Zen and the Art of Pechkata Maintenance
We burn wood in cycles, the way the old people has thaught us. Now is that moment — it’s past rakiya time, but it is still early for the evening movie, and what one shall do? Damn, don’t sit still for no shit! I peak at the stove. I hear the stove. The water in the pot has started boiling so slowly, creating the distinct sound of a distant engine, like a delta-planer, circling around and some-how it comes closer and yet it goes away… sizzling, chirping, jabbering: “Wood has burned, fresh delightful coals, garnet shimmer…” The split wood thrown in the stove burns out, still it reshapes the original structure of the tree, but by the gleaming light one can understand, a magical transformation has happened. From a strong elastic body, bio-polymer, they change into crystal form — the coals. CO2 flies away through the chimney, so is the water vapor, leaving fine lace on top of gleaming grey crystals, which in the morning I clean as ashes.
Hard core. The darker, inner core of a tree. Dense and strong. When burned, it leaves the stove turning red. In the morning I fed the stove with these two pieces of hard wood, hoping for low fire and maintenance. The weather just changed to cloudy and the house was still warm. Around noon though, these two pieces heated up red hot the stove. The pot jabbed something to me. “Stir-fry!” And there is nothing healthier and tastier than the eastern way of cooking, where the chopped veggies go through oil and very high temperature but for an instant. Literally, the food cooks in front of your eyes. Veggies get softer but firm and fresh, and the taste is amazing. The secret hides upon the vessel in use — wok — heavy, spacious frying pan with round bottom. Pour some frying oil, should smoke, really small amount, and at the strongest fire, flip and rotate in the air the veggies in a way, that they touch the heat just for an instant. Resulting in just blistering the surface; veggie pieces are intact, they are cooked in their own juices. Food is whole, nutrients are preserved. Without getting lost in the sauce, something between raw and slightly cooked, and that’s healthy, wright?
My secret is different. Before, I had troubles with getting the stove hot enough for stir-fry. But now I got the feeling that the strength of the coals is good. I released the frying pan onto the stove’s surface. (It is not a real wok, but it does great job for two.) Rice was ready from earlier, because “grains need to be soaked the night before with some vinegar”. The longest part would be cutting the veggies. I use the “classics” for me, onions, cut in chunks, so it will keep its spiciness, carrots, cabbage and the star for the evening — Jerusalem artichoke! I trimmed thin slices with a potato pealer and cabbage leaves were torn by hand.
Fartichoke. With the high content of inulin it feeds the good gut microbes. And we find them in the liters of yogurt, thick kefir “gustoi” and sourdough bread, all made freshly at home. And besides the “traditional” starch sources as: wheat, barley, rye, millet, oats, maize and potatoes (annuals), we add some nuts from trees and brush — walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. The mushroom’s genitals. What a happiness for the biome!
Trying to mimic the taste of that “rice and vegetables”, the way I remember it from the chinese restaurants across Bulgaria, I did my own read on what soy sauce is (because of its absence) and mixed a bunch of elderberry-grape vinegar and cream of tartar, scraped from the bottom of a jar, labeled homemade grape molasses variety “Matilda”, and reduced to a sauce with only freshly ground pepper. And salt, too.