Florida Man is Back!

When you allegedly get high on Meth, drive your Ford F-150 into the door of a liquor store in Alabama, and shoot the person who tries to help you, you must be a Florida Man. Such is life in the modern South.

Details, details, details. According to the Calhoun County, Alabama police, at 6.49 AM yesterday morning, a man from Panama City, Florida, ran his pickup into the Liquor King store on Alabama Highway 21. The manager of an Econo Lodge Motel next door came over to help him, and was rewarded for his good Samaritan behavior by getting shot in the leg by Florida Man. A woman who was also trying to help ran like hell to get away from the lunatic, and quite rightly so.

Florida Man was just getting started. He got out of the truck, and walked down the road shooting randomly, until he ran out of bullets. He then passed out in the middle of the highway, and stayed there until an off-duty cop came and arrested him. Florida Man was then taken to the local hospital for observation, hopefully in a different room from the person he shot.

Since liquor is a plant product, and meth is a cooked product (at least according to Walter White in Breaking Bad), I felt compelled to tell this story. That, and I get to quote the Sheriff of Calhoun County, who made the understatement of the century: “It’s a scary world that we live in.”

Two Tomatoes, One Pepper

The Heirloom Roma

There is a humorous German term for all the panic buying that has been going on: Hamsterkauf. The literal translation is “Hamster buying,” but the implication is that people are shopping like they are Hamsters.

Having said that, I may require an intervention on the vegetable plant buying front. I’m closing in on seventy tomato plants, and what do I do but buy two more varieties, bringing my total number up to a lucky thirteen. Truthfully, I grew most of the plants myself, but nothing can stop me when it comes to buying heirloom plants.

Yesterday we went to the re-opened Festhalle Farmer’s Market, and on the far end was a woman selling heirloom vegetable plants. That was especially significant considering that it was 43 degrees F, and the north wind was about ten miles an hour, and this is an open air market. Her plants looked very good, so I added two of the all time greats to my tomato roster.

The one at the top is a Roma tomato, which is the classic paste tomato. I have three hybrid Romas already, but usually the taste of the hybrids can’t match that of the original.

Cherokee Purple

My second tomato is the famed Southern variety Cherokee Purple, which came from a seed saver in Tennessee, and was said to have been cultivated by the Cherokee tribe of native Americans. I try and grow at least one of these every year, as the flavor is phenomenal.

Tabasco Short Yellow

This last one is a plant I have not seen before, which I bought at my favorite plant seller’s store on the way home. It’s a fiery hot Tabasco that ripens to yellow fruit instead of red. The Tabasco sauce people once made a yellow sauce, but I think it is no longer available. I will have to make my own fermented sauce with these.

I put Blood Meal in with all these plants. Nothing like pure nitrogen to get them going. Now we need some temps back in the 70’s and 80’s again. When that happens, naturally I will complain that it’s too hot.

Sauerkraut Season

The Beginning, and the End Result

What with the fall cabbage harvest coming in, it’s time to turn that surplus into a German, and German-American, specialty. Namely, fermented sliced cabbage, better known as Sauerkraut.

Pictured above is a first day ferment, complete with fermentation lids, made by yours truly for next to nothing, and a nice quart I made last spring. My mother in law Agnes Olga would fiddle around with giant crocks full of cabbage, but not me. Give me a lid and an airlock any day.

Ingredients

One medium Cabbage, sliced

Salt

Caraway Seeds

Apple Wine (substitute any white wine)

This not exactly traditional recipe is kicked up by the addition of the wine. Among other things, it insures the fermenting cabbage will not be exposed to the air. Also, a bludgeoning tool is most efficacious when it comes to stomping down some fresh cabbage.

Stompers

The sliced cabbage needs to be crushed to release the water contained in the leaves. The big one does that, and the small one is used to pack the jars. A medium cabbage only makes two pints of kraut, if they are properly stomped on. Ferment for three to six weeks, depending on how sauer you like your kraut.

This is a great first fermentation project. That, and the final product tastes great on a good bratwurst.

Remoulade Sauce, Two Ways

Remoulade sauce in the South is used on everything from salads to shrimp. I make two versions, one for salads, and one for mostly seafood dishes, including the fabulous fried catfish po boy. We’ll start with the simple version.

Ingredients

Mayonnaise

Dijon Mustard

Ketchup

Lemon Juice

Salt

I usually only make enough of this for one meal at a time, so I stick to a ratio of four parts of mayo to one part each of mustard, ketchup, and lemon, and then salt to taste. A sweet Bavarian mustard is also excellent in this, if you can find it. You can also add sweet pickle relish.

And then there is the savory version:

Ingredients

Mayonnaise

Creole Mustard

Ketchup

Lemon Juice

Salt

Dill Pickle, chopped finely

Scallions, chopped finely

Parsley, chopped

Capers, chopped

Tabasco Sauce, to taste

This one is more traditionally Southern, as it has some kick to it, hot, salty, and sour. I just made some fermented Garlic Dill Pickles, and I can’t wait to add some of those to this recipe. Proportions of the four main ingredients should be roughly the same as the first version, and the others are a matter of taste. I go light on the pickles and capers.

I have all the makings for a fried catfish po boy for this upcoming holiday weekend, except for some good Carolina Classic catfish. Time for a run to the market.

Fermentation Lids–Theory and Practice

More Entertaining than Television, and You get Pickles

Since I bought a copy of The Art of Fermentation by Katz, I have just been walking around looking for things to ferment. I also made my own fermentation lids, so as to keep from having to buy overpriced ones that are half the quality of mine.

Materials

Ball Plastic Storage Lids

Tattler Rubber Rings

Three Piece Airlock

5/8″ Food Grade Grommet

As far as tools go, the minimum is a drill with a 1/2″ drill bit. After cracking a few lids, I went to drilling a pilot hole with a smaller bit, and then brought out the big bit. I also turned the lid upside down and put it on some scrap wood. The cracked lid rate went to almost zero. Here’s the buisiness side of the lid.

That Means, Not for Canning

The rubber ring is necessary to create a seal for the fermentation process. The fact that a 5/8″ grommet needs a half inch hole has to do with quantum physics, I believe.

Need a recipe? How about pickles.

Ingredients

5-8 Cucumbers

4 cups Water

1 tablespoon Sea Salt

1 tablespoon Dill Seeds

1 Bay Leaf

1 clove Garlic

1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds

1 teaspoons Peppercorns

Cayenne Pepper Flakes

1 quart Mason Jar

Dissolve the salt in warm water. After it has cooled, pour it over the cucumber/herb/spice mixture. Slap on a lid and an airlock, and ferment from one to three weeks. The longer they go, the more sour they get.

The same fermentation lid will also help you make the best sauerkraut you’ve ever eaten. I add a little homemade (fermented) Apple Wine to my shredded and mashed cabbage, and some caraway seed, just for a twist. After that, no vegetable in the kitchen is safe.