Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Something Fun That Tastes Good

About a year ago I was buying some sauerkraut at the store when I suddenly wondered how easy it would be to make it myself. I figured it couldn't be too difficult. After all, sauerkraut is one of those primitive food preservation methods that has been done for a few centuries. Now, folks growing up in the midwest or those who remember Grandpa making sauerkraut may think this is no big deal. But for a California boy this project was sounding like something great!
I did some web searching and found a great recipe site with complete instructions at Kitchen Gardeners International.
That first batch of sauerkraut is long gone but I got the yearning for another batch the other day and bought three heads of cabbage at the store. For those of you who have never tried this I thought I'd document my progress. Having just started it tonight, the cabbage isn't sauerkraut yet. I'll do additional posts as it matures.

First, we get some cabbages. After cutting them in half I remove most of the core. It's supposed to be ok to eat but tough. I declined to keep it.

Next, the cabbage gets sliced. I went for pretty thin cuts.
After slicing some salt is mixed into the cabbage. Since I had three heads to do and my bowl wasn't big enough for all three at once, I did this step one head at a time.

After the salt is mixed in the cabbage is put into the fermenting container. I'm using a clean bucket. The cabbage should be pushed in pretty tight and thoroughly. Since I couldn't get the potatoe masher at a good angle I decided to just punch the cabbage down with my hand. This packs the cabbage and aids the salt in pushing the moisture out.

Here you can see how much three heads makes. These were fairly small heads, not those really big ones when cabbage is really in season.

Something needs to be placed on top of the cabbage to keep it beneath the liquid that will start to develop. If you're using a round crock then a plate works well. With a square bucket I cut the lid down so it will fit into the bucket.

While the cabbage should make enough liquid to cover itself, it may take a day or so. I generally add a few cups of salt water to raise the liquid level so it covers the cabbage right from the start.

To keep the lid beneath the liquid level I put a gallon jar full of water on top. I'll check tomorrow to be sure the liquid level is right.

It's appropriate that I used this particular jar. It's from kimchee, the Korean version of sauerkraut. Many times I've had to explain to someone what kimchee is and I've fallen back on saying it's the Korean version of sauerkraut. One time I had to explain to a young Vietnamese woman what sauerkraut was, "um... it's German kimchee." That worked for her!

The bucket of salted cabbage now rests in a corner of our kitchen with a clean towel over it to keep out debris, dropped spoons, and curious cats. As the batch progresses I'll do updates to the blog. If you like sauerkraut, I can just about guarantee that you'll be jealous.

Day 2 update: When I looked in the bucket this morning there was more liquid and the bucket definitely smelled like sauerkraut. Pressing down on the bottle brought bubbles out from under the bucket lid. All these are signs that the fermentation process has begun and I'm well on the way to having great home made sauerkraut.

Day 3 update: Things are looking good today. The fermentation process can make a bit of a bloom appear on the liquid's surface so I took the jar out and washed it off, there didn't appear to be anything on the surface that needed to be skimmed off. I pulled the lid up off the cabbage and tried a little fingerfull. It's getting there but it's not yet at the "sour" point. Another day or two should be good.

Day 4 update: Things are looking good! When I looked this morning the liquid has taken on a darker color and the smell is definately getting to that special sauerkraut aroma. As yesterday, I rinsed off the bottle and pried up the lid to take a taste. Eureka! We have sauerkraut! I'd like it a little more sour so I'll leave it about another day before I pack it into that big jar and put it into the 'fridge; but right now it is definately sauerkraut.

Day 5, final update: "If you like sauerkraut, I can just about guarantee that you'll be jealous."   Here it is! It tastes great, looks good, smells good (although, that may be a matter of opinion for some folks), and was simplicity itself to make. Give it a try, the link at the beginning of the post has great instructions and there is nothing like eating food you've grown or made yourself. Besides, anyone can grow tomatoes, but not everyone makes their own sauerkraut.

Thanks for reading!

New Arrows for Sale

So, just finished up some new arrows that are available for immediate delivery. These three sets are all Port Orford cedar and all three have a dark brown dye on the shaft. All these sets have 12 arrows; it's easier to take a picture with just 6 of them.
As always, the price includes cutting the arrows to the desired length, tapering for points, and field points glued on. The arrows are ready to shoot as soon as you can open the box and run to the backyard. Shipping is extra; with priority mail it is typically about $8.oo, depending upon where you live in the US.

These arrows are for the archer who doesn't want to spend a lot of time behind the target looking for errant arrows. Between the bright crown and fletching, and the fluorescent nocks, these will be easy to track into the target and easy to find downrange. Spine for this set is 45/49#, price is $80.00.
These arrows are a good mixture of bright and classic. I did a little bit of a trick finish on these so the blue crown isn't completely opaque. You can see the dark stain through the blue very slightly for a kind of "antiquish" look. These are great arrows for a beginning archer shooting a light bow. They look great and will be easy to find. Spine is 30/34#, price is $80.00.
These arrows also have the antique sort of look, it turned out very nice and rather classy. Spine is 45/49#, price is $80.00.
Update: these arrows were donated to Pasadena Roving Archers as a raffle prize on their traditional shoot in October. They now have a new home.

As always, if you're interested in any of the arrows I have for sale just drop me an email and we'll get your questions answered. You can reach me at guy.taylor@sbcglobal.net.
Thanks for looking and happy archery!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cliff's Arrows

These arrows went into the mail today headed for Richard's Bowery.
Richard makes some incredible wood bows, primarily from ipe, a tropical hardwood frequently used in the US for decking.
Richard was a pioneer in the use of ipe and has had a couple articles regarding its use for bows printed in a leading traditional archery magazine. You should definitely take a look at his site.
These arrows are for Cliff, who recently purchased an ipe/bamboo bow from Richard.

As you can see, I did something a little different with the cresting on these arrows. The flecks of gold give a nice splash of color to offset the green and black.

I've had the pleasure to work with a few of Richard's customers to get them arrows for their new bows. One gentleman who had rather stringent requirements was Julian in New York state. Julian is 85 years old and shoots the longbow Richard made for him in competition. He needed arrows very closely matched in spine and weight as he's a rather serious competitor. He was very happy with what he got.

Shoot safe!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recent Work

Here are some arrows recently finished for some folks.
The first three sets are for a family who have been shooting for some time. The daughter has recently become involved with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and needed additional arrows as the set I made for her a few years ago had finally dwindled down.
These arrows are proof positive that not all my arrows have a kitchen sink's worth of art thrown at them. Sometimes relatively plain is what the archer wants, and that's what they get. All the quality is still there, just not the same amount of art.

This first picture has given me all sorts of grief. It shows properly on my computer but as soon as I upload it to the blog it falls on its side. After a dozen attempts to get it right I'm giving up and posting it as is.

Almost everyone has something nice to say about well executed purple arrows, but hardly any men will shoot them. I think it's a great color to work with and the results are something I'd be happy to have in my quiver.
These two sets are for an old friend who I lost track of for a while. He's now recovered from a divorce and leading a happy life with a new partner.

These arrows for Gary's partner have just a tiny bit of gold paint fading out from under the cresting. It's just a little bit extra to really set them apart from other arrows.

Thanks for looking!