Making Kimchi and other fermented foods

Homemade KimchiHomemade Kimchi

Last summer we had the good fortune to visit relatives living in Japan. For ten days, we toured Tokyo and Kyoto together. We visited countless temples, restaurants. Saw amazing sites and ate some of the most amazing cuisine I’ve ever tasted! There are many reasons that Japanese live extraordinarily long healthy lives, not the least of which is the food they eat: Traditional Japanese meals heavy on the vegetables and are naturally gluten and dairy free. Another thing we noticed was a variety of fermented foods are usually present at EVERY meal, especially breakfast.

This ancient tradition seems likely to have come about as a means of preserving the harvest, but as many in modern times are beginning to realize, the bacterial cultures present in fermented foods have many benefits in terms of digestion, immune system health, detoxification and even increased mental clarity.

As soon as we got home, we began incorporating more fermented food into our diets – store-bought saurkraut, kimchi and pickled radishes.

A few months after we got home, we bought our first crock and began fermenting things for ourselves. Kimchi is my favorite because it’s spicy, but a nice bit of saurkraut is great as a side dish or in a sandwich as well.  I like that we can know where things came from, how they were handled and get to participate in this ancient, wise tradition from my heritage.

Traditional Korean kimchi can contain seafood or meat as well, but we decided to keep it simple. This batch is mostly napa cabbage mixed with some carrots, green onions, garlic and hot peppers allowed to ferment under a brine. Since the vegetables are kept completely covered with brine, not in contact with air, the usual mold and other bacteria that can appear on foods is not able to survive the saltiness and lack of oxygen of the brine, allowing lacto-fermentation to commence, which produces that healthy gut-flora bacteria we all need more of in our diets. (something the yogurt industry is trying to leverage as well, but be careful not to eat yogurt which has sugar added – it counteracts the health benefits of the lactobacillus bacteria by promoting unhealthy bacteria in your system instead!)

Now that our crock is empty again, my thoughts are turning to red onions. Who doesn’t love a nice dollop of pickled onions on their burger?




Gluten Free Recipe: Shanghai Cabbage

gluten free recipe: shanghai cabbage


Gluten Free Recipe:   Shanghai Cabbage


This recipe is a gluten free version of an old Asian noodle dish called “Noodle Mountain.” I guess you could use rice noodles, but we decided to make it even cleaner by eliminating the noodles all together. As with a lot of Asian recipes, it’s also vegan and dairy free!

Serves 2

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 10 Minutes


  • 1/2 head Napa Cabbage, sliced really thin
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled, sliced really thin
  • 1 bunch Nabuchan Onions or Green Scallions, sliced diagonally 2″
  • 1″ Ginger Root,  peeled and diced
  • 6 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup raw, Unsalted Cashews
  • Juice of 1 Fresh Lime
  • 1/8 cup Nama Shoyu or Japanese Soy Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 cup Peanut Oil


Make the sauce: Combine the Nama Shoyu, Rice Vinegar and Toasted Sesame Oil in a small bowl. Set aside. Juice the lime into another small bowl. Set aside.

Add 1/4 cup peanut oil to a wok over high heat. The pan is ready as soon as a water drop disappears when you flick into the oil. Quickly add the yellow onions and turn down to medium heat. Saute` the onions until they are translucent, and remove from the pan to a plate.

Bring the pan back up to high heat again and add the cabbage, green onions, ginger and garlic to the pan and toss as you would a salad with tongs or two wooden spoons, until all the cabbage is limp, usually about 5 minutes. Add the yellow onions back in along with the sauce and heat through, about 2 more minutes.

Quickly remove the cabbage mixture to two plates, top with the cashews and lime juice – This tastes best when it’s good and hot.

We like to eat it with chopsticks because it forces us to eat slowly.





Window Salad

window salad
Kale, beet, chard, lettuce, spinach microgreens growing in a window box here at the farm in December.

When the weather here in New Hampshire keeps us from growing food in the ground, we turn to the window sills. With the current setup, we don’t get a lot of food from it, but it helps us evade the winter blues that come from totally being cut off from our agricultural bent.

Piccalilli Egg Salad

Piccalilli Egg Salad


Piccalilli Egg Salad

This sandwich is made from our farm fresh eggs, homemade paleo mayonnaise, Abigail’s Millet and Sweet Brown Rice bread, and my sister’s piccalilli.

I know. Egg salad?

But this was so good I had to post it!

side note: (In case you are allergic, Abigail’s bakery bread is not certified gluten free, but there’s no wheat in the ingredients list of the Millet and Sweet Brown Rice Bread.)


  • 2 hard boiled eggs, fresh from the farm
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise, fresh from the farm
  • 2 slices of your favorite bread, buttered, grilled
  • 2 tbsp of my sister’s piccalilli

I think you can figure out the rest…

The only way I’ve ever tried piccalilli was on baked beans. Now I guess I will have to experiment using it as a condiment with a mess of other foods. Thanks Sis!


Also you might like:
Vegan Egg Salad
Deluxe Egg Salad
Bacon Wrapped Egg Salad (Just kidding)



Fermented Kale Recipe

fermented kale


A recent trip to Japan has given us an even greater appreciation for fermented foods. In Japan, fermented foods are called:  “Tsukemono” or pickled vegetables. We knew from other reading on the subject that fermented foods are very beneficial because they provide the gut flora needed to break down nutrients more efficiently, which means we experience greater digestive health, immune health and even benefits in terms of cognition and energy; but Japan’s ancient lineage and the fact that Japanese people have the third longest life expectancy of any nation is enough to make us consider the deeper wisdom of their most obvious daily routines. In Japan, fermented foods are served at every meal, especially at breakfast.


Above is a lunch meal we had in old Kyoto – Ochazuke which means “soaked in tea.” This bowl starts with a bed of white rice made with green tea, and then any number of fermented veggies on top. In this picture: Lotus root, Mizuna, Daikon, Bamboo, Rhizome, Button mushroom. Despite the 100F heat and 85% humidity, it made m,e feel energetic and ready to take on bigger things. It’s worth noting that in Japan, when you eat with others, there is  also a deeper significance than just taking on nutrients in the same room. It’s hard to explain but the Japanese have discovered that not only are there tremendous health benefits to fermented foods, but there’s a social aspect to dining together; a resonance, that fills you in other ways.

Back to fermented kale. Here’s a recipe. Pretty basic with a bit of trickiness.  Ideal fermentation  varies based on conditions where you dwell.

Here in new england:


12 oz kale leaves, stems removed

2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

2 tsp salt

Take a quart mason jar and put it in boiling water in a pan, enough to cover the jar. Boil the jar and lid for 10 minutes.

Wash the kale well in a salty bath and then strip the kale from it’s coarse stems, place the leaves in a very large bowl and sprinkle with the salt.

Put 2 quarts of water on to boil.

Massage the kale in the bowl with your hands 4 or 5 minutes. The kale will assume a color and texture like seaweed.

Scoop the kale into the jar and pack down lightly, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Using a ladle, fill the jar with boiling water until the kale is completely covered in liquid. Screw on the lid on loosely, just one turn or so, leaving room for the fermentation to push by the lid. As the kale ferments, it will bubble over. If you seal the jar tightly, it could explode.

Set the jar in a dish or something, to catch the overflow as it bubbles over. The fermented kale is ready to eat when you see some evidence of bubbling over, usually 3-5 days at room temperature.

This recipe is decidedly vague. It’s varies a bit depending on your climate. The cool thing is, with very little effort, you are developing a stronger digestive and immune system, time tested and proven,  using one of the oldest low tech means possible.

You could also add crushed red pepper or Toragashi (Japanese 7 spice). Your call. Experiment! Explore!


Three Not So Little Pigs

These are our Yorkshire pigs at around 16 weeks old enjoying a treat of some lettuce and kale. It’s hard to say how much they weigh, but to give you an idea of their size, these transport boxes they’re standing in are 5 feet long and 4 feet high.

(Don’t worry, these are just transport boxes.. They have a nice big swath of woods out back surrounded with electric fence to root around in.)

Their diet is 95% grain and forage so they are solid and dense, with very little fat. Hope they still fit in these boxes 8 weeks from now!

Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad Recipe

cranberry walnut kale salad

The kale harvest is well underway at Mercy Hill Farm and we’ve got lots of it! It’s available for sale inside our barn and there are SO many ways to enjoy it. Here’s a simple salad I made yesterday for lunch:

Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad Recipe

(makes one large serving or two side servings)

  • 5 or 6 large kale leaves
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries diced
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts coarsely chopped

Massaging Your Kale

(this process makes it much tender and tastier in salads)

To prepare the kale, rinse the leaves

massaging kale vigorously under cold water. Discard the thick main stem and cut the leaves into 1″ pieces. Place the leaves in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of salt. Massage the kale in your hands for about 2 minutes, or until the kale looks like wet seaweed. Fill the bowl with water enough to completely cover the kale. Swish it around for a minute and then remove the kale to a plate. Empty and rinse the bowl thoroughly to remove the salt. Repeat the process at least once to ensure the salt is gone from the kale, and then move the kale to a colander to drain any excess water off. Then your kale is ready to eat as a delicious salad green packed with raw nutrients and fiber!

Honey Dijon Dressing:

This simple dressing is my go-to most days.

(makes 5-6 servings)

  • 6 tbsns cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsns dijon
  • 3 tbpn extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw honey (2 1/2 tspns sugar for vegan)
  • 1/2 tspn salt and pepper each

Add all ingredients to a small jar, put a lid on it and shake.

If you have not tried eating kale this way, you really owe it to yourself to give it a try.

kale for sale

Garlic Scape Pesto Pizza

Early summer in New England yields a  

 bumper crop of fragrant garlic goodness – the garlic scape. Garlic plants put up these curly flower buds which get trimmed in order to have more energy go into the bulb rather than to a flower top.

We’ve discovered a great way to enjoy garlic scapes: pesto!   

  This great spin on traditional basil based pesto is a garlic lover’s dream. The recipe (credit to suggests the pesto as a pasta topping, but we decided to try it first as a pizza topping. 

This gluten free pizza has garlic scape pesto, asparagus threads, smoked chicken and vermont cheddar: a perfectly balanced mix of accents and textures.

Thanks to for posting their pesto pic on Instagram. Thanks to for the original recipe!

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

  • 10 large garlic scapes
  • 1/3 cup unsalted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make the pesto: Puree the garlic scapes, pistachios, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until very finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the opening. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. (The pesto keeps in the fridge, covered, for 1 week or frozen for a month.)

Home Made Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe

Home Made Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe

Julie Fergus recently posted this photo on her Instagram page, telling everyone on world wide web that Mercy Hill Farm fresh eggs are the best in town. Shown here, one of the pretty pale blue shelled Araucana eggs, about to become delicious home-made Caesar Salad dressing. We’ve included the recipe here as well.

home made caesar salad dressing

Caesar Dressing:

  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 T raw wine vinegar
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and mashed


  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce
  • 4-6 anchovy fillets

Recipe credit: Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon




Gluten Free Recipes – Tamale Pie

Gluten Free Recipe - Tamale Pie

This  recipe is a tribute to my mom ( the most frugal woman I know) because this variation on the traditional Tamale Pie was put together with what we had on hand at dinner time, rather than going to the store and purchasing the “traditional” ingredients.

Gluten Free Recipe – Tamale Pie

Serves 4


  • 3/4 cup corn flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (see below how to make your own buttermilk from regular milk)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg


  • 2 lbs of chicken meat diced
  • 14 oz of stewed tomatoes, drained
  • 12 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp hot chili powder

Preheat the oven to 450F and grease a 9×9 square baking pan with the tsp of butter.

The Crust

(If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, simply add 1 tsp white vinegar to regular milk and let it sit a minute before adding it to the bowl. Yes, this even works with almond milk..) Combine the first 8 ingredients and pour into the baking dish. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Turn oven down to 350.

The Meat

Our chicken was leftover, picked from several whole chickens we had roasted earlier in the week, so it was a combination of white and dark meat already cooked. If you are starting with raw chicken, roast 2 lbs of chicken, testing with a meat thermometer that the inside temperature is 170F, or the juices run clear when you prick it with a knife.

The Rest

In a skillet over medium heat, sautée the onions and garlic in a tsp of butter, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent, about 2-3 minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and remove from the heat.

Pour the diced, cooked chicken, onions, garlic, mushrooms over the crust. layer that with the stewed tomatoes and then the sliced tomatoes, olives and finally, the shredded cheddar. Sprinkle the chili powder on top, and bake again at 350F for 25 minutes.

Serve with Sangria and Scrabble. OLE!