So. Do you like sauerkraut? I mean — have you given homemade sauerkraut a chance in your adult life?
I was reintroduced to the stuff when I lived with a roommate in Boston who was, according to a friend, “like a Level 10 vegan.” Vegan roommate, an excellent cook, used to pack red cabbage in jars and let them ferment in a cabinet, adding the finished product to sandwiches and rice dinners and other things. It was good sauerkraut, not creepy like the unmonitored vats at a hot dog stand, and I could see that it was very easy to make. (It is easy on the level of doing your own laundry.)
Not long after I found a terrific fanzine called Wild Fermentation that teaches one how to make their own sauerkraut. It also teaches one how to make cheese, or tempeh, or tej or yogurt or pickles and other fermented foods. It has since been turned into a book but you can still find the stunningly simple recipe for sauerkraut here. Thank you, Sandor Ellix Katz, a.k.a. Sandor Kraut, for making your passion so accessible to us.
This is one of my most favorite everyday cakes, since it is reasonably simple to prepare and it includes two of my most favorite flavors, pears and cardamom. I first made this cake at my sister’s house where I pulled the recipe from one of her cookbooks; I then copied the recipe onto the back of a receipt or something similarly scrappish and promptly lost it in a pile of paper; and then I rediscovered it today while cleaning off my desk. The thing is that I didn’t write down whose recipe it is or what book it came from, so if there are any sleuths out there who can clue me in to its origin, please do. Otherwise we’ll all just have to wait until I go to see my sister again.
It is called “Buttermilk Country Cake” and I am positive it is from a Maida Heatter-influenced cookbook. I made a Pear Upside-Down Cake using an actual Maida Heatter buttermilk cake recipe for a dinner party in Alaska, and it was just not the same. For starts, the M. H. version was enormous in comparison, like double-size the progeny’s version, and for seconds, it was a bit drier and tougher (though for that I’ll point to my probable overbeating of batter. M. H. is not to be messed with). The recipe I have for you here is moist-er than the popular Gourmet Magazine buttermilk cake recipe floating about online. For me, it is just right.
About an hour after arriving in Valdez, and less than 24 hours after arriving in Alaska, I received an invitation to spend the night on a fishing boat in Prince William Sound. My dear friend S., on hiatus from the Redacted Museum, has been spending her summer working at the Valdez Museum and I took her up on the offer to visit. She’d borrowed a minivan from her friend Neal to pick me up in Anchorage, where my flight got in at eleven-thirty at night. Upon arrival I noticed the visible station of the sun and a quantity of handsomely taxidermied animals positioned about the airport, and felt certain that I’d landed in a different place.