Monday, February 25, 2013
Back to my roots
This past Saturday, aspiring and accomplished urban gardeners celebrated the 6th annual -- and best ever -- Rooting DC. It was the fourth time I attended the free, all-day conference, and the second time I've presented. (Me! An expert at something! I have been known to preserve a thing or two in my day....) This time, instead of demonstrating how one could make vegan kim chi, as I did in 2010, dozens of us made kim chi together. And pickles, too. It was an exercise in controlled chaos.
As soon as I finished giving a primer on the basics of pickling and fermenting, the workshop attendees pounced on the tableful of produce, spices, and equipment. (I forget sometimes that adults need instructions and parameters, too. At least they were all avid handwashers, if not so much washers of tables and dishes.) The enthusiasm was electrifying, though, and as I made a few rounds passing out additional kim chi mashers and suggesting folks pass along ingredients they weren't using to other groups who needed more greens or mustard seed, I couldn't help but smile.
There were easily double the number of people I'd expected. Luckily we had enough jars, kindly donated by my fellow Slow Food DC board members, supplemented with more jars donated by my friend Jessica at GrowingSOUL, and a random assortment of glassware I'd amassed in the weeks leading up to the hands-on workshop. Using a big, beautiful crate of beets, turnips, radishes, cabbages, kale, and onions from the lovely Farmer Mo at Moutoux Orchards, plus cucumbers from the grocery store (they're not in season yet, but I didn't want to get attacked by folks expecting traditional pickles at a pickling workshop) and a load of spices picked up at GLUT, we chopped, peeled, mashed, and stuffed jars full of savory treats. Cinnamon sticks were hammered on cutting boards, vinegar solutions concocted in mixing bowls.
People asked lots of good questions, and I left with some research to undertake. (Like what is this about pickling grapes?? I'm so on it!) Nobody lost a finger, and the only missing implement after all was said and done was a set of measuring spoons. Not bad.