Tag Archives: evolvingcreations

Fermentation, Preservation, and the Century Egg (Pidan)

Hey all! Welcome back to the spacious jungle that is  our minds eye…

I’m going to start chipping away at sharing some of the fermented, pickled, and uniquely preserved foods I have learned about, prepared and eaten ever since I first discovered the magical world of food transformed…  I  discovered that these strange things were good for me, that the techniques had useful purpose, and that they were often a way to take simple things and make them exponentially improved, with a little time and preparation.  (so many wins!). In addition to that, they are a fantastic way to learn about and come to understand more about other cultures, climates and cuisines on the macro level, and also about food, nutrients and microorganisms on the micro level.

In the reality I live in, and strive to grow, everything is important. Everything is related to everything else in some way, and I see that our life here and what guides it wishes for us to make the connections with zero exceptions.

SO, like a lot of things, I’m a full on nerd for this fermented food stuff, and have been at it off and on for the last 10 or so years.  I got started back around 2005 brewing Kombucha before most people had even heard of the stuff. That led to Kefir ( a kind of cultured milk), and the list goes on from there. I love learning about the transformations and the organisms and agents that take an ordinary food and change it into something quite different,  something that is often better than the raw unadulterated version.  Most of these things originated as ways to preserve food without refrigeration or preserve large harvests through the winter. Kimchi and Sauerkraut for example are a way to have vegetables through the winter by preserving large amounts of them, usually with the aid of salt, to encourage a desirable fermentation. The process essentially “pickles” the food with lactic acid that is produced by beneficial microorganisms such as lactobacillus. I’m hoping to get into all of it as time and life permits. Thankfully my wife Shani is fully on board even to the extent that she ate some of the food I’ll show you below.  It’s a real blessing that she shares the taste and adventure because some of these things just don’t go over well with everyone  🙂

I decided to start with this most recent project. Figured I should get it out of the way to start because I doubt there will be anything quite so, um, frightening for the viewers… Don’t hold me to it though, you never know…  For me this was a real milestone of food preservation nerddom. I’m talking about “Century Eggs” or “Pidan”. These things are produced and consumed by the ton annually in China.  There’s been recent busts for the use of toxic copper sulphate to speed up the process there. If made properly, with quality eggs they are perfectly safe.  So if you’re going to eat them, as it is with a lot of foods in our own country, it’s increasingly important to check and know your sources or make/grow it yourself…

The main reasoning behind this food was one of preservation. Like a lot of cultural foods, what was once a necessity, became delicacy. There are many foods and drinks with stories like that. To be able to preserve eggs in the times of abundance so they would last long enough to be consumed was the name of the game. The shelf life of a Century egg is not 100 years as the name implies though. I haven’t found out exactly but it’s in the realm of month(s) as opposed to years.

So if you know how to use google, you’ll find that there’s no shortage of information about century eggs “Pidan”.  So I’ll just be another one with my own flavor.

These are in fact weird, you might not like them, but thankfully you can experiment with just a couple of eggs to find out for yourself. If nothing else, you’ll join the ranks of those who have tried them. Most notable to me is the ammonia aroma. It tastes mostly like a hard-boiled egg but that ammonia twang isn’t exactly subtle. My first try was just plain, no sauce, no accoutrement. I’ll prepare the rest a little bit better for sure. They’re not bad enough for me to not eat at all and part of why I like stuff like this is that the flavors you discover are unique and that’s what I seek out in life. New things, new tastes,  new understanding etc. My curiosity with these isn’t over so maybe I’ll report back with some preparations/dishes that make use of these bad boys. I made a dozen so I have a few to play with still.

So here we go. I’m going to cut to the chase. Traditionally, I aim for the most traditional approaches first, but in this case it was way to easy to go with the most modern version.  The old school method involves coating the eggs with a messy concoction of clay, ashes, charcoal, calcium oxide (quicklime) and salt. Followed by a roll in rice husks to keep them from sticking together.

This method accomplishes the same thing in a much more tidy and to the point way.

Here’s a little wiki snippet with a little summary of what’s happening here.

Through the process, the yolk becomes a dark green to grey color, with a creamy consistency and an odor of sulphur and ammonia, while the white becomes a dark brown, translucent jelly with salty or little flavor. The transforming agent in the century egg is its alkaline material, which gradually raises the pH of the egg to around 9–12, or more during the curing process. This chemical process breaks down some of the complex, flavorless proteins and fats, which produces a variety of smaller flavorful compounds.

You can do this with chicken eggs. I used eggs from our Ancona Ducks. You don’t need much.  The food grade Sodium Hydroxide is something you’ll have to order online unless there’s a local soap making supply shop. The other use for this is making pretzels…never done that though. 😛

Yes, the sodium hydroxide says “poison”.  It says poison because it’s a strong base (alkali) that can cause burns at full strength, but the mild solution that is prepared has just enough to react with, preserve and be neutralized by the fats and proteins in the egg.  It is caustic at full strength and UN-reacted, but it’s food grade and not “toxic” otherwise. Maybe confusing, but this is safe if you follow the instructions. Do as the bottle says and wear gloves and eye protection when handling the lye. This seems insane for making something to eat I know.  That’s a big part of why it’s so awesome. 🙂

imageThe Supplies… The eggs in this photo are actually some of the finished unopened century eggs with their hardly noticeable elmers glaze. (read on)

 

This recipe is from a book called: The Breakfast Bible by Seb Emina and Malcom Eggs.

I  like to suggest looking for books used, or in your local library before resorting to the monopolistic but oh so convenient online sources but even I’m guilty of that at at times so do what you gotta do.

Century Egg instructions:

  1.  Preparing the pickling solution:
    • Water 1L
    • Sodium chloride(NaCl) 72g (salt)
    • Sodium hydroxide(NaOH) 42g (food grade lye)
  2. Dissolve the NaCl and NaOH completely in water. Bring the solution to a boil and allow it to cool down before use.
  3.  Submerge the eggs in the saline solution, and store at 15 to 20°C for about 10 days.
  4.  Pick out the pickled eggs and rinse them. Then allow them to dry naturally.
  5.  Coat with PVA (polyvinyl acetate) or some other non-ventilated packaging material. An alternative is to add red soil to the saline solution after the pickled eggs are removed. Coat the eggs with the mud, and roll them in rice husk. Age for about 2 weeks.
  6.  Crack the eggs lightly and remove the shell. The white of the egg will have a grayish, translucent color, and a gelatinous texture. The yolk, when sliced, will be a grayish-green color.
The finished and notably odd product.
The finished and notably odd product.
Bon Appetit!
Bon Appetit!

It’s hard to screw these up.  Worst case is that you can’t bring yourself to try them. If they turn out like this then you know they’re safe to eat LOL!!! I figured if I started with these, then it would make everything else look wonderful! Haha!

Have fun, be well, thanks for following! Please subscribe at the upper right of the page to be notified of new entries.

Cobalt Sparkle Spots ~ Blown boro bead set by Beau B.

Here’s a new set of 3 blown boro hollows in cobalt blue under clear glass, decorated with a bit of turquoise and bold glittering green. Set comes along with some of the new discs in matching blue.

"Cobalt Sparkle Spots" Click photo to purchase.
“Cobalt Sparkle Spots” Click photo to purchase.

 

*Auction* Spinning top x Pendant by Beau Barrett

Spins clean heads up or down.
Spins clean heads up or down.

Pink Lemonade Pendant x Top

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Winning: Mary Ransom

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Ending On: September 15, 2014 12:00 pm

A spinning pendant? Wearable top? Even spins heads up or heads down.

Either way, it's a well balanced situation...

A striped pattern in Canary yellow and blush pink...

43mm tall x 25mm diameter.

3.5mm hole size.

Category: pendants

This auction is now closed.

This auction is now closed.

  1. Mary Ransom bid $32.00 on September 14, 2014 11:18 pm
  2. josh arleth bid $26.00 on September 14, 2014 11:48 am
  3. Racer bid $8.00 on September 14, 2014 10:34 am

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*Auction* Sunday Spinner trio #2

Powerhouses of angular momentum, ready and willing.
Powerhouses of angular momentum, ready and willing.

Sunday Spinner Trio #2

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Winning: Mary Ransom

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Ending On: September 16, 2014 9:00 am

A little crew of fun pocket spinners to bring more angular momentum into your life. Contemplate how everything spins... All three spin straight and clean.  Largest (white/green sparkle ribbon twist) measures 38mm x 22mm diameter.

Thank you!  Enjoy!

Category: spintops

This auction is now closed.

  1. Mary Ransom bid $31.00 on September 14, 2014 11:14 pm
  2. Mary Ransom bid $21.00 on September 14, 2014 11:13 pm
  3. Racer bid $12.00 on September 14, 2014 12:30 pm

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*Auction* Sunday Spinner trio #1

Little spinners, good to go.
Little spinners, good to go.

Sunday Spinner Trio #1

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Ending On: September 15, 2014 8:00 pm

A little crew of fun pocket spinners to bring more angular momentum into your life. Contemplate how everything spins...

All three spin straight and clean (largest) measures 32mm x 21mm diameter.

Thank you! Enjoy!

Category: spintops

This auction is now closed.

  1. josh arleth bid $15.00 on September 14, 2014 1:36 pm

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Blown boro bead auction!

Thanks for looking, liking, sharing and/or bidding.  Much gratitude to be here at all..

Skirted Peach Drop

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Ending On: September 12, 2014 10:00 am

I made a pair of lamp-pulls for someone recently.  Pairs don't always happen the first time and tend to leave behind a nice looking individual or two.

Translucent peach glass (colored with gold, this color has a really nice unique glow to it.) a black/amber purple/black incalmo section and black rims. The "bottom" rim is exaggerated to form a tapered skirt. This was to hide the end of the ball chain but will also be a nice portal for your bead work to spring forth from...

52mm x 19mm diameter.   4mm hole size.

Thanks all!

Category: beads

This auction is now closed.

This auction is now closed.

  1. Mary Ransom bid $22.00 on September 11, 2014 7:31 pm

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Blown boro bead auction!

I’m liking this effect!

Floating Blue Green Ether

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A  blown boro focal bead with a mottled core of gradated blue-green beneath a heavy layer of clear. Translucent opal blue dot-stacks float on the surface. The dots have a nice little gradient to them as well.

32mm x 27mm diameter.

Category: beads

This auction is now closed.

This auction is now closed.

  1. Tracey Paynter bid $24.00 on September 11, 2014 8:05 am

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Beads

Always beads, they’ll always be a thing for us. It’s the original object.  It’s a thing transformed.  A rock with a hole in it has more possible futures than one without.  A rock with a hole in it is cool, it feels good in the hand.  You could throw it, hand it to someone, or string it up to keep and wear.  A reminder of places worth returning to.

So if the goal is to put information on these “rocks” in the form of patterns and colors. The information is more effective at communicating the message without words or established symbols. These would be distracting from what’s really going on here. The focus is the process, not the objects that result from it. Although the objects do improve greatly with this somewhat counter-intuitive approach.

I like this thing called “Beauty”,  it seems like a good objective to me . It has the desired effect. It warms, connects and motivates. It doesn’t NEED to say a damn thing. It just looks good, and you don’t really care why.  It’s not trying to sway opinion or activate your chakras, it’s just nice work. You can tell it really loves you, because it doesn’t try to own you. Beauty shows us what it means to just be open and aware that we belong here, exactly as we are.  There’s details, but it’s the feeling beneath it that you want to make note of. So you can realize it exists inside you.

Like a flower. It’s so beautiful you could cry. You can see how much it loves you, and you feel the same way. Fragrance, symmetry AND color?  This relationship feels right and true to all who see it. Beauty connects us and it pulls us. The Butterflies and Hummingbirds agree, but they aren’t even aware of “beauty” they just ARE it.

A Calendula from our garden. Caught it opening and again a few days later...
A Calendula from our garden. Caught it opening and again a few days later…

The awareness of love and beauty is a gift and a responsibility. The difference between us and the butterflies is awareness. We can observe ourselves. I think this is uniquely human. This capacity for self-reflection.

Making the objects is a mantra and a self-reflective practice. When we are making an object, there is nothing else.  All of the self is looking to make miniscule connections to move the form just a bit closer to what the mind’s eye wishes to see with each attempt. The maker gets many pings back from the material and process. These serve to continue the cycle of questions and answers. It is the answers from this “ONE” that you will use for the next “ONE”.

 Practice: to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

This is practice you can see, to remind a person on a deeper level that it is the practice you seek and not the bead.

Objects, what we see and feel with eyes and hands are tools for learning about the non-material practices. To practice being present and within yourself is the practice of practices. I practice while making them, your practice while stringing them is no different. It’s always only one, and it’s always right now.

Hollow blown boro beads by Beau Barrett
Hollow blown boro beads by Beau Barrett

I love a good marble or paperweight. It was these cavernous carnivals of light that helped show me what glass could become. Big spheres filled with psychedelic scenes that induce wonder. Wonder how, wonder what, wonder who. But I never wondered why…

A bead, is sneaky and mechanical. It will accept your advances and walk with you all day. It will call people over without asking you. It might just quietly interrupt an observers train of thought. One bead can change the course of an entire day and it’s not bound to the display case…it’s bound to you.

What other object becomes a part of the owner so well? Especially when their own efforts are applied to use this object as a jump-off for their own creation. Beads are quite literally an opportunity that does not discriminate.

These are the stones, and the world is the pond. I try to throw them accordingly. Thank you for catching them, using them and observing them accordingly.

I’m headed to the torch now, beads will be available for purchase tomorrow morning!

Thanks all!!

Beau