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Sauerkraut is Ready! Let’s Cook Some Brats!

Rinsing and draining homemade sauerkraut.

Rinsing and draining homemade sauerkraut.

I started my batch of homemade sauerkraut on September 18th and today is November 2nd. That’s makes right at about 6 weeks. I opened the fermentation bucket and, with a sanitized spoon, I removed the plate that was keeping everything weighted down and removed a sample. Yes! It tastes like sauerkraut! Here’s the September 18th entry:

http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/oh-come-on-make-and-eat-sauerkraut/

I removed a few cups of the kraut to a colander.  I stirred the sauerkraut around and pushed it below the surface of the liquid again. I sanitized the plate and put it back in place and resealed the bucket. I’ll divide it into quart jars and refrigerate it later. I rinsed the kraut in the colander and placed it in an oven-safe souffle dish.

Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained.

Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained.

I topped the kraut with some fresh brats

Brats on top of t he kraut and home brewed beer sample.

Brats on top of t he kraut and home brewed beer sample.

and I added some uncarbonated beer that I removed as a test sample from a batch I am brewing. Covered it with foil and placed it in a 425F oven.

Covered and in a 425F oven for 30 minutes.

Covered and in a 425F oven for 30 minutes.

Cooked for 30 minutes and uncovered and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes. Lowered the oven to 350F. Baking some potatoes as well and they’re done (And my son just HAD to have a kid’s TV dinner…uck. But he picked it.)

Brats, cooked on top of homemade sauerkraut...and some spuds and my son's TV dinner.

Brats, cooked on top of homemade sauerkraut…and some spuds and my son’s TV dinner.

With a few minutes to go, I turned the sausage, just to brown them a little more. The sausage and kraut were delicious! A little brown mustard on the side and served with peas and baked potato. Awesome!

Great meal. with homemade sauerkraut!

Great meal. with homemade sauerkraut!

Update: 11/3/14

Packaging the sauerkraut.

Packaging the sauerkraut.

Packaging the sauerkraut…I sanitized some quart size canning jars and filled them with sauerkraut, then added the brine to cover and put the lids on.

Ready to package the sauerkraut for the refrigerator.

Ready to package the sauerkraut for the refrigerator.

I understand that this kraut will continue to ferment very slowly under refrigeration and will last a very long time, so I’m not going to bother to process the jars for shelf-stable storage (although, I could), I would rather keep it fresh and maintain the macrobiotic properties. If I cook it, that benefit will be compromised, but that decision can be made depending on the recipe.

I was able to pack four 1-quart jars, plus a single pint jar of sauerkraut.

Ready to refrigerate.

Ready to refrigerate.

Additionally, I brined the cabbage cores along with the kraut. Some people evidently like to eat them like pickles…so, I stuffed those into a pint jar and put everything into the refrigerator.

Saurkraut core pickles.

Saurkraut core pickles.

Oh, one more little side treat: I have a few ounces of the brine left over. I’m going to chill that and add an ounce of vodka to it for a little probiotic nightcap later. (No, seriously! There are those who say that drinking sauerkraut juice is really good for you! The vodka…not so much. But I have to make it worth the try!).

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Is That Carton of Eggs Almost Out of Date?

 

Pickled eggs. Cue the banjoes.

Pickled eggs. Seriously.

Do you have a carton of eggs in your refrigerator? What’s the expiration date on them? If you’re within a few days and have no immediate plans to use them, what should you do? Pickle them! That’s right. Pickle them. I know, you’ve been in that little country store…dueling banjos playing in the background…and there’s a big  jar of pickled eggs on the counter. Right next to the jar of pickled pig’s feet. Have you ever seen anybody purchase either? Somebody has to be eating them, right?!  Well, I don’t know about the trotters, but let’s talk  eggs.

Eggs that are closer to their expiration are actually better candidates for boiling than fresh eggs. It’s a food science and chemistry thing. But if you boil a dozen eggs, are you going to use them before they go bad anyway? I don’t know…if you love boiled eggs or have a big party and plan on making deviled eggs, then maybe. If not, consider pickling them. Here’s the deal: a pickled egg practically lasts forever. The amazing thing is that the yolk stays practically pristine. The white eventually gets a different texture…less tender, more springy…and they pick up a little of the flavor from the pickling brine.

If you have several eggs, you can leave a few in the shell and refrigerated for eating or using in recipes in the next week. Whatever you anticipate will not be used that quickly can be shelled and pickled. Yes, you can eat a pickled egg, as is; however, you can use them in just about any recipe calling for hardboiled eggs. My favorites are tuna and chicken salads.

First, boil the eggs. My preferred method is to place the eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water just to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set a timer for 13 minutes. When the time is up, remove the eggs from the hot water with a slotted spoon or strainer amd submerge them in a bowl of ice water. When thoroughly chilled, refrigerate;  or peel and pickle.

For the pickling, have a clean quart sized canning jar ready with a lid and screw ring. In a pot on the stove, add 1-1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, a couple of garlic cloves, a pinch of red pepper flakes, dry dillweed, and dill seeds. You could use a fresh frond or two of dill, instead of the dry dillweed, if you like.bring everything to a boil and remove from heat and allow to cool.  Pour the brine and herbs/spices into the canning jar.  Drop the hardboiled eggs into the brine…you can fit up to about 10 large eggs in a quart jar. Put the lid in place and screw the threaded ring down to seal. Place jar in the refrigerator and store pretty much indefinitely. If you haven’t used them in, like, a year, you could toss them, if you’re concerned. I doubt that will happen, though. They’re so convenient!

To use in a tuna or chicken salad, I cut an egg in half and remove the yolk. I crumble the yolk with the tuna or chicken. I then chop the white and throw it in. Add a tablespoon each of dill pickle relish or salad cubes and finely diced celery. Add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise (I like Duke’s!) and a pinch of salt and pepper. From there, you can be creative and add a little curry powder, some halved, seedless grapes, some toasted or candied pecans…whatever. Or, you could just cut an egg in half..salt, pepper, and eat! Enjoy!

 

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North Carolina State Fair 2014…First Place!

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My 2014 batch of Crab Apple Jelly is officially a Blue Ribbon award winner! I got first place in the category this year! I entered three items this year: the crab apple jelly, muscadine grape jelly and a peach salsa. Three entries and one blue ribbon…not bad, not bad at all!

Here’s the blog entry with the process: http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/2014-crab-apple-jelly/

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Boursin Cheese Rangoon Packets…I know, right!?

 

Ingredients. Simple.

Ingredients. Simple.

My wife loves Boursin cheese and she loves the rangoon, like you get at Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately for her, she has allergies to shrimp, shellfish and sesame, so that pretty much forces her to steer clear of Chinese restaurants for the last 25 years or more. So, in response, I have learned to make a few Chinese style dishes “my way” and most turn out pretty well…stir fry, fried rice, kung pao with peanuts, etc. And then there’s the rangoon. I ain’t kiddin’ man…this stuff is crack-a-licious.

Set-up. Easy.

Set-up. Easy.

All you need is a stack of won ton wrappers and some Boursin cheese, water, oil and a little time.

Here’s what you do:

Lay a won ton wrapper on a flat surface. Take a small amount of the cheese…maybe a teaspoon…and put it in the center of the wrapper.

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Went a finger and use it to moisten two adjacent side of the wrapper.

Fold the two dry sides over to meet the moistened sides, making a triangle. Press as much air out as possible and then press the edges to seal, leaving the cheese in a little mound, inside the wrapper.

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Dab a touch of water on the lower,  right corner of the triangle, fold the lower, left corner across the cheese, from left to right. Fold the moistened corner in the opposite direction and press carefully to make it stick.

You should have what looks like an open envelope.

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Moisten the flap and fold it over to “close the envelope”, tucking it slightly under the other folds. Now you have a nice little package that will fry quickly and evenly.

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Once you get the hang of it, you can pick up the pace a bit. I put together a tray of 20 in about 20 or 25 minutes. If not frying immediately, cover with a wrung out, damp paper towel and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. I imagine these can be made ahead and frozen as well. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine they could go directly from the freezer to the frying pan.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

To cook: Bring a frying pan with about an inch of oil up to about 350F. Fry the rangoon in batches. Do not crowd the pan. Watch them carefully, because the cooking goes very quickly. Don’t let the oil overheat. The cooking time isn’t an exact science, but about a minute on either side…watch for them to turn golden brown on one side, turn over and repeat.

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(By the way, a deep fat fryer would be a great option for cooking these, but I’m doing a small quantity and it didn’t seem worth the trouble.  I also didn’t want to have to deal with all that oil.)

Side #2

Side #2

Frying the rangoon.

Frying the rangoon.

 

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt,  if you like,  when they are removed from the oil.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Serve with duck sauce or plum sauce…or Chinese hot mustard…or, as I like to do, mix a little mustard into the duck sauce. Allow the rangoon to cool for a couple minutes before serving. The cheese filling will be very hot!

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned  and delicious) on the outside.

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned and delicious) on the outside.

I cooked a sample for testing purposes. Being the cook has a *few* benefits. My wife will get a nice surprise at dinner tomorrow! Give these a try and enjoy!

 

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aroma, funk, gut health, health benefits, healthy, scent, update

Oh, Come On! Make and Eat Sauerkraut!

 

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

What do you mean, you don’t eat sauerkraut?! I know, I know. You eat your hot dogs with different toppings. That’s a New York thing. Yeah, well, me too. I do the Southern thing with mustard, chili, onions and, if I want cabbage, then slaw. I would admit to using ketchup, but that would blow my credibility with the “Foodies” crowd. Anyway, try searching “sauerkraut recipes” online and you’ll find that sauerkraut is NOT just for hot dogs. Also, if you think it’s too salty or too sour, you can give it a rinse in a colander and tone that way down. Personally, I like it pretty much full strength. Either way, you are really missing out on something, if you don’t give sauerkraut a try!

Now, this is my first attempt at fermenting sauerkraut at home. I’ve had it canned (many years ago…yuck! If this was your last experience, you definitely need to try again!), from a jar, and refrigerated from a jar or bag. Of those options, I like the “fresher” stuff from the refrigerated bag. I have been fermenting ciders and beer over the last year and have gotten more comfortable with the concept, so I decided to try making some kraut at home. The added benefit here is the lactobacillus in freshly fermented sauerkraut. It’s good for your gastro-health and immunity…like yogurt. Of course, if you home can the kraut or heat it too much, you take away that benefit, but should still be delicious.

I basically followed the process outlined here: http://www.food-skills-for-self-sufficiency.com/making-sauerkraut.html . I like to give due credit to my sources! The main things I changed concerned the cloth and rubber band cover for the container and the wooden “tamping” board.  Since I’ve been fermenting cider, I have a couple of 2 gallon fermentation buckets and airlocks. These can be purchased very inexpensively at a local home brew shop or ordered online. The benefit is not risking exposure to contamination. I also have a spray bottle of “Star-san” that I use on all my containers and utensils. It is a sanitizer that does not have to be rinsed off. Very convenient.  I don’t have a tamping board, so I sanitized my hands and pounded that cabbage with my bare fist! I feel so macho.

One other thing, I sliced the cabbage by hand, using a chef’s knife. I didn’t feel like preparing and cleaning up after my electric slicer and the mandoline slicer just seemed like it would be too slow. Yeah, mine’s a little coarser than some, but now I know anyone can do it without special equipment. Your welcome!

I didn’t get pictures up to this point, because my camera’s battery was recharging, but I’ll add some to a follow-up post. I think we can all imagine finely sliced cabbage in a bucket. ( And the link has photos.) I started with two fairly large heads of cabbage that weighed a total of about 8 lbs. After processing, I had about 7 lbs. I did need some extra brine to make sure that the cabbage was covered by liquid. I added a sanitized plate and a small canning jar (1/2 pint) on top of that, to weight down the cabbage and keep it submerged. Then I sealed the lid and added the airlock. I have read that the fresh kraut can be kept in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for a few weeks.  Fermentation is supposed to take 4 to 6 weeks. I’ll check it regularly for mold, to keep it clean. The airlock should tell me when it’s done fermenting. Looking forward to seeing how this goes. I love roasting pork on top of a bed of kraut and letting the juices flavor it! Enjoy!

Okay, update 9/20/14 After a couple of days, there’s not too much to see, but when you lift the lid…ooo-weeee! That’s some funk! There’s no foam or any activity obvious, but the aroma tells a different story. Here’s a look inside the fermentation bucket:

Making Sauerkraut...all the cabbabe is unfer a plate, weighed down with a little canning jar and water.

Making Sauerkraut…all the cabbage is under a plate, weighed down with a little canning jar and water.

Update 10/10/14: So, there hasn’t been any airlock activity to speak of.  I guess the process for sauerkraut just doesn’t really happen fast enough to really see that kind of activity. Anyway, I sanitized around the lid and opened the bucket today to do a progress check. It’s been about 3 weeks and the liquid seems noticeably darker and the smell is pretty strong.

Inside the bucket after 3 weeks.

Inside the bucket after 3 weeks.

I went ahead and sanitized a spoon, removed the jar, and raised the plate to peek inside. The cabbage is a bit paler, but still not the color I associate with kraut. I removed a couple of shreds and resealed the bucket. The sample still has a little crunch to it, but is definitely moving from the very salty cabbage flavor towards the fermented flavor of kraut. The directions said it would take 4-6 weeks. It’s headed in the right direction, but I think this is going to take the full six weeks…and maybe more. This is probably being affected by the fact that I hand-cut the cabbage, instead of using a mandoline or slaw shredding tool. That’s okay, I’m in no rush and I kind of like the rustic look and texture.

Peeking under the weighted plate...coarse sauerkraut at 3 weeks.

Peeking under the weighted plate…coarse sauerkraut at 3 weeks.

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Canning Peach Salsa for a taste of the Summer…Anytime!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

As the Summer begins to  wane and the Summer fruits and veggies become harder to find, I figure it’s time to make a few jars of my peach salsa for the pantry. Actually, one jar will be sacrificed to competition at the North Carolina State Fair, next month. I haven’t canned this year as much as I did last year, but I will be entering the salsa, crab apple jelly and wild muscadine grape jelly and hope to come home with a ribbon! Enjoy!

Peach Salsa

Ingredients for Home Canned Peach Salsa:

6 cups chopped peaches, about 3 pounds
3 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups red or sweet onions, chopped
2 to 4 medium jalapeño peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1 large sweet red peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions for making Home Canned Peach Salsa:

Step 1: Sterilize 8, 1/2 pint jars, I do this in my dishwasher.
Step 2: Blanch peaches, cool in cold water, peel, pit and chop.
Step 3: Blanch tomatoes and cool with cold water, peel, remove seeds and cut into chunks.
Step 4: In a large stainless cooking pot, combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, sweet red pepper, cilantro, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper.
Step 5: Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stir frequently. If the mixture is too soupy, boil for a few minutes longer so that some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.
Step 6: Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier taste.
Step 7: Ladle salsa into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of top leaving head space.
Step 8: Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between the glass and salsa.
Step 9: Wipe jar rim to clean off any spilled salsa.
Step 10: Place lid and band and screw until tight.
Step 11: Place jars in a hot bath in a canner and process for 15 minutes.
Step 12: Remove jars and place on a towel; allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
Step 13: Jars are sealed when the lids pop and are curved down. Remove screw bands. Store in a cool, dark place.

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2014 Crab Apple Jelly

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Getting ready to boil the crab apple juice.

Yes, it’s time for my award winning crab apple jelly! For the recipe and last year’s notes, check out this link: http://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/crabapple-jelly-2nd-place-at-nc-state-fair-2012/

The only differences this year are that 1) I had to forage my crab apples from a neighbor because our HOA Board of Directors had all the ones on community property cut down. *steam*

Community crab apples cut down...have to rely on a neighbor.

Community crab apples cut down…have to rely on a neighbor.

and  2) I used about 5 lbs of crab apples instead of four. I wound up with 7 cups of juice, but I only used six cups and did not have to add any water.

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

Cooked and strained crab apples=juice

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another winner at this year’s North Carolina State Fair!

Finished crab apple jelly

Finished crab apple jelly

Now I need to figure out what to do with 21 more pounds of crab apples before they start rotting!  I only need so much jelly…maybe one more batch for gifts. I’ll probably do another batch of hard cider…my little counter top extractor is a bit under sized for the job, but it’s all I have. One of these days, I’m going to burn out the motor. Maybe I’ll get a press some day…when I have substantially more money!

 

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