In addition to spending many busy hours with my toddler grandson, my recent trip to LA included participation in Fermentation Fest at the Institute of Domestic Technology. I spent a day with my daughter-in-law, her mom, and several other curious women learning the basics of lactic acid fermentation. With the purpose of reigniting "the passion of how we make food," the Institute of Domestic Technology offers instruction in everything from coffee roasting to fruit preserving to cheese making (and they keep adding new workshops). Our class took place in the historic Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills, where the huge kitchen looked like the set for Downton Abbey. Led by enthusiastic Institute director, Joseph Shuldiner, author of Pure Vegan, several experts took turns instructing us in how to create different fermented foods: organic rye bread from a sourdough starter, carbonated drinks from a ginger bug starter, sauerkraut, and kimchi. The instructors were genial, thorough, and inspiring, and their information was fascinating. I had always been intimidated by these processes and was relieved to discover how straightforward they are. The health benefits of fermentation were lauded by Michael Pollen in his book, Cooked, and Alice Waters offers many wonderful recipes in her latest cookbook, Simple Foods II. Once back home I got right to work, and now I have a jar of sauerkraut and a jar of vegan kimchee fermenting in a dark corner of the kitchen (and the air smells active). I feed my ginger bug every day, and my sourdough starter is set for life (literally). The happy bacteria are busy producing health-enhancing foods, and I'm feeling very accomplished!