Turkey Tracks: I’m in Charleston

anTurkey Tracks:  May 27, 2014


I’m In Charleston


Hello Everyone,


I’m in Charleston–and will be for the next two weeks.

I’m visiting my two sons, who live two blocks from each other on Isle of Palms–which is just north of Charleston harbor.  AND, I’m staring my visit with my old young friend Tara Derr Webb and her husband Leighton Webb of Awendaw, SC.  They are the owners of the Farmbar project (farm to table food and the products of the most amazing farms and fiber makers) and of Deux Peuces Farm (two fleas–they are the two fleas).  Tara falls in age between my two sons, so I’ve known her almost as long as I’ve known them–minus a decade maybe.

Tara and I are working on her farm–there will be a workshop later today to make lacto-fermented foods and to teach others from the Farmbar community to make them.   And we are off in a minute to round up the food for the workshop.  I came prepared with books (Sandor Ellis Katz’s WILD FERMENTATION, for one) and a handout that includes gut health issues and information about The Weston A. Price Foundation.

This morning we shared this page from Thich Nhat Hanh’s HOW TO SIT:


Many of us keep trying to do more and more.  We do things because we want to make money, accomplish something, take care of others, or make our lives and our world better.  Often we do things without thinking, because we are in the habit of doing them, because someone asks us to, or because we think we should.  But if the foundation of our being is not strong enough, then the more we do, the more troubled our society becomes.

Sometimes we do a lot, but we don’t really do anything.  There are many people who work a lot.  There are people who seem to meditate a lot, spending many hours a day doing sitting meditation, chanting, reciting, lighting a lot of incense, but who never transform their anger, frustration, and jealousy.  This is because the quality of our being is the basis of all our actions.  With an attitude of accomplishing, judging, or grasping, all of our actions–even our meditation–will have that quality.  The quality of our presence is the most positive element that we can contribute to the world.

Here’s a not-so-great picture of Tara on her porch this morning–in between chores.  I will take pictures while I am here for later–the ipad isn’t so great for the blog.




Turkey Tracks: Lacto-Fermenting Project

Turkey Tracks:  December 7, 2013

Lacto-Fermenting Project


I got it into my head that I needed to make a good bit of lacto-fermented foods right away.

Thursday saw me buying a huge bag full of cabbages (red and white), leeks, turnips, rutabegas, and parsnips.  I already had a big bag carrots.  And the garden is full of kale.

Veggies to Lactoferment

Here’s the spread:

Veggies on counter

And the kale from the garden.  I also brought in handfuls of the last of the sage, which is a bit more winter hardy than the other herbs:

Kale from garde

On Friday, I started food processing.  I had two projects:  to make a new batch of the root veggies I LOVED over the past few months.  The first batch was just turnips, carrots, garlic, and sage.  This batch would have also parsnips (very sweet) and rutabegas and red onion.

I don’t know how to describe the taste of this turnip mixture.  It does not taste like turnip.  It does have a bright, fresh taste that is delightful–much as Sandor Ellis Katz promised in his book WILD FERMENTATION.

The second project was some mixtures of cabbage (red and white), leeks, onions when I ran out of leeks, kale, carrot, one had a turnip, more garlic, and sage.  I decided to do at least two mixtures of just cabbage, carrot, and caraway seeds–the traditional mixture from NOURISHING TRADITIONS (Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Mary Enig of The Weston A. Price Foundation) with which I started this journey.

The project went rather well:

Lactofermented veggies, 4 gallons

There is a gallon of fermented cabbage in the crock.  I transferred it to jars this morning.  So I have almost 4 gallons of delicious food.

The orange is the root veggie mixture.  The cabbage mixtures will turn bright rosy pink in a few days–from the red cabbage effect.

The kitchen was a mess when I was done.  (You should have seen the floor.)

veggies, kitchen wipeout

But it cleaned up quickly as no grease was involved:

Kitchen clean-up

Hint:  the jars will be so pretty with a red ribbon and a Christmas Card attached, don’t you think?


And I’m not giving away the big root veggie jar or the jar with the hinge.  They’re for ME!!

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Sandor Ellis Katz at Cornell

Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  November 6, 2013

Sandor Ellis Katz

Cornell University

April 2, 2012

I finally slowed down to listen to Sandor Ellis Katz–WILD FERMENTATION–at Cornell Univerity.  The U-tube video is 90 minutes.  So, grab some handwork, settle in, and enjoy an interesting, thought provoking lecture that discusses, in part, how the standardization of food has drastically altered our ability to enjoy the full power inherent in heritage foods–even when so-called “heritage” foods are made and sold–something Katz thinks is false advertising.

Such changes have altered the “culture” in every sense of that word–the way we live, the cultures we use in foods (yogurt, kombucha, breads, beers, etc.)

So, do you ever try to make yogurt?  And have you noticed that you get really good yogurt for a few generations, and then you…don’t?

Well, the reason is that a culture is a community of many different organisms–thirty or more– that work together to keep the culture stable.  But this kind of community is very hard to standardize–so industry only uses part of the community–which means that what is being advertised is not really the genuine thing.  For instance, the dried powder we buy to start a yogurt culture does not contain the full community of organisms.  And, commercial kombucha only uses part of the SCOBY colony to make its product.  (A SCOBY is a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeasts.)  The same is true of yogurt, cheeses, breads, beer, and so forth.

Cultures for yogurt, kefir (pronounced ke-fear, I’ve learned), kombucha and so forth used to be passed down in families and communities–and they retained their full components in the process.  What we have now is NOT the full biodiversity of a heritage culture.  So the loss, the reduction, is enormous–and is a loss of the culture (the social grouping) as well.

The yogurt culture one can buy can only sustain itself for a few generations–because it isn’t complete.  Standardization killed it.  Food safety laws have limited it.

So, Katz’s main message is that we need to reclaim our food as mass production has been an abject failure in that this food lacks…cultures…and has changed our culture in unhealthy ways.  Shifting how we eat begins to reclaim our culture–so that we once again nourish our bodies and regain our health.

Take some time for yourself to understand what has gone wrong, what the limits of industrialization are, what you can do.

And, maybe try to locate a heritage culture for yogurt and/or kefir.

And, make some lacto-fermented foods for yourself.  They are so delicious!

Here is Katz’s video on how to make a sauerkraut–which bear no similarity to that limp stuff you get in a can: