Kimjang

About one year ago, The Cultured Club presented its first ever specialised workshop honouring the joy that is Kimchi @ BelFeast.

Kimchi is the Korean name for preserved vegetables seasoned with spices and traditionally fermented seafood. We like to use a bit of seaweed instead.

It forms an essential part of Korean meals, meaning they eat it with everything, transcending class and regional differences.

We enjoyed apple kimchi, pear kimchi, cucumber kimchi, onion kimchi, raddichio kimchi, some of which i still think i have and of course some kimchi kimchi.  Since then we have made pumpkin & aubergine kimchi,  turnip kimchi….. is there anything you cannot kimchi?

In korea, there are regional differences, hundred of them, and the specific methods and ingredients used are considered an important family heritage, typically transmitted from a mother-in-law to her newly married daughter-in-law.

But there is one custom we particularly love and it is the collective practice of Kimjang!!

Korean families will set aside a weekend for Kimjang (김장), the annual kimchi-making.

Kimjang is special. It’s the time of year when families make the beloved and versatile pogi kimchi (포기김치) to be eaten year-round. This reaffirms Korean identity and is an excellent opportunity for strengthening family cooperation. Kimjang is also an important reminder for many Koreans that human communities need to live in harmony with nature.

Preparation follows a yearly cycle. In spring, households procure shrimp, anchovy and other seafood for salting and fermenting. In summer, they buy sea salt for the brine. In late summer, red chilli peppers are dried and ground into powder. Late autumn is Kimjang season, when communities collectively make and share large quantities of kimchi to ensure that every household has enough to sustain it through the long, harsh winter.  Innovative skills and creative ideas are shared and accumulated during the custom of exchanging kimchi among households.

We can take this as inspiration and create our own, right?  It is time, the year has passed and I feel the need to get some kimchi on!

Kimjang 김장

JUNE 29TH


Dandelove

Dandelove

I am a bit of a smitten kitten about these weeds.  Every single part of this plant is both edible and medicinal, from the flower to the root.  It is high in many essntial vitamins and minerals and wonderful for digestion and detoxing the liver.

We have made the pesto with the leaves and created a variety of digestive bitters with the root, but new to our foraging regime is the gathering of the bright sunny flowers to create a dandelion infused oil and later a dandelion balm.

Dandelion oil is a medicinal oil made by infusing the flowers of the dandelion plant.  Applied topically it is a wonderful salve to relieve achy, sore muscles and joints, swollen breasts and tense backs and necks. 

 

So easy is it to do, you will be rushing out to pick those flowers.  Just leave some for the bees.

Fill your glass jar half full with the flowers.  (It is advised to let htem dry off on a towel for about an hour before adding them to oil). Add enough oil to completely cover the flower – up to the brim.  Let it steep for two weeks.  After two weeks, strain the oil and get ready to melt some beeswax and coconut oil.

-220g of infused dandelion oil

-26g coconut oil

-26g of beeswax 

Melt the beeswax and coconut oil over a bain marie.  Then add the infused dandelion oil, mising them together.  Carefully pour into a jar. Allow the salve to cool.  Use liberally to relieve those aches and pains of a busy day.

 


A YEAR at the CLUB

Why would you  join the CLUB?

Imagine yourself a year from now.  Then imagine all the times you have thought about making sauerkraut but just never got round to it. 

We believe that nothing changes until what you do every day changes and we appreciate how hard it can be to establish the routine. 

The study of fermentation has mapped out on an extraordinary journey.  It is a daily part of my life which has also lead for undeniable improvements in my health and well being.    I have atttempted to share with you over many years, whether by hosting workshops, talks or writing a book….yet still there is so much more to learn.  There are so many corners to explore, to engage with, to tease out, to relearn and most of all to experience together.  After teaching for seven years, it felt right to have some fun.  To run things differently and to share in the excitement  these foods deserve and the postive and undeniable changes they can make in ones life.  And so we have become a CLUB.  A real space where you can gather and ferment and learn, and taste and experience all the wonders of these foods for yourself, with other folk who like to ferment too.

IT is a brave move, a radical move, to offer something of such benefit and expertise at such a reasonable price.  But we have been lucky and for the limtied time we can offer this opportunity we would like to share it with you.  Have a glance at the fun which awaits on our 12 month programme.  You can come and go as you please, you can do it all or just some of it.  The CLUB is here for you and remember, if you change a little, you will change ALOT.

MEMBERSHIP FOR THE ROLLING 12 MONTH PROGRMAMME IS currently ONLY £52

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THE YEAR AT A GLANCE

SPRING

SPRING is a time of new potential, lightness and growth.  We can emerge from the darkness of winter, shaking off the deep, contemplative weight of the previous months. 

It is one of the best times of year to do a cleanse or an appropriate fast, paying attention to foods which are vibrant and cleansing

In this season the programme of events will focus on the Liver and Gall bladder, offering a fresh palate to choose from and fermentation techniques and foods to work with to promote a gentle detox.

Practical sessions making Kombucha ( March),  Preserved lemons (April) and Milk Kefir (May) will feature as part of the learning.

We will also explore the tastes of these foods where we aim to bring you new flavours and experiences with fermented foods and seasonal eating. 

MARCH

09/03 KOMBUCHA

23/3 SPRING PLATE

APRIL

13/4 PRESERVED LEMONS

27/4 CLEANSING PLATE

MAY

11/5 MILK KEFIR

25/5 CRACKERS & CHEESE

SUMMER

Summer and it is time to celebrate!

Light, fizzy and fresh, all washed down with bubbly drinks of joy.

We deserve to indulge in the effervescence of life and learning how to capture our own wild bacterias and yeast is an essential part of our fermentation knowlegde.   During this season we will be focussing on amazing thrist quenching PROBIOTIC drinks to create in your kitchen along with the most delicious ways to preserve the abundnace of food growing.  From Salsas to Cucumber pickles we will have vibrant probiotic foods for you.  Not forgetting the endless condiments we can create to compliment the BBQ.

 

JUNE

08/06 PROBIOTIC DRINKS

22/6 MID SUMMER FEAST

JULY

06/7 CONDIMENTS/SAUCES

20/7  TASTING MENU

AUGUST

17/8 EDIBLE SKINCARE

24/8 FERMENTATION COMPETITION

AUTUMN

 

Perhaps the season for FERMENTATION

An ancient tradiotnal practice coming from a need to preserve the food from the harvest.

 

With a look at the foods most needing our attention for presrvation we will introduce techniques of food fermentation focussing on those which will not only create the friendly bacteria for our intestines, but prepare our immnue system for the seasons changes.

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER

17/09 BRINING THE GLUT

21/09  HARVEST MEAL

OCTOBER

05/10 FORAGED FERMENTS

19/10 GUEST CHEF DINNER

NOVEMBER

02/11 FERMENTABLE GIFTS

16/11 TASTING MENU

Design is Everything

 
 
 
It is the season to rest, rest and look inward.
It is also the season we must pay special attention to our immune system and our kidneys and this season we will explore the many ways we can support ourselves through the challenges of this season.
 
DECEMBER

1/12 FERMENTED GIFTS

7/12   PANTRY PARTY

JANUARY

11/1 SEAWEED & MISO

25/1 TASTING MENU

FEBRUARY

08/02 KIDNEY FOODS

22/02  TASTING MENU

FLOUR + WATER + SALT+ TIME

SOURDOUGH

THROUGH THE YEAR WE OFFER SPECIAL EVENT WORKSHOPS FOR MEMBERS SUCH AS OUR SOURDOUGH CLASSES.

 

 

The Cultured CLUB aims to bring you:

  • The best in knowledge sharing on the topic of fermentation, so you may learn at a comfortable pace without feeling overwhelmed. 

  • Safe techniques so you may confidentally ferment your own probiotic goodness at home.

  • The comfort and welcome to enjoy a space to gather with like minds and benefit from the connection with others.

  • The opportunity to collaborate and bring something to the table should you wish.

  • The knowledge to change a little, so you will inevitably change a lot.

  • The immeasurable joy in feeling good!

We hope you can join us for the fun!
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Kombucha, is it good for you?

Is this fermented tea drink good for you?

This naturally fizzy drink, made from fermented tea, has rapidly moved from its hipster/hippie/folklore beginnings to mainstream, driven by a growing demand for a wider choice of non-alcoholic drinks, especially those that claims to impart some health benefits.

 

The distinctive and curious taste that adds to its popularity is coupled by the attention around gut health  and the benefits of consuming live bacteria.  

The health benefits ascribed  include boosting the immune system, improving gut health, reducing your odds of diabetes, as well as tackling  depression and so on.  

Of course scientists have so far struggled to demonstrate a clear cause and effect between consuming fermented food/beverages and improved health as there is a sparsity of human evidence and clincial trail but let that not stop you.

There is little we can factually claim but we can assume that consuming such a fermented beverage instead of drinking something like Coca-Cola is probably better for you. 

 

There is a delight in brewing your own at the very least, as the flavours and variety is beyond anything you could find on a supermarket shelf.

Grapefruit & turmeric, Carrot and tangerine anyone? The possibilties are endless and the benefits yours to trial.

INGREDIENTS

4 TBSPS raw cane sugar

4 bags of black tea, green tea or a mix or 4 tbsp loose tea

100ml starter tea from the last batch of kombucha

1 kombucha scoby

1L filtered water

 

 

HOW TO MAKE

1 Add the sugar to boiling water and add in the teabags and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Once the tea is cool, remove the teabags (or pour the tea through a sieve to remove loose leaves)

2 Pour the mixture into a clean litre jar. Gently slide the scoby into the jar along with the starter tea. Cover the jar with a  tightly woven cloth/kitchen paper/tea towel secured with a rubber band. 

 

3 Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and allow to ferment for at least seven days. It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom or even sideways during fermentation. However, a new cream- coloured layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. You may also see stringy brown bits floating beneath the scoby or sediment collecting at the bottom. These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation.

4 So what happens next? After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that’s pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle. Remember to leave some behind to start another batch!

5 Transfer the fermented kombucha a clean bottle using a funnel. Keep the bottles at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for a further one to three days if you want it to be carbonated. you can add flavours to your kombucha at this stage.

6 Prepare and cool another pot of strong sweet tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined in the first step. Add this to your starter tea and SCOBY from your brewed batch of kombucha and hey presto off we go again. 

 


From surviving to thriving.

I read an article about depression recently. The article detailed how in Northern Ireland more people have died by suicide than were killed in the Troubles. 

I was born into this land, right on the wrong side of a British border  Now, I live here by choice but it has been a country I have tried to run from for most of my adult life. 

I dreamed of escape and  adventures ensued to Europe, Asia, and Australia,  leaving many times, forever digging up the roots and pulling out the weeds to satisfy a free spirit.  Anywhere, far enough away to be free of an oppressive overall mood so deeply woven into earth. 

Roots…they hold on to survive and seemingly  we must travel very far to make the shortest journey between the head and the heart. On my adventures what I have arrived to know is that food is medicine.   

Nature has its own Pharmacy and the early influence of my mother the cook and my father, the pharmacist, have been integral in my evolution. 

Fermented foods has brought better gut health, digestive ease, symptom free asthma and greater mental clarity. 

Seemingly the more I ate of these foods, the happier  and more alert I became.  As if by magic it was a positive feedback loop, they kept me craving the right stuff.  Were some invisible critters occupying my gut and controlling my mind?

Oddly too, no longer my location seemed of concern, that nagging unhappy need to flee was wavering and my kitchen and  mind was  becoming the happy place. In fact i would be so bold to say that this city has thrown its arms around me!

Come see me in my Lab!!!!!

 

When you fall so deeply into a topic, your fascination and capacity for research is unending. This is a hot topic of ground-breaking research.  Research is unfolding daily with solid information on gut health and how altering the microbiome is integral to mental health.

 

The Cultured Club is collaborating to host an event to welcome Professor Ted Dinan to Belfast.  A morning lecture on the lastest research from University College Cork.  

 

The long standing mental health issue of this place I called home was upsetting.  The statistics are evidence and the residual trauma and emotions in this country are deeply felt and far reaching.  We are equally delighted to welcome Professor Siobhan O’Neill to present on her research in the context of Northern Ireland .  In studies relating to other countries from Israel, to South Africa and the Lebanon, Northern Ireland was peaking in statistics and not looking good. How come I had escaped?  

 

Changing your microbiome allows you the capacity and opportunity to change your thoughts and your mental state.  Abundant communication is going on between the gut and the brain so can it be that the bacteria living in your gut determine what type of person you are and how you behave?

If you are interested to know more about this event happening on September 20th in Belfast:

Click Here

BELFAST LOVE STORY

Artwork by Leo Boyd @ Vault Artist Studios


BUSTING Menstrual Taboo

MORE info

Around now everything gets a bit shit, sorry to be blunt, but honestly PMS sucks.

I need a whole new wardrobe because every item of clothing looks drab and nothing fits.

I so desperately want to live in a bigger house, the lack of space leads to great anxiety.

DON’T MENTION THE MESS EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!

I want to eat, but have no idea what, except some chocolate of course and don’t talk to me or even suggest anything….about anything!

The thieves of joy are tearing through my mind and on a rampage in every corner of my positive potential.

If “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it” (Charles R Swindoll)  It is going to be difficult journey…..at least this week!

Comparing, complaining, crictising, competing.

Sound familiar?

This is a hormonal rampage, wild notions that overwhelm.  They are out of character BUT they remind me to firstly check in on my cycle.

Quelle surprise!!!!!!

Yes it is the week leading up to my period, I block it out in red on my calendar so I can cleary see that something might ingnite.

I see it coming, my husband sees it coming, my children even see it coming!

These thoughts can be so far away from my balanced disposition of gratitude and happiness with yet further possibility of gathering momentum.

Once this premenstrual tornado whips up, I know I can turn this thing around baby!!!

I can expect these hormonal fluctuations and I can choose to support them.

With nourishing food to balance my hormones.

With herbal tonics to regulate and cleanse.

With a beautiful walks to feel alive and nourish my senses.

With time amongst female friends for support.

With plenty of sleep to relax and repair.

And a healthy dollop of humour. It is important to have a good laugh at myself.

Those sweet craving for empty food, I can satisfy with some tasty seed fudge. (A recipe I will soon document to share!)

I like to lather up with an indulgent essential oil blend of lavender, jasmine, marjoram, geranium, clary sage etc. This can add some ceremony to the occasion.  At least you will smell rather good.

We are cyclic beings, never the same, always undulating.

In our cycle we have been busy preparing a home for new life, now it is time to let it flow out through you.  Every 28 days is a little unfair, I can only agree, but complaining will not change it.

I like to let the wave of menstrual flow into a movement of menstrual confidence, dignity and pride. I have enjoyed influencing the highs and lows to settle more into a balanced state.

They are less extreme in recent years. They are subtle yet expected. Why I was not gifted this possibility many years ago has come to inspire me to make the knowledge available for others to enjoy.

By paying particular attention to my gut health, I have nurtured a healthy microbiome with a wide range of bacterial microflora all of which are hugely beneficial to balancing hormones.  This has noticeably helped me find balance and know myself, so I can enjoy this time. When something is up, I know what to do.

Owning your menstruation and transforming it is a celebration in busting the menstrual taboos and turning your flow into a POSTIVE MENSTRUAL TIME.

The new #PMT

Join myself and Mayella Almazan of Yo Soy Gaia to explore a special way to track your cycle and implement a menstrual self care strategy, alongside foods to nourish and improve your hormonal health.

10th JUNE 2018 at The Fumbally Cafe, 8 Fumbally Ln, Merchants Quay, Dublin, Ireland 

book here

Are you ready for Salsa Season?

Are you ready to Salsa?

The early tomatoes are starting to ripen in the polytunnels and the salsa beats are starting to conga.  These juicy red delights mean one thing to me……Fermented salsa!!

This one addition brightens up so many plates, from the simplest scrambled egg to the craziest taco you can create. At this time or year, if there is no salsa on the go, meal time is at a loss.

The already winning combination of raw ingredients makes it the perfect starter ferment. For the greatest skeptics who crosses your kitchen.  The salsa recipe is more than ingredients.  It is a cultural tradition which has taken shape over many generations.

I have yet to meet someone who finds this ferments a ‘challenge’ in the same way that sauerkraut and kimchi seem to present.  This is real food, not entertainment, although your tastebuds might disagree!

We are in the Era of microbiome and our microbiomes need help. We need to actively put some probiotic goodness in to our unique ecosystem. The facts are there, the scientists agree, probiotic fermented foods are a necessary part of the diet which needs reintroduction to our plate, quick tempo!

Food is information that speaks to your body, this recipe says mambo baby!

Fermented Salsa

What you will need to make 1 Litre:

8–10 (800g)ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 red or green peppers, roughly chopped 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1–2 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lime
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp fine sea salt (add more if needed)         1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of smoked paprika

CHeCK out my Book

How to make:

1 This is an easy one. Simply mix together all the ingredients in a bowl, then pack it into a clean 1-litre jar, making sure you leave 2.5cm of headspace at the top of the jar.

2 Close the lid and allow to ferment for at least 3 days at room temperature. Salsas have always been one of the more lively ferments and it makes a lot of noise. As the carbon dioxide escapes it brings some of that lovely juice with it, so place it on a dish to collect the juice and open the jar with care

3 Once it’s ready, transfer to the fridge. It will keep for at least 6 months once opened.


The Day of the Irish

Whilst the water turns green in Ireland for the day, I have my own little ritual to celebrate things uniquely Irish.

St Patrick’s day has and always will be synonymous with my grandmother. She passed away on this day. It is as clear as crystal, the whole package that is my memory of her.  It was many, many years ago, I was a child but old enough to fondly remember so much of her.

Her tiny kitchen was always filled with the warm, floury smell of freshly-griddled farls, ready to be served, still warm, as I would return home from school.

Even though, some years ago, I needed to break up with wheat, I couldn’t help but return to this comforting memory.

Food is memory.  So when the memories are so good, how can that be bad?

I would play with this idea adding my usual twist.

Traditional soda farls are made with buttermilk, and kefir is my choice.

Kefir is having its moment as we all (finally) fall in love with its wonders, so here I give you: Kefir spelt soda farls

Kefir Spelt Bread

700g Spelt flour
750ml Kefir

Mix well together, it may be hard to stir, you may want to knead. Let sit overnight.

The next day add

1 tsp  baking soda (doves farm brand)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter

Mix well and place in two well-greased loaf pans. Cover loosely and place in a warm place to rise overnight.

 

Bake at 180C for 30 mins, loaves will sound hollow when done.

There are a few considerations.

The dough is of a thick but a workable consistency and I really prefer to work it with my hands! After leaving it overnight, it is wonderfully stringy and it is very manageable to work in the other ingredients

Also traditional soda bread was made on the pan/griddle whatever ya like to call it. You might not even have one so a wide flat fyring pan will do.

I have never made this bread in this way but if you wished to give it a go warm your griddle/pan.  Then dust it with a little dry flour to stop the farl mix from sticking.

Now that your dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly to form a round shape, then flatten it lightly with a rolling pin or something similar, as you might not have one of these either.

Cut the circle into four or eight wedges and bake them on the griddle, a few wedges at a time.

It should take around 5 -10 mins each side, depending on how hot your griddle is. Getting the temperature right is key, this was the secret in great soda bread cooking.  Get your griddle at a good temperature – if it is smoking it is too hot!  It could be a just a traditional muse, as I am so happy with how this bread turns out in the oven that i have not ventured to the griddle!

This is a bread of context, everything to do with being Irish, full of respect for my lineage and source, yet absolutely nothing to do with St. Patrick.


My New Year

Spring is showing and the sun is rising in the sky.  This time of year feels more like my new year than any January 1st ever will.  I have more energy and enthusiasm AND as the diary fills up with exciting plans for the year ahead, I need to see it on the wall in front of me.

However, as a woman running the show that is The Cultured Club, I also need to see my own rhythm, as I am aware of when I work best and when I really should rest.  I organise my life around my inner rhythms and allow this natural force to guide me and my diary.

Linear output is not possible when we are cyclic creations.  I am at my best pre-ovulatory than I am premenstrual and therefore I am more likely to organise any public events when I am clear of the red.  Yet I use this down time to coordinate the more administrative side of things, reset and incubate new dreams, taking advantage a natural cycle I cannot ignore.  It is a vital force that is an integral part of the health and wellbeing in the female body.

After a dedicated year of practising menstrual awareness, I know myself.  It cycle is prompt, yet can sensitive to the other demands of life. No month is ever quite the same but the pattern is always familiar.  I use it to inform my BUSYness and I welcome its arrival…..as ultimately I get to really rest.

I am at home in my body.

I trust its flow and the changes it brings.

It is business magic and takes the guess work out of planning.

 

ADDITONAL BONUS:  My husband and my children are aware. (You would be curious too of something so fiercely red and obvious on anyones calendar!).  This awareness allows for the continuous ebb and flow of me and ultimately avoids any PMT frustrations which may have been a unconscious part of a monthly routine.

This is positive menstrual time and information worth passing on to our children.  YOUR relationship to YOUR menstruation is your POWER yet we have received such little information about its advantages.

If you are ready to reclaim your menstrual cycle and get to know your inner seasons, join Mayella of Yo Soy Gaia and myself for a day reTREAT to feel at home with your vital force. You’ll be colour coding that calendar in no time!

LEARN MORE

CULTURED: the south americas

Before I am hung, drawn and quartered for cultural sacrilege, I wish to declare my intention with CULTURED and the food exploration it seeks to present.  It is perhaps part of an overall expression that to know others (other cultures) helps one to understand and appreciate yourself (your own culture).

I am running with this one, I feel a sense of full completing a circle and whilst it is near impossible to culturally summarise an entire continent and huge culinary melting pot of flavour, this project is a playful look at certain food fermentation practices which have evolved in certain parts of the world and some which have evolved in my kitchen, through a delightful four courses of plates, sharing platters and ‘amuse bouche’ affairs.

This is not a culinary regurgitation of classic plates, it is not even fusion.  It is lead my the gut to bring something delicious into being and to amuse your mouth.

To add to the challenge will be exploring all this mostly with a plant based approach (vegetarian) and in consideration of the food traditions of a meat dominant countries of South America, you can appreciate the challenge, my slight trepidation and also my excitement.

I am certainly feeling all sorts of mole and chimichurri garnishing your plate as we go poco loco in the cultured test kitchen at The Cultured Club this week.  This will be a gut friendly feast!

Here is the culinary flavours of the adventure so far:

  • Kombucha Picso sour cocktail
  • Mole, quinoa pao de queija bread.  Mole soup with quinoa cheese bread, kefir sour cream, lime.
  • Mushroom tinga, blue cornk taco, guacamole, lima bean dip, chimchurri and salsa
  • Peruvian causa rellena, ajo amarillo. Sweet potato layer salad dish with chile sauce
  • caramelisa plantain and cajeta.  Sweet plantain with caramel

More eating, tasting, pairing ensues this week.  My nick name is hors d’oeuvre, affectionately given after the Irish prefix of ‘our’ before each family member.  I’ve got this!

Vamos, join me, come and be cultured!

All dishes are vegetarian.  Vegan options can be requested in advance.  Due to the nature of this event, vegan orders must be requested 48hours in advance.

BOOK HERE

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About

The Cultured Club is dedicated to reviving this lost tradition and bringing the control of our health into our own kitchens.
'Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food' is a hard philosophy to live by when we are so removed from the food we eat.

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