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Jarhead

January 22, 2019

What do you when it’s freezing cold, the snow is coming down, and you’re stuck at home?

Around here, it would seem people make french toast, get wasted, and poop. It’s the only way to make sense of those last minute snow emergency purchases of bread, milk, eggs, beer, and toilet paper.

As for me, I was able to make it out for a last minute shop before the snow began to fall. But on my list were some of the staples like Trader Joe’s frozen raspberries, some snack foods for the kids, and a bag of organic pears. But the most important thing I needed were tabs of dishwasher detergent. Because my plans were for doing a lot cooking, and the near-constant running of the dishwasher was the only way I was going to make it through my list.

Well, the dishwasher and the stash of empty kimchi jars I’ve got scattered around the kitchen.

We’ve talked recently about my love of kimchi. If not on the blog, then over on Facebook. Or maybe it was Twitter. I really forget. All the conversations seem to blend together as I progress in years.

While it may not be the best kimchi on the planet, I buy it by the half gallon at the Asian Supermarket on Central Avenue. It’s a crazy good value, and when you’ve finished all that fermented cabbage, you’re left with a half gallon glass jar. Bonus!

There jars are a source of significant tension around the Fussy household. Let’s just say that not everybody loves them.

I love them.

This past weekend, I used one to brine the “Good Mother Stallard” beans I bought from Bella Terra Farm at the Schenectady Greenmarket. Glass is fantastic because besides being non reactive, you can see what’s going on inside the vessel. That was especially valuable for this bean project because the beans themselves are gorgeous, and I enjoyed watching them plump up.

But the jars are valuable beyond that. They hold a half gallon in volume. So when I’m making chicken stock, I can use them to precisely measure the liquid going into the pressure cooker, and the liquid coming out of the pressure cooker.

At the end of my stock making project, I ended up with just about two gallons of chicken stock, which I concentrated down to a little over one kimchi jar. While I probably could have reduced it further to eliminate the overflow, it was time to move on to other things.

And all that hot chicken stock? It cools faster when divided into smaller containers. Plus I try to avoid pouring boiling hot liquids into plastic containers. Glass won’t leach any unwanted chemicals into the stock. And being able to see through the clear jar helps with the skimming task once the stock cools.

A side project I took on this weekend was making a batch of slaw. I had picked up a cabbage at the Schenectady Greenmarket as well. And I’ve been missing my zesty, healthful, winter slaws. I had a couple of lemons nearing the end of their life, so I made a Moroccan-inspired dish with lemon, garlic, dried mint, sumac, and aleppo pepper. Carrots and onions were added for sweetness and heat. At some point, I’ll throw some chickpeas in there too.

All this slaw filled another empty kimchi jar, which is now in the refrigerator. Thankfully those sturdy plastic lids screw on nice and tight. Packed with raw garlic and onion, that’s one funky aromatic salad. Which is why I like it in the mornings for breakfast. It helps perk me right up. But it’s also beautiful, so I enjoy seeing it through the glass jar.

Of course, we couldn’t eat the chicken stock this past weekend. The Fussy’s are sticking to the plan of being vegetarian at home through January. It’s no big deal. But the weather called for soup, so I found a pretty killer vegetable soup recipe from Lidia Bastianich.

It called for starting the soup with a flavor base of pureed onions, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs. Fresh herbs? It also called for fresh tomatoes. Who the heck makes vegetable soup when fresh herbs and tomatoes are in season? That’s insanity. Hot soups are for winter. And while you can find basil and fresh tomatoes in supermarkets, I would not recommend buying them for anything besides decoration.

So I replaced the fresh basil with dried marjoram, and used canned San Marzano tomatoes instead. Those soaked heirloom beans ended up going into this soup at the very end, once they had simmered on their own in onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf.

Oh yeah, and just for kicks, I tried my hand at making a quick and sleazy half whole-wheat beer bread.

The way I know this was a lot of cooking is because all the kimchi jars found themselves in use. I should mention there is also one in the cupboard holding a half gallon of King Arthur organic all-purpose flour. During the summer months, there is typically one in the fridge filled with cold brewed iced tea too.

I’m not sure what Mrs. Fussy would replace all of these with if she had the chance. But she hates these like poison. Admittedly they are large, and when not in active use take up precious cabinet space above the stove. However, they are incredibly useful. And they help to save the world. “Reduce” and “Reuse” come before “Recycle” and that’s just what I’m doing.

I’m also cooking like a maniac, but it’s so warm in the kitchen, and the house smells so good.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. chrisck permalink
    January 22, 2019 11:32 am

    I love Good Mother Stallard beans! I just made a pot of veg chili with those gorgeous beans. I used Rancho Gordo, but I am delighted to know there is a local source. Does Bella Terra Farm sell other beans? I ‘m a Beanatarian who eats legumes daily in one form or other.

    • January 22, 2019 11:56 am

      Oh yes! Bella Terra has all sorts of goodies. I bought them out of the Good Mother Stallards they brought to the market the Sunday before last. But they may have more back at the farm. Call ahead if you want to request something special and I bet they would put it aside for you.

  2. Dave permalink
    January 22, 2019 1:04 pm

    Ha! Mrs. Fussy would not enjoy my love of jars… Currently eye-balling some Weck jars to add to the compliment of glassware I have in the house for all manner of uses. Google them, they are awesome.

  3. Gabby permalink
    January 22, 2019 11:42 pm

    Wish I could remember where I read an article about how cheap Chinese kimchi is killing off the traditional Korean kimchi manufacturers. I went to Kim’s and got some of the Korean (made in New York City, not Korea!), and it was definitely different from the Asian Supermarket version. The taste was more subtle and complex, and the price was a bit higher, but not terribly so.

    • January 23, 2019 12:15 am

      Dagnabbit. You’re totally right. I should make a special trip for this treat I live so much, so that I can get a better version of it.

      It’s all too easy to fall into ruts if convenience. This is a great reminder and wake up call. Thanks for the nudge.

  4. Karen O permalink
    January 24, 2019 5:13 pm

    I also enjoy kimchi and buy it from the Asian Supermarket. I’ve also made it at home and it’s pretty easy to do. My new daughter in law is from Cambodia and she makes many pickled vegetables, including kimchi. It’s a nice relish or side vegetable to have at a meal (and good for your gut, too!)

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