Saturday, November 10, 2012

DIY and Fermentation

I'm not very inspired by doing Asian bean fermentations now, nor have I ever been. I'm not against them, it's just not what drives me. But this passage at the end of Sandor Ellix Katz's procedure for making tempeh encapsulates what I love about his book, Wild Fermentation (p. 66).
Maintaining a temperature around 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (29 to 32 degrees Celsius) for twenty-four hours can be tricky. Making tempeh when the weather is hot is the easiest method. Other times, I generally use the oven of our propane stove with just the pilot light on, with a Mason jar ring propping the door open just enough so that it doesn't get too hot. I've also incubated larger quantities of tempeh in the greenhouse on a sunny day, then in a small room somewhat overheated by a wood stove at night. Be sure to maintain good air circulation around the incubating tempeh. Innovate, make it work.
The last bit has my added emphasis. Sandor's voice in this book is ... what? Encouraging, reassuring, redoubling? Yes. Compassionate? Yes. He's succinct and direct while acknowledging hundreds of angles of uncertainties faced by his (hers/its/whatever/not-whatever) readers. At the end Sandor is telling folks it's up to them to figure out the process that works for them, where they find themselves. But by telling folks to make it work, the message is that inevitably we can make it work. Not WE, really, each of us can make our efforts produce something that works for ourselves.

It shouldn't be such a revolutionary act to tell people that they have the capacity to consciously change and direct their lives, but in fact, here we are. And this is why I love this book, even if I'm not a fan (yet) of tempeh.  


  1. Sounds like good role-playing game advice as well!

  2. It's also what Tim Gunn always says to his students when making clothes. Make it work. It's a great saying.

  3. I gained a positive opinion (as opposed to no opinion) of Tim Gunn while watching TMZ late one night. The TMZ cameraman asked him rushing through a parking garage what he thought of the cameraman's outfit: classic vest jacket with hundreds of pockets for film, batteries, etc.; loose-fitting pants; sneakers. And he paused and evaluated the whole ensemble in those terms, favorably. You need all of this stuff to do your job well, move quickly, be effective without being encumbered, layered clothing to adjust to indoors or outdoors. The final verdict was favorable, almost given with admiration: well dressed for the situation, ready to make it work. Pree coo, Tim Gunn.

  4. He's good at his job, I find.

    Got your comment on my blog and here's my response: : Vegheads? I use to be one of those for most of my life. I say give those vegheads some bacon and bring them over to the dark side.

  5. You're right on, Whisk. But really, what side could be darker than the side with no bacon? A great paradox!

    It's funny that you're a former veghead, because Katz says he is one too. He notes in passing (p. 31) "Though I am currently omnivorous, I have in the past been a vegetarian and a vegan. I am part of a demographic wave, reflecting period and generational trends, that I think of as post-vegetarians." Most of the post-vegetarians I know say they were drawn back to meat by hand-crafted, high quality bacon.

  6. I've been told that bacon is the magic portal. It just might be.