On microbes (our friends)

I’ve got my 25th high school reunion coming up soon. It freaks me out a bit that I could be that old, because, believe me, mentally and physically I still think I am 17. Anyway, the class secretary sent around a questionnaire filled with deep queries like “have you achieved your dreams?” Well, when I was 17 there was NO WAY I would think I would aspire to be a farm wife. Yet, here I am.

I have kimchi bubbling away on the kitchen counter right now. I am capturing another sourdough starter as my last one faded. I am researching and watching the progress on our grapes because this year is the year of verjus, vinegar and wine. I am embracing those unseen critters whose existence and steady reproduction make a lot of what makes us healthy and happy. I want to be a microbe farmer!

I didn’t put that on the questionnaire though.

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10 responses to “On microbes (our friends)

  1. Hi El:
    That kimchee looks yummy. I’d love the recipe, if you’re sharing.

    Your site is beautiful and informative.

    We’re growing food in Chicago on our roofs at: http://greenroofgrowers.blogspot.com/

    Come visit us too.
    All best,
    H2

  2. Here’s a book I just got (http://www.wildfermentation.com/books_wildfermentation.php). Wild fermentation sounds even more interesting. I too love microbes and hope to put them to work.

  3. Good luck at your 25th. My 30th is next year. The 25th seemed vastly different than the 10th. The snobs were finally leveled and not so pretty, the jocks were bald and fat and those deemed “unworthy” were beautiful (still). The 25th is the defining moment when everyone realizes they are equal. No more bragging, no popular versus unpopular. It’s all gone.

    I was on the bizarre side so I didn’t care.

    Still love your site! I made homemade pesto today without burning down the house!

  4. El, I’m going to be making kimchi with my elementary school classes this fall. Can’t wait

  5. Man, your greenhouse looks awesome! I am in the r&r stage of planning a greenhouse for the fall. Any suggestions on material (pvc vs. metal), size, resources for info, etc??? thanks. I want to be a microbe farmer too.

  6. Hi H2: Thank you. I think what you guys are up to is really flipping cool. A little science class on your rooftops! I am also glad to see you are likewise seeing what you can do with stuff you find at a hardware store. Rooftop food for the masses must come cheap and readily available, you know. The kimchi will turn out differently every time, such is the happy chemistry of microbes and veg ripeness. This is a great site to see what the usual process is (plus recipes), and you might be a lot closer to Korean stores than I am…I seem to remember a huge stretch of Korean stores on Lawrence, west of Western. Anyway, I used what I had available, which is very much in the tradition of kimchi.

    Eva, that’s on my list. I have bumped into that author in other guises and many people mention this one particular book so I guess I better get to the bookstore! Thank you.

    Linda, I went to my 10th and skipped my 20th as it coincided with our first anniversary: didn’t feel like putting the poor bloke through that! And lucky for him he’s out of town for this one. Our class was tiny (68 souls) and I have had contact with nobody. It should be an interesting evening, as I am at least living 50 miles from the scene of the crime now and have the off chance of actually crossing paths with some of these people now. Hmm. Anyway, I am glad to learn about your pesto! One of my favorite things.

    Ed, perfect. Absolutely perfect for that ageset: chopping, and stinky stuff! Have fun with them. You should do pickles too now that you are such an expert.

    Hi Molly. Wow, so many folks ask me this, I should put a category up at the top saying “greenhouse.” Not that I don’t mind answering, it’s just I know some people are chicken to ask! Anyway, it depends on your budget and your property. We aren’t planning on moving and we get a lot of snow so I went with a commercial type produced for heavy farm production, just smaller. I got a kit (hoops, plastic, roll-up side) from Growers Solution, and if I include lumber and shipping it was about $1000. There are a lot of wonderful folks who are making hoops out of PVC conduit or pipe and rebar spikes with lots of stuff they can get at the local big-box home desecration store. Google “PVC hoop house” and you will find a lot of information, if you are at all DIY. You could still get the plastic from a place like where I got my kit then, as well as row cover fabric (Reemay) which is just as important as the greenhouse in terms of temperature regulation. I used 6 year plastic on the greenhouse. Ours is 16′ wide by 20′ long by almost 9′ at the center, and I don’t bang my head at the sides. If you plan it well, a greenhouse of that size can keep a family of 4 in salads most of the winter. Our 2nd greenhouse (because i am a selfish greens pig) will be 16’wx30’l.

  7. Where did you graduate from? I went to Berrien Springs HS. Our 30th is in September. Living so far away, I’ve never made it to any of our reunions. Our 25th was at a steakhouse downtown. I am in contact with all my old HS buds, all one of them. lol I don’t think I’m missing much.

  8. Hah, Jules, that’s one more than me! I’ll just say it was a small high school in Indiana. It will be a small reunion too but that is just fine. I even got the list of who’ll be there and it didn’t spook me so it should be fun. Are you going to come up here for this one? You might get to drink some new wine by your brother in September.

  9. Will you post your kimchi recipe please? It looks great!

    Thanks!

  10. Hi Jessica. I guess it’s a recipe. I cobbled a few recipes together and just tasted it until I thought it tasted pretty good. I started with one of my savoy cabbages, which I chopped and salted heavily and set aside. I shredded or chopped 2 carrots, 3 celery stalks plus leaves, three shallots plus greens, and one Hungarian pepper, and mixed it all together. I let this sit covered with a dishtowel overnight. The next day, I mixed up 3 minced garlic cloves, some minced ginger and crumbled up one dried hot pepper with some honey and a bit of water, and tossed it in. I tasted it that afternoon, then adjusted things as I saw fit, including adding a tiny bit of white wine vinegar. I kept tasting and adjusting over the next three days, then after I totally disgusted my husband with its smell, I put it in quart jars and stashed it in the fridge. I am giving away one of the quarts to a friend, because I cannot eat two whole quart before it really goes over into microbe land. Sorry that’s not more specific. It’s kind of a what’s-on-hand recipe.

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