22 May Bok Choy Kimchi
If you are anything like me, you come stumbling out of winter into the increasing warmth of the lengthening days with a winter slumber still dragging along behind. The long cold season here in PA can be drudgingly hard to transition out of.
It seems like overnight our bodies and minds are expected to be primed and ready for the springtime curtain drop. My body, like many others, is at her best when she is directly connected with the earth and her bountiful sustenance. The winter can feel long and hard and the connective tissue that builds strength and endurance under a warm sun fades towards the last days until Spring. Like many, my body lives in accordance to the fickle rules set forth by autoimmune disease. Stress and disconnection from vital nutrients and the surging life force of living foods will tear down my health faster than anything else.
Springtime means fresh asparagus, wild nettles, ramps, early season lettuce, baby radishes and turnips (my fave), and spring onions! Spring also means transition and seasonal changes can often take a sensitive body for a wild ride. As sensational as the cyclical nature of the seasons can be, every year the rug gets pulled out from under me and I dance and wobble around in the mud a bit before I rest assuredly on the warm soil. It is NOW that I find it of the utmost importance to keep an internal equilibrium with plenty of gut and hormone balancing foods.
The fermentation craze hit the scene years after I had begun treating my own body with food. Food as Medicine is a way of life. The power of the earth’s bounty is just what I need to stay grounded in a spinning world. I have been eating everything from fermented dairy in the form of Kefir and homemade yogurt, simple fermented veggies, kraut, kvass, kombucha, and my new favorite kimchi. Eating fermented foods is key to our overall well being because of the plethora of beneficial bacteria it contains which our bodies need to maintain a flourishing internal state of balance and health.They will reduce inflammation and make sure that the good guys in our gut (second brain) are the ones driving the ship and we aren’t over come by endless numbers of health issues brought about by an imbalance of bad bacteria in our in our microbiome.
Even as important though, is the art and practice of the fermentation process. Alchemical in nature and just about as close to actual magic as you can come, the very act of gathering the gifts of the earth and playing with them in a way that will allow nature to produce its own medicine with only my humble assistance leaves me in awe. This is what makes me feel most alive and I am healthier and full before anything even enters my mouth. The beauty of fermentation in todays cultural and societal landscape is that it is simple, fast and lasts forever.
We are busy. So busy. Becoming stressed out by feeding myself and my family is a natural state and I know I am not alone. To be able to have Food Rx on hand that I know will give me the boost I need is a saving grace. It literally lasts almost forever! There is NO COOKING. You can ferment just about any vegetable and get so creative and allow your intuition to guide you every time, yielding delicious jars of fun, burping, bubbling fun. The recipe that follows is adapted from the V Street Cookbook. I add apples to mine but pear would be good. Get creative. The recipe calls for Napa cabbage but any cabbage will do. We have bok choy in the share this week and that makes a superb rendition. The ingredients are easily found on Amazon or at most grocery stores. Feel free to play around with the heat and acidity. I have black vinegar here at my house but the recipe originally called for rice vinegar. I like mine spicy so I amp it up with hot peppers. Play with your food. It’s medicine.
1/2 cup sea salt
1 cup radish, sliced thin
3 cups bok choy, torn
1/2 cup spring onion, sliced thin
1 apple, sliced thin
3 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs minced ginger
1 cup chard stems
1 jalapeño, Thai chile or any hot pepper you like (omit if you don’t like it hot)
1 Tbs tamari or coconut aminos
1 Tbs red chile flake
2 Tbs Gochujang – fermented chile paste
2 Tbs vinegar
1/8 tsp pepper
~ Take 8 cups of cold water and stir in the sea salt. Submerge the bok choy and radishes in the salt water for an hour.
~ Drain the veggies and squeeze out as much water as possible.
~ I use a food processor to puree my garlic, ginger and hot peppers and then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth. You can use a bowl, handheld mincing apparatus, and your own strength to mix it up, no problem.
~ Plop all of the veggies into the bowl with your marinade and massage well. Really get it into every nook and cranny. This is my favorite part. Mix, toss, slosh and play.
~ Pack the goodness into a sterilized mason jar with lid on tight for up to a week. Burp daily.
This can be eaten after a day but only gets better with time. After a week you will see bubbles begin to form and when the lid is loosened the air will release and the burnt orange lava gurgles to the top and has a life of its own. The transformation is complete and the result is pure robust flavor. There is an effervescence carried by fermentation that my body craves. Listen when your body speaks. Likely the language of the earth and the elements, and the soil and her inhabitants speaks directly to the flesh of own own being and were we to only heed the cravings from our guts would we find more joy in the graceful folly of a life lived through the seasons and her cycles.
Post and photos by Kristin Moyer, a local mom and chef who loves to eat, write and play with her food.
Post editing by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.