After salt rising bread, corn cob jelly was the next experiment. Three lovely jars sit on the shelf, waiting for winter toast. Sometimes success can go to one’s head and the notion that more food adventures will come just as easily to fruition takes over common sense.
Nine years ago we attempted to grow morel mushrooms out back. We followed the kit’s instructions to what we thought was a reasonable degree. I confess it did call for digging in kitchen compost on an almost daily basis and we slacked off after the fourth day of saving food scrapes and coffee grounds, only to have neighbor cats dig it up at night.
Earlier in October, a gift of a Back To The Roots Oyster mushroom kit was an obvious upgrade. All we had to do was cut open the plastic sleeve, soak the growing block for eight hours and set it up to take in light and air and voila! Mushrooms in about ten days. After that many days a tiny, tiny, little worm made an appearance. Nothing in the instructions or on the website mentioned living, crawling creatures, although they are natural in the outdoor setting, so we emailed the company for help. Who knew, maybe the worm ate the mushrooms.
After explaining about how the kit might have been on the store shelf too long, Emily, the Community Happyness Guru (what we used to call a Customer Rep) gave us the go-ahead to throw the kit out or put it in the compost. She readily indicated a fresh replacement kit was on its way.
They were true to their word, the kit being shipped priority. The second one soaked and setting in the light of day produced mushrooms in ten days. Lovely, velvety oyster mushrooms. And all the while, kit number one was deciding it too would grow mushrooms. After twenty-one days its bag and box were crowded with mushrooms. So success was again taking its turn in the Moore kitchen.
Apparently that is a goal of the company called Back To The Roots, based in Oakland, CA. Started by two young men, Alejandro and Nikhil, fresh out of college, they turned down corporate job offers to farm mushrooms. Urban farming on a very small scale, but in time their business became a passion to reconnect families with food where it comes from. They now have a number of ready to grow foods plus ready to eat products. The biggest success is their ability to connect with classrooms across the country, drawing on student’s curiosity and providing the kits needed to teach science, growing fresh food and healthy eating. As their website states: “We believe in a future where all food comes from the kitchen, not a lab. ... we work to Undo Food and connect back to where it comes from.”
One of our favorite ways to connect back to where food comes from is visiting local farmers markets. For twenty-one weeks this summer we enjoyed reporting on the Enon farmers market. We were able to avail ourselves of all manner of fresh vegetables. Some were new for us such as the gray griller summer squash, the sweet dumpling winter squash and kale. Others were old-fashioned tried and true standbys such as yellow pear tomatoes, bi-color sweet corn, beets, blue lake green beans and spaghetti squash. Market closed the last week of October and with it came sweet heads of cabbage to make sauerkraut.
Hence, our latest experiment. My parents made sauerkraut by the ten gallon crock. I can remember it sitting in the basement, working away, a sour yet tantalizing smell across the top where a plate and a brick kept it all under salted water. It worked until Mom deemed it ready for canning. We always begged to eat some of the fresh, raw fermented mass of green.
Today our sights are much smaller when it comes to amounts of food stored or eaten so we had to find a way to make one head of cabbage into the kraut. As usual, Google provided a number of recipes. We used a couple as guidelines and now have three pints of sauerkraut waiting for winter meals of pork ribs and kraut. Dad always wanted mashed potatoes with his pork/kraut meals so we’ll go with that too. He used a pork roast but we like the spareribs better.
Pork Spareribs with Kraut
- 6 lbs. spareribs
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh or canned sauerkraut
- Caraway seeds, optional
Sweet Sauerkraut w/ Spareribs
- 1 quart sauerkraut
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4-6 pounds pork spareribs
- ½ cup water
- Lightly grease a large baking dish.