Easy Fermentation With Kraut Source

by Anne Maxfield on August 21, 2017

Accidental Locavore Fermentation Kraut SourceFermentation is a hot topic these days.

Maybe you’ve thought about jumping on the fermentation bandwagon and dismissed it as being too difficult,dangerous, stinky.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried pickles and sauerkraut with various levels of success—sauerkraut usually good, classic fermented pickles more of a crap shoot.

I’d pretty much given up on the pickles until read about Kraut Source, which sounded interesting so in the spirit of experimentation, I ordered one.

It’s a spring-loaded top to fit any sized wide-mouth Ball Jar, with a built in “moat” and a cap. The spring holds the contents of the jar below the liquid level, the cap and moat keeps oxygen out and lets carbon dioxide escape.

Accidental Locavore Fermentation SauerkrautSounds complicated but it’s really, really simple and one of those genius kitchen tools you’ll want to own if you’re fermenting anything.

I’ve made the best pickles and two batches of sauerkraut with it so far and everything has been great!

All you need to do is put some veggies in a Ball jar, add brine, screw on the top, fill the moat about 2/3 of the way up with water and let it ferment until you like the taste of it.

When it’s done, you remove the Kraut Source top, put a regular lid on the jar and pop it in the fridge.

Accidental Locavore Fermentation Sauerkraut PreppedDownsides?

You can only do one jar at a time, unless you buy additional kits. For me, this is a good/bad thing.

Good, because doing one at a time means there aren’t lots of jars of fermented goodies vying for space in my overcrowded, cursed-at refrigerator.

Good, because it’s small batch, so you can experiment and come back to the ones that work.

Bad, since I can’t do more than one at a time, so it takes some of the spontaneity out of it; if there’s something great at the farm, I have to pass on it until the current project is finished. Since it’s been taking about 10-14 days to get the flavor I want, that means the gadget is in use for a couple of weeks.

Accidental Locavore Fermentation Sauerkraut FinishedBut batch 2 of sauerkraut is finished (and going to get mixed into batch 1 which had too much caraway seed) so now I’m going to try some kimchi.

And yes, I could just order another kit…

Speaking of which, if you’re reading this on or before August 22nd, they’re having a 20% off sale.

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Intimidation (or Tabouli for Chefs)

by Anne Maxfield on August 14, 2017

Accidental Locavore Tabouli for ChefsIt’s surprising when people say they’re intimidated to cook for me.

I guess it’s because I’m around food all the time.

What they don’t understand is that a night of not having to think about “what’s for dinner” is generally a good night.

I never much worry about cooking for other people. If they’re friends and something turns out less-than-stellar, there’s always take-out and they’ll forgive me.

This all came to me in the middle of making some tabouli. Chopping the first tomatoes from the farm, it hit me. This batch of tabbouleh was for a meeting of Slow Food Hudson Valley.

There would be chefs there.

Chef-instructors from the Culinary Institute of America.

Accidental Locavore Chef KowalskiFunnily, I wasn’t particularly worried about what they would think of my tabbouleh. It’s not authentic, nor does it want to be. It’s just the way I make it. If you want to join the social media, food-shaming route that says Nigella Lawson’s carbonara isn’t authentic because there is (gasp) cream in it, be my guest.

My tabouli has lots of mint, little, often no parsley. There’s a lot more bulgur than herbs and a big toss of allspice. It’s the way I like it.

Funnily, what I was worried about was the potential scrutiny of my cuts. My knife skills.

Were my tomatoes and onions properly diced? Parsley and mint evenly chopped? No pits from the lemons (my husband’s pet peeve)?

In the midst of thinking about intimidation, what I forgot was the key ingredient.

Confidence.

Confidence that it would taste great and no one would care about anything else.

And then I tasted it.

Ugh!

Accidental Locavore Parsley for TabouliRemembered why I seldom put parsley in it.  Whether you believe it or not, parsley has a distinctive taste. This parsley was straight from the farm where I had picked it an hour earlier. Boy, did it have a taste and it wasn’t good.

Because you can overlook improperly chiffonaded mint, but a bad flavor profile is a whole other thing.

Fast fix…more lemon, more tomato, a little more olive oil and some salt seemed to get it to a better level.

The verdict from the chefs?

“What we really care about is the flavor profile,” and that was fine (if not my best).

So the next time you might be intimidated cooking for someone, remember it’s all about the flavor.

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Cheese Louise: Equal Opportunity Cheese Lovers

by Anne Maxfield on August 7, 2017

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Hard CheesesI love exploring markets and shops wherever I am and, especially, shops with a distinct point of view.

When I first went into Cheese Louise, I wasn’t expecting to find great cheeses in what I thought  was in the middle of nowhere.

Wrong on all counts.

The middle of nowhere turns out to be route 28 which gets about 23,000 cars a day.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Soft CheesesAnd the cheese is wonderful! When asked if she has any preferences to a cheese or region Sam says “As far as being partial to a region or a cheese, I have to say we are equal opportunity cheese lovers. There are so many fabulous cheeses from all over the world, including the United States, that it is impossible to choose. I also find that at times one cheese is ringing my bell for a few months and then it’s another cheese that captures my heart and palate.”

It’s a small store, with goodies tucked in every nook and corner. If want to cook, there are ingredients to make all sorts of dishes and as exotic as you’d like.

If you’d rather go the prepared route, there’s lots to choose from, including my new fave, their smoked trout salad (plated on your own china, no one will be the wiser).

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Prepared FoodsRick and Sam take good care of everyone, and if you’re one of their regulars, will greet you by name and reach for your favorites.

Along with the cheese, which takes up most of the room in three refrigerator cases, there is a nice selection of pâtes and charcuterie. A small selection of local meats (steaks and chops) are also available.

There are plenty of crackers to go with all the cheeses, and baguettes from a local bakery. I discovered Potter’s crackers on a previous visit and now they’ve become a favorite at my house.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Potter's CrackersThe cheese is all in lovely condition and if you tell Rick and Sam when or what you want it for, they’ll steer you in the right direction.

Something I almost always do in any good cheese store is to ask what I shouldn’t leave without. I figure the cheesemongers know what’s particularly good that day and I get a chance to try something new or remember one that might have fallen off my radar. Either way it’s win-win.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise My CheesesThat day Rick gave me Urgelia, a washed rind, cow’s milk cheese from Spain. I grabbed that and a new-to-me wheel of a triple crémé, Petit Exquis D’Argental, my crackers and a few other goodies, went home and had a feast!

Now that I know it’s only a short hop across the Kingston bridge, I’ll be a much more frequent customer!

 

 

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Panera

by Anne Maxfield on July 31, 2017

My Panera PaniniWhat is it about Panera?
If you think you’re going for good food–fuggedaboutit!
Ditto an Internet connection.
Seriously, why does anyone eat at Panera?
The food is terrible.
The service is thoughtless.
It’s drab, if not dirty.
And the promised wifi is more of a concept than a reality.
Could I be the only person in America that’s never had a good experience at Panera?
The first time we went, it was in Connecticut for breakfast. I don’t even remember what I had, but Frank ordered a bagel with lox and cream cheese and got something that was unlike any bagel he’d ever seen (and not in a good way).
More recently, I met my partner in HudsonValleyEATS.com in the one in Poughkeepsie near Adams. There were three people standing behind the counter. One man helping a customer, the other two chatting.
I waited.
When the man was finished, I went up and asked for an iced tea. “$2.91.” I handed him the money, he handed me an empty plastic cup.
“It’s down on the end.”
“Nice profit margin.”
Took a walk down to the end, found the iced tea, ice, lemon and sugar. Grabbed a lid and a straw, did all the work. Took a sip.
Not happy.

Yesterday, I got suckered into another Panera rendezvous, this time at a different Poughkeepsie location.
The place is crowded and none of the vacant tables have been wiped down. Ugh.
Grab some napkins, wipe down a table, get in line to order food (none of which sounded appealing, but I’m really hungry).
The guy behind the register has to look up the Frontega Chicken panini I asked about.
Smoked chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, onions, chipotle mayo, basil. This is from the photo on Panera’s site:
Sounded about as interesting as the others so I ordered it, “no onions,” and a cup for a drink (see, I’m learning).
The top photo is what I got.
A mud-grey plastic plate with cheese glued to a piece of corrugated paper, LOTS of onions and a couple pallid bits of chicken.
There were black stripes on the bread to make it look like it had been put in a panini press, but the corrugated paper made me think the panini press was more like a microwave…
Because I was hungry, I ate the half-sandwich, hating myself for putting this absolute junk in my mouth.
And the so-called wifi? The whole time I was trying to eat the sandwich, we could not pull up a single page from the web.
We left totally disgusted. The place was dirty. The food was inedible but I was starving. The iced tea once again needed a return trip for more ice, but I just dumped it.
Never again!
“Food as it should be.”
Please, let’s hope not!
If you are a Panera fan, please tell me what it is that you like about it. It won’t bring me back, but I am really curious.
Update: Found this in my bag afterwards:
Accidental Locavore Panera Check So sad that I missed my free treat…

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