Fortunately or unfortunately I haven’t brewed any new beers or made any new meads since February. Allow me to explain….
Beyond the production of fermented beverages, I have always had a passion for getting the most out of the ingredients that I cook with and in turn the food that I eat. This passion has been taking up a lot of my time lately and the satisfaction that I’ve been getting from it has left me quite alright with waiting to delve back into the homebrewing aka the focus of this blog. Of course, just as with homebrewing I have enjoyed doing research about recipes and cooking techniques in order to take an educated approach towards each “palate pleasing project.” The following are the projects that I’ve been working on since my previous blog post.
1. Fermented veggies: Ever since 2018 I’ve loved experimenting with making lacto fermented vegetables. Using salt water brine as a base allows spices and herbs to shine and blossom over time. Also, the 4-7 day average turn around time helps keep a pipeline of favorites in stock. So far this year I’ve made a variety of pickled cucumbers (classic dill, szechuan, spicy, indian spiced) along with to cauliflower, carrots, and red bell peppers fermented together with a number of indian spices, lacto ketchup, and fermented jalapenos (half of which I made into a hot sauce).
2. Spice driven cooking: Since my senior year in college I’ve developed a preference for spice and herb driven recipes. Most recently I’ve gotten back into exploring my love for indian cuisine by cooking a number of recipes that I haven’t made before. At the helm of my sources of inspiration has been Chetna Makan, an indian homecook who since competing on the Great British Bake Off in 2014 has gone on to publish three cookbooks. What turned this into a true project was my decision to dub Wednesday nights “veggie curry night” for my wife and me. So far I’ve made 3 veggie curries, all of which turned out great. The first was an off the cuff hodge podge of what I had on hand i.e. a medley of fresh cauliflower, chick peas, tomatoes, onions, carrots, red bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and spices paired with seasoned jasmine rice and yellow split peas. The next two were made possible by my purchase of kashmiri chili powder, amchur (dried mango powder), and asafoeteda (hing); along with Chetna’s inspiring Youtube videos. On May 6th I made a delicious and nutty roasted butternut squash, chick pea, and spinach curry. Though Chetna deamed this recipe a soup; I chose to go for a thicker texture and to serve the finished dish over jasmine rice. Most recently, on May 13th I took chetna’s ‘Best Chickpea / Chole’ recipe up a notch by substituting some of the chickpeas with roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, red bell pepper, and carrots. Then I made chapati flatbread to go with it. Out of the 3 this was the most complex recipe and resulted in a yummy flavor profile that I enjoyed immensely.
3. Sourdough Bread: After a 2 year hiatus due to being discouraged by my first attempt at baking with the sourdough starter that I was mismanaging (learned after the fact). I decided to join the hoards of homecooks taking the plunge into baking “living bread” nowadays and make 2 separate starters (whole wheat and rye). On Sunday May 10, I began the process of producing my first 2 sourdough loaves using an educated approach. This approach was comprised of my previous knowledge of handling dough from years of baking challah bread almost weekly and meticulous research about starter management, dough composition, loaf shaping, and baking times…While I prepared myself for things to not go as planned; I did a happy dance upon taking the lid off my Lodge combo cooker and saw that not just the first, but also the second loaf had achieved great oven spring. Subsquently, the finished loaves looked and tasted way better than expected.
While I do plan on getting back into homebrewing soon…These projects have kept my creative juices flowing and I’m looking forward to enjoying and sharing the fruits of my labor each week. While I can’t make any promises, I hope to start sharing recipes etc. on here soon.
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