Thursday, August 13, 2015

In the kitchen

...fermenting vegetables 

I've been making saurkraut for a while, but have really been wanting to make a mixed vegetable fermentation, but kept thinking.......oh too hard, don't have the proper jars etc.  I went to a workshop a few months back, where I watched and learned but still didn't take the plunge, just continued with the cabbage on it's own......and then the Farmer's Market at Blue Knob, a hamlet about half an hour south of here, had a Fermentation Festival, where I tasted the most divine mixed vegetable kraut imaginable.  It was made by a local woman who casually chopped and broke up a mix of vegetables, eyeballed the brine mix and stuffed it all in jars, talking and answering questions and telling anecdotes about her failures and successes, all at the same time.

Part of the crowd enjoying the various fermentation talks
This young Vietnamese woman gave a great demonstration of how to make miso paste, a very time intensive process. 
snapshots of Blue Knob Farmer's Market

So I thought...I can do that!  but still didn't quite get around to know how it is, other things to do that take priority, oh and there was that fall I had off the ladder...painful to stand chopping vegetables......until today!  I've done it.
Lovely jewels

It was the local Farmer's Market yesterday, so off I went with my shopping list of veggies I wanted for my kraut, and came home with this bounty. It's all organic except for the cauliflower and cabbage, and they're no-spray.  All are grown within 20 kms of town, picked the afternoon before and brought to the market nice and early. 

I spent this morning washing and chopping, and I took some pics as I went along to show you how I did it, in case anyone else is thinking they just have to make vegetable kraut. Cabbage first, as it needed to be salted and massaged, this softens it, and releases a lot of the water, which is added to the jars later.  Blurry pic, sorry, but cabbage is cabbage.

A mix of vegetables chopped and ready to be loaded into jars and the brine added...........

Here I have cauliflower, which I broke into medium size pieces, carrots, quartered longways and chopped, zucchini, the same, there are beans and broccoli from a friend's garden, including the broccoli stems.  I added 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and a chunk of ginger, chopped roughly......these are both organic from the Farmer's Market..... and a half a home-grown chilli.  I could've added dill, peppercorns, cloves  or other spices of my choosing, but since I didn''t have any, I just used what I had to hand.

For my brine, I used 2 cups of filtered water .....not tap water, you don't want chlorine and other chemicals in your yummy vegetables.....and a tablespoon and half of coarse sea salt.  It must be sea salt, not iodized kitchen salt, as the iodine prevents fermentation and can make your kraut taste pretty awful. You can adjust the amount of salt to your preferred taste, using between 1 and 1 and a half tablespoons of salt...after trial and error with the cabbage I found this suits me...I'll see how it goes with the mixed vegetables and adjust next time if it doesn't suit.....some recipes suggest 2 tablespoons, but I found this too salty for me.

So then I spooned all the vegetables into jars that I'd washed and sterilised in the oven, and to one, I added some pieces of chopped turmeric, fresh from a friend's garden, just to see if I like it.  I know turmeric's good for us, but it doesn't mean it's going to make my kraut taste good.  I pushed the vegetables down to get rid of air bubbles, then poured the brine over, leaving a couple of inches space at the top for expansion.  Pushing it all down again, I put a cabbage leaf on top, pushing again, so the vegetables stayed under the brine.  The leaf acts as a weight to keep the vegetables under the brine.

I did a bit of research before making my kraut, just to see what sort of vegetables fermented well, and what to leave alone and some of the sites and blogs I looked at suggested using kraut-crocks...fancy ceramic pots with special weights to hold the vegetables down.....I priced these and at $70 + each, plus postage, I decided to give them a miss, and instead bought these 3 wide mouth jars at the cheap shop for $2.99 each, and the taller one I'd bought kraut in the previous week at the Whole Foods Store, so cleaned it up, and reused it. Costwise, that tall jar cost me $14 ..... the produce from the Farmer's Market was $18, but not all of that went into the kraut, as I bought eggplant, potatoes and avocados as well, and don't have a breakdown of individual items, but still excellent value I think.....the small jars filled weigh 1100gms and the tall recycled one holds just under that. Without being too precise, 4 jars for around the price of one.....not bad, since I eat this with every meal.  I haven't talked about the health benefits, but it's enough for me to know it's good for me, but there's lots of information out there if you'd like to know more, just google fermented food.  Here's a couple of my favourite places to get you started -

I'll now leave the jars on the kitchen bench, out of direct sunlight, and in a couple of days, will "burp" them, to let excess gases escape.  Then by day 4 or 5 I can have a taste and if it's to my liking, it can go in the fridge and I can start eating it, but if I want a stronger flavour, I'll leave it out longer, tasting daily until it's just right.  I can't wait!

And all those trimmings off the vegetables...the chooks enjoyed those.

till next time.........

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Extreme Sports Quilt and needle holes in my fingers

...... a finish

It's been a lovely week, bright early mornings with golden pink sunrises, followed by warm sunny days that quickly burn off the frosts, then crisp, cold nights.  It's been a week of stitching and friends and then back to the much so, I have needle holes in my finger tips. I had to finish the Extreme Sports quilt by today, it had to be ready to go to Adelaide with the granny of the 4 yr old birthday boy. And I did it...a few late nights and oh yes, those needle holes from stitching down the binding .....yes, I know about thimbles but find them awkward to use.

There's a back story to the Extreme Sports fabric.  I bought it to make my grandson a quilt, back when I'd never made a quilt before.  Probably why it never got made, I really had no idea what to do with all those different coloured squares. That grandson is now a 21 year old and a dad to his own little one....a wee girl, and when offered, he politely refused an Extreme Sport quilt for his little princess, and thought he was too grown up now for a kid's quilt...fair enough.

So when I came across that 20 year old fabric in a tidy-up, I knew it was time, and had just the recipient....a friend's grandson with a birthday coming up, and as she was travelling south for it, no postage required. And I had more of an idea what to do with those odd squares now, or more confident anyway about "trying something/anything".

As red and blue were most predominant in each square, I used both these colours to frame and sash - first a small border in solid blue, then the rows sashed in a subtle red check, with cornerstones for interest.  The finished quilt measured 46 x 66, is backed with a lovely soft thrifted cotton sheet in blue checks, and I chose a  black and white check to bind it, echoing the iconic chequered flag of motor racing. With it's bamboo/ cotton mix batting, and  minimal grid quilting, it's a soft and cuddly, snuggle -in -to - watch - tv, kid friendly quilt.  I think Lucas will like it, yes definitely.

Now that Extreme Sports is done and gone, next on my to-do list is to catch up with the rainbow scrap challenge at  I remember organising my green scraps for June I think, and that was as far as I got.  So scrappy blocks and  finishing my August  F2F blocks for Susan is on the agenda for tomorrow, along with some time in the garden.

so till next time....

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Putting my foot in it

.... this  block swap party, that is

I mentioned in my last post here about working on my blocks for F2F block swap, the brain-child of  Kate and Sue.  It works like this - there are 12 of us worldwide participating, and each month we make 3 blocks for The Chosen One....Kate had already drawn our names and assigned us a month.....the blocks have to be 12x12 foot square and any design we like - the Freestyle part.  We all chose our colour schemes....everyone has chosen wonderful colours.... and each month someone receives 33 exciting squishy parcels in the mail.  We  make 3 for ourselves, and end up with 36 big blocks....instant quilt!  I have to wait until March next year for mine, but in the meantime, it's been exciting deciding on what blocks to make... lots of hanging out on Pinterest....and seeing everyone else's marvellous creations.

Esther from was June's chosen one, and her colours were minty jadeite-blue-green/coral and mustard with a white, cream or light grey background. These are the blocks I made her.

and onto July....I was late sending these, so my apologies to Annett, July was an awfully busy month, throw in a few sick days, and the schedule went right out the window. *Spoiler Alert * for Annett, if you're reading, if you want to be surprised when your parcel arrives, you might want to look away now.  

Annett blogs at  and was July's Chosen One.  Her colour choices were shades of orange/green/blue and a white background.  Here's the blocks I made...

I sent this extra block to Annett, it turned out too small and I thought since it's her colours, she might be able to use it with a border around, or as a cushion.  It's a disappearing 9 patch, a block I particularly like, and I actually made it twice !  I thought the first time I'd made a mistake with the cutting, but when the second one turned out the same, and I knew I'd been extra careful with my measuring, I turned to Mr Google for answers. Seems this block can't be made 12 inches, something to do with it being too difficult to cut the fractions of inches needed to make the original 9 - patch. So it was abandoned and I learnt something.

Up for August is Sue at and her colour choices are any combination of red, white and blue, and I've already made a start on these, don't want to be late again! If you'd like to see everyone else's blocks, go here to Kate's F2F page, and scroll down to the impressive array of blocks and all amazingly different.

I have this " extreme sports" quilt on the pinning table, it's for a little boy's birthday that's looming closer, so I'd better get back to it.....

.....till next time