10 Tips on Becoming a Minimalist & Spicy Fermented Kimchi

September 29th, 2013 § 13 comments

I strive to be a minimalist.  No, I am not living in a one room hut with no electricity (though somedays I would like to see if I could rise to the challenge), but living simply is my everyday mission and trying to convince others to live the same way is important to me.P1010773_1

From the time I was a little tyke I would go on all night cleaning binges, collect my used goods and ask my sisters to barter their goods with me.   My middle sister E. likes to recount how she was so excited one time to participate in these trades that she went downstairs and lugged her favorite blocks up each step, ready to trade her prized possession for something of her older sister’s.

Luckily (though I REALLY wanted those brightly colored old wood blocks), I had a conscience and refused.  Or maybe my mother made me refuse.  Either way.  🙂

Minimalism can certainly mean ridding oneself of what you have (Matthew 19:12) to live a life of simplicity (what poverty can certainly come to mean).  However, while most of us reading this are not monks, it can certainly be living within one’s means and not in gross excess.  Though we could debate what “gross excess” is on a comparative world level, for this post let us try to identify excess in our own lives, period.

There is not perfect panacea to living a perfectly minimal life but I do have a few tips that keep me in check and on the right path.  Though I have occasionally regretted the passing on of something I wish I had pack-ratted away, the emotion soon passes.  My words to the wise?  Here they are:

10 Tips on Becoming a Minimalist

1.  Sweep out all cabinets, closets and corners each season.  Throw what you don’t use/wear in a bag.  Wait a week.  If you still don’t want/need it, get rid of it.

2.  Donate these goods to a thrift store or sell them on Ebay.  Just do it.

3.  If another kitchen gadget can do it and more, get rid of the kitchen object that can do it also.  Who needs duplicates?

4.  Be a tech-minimalist too.  Get rid of home internet.  What???!!!! Oh yeah, this may work only if you are living alone.  Then you can watch TV on your phone or go to the library/coffee shop and get a coffee and a cookie each time you want to watch TV for the price of said WiFi.  Oh, and you get out of the house.

3.  Get rid of cable and all 400+ stations of boring.  Get Hulu and Netflix for under $20 bucks and revel in your brilliance.  You might even read more.

4.  Speaking of the reading…..why buy books you don’t need? Go get ’em for free at the library.  THEN, and only then if you are obsessed with said book should you purchase it.

5.  Need to get rid of books?  I sell books on Amazon and to Half-Price Books each season for those “oops” buys.  Will you REALLY read that book again or do they just make you FEEL intellectual?  Keep a few shelves for the intellectual feeling.  Unless you are a saint.  Then I want YOUR tips.

6.  Sell your DVDs.  Ok, keep the “Lion King” and a few you are obsessed with.  Then see tips #3 and #4 for how to make life realistic.

7.  Embrace brain minimalism.  Get rid of work email at home if you are not a doctor.

8.  Do not play on your phone in bed.  You sleep much better after having a break from the pulsing lights of electronic devices.  I assume you already got rid of your bedroom TV.

9.  Eat like a monk at least for one meal a week each week.  Huh?  Plain speak:  Eat simply, repetitively & frugally even if you can afford to live large.  For instance, make a large enough batch of soup for lunches for a week for the whole fam.  Add bread and be done.  You will come to appreciate the diversity in your other meals more.

10.  Try this simple vegetable fermentation.


Fermentation is one of the most minimal foods you can make that reaps the most benefits.  Take food in season, preserve for when it is out of season, reap the nutritious (vitamin & probiotic) benefits.  Ferments can also help you take food you might waste (leftover veg from a CSA) and save it for when the pickings are slim.

A vegetable ferment is pretty simple.  If you don’t believe me, see my previous tips in my Sister Love Series.

You can get really wiggly about vegetable fermentation and the myriad of steps involved but really it is quite simple if you can let go of your control reflex.  Oh THAT is all you have to do!! Ha, ha, I say to myself.  No, really, just give yourself wiggle room for non-perfection here.


Spicy Fermented Kimchi

makes approximatly one half gallon jar


  • one medium sized head of napa cabbage
  • one large daikon radish
  • two thumb sized pieces of ginger, peeled
  • two green onions
  • 2 small heads of garlic
  • 1 or 2 korean peppers
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • filtered water


1.  Slice up the cabbage and radish into pinky finger sized slices.

2.  Dice up the ginger and garlic.

3.  Slice the green onion and korean peppers into small, thin rounds.

4.  Stuff all your veggies into a half-gallon sized jar.

5.  Add salt to jar.  Fill with filtered water to cover.

6.  Shake until salt is dispersed.

7.  Make sure that your veggies are fully covered with water and leave in a cool, dark place, covered with a plastic mason jar cap or (what I use), a pickle-pro lid.  Fermentation times will vary.  I would begin tasting it a week in. After one week, pour out half of the brine and refill with new water.  This is what I do to remove the extra saltiness but makes sure there is enough salt to crisp up the veg early in the fermentation process. Let sit another few days to a week or until you enjoy the flavor.

8.  Place in fridge to halt fermentation process.  Eat within a few months for best taste.  It will theoretically keep indefinitely but gets mushy.

My favorite thing to do with this kimchi is to serve it on a steamed bun with bulgogi.  Delicious.




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§ 13 Responses to 10 Tips on Becoming a Minimalist & Spicy Fermented Kimchi"

  • Tina says:

    Hi Sheila,

    Success!!!! Thank you so much for your advice and help, I cannot tell you how pumped I am that this worked out. I had pretty much given up on fermentation for the time being until I saw the pic of your gorgeous kimchi and decided to give it another shot. I am SO glad I did! Your brine recommendation was spot on, at the end of 7 days, it was souring nicely and not overly salty. It just keeps tasting better and better every day in the fridge…now I think I may need to invest in a few more picklits so I don’t run out! Thank you again for all your help!! Have a blessed Thanksgiving 🙂


  • tina says:

    Hi Sheila,

    I’m definitely one of those people who stresses out when it comes to ferments! I have a pickl-it, but have no had success with it as yet. How much salt do you use per cup of water/veggies??

    • Sheila says:

      Hi Tina,
      After a seminar with Sandor Katz (ferm guru), I feel confident and have had success with 1Tbsp per quart jat or 1/4 Tbsp per cup. What isuues have you been having? Are you making sure to use filtered or non-chlorinated water?

    • Tina says:

      Hi Sheila,
      Thanks for getting back to me…I have used both bottle filtered water and my regular tap water. Both times I have opened the picklit after 3 days or so and the cabbage turns brown after opening and tastes super salty. Am I not supposed to check it that soon?

    • Sheila says:

      Hmmm. As for the salt, it will take a week or more for the salt to die down. Ferment until it mellows to your liking. It will even mellow further in the fridge. If it is just too crazy, you can rinse the cabbage and put it back in the pickle-it or add more radish and that will soak up some of the salt. With this technique I would put it in the fridge when done and eat within a month but it has worked for me. My guess is it needs more time as far as the salinity goes.

      Now the brown. It is possible that oxygen getting in when you open it and is turning it brown the way an apple oxidizes when cut. I try to make sure that the veg is under the brine even in the pickle-it in case I don’t create a good enough seal or I decided to check it frequently. This might be it and in this case it is not pretty but not bad for you. Does it taste slimy or is it just brown? How brown?

    • Sheila says:

      Final tips I just thought of. 1. Have more brine and have it cover your veg to keep oxegyn from ruining veg.. 2. Open it less often as bacteria might be getting in if it is not oxidizing. 3. Make sure your salt/brine is evenly distributed so one area of the veg is not being a good fermentation environment.

      Ok, that is probably too much advice but fermentation is a weird beast sometimes.

    • Tina says:

      It doesn’t taste slimy, and it’s more of a light brown. It is really interesting, because it is a very visable line between the cabbage that’s still brown and the brown stuff which must have oxidized. How do you know if you didn’t create a good enough seal? Would you say not opening it for a week would be more appropriate than every few days? I’m not gonna lie…fermentation makes me nervous in the first place, the only thing I’ve “successfully” fermented has been garlic the mason jar way without the airlock. Other things might have been okay to eat, but like I said, it scares me that I might be breeding some bad bacteria and not even know it lol

    • Sheila says:

      I totally understand. It wasn’t untl I began eating all my ferments and not get sick that I began trusting in the process. I threw out many a ferment early on just because it all seemed too wierd. From what I have read, if you are breeding bad bacteria, it will smell bad and you will know….but I can understand the hesitation. Give it a week, yes. In some cases that may be better. I might be lucky.

    • Tina says:

      Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for all the advice…I used your brine recommendation and kimchi recipe, which I had to modify slightly. I didn’t have access to Korean chilis or any red chilis actually, so I just used a jalepeno. I am just going to try not to think about it for a week lol and will let you know how it turns out! Thanks again 🙂


    • Sheila says:

      Good. And be sure after a week to know it may need to go longer or rinse the kimchi to de-salt the mix (see above). May the force be with you. 🙂

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