it was 8:00 and normally i wouldn't be awake until 2 hours later, but i couldn't fall back asleep. i watched some morning cartoons (casper's scare school and marvel super hero squad) before i finally got out of bed around 9:00 and got dressed. with a possible storm approaching, i left for belmont to continue with my gardening work before it might start to rain later in the morning.
i got to belmont early enough that both my parents were still home. i was out in the backyard digging in the soil with my bare hands in 40's degree temperature, my nose runny from the cold. it was a bad scene. but i managed to put tomato cages on the hostas (to protect them from getting trampled by the dog), plant the lily-of-the-valleys, and divide/plant the irises. i even found some more crocus bulbs which i will replant at a later date. i returned to cambridge before 11:00.
the rainstorm never did arrive, but the sky was overcast throughout the day and i put the cover on the motorcycle as a precaution.
i made some kimchee today, on the request of my mother and aunt. my parents dropped off the ingredients yesterday afternoon. this was probably the most kimchee i've ever made in one sitting. now's the time to make it since i currently don't have a roommate who might object to the smell. i had two heads of napa cabbages, one the size of a medium watermelon, the other the size of a football. i also had 2 daikon radishes, one football-sized, the other a bit smaller.
the first step is to chop up both the cabbages and the radishes. the napa i cut into 1-2" squares. i didn't bother washing it beforehand because it looked pretty clean and i figured any germs would be killed during the fermentation process. the daikon i cut into wedges about half an inch thick after first peeling off the skin. i didn't have one container that could fit all the raw ingredients, so i ended up dividing it all into 4 containers - a pot, a wok, and 2 pyrex bowls. to each container i added 1-2 tablespoons of salt. i'm never sure of the exact amount, i pretty much just wing it each time i make kimchee. using too little salt and the ingredients don't reduce very fast. using too much and everything gets too salty. i've seen recipes that call for a cup of salt - that's 16 tablespoons (pretty salty). since i didn't plan on keeping the cabbage juice, it wouldn't be a big deal if i put more salt than less. i also had some regular table salt, but i've been using this fine salt in all my kimchee attempts, and i didn't want to mess with the recipe. i thought the bigger crystals in table salt would maybe cut into the cabbage and radish, but the salt they use in pickling is a powdery salt, which is exactly what my fine salt is like.
every once in a while i'd toss the ingredients to get the salt to mix. 4 hours later the 4 containers of napa and daikon were reduced to just 2 containers. the radishes don't really reduce but they do get softer. the cabbage leaves shrink the most, while the stem parts stay pretty much the same but softer as well. next i drained everything, getting rid of the salty cabbage water. i didn't drain last time and the resulting kimchee seemed too soggy, not crispy enough. i managed to get about a quart of fluids this time around. i didn't rinse the napa/daikon because i wanted to preserve the saltiness since i wouldn't be adding any additional salt to the recipe.
i had enough raw kimchee that i needed to mix the final ingredients in two separate containers, a large plastic bowl and a metal stock pot. it was much easier to mix in the bowl than the pot; all the smaller pieces (like daikon wedges) sink to the bottom of the pot during mixing. maybe i can get one of those huge gigantic wok bowls from chinatown that look like miniature satellite dishes to do my future mixing. i chopped up a 1x3in piece of ginger in the food processor, along with a whole head of garlic (about 10 cloves). i also added 2 tablespoons of shrimp paste, a whole bunch of scallions (about 15 stalks) chopped diagonally, 8 tablespoons of korean red pepper powder, and a handful of tiny hot chili peppers (chopped, more for aesthetics than actually spicy flavor since i'm already putting in so much pepper powder). after mixing everything, i transferred all the ingredients into the taller stock pot and began filling my jars with kimchee.
so now i basically sit back and wait for the kimchee to ferment, which takes about 3 days. i left the lids unscrewed, so the gases can escape. what can go wrong? well, it might not be salty enough. i did some taste test though and it seemed good enough. the kimchee could also be too dry. that's always been a problem with the kimchee i make. since i don't reuse the brine solution in my jarring, any juices in the jars can only come from the cabbages and radishes further reducing. initially there seems to be a lot of water but by the 3rd day the water seems to get reabsorbed into the kimchee.
the rest of my day was uneventful. i had some more chinese pastries for lunch, followed by a brick of lasagna for dinner (no reactions thus far). i watched the season premiere of the celtics, versus the cavaliers in cleveland. the start of the game looked like a blowout with lebron james and company far ahead in the points. the cavaliers also had new addition shaquille o'neal, whom i hate, but his large size alone makes him a force to be reckoned with. the celtics also had their own new secret weapon, rasheed wallace, who wasn't that big an impact (he's no james posey) but chipped away at cleveland's lead. boston would eventually work its way back to take the lead into the 2nd half, and eventually won the game.