Sauerkraut Hour


November doesn't have as strong a vibe as October or December, but I dig it. The big holiday for November is Thanksgiving, but that's like, not enough to hang a whole feeling on, so you have to build up your own associations with the time period. My associations tend to unite the quiet dreariness of November days with the still and sacred feeling of summer nights. I know this isn't a regular November and probably the months are only going to get less regular in aspect from here on out, but it's still going to be one month after another, you can bet on that. It's still a point in time that we navigate like any other. Here are the signposts I carry with me:

1. Disco

When I was working at the record store we had a big disco ball in the window, and it was part of my job to turn it on when it was dark enough outside to cause an impact. In the summer and early fall, pre-daylight savings, it doesn't get nearly dark enough for the disco ball until after closing. But once daylight savings hits, November or whatever, the disco ball is on for a decent chunk of the day. Disco ball, drinking a hot chocolate at work, listening to disco, people come in and say "kind of a disco feeling in here huh?" and I say "big time". Now I find that even during the day this feeling holds true, and even now that I'm not working at the record store-- walking on the bike path, the crisp dappled sunlight sprays through the branches, the people's laser; the leaves fall like shredded receipts. I'm saying "Let me get a vodka tonic" to the woodchuck on the bike path (Richard).

Growing up a listener of rock radio, and then as a punk, I had this idea that Disco was an enemy. But looking back I can see that that was mostly racism and homophobia barely filtered through class anxiety and used by rock DJs to strengthen their hold. Only later in life did I realize, wait a minute, I love dancing and having fun! If you are too mired in Rock Identity to embrace disco then I recommend any "old school House" mix on youtube, which you may find more palatable-- I mean it's cooler to party in a house than in a commercial environment established for that purpose. If you want to really get hyped look up "house music documentary". House and disco aren't exactly the same but the best of each drink from the same divine well.

2. Bach

My partner Sakiko runs an insane annual event called BACH TO THE FUTURE, which is an all-night marathon concert of music by and inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach. The performances run the gamut from traditional instrumentation to noise and everything in between, and the performers range in ability from the seasoned pro to the devoted amateur. And the performers are threaded together very thoughtfully and playfully, not a classical block and then a way-out block but a wonderful night-long composition designed for interplay, commentary, joyous rupture, and reflection.

Bach To The Future is presented under the aegis of Community MusicWorks, which has a glut of Bach-related programming in November, and this is the glorious capstone. Why November? I can't figure it out but it makes sense to me-- Bach is like the overlap of Halloween music and Christmas music, without really claiming either.

Usually Bach To The Future takes place in a chapel at Brown University and there's free coffee all night, spaghetti at midnight, and people sleeping, trying not to sleep, snoring, and always at least once someone snores themselves awake, which is really cute. This year it's on the radio and streaming online-- it's going to be right in your house! Which is great but you'll have to provide your own coffee and your own spaghetti. And if you want the snoring experience you'll have to simultaneously load a "soft snoring 12 hours" video in a separate tab. It's this Friday November 13 7pm - 14 7am.

3. Sauerkraut

Really I like to make sauerkraut all year, but November is when I think of it, and when it really feels right-- I guess it's easier to do when it's still a little warm in the kitchen, and it's nice to set something in motion that you can reliably look forward to, I hope that's not too bleak. I made sauerkraut this week while hovering in the limbo of election news, it was nice to have something sensible to do.

If you like eating sauerkraut, I recommend regularly making it, it's easy and it's cheap and it's good for you. Here's what I do:

Sauerkraut Recipe


purple cabbage fresh cut


Dystopia "Human = Garbage" LP (1994)


William Blake "Pity" (1795)

Get a nice cabbage at the store, I always use purple cabbage because I like the vibrant color, and purple / blue food is rare enough that it should be treasured I think. Maybe this is bad but I don't wash it, I just peel away a couple outside leaves. Those I throw away. Then I peel a couple more nice big leaves, and those I put aside. The rest I chop into thin ribbons, like 1/4" across.

The cabbage ribbons go into a big bowl, then you add salt. I use 1 tablespoon for every 2 pounds of cabbage. If you don't have a scale it's ok to guess how much cabbage you have-- sometimes if I need to guess how heavy something is, when it's just a couple pounds, I imagine that instead of a cabbage or whatever, I'm holding 1 pound bags of M & Ms. Probably everyone has this sort of standardweight stored in their mind.


from Gary Panter's "Jimbo: Adventures In Paradise"

Mix in the salt and also really scrunch up the cabbage good with your hands for a couple minutes. You'll want to really scrunch it up so that cell walls break and moisture is released. It's a great feeling, like scrunching up a totally charged mohawk at the end of a loud night. Scrunch it up and then walk away for a couple minutes and then come back and do it again-- it takes some time but you don't have to be there the whole time, it's OK to let it sit for a half hour or whatever. Eventually it should be wet enough that if you pick up a handful and squeeze it the purple cabbage water just drips right out.

Then you're gonna want to put it in a nice big jar. Really pack it in the jar, and even use a stick or something to really jam it in there-- press out as many air bubbles as you can and compress the cabbage so the water rises even more. Don't fill the jar up all the way, leave an inch or two of empty space at the top. But do pour all the liquid in the bowl into the jar, that's the best part. Ideally the scrunched up cabbage has produced enough liquid and you've mashed it down enough that all the cabbage is like, totally submerged. If you're close but it's not all the way underwater there that's ok, you can trust it to produce more liquid as time goes on. If there's totally no water, bro, are you even scrunching? You can't just stir it with a spoon or gingerly prod it with a single reticent index, you really really really gotta scrunch it with BOTH hands and full grabbing force. SCRUNCH IT!!!



The cabbage undergoes a fermenting process over a couple days, and it's the kind of fermenting that's good for you. But anything on top that's touching air might also start to develop mold, which is bad. So to minimize the mold, we're going to want to keep everything underwater. Take some of the big leaves you set aside at the beginning and fold them up and put them on top, that way if anything bad does grow, it'll be on just the top layer of big leaves, which you can just throw away, no problem. If you have a small weight of some sort that fits inside the jar on top of the leaves, you can use that to hold everything down. If not, get a ziplock bag and put some water in it, then use that on top of the leaves as a weight. OK listen there's going to be some mold, it's not a big deal, just throw it away. If the idea of mold grosses you out then call it "bloom", as some sauerkrautistes do. Throw out the bloom.

If you have a fermentation top, use that on your jar so pressure doesn't build up inside-- I got some from ebay that look like this, they fit in a mason jar lid and work great:


I wish all jars had standardized openings like mason jars, that'd really cut down on waste. Standards lead to innovation! Well anyway if you don't have such a thing it's no big deal, just put the top on kind of loose, and open it up everyday to relieve the pressure. Things are growing in there and if you keep the lid on too tight without relieving the pressure it'll crack the glass! That's the strength of the Many Though Small. If you find that after a few days the pressure is building up less and less, you can ease up on checking it all the time.

I usually let it sit like this for 2 or 3 weeks, then I discard the top layer of leaves / weights, put a regular jar lid on the jar, and put it in the fridge for steady eating. You'll want to leave it for less time for more crunchy, more time for more soggy. And you might want to leave it for longer if your kitchen is cold. Eat with pretty much anything or just grab it right out of the jar. :)

If you want to experiment with adding spices or other vegetables, shit baby go right ahead. My recommendation though is to not riff too hard right out of the gate-- make a batch with just salt first to get the method down. If you're giving this as a gift add thin slices of carrot for color.

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other posts you may enjoy (chosen at random) :
Roaming Around A Destroyed House
Poems In Battle Mode