carrot (optional)

Chop the cabbage into bite size pieces (that’s the most complicated part of this recipe). Add the shredded carrots and/or purple cabbage. Put in a large bowl. Coat the cabbage with olive oil. Then coat it with mustard. Crush in your garlic cloves, and mix. Sprinkle with salt and/or pepper to taste. Squeeze on lemon or orange juice, and mix well.

Tip on shredded carrots: you can use your food processor, or you can peel off little piece of carrot with your carrot peeler.

Nuts for You

Found this article Eating Nuts Greatly Reduces Your Risk of Heart Attack and Cancer so I thought, good time to talk nuts! (more on thyme and nuts under the photo).

According to the article, nuts won’t make you fat:

Nuts contain lots of fat, and many people are still operating under the food industry induced belief that fat makes you fat, so nuts are often shunned. But research does not support this conclusion. In the Nurses’ Health Study, the frequent nut consumers were actually a little thinner on average than those who almost never consumed nuts, and daily supplements of almonds or peanuts for six months resulted in little or no increase in body weight. Nuts apparently satisfy hunger and provide a wealth of nutrients, creating a feeling of satiety and comfort. This results in an overall lessening of food consumption.

I eat raw almonds as a snack throughout the day. I leave them in my refrigerator and just grab a few when I am rushing to get my kids or to an appointment, especially when I’ve forgotten to eat a decent lunch.

One topic the article mentions is soaking nuts before eating them. I’ve never heard of this, so I did a little more research. I couldn’t find any evidence of an actual study that said one needs to soak nuts. To me, I like nuts as a fast food, so the soaking would be really annoying, if it were a requirement. Do you think all the people in the nut studies quoted in the Natural News article soaked their nuts? I found one source that said the soaking isn’t necessary. But I have no idea what her background is that she is able to make this claim.

Enough for now on trying to weed out useful information on the internet.

Almonds in thyme
Above are my raw almonds, which I decided to photograph in a bed of my thyme. I grow thyme in front of the house. It makes a great grass substitute. The thyme spreads itself all over (sometimes it needs a haircut) and produces pretty little lavender flowers for a few weeks in the summer.