Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Five for the New Year

Ilva at Lucullian Delights dreamed up a super dare: Come up with five challenges; dishes you may have previously tried and messed up horribly but now want to rectify, or dishes you’ve always wanted to attempt but have chickened out.
Of course, my first challenge would be to get the entire unitary executive gang out of Washington… Well, you do what you can. I’m working on it.
For now, though, here are some kitchen strategeries I’d like to master.

1. Something fermented. I tried homemade sauerkraut a few years (oh gosh, could it have been 10 years already?), when I first laid eyes on a new cooking magazine called Saveur. It came out mushy and stinky, so something clearly went wrong. Now I have a dandy little book called Wild Fermentation, full of ideas for not only sauerkraut, but also kimchi, bread (yuh), pickles and so much more. Maybe even tofu, as McAuliflower is daring herself to do. I’m also going to get started on something (secret) to set aside for the upcoming Eat Local Challenge, in May.
2. Ricotta cheese, and/or mozzarella cheese. I feel confident enough to take on the ricotta, but I’m still a little afraid of mozzarella, mainly because of precise temperature considerations and stuff. If any of you have tackled this, let me know.
3. Something from Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. I’m most interested in the jellied tripe, but Cranky’s resisting. Maybe I’ll sneak it on him. (How do you sneak jellied tripe on anyone?!)
4. Makin’ bacon. Chilebrown (no blog, alas) has done it, and so has Jamie at 10 Signs Like This. I just learned from Sam at Becks & Posh that it’s relatively easy to buy pork belly, and Jamie’s cure recipe sounds really easy.
5. Oh. The secret thing. (See number 1 above.) Yeah, well, I want to attempt a homemade soy sauce, made with strictly local ingredients. I guess I’m allowed to use fish or shrimp, but I’m really thinking more along the lines of fermented walnuts. I have no idea how to go about this, but during last August’s Eat Local Challenge, I fell off the wagon because I was craving Asian flavors.
6. BONUS! I’m determined to harvest local salt from the Pacific Ocean. Again, Cranky’s resisting. But I’m determined.
OK, tag yourself if you haven’t already participated.


Ilva said...

well i will certainly drop by and check this out! And about the tripe, share it with Marco (my husband) because I have qualms about making it...maybe next year...

ZaZa said...

We'll have to have a Mozzarella-off. At least you and Sam and I have it on our lists.

Passionate Eater said...

Wow, you're an ambitious lady Ms. Cookie Crumb! I am also amazed that you have already made your own cheese and sauerkraut! You gotta make those items in the basement though, because "when the kraut starts to ferment, out comes a putrid scent!" ... And you don't want that contaminating other, more pleasant smelling foods.

I'd like to try brining my own olives. I've never tried doing that before, but for the New Year, it sounds like a good resolution to keep.

Also, thanks for the "Dine About Town" publicity for my blog. That is awfully kind of you. :)

plentyo'moxie said...

wait a minute - Eat Local Challenge is in May? Nooooo.:( I am working hard to make it a real life event outside the blogosphere here in my little New England town, and May will never work for us. Of course, I know we/I can just do whatever, but it was nice to all be doing it together in August, and have it be sort of national.

plentyo'moxie said...

Oh wait, sorry about that whining thing - I just realized maybe you attend monthly eat local fun feasts with the Locavores? sorry, sorry.

mae said...

Very interesting indeed...

soy sauce
If you find out how to do this, email me please.

homemade salt
wow, i didn't know this about you. hmmm, i wonder if Jersey sea water is safe to make salt with? i look forward to your post on this and the one above.

I've had tripe before and liked it. It was in a stew. I'm not keen on the jellied tripe idea.

Kevin said...


It seems to be the year for making mozarella. I want to try as does Sam and B'gina. Perhaps we should pick a week and all try it, exhanging tips and recipes.

cookiecrumb said...

OK, Ilva's watching! I'll have to accomplish at least *something* now! :D
Even scarier, b'gina and Kevin are daring me on the mozzarella thing. Why did I open my big mouth?
PE: Did you know I brined olives last month? It's really easy. You just need to get the olives from somewhere.
Plentyo'moxie: (Oh what a cool name). Afraid the Eat Local Challenge *is* in May this year. You better start thinking!
Mae: It's crazy, but I think I'm going to try something with the walnuts real soon.

plentyo'moxie said...

Oh bummer (re ELC in May v. August). I might have to just do my own thing out here.

Any info on the reason? I guess in San Fran it's not as big a deal, but I'm envisioning taking this to the people, and in New England May would be too hard for most - August is hard enough as it is, but at least there's tomatoes.

And in regards to mozz and ricotta - I did ricotta for this past year's ELC, easy as pie. Then I ordered a cheese making kit for mozz from these fun people:
but haven't given it a go yet. They have recipes and instructions there. I have reports from dear friends that it is wicked easy.

cookiecrumb said...

Moxie: Go visit They are a Bay Area group, so I can understand your qualms about early spring foraging in New England. In fact, I can't even find the May announcement on their site, but it came to me in an e-mail.
(It is wicked fun, though, eh?)
Yeah, I know about Been lurking there, deciding how deeply I want to plunge. Thanks for the encouragement.

Jocelyn:McAuliflower said...

what a wonderful ambitious listing you have!

I was just watching the Travel Channel and they had a show preview regarding learning how to harvest salt. It got me to thinking of the movie Ghandi and his scene harvesting salt. I don't trust our coastal communities enough to harvest salt from the shore. Maybe, from a couple miles off shore...?

I always thought persimmon pickles could be interesting ;)

cookiecrumb said...

Hi Mac: Well, you're quite the inspiration, with your plans to tackle tofu.
Guess I'll have to look at the Travel Channel listings; the only thing I know to do with sea water is boil it. I may have to strain it through cheesecloth first, if the water is roiling and sandy. Good Idea: Do the boiling at the shore. Then you don't have to lug home jugs of water. I think the boiling should probably kill off unwanted organisms, if you don't catch plague from wading in the stuff.