Archive for November, 2011

Making Ginger Beer is awesome and easy – although you require a little patience; its biggest downside is it will take at least 2-4 weeks before it’s ready and demands your attention at the start of the process.  The upside is the depth of flavour, natural carbonation that is something magical to have created.

Our recipe is based on the writing of Sandor Kraut though the quantities of ingredients and technique are pretty similar across the Internet as I suspect they have been for hundreds of years.

There are two parts to the process – the initial small fermentation (called the ‘bug’) which gets things really kicking (almost like a starter for sour dough), and then a secondary fermentation with additional ingredients.


  1. Water
  2. Ginger (a large piece about 8 inches long)
  3. 1.5 cups of sugar
  4. 2 lemons (it just isn’t the same without them)


  1. To start the bug, place 1 cup of room temperature water in a jar or bowl (I use a mason jar).  If your tap water is chlorinated, allow it to sit open to the air for an hour before proceeding (this will help eliminate the chlorine and will help the fermenting).
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger.  Stir well.
  3. Cover loosely with cheesecloth; I use a single layer as natural yeasts will enter the jar but flies will not.  I hold it in place by screwing a band around it (just not using the lid).
  4. Store in a warm, dry place.
  5. Add ginger and sugar (the same amounts) every day, stirring after.  Repeat until your contents become fizzy (you’ll be able to hear it).  This should take a couple of days and up to a week.  Our apartment has a bit of the initial chill of winter in it so it takes its sweet time.
  6. Boil 2 liters of water with six inches of chopped ginger root (for a strong flavour, you can use less if you’d like) and 1.5 cups of sugar.
  7. Allow the mixture to cool completely and strain the contents to remove the solids.
  8. Add the juice of two lemons, and this syrup to your ginger bug.
  9. Strain the mixture to remove solids.
  10. Add water (again a good practice is to let the chlorinated water sit for a bit) to increase the contents to 4 liters (roughly a gallon)
  11. Bottle in clean bottles – you can get them from brew-your-own beer stores, reuse Grolsch pop-top bottles or use beer bottles if you have a capper.  We’ll share how to sterilize/clean later this week (it’s a post unto itself).  Avoid regular plastic pop bottles – the pressure of fermentation is intense enough to stretch and eventually explode them.
  12. Store until the bottle is hard to squeeze (in the case of plastic).  It should take 2-3 weeks.
  13. Refrigerate before opening and know that this can be a little more prone to making a mess when opening so be near a sink, with a glass!

It’s really fantastic…

If you make Ginger Beer, do you do anything differently?


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One of the best things about this project (if not the very best), is the encouragement we get from others to try new things.  When we posted about something you make that others need to, Rachel suggested mayo was on her list.  It was easy and tasted better.

I grew up in a house that made it`s own mayo.  It did taste better.  But I`ve never been successful in making it myself.  Rachel`s comment made me go back and give it another try – and I`m so glad I did.  We had giant success and this condiment was awesome on fish tacos.

I used a duck egg because it was what we had available – the yolk is super rich and rather large which helped in the process.  I also used olive oil that I store in a squeeze bottle for cooking and that made it very easy to add steadily to my emulsion.


  • 1 yolk from a duck egg
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon or `fancy` mustard.  We used a spicy one that was great.
  • 1 Lime
  • Olive oil
  • Chili flakes
  • Salt
  • Garlic (we used a half bulb)


  1. You can whisk this by hand but I had the luxury of a small food processor that was ideal for this.
  2. Add the yolk and mustard together and mix well until both are incorporated.
  3. Pour the olive oil in slowly (the squeeze bottle really helped with this allowing me the pour a slow, steady stream into the food processor).  Once your mayo forms you can add it at a faster pace.  You can add virtually any amount of olive oil you want as long as you let it become incorporated into the mayo before pouring too much.  THis is about the pace you add it as opposed to the quantity you use.
  4. Season with salt, blitz.
  5. Add juice of 1 lime, stir and taste.  If it`s too tart, add more oil while mixing until you are happy.
  6. Chop a half-clove of garlic and add it to the mix and run the processor to chop it further.
  7. Add the chili at the end and give it a quick whirl.  I like to add it at the end so you can see the pieces and benefit from the texture.

This was just awesome!

Do you make your own mayo?  Do you make it straight up or add any other flavors (and if so, what)?

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It’s Back!

We had so much fun with it last year so we’re bringing back “Pimp that Preserve”. If you’re anything like us you like sharing your preserves as much as you like making them  and eating them yourself. A Jar of jam (or pickleschutneybeetpowderinfusedvinegarwhatever!) is like a blank canvas…make the preserves you give a little bit more special by treating them like a work of art.

I’ve been collecting up a bunch of stuff to use for ‘pimpin’ over the last little while…this year I’d like to challenge you to use as much vintage or second-hand or even stuff that would otherwise wind up in the garbage to give your preserves a little character. Get creative and have fun. We’re looking forward to seeing and sharing all of your creations.

Here’s the Details:

* Embellish, package or otherwise ‘dress up’ your favourite  jar of preserves with anything you like as long as it doesn’t damage the contents or break the seal.

* Send us a JPG of your creation to wearewellpreserved at elevenideas dot ca subject line: Pimp my Preserve.

All entries must be received by 10pm EST December 12 2011.
We will post the entries on FaceBook and leave it to you guys to vote for a winner!
There will be 3 prizes given (details on how below) which include:

– Kate Payne gave us an autographed copy of her book “The Hip Girls guide to Homemaking”.

– a copy of  “We Sure Can” by our friend Sarah B. Hood was given to us by her publisher Arsenal Pulp Press.
– An archival print of the Periodic Table of WaterBath Preserving (by us).
If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s the list of articles from last year – click each one to see photo’s and descriptions…
**have fun!**
Details on how this will work:
  1. Send your photos by December 12, 10 PM EST
  2. We’ll share all the photos on our FaceBook Group.
  3. We’ll open up to the public for votes – people liking photos will count as a vote (this ensures that people can only vote once per image).
  4. People can vote for multiple pictures – but only once per image.
  5. You are welcome to enter multiples but be selective – the more you have up, the more you will compete with yourself!
  6. The person with the most ‘likes’ will be named the honorary winner and win bragging rights.
  7. We’ll share our designs but we’re not competing.
  8. The prizes will be raffled off – every like on a photo will count as a ballot (so the person with the most likes has the greatest chance of winning).  We will allow multiple prizes to the same person if that happens to come out that way.  Prizes won’t arrive until the New Year (the cutoff for mail is December 3)

We’re using the hashtag #PimpThatPreserve on Twitter to track the contest if any of you are over there and want to play along. 🙂

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I had planned to write about something different from this but dinner just changed everything.  I was happily plodding away on a tomato sauce to add to homemade polenta when I reached into the fridge, pulled out a jar I haven`t touched since August and cracked it open.  I dipped a spoon into it`s depths, tossed it`s contents into my sauce and gave it a stir.  I waited a moment and then had a taste.

Suddenly I was back in August.

Herbes Salées are standard kitchen fare in much of Maritime Canada.  I`ve cooked with commercially made salt herbs but never with the real deal.  Tonight was the first time I used our salt-cured herbs out of the fridge.  Like most things, homemade is in a league of it`s own.

The herbs pack all of the flavour (if not more) than they did in the summer.  Compared to plastic packages available in the modern grocery store – well, there is no comparison.  Their flavour has penetrated the salt and the small brine they`ve been stewing in (it`s not exactly liquid but the flavours have marinated).  When the salt and brine mixed with our sauce, the flavours of the fresh herbs exploded through the entire pot.

Making salted herbs can take as little as 10 minutes; we did 2 liters (almost a half-gallon) in about 30 minutes.

I was on a mission to get people to make these last years – and that was before the results.  If you haven`t made these before, you really need to put them on your to-do list for next year.  These will change our entire cuisine this winter.

What`s something that you make that you think others NEED to start making?

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To understand a bit about what makes Lucky Peach different from other food magazines (and it`s so different that I think even that label could be challenged), one must know a little about David Chang, the mad Chef behind the Momofuku mini-empire of restaurants in NYC.  When Chef was an up-and-coming Chef he decided to leave the kitchens of some of New Yorks most acclaimed restaurants, fly overseas and learn how to make hand-pulled noodles.  He quickly found out that he wasn`t qualified to work in most of the hole-in-the-wall noodle houses he aspired to.

Years later he transformed New Yorks dining scene with hand-pulled noodles.  He`s obsessive to say the least.

Lucky Peach is similar to Chang – it`s origins are accessible but elevated to new levels.  It`s gritty (perhaps even crude) while being uncompromising in pursuit of flavour, technique and straight-talk on food.  It`s this straight-talk (and liberal use of language) that has likely contributed to the delay of the accompanying iPad app that was part of the vision of this piece from the beginning.  This isn`t Martha Stewart (although she`s a fan of his as well; she was one of the reviewers who inscribes his amazing cookbook).

Beyond sassy language and raw perspective, Lucky Peach separates itself from other magazines in a few ways.  It`s a quarterly publication that has almost no advertising.  The advertising that does exist appears to be hand-picked and very limited (the latest issue has 6 ads, all of which are full-page. They explain the ads are mostly from friends but in the future they may increase it – they`ll do whatever they have to keep the magazine going.  You`ll either love their bluntness or hate it.  I find it refreshing and transparent.

Some of the photography is stunning while other pictures are less than perfect but not out of place.  This is almost 50% art rag, 50% literary rant and another 100% serious food rant.  Yes, it`s 200% full.

The writing is raw.  The first article which chronicles the travels (or, more specifically what they ate while travelling) of David Chang and Peter Meehan ambles on for 20 pages and touches on Kyoto, Kentucky and Copenhagen.  This isn`t your bite-sized marketing bits – these are campfire stories that are meant to occupy your attention for extended periods of time.  Although you can casually flip through the magazine, you`ll find several articles that read like chapters in a book that doesn`t end.

Each issue is wrapped around a theme.  This issue is the `Sweet Spot.`  Not much is taken literally so don`t expect an entire book dedicated to deserts (after all, there is a dead fish featured on the cover).  There`s a feature on apricots, a piece comparing the brief period of a tomato`s peak ripeness then rot to the careers of chefs and writers, art pieces, cocktails, dry-ageing, dessert recipes, studies on miso, Japanese knives and….  You get the idea, it`s 200% full.

My favourite article, so far, is a wonderfully illustrated piece (written by Kevin Pang and drawn by Wendy MacNaughton) that covers the contents of Pang`s fridge and analyzes them to determine which items have improved – or deteriorated by the length of time they`ve been in his fridge.  The 5-page spread is cheeky, silly and has some fascinating food for thought (including an explanation of how 2-days in the fridge have improved his braised short ribs).

The list of authors once again includes Harold McGee (my absolute favourite food-scientist), Anthony Bourdain, David Chang and Ferran Adria (El Bulli).  It also includes a host of friends and others Chiang values and discovering that cast of characters is just as inspiring as anything I`ve read in a long time.

There`s also a very funny item on the inside of the back cover that relates to preserving (and a few recipes inside as well; Chang is a massive advocate for preserving and beleives it is a form of cooking that should be taught in Chef schools).  I won`t ruin t for you – it`s well worth the look.

The magazine isn`t budget-minded.  It retails for $12 and a subscription (4 issues ) is $28.  But this isn’t a typical magazine – and each issue will sit on our book shelf for a long time to come.  I hope there`s a long feature ahead for this publication and I`m certain there is – after all, if there`s one thing more obsessive than Chang and his team it`s the appetite many have for reading what they`re writing.

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Lunch Time

Mason jar

+ Almonds

+ Vanilla Almond milk

+ Plain Yogourt

+ honey

+ frozen berries

+ ground flax



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We’ve just finished our annual tradition of canning deer stock.  We shared a photo with the FaceBook group and there were a lot of questions about making, preserving and canning stock so I thought we’d share a ‘best of’ post today to help you find what you’re looking for as we’ve shared a lot about stock in the past…

Our deer stock this year consisted of roasted bones, garlic, celery, charred onion and carrots.  I used less carrots than last year and will eliminate them next year and possibly reduce my garlic.  Deer stock can become semi-sweet and the carrots add to that (last years was too sweet for my liking); the savoury ingredients are perfect.

Hope this has helped – what are your tips for making and/or preserving stock?

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