I am not a big city kind-of-girl. I just find them loud, dirty, busy, and everyone is in such a big hurry. I have visited many large cities (mostly in transit) during my travels, however, Panama City is my first Latin American ‘big’ city. And it ticks all the boxes listed above plus it is very hot and humid. I am seriously out of my comfort zone here.
To add to my discomfort we haven’t had the most accommodating first week here. Traveling with children is a challenge and we all arrived very tired. Although, I have to say they both traveled rather well, but jet lag is something they are not familiar with so getting back into any type of normal sleep routine just isn’t happening. Then 3 days in to our visit I came down with a tummy bug, then Mika half a day later, and now my Mum and sister have it. We can’t pin down if it is something we ate (as the children have been living on crackers and toast which isn’t exactly tummy bug material) or a re-occurrence of the tummy bug we had before we left, apparently it is a lingering beast.
We have 3 more days in the city then we are off to visit H’s brother in Colombia. He runs a backpackers in a small village called Minka in the hills above Santa Marta on the north coast of Colombia. Because it is elevated it is cooler and lower humidity than on the coast. I think I will like it better there. We have two weeks in Colombia with very little internet access so I won’t be around my usual places of social media and minimal email. However, I have two fantastic guest posts lined up during this time for Homegrown Kitchen so you won’t miss out. I am sure you will enjoy both of these offerings but until then I leave you with one of our favourite (and coincidentally Latin American-style) accompaniments we add to almost every meal back home. You may remember I posted a photo of a fresh batch a while back on my Facebook page. And now I share the recipe.
I went to a fermentation workshop a while back with Irma Jager. If you live in Nelson you will likely know this inspiring woman who lives and breathes everything she believes in. At the workshop she showed us how to make many different lacto-fermented foods including sauerkraut, gherkins, pickled onions, pickled garlic, pickled beetroot, olives, water kefir and more. All naturally fermented without the use of sugar or vinegar using the traditional method of lacto-fermentation with salt and whey (optional). During the workshop we learned that one small serving of lacto-fermented food i.e. 1 large tablespoon of sauerkraut or homemade yogurt, or a small glass of kefir, is equivalent to taking 2 probiotic pills. I am all for eating my vitamins (and essential nutrients) in food rather than taking a pills so I was very happy to hear this. Read more about the importance of fermented food HERE.
Recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Makes 2 Agee jars (2 x 1 litre jars)
1 green cabbage, reserve 2 outer leaves
2 medium onions
6 large carrots (approx. 800g)
1 Tbsp sea salt
4 Tbsp whey (OR 1 Tbsp extra sea salt)
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
large pinch of cayenne (more if you like it hot)
Using a food processor or sharp knife, thinly slice/ shred the cabbage and onions. Grate the carrots. I find it much faster to use my food processor for this and also achieves a nice uniform mix. Put the prepared vegetables into a large bowl or pot and add the salt, whey (or extra salt), oregano and cayenne. Use your hands to combine the vegetables well. Using a pestle or rolling-pin beat the vegetables until bruised and the liquid is released. I find this takes about 3-4 minutes (less time than cabbage sauerkraut as the carrots are very juicy). Pack firmly into clean jars using the pestle to push the vegetables down until the liquid rises above them. Leave about 2 cm at the top of the jar. Fold a piece of the reserved outer cabbage leaf and snugly fit on top of the vegetables. Secure the lid.
Leave for 3 days at room temperature (I put mine on top of the fridge). After 3 days transfer to the fridge for at least 24 hours before moving to a cool dark place (pantry). Putting the cortido in the fridge will bring the rapid fermentation to a halt leaving it to slowly ferment until the jar is opened. You can leave the jars in the fridge if you have the space. The cortido is best after 3-4 weeks in the pantry (or fridge) but can be eaten after a week. I get into a routine of making it every 3 weeks as 1 jar lasts us about 1-2 weeks. Eat 1 – 2 servings (serving = 1 heaped tablespoon) a day as a side to meat, beans, lentils, eggs, and I also like it with my four-seed crackers and cheese as a snack.
I would love your feedback if you make this, or if you already make your own lacto-fermented foods please share any tips. So far I have had about 98% success using this method. Occasionally I have to scoop off the top layer as it has a white mold (this is harmless) but mostly it comes out perfectly sour with a nice kick from the cayenne.
*Cabbage Sauerkraut. Personally I find the cortido more flavoursome and interesting than plain cabbage sauerkraut. However, if you want to make this with just cabbage, use 2 cabbages and omit the onion, carrot, oregano and cayenne, and use the same technique allowing 10 minutes to beat and bruise the cabbage before packing into the jars. Continue as above for the fermentation.