Friday, August 24, 2007

Food is disturbing

Look what I fished out of my homemade vinegar jar the other day:

It's a layer of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria, otherwise known as a mother. The slime layers had grown so heavy they had sunk to the bottom of the jar, so I pulled it out, and now another one is forming. The mother sort of reminds me of jello, or very firm jam. It was pretty thick, too:

Cool, no?

In other news, I made a peach lattice top pie last weekend. It tasted great, but it looked like it was made by a 3rd grader. I've always been too impatient to bother with making food look pretty.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Putting food by, or ; my basement smells like fermented cabbage

Presently, I'm obsessing over food storage and preservation. It's an offshoot of my whole trying-to-eat-locally obsession. And when I obsess, I go all out. In the words of Sylvia Plath:

Food Preservation is an art, like everything else
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

So, yeah. I'm obsessive. I just ordered "Putting Food By" from Amazon (to add to my small - but growing - food preservation library) and when I was at the coast I found and bought a book titled "Preserving Food without Canning of Freezing." I've started making my own vinegar (I have a slimy grey mother floating on the top of a bottle of local organic wine this very second!) and sauerkraut. I've already canned strawberry and marionberry jams, dill pickles and tomatoes. I've got bags of green beans, blueberries, roasted peppers, pastured beef and buffalo in my freezer.

The problem is, I think I may enjoy "putting food by" more than I enjoy the actual foods themselves. An example: sauerkraut. I adore sauerkraut, don't get me wrong. But the process of making real 'kraut is appalling in it's simplicity: You toss shredded cabbage with a few teaspoons of salt, then press it into a non-reactive (preferably ceramic) container for a month or two. The cabbage releases enough liquid to cover - which inhibits the bacterial growth. Lactic acid does it's work, and a few slimy weeks later, voila! you've got kraut.

Kraut is something my German ancestors probably always had on hand, because it stores well, and it tastes good. I know this. But my modern sensibilities still scream at me, every time I want to try a spoonful of homemade sauerkraut: "Ick! Why would you want to eat something that has been rotting on the counter for 2 months!"

So my point is - I have a full crock of kraut and no one to eat it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Whispering Whale

I'm coming to the conclusion that I may not be cut out for this whole "blogging" thing. I like food, and I like writing, but I can't quite get the two things to gel together. But since I'm fully aware of my tendency to give up on pretty much everything after the initial novelty has worn off, this time I'm going to try to fight my "why bother?" mentality and keep on blogging. Yep. I'm taking one for the team. A team I refer to as "Team Blogger."

So - if there is one good reason to visit Newport, Oregon, this would be it:

The Shrimp Sandwich at the Lighthouse Deli. Super yum. The sandwich looks slightly mangled in the picture because I couldn't stop myself from taking a bite before taking a picture. Fresh seafood + mayo + good bread = genius.

And if there is one other reason to visit Newport, it would have to be the Captain's Platter at the Lighthouse Deli:

And even if you are one of those poor, misguided fools who won't eat seafood, you should still visit Newport. Head down to the Bayfront and buy yourself a Pronto Pup - then walk across the street and read about the Whispering Whale, who floats in space over a giant semi-transparent pyramid.