Last week was my first week of downsizeism, and I have been working hard to stay positive and do all the things one is supposed to do. I told everyone I'm looking for work, I filed for unemployment, and one day I even went to a networking group I'd heard about. They meet twice a month in a cafe near my house, so I ambled down and walked in to find a dozen middle-aged suburban white ladies sitting in a circle. They asked me what I did for a living, and I said I was an editor, and it turned out they all were editors too, and then they began chanting, "We accept her! We accept her! Gooba-gabba! One of us!" and basically scared the crap out of me. I ran out into the rain and hid under a circus wagon until they went away.
On the way home I stopped to pick up our weekly vegetable half-share. There's this deal in our village where you can sign up and pay in advance to have a local organic farmer bring you whatever vegetables they harvest each week from about June through November. We thought it was too expensive for us, but then a couple of our friends signed up and realized they couldn't possibly eat all that kale, so we bought half of their share and now we eat a LOT of vegetables, many of which I had never previously heard of. (Rattail radishes?) The quality varies, from arugula that was so bug-eaten it looked like lace to some of the most delicious squash I've ever had. One thing I'd never tried before is Swiss chard, but we started getting bunches of it, all different sorts--some with red stalks, some with yellow, some silvery--and that's when I decided to experiment with lactic fermentation.
We have a really tiny refrigerator and don't have room to keep massive amounts of food, so I've been looking into other ways to preserve stuff. I got a book called Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning, by the Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante, and it recommended this way to preserve chard stalks that sounded pretty simple. You cut up the stalks and pack 'em in a jar with some water. The next day, you take 'em out and rinse 'em and change the water. Same thing the following day, but you also add a little salt to the water and make sure you fill up the jar to where there's no air bubbles. Then you stick the jar in the basement and wait a month. If everything goes according to science, lactic microbial organisms will develop and convert the vegetable surgars into lactic acid, which makes it impossible for the bad bacteria to develop and spoil the food. (If you consider chard stalks to be food.)
Everything seemed to be going well the first day: The stalks looked pretty in the jar, and there was a bubbly froth on top when I opened it to change the water. Then I noticed the warning in the book about how the USDA and FDA recommend that all fermented foods should be canned in a hot water bath to prevent against botulism. "Readers should of course use their best judgment," say the Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivant. I'd also missed the part about how this process doesn't work if your water has any chlorine in it. I'd been filling the jar with filtered water (does a regular Brita filter remove chlorine?), but I'd rinsed the stalks in water from the tap. So now I have a jar of probably botulin cooking in my basement. Maybe I can invite the networking ladies over for a DIY botox party.
Thanks for reading my blogpost this time, and may God bless.