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Hammered Dulcimer design, construction, and unrelated stuff

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kimchi

If you've never had Kimchi, it is sort of a spicy Korean version of sauerkraut, and is a fantastic way to get your probiotics and vitamins without pills.  Oh, and the flavor is out of this world.  I crave it!

Kimchi is fermented and eaten raw.  I have never seen it for sale, and since it is eaten raw, I doubt if proper Kimchi is for sale anywhere, so I make it myself, and keep a couple jars in the fridge most of the time.  It is very easy, just a matter of planning ahead.

Both kraut and Kimchi are fermented using the natural yeasts that are on the cabbage.  No heat is applied, so the yeasts aren't killed.  What regulates the kind of organisms that are allowed to grow is salt in proper proportions.  In making kraut, you shred the cabbage then mix in the right amount of salt which draws liquid out of the cabbage.  But Kimchi is brined overnight in a solution of salt and water, so it is a little different, and produces a different result.  Also, Kimchi has other vegetables added for flavor.

2 pounds cabbage chopped into 2 inch squares.
6 cups water (I use distilled)
3 Tablespoons noniodized salt

Soak the cabbage overnight in the brine.  Drain well, reserve the brine, then mix 1 teaspoon more of salt in with the cabbage.

6 scallions slivered
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger
1 cup Daikon radish shredded
3 tablespoons shrimp sauce or anchovy fish sauce
1/4 cup mild dried pepper ground or flaked.

Mix in all these ingredients, then put the mixture in a glass or crock container.  cover with the reserved brine, and allow to ferment on the counter top for 5- 10 days until it stops producing bubbles.  The probiotics in Kimchi are very powerful, and will attack plastic or metals, so only glass or crockery containers should be used.  Also, after it starts fermenting, only handle it with wooden utensils.  The best containers I have found for it are the 1/2 gallon glass canning jars, but a gallon pickle jar would be great.  Don't fill the jars all the way to the top as the kimchi will bubble up while fermenting.  You will need to push a wooden spoon down into it every day to release the bubbles so the Kimchi doesn't overflow onto the countertop.  Since I use the canning jars, I do use the metal lids, just being careful not to let the fermenting Kimchi get so high as to touch the lid.  Screw the lids on loosely so the gas can escape, but tight enough that fruit flies don't discover it.  When fermentation is finished, put the jars in the fridge and enjoy!  The Kimchi will keep indefinitely, and though edible right away, like kraut, the older it gets, the better it is.

The ingredients list for Kimchi is flexible.  Oriental folks usually use Napa cabbage, but any cabbage will work.  Instead of the scallions, I use regular onions.  Shredded carrots work fine instead of the Daikon radish which is rather expensive, but if you aren't using organic carrots, be sure to peel them before shredding.  The fish sauce is optional, but nice, and not expensive.  It also wouldn't be right without some hot pepper flakes or powder.  The critical parts of this recipe are the amount of salt in the brine, and the presence of garlic and ginger in about these amounts.  If you want to make a larger batch, just scale this recipe up.  Korean folks make large batches in earthenware pots called Onggi and keep it outside all winter.

Eat Kimchi as a condiment, maybe 1/2 cup for a serving.  It goes well with many foods; meats,  fish, vegetables, etc., but my favorite way to eat it is with fried eggs and beans for breakfast.

Beans

How to make the best home cooked beans from scratch.

I really like beans, I could eat them 3 times a day and not get tired of them.  But how to cook them and get them soft and creamy is something that took me 40 years to learn, so I thought I'd pass it along.

First of all, they must be soaked at least overnight.  Of course you can short circuit this by blanching them, then changing the water, then cooking, but the overnight soak is necessary to eliminate the antinutrients that are in the skin of the beans.  The antinutrients are there to keep the seed from sprouting while it is dry and in storage.  If you eat too many of them, they will interfere with the absorption and utilization of minerals in your body.  All seeds have these, and it is the reason our ancestors knew enough to mill the hull off seeds before grinding them.  It is why we eat white rice and white flour, it is better for us.

Second, you must use soft water.  Beans will never completely soften if they are cooked in hard water.  There must be no minerals in the soak or cook water, this means don't add salt until the cooking is finished.  Since the water here is very hard, I just buy distilled water in gallons at the grocery store.  You can add any flavoring you want to the bean pot like ham hocks, etc., but don't add salt until the cooking is finished.

Third, can them up.  It is why beans are always better out of a can or jar.  The beans are good right out of the pot, but since I don't want a big pot of them in the fridge that needs to be eaten up, I can them.  I cook up 3 pounds at a time which makes 5- 6 quarts of cooked beans.  I only use water since I want to flavor the beans in different ways when we use them.  There is nothing in my jars except beans and distilled water.  Beans need to be pressure canned at 10 pounds for 90 minutes.  That is a lot, but the processing really sets the flavor, and makes the beans creamy and delicious.  We bought our pressure canner for using in the summer with garden produce, but it gets used all year long now, and is one of the best tools we have ever bought.

My favorite kind of beans.  We like hummus, so I make a lot of chick peas.  They are very good, and won't cook down to mush.  The flavor after canning is wonderful.  I also like pintos, but my favorite is called Mayo Coba, and is from Peru.  They are available in many grocery stores and are a white bean, but unlike Great Northerns or Navy Beans retail their shape and texture.  The flavor is out of this world.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

On How to Properly Sand, and do a Hand Rubbed Finish

I really like Minwax Wipe On Poly.  I have been using it for years now as a sealer under shellac, but have recently discovered how to do a really nice hand rubbed finish with it.

The secret is in the sanding.  The finer the grit the surface is sanded to, the less poly it will absorb, and the quicker a gloss will develop.  So I currently sand starting at 100#, then 150# over the whole dulcimer.  The edges are sanded on a big edge sander, and the top and back are sanded with a stroke sander.  After that, I sand 150# with an air powered  random orbit sander followed by 180# on a different sander, and 220# on a third.  By this time the surface is feeling silky smooth.  Then I go over the whole dulcimer lengthwise to the grain by hand with 400# on a sanding block.

Then blow off the dust followed by wiping down with a tack cloth, then apply the first coat of Wipe On Poly as thinly as possible, but making sure the whole surface is covered.  I don't wipe off the excess, just make sure there isn't so much on as to drip or drool, then hang the dulcimer up to dry in the clean room.  After a couple hours the poly is cured enough to scuff sand with 220#, just enough to remove any dust motes, and make the surface smooth again, then blow off and wipe down with the tack cloth again.  The sparingly apply a second coat of Wipe On Poly and hang up to dry.

Next day I go over the whole surface very lightly with a worn out piece of 400# paper, just enough to get off any dust motes.  Then wax, and the finish is silky smooth!  I've been using the satin Poly, and it has a beautiful glow done this way.  I think if I wanted a higher gloss, after the 400#, finish sanding the wood with a quick once over with 600#, and in between coats of poly, scuff with 400# instead of the 220#.  The gloss Poly would also help.