Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What am I doing?

Recipe: Vegetable Ferments

We’re five months into the year 2010, and I’m sure a few of you reading this made New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing with them?

I’ve read different statistics, varying from 90% resolutions gone by the wayside by February, to 90% by the end of the year. Either way, the trend is to not follow through on these commitments.

Why do so many of us ‘fail’ at our resolutions? They are noble aspirations, and we know they’re good for us, right?

Do we really understand how change works in our lives?

I have a passion for change. Having spent many years practicing Buddhism, among other spiritual paths, it’s an ongoing contemplation for me.

One of the central teachings in Buddhism is that change is always happening. Whether slowly or quickly, we are changing, our environment is changing, our thoughts and feelings are changing. Always. This is a given. Nothing stays static.

So, what we are talking about here, is making the change that is already happening, conscious. There is usually some kind of momentum to the patterns of change in our life, an inertia. With a resolution we seek to change the direction of that already existing flow.

Holding this in mind when we approach a resolution can help bring into focus the underpinnings of the resolution - namely - what are we doing? What is the flow that is already occurring? It can be very tempting to skip this acknowledgment. We tend to lean forward to the next thing, give me the next thing, the better thing - get me away from this thing I don’t like. This ill health, this body or mind that doesn’t feel good. I know I’ll feel better if I quit smoking or drinking alcohol, go on a diet, go to the health club, get more sleep, ....

These habits we look to change didn’t appear out of nowhere. And most of them didn’t appear yesterday. They have served us in some way. Perhaps buffered us from some discomfort, helped us get through some difficulty. Bonded us with friends, family and tribe perhaps. Given us an identity.

Some examples might be - ‘There’s was rarely enough food to eat when I was growing up, and now it’s hard not to eat everything on my plate, even when I’m really not hungry anymore. Part of me is afraid there won’t be anything for the next meal.’

‘I have always felt shy and awkward. Having a couple of drinks helps me relax and I can have conversations more easily.’

‘My mom and I loved to make cookies together after school. It was the only time I really felt like I had all her attention. Now eating sweet things makes me feel loved and special.’

‘i just feel like I have to be doing something all the time. Having a cigarette is a good excuse to take a break. I don’t know if I’d take breaks if I didn’t smoke. Besides, having a cigarette with a friend is just a ritual I LOVE.’

‘Working 80 hours a week is killing me, but I’m so afraid I won’t have enough money to retire on!’

Your story may be different. But there’s a story associated with all these habits we’d like to break, whether it’s a story about our past, our present, or our future. And often the stories about our present and future have roots in the past.

In future posts I’ll explore more about making our changes conscious, but for this one I’d like to just rest here, with what is happening before we jump into the future.

What are you doing? Choose one habit you have thoughts about changing. Spend some time exploring that habit. What are you receiving from this activity? How does it serve you? If it doesn’t help you, how did it help you before? Where did it come from? How did it develop?

See if you can spend this time without judgment. You may be surprised to discover things you didn’t know about yourself. And, I hope you’ll find some forgiveness for your humanity. Perhaps some gratitude for how these things we’re ready to let go of have served us.

Vegetable Ferments
Gluten and Dairy-Free, low carb, candida appropriate (in fact, GREAT for candida sufferers! Lots of natural probiotics.)

I'm choosing the veggie ferment recipe for this post because I like the analogy. If we let ourselves sit still for a while, things will develop that may surprise us. If we eat it too soon, well, it just tastes like salty, raw vegetables.


  • 2 -3 pounds of shredded or thinly sliced or whole vegetable(s) of choice. Could be green cabbage for sauerkraut; a mix of napa cabbage, green onion, daikon radish, bok choi and red chili for kimchi; green beans and dill; carrots and garlic; or, of course, cucumber for a classic pickle.
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp of good quality mineral salt - Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, or Real Salt
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp brine from an earlier ferment, if available, (for non cabbage ferments only)

For a cabbage based ferment, (or shredded beets or turnips) measure out about 2 tsp salt per pound of vegetable. Scatter the salt on the chopped veggies and toss to distribute. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave it for and hour or two. When you come back the vegetable should have released it's liquid. Massage it a little with your hands to help it along. Stuff it into a quart mason jar, leaving about an inch space above the vegetable, and lay a grape leaf over the top of it if you have one. Liquid should rise above the level of the vegetable. Cap jar tightly.

For non-cabbage or non-shredded veggies, cut to desired size and shape and stuff as tightly as possible into a quart mason jar, leaving about an inch of space to the top of the jar. Make a brine. Measure about 2 tsp of salt into a cup and a half of filtered or spring water and stir. Taste. The brine should taste too salty to be pleasant, but not so salty that you gag. (Thanks, Alyss for this great description of making a brine!) Add salt or water as needed to achieve the desired saltiness. Add brine from earlier ferment to the jar of veggies, if using, and pour the fresh brine over the vegetables, leaving about an inch head space. Lay a grape leaf over the top, if using. Cap it tightly.

Leave jar on your counter or in a cupboard for 3 - 7 days. Burp the jars daily to make sure the pressure doesn't build up too intensely. If the ferment looks very active to you, open it slowly over a sink, or wrapped in a kitchen towel - they can spray pretty hard! Press the vegetables down with a fork or spoon. Taste.

When the pickle tastes tart and sour to your liking, put it in your fridge or cool basement. Enjoy!

This post is a part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday!


Unknown said...

Change -, if I were religous I would be a Bhuddist.I´m leaving it for old age,seems a better future that an old peoples home.So change is near the heart. I believe in it totally,I try to teach my kids that no matter how hard you try for it not to,change will occour.I havent linked it to habits,probably becase I havent given it much thought.I also unfortunately dont make new years resolutions, except when I´m sitting in a plane..I promise´I´ll never*** again if I just get there safe,.Getting back to change,observing friends,family and life in general it seems that one of the things which terrifies most is change and that which is most sought after is security, just about the opposite of change . So a lot of time and energy is spent swimming against the tide, against the natural flow of life.The lessons are, I think, not only to learn to flow, but to react,observe and meditate how and when to change,once we´ve got over the initial fear of it.The world at the moment is one big page of change and they're trying to sell it to us as negative. I believe it will be for good. The subject is close to my heart and I am profoundly grateful for you exposing it in your blog.

Durga Fuller said...

Thanks for commenting, Erika!

Yes, change is such a funny thing - we either tend to be afraid of it and resist, or we decide it's not happening fast enough when we don't like something. The issue at hand, I think, is to bring consciousness to it. Just shining the light can affect the course of things, and at the very least, demystify what we might be resisting or judging. Many issues are simply not as bad as we think they are.

Unknown said...

‘My mom and I loved to make cookies together after school. It was the only time I really felt like I had all her attention. Now eating sweet things makes me feel loved and special.’

I came to this conclusion yesterday about myself and today I read it almost word for word in your blog. Uncanny.

Durga Fuller said...

Carrie, I just found this comment waiting for moderation - Blogger never sent it to me! I'm so sorry for the long silence.

These kinds of realizations are startling, aren't they? Our psyches are such tender things, and they remember EVERYTHING! Awareness is an amazing tool, though. Congratulations! How's that realization settling now, a few months later?