I walked with my daughter after dinner earlier this evening and we turned back because the rain started falling hard and we didn’t feel like getting wet, even though it was an April shower rather than cold March sleet. Yesterday we celebrated Easter, and with everyone home for the past month it was nice to break out the good china for dinner. A few weeks ago I decided to get a lot of starts going for my garden, including herbs like parsley and holy basil, which are slow to germinate and sometimes forgotten until it’s too late to plant them. Being home all the time, it’s easy to make sure they stay sufficiently moist and warm and it’s nice to see that everything is coming along fine. Because the ground is still quite soggy I also started beets and mustard greens in flats, which I usually direct seed. One of the reasons I like starting spring plants like beets indoors is that when I transplant them I can ensure that there’s some regularity to the spacing, which doesn’t always happen when I start them in the ground. It often rains while the seeds are still germinating, and half the seeds end up pooling in a six inch square space while the rest of the row is staggered with one plant every foot or two.
I’ve been happy to read that yeast is in such demand these days that it is selling out in stores around the country, and when I look at our own kitchen I’m not surprised. My youngest daughter loves to bake and it seems like she’s in the kitchen most nights after dinner, wondering what she can make. Sourdough breads are experiencing a home renaissance, too, and as a dedicated sourdough baker I am so happy that people everywhere are beginning to taste how good a loaf of home baked sourdough is, and that yeast shortages aren’t a cause for concern! Hopefully it’s more than a Covid fad and more people begin to bake their bread regularly. I have never been exact with timing or measurements when I make bread and as a result I’ve had my fair share of loaves that have failed to some degree, but I’m okay with that because I bake through the ups and downs of work and parenting and schedules that pull me from the kitchen, and my indifference to most schedules and rules for kneading and rising has shown me that dough has a very wide range of tolerances. The gold standard for a good sourdough loaf these days seems to be those big-holed, high hydration loaves that taste great and look beautiful on social media, but in my many years of baking I’ve never aimed for them. Maybe I don’t have the patience for weighing my water or taking notes, but I also like a more uniform crumb so when I make sandwiches the butter and honey and mustard and melted cheese doesn’t fall through the holes. Pragmatic failure, perhaps.
After St. Patrick’s Day my son and I made a big batch of sauerkraut and this weekend, a month since it began percolating on the kitchen counter, I put a half gallon or so into a smaller container in the fridge, and put the remainder into a cool, dark corner in the garage. With a diagnosis earlier this year of high blood pressure, I have significantly reduced my salt intake, much of which comes from fermented foods, and this batch of kraut is the first since I’ve started taking medication, so in response to it I’m rinsing all the kraut off before I eat it; I think a significant amount of the salt remains in the brine I dredge the sauerkraut from, and by further rinsing it I hope that my blood pressure remains in a healthy range. If not, it may be the end of fermented foods for me, which would be sad because I have a big crock of Korean doenjang fermenting for more than a year on the back porch, and an even larger crock of gochujang right next to it.
We go through phases of eating certain things and when my wife recently found an old pack of sprouting seeds I began watering them, and am happy to see that long-expired seed still has good viability. The sprouts will be ready in another day or two and after a few batches we’ll get sick of eating them and won’t make another batch for a year or two. As long as we don’t lose the strainer lid, we’re good to go whenever the mood strikes us. Eat well, stay well!
birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...