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Frozen bread dough is one of those convenience products that’s easily forgotten, but boy is it ever worth its weight in gold. Buy a 3-loaf package and just see where it takes you—way beyond a basic loaf of bread.

 
 

All of these recipes start with 1 or 2 loaves of thawed dough. Overnight thawing in the refrigerator is my preferred method, but the package lists instructions for a quicker thaw at room temperature. Keep in mind that the “quicker” version still involves hours of thawing. I like to place a frozen loaf in a greased loaf pan, cover it loosely with a greased piece of plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

You can be sure that your bread is baked for any of these recipes when it reads 190-200ºF on an instant-read thermometer. I can’t remember meat readiness temps, but I took a bread class years ago, and that stuck with me. It’s always a good way to check if you’re in doubt.

 
 
Cloverleaf RollsLet’s start with what is maybe the most obvious: rolls. Cloverleaf rolls seem so fancy, don’t they? I love busting these out at a regular weeknight dinner and seeing if I can stop at two. (I can’t.)

To make these, grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Cut the thawed dough into 12 even pieces. Cut each of those pieces into three. Roll into balls and place into the greased tin. Cover with a dish towel or greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours. Brush with melted butter and bake for about 15–20 minutes, or until done.

 
 
Pizza Monkey BreadYou’ve all heard of sweet monkey bread which, of course, you can make with bread dough. But have you ever tried savory monkey bread? Our son is home from college and said this recipe is “the best thing I’ve eaten in months!” How’s that for an endorsement?

 
 

To make this, melt 1/2 cup salted butter with 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon garlic salt. Let cool but don’t let it solidify. Stir in 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan. Grease a large bundt pan with shortening. Cut 8 ounces of block mozzarella into 64 pieces, and cut two thawed loaves into 24-30 pieces each.

Fold each ball of dough around a piece of cheese. Pinch and roll to seal, place into the greased bundt pan. Scatter quartered pepperoni slices in as you go, if desired. Top with any of the remaining butter mixture. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. Bake at 350ºF for about 40–45 minutes, tenting with foil after 30 minutes if needed to prevent over-browning.

 
 

Let the monkey bread rest for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter and an additional 5 before serving. Tear off chunks and dip into warmed marinara sauce.

 
 
Cinnamon RollsHere’s another no-brainer. Instead of making your own dough for cinnamon rolls, use thawed bread dough. For most recipes making 12 cinnamon rolls, one loaf of thawed dough will do the trick. Roll, fill, rise, and bake per the recipe instructions. Don’t forget the icing!

 
 
KolachesIn our area of Texas, kolaches are sold in almost every donut shop. They’re bread dough filled with meat and/or cheese and served for breakfast. Traditionally, kolaches are sweet, and the savory versions are called klobasnek. I’m sticking with our local definition; please address all complaints to the state of Texas.

To make them, divide the thawed dough into 8 even pieces. Roll each piece into an oblong shape. Place a pre-cooked breakfast sausage link in the center. Add cheese if desired—pepper jack is particularly delicious. Wrap the dough around and place seam-side-down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cover with a dish towel or greased plastic wrap. Let rise for about 1 1/2 hours. Brush with milk, and bake at 350ºF for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.

 
 
Cinnamon Pull-Apart BreadThis bread is life-changing in the best way! These thin layers of buttery, cinnamon-sugar goodness bake up into a masterpiece that’s a cinch to make. Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan. Melt 1/2 stick of salted butter, set aside. Divide thawed dough into 8 equal pieces, then cut each of those into three pieces.

 
 

Roll each piece of bread (use a bit of flour if sticky) into about a 3-inch rough circle/oval. No need to be precise. Brush the tops with melted butter. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (more on that later). Repeat, stacking the bread into a “tower” of sorts. Once finished, place the stack sideways into the prepared loaf pan.

 
 

Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours. Don’t worry if your stack doesn’t cover the entire loaf pan at first—it will as it rises. Bake at 350ºF for 35–45 minutes, tenting with foil after about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife along the edges and remove. Let cool for another 5 minutes before pulling apart the layers.

 
 

If you don’t have cinnamon-sugar on hand, make it by stirring together 3/4 cup granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons cinnamon.

 
 

(Pssst. This is such a great treat to take to your neighbor!)

Bread = love. Using frozen bread dough is no exception. How do you love to use it?

 
 

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I’m an early riser. Part of this is because I’m married to a cattle rancher and have been conditioned over the past 23 years to believe that getting up after the sun has already come up means the whole day is pretty much wasted. We’ve had summers where we were up before 4:00 am every day for a month straight, and I’ve looked sleep deprivation in the eye and buckled under the weight of its stare. At this point in my life, I couldn’t possibly sleep past 7:00 a.m. even if I had the opportunity to, and usually I’m up and around much earlier than that. Even when I go to Colorado for vacation and don’t “have” to get up, my eyes still open around 5:00 a.m. Again: I’m conditioned!

The plus side of this is that I have gotten to experience many miracles in the form of sunrises; the most recent one (above) happened a couple of days ago. It was breathtaking in the literal sense of the word, and neither my phone nor my real camera could possibly capture the majesty in the sky that morning. I felt it in my bones. I actually shivered at the beauty. It was powerful!

It’s funny, through the years I have heard lots of cowboys get asked the question “What do you like most about your job?” Across the board, the number one answer is something like “I love to watch the sun rise while I’m on my horse.” It’s definitely a universal sentiment, at least among the cowboys I know. And while I have been on a horse at sunrise and agree that it is a uniquely beautiful experience—more beautiful, I imagine, if the person on the horse is a skilled rider, which I am not, and doesn’t have to worry about staying in the saddle, which I do—I’m content to experience the occasional magnificent sunrise in the comfort of my yoga pants…and in the comfort of our backyard, overlooking the peaceful pond that Ladd’s dad built when he raised a family here with my mother-in-law, Nan. Something happens to the soul when being flooded with the fiery drama that is a sunrise. It has a way of setting everything aright.

I’ll tell you what else sets everything aright, at least for me: Uninterrupted time at home. A few months ago—actually, well into last year—I looked ahead at 2019 and decided to clear a block of time this summer. And by “clear a block of time this summer,” I mean I marked a violent, bright red line through part of May, the entire month of June, and half of July, with the unambiguous phrase DO NOT SCHEDULE! in capital letters. Not that I haven’t been during this time (hello, cookbook!) but it was a (slightly aggressive) reminder to myself not to fill these calendar days anything—filming, travel, events—that would take me away from home, so that I could enjoy the things that I knew would be going on during this block of time. And here’s what’s going on!

* The boys are starting their intense football training and practice leading up to the fall. They need food, man.
* Alex is home after graduating from college, and will be here until she starts her new job in Dallas mid-July. She hasn’t been here continually like this since she left for college four years ago, and I love it.
* Paige is also home after her first year of college, and will be here until she leaves for her camp counseling job in July. It’s so great to have girls back under our roof.
* My nephew Stuart is with us this summer, helping Ladd on the ranch and just being the great kid he is.
* I’m finishing my new cookbook—dotting i’s and crossing t’s and feeling so thankful that I’ve had this time at home to dig in and give it my all. I am feeling good about this darn book!
* Sunrises. Lots and lots of sunrises. Which, again, remind me of all that’s good.

Beginning in mid-July, things will get busy again, and I’ll feel ready! I’ll be filming more shows on the ranch, school will be gearing up again, football season will begin, and I’ll be getting ready for my cookbook launch and book signing trip, which kicks off in October. And while I know it will be quite awhile before I’ll probably be able to carve out another 7 to 8 week “break” like the one I’m taking now, I think this time at home is going to refuel me in ways I have yet to see. Ladd always teases me that I never fill up my vehicle all the way, and he’s absolutely correct. I don’t. I drive until I’m just about out of gas, then hurriedly stop and add just enough fuel to get me through the next day or two. Not to be all symbolic—and actually, scratch that; this is completely symbolic: I realized the other day that I often take that same approach with myself. I’m typically in the day, dealing with the day I’m in, and sucking the resources I need to get me through until bedtime. Funny correlation, but the vehicle/fuel analogy really helps me see the value in taking this long pit stop this summer.

I wonder if Ladd and the kids can handle me with a full tank of gas? Haha. I can’t wait to find out!

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There are so many types of cultured dairy available in supermarkets today. So let’s talk about them, shall we? What makes each one different? How are they made? How are they used? I’ll try my best to answer these questions for you.

But first, what exactly is cultured dairy? Put simply, cultured dairy is a milk product that has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria.

 
 
Sour creamSour cream is exactly what it is called: sour cream. It’s made by adding lactic-acid-producing bacteria to cream. The process is called souring, which results in a thick and tart product. Sour cream has to have at least 18% butterfat to be called sour cream.

How to use it: There are so many ways to enjoy sour cream. It’s more than just a topping for potatoes or your favorite Tex-Mex dishes. It’s a great ingredient for baked goods and it adds creaminess to your favorite creamy dish, like soup or stroganoff.

 
 
Crème fraîcheCrème fraîche is a French cultured dairy product. Translated, it means, literally, “fresh cream.” It is thicker, richer, and less sour than its American counterpart, sour cream. Crème fraîche has approximately a 28% butterfat content compared to sour cream’s 18-20% butterfat.

Traditionally, crème fraîche was made by leaving fresh cream out to sit in the heat. This allowed natural bacteria to acidify and thicken the cream. Today, a starter culture is added to the heavy cream, then it’s left at controlled temperatures to thicken.

How to use it: Crème fraîche can be used much like sour cream but because it is thicker and richer, it is great paired with fresh fruit and baked goods. I love a dollop on top of a fresh slice of pie or with cobbler. It’s also wonderful with your favorite breakfast carb. Think waffles topped with fruit and a generous spoonful of crème fraîche.

 
 
Mexican cremaIf you’re looking for something that falls between sour cream and crème fraîche, you want crema. It’s a Mexican staple and is used like sour cream but—you guessed it—the two are not exactly the same.

 
 

Crema has a thinner consistency and is tangier and saltier than sour cream. It’s a great neutralizer for spicy chilies.

How to use it: It can go drizzled over your favorite Mexican dish, or added to creamy soups and mashed potatoes. I also enjoy it drizzled over sweet summer fruit.

 
 
YogurtSo far, the products we’ve discussed are made with cream cultured with bacteria at an ambient temperature. Yogurt, on the other hand, is made with milk that is first heated to 185°F (85°C) and then cooled to 113°F (45°C) before a bacterial culture is mixed in. It is then maintained at that temperature for 4 to 12 hours to ferment.

 
 

If the yogurt is strained, removing the whey, it produces a thicker consistency and is then called Greek yogurt in the U.S. or labneh in Middle Eastern countries.

How to use it: The most common way to enjoy yogurt is in a bowl, sweetened and topped with fresh fruit and granola. I also enjoy adding it to my morning oatmeal, and you can use it for baking too. But yogurt isn’t just for your sweet tooth—it’s also great in savory dishes. Yogurt is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine in sauces, marinades, and dips like tzatziki. Try a savory yogurt bowl of cucumber, olive oil, olives, tomato, and dill or roasted carrots, harissa, parsley, and pomegranate molasses.

 
 
KefirKefir originates from Eastern Europe and Russia. It’s made by combining milk with kefir grains and leaving that to ferment. Kefir grains are gelatinous white or yellow particles. These grains are cauliflower-shaped clumps made up of a complex combination of bacteria, yeast, milk proteins, and complex sugars. The grains can be purchased online to make kefir at home. The grains are strained from the beverage and can be used to make a new batch.

 
 

Kefir has been popping up in supermarkets all over the U.S. and can be found in the yogurt aisle. I refer to kefir as drinking yogurt. Kefir tastes much tangier than yogurt. It can be found plain or sweetened and flavored. Kefir has various health benefits because of all the probiotics it contains.

How to use it: It can be a great addition to your morning routine. Drink it as-is or add it to your favorite smoothie. It’s also great in your morning oatmeal.

 
 
ButtermilkTraditionally, buttermilk referred to the milk from butter. After butter was churned, the liquid that remained was exposed to airborne bacteria and left to ferment. Today, buttermilk is a cultured product made from pasteurized and fermented skim milk.

 
 

How to use it: Because of buttermilk’s natural sourness and acidity, it’s a great addition to creamy salad dressings, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes. If you love to bake or make killer pancakes, buttermilk should become a permanent fixture in your pantry. If you want baked goods that are flaky, tender, and fluffy, use buttermilk. The pairing of baking soda and buttermilk produces carbon dioxide gas, achieving a fluffiness that regular milk could never provide.

Tip: If you find you don’t use buttermilk often enough to have it take up real estate in your refrigerator, you can do one of two things. First, you can add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of whole milk to make buttermilk. Let it sit for 10 minutes before use. Or you can use dry buttermilk from the baking aisle. It’s meant to be used dry (hello, homemade ranch seasoning mix) and not reconstituted into liquid buttermilk.

 
 
Cream cheeseCream cheese is the first official cheese on our list. Cream cheese is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to cream. This causes the curds and whey to separate. The whey is then drained off and the curds are heated and formed. Cream cheese is a fresh cheese that contains at least 33% fat and 55% or less moisture content. Cream cheese is soft, creamy, and spreadable. It has a mild tangy taste.

How to use it: Cream cheese is very versatile. Of course, you can spread it on your favorite toasted bagel. But it’s also a great cheese to use in dips, desserts, spreads, cheeseballs, and it makes bomb mashed potatoes.

 
 
MascarponeMmmmm. Mascarpone! Cream cheese’s creamier and sweeter Italian cousin. It’s a double or triple cream cheese that originates from Northern Italy. It typically has a 60-75% fat content, which makes it wonderfully creamy and smooth. Like cream cheese, it’s made by adding lactic acid bacteria to cream. The curds and whey separate, the whey is drained off and the curds are heated and formed. Mascarpone cheese has a hint of sweetness and acidity but is less tangy than cream cheese.

How to use it: Because of mascarpone’s creamy texture and sweetness, it’s great in desserts. Whip it with some sweetened heavy cream and it makes a great cake filling. Want some super creamy risotto or polenta? Add a dollop of mascarpone. Mascarpone is sold in most grocery stores and is found with the cheese in the deli section. Sometimes, you can find it with cream cheese.

 
 

Now that you are armed with a wealth of cultured dairy knowledge, are you clearing out some refrigerator space for your new cultured dairy collection? I hope you are, because you need to be dolloping and drizzling your food with all of that tangy dairy deliciousness!

 
 

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Food lovers unite! We knew you’d crush this, and so you did. Cake for everyone!

Here are the stats, answers, and winners.
 
STATS

1,717 people took the quiz.
231 people aced it!
The question most people (almost everyone!) got right was…#8!
The question most people missed (only 54% got it right) was…#9.
 
ANSWERS

Q.3
Naan is a type of flatbread. (True)
 
Q.4
The egg in Eggs Benedict is traditionally fried. (False)
 
Q.5
Kabocha is a type of grain. (False)
 
Q.6
The main ingredient in poutine is french fries. (True)
 
Q.7
Boston, Bibb and Batavia are different types of lettuce. (True)
 
Q.8
Crepes are typically larger and thicker than pancakes. (False)
 
Q.9
Real wasabi is naturally green. (True)
 
Q.10
Traditional Mexican pozole is a soup with meatballs, rice and vegetables. (False)
 
Q.11
Confit refers to a technique involving braising something in a wine sauce. (False)
 
Q.12
Udon noodles are thicker than spaghetti noodles. (True)
 
Q.13
Beignets are typically fried. (True)
 
Q.14
Fresh tarragon has short, small and round leaves. (False)
 
Q.15
Scalded milk is milk that has been boiled for 3 to 5 minutes. (False)
 
Q.16
A demi-glace is a rich brown sauce made by reducing stock. (True)
 
Q.17
Tahini is made with raw almonds. (False)
 
Q.18
White rice, in general, cooks faster than brown rice. (True)
 
Q.19
To keep pastry light and flaky, use cold butter. (True)
 
Q.20
To flambé something means to grill it over an open flame. (False)
 
Q.21
Muscovado and turbinado are different types of sugar. (True)
 
Q.22
Making decorative grooves along the edges of pie crust is called docking. (False)
 
WINNERS

The first winner is…Jean M…!
The second winner is…Kim H…!
The third winner is…David S…!

Congratulations, winners! Contact prizes@thepioneerwoman.com to claim your gift card!

 
 

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Meg, Alex’s lifelong friend, got married Saturday! She’s Hyacinth’s daughter, and while it’s a little surreal that she is now a married woman, she found pretty much the perfect man for her in Stephen. It’s a beautiful thing to witness when love happens and it seems so right.

 
 
Alex was her maid of honor, and it was so fun to watch her take her job so seriously. She truly celebrated Meg and Stephen, and the joy she felt all day was palpable.

 
 
Gosh, it seems like just four years ago that these two were graduating from high school. Wait. It WAS just four years ago that these two were graduation from high school! Time is flying by way too fast.

 
 
In Pawhuska news, summer has officially begun and we’re having fun welcoming visitors from all over! This is an old truck that a friend of ours restored using old Drummond Ranch vehicles. It’s shiny and fun.

 
 
I’m having fun keeping the store stocked with fun new things along with favorites we’ve had from the beginning…and we’re working on opening a new store a few doors down later this summer.

 
 
And here’s Charlie’s! Our small but passionate-about-sweets staff is doing such a great job.

 
 
And I think the kiddos are loving it.

 
 
The adults are, too!

 
 
As for me, I am enjoying having Alex and Paige home AND am in the last days of finishing my cookbook before it goes to the printer. It’s a push not unlike childbirth, and in the end I’m looking forward to healing (ha), getting my energy back (haha), and sharing my new baby, I mean cookbook with you…and I really think you are going to enjoy it. I still to this day think of all of you when I write a cookbook, because it’s so important to me that it be useful and usable. I’ll show you the cover in a few days!

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Get ready for another quiz about one of our favorite topics: cooking! Let’s put all our kitchen time to good use, shall we? Drop by this Thursday for a fun and fast-paced True or False Cooking Quiz. It’ll be loads of fun, and prizes will be yummy and new!

 
Here are the details:

WHAT: True or False Cooking Quiz!
WHEN: Thursday, June 6, 8:00 pm Eastern/5:00 pm Pacific
WHERE: Here! (The Fun & Learning section.)
WHY: Because people who love to eat are always the best people. (We couldn’t agree more, Julia Child!)

 
See you Thursday!


 
 

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Have you ever heard of kimchi before?  It’s a Korean banchan (AKA side dish) that’s basically seasoned, fermented veggies. Koreans have many different types of kimchi, including green onion kimchi, radish kimchi, cucumber kimchi, etc. But the most widely known version is made with Napa cabbage. It’s kind of like Korean sauerkraut.

 
 

Today I’d like to share an easier version of Korean kimchi. It’s made with only a few simple ingredients and is dead easy to pull off. Traditional Korean kimchi is wonderful, but it requires more complex steps and ingredients that are harder to source. I wanted to make this doable for the average American cook so everyone can enjoy the wonderful flavors of kimchi!

 
 

Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need: a head of Napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, and gochugaru (we’ll talk more about this ingredient in a minute) or paprika.

 
 

You can also add green onions and carrots if you like. I personally love the extra flavor from the onions and the sweet crunch of the carrots. But the kimchi will still work if you leave them out.

 
 

To make the kimchi, start by slicing your Napa cabbage in half lengthwise.

 
 

Cut out the core at the bottom of the cabbage.

 
 

I’m sure there are many methods for slicing up a Napa cabbage, but this is how I like to do it. Make cuts along the length of the cabbage that are about 1 1/2 inches wide.

 
 

Slice the cabbage perpendicular to those cuts so that you have pieces that are about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch long.

 
 

Next, prep your ginger. I like to peel mine first with a spoon. Then you can either thinly slice, finely chop, or grate it. I personally think that grated ginger is best in kimchi, but you do you. 2 tablespoons of grated ginger is just right for me. This makes for a fairly ginger-forward kimchi, so adjust the amount according to your preferences.

 
 

Then mince your garlic. You can learn my favorite way to mince garlic with a knife in my Garlic 101 post.

 
 

Let’s talk a little about the red stuff in kimchi. For a more authentic flavor, you can use gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). America-style red pepper flakes aren’t the same thing. You can always use paprika instead if you can’t take any amount of spice, or if you just can’t find the gochugaru.

 
 

Whisk together the sugar, salt, and guchugaru in 2 cups of water.

 
 

Pour that over the vegetables in a large bowl.

 
 

Now you need to weigh down the cabbage. I usually cobble together a press by putting a plate on top of the cabbage, and a stack of heavy bowls on top of that.

 
 

Then just leave the whole thing for several hours, or until the liquid covers the cabbage and plate.

 
 

The cabbage should have released a good amount of liquid.

 
 

Now it’s time to pack the veggies into jars. One head of Napa cabbage usually makes about 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of kimchi.

 
 

Put the veggies into very clean jars and press them down into the jar with very clean hands. You want to really pack the cabbage in there!

 
 

Now you want to weigh the cabbage down so it stays below the liquid or brine. This prevents the cabbage from growing mold. I like to use glass fermenting weights, but you could use a small jar, mini glass bowl, or whatever you have on hand!

 
 

See how the weight keeps everything in place? You can skim off any cabbage particles that float to the top.

 
 

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Three weeks ago, I headed to New York City for a busy 24 hours to celebrate the launch of my new line of dog treats with Purina. It was so much fun, and because I’ve been so busy with Ladd and the kids since then, I’m only now just able to post about it! In addition to media and interviews, we had an incredible event in Bryant Park right in the middle of New York City. Purina set up a mini-recreation of the ranch and Lodge…how cute is this?

 
 
We had an amazing staff on hand to hand out bags of dog treats to anyone who dropped by! And lots of people dropped by with their doggies.

(Checkout the cardboard cutout of me in the background—ha! It was a stand-in for the part of the day that I wasn’t able to be there in person. I wanted to package it up and send it to my mom at the end of the day. She misses me.)

 
 
Anyway, back to the event: I was in absolute heaven meeting visitors and their dogs. Look at this little guy.

 
 
As part of the event, Purina partnered with North Shore Animal League America, a no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. They had puppies at the event that were eligible for adoption, which was wonderful.

 
 
And until they were adopted, the puppies got lots of love from visitors to the event. So sweet! And look at the smiles.

 
 
I did not want to leave this little guy. He was so puppy-tastic, and I fell in love. But that’s nothing new!

 
 
I didn’t go home with a puppy, but I did go home with even more excitement and enthusiasm over my partnership with Purina! The Drummond dogs still love my dog treats as much as ever, and it was so fun to share the treats with other dog lovers during my time in New York.

Dog lovers unite!

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Have you ever heard of kimchi before?  It’s a Korean banchan (AKA side dish) that’s basically seasoned, fermented veggies. Koreans have many different types of kimchi, including green onion kimchi, radish kimchi, cucumber kimchi, etc. But the most widely known version is made with Napa cabbage. It’s kind of like Korean sauerkraut.

 
 

Today I’d like to share an American’s version of Korean kimchi. It’s made with only a few simple ingredients and is dead easy to pull off. Traditional Korean kimchi is wonderful, but it requires more complex steps and ingredients that are harder to source. I wanted to make this doable for the average American cook so everyone can enjoy the wonderful flavors of kimchi!

 
 

Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need: a head of Napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, and gochugaru (we’ll talk more about this ingredient in a minute) or paprika.

 
 

You can also add green onions and carrots if you like. I personally love the extra flavor from the onions and the sweet crunch of the carrots. But the kimchi will still work if you leave them out.

 
 

To make the kimchi, start by slicing your Napa cabbage in half lengthwise.

 
 

Cut out the core at the bottom of the cabbage.

 
 

I’m sure there are many methods for slicing up a Napa cabbage, but this is how I like to do it. Make cuts along the length of the cabbage that are about 1 1/2 inches wide.

 
 

Slice the cabbage perpendicular to those cuts so that you have pieces that are about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch long.

 
 

Next, prep your ginger. I like to peel mine first with a spoon. Then you can either thinly slice, finely chop, or grate it. I personally think that grated ginger is best in kimchi, but you do you. 2 tablespoons of grated ginger is just right for me. This makes for a fairly ginger-forward kimchi, so adjust the amount according to your preferences.

 
 

Then mince your garlic. You can learn my favorite way to mince garlic with a knife in my Garlic 101 post.

 
 

Let’s talk a little about the red stuff in kimchi. For a more authentic flavor, you can use gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). America-style red pepper flakes aren’t the same thing. You can always use paprika instead if you can’t take any amount of spice, or if you just can’t find the gochugaru.

 
 

Whisk together the sugar, salt, and guchugaru in 2 cups of water.

 
 

Pour that over the vegetables in a large bowl.

 
 

Now you need to weigh down the cabbage. I usually cobble together a press by putting a plate on top of the cabbage, and a stack of heavy bowls on top of that.

 
 

Then just leave the whole thing for several hours, or until the liquid covers the cabbage and plate.

 
 

The cabbage should have released a good amount of liquid.

 
 

Now it’s time to pack the veggies into jars. One head of Napa cabbage usually makes about 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of kimchi.

 
 

Put the veggies into very clean jars and press them down into the jar with very clean hands. You want to really pack the cabbage in there!

 
 

Now you want to weigh the cabbage down so it stays below the liquid or brine. This prevents the cabbage from growing mold. I like to use glass fermenting weights, but you could use a small jar, mini glass bowl, or whatever you have on hand!

 
 

See how the weight keeps everything in place? You can skim off any cabbage particles that float to the top.

 
 

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Have your taco Tuesdays become a little … predictable? Have you been using the same seasoned ground beef taco recipe for the last, oh, 523 Tuesdays? If so, I suggest changing things up with some Tacos al Pastor. This sweet, spicy, and smoky pork taco is everything.

 
 

What is al pastor?

Al pastor is a delicious preparation of pork developed in central Mexico. True al pastor is made with pork that is first marinated in dried chiles, spices, achiote, and pineapple, then grilled on a vertical spit.

It’s typically served on tortillas with pineapple, onions, and cilantro. If tacos al pastor is on the menu, you better believe that’s what I am ordering.

 
Why is it called al pastor?

As I mentioned earlier, al pastor is from central Mexico. But did you know that it can trace its roots all the way back to Lebanon? In the early 1900s, many Lebanese immigrated to Mexico and brought with them a rich food culture. One of the traditions they brought with them was the method of roasting meat on a vertical spit.

Over time, Mexican shepherds adopted this technique and began preparing strips of marinated pork on vertical spits. This preparation was eventually called “al pastor,” which means “shepherd style.”

 
 

What cut of meat is best for al pastor?

The most traditional cut of pork to use for al pastor is thinly sliced pork shoulder. The fact that it happens to be my favorite cut of pork only further explains why I love al pastor so much. You can also use pork sirloin or pork loin, but be careful as these two cuts are much leaner than pork shoulder and can easily dry out.

Full disclaimer: I did not make this recipe on a vertical spit, because let’s be honest, how many of us have a vertical spit laying around. So I’m not going to claim that this recipe is authentic. But it’s pretty darn close and it’s assuredly delicious.

 
 

Instead of seasoned ground meat, try some tacos al pastor for your next taco Tuesday!

 
 

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