I just got back in the house from a quick six-night trip home to Bellingham. We have a week-long mid-term break this year, and I decided last summer to just book the ticket and come home for a little check-in. When most of my friends were going on local trips to London, or Switzerland, or Sicily, it felt a little ambitious to be heading off on that long-haul flight to the Northwest, but was it worth it? Of course, every second of it.
All members of our family put some commitments in place last summer toward accomplishing things we want to achieve in our near futures. These goals run a vast gamut, and I wanted to see for myself how it was all going. First of all, the Lummi house was spectacular. We did so much work last summer to bring it back up to the level of a cared-for home. Gabe is living there this year and he has really invested himself in making it his home. All of the structure was still in place and I could crash-land there for six nights and just enjoy it. That was a wonderful experience.
Gabe is thick into caring for an adorable baby. His new weimaraner pup structures his entire life, which is helping him have nicely productive days, and is also showing him that he would do well in some other professional and personal pursuits he wants in his life.
Anton has been working hard at his musicianship as well as some other things. He is getting recognition for the practice and leadership he has been investing in the music department. This also affirms him about his capacity to move toward his next goals in life.
I had a few hours to myself when I got back to Tunis today, and I was reflecting on how life is a constant process of paying attention to the routines and motivations in your life, and then making small adjustments when you notice something is taking too big of a priority. NPR Weekend Edition Sunday was doing stories with a focus on addictions: alcohol, internet, food etc. There was a lot in the stories for me and a lot, I think, for everyone who wants to avoid unproductive traps in life.
So the week didn’t just fly by without something to show for it, Gabe and I selected an anchor cooking project. He bought Brussels sprouts at the farmer’s market the day before I arrived, and then I did a little prep each day toward making up a few jars of this kimchi. I tell you our kitchen smelled just like a Korean restaurant the day I left, which is a cozy place, in my mind. Notice the tiny air bubbles around the jar rims in the picture. That is natural fermentation taking place. These should be incredibly delicious when I get back to Bellingham in early December to take care of a surgery I am finally willing to undergo. That is my commitment from the summer: to get past an unhealthy situation with my body.
Brussels Sprouts Kimchi
Bon Appetit, October 2013
- 3.5 oz. plus .7 kosher salt*
- 1 1/2 lb. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved
- 1/2 small onion, coursely chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup gochugaru (course Korean red pepper powder, found at Asian markets or from Amazon)
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
- 2 Tbsp. Sriracha
- 1 Tbsp. grated peeled ginger
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
Makes 2 quarts
Combine 3.5 oz. salt and 2 quarts warm water in a large bowl, whisking to dissolve salt. Add Brussels sprouts and top with a plate to keep Brussels sprouts submerged. Let sit at room temperature 4 hours; drain. Rinse, drain, and place in a large bowl.
Pulse onion, scallions, garlic, gochugaru, fish sauce, Sriracha, ginger, soy sauce, and coriander and fennel seeds in a food processor until smooth. Add to bowl with Brussels sprouts and toss. Transfer mixture to canning jars (your choice of sizes), packing down to eliminate air gaps.
Combine remaining .7 oz. salt and 1 quart warm water in a large bowl, whisking to dissolve salt. Add pickling liquid to jars to cover Brussels sprouts, leaving at least 1″ headspace. Cover jars with lids. Let sit out of direct sunlight at room temperature until kimchi tastes tangy and releases bubbles when stirred, 3-5 days. Chill.
Kimchi can be made 2 months ahead (flavor will deepen). Keep chilled.
*The shape of the crystals varies quite a bit from brand to brand, so measuring kosher salts by weight is the most reliable method. Following is a conversion scale:
Diamond Crystal kosher salt:
- 3.5 oz. = 3/4 cup
- .7 oz. = 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.
Morton course kosher salt
- 3.5 oz. = 7 Tbsp.
- .7 oz. = 4 1/4 tsp.