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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Like Horse Penis

Uploaded: Jul 2, 2015
I've been playing around with Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus lately (lactic acid bacteria.) No thanks - don't worry. This is not continued blather about personal digestive bugs ? these are the bugs of my newly-made pickles - cabbagey and nuka.

I write "cabbagey" because that's how Corneilla used to say it. All 4' 9" of her. Powerhouse sensai. Cornellia is my dearly departed teacher from Vega Macrobiotic Center. We have Food Partied! about macro (large) biotics (life) before, and met two of the movements' founders ? Cornellia and Herman Aihara. When I attended their Oroville, CA school in the 90's, one of the things Cornellia taught us was pickle-making, Japanese style.

Because science is discovering how helpful microbes such as Lactobacillus are to our digestion, you may be one of a growing force looking to increase your gut bug diversity (more diversity offers increased strength ? just like in the natural environment). Homemade pickles are a good source. I've been calling in Cornellia's spirit these past ten days, attempting to recreate her famous Daikon Nuka Pickles. Pickling in nuka (cured rice bran) is a relatively unknown technique in the U.S, but one that yields delicious and unique results.

Day One: Toast the nuka and rub in the ingredients. Let sit in crock 3 days, stirring 2-3 times a day.

Day Three: Continue to stir each day and start burying vegetable scraps to assist with the curing. Don't let the vegetables touch!

Day Nine (July 1 for me): Continue adding in new and removing the old vegetables daily. Wash off nuka from some of the scraps and taste the early results.

Tie up some daikon radishes and hang them outside for a few days in prep to be pickled. Cornellia used to say, "Hang them until they look like horse penis."

Sunday night, we'll bury the daikon in the nuka to cure until we slice and sample at Manage your Microbes (pickle-style), a July 9 cook class at French Meadows Summer Camp.

At camp, I'll join a group of 100-plus fellow campers learning, hiking and eating great food cooked over wood fire, in an area of the Tahoe Forest so remote, it's where rangers relocate the trouble-making bears that are eating wedding cakes in Yosemite.

So please, tune back in later this week for more pickle progress pictures (try to say THAT 5X fast), and be sure to return next week when we feature cabbagey in an EZ Sauerkraut recipe.

Cornellia's Famous Nuka Pickles

Adapted from Calendar Cookbook
2.5 # nuka (rice bran), about 12.5 cups - can substitute wheat bran
¾ cup sea salt
2.5 cups water
¼ cup barley miso
Suggested veggies: daikon, carrot, turnip, radishes, celery, watermelon rind, summer squash

Roast nuka in a dry pan till it darkens slightly. Bring water to boil, add salt and let it cool. Place nuka in crock, pour over water and add miso. Mix into a soft paste. Cover with a cloth.

At the start, nuka is salty since the salt and bran have not blended. For a couple days, stir 3 times a day. Also place unused cabbage leaves into paste and discard them every day for three days. After 10 days ? the nuka is ready and "balanced."

Cut daikon in quarters or halves about 6" long. Use celery by the stalk and whole carrots. Bury into the paste and let sit 24 hours or until soft. Watermelon rind takes 5-6 hours, celery 8 - 10 hours, cucumbers 24 hours.

Remove veggies from nuka and wash off. Slice and serve.

As nuka gets too wet, roast 1 cup of new nuka with ½ tablespoon salt. Mix into the old nuka.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by horse member, a resident of Woodside,
on Jul 2, 2015 at 8:29 pm

are you serious? wth?

Posted by Mr Ed, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Jul 2, 2015 at 10:18 pm

I think she is horse member, this lady is pretty dang interesting to say the least. Between her and chan drama plus that other blogger lady who told dads to get uncomfortable with daughters ...,,,I would love to know where the voice finds these people!!!!!

Next she is gonna tell us how to make stinky tofu in basements we don\'t have.

Posted by reader, a resident of Portola Valley: other,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 7:02 am

awful title for a column _ this is now what we are used to seeing in our local edition. Probably won't be reading that column again - so much for tasteful reading from the Almanac
Not up to your standards

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 7:11 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Now what do you think about the post?

Posted by reader, a resident of Portola Valley: other,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 7:14 am

title still there better try again !!

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 7:31 am

reader - why did that title bother you? It's a body part, and the reference in the blog is completely non sexual. (The daikon really does look like that!) We freely talk about violence in the US but writing "penis" in the country is inappropriate? What's that about? How come you react one way and I react another?

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 7:38 am

And reader, when you answer, please tell us if you a woman or a man. Happy 4th by the way. You are up early for the holiday!

Posted by Patti, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Laura, I love your columns! They are always interesting and informative. Fermentation is regaining popularity. People are even fermenting their chicken feed. Less feed is needed to be fed and it's healthier! Keep up the good work!

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Wow Patti - that's really interesting. Less mass of food - but with higher bacteria count - less mass is needed? Maybe? Amazing whatever. We know so much, but still so little.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of another community,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 1:18 pm

The original title was Like Horse Penis. Was that a poor choice?

Posted by Reasonable Person, a resident of another community,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Clearly, it was a poor choice for at least one reader. You can't please everyone.

That said, I agree that many of this country's residents have their priorities screwed up. Many Americans are very accepting of violence, but intolerant of sex, where in my eyes, it should be the other way around.


Anyhow, happy birthday, America!

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of another community,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Reasonable Person - you are wise and beautiful, Thank you

Posted by Another reader, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 3, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Clearly the title was offensive to more than one person. I think you confuse honest and clear writing with bad taste. It appears you don't know the difference. Comparing bad writing with societal violence is nonsense, not wisdom.

Yes body parts are legitimate words in the right context. Alas, your understanding of freedom in writing is unsophisticated.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 7:21 am

Another reader - thanks for the input. Why isn't this the right context in your opinion? I thought long and hard about whether to use Like Horse Penis or not, considering many angles so alas, unsophisticated the decision twas not. I think discussing why it's ok or not ok is really interesting. One person's bad taste is anothers perfect description. So don't just reprimand me - that's unsophisticated. Explain why you feel it is wrong. And reader (#1) - still waiting for your reply too.

Posted by Regular Voice reader, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 9:39 am

I think the column CONTENT here is excellent. That's not the problem that the comments revealed. Something I expressed last September, when Laura drew comparable flack for her column titled "Men Are Good For Three Things:"

The comment feedback is a reminder that what's just playful or pointed wit (or however else it happens to be envisioned) in one writer's personal universe may not be received that way, at all, within other peoples' universes -- and a wide range of people read these blogs. That understanding is instinctive among perceptive writers, consequently they just don't get into these sitiuations.

And to be honest, defending or rationalizing the title that some people clearly found tasteless suggests a continued lack of this understanding.

Also, repeatedly quizzing "reader" from Portola Valley after s/he declared "Probably won't be reading that column again" comes across as a strange exercise.

Posted by Josh, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 9:50 am

Yeah Laura your constant need to make everyone like the column or engage in a one on one is kinda sad, I'm not a writer or know nothing about the profession/hobby but that comment makes sense. You should really look deep and try to find why week after week you are in same predicaments? Maybe you do lack essential skills.

Posted by a horse is a horse of course of course, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

seriously, again? did she really just say that???

"Another reader - thanks for the input. Why isn't this the right context in your opinion? I thought LONG and HARD about whether to use Like Horse Penis or not, considering many angles so alas, unsophisticated the decision twas not."

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of another community,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Open Letter to Commenters: You are still engaging, week after week. Grasshopper, maybe that IS the master plan after all?

Posted by great piece, a resident of another community,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Love the old title. Watch out for those morality police though or we'll all be in burkas before you know it.

Posted by Anthony B., a resident of another community,
on Jul 4, 2015 at 6:46 pm

I thought this article was about pickling, not nit picking! Would like to hear more about the digestive benefits, have some unusually cool cucumbers growing.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Anthony B,

?Fermented food are to varying degrees pre-digested, resulting in improved overall availability of nutrients. In live-culture foods, we ingest bacteria that help digest food and produce a multiplicity of protective compounds as they pass through our intestines. They are their various products enrich the microbial ecology of our intestines, enabling us to get more from out food and discouraging pathogenic bacteria by their presence. Many people find that their digestion improves as a result of eating live-culture foods. I have heard improvements with constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and many more chronic diseases."

- The Art of Fermentation, S. Katz

Posted by Pugface, a resident of Castro City,
on Jul 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Hey pug face , go sit on a daikon

Posted by Anthony B., a resident of another community,
on Jul 7, 2015 at 7:44 am

Amazon just delivered a used copy of "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods", by Sandor Ellix Katz. I get it, now it's off to Daikon Alley for some healthful summer magic. Thanks Laura, seems some of your readers are having secret of fire issues.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jul 7, 2015 at 7:49 am

Anthony B, That's exciting. Keep us posted on your new family!

And everyone - just an update. The daikon is buried in the nuka from Sunday - this Thursday when I remove it and we taste it in class. I look at it a couple times a day, just to make sure the temperature isn't too hot and everything looks ok in the crock. (not really sure what I am looking for, but dont want fuzz to grow for sure). The sauerkraut is just waiting patiently in the refrigerator. We leave tomorrow for camp.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Jul 8, 2015 at 10:44 am

I refuse to read the article until you put the original title back. This pandering to the masses has to stop. And look, you have more comments than the rest of all the Voice bloggers combined (less Stephen Levy's month-old article).

btw - I try to avoid foods that have "unique" flavors. There's usually a reason why the flavor is not being duplicated.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Thank you Steve. I changed the title quickly because I didn't want to offend. But the more I thought about it - the more I disagreed with the action. I am shocked that people (one person?) found something sexual in a very accurate, nonsexual description. That says something weird about them - not me. I am changing it back right now! Thanks for your readership.

Posted by Regular Voice reader , a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 8, 2015 at 5:09 pm

No, Laura Stec. It isn't as simple as "people (one person?) found something sexual in a very accurate, nonsexual description."

It's that you wrote to a very wide readership, not all of which reacts to such a title as you do. Because not everyone brings the same set of assumptions or reasonings you do. Some people will likely be suprised or disturbed by the title, or find it tasteless, for their own reasons, whatever your rationalizations as "a very accurate, nonsexual description" (though, surely, you must have realized all along that very few mainstream writings employ "horse penis" in titles, unless calculating to shock or to grab attention).

It is (yet again) your own assumption, too, that the early reader who objected did so because they found "something sexual" in your title. It is then in turn your projection from that assumption that this "says something weird about them - not me."

I really enjoy your informative posts, but cases like this (and it's not the first) come across as if you chose calculatedly provocative phrasing, but then don't want to take honest responsibility for turning some readers off -- the downside of your own deliberate choice.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 8, 2015 at 8:15 pm

And despite the fact she changed the post title very quickly, she eventually racked up 2000+ page views, way more than the typical Embarcadero Media blog post.

That would seem to indicate that despite Laura's headline writing skills, her content is good enough to generate a fair amount of web traffic. Most Embarcadero Media bloggers generate a far more paltry number of page views.

Laura can't please everyone with every single word she commits, so it's really up to her to decide where to draw the line.

Based on the comments here, it really appears that one or two people are overreacting, and the rest of us are pretty pleased with the nature of her content (headline as well as article). She doesn't seem to be lacking in readership.

That's ultimately the top desire of Embarcadero Media's editorial staff: to draw consistent page views. Even if *YOU* as an individual don't like it, well, it's really the overall readership statistics that make the most impact. The fact that you even commented on this post helps Laura.

Posted by powerMax, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 8, 2015 at 8:31 pm

You know what's delicious? grilled hamburgers from Costco with ketchup, mustard and pickles sitting in a nice white bun from the house of Safeway.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 8, 2015 at 9:16 pm

That's great powerMax, but we're discussing homemade fermented vegetables, not random tasty things. I'm sure I had a tasty hamburger patty from Costco meat at my last Stanford football tailgate, but that's not the point here.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Jul 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

fwiw - I started to read the article after the first name change - as I am interested in the preparation "different" food. It was only part way through the article and comments that I notices there was some discussion about the (by then, former) title.

@powerMax - you can't say "white buns" on this article because it might offend someone.

Posted by LOL, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 9, 2015 at 11:27 am

Sometimes, I don't know what I find more entertaining -- the article or the comments!

Posted by MP observer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jul 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm

The only reason I looked at the article was the title

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