Late summer

Late summer is both so beautiful and melancholic. We know things are coming to an end. The temporality of things makes us thankful for what is, but unsure about what will come. Nature changes. Autumn colours start to appear, bathing in late summer sunlight. Nature is generous in late summer. It gives us the last berries and tomatoes of the year (which are also berries actually) while at the same time the first autmn ingredients like figs, grapes, pumpkins pop up. Temporary abundance.

For this late summer dish, I used local radicchio. Grilling it takes some of the bitterness away.
Red grapes have the same beautiful purple colour and are sweet & crunchy 💜
I made a pesto with fresh carrot greens. Making pesto is a good way to create the most value of food sources we don’t identify as ingredients like carrot or radish greens 🥕🥕 The pesto is made with pumpkin seeds & pumpkin seed miso from @fermentationculture.eu
Adding miso gives another dimension to what you knew to be pesto 💥
Toasted buckwheat as a topping. Did you know buckwheat is not a wheat, but is related to sorrel, knotweed & rhubarb?
#fermentation #seasonal #local #latesummer #september #nofoodwast #localfood #plantbased #miso #homemade

Pulque, the magical Mexican drink

Prehispanic drink
Pulque is an ancient fermented Mexican drink that was already consumed by Aztecs (1200-1521) and even before. It probably goes back to the Toltec civilisation (990-1042). In those times, pulque was considered a sacred drink with medicinal uses.

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Maguey agave next to a batch of pulque and Mayahuel, the goddess of the maguey.

Pulque is made by fermenting the nectar of the maguey agave, also called aguamiel. Maguey agaves grow in the dry ereas of Mexico (so in many places in Mexico, but mostly in the centre of the country). The plants need to grow about 10 years before they’re mature to be used for pulque production. Maguey agaves can grow very big and produce gigantic flowers on a stem, a couple of meters above the ground (picture 1).

Picture 1: Flowering agaves in morning light in Perote, Vera Cruz, México (c).

Fermented drink
To harvest pulque, the core of the plant is removed and frequently scraped with a sharp blade (picture 2 & 3). In the core, the aguamiel accumulates that can be harvested up to 2 times a day. When the aguamiel is fermented, it transforms into pulque. This is a spontanous fermentation process, carried out by bacteria that are naturaly present on the plant. Some of prevous batch of pulque is usually addded to kick-start the fermentation process. Pulque contains alive bacteria, polysaccharides and phytochemicals (1), making the drink pre- and probiotic. Despite these healthy characteristics, pulque contains about 6% of alcohol and therefore should be consumed in moderation. Pulque is looks milky and has a viscous texture. The quality of the pulque mainly depends in the initial quality of aguamiel and fermentation conditions (time, temperature, humidity…). It’s a continous fermentation. This means pulque is not stable to store for a long time or to transport. Therfore, it need to be quickly consumed when ready. Making pulque is a long, complex and delicate process that is still mostly crafted on a small scale in Mexico.

Pulque was once widespread, but its consumption decreased after the introduction of the “more modern” beer brewing process. These days, pulque is regaining popularity. It can be dronken natural, but often flavours are added.

Picture 2: Maguey agave with its core removed (c).
Picture 3: The agave is scaped to be able to harvest its juice (c).

Biodiversity, craft and culture are threatened
Because harvesting aguamiel takes away the plant’s own resources, maguey agaves used for pulque only live about 4 months. The rate of consumption is higher than the speed in which the agaves are planted and grown. On top of that, premature harvest of aguamiel and artificially speeding up the fermentation process affect the quality significantly. Land management therefore is very important to not loose this beverage and tradition. But often, pulque harvesters don’t own the land and can’t afford the investment of buying new plants. The people who gard this age-old tradition often even have difficulty making a proper living.

Pulque harvester Omar (3th from the right) and his son (2th from the right) showed us the harvest of aguamiel (c).

Altogheter, current practises seem environmentally and economically unsustainable. Mexico stands on the edge of loosing an iconic beverage that forms an important part of its prehispanic food culture.

Scientific reference:
(1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/pulque

Ideology

My ideology; live with the season, get inspired by the land, preserve to extend. See the colours & shapes, feel the textures, smell whatever you can. Feed your inner person. Be aware of health.

La imagen puede contener: comida

Salad with whole grain oats, shaved fennel + tops from my parents garden #gardening #nofoodwaste
Lacto-fermented white asparagus & elderflower + juice 💥 #fermentation
Apricots 🍑 & marjoram flowers 🌼 #seasonal
Simple seasoned with salt, pepper, @the_food_hub_ olive oil. Because the flavours speak for themselves 🍽
All ingredients locally sourced @boerenenburen @content_leuven #local

#ideology #preserve #inspiration #passion #simple #slowfood #wholefood #vegan #plantbased #seasonal #local #korteketen #sustainable #health #guthealth #lactofermentation

kimchi

These iconic fermented vegetables are not far away from any Korean breakfast, luch and dinner. Most people know kimchi as spicy fermented cabbage, but kimchi goes beyond cabbage. It’s is a way of preserving food rather than the food itself. There are hundereds of variations of kimchi. Shorter and longer fermented, with different spices. The red chili that is found these days in most kimchi was only introduced in the 17th Century, by Spanish who brought it from the Americas. Since then it is inextricably linked with kimchi. There is debate about the extact origin of kimchi. But sure is, kimchi was a way to extend the Korean harvest season and assure proper vitamin intake during winter months.

What can you kimchify? Chinese and other type of cabbages (try Brussels sprouts!). Raddishes are also fruequently used in kimchi. There are also variantions with cucumber. Overall, firm vegetables are great for kimchi, but basiccally you can go as far as your imagination reaches. Kimchi is a wild fermentation. This means that the mix of bacteria on the outside of the vegetables will start the fermentation process. Therefore, make sure your vegetables donnot contain chemicals. Choose organic if possible.

How to eat kimchi? Use kimchi to spice up your regular sauerkraut on your hot dog, tostis with melted cheese and kimchi is my personal favourite. But alsokimchi in dumplings and bao buns, in ramen, soups, rice dishes, kimchi buchimgue (savoury pancakes) or as a side on your next (Korean) BBQ. Kimchi is versatile.

Make your own

Traditionally a paste is made containing garlic, ginger, red chili pepper, salted seafood like salted shrimps or fish sauce, Korean pear, kelp broth, glutenious rice powder… The recipe can vary widely and every Korean household has their own tweaks and favourits.

I like to keep it simple and add sliced or crushed garlic, ginger, chili, spring onions and kimchi paste (found in Asian supermarkets). I like to add fruits (especially apples or pears). They counterbalance the spiciness and give the bacteria a good kick-start. Also miso, soy or fish sauce are nice additions that will give a lot of umami flavour to your kimchi.

To make your own easy vegan kimchi you need:

  • 1 (Chinese) cabbage
  • 3 large scallions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 (or more) Spanish red chilis or 1 tbsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 apple
  • non-iodised salt (2 % of the wheight of the ingredients)
  • 1 tbsp kimchi paste from the Asian store
  • 1 tbsp of miso or soy sauce
  • large mixing bowl
  • 1 clean glass jar of 1 L for fermenting
  • 1 plastic zip-lock bag or 1 large cabbage leaf to seal the jar.

Slice the fruit thinly. If you use cabbage, cut it longitudinal in 4 to 8 pieces.

Wheigh the cutted fruits, vegetables, garlic, ginger and fresh chili. Calculate 2% of their wheight. This is the amount of salt you need to make your kimchi.

Chop thinly and mix in a food processor or crush in a mortar the garlic, ginger, chili, scallions, kimchi paste, soy sauce / miso and salt. Add a bit of water if necessary.

Rub the spice mixture into the cabbage leaves and add the apple slices. Mix all very well. Use your hands. Let sit for 30 min. Then, put everything in the glass jar. Work from the edges to the inside. Pack everything very tightly to avoid oxygen inbetween the vegetables. The cabbage needs to be submerges in its own water. If not add extra water but don’t forget to also add extra salt to keep the salt percentage 2%. Put a water filled plastic bag ontop of the kimchi to submerge the vegetables. Alternatively, use a big cabbage leaf. Let the kimchi ferment for a couple of days upto months.

When opened, keep the kimchi in the fridge. It will stay good for months when kept in the fridge. Kimchi will still develop further in the fridge. The longer you keep it, the more sour it will become overtime.

You can find a detailed classic Korean kimchi recipe here.

Eat and embrace the foreign

Throughout history, unlike other countries , México has been open to embrace people & elements of other countries & cultures. That’s certainly also the case if you look at food. Mexican cuisine is dynamic and has incorporated many foreign ingredients & influences over the last centuries (like Libanese, Chinese, Spanish, German, French…) to become to what we now know as Mexican food 🌮
An example of this are molletes (photo). They are toasted baguettes, also called bolillos🥖, spread with bean paste and a generous amount of melted cheese and are usually served with salsa & pico de gallo 🍅🌶🥒💃
#foodculture #Mexico #mexicanfood #foodhistory #molletes #salsa

preserved lemons

Preserving lemons is a fool proof way to make sure you have lemons at home all year round. On top of that, preserved lemons will add an extra flavour dimension to your food 🍋💥

This is the recipe for Otthelenghi style preserved lemons. It’s very important to use organic lemons for this recipe. Chemical treament is often applied to non organic lemons to make lemon peels more shiny.  As we use the whole lemons in this recipe, it’s extra important to use organic lemons. Your ferment can only be as good as the ingredients its contains.

You need:

  • a 800 ml clean jar
  • about 10 organic lemons.
  • non-jodised salt. About 5 tbsp (1 tbsp per lemon whole lemon)
  • 1 red chili, 1 sprig rosemary, other spices like 10 peppercorns, 2 sprigs of thyme or cinnamon, star anise….

Cut 5 lemons cross-wise starting from the top till a depth of about 2/3 of the lenght of each of the lemons. 5 lemons is an estimation. Use as much lemons as you can pack in 1 jar.
Stuff each of the lemons with about 1 tbsp of salt. Fit the stuffed lemons in the jar. Close tightly and leave in a cool dry spot out of direct sunlight.

1 week later…
Open the jar. Add your spices. Add enough lemon juice to cover all the lemons. Let ferment for another 3 weeks. Keep in the fridge once opened. The acid and salt makes that the lemons will keep for a very long time.

What can you do with fermented lemons?
Don’t expect to be able to eat an entire lemon at once. They’re like tangy flavour bombs. In small quantities, preserved lemons add an extra dimension to your dishes!  They’re a delicous topping on hummus with roasted chickpeas, olive oil and herbs. You can use them in vinaigrettes, marinades, Moroccan stews, couscous and pasta dishes.

Kumqwhat?

Kumquat is a tiny citrus, native to China, of which different varieties exist. Kumquat is Cantonese for golden orange 🍊
It’s a fruit that many people look at with suspicion, asking themselves what there will be left after peeling this little orange. Fortunately, kumquats are the only citrus that you can eat with the skin on. And then, there is the bitter sweet and sour flavour that makes people wonder how to eat or cook it. It’s perfectly edible raw. But if that’s too crazy for you, kumquats are ideal to make syrups, jams, lemonades, salad dressings, sauces and cakes.

I made a kumquat jam with cinnamon and sweetened with dates, only dates. Quick, easy & so good! 😋

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#stayhome picnic

Staying home can be difficult when the sun shines bright and temperatures rise. I’ve been missing having a garden these days. I like eating outside. It comes with a feeling of relaxation and connection with nature and turns lunch or dinner into a different experience.
To work , relax, sleep, learn… all in the same (small) house makes the line between ON/OFF work more difficult. Changing places and creating different atmosferes at home keeps life interesting and alternating. We’ve been doing weekend picnics on the first floor of our house, where the evening sun reaches through the windows.
How to make your own #stayhome picnic? Choose a sunny spot in your house. Move your furniture away to create space. Put down a blanket. Surround yourself with plants. Make different bowls with little dishes to share. Dips, bread, salads, pickles, roasted vegetables, fruits, nuts … Everybody can serve themlselves. Serve with a nice (home) fermented drink and anjoy the experience.

Suggestions for your #stayhome picnic: herb fritata, hummus with roasted carrots, stewed lenitls, baba ganoush.

 

Spring in a bowl, at home

White asparagus, leek & dill soup with sourdough croutons 🍞
An easy to make, vegetable packed bowl 🥣 that taste like spring 🐣
This recipe is great to use second choice asparagus, dill stems 🌿 that you otherwise would throw away & leftover sourdough bread! 🍞 #nofoodwaste #seasonal #local
On the table of your home tonight? Stay home and make the recipe 🏠
#blijfinuwkot #stahome #stayinyourkot

For 4 servings, you need:
– one bunch of white asparagus
– 🖐-full of dill stems + tops to garnish 🌿
– 2 small spring potatoas🥔
– 1/4 leek
– 4 slices leftover sourdough bread 🍞
– olive oil
– salt & pepper
– sumac93595385_596323834572733_3052790783229820928_n
To make the SOUP:
– Peel the asparagus and chop leek, dill stems, asparagus & potatoes.
– Heat olive in a pot on the stove. Add the leek & potato cubes to the hot oil. Turn down the 🔥, add salt and stirr regularly.
– When the asparagus softened, add about a liter of (hot) water and the asparagus.
– Boil until the vegetables are tender.
– Take the pot from the fire.
– Add pepper and sumac.
– Blend the soup & add extra salt, pepper or sumac to taste.

To make CROUTONS 🍞:
– Cut the bread in cubes.
– Add to a pan with hot oil and bake till crunchy. Flip over the croutons regularly to avoid burning.

SERVE:
Take a pretty bowl🥣, add soup. Top with lots of fresh dill🌿, croutons🍞, more olive oil and sumac. Enjoy! 😋

SEASONING: Celeriac

At the end of winter and before spring breaks through, vegetable season is at its lowest point. But, some vegetables are also there in difficult times and one of those heroes is celeriac!

What is it? Celeriac or celery root is a variety of celery that has an edible stem and shoots. It belongs to the same botanical family as carrots and parsley. Celeriac originates from the Mediterranean region, but is cultivated all over the world.

What does it taste like? Celeriac is  -in contradiction with what the name suggests- not yac, but a very yummy vegetable 😋 The fresher the root, the more intense the flavour. The root has a crunchy texture and tastes like the mild nutty version of common celery stalks. Celeriac stems are edible too! #nofoodwaste. The stems taste like common celery stalks and are perfect to garnish dishes.

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Healthy? 💪 Celeriac is low in calories and has a good amount of fibres. It contains vitamin K, an important component in blood coagulation* and bone metabolism. Furthermore, celeriac contains minerals like amongst others phosphorus, that supports the skeleton and is a necessary component of our energy metabolism. Cooking affects celeriac’s nutritional composition. Nutritional values are the highest for the raw vegetable.

Preservation. Celeriac can be kept up to 6 months in a cold (0-5 °C) , humid and dark environment. You can do this by storing celeriac in a bucket covered with wet soil. Keep the bucket in your basement. In the fridge? Yes. Keep celeriac up to a couple of weeks in a bag in the vegetable compartment of your fridge. The bag will prevent the vegetables from drying out. Celeriac easily turns brown after cutting 🔪 Adding lemon or vinegar to freshly cut celeriac prevents browning 🍋 Celeriac can be frozen after blanching and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month ❄️ Want to prolong celeriac’s shelf life but you’ve a full freezer? Pickling or fermenting are tasty alternatives 🏺

What to do with it? 👩🏻‍🍳 Celeriac is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten either raw or cooked. Cook with celeriac like with potatoes or carrots. Oven roasted or on the BBQ, stewed, blanched, steamed, mashed or in soup. 

Recipe inspiration 💡
Whole roasted celeriac  brings out the sweetness of the vegetable and transforms the texture from crunchy to creamy. It’s not much fuss to prepare and makes a great meal for many, combined with side-dishes & sauces. The creamy texture of roasted celeriac is an upgrade for your daily sandwich 🆙 🥪 (photo).
– Make celeriac steaks in your next winter BBQ 🔥
– Already thought about vegan schnitsel made from celeriac?
Rösti from celeriac with a green salsa from the leaves 💃 #nofoodwaste
Fermented celeriac with apple & mustard seeds🦠
– The winter salad from Content’s kitchen at Hal5 is a delicious waldorf celeriac remoulade 🥗

This is a blog post of the serie SEASONS. Bringing out the best of the season in cooperation with Content Leuven.

*People with blood thinning medication or oral anticonceptives should be careful with an excess amount of vitam K containing vegetables, as vitamin K affects coagulation factors in the blood.