My first fermentation logbook, filled with 69 different projects between 2018-2020.

The year that everything changed…

2020 was, by and large, a horrible year. I wouldn’t recommend it.

But, as you generally do during these arbitrarily-chosen time intervals, I’d like to take a moment to look back at the last year, reminisce a little, and try to have a little hope for the next.

On January 1st, 2020, I was in a bit of a depression. I felt like I was constantly working but had little to show for it. I wanted to put myself to the test and make something just for me. I had been keeping this logbook of fermentation projects for a few years and I was learning so much about its history and importance that I just wanted to tell everyone I met about it. What better way than my own website?

Don’t answer that.

Anyways, because I obsess about these sorts of things, it took a while to come up with a name that felt Right. As you do, I looked for available domain names first. I’d like to share with you some of the contenders:

  • rustycabbage.com
  • fuzzyrice.com
  • reallyslow.cooking
  • idlealchemy.com
  • cookingwithtime.com
  • makepastenotwaste.com

As of this writing, these are all still available, so if one of them tickles your fancy, make a website! Send me a message if you decide to occupy one of these strange corners of the internet.

I also had some goals for the site, some of which I maybe met, and some of which I am still working on:

  1. Demystify fermentation, share knowledge, and celebrate and encourage the homebrew mindset without the health cult nonsense
  2. Explore the history and purpose of various techniques
  3. Provide tips and data about specific fermentation projects
  4. Provide tools and calculators for fermentation tasks

Mostly I’ve just been posting what would normally go into my logbook (which I still write in!), but I hope to dive deeper into certain aspects and histories of fermentation practices in the coming year. I also have not really had the chance (or motivation) to develop any useful tools yet, which is a firm goal for 2021.

What I did not expect or plan for was being on YouTube this year! Since the pandemic started, I took my wife’s lead and started doing some livestreams. She was streaming illustration and animation, so I started streaming cooking dinner just about every Thursday to friends and family on Facebook. For Christmas she bought me a GoPro, and I was so thrilled that I thought just livestreaming with it was a waste of its potential. I have a few ideas about what kinds of videos I want to make; if you have a lot of faith in me, you can subscribe now for whatever may come in the months ahead!

I’d like to take a moment to thank the people who helped me get this far:

  • My amazing wife, Jack Watson, who patiently listens while I go on about weird fermentation stuff. She did the epic logo and helped with aspects of the design of the site, and has in general put up with my experiments for far too long.
  • Nick Lowers A.K.A Fragnum Opus who has been making music FOR Crock of Time! You can hear some of his music in the first video on my YouTube channel, but he also has his own channel here.
  • Jeremy Umansky, who happens to be local to where I live and I’m spoiled to be in the same vicinity. He has a book out this year, Koji Alchemy, which is the most extensive book about how to utilize that magical mold Aspergilus oryzae to date! His restaurant and delicatessen, Larder, is the best place to eat in Cleveland, and if we ever start socializing in person again he teaches classes about fermentation, koji, foraging, and more.
  • My parents, who have always been supportive of my endeavors, even if my mom isn’t into pickles and sauerkraut. Love you guys!

For another fun anecdote, here’s what I was doing two years ago in the wee hours of January 1, 2019 (I wasn’t doing anything nearly as exciting on the first day of this year):

Pictured above: developing code for an Arduino-powered koji incubation chamber.
Pictured above: the incubation chamber. I ended up dropping it in favor of a sous vide, because I didn’t have a decent heat source that wouldn’t worry me if left unattended.

Here’s to a better year ahead, folks.