The house is bustling with activity right now: drying, freezing, fermenting, and pickling. We're baking bread to ferry the fresh goods into our bellies and saving seeds as we're always thinking of next year. Since 90 degrees seems to be the norm now it seemed like a good opportunity to take advantage of incubating in the ambient conditions. We did a round of black bean tempeh in the laziest way (koji should work too): cook, sprinkle culture, and let sit out with a loose cover. I remember reading about tempeh a million years ago and accounts of how the early makers wrapped up beans with leaves and let the climate and native environment do the rest. It's a great reminder of getting away from the intense precision and modern technological influence that has us making once seamlessly natural things ever the more complicated.
That's the same feeling that comes when it's time to hand harvest and process our wheat every year around the 4th of July. This was a great year for the grains and our "newer" purple wheat and hulless einkorn should be ready soon to share for seed. Eternal thanks goes to be.wild.er Farm for hosting a small patch of our orphaned seed last fall until we could find some new ground. Every plant has its sweet spot and the lack of rain this summer suited our wheat well. On harvest day I admired the tall sweeping stalks- heritage grains like these grow tall and have deep penetrating roots that boost their nutritional value, in contrast to "modern" wheat that is knee high to comfortably accommodate large-scale machine harvesting. The short modern wheat with proportionately short roots was designed for high yields that challenges their ability to retain much value aside from being something to eat. Some have speculated this to have given rise to today's rampant gluten intolerances. There weren't any major summer storms that tend to threaten to blow stands of the towering heritage wheat over in something referred to as lodging, but as I admired them waving in the breeze I recalled also reading about how many Ukraining grain farmers have been forced to leave fields of grain unharvested this year because the height of their stalks were obstructing live explosives from view.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a strange, abyss-like openness waiting for Gatorade to be poured in. Those who work outside in the summer will likely be sympathetic. As rough as store bought energy drinks are, they help. Years ago I tried to soften the criticism by inoculating the corporate beverage with a kombucha scoby. Honestly it was impressive how lowering the living mass in seemed to straight up kill it. Maybe it was an electrolyte overload? Either way for some reason I tried it again, and this time it worked and we have gatorade kombucha! If you don't believe me here's a picture of my GatorScoby below. Never stop being led by your imagination. Has anyone gotten into oat "milk" kefir? In the summer milk feels too heavy in this ol' body which has led me to welcoming the oat "milk" fad in with open arms. Drop a few dairy kefir grains in and after a day or two, voila, scrumptious! What's you're special hot-weather beverage?
This month on gives us plenty of local ingredients to play around with. Listed up top are the baseline techniques that run this summer preservation engine- whether you already know them well or not at all, tis the season to start or continue the tradition. The laid back continuous pickling idea is my go-to throughout the summer for cucumbers, carrots, and green beans (also for a brief history of pickles here's that from a year ago). Every pepper variety gets it own fermented hot sauce, and all the future pizza ingredients from fennel to chantrelles get the pickle/ marinate technique.
I love the flow of the alchemy right now. Everything is bubbling with excitement, barrelling towards the next fleeting ingredient moment. Busy busy times though, please excuse the lack of new inspiration being presented in the featured recipes, but there's many exciting new things coming up next.