We’re currently vacationing in Orlando this week (and consulting my Disney guide from time to time). The weather is perfect, the crowds are terrible (as expected), and our son Oliver is having a great time relaxing and getting away from the stresses of kindergarten. In preparation for our trip, I decided to revisit one of the first recipes I posted on this blog, beef jerky.

It’s amazing how jerky has endured as one of my all-time favorite foods since childhood. The word “jerky” itself is borrow from the word ch’arki, which translates to “dried, salted meat” in the Quechua language (spoken in the Andes region of South America).

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Takuan is a Japanese dish of fermented daikon radish. It is a form of Tsukemono (Japanese pickled veggies), which are served as side dishes or snacks, and are even part of the Japanese tea ceremony. Takuan in particular is often served at the end of meal to help digestion. The name “Takuan” is often attributed to Takuan Soho, a 17th century Zen Buddhist figure and the creative basis for the character Dakuan from the anime film Ninja Scroll. Korean cuisine has a similar pickled daikon radish dish, called Danmuji (단무지).

The daikon radish itself made its way to Japan from China about 2,000 years ago. Today, more land in Japan is used to grow daikon than any other vegetable. Takuan sold in many stores today is dyed yellow with food coloring; I was able to get a similar color by using a tiny bit of turmeric while pickling the radishes.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Kabees El Lift is a popular Lebanese dish, often served as a lighter side to heavy meat dishes. The dish sports a vibrant pink color, which is made by adding beets to the turnips as they ferment. Fermented foods are great for adding natural probiotics into your diet. And, as Paul Jaminet points out, there is evidence of fermented foods like kimchi helping against autoimmune diseases and allergies. Plus they’re tasty.

I’m not sure how long this dish has been around, but I do know that turnips have been around for a long, long time; the Romans talked about them, and some of their original names were in Greek, which suggests they were eaten in Ancient Greece. Beets have been around just as long, although early forms were only the beet greens, and the bulbous root was developed/cultivated later.

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We had a ton of tomatoes from our backyard garden during our most recent harvest. Last year I canned tomatoes, but this year I decided to take it one step further and make and can my own sauce. When deciding on the consistency of my sauce, I decided to make a sauce that’s smooth and chunk-free; that way I could easily use it as a pizza sauce, and could then use fresh tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes) to add chunks to a spaghetti sauce.

Because the amount of tomatoes you have may vary, I decided to keep this recipe fluid; you could make this sauce with as many or little of those red, savory fruits as you’d like.

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