Karen Solomon, Author

My good friend Michele turned me on to Karen Solomon by sharing her book Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves (the title has me salivating…how about you?).  I had been playing with fermenting foods for quite a while, doing the standard sauerkraut, vinegar, lemons — delving into miso and other koji ferments, but I had no idea how deep the dive could be!

Karen is from my old stomping grounds, the Bay Area, a place with a rich diverse culture and access to ingredients and expertise from around the world.  And, my favorite part is that it is obvious that she actually prepared everything that is in her cookbook (which she confirmed when I interviewed her).  You have probably picked up beautiful cookbooks before, and then looked at recipes and photos and seen that there are ingredients in the photo that doesn’t appear in the recipe — so frustrating!  Well, not a problem with Karen’s books.  In fact I felt like she was looking over my shoulder as I read — when I’d read something and say what?! — she would then explain that while right now you were saying what?!  the explanation is coming – and there it would be in the next sentence.

And there are more books -Yes, books plural!  Because while I was happy to find that the Asian Pickles book was her most recent endeavor, she also wrote Can it, Bottle it Smoke it — and her other book, Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it.  She makes fun things like sauces, dressings, dips, pasta, pickles, preserved meats and fish, jams, cheese, sweet treats and frozen popsicles, savory granola, nut milks — Cheese Weasels anyone?!

If you are into being a food geek, you can listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview!


Henry’s Olives, Henry Robertson

New short film about Henry’s Olives!

Oh Henry and I go way back — back to the days when he was a full time woodworker and I was taking wood shop classes at the College of the Redwoods.  I was pretty tentative with the equipment — and Henry was pretty patient trying to get me to be more confident and to finish my project (a shaker style cabinet…it took ages to finish…teaching me the importance of really loving a project if you are going to spend years working on it…)

So, of course, when Jessica Eden and I first started Food for Thought — he was one of the first people that was interviewed about his olive business.  Now, after 7 years — I figured it was time to re-visit Henry’s Olives and talk to him about many of the additional products he has added to his line.

Listen Here

Henry’s Olives website

The Tofu Shop, Matthew Schmidt

One of the very first interviews I did for Food for Thought was with Matthew Schmidt out at The Tofu Shop — and here it is, about 7 years later and we figured we better catch up with Matthew and find out about the new fermented products they are selling.  While I’m here, let me include my favorite tofu marinade (it also works well for albacore tuna, and probably any cut of meat you can imagine).  It is inspired by a recipe on food.com called Tofu With Sweet Ginger Marinade and was first served to me by good friends Michele Harrison and Nathan Shishido — both are great gardeners and cooks!

3 package of The Tofu Shop extra firm tofu sliced into 10 slabs each

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup mirin

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

1.5 tsp dry mustard

1/4 cup grated fresh ginger

1 head garlic finely chopped.

Put everything except tofu in a pot on the stove and simmer for 10-20 minutes.  Put the tofu in a bowl and cover with marinade and put in the fridge — it is best after 1 day and up to 1 week.  Fry it up and serve with rice and greens — yum!

Now for the interviews with Matthew — so much to talk about we actually had to break it into 3 different interviews.  Part 1 and Part 2 about The Tofu Shop — and then Part 3 is about their line of fermented products.

The Tofu Shop website

Humboldt Kimchi – Sarah and Gailee Han (aka Mama Han)

 Gailee was a little worried when I wanted to pop the top on the home-made kimchi she brought to the studio — and yes, I was a little worried about the other KHSU volunteers that used the space.  I mean — they might not understand that the permeating odor of fermentation meant there was something delicious — crunchy, spicy, and definitely Korean to be had.  Kimchi, for the uninitiated, is a product that uses our friends, the Lactobacillus, and salt — to make a pickled product.

Now, as I understand, Kimchi in Korea is different from house to house — each woman (and possibly man) making their own unique flavor combination that includes cabbage and other vegetables, a paste of spicy peppers, possibly seafood, and possibly meat.  Gailee and her daughter Sarah are using peppers grown on grandma’s balcony in Korea — but the hope is they will find some locally produced peppers to make their Humboldt Kimchi truly Humboldt.  Already they are sourcing their vegetables from local farmers — and are working out the kinks on all of the regulations and certifications so we will all be able to eat some of this delicious crunch spicy goodness (If your mouth isn’t watering — you need to get your salivary glands checked!) —

Listen here

Keep an eye out for Humboldt Kimchi facebook page — coming soon to a market near you…if you live in Humboldt!

Fermentation, Christopher and Kirsten Shockey

I LOVE FERMENTATION!  Truth in advertising here — I enjoy many methods of home food preservation but fermentation is more like conjuring magic or alchemy — taking some basic ingredients and sprinkle with some fairy dust — voila — gold!  ok, not gold necessarily — but delicious vegetables that have been transformed into something completely different and even more delicious!

I have fermented gallons of sauerkraut and beets, and I have a few things brewing along that I’m not even sure I should mention because it might just scare you!  Things are bubbling and brewing on various shelves in the house and garage — a batch of red miso…which will take an entire year; a couple of quarts of shoyu koji; a kombucha mother awaits a transformation while it rests in the fridge until I get brave enough to attempt brewing that up — red vinegar mother is in one cupboard with big slabs of mother growing on it like giant blood clots (see?  it is scary — I wasn’t kidding!)

If you are wanting to get bit by the fermentation bug you can do no better than to order Christopher and Kirsten’s book — Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting ’64 Vegetables and Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes and Pastes 

Sounds pretty comprehensive, right?  Well it is — and no, I don’t get a commission on book sales.  I have, however, bought plenty of cookbooks and a few fermentation books and this one is the best, especially for someone just starting out.

How did I hook up with these folks?  I had a fermentation experiment go bad — and sent a plea to the Fermentista’s Kitchen and Kirsten got right back to me.  While we weren’t able to save the patient (tomatoes that actually turned into something like salty tomato beer…but that’s another story) — we did hook up to schedule some wonderful interviews about fermenting.

Interview With Christopher

Interview With Kirsten