What wonder,
oh grandfather sky,
in these wisen’d branches
bearing up my questions
to the low noon sun,
signaling victory
beyond reach –

until the stars,
when the chill of night
is like the fast freedom of a dream
and all cold is just a wind
across my fierce warm cheek
smiling,

and all my wondering is as absurd
as that red mushroom in the grass –
big man, you must be joking?

Do not eat these mushrooms. 
Tis for wild pigs to snuffle, but wise pigs to discern; they may be red and pretty, but these are not the mushrooms you were looking for. 
More’s the pity..

Solstice approaches; the sweet sound of the half-time whistle to ragged runners in a race to the spring. Well, not ragged yet maybe but starting to get a little wet perhaps, ready for a nice sit down and a cup of hot tea. Here we’re rosy-cheeked from glorious days of autumn spent outside, kicking the fallen leaves, building a nest for winter in our little woodland.

What, you might ask, is the secret of said rosy cheeks? What magic stokes their digestive fire in these days? Not the latest Peruvian mega-root, not even the godly cacao bean but..

Sauerkraut.

Don’t flinch, or curl your lips – please! Erase all memories of shop-bought jars of saggy wigs of old cabbage. Since we started making our own Kraut, I can hardly pass a meal without it and my intestinal flora is undergoing a quiet revolution.

Once you’ve got all your veggies together it takes less than half an hour to make enough Kraut to get you through the winter with a warm, smug, probiotic glow. Don’t hesitate, invest in your intestinal bacteria today!

le croque Mabon

Directions:
You will need a big pile of veg and a crock, which means a large wide-mouthed earthenware pot. If you don’t have one you can use any big-mouthed vessel (insert your own joke here). You can use large glass jars (bit fiddly) or even a plastic bucket but it should be food grade plastic. You can’t use metal as it interferes with the fermentation process. Whatever you use the inside should be very clean before you start.

I’ve got a big crock (jokes just rolling in now) and so we used 3kg of veg to fill it about 3/4 full. Adapt the amounts of veg below to suit your container:

2 large cabbages
beetroot
turnip
carrots
2 tablespoons juniper berries
3 tablespoons of salt

You can use any combination of the abundant seasonal vegetables we have available now. For our last batch we used dill seeds and caraway seeds instead of Juniper berries and it was super-yum. If you want to delve deeper into the subject, we hightily recommend the book ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Ellix Katz, the undisputed Don of fermentation. Miso, beer, bread, mead and more are all in there and he writes with the infectious zeal of a self-confessed fermentation fetishist. Add it to your Christmas list or give it to you your more cultured friends (are you groaning yet?). You’ll love it.

Shred all the veg in a food processor or with a grater and mix together in a big bowl. Then dump the mixture in large handfulls into the crock sprinkling the salt and whatever seasoning you’re using in between the layers.

The salt will start to break down the veg as soon as it makes contact, creating a briney liquid. When you’ve put all the veg inside, pummel down on the mixture with your fist and the brine should start to squelch around the sides.

Next find a plate just small enough to fit through the mouth of your container and place it upside down on the top of the mixture. Press it down firmly and the briney liquid should rise to cover the shredded veg (if it doesn’t right away, leave it for a little while and try again to give the salt a chance to do it’s thing).

Now weight the plate down with a vase of water or a rock (cleaned!) and cover with a tea towel. You’re Kraut is now living and breathing its way into incarnation. Check it a couple of times over the next few days to see that the juice protrudes above the grated veg. You may need to give your weight a little manual pressure.

After 2 weeks, remove the plate and scrape off any mold around the edges. Have a little taste. It may have soured enough to dish out your first jar or you may want to wait for it to mature further. It’ll keep fermenting in the crock so you can leave it be and take more out when you’re present jar is running low. Alternatively, if after 3 weeks you’re happy with it as it is, jar up the lot and keep it in the fridge.

Serve with.. everything!

Rest in peace

Finally, a short commercial break:

The Lovechefs’
CHRISTMAS RAW CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
Handmade, raw, organic, infused with the spirit of the songs of Noël.

Caramel Crunch – medjool dates, Peruvian carob (mesquite) and cinnamon crunch dipped in bitter dark chocolate
Chocolate olive fudge – outrageous salty sweet chocolate fudge bites – otherwise known as the infamous ‘weird brownie’ – a must try
Strawberry cream – rounds of fresh strawberry, lucuma cream dipped in dark chocolate
Santa’s naughty loveballs – a spiced fudge topped with a lovechefs special brandy butter dipped in dark chocolate
Limited number only!
*note – we use organic sustainably farmed Canadian maple syrup as our sweetener.

For a beautifully wrapped giftbox of 8 the price is £12 including postage and packaging.

If you’d like to get in on the Christmas Lovebox action, please have your orders in to us by WEDNESDAY 7TH DECEMBER and we’ll send them out to you on 15th December to arrive in time for Christmas day.

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