Recently my husband was reading all about the benefits of eating sauerkraut. This put a bee in his bonnet to make some, which he’s done many times before. Once he’d got the cabbage all ready to sit around and become kraut, he placed it on top of a small cabinet that houses all our containers of beans and grains.
Everything was fine until the third morning. My husband went to check on it and found that it had overflowed all over everything. Now this wouldn’t have been too bad if he’d had it on the countertop, but what we didn’t know is that “cooking” kraut is an excellent paint remover! Also, it is a great glue melter. So, alas and alack my little cabinet is now in need of major repairs. The plywood on one side separated into all its layers and buckled into large swollen areas; the top now looks like a disturbed lake; and even the shelves on the top half warped significantly. We’ve managed to re-glue some areas, however, it looks like we’re going to have to deconstruct it enough to replace one entire side panel, ugh.
So, warning. Place your fermenting kraut on a surface that can’t be damaged by it. The little cabinet will now be taken out to the storage area and the refinishing I was planning for later in the season will commence immediately. Luckily I have a plastic storage shelf I can put in its place for the duration of the refinishing or we’ve have containers of beans and grains setting everywhere, which we do at the moment.
Aside from that, kraut is a great food, highly nutritious, with many health benefits. It’s way better than any probiotic you can buy; helps boost the immune system; may help protect against flu virus. It is very easy to make. Here’s how we do it:
- 1 large crock pot, the ceramic part
- 1 plate that just fits the top of the crock pot, don’t leave air space as that will cause mold to develop
- Something to weigh the plate down. Right now we’re using a jar of grains, but have used jugs filled with water, too.
- You’ll need one large, or one and a half small heads of organic* cabbage. Something that will fill the crock up to within about 1-2” from the top.
- Coarsely shred about 2/3 to 3/4 of the cabbage. The other 1/3 to 1/4 finely shred. This seems to help the process get going quicker.
- Place the cabbage in the crock and fill it with enough water to cover it all completely, but not overflow.
- Place the plate on top, usually with the top side down and weigh down with whatever your using.
- Set it in a warm place.
- In 3 – 7 days you should have sauerkraut. The way you tell is by the smell and taste. If it smells like kraut then dig down below the surface just a little and taste it. Not done enough leave it a little longer until it is the sour flavor you like.
- We add the salt afterward. At one time we had a problem with the salt stopping the fermenting process.
Kraut Preparation Ideas
Just remember sauerkraut is best eaten raw. If you cook it you kill most if not all the beneficial bacteria. So, that being said, what’s your favorite way to eat sauerkraut?
*Organic works best, as the bacteria that causes the fermentation are still alive. Non-organic has been sprayed and may not produce a good product.
Living in the mid-Atlantic states our winter weather is very variable. If we have winds from the south, like today, it is warm enough to walk around without a coat. However, tomorrow’s high may only be in the 30s or 40s if the wind is out of the north. On days when we have a surprise cold snap a wonderful steaming bowl of soup is on the menu. Here’s a hearty soup recipe that will cook up in approximately 30 minutes from scratch. I’ve used it for years now and we love it every time.
Please note all the amounts are approximate, because I just throw this soup together. You don’t really need to measure anything except the lentils.
Red Lentil Soup
- Fill 3qt pot ¾ of the way full with water
- 1-3 tsp salt (depending on your tastes)
- 1 cup of several of your favorite soup veggies: frozen lima beans, frozen or fresh peas, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, even leftover veggies work great
- Italian herb blend (start with 1 tsp on each of the herbs, then adjust to taste)
- Dried basil
- 1 cup red lentils (must be red to cook fast)
Put pot on to boil, add salt, vegetables, and herbs. Bring to boil and boil for about 5 minutes. Then add the lentils and cook for another 10-15 minutes until lentils and veggies are cooked to your liking.
You can have tamari, pepper, ghee, or yogurt for people to add according to their liking. I particularly like it with a little extra freshly ground pepper, a dab of ghee, and a couple good sized scoops of yogurt in it, which gives it a nice tang.
Serve with homemade pumpernickel rolls (which I let the bread maker knead) with vegetarian or vegan sharp cheddar melted over it and you’ve got a healthy, nourishing, comfort lunch. We had it today and it was awesome!
When I first became a vegetarian I didn’t miss any meat, except turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had it every single holiday that I could remember and the first without was interesting. What was I going to fix? At that time there was no Tofurky available. For a number of years we just ate butternut or acorn squash to replace the turkey. Then I found this recipe from Ann Gentry. I first used it about 15 years ago. I was amazed to find her sharing it in a recent blog post.
I’ll tell you, if you want the taste of turkey without having to kill one to eat it, this is the recipe for you. I love this recipe. It does take a little bit of prep time, but it’s delicious. The recipe also makes a huge amount, so I usually halve it, because there’s only two of us. Even then we can have “turkey” leftovers for several days afterward, just like we did in the “olden days.”
I serve it with my own herbed gravy, which I’m sharing below. So, here’s a great base for holiday meals without the meat. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Prep Time: 20 min
Servings: 1.5- 2 cups
- ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup rice milk, unsweetened
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp safflower or sunflower oil
- 1 tsp dried, crushed sage
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ¼ tsp dry marjoram
- pinch black pepper
In 2 qt. saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add flour and stir often for 2 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk together with the flour/oil, half at a time to avoid lumping. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally. If gravy seems too thick, whisk in additional water, 1 Tbs. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
You can substitute soy or almond milk for the rice milk.