Since my last update I’ve continued with two of the three projects that I shared my progress on (sourdough bread and ethnic (international) cooking), and took on one fortunate additional project. I was able to make my first batch of homebrew after taking a four month unplanned break from doing so. On Sunday, June 21st I finally made my first Ethiopian tej mead and am looking forward to sharing updates on its progress with you in future posts.
Now, why did I call this post “living food?” While ethnic or spice driven cooking does not contain living yeast like my two sourdough starters (aka Randolph and Mortimer). The spices, herbs, and vegetables used are full of healthy and sustaining nutrients and leave me feeling like I’m truly in touch with each ingredient that I choose to cook with. Furthermore, in recent years old world food preparation and cooking methods have defined much of what it means to be a “foodie.” Living food is defined by fermentation, a process which contributes to the creation of a plethora of aromas, flavors, textures, and probiotic benefits. In other words, it unlocks the life within natural ingredients and allows our bodies to run efficiently and sustainably. Lastly, getting to know each element of what it takes to get the most of each ingredient that we cook with can only increase our appreciation for the end results on our plates and in our glasses. L’chaim to living food and drink!
Since baking my first two sourdough loaves on May 10th I’ve baked nine more loaves. I’m happy to say that despite some steps and end result characteristics not fully meeting my expectations in some cases. All of the loaves looked and tasted great. In addition, to continuing to experiment with different percentages of dark rye and whole wheat flour, I’ve started baking with spices, herbs, and vegetables. As shown in the picture below, I’ve baked an olive/black pepper/lemon zest boule, sourdough focaccia with red onion, green olives, and grape tomatoes, and two roasted garlic/fresh thyme boules. Next, on Wednesday June 24th, I recieved my Brod & Taylor folding proofer and slow cooker after a two month wait due to high demand. I’m hoping it’ll help me dial in my bulk fermentation times and achieve better results overall. In terms of upcoming loaves, I recently purchased loaf pans in order to bake sandwich bread and caraway seeds and a second batard banneton so I can bake two dark rye batards at a time.
Positive reviews on an Indian meal that I cooked for a friend and his wife on May 25th led to the creation of Make It Kosher meals, a home catering service focusing on kosher ethnic meals for those living in my local area. Reviews have been great and I’ve been able to keep this side gig on a schedule that works well for me and my family. So far all of the menus have been Indian dishes whose recipes I’ve found online and adapted to be kosher (e.g. replacing yogurt with coconut milk). Chetna Makan’s YouTube channel, website, and books have continued consistently providing me lots of great recipes to cook for my menus and for my family. I’ve also purchased a book entitled 660 curries and bounced ideas off friends who also enjoy Indian cooking. In addition, to my cooking of Indian dishes, I’ve started getting back into cooking both Ethiopian and Mexican dishes. After making a fresh batch of berbere spice mix, I made both injera flatbread and a Ethiopian beef stew. The following weekend I decided to make Mexican birria by slow cooking beef in a chile and tomato mole-esque sauce. Over the summer I plan on cooking more Mexican and south and cental American dishes in order to both broaden my horizons and further improve my cooking skills.
As described above, I made my first batch of mead (or homebrew for that matter) in about four months on Sunday, June 21st. Ever since I started watching Mark Weins’ food travel videos on Youtube. I’ve wanted to make a batch of Ethiopian tej mead. I used a combination of clover and buckwheat honey along with the traditional gesho root to create the must. I then let the wild yeast on the gesho root twigs settle into the honey must for 2 days before adding 4g of Safale US-05, a clean fermenting yeast. Within 24 hours more visible signs of fermentation kicked off and this 3.25 gallon batch has been fermenting nicely ever since. I plan on taking my first gravity sample at the two week mark. By then I should know whether it’s time to wrack the mead off the yeast and gesho root.