Sauerkraut For Canning

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For the first time ever I turned cabbage into sauerkraut!  I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but was apprehensive about safely fermenting anything.  I must admit I was actually afraid.  Like I was the first time I used my pressure cooker.  This fermenting isn’t for the faint of heart.  I have a bit of a weak stomach and every day, once the cabbage starts to ferment, you need to skim the scum from the top.  I bought myself a special scum skimmer from Amazon to do the skimming.

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Once during the fermentation process I was out of town for five days.  I kept thinking about the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy puts too much detergent into the washing machine and it is overflowing everywhere.  I had visions of scum and bubbles running over the sides of the crock and onto my kitchen floor.  That did not happen.   But fermenting cabbage was the first thing I smelled when I walked in the door.  No doubt about what the smell was.  I had to put Vicks under my nose and put on my heavy rubber gloves to do the skimming that day.  But the longer the cabbage worked the less it smelled until finally, after nearly five weeks, there was no scum and virtually no smell at all.  Today I took the towel off the top of the crock, removed the weight and the plate, and removed the cheesecloth.  My five heads of cabbage have turned into a crock full of beautiful, perfect sauerkraut!

Making your own sauerkraut does not require any special skills,  The only ingredients you need are cabbage and salt.  The only tools you need are a very sharp knife or mandolin, a large glass or ceramic crock of some sort, a scale to weigh the cabbage to get the salt to cabbage ratio correct, and a scum skimmer.  You have to be patient.  And it’s probably easier if you don’t have a really weak stomach.

Ingredients:

Cabbage – the large heads you get at the end of the growing season

Kosher or Pickling salt

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I used 5 large firm heads of cabbage.  Peel and discard the outer leaves.  Cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters and remove the core.

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Using a sharp knife and or a mandolin shred the cabbage to about the thickness of a dime.  Weigh out 5 pounds of shredded cabbage and, in a large bowl, add 3 T of salt to the cabbage.  Let it stand until it starts to wilt and then pack it into the crock.  While you’re waiting for the first 5 pounds to wilt continue shredding.

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Continue shredding and salting until all of the cabbage is in the pickling container.  Allow for 3-4 inches of headspace in your crock.  Use your hands to press down on the cabbage until the juices flow and start to come to the top.  If the juices don’t cover the cabbage make up a brine using 1 1/2 T of salt to a quart of water.  Bring the salt water mixture to a boil.  Allow it to cool completely before adding it to the cabbage.

Cover the cabbage in the crock with cheesecloth tucking the edges down alongside the cabbage.  Put a plate on top of the cheesecloth and weigh it down to ensure that the cabbage remains immersed in the liquid.  I used an 8 pound medicine ball (an exercise weight) but you can use a brick wrapped in foil or inside a zip lock bag.

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Now the fun begins.  Cover the crock with a towel,  It’s best kept at 70-75 degrees.  My house is never that warm but i kept it in the kitchen which is usually the warmest place and also most convenient for skimming.  Every day I lifted the towel to see what was happening.  It took several days but bubbles and scum began to form.  Each day after that I removed the weight, skimmed the scum, washed off and returned the weight, recovered the crock and waited for another day.  It took a couple days less than five weeks for the gas bubbles to stop forming.  Interestingly a salty crust formed on the outside of the crock.  It’s apparently very normal so don’t let it worry you.

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Once the fermentation process is completed remove the sauerkraut to a large stainless steel pot or dutch oven.  Heat the sauerkraut just to a simmer.  Do not boil.  Ladle the sauerkraut into hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace and process in a water bath of 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.

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My 5 heads of cabbage made 23 pints of sauerkraut.  I added caraway seeds to one batch.

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Looking forward to some Reuben  sandwiches, polish sausages or pork chops with homemade sauerkraut this winter.  Or just a dish of kraut to satisfy a salt craving.

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A friend told me that his grandad used to make sauerkraut and when they were kids they would sneak a sip or two from the kraut crock.  I wouldn’t recommend that.

 

Cabbage, Potato and Sausage Bake

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the FinnishDish.  I haven’t stopped cooking or taking pictures of food but apparently I have not been focused on sharing.  I’ve been busy canning…tomatoes, pizza sauce, pickles.  I have a crock full of shredded cabbage waiting to become sauerkraut.  I’ve never attempted that before.  It will take at least another 5 weeks but I will blog that, success or failure.  Everyone tells me homemade sauerkraut is the BEST.  Hope mine lives up to my expectations.  In the process of shredding the cabbage (the thickness of a dime) I had a good amount of odds and ends left so I decided to make the cabbage and sausage bake.  Fall is nearly here and this is perfect one dish, easy comfort food.  One of my Dad’s favorite dishes is boiled dinner and this is kind of a baked boiled dinner.

Ingredients:

1 medium head of cabbage cored and cut into wedges

1 pound of new potatoes

1 large sweet onion sliced

4-5 slices of bacon diced

1 pound sausage links (I used andouille)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat your oven to 370.

Cut your cabbage into quarters and core.  Cut quarters in half and put in a large casserole or roasting pan. My cabbage is kind of a mess because it’s odds and ends but it will cook up fine.  Wash the potatoes and add them to the cabbage.

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If you’re using larger potatoes cut them into quarters.

Fry the bacon for 6-7 minutes.  You don’t want it to be crispy.  Add the onion and cook until onions are translucent.

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Distribute the bacon and onion mixture, including the drippings, over the cabbage and potatoes.

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Brown your sausage in the skillet and add to the casserole dish.  Add salt and pepper and pour broth over the meat and vegetables.

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Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove casserole from the oven and allow to sit 15 minutes covered.  Serve and enjoy!

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NOTE:  Recipes frequently call for two or three slices of bacon so when I buy bacon I roll the slices and put them in threes or fours and freeze them in zip lock freezer bags.

Corned Beef the Next Day and the Next

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and because we love it no matter the day, I made a corned beef on Sunday with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  I cooked it all afternoon and the house smelled wonderful.  I posted the corned beef recipe that I use last April.  It was taught to me by a dear friend who used to host a St. Patrick’s Day celebration every year.  There were just two of us feasting on a large pot of meat and veggies so we had a lot of leftovers.  Some people hate leftovers.  At our house we love them.  I think usually they are more interesting when they are repurposed.  But that is not always true.

Leftovers Day 1

The Brits, who I’m told are not famous for haute cuisine, have a dish called Bubble and Squeak.  It’s basically a recipe for frying up leftover cabbage, mashed potatoes, and meat.  I decided to give Bubble and Squeak a shot using my own interpretation and the leftovers we had.  It’s not complicated.

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The Ingredients I used:

1 small onion diced

2 cloves of garlic sliced

2 stalks of celery chopped

1 T canola oil

1 T butter

Chopped cooked cabbage

Diced corned beef

Boiled potatoes and carrots smashed

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat and sauté the onion, celery and garlic until tender.

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While the onions are cooking slice and dice the corned beef.

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Smash the potatoes and carrots.

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Add the cabbage and corned beef to the skillet.

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Top with the smashed potatoes and carrots and heat through.

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Now if you’re extremely talented in the kitchen flip the bubble and squeak over in the pan.  Use a plate or pan lid to assist with the flip so that both sides are lightly browned.  If you’re not extremely talented follow my lead…brush a little butter on the top and put the pan under the broiler until the top is lightly browned.  Slice and serve.

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I know.  It looks pretty grey and boring.  And maybe not even very appetizing.  It was “okay.”  If I’m to make this again I need to think of a way to jazz this up a little and make it more exciting.    Suggestions are welcome!

Leftovers Day 2

Rueben Sandwiches.  This was my mother’s favorite sandwich.  A favorite of mine as well.  This is an easy dinner to prepare and doesn’t require a recipe.  Good bread is a must.

The ingredients I used:

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Combine Ketchup, Mayo and Sweet Relish to make Thousand Island-ish sandwich spread.

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Assemble the sandwich and grill.

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This repurposed leftover was much more successful.  I served it with homemade dill pickles and vegetable chips.  You can put a little of the magic sauce on the sandwich before grilling and serve additional sauce on the side.

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Looks a lot more appetizing than Bubble and Squeak doesn’t it??

I still have leftover corned beef.  Maybe corned beef hash and eggs tomorrow.

Country Style Pork Ribs and Cabbage

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I think this is kind of a comfort dish.  Something your mom or grandma would have fixed for supper.  My grandmother (Mummu) used to make a boiled dinner which was very similar in taste except she would add potatoes and carrots.  There is definitely  nothing gourmet or exotic about boiled dinner but it’s a hearty meal.   I generally make country ribs with some kind of barbeque sauce and I might serve them with some boiled, buttered cabbage and red skin potatoes.  But I decided to use my slow cooker aka crockpot and let this go all day.  A slow cooker going always makes the house smell good to me, especially when I have sauerkraut or cabbage cooking.

Ingredients:

2 pounds or so of pork country ribs

1 medium head green cabbage

1 large white onion

1 or 2 tart, firm apples (I used honey crisp but granny smith is best)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 T brown sugar

1 cup chicken broth

olive oil for sautéing onions and searing ribs

garlic powder

salt and coarse black pepper

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Core and slice  the cabbage and slice the onion.

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Peel, core and slice your apple(s).

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Heat some olive oil, about a tablespoon, in a heavy skillet and saute the onions until they are tender and golden.

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While the onions are cooking put the cabbage and apple in the slow cooker.

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Generously season both sides of the ribs with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Add the onion to the slow cooker and sear both sides of the seasoned ribs in the same skillet.  Add a little more olive oil if necessary.

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Put the ribs in the slow cooker atop the cabbage, apples and onions.

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Deglaze your skillet with the cider vinegar scraping up any browned bits.  Add the brown sugar and broth to the skillet.  Remove from the heat and pour over the ribs in the slow cooker.  Set the slow cooker on low and let it do the rest of the work for you.  I let it cook for approximately 8 hours.  The pork was fall off the bones tender and the cabbage was perfect.

I served it with sweet potatoes whipped up with a little cream cheese, brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon.

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I loved it!  My husband got out the bottle of steak sauce.  He likes things a little more kicked up.  So next time I think I’ll go back to saucing the ribs and boiling the cabbage.

NOTE:  You could also add carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker and have your entire supper in one pot.  More like my grandmother’s boiled dinner.  The slow cooker will look like it’s too full but the cabbage cooks down significantly.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin

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Interestingly, I know several people who don’t like potatoes. It’s hard for me to imagine that.  I love potatoes.  I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. I like potatoes prepared every which way. Au gratin, scalloped, mashed, French fries, baked, chips, boiled, pancakes, American fries, hash browns…is there a more versatile carb??  I learned something new about potatoes while perusing Facebook…I had no idea there was a whole site featuring “funeral potatoes.”  Dishes traditionally made for funeral dinners (of course) and for pot lucks. Apparently these funeral potato dishes originated with the Mormons. I’ll have to do a little more research to find out about the Mormon connection. During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City one of the souvenir food pins featured a depiction of funeral potatoes. I bet very few readers knew that!

But we’ve all eaten funeral potatoes. Most of us have made them. They consist of frozen hash browns or tater tots, cream soups, maybe some onion, sour cream, butter, cheese, and corn flakes or crushed potato chips for crunch. Ringing any bells??  They are delicious!!  Most of us know them as Cheesy Potatoes.

Tonight I decided to make a cabbage and potato bake. Apparently another name for this potato cabbage combo is Rumbledethumps. It’s a Scottish dish. What I made tonight is a variation of traditional Rumbledethumps.

Ingredients:

1 medium head of green cabbage

2 pounds of potatoes

1/2 cup of buttermilk

4 T butter

chives

1 cup gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat the oven to 450. Core the cabbage and slice it into thin strips. Add the cabbage to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for about 5 minutes.

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Drain the cabbage and set aside.

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I used redskin potatoes and did not peel them. Boil the potatoes until they are tender enough to mash.

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Once they’re done, mash the potatoes using the buttermilk and butter. If you need more buttermilk to make a nice creamy potato add a little more.

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Mix the cabbage, potatoes and chives together. Stir in the shredded cheese.

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Put the mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is browned.

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I served this tonight with chicken Marsala and green beans but this would make a great side dish for a beef roast or pork loin. This could also be served as a main dish with a side salad. If there is another cheese you prefer like cheddar or Swiss that would be good as well.

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Another new potato dish!  Tasted great.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

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It’s that time of year. Saint Patty’s Day. The day many of us enjoy the ultimate boiled dinner. For years a very good friend hosted a Saint Patty’s Day party and she cooked a lot of corned beef for the occasion. I had made corned beef brisket myself for years before her party but hers was the best I had ever tasted. No mustard required!

Ingredients:

Corned beef (of course)

1 large onion quartered

6-7 whole garlic cloves

1 T red pepper flakes

1 T crushed bay leaves

1 T oregano

1 T basil

1 T coriander seeds

salt and black pepper

…and that little seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef

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Put your corned beef in a large Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Pour boiling water to completely cover the meat and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

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Once the pot starts to boil, skim the white foam off with a slotted spoon. I know, it looks a little gross. Once you’ve removed and discarded the foam turn the heat down and add the onion and the garlic to the pot.

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In a mortar and pestle combine and crush all of the dried herbs and spices and add them to the pot.

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I add these after skimming the foam so that I don’t lose a lot of my seasoning in the process.

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Add a generous T of salt, cover and simmer over low heat for 5-6 hours. Near the end of the cooking time prepare the vegetables.

Cabbage

Carrots

Red potatoes

Onion

Green Beans

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Cut the cabbage into wedges removing the core. Scrub the carrots and cut into thirds. Cut the onion into quarters.

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Cut the potatoes, rinse well and trim the green beans.

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Remove the meat to a foil lined pan, along with a generous amount of the jus. Seal the foil and keep warm in the oven while the veggies cook.

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Add the vegetables to the pot with the broth. Potatoes, carrots, onion, beans and cabbage on top. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat. Cook until the vegetables are all fork tender. About 45 minutes to an hour.  The vegetables pick up the great spicy flavors from the broth.

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Remove the meat about 10 minutes before serving. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes and slice against the grain.  Put all the vegetables in a large serving bowl or on a platter and top with the slices of corned beef. Fill up your plate and enjoy!

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Serve with a good rye bread and a nice cold Irish beer like Guinness or O’hara’s Irish Wheat. This boiled dinner is a meal in itself and doesn’t need any other side dishes.

Leftovers are great as, well, leftovers. This is one of the meals I think tastes as good or better the next day. Or you can make a corned beef or Ruben sandwich. Maybe some corned beef hash for breakfast.  It’s all good!  Enjoy. Happy Saint Patty’s Day.

 

Sweet n Sour Stuffed Cabbage

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Sweet n sour cabbage rolls, smashed new potatoes and homemade applesauce. It’s what was for dinner. I think my actual favorite thing about this dish is the cabbage and sauerkraut “gravy” that you cook the cabbage rolls in. I’m thinking that all of the leftovers would make an awesome pot of soup for the next day. This is another dish that I did in the pressure cooker but you could do this on the stovetop and finish it in the oven or even a crockpot and it would be every bit as good. What makes this recipe for cabbage rolls a little unique is the addition of sauerkraut And balsamic vinegar to the mix.  See what you think.

Ingredients:

large head of green cabbage

1 pound or so of ground beef, pork or lamb

1 large sweet onion divided

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup cooked long grain white or brown rice

1 large egg

fresh mint chopped

2 T canola oil

2 cups fresh (refrigerated) sauerkraut

1 can tomato sauce

1 pint stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken broth or stock

2 T balsamic vinegar

3 T granulated sugar

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Carefully separate the large outer leaves of the cabbage and dip each leaf in a pot of simmering, salted water to soften. This will make the cabbage leaves much easier to work with. Chop the remainder of the cabbage and set aside.

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Combine the ground meat, rice, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion, egg, and mint.

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Mix well with your hands and shape into 7 or 8 “footballs”.

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Put one of the ovals on the core end of the cabbage leaf. Begin rolling it up folding in the sides to make a neat package.

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Put the cabbage rolls seam side down on a plate and set aside.

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Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat. Rough chop the rest of the onion and add the onion and chopped cabbage to the hot oil.  Sauté for a few minutes to soften.

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Add the sauerkraut, tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, vinegar and sugar and stir together.  I didnt have fresh sauerkraut and substitued canned.

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Arrange the cabbage rolls in the sauce. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.

Serve the cabbage rolls with some of the sauce.

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NOTE:  A cabbage roll is a savory entree that you can stuff with a variety of ingredients. Instead of rice you could use barley or quinoa. You can add mushrooms or other vegetables to the stuffing. Cabbage rolls are part of the traditional cuisine of many European and Balkan countries.  In Finland they are known as kaalikääryle.  I don’t ever remember eating these as a child but apparently  in Finland cabbage rolls are baked in the oven and are brushed with dark syrup. The syrup glaze is made with bacon, dark corn syrup, and tomato paste.  I may have to try that next time.  And of course they served them with fresh lingonberries or lingonberry jam.

Coleslaw

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This weekend we had an at-home fish fry with friends. They brought the walleye and fried it up and I made the sides. For me an essential side with fish is coleslaw. I also like coleslaw on my fish tacos. I have had some really awesome slaws and some very mediocre…or worse…slaws. I like my coleslaw to have crunch and to be a little tangy, a little bit sweet. It’s something that should be made a bit ahead so the flavors can marry. It even makes a great midnight snack, speaking from experience!

Ingredients:

10 cups, approximately, of shredded or finely chopped cabbage

1 cup of matchsticked carrots

1/2 cup of matchsticked radishes

1/2 cup of red onion chopped (more or less based on personal taste)

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup half n half

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 T white wine vinegar

2 T fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

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You can shred your own cabbage or purchase a bag of shredded cabbage (2# bag). Shred or use a mandolin to matchstick your radishes and carrots. Chop your onion.

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Mix your vegetables together in a large bowl.

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Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Toss well and refrigerate. Mix a couple more times before serving.

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Enjoy!

NOTE:  Like any salad you can add or delete items. Just don’t delete the cabbage or it wouldn’t be coleslaw. According to NPR the term coleslaw came from the Dutch term koolsla… “kool” means cabbage and “sla” means salad. We anglicized kool into cole.  While it’s best served cold, it’s coleslaw, not cold slaw.

Cabbage and Sausage Bake

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We all like one pan dinners with simple, very basic ingredients. This is a hardy meal that makes a great supper on a cold winter night. Easy to prepare and only one pan to wash!  Preheat the oven to 375.

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

dozen or so new potatoes

6 slices thick bacon

2 cups (one large) yellow onion sliced thin

Polish sausage, kielbasa or bratwurst

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken stock

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Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

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I did everything in my roaster. Thin slice the onion. I used a mandolin but I good knife will work fine. Add the onion to the bacon and drippings and cook over medium heat until the onion is tender.

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Once the onions are tender set them aside and sear the sausages to brown them up a bit.

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While the sausages are browning up wash your potatoes. Cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Core the cabbage and cut each quarter in half again.

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Remove the browned sausage from the roaster and turn off the flame. Arrange the cabbage wedges in the roaster rounded side down.

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Arrange the potatoes around the cabbage.

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Add the browned sausage.

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Add the onions and bacon as well as the drippings. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Pour the broth over everything and cover the pan tightly with foil.

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Bake for 90 minutes. Let it sit covered for 15 minutes after you remove it from the oven before serving.

Serve with steamed fresh green beans or broccoli and some nice crusty bread. And, of course, some spicy mustard.

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Cabbage and sausage bake. It’s what was for supper. My dad would have enjoyed sharing this supper with us.

NOTE:  If you prefer a tomato taste substitute a can of diced or fire roasted tomatoes and one cup V-8 juice or tomato juice for the chicken stock.

 

Boiled Dinner

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Boiled dinner is comfort food.  It’s not glamorous or gourmet dining. It’s a dinner my grandmother used to make with pork chops or pork steaks. She probably didn’t put any vegetables or tomatoes in because my grandfather was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I’m going to make our boiled dinner with Polish sausage. This dish is one of my dad’s favorites and I’m wishing he was here with us to enjoy it. A very simple dish to prepare in one pot.  It’s a dish that is flexible and can accommodate to what’s in your fridge or what’s not in your fridge. I’ll give you the basics.

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil

1 medium head of cabbage

1 large onion

3 carrots

2 stalks of celery

5-6 redskin potatoes

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

2 tsp caraway seeds

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound Polish sausage

1 pint stewed tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

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Rough chop the onion, celery and carrots. Heat olive oil in a heavy kettle and sweat the vegetables for 3 minutes or so.  Mince the garlic cloves and add to the kettle.

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Rough chop the potatoes and rinse them. Add to the other vegetables in the kettle.

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Core and rough chop the cabbage and add to the kettle.

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Cut the sausage into 1 inch pieces and add to the kettle. Add the caraway seed and salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Cover the kettle and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat. Simmer over low heat for 2 hours or so. Occasionally give it a stir.

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Ladle into soup dishes, add a small pat of butter and enjoy with some good bread.

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So that’s a boiled dinner. You could substitute pork chops or pork steaks. Cube them and let them cook in the broth. If you prefer andouille or a mild Italian sausage that will work. If you want more vegetables add green beans, parsnips, rutabaga, or turnips.

It’s what’s for dinner.