There’s nothing more satisfying than getting crafty with edibles. Concocting condiments, infusing spirits, baking bread, canning veggies, making fresh cheese, or simply piecing together a meal from start to finish with your own bare hands feels incredibly rewarding. And while I very much admire the groovy moms out there who make their own Kefir, pickle their own cabbage, and ferment their own kombucha, I don’t quite go that far.
"Family Recipes" photo book, sourdough, citrus salt, pickled cabbage
I’m sort of an Urban Homesteader, Lite! Very lite. I’m all for making things from scratch, but I have a small house, crazy cat, neat-nick husband, packed schedule, and two wild boys. Hence, my creative outlets in the kitchen have to be parsed out—maybe one a week—and somewhat mess-free or at least easy on sticky or smelly elements. I know this about myself.
I know this partially because of an experience I had last year when I made the decision to adopt a sourdough baby. My friend Alison, a professionally trained pastry chef, encouraged me and sent me home with a ball of dough and instructions that would have made a NASA scientist blush. (If you don’t believe me, get a load of The Tartine Bread Experiment. It’s awesome, and if you’re up for the challenge of making your own sourdough starter, this is likely the best way to have your hand held through every step of the process. Had I known about this blog when I started my own sourdough experiment, perhaps I would have been more successful.)
Anyway, what actually happened is that I nurtured that little ball of dough, feeding it weekly, for months—and in the end it yielded maybe three nearly inedible bread-like spheres. It was good for some amusement, like when I texted photos to Alison that illustrated my colossal failures at coaxing bread out of a bubbling mass of hungry yeast. Just looking at the pictures on the Tartine blog make me feel inadequate. Biting into Alison’s bread makes me feel inadequate—until I remember how psyched I am that a baker friend lives right down the street from me. And then I move onto less messy kitchen endeavors, or ones that don’t involve having to actually grasp science. I’m more of a sensual cook, tossing in a bit of this and that until it tastes right.
That was a long-winded way of explaining exactly why I like to keep my kitchen projects simple. But there you have it.
My project for this week is learning how to make citrus-infused finishing salt.
Living in Northern California, we have lots of citrus trees: kumquat, loquat, Meyer lemon, and sweet lime trees. Making something out of what grows in your front or backyard is super gratifying—and even better if you can get your kids or the kids next door to participate in the project.
If you don’t have access to locally grown citrus, it’s a fun excuse to finally buy that crazy-expensive Buddha’s Hand lemon you always gawk at in the produce section. (For the record, one crazy-expensive lemon mixed with crazy-cheap salt makes a crazy-good finishing salt that’s gift-worthy, savable, and super yummy. In other words, totally worth it.) I love Heidi Swensen’s incredible recipe journal, 101 Cookbooks, and I assure you, this won’t be the last time I give her props on this blog. Cook up some of her citrus-infused salts, then follow her advice for using them in your day-to-day cooking and you’ll see why I adore her journal. Bonus points if you get some cute jars to package a few for gifts to your favorite friends.
If the world hands you lemons, we say, "Make lemon-infused salt!"
Do you have a homemade salt recipe of your own? Do share!