Sauerkraut Meditation

What do you do when your nonstop-talking grandson comes to visit?

Play piano and sing.

Get on the treadmill at 1.5 miles per hour for three or four minutes, four or five times, between Tonka Truck races.

Read picture books aloud, Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants three times and Ninja at least twice.

Eat scrambled eggs and raisins.

And while ns-t grandson watches Sesame Street for his meditation, you make sauerkraut for yours.

Here is my simple kraut-making method:

Wash head of cabbage,  Cut into quarters, cut out core, then cut each quarter in half.  Slice each eighth thin, salt, and mash with a wooden masher or whatever tool you have available.

For one head of cabbage, use 1  1/2 tablespoons sea salt.  As you pound the salted cabbage, it releases its liquid.  Pack into wide-mouthed jars and press until liquid rises above the solids. I’ve found a typical three-pound head of cabbage needs two wide-mouthed quart jars, each packed about a half to three-quarters full. This prevents spillovers.

Use weights—glass or unglazed pottery, or a cleaned rock, if that’s what you have—to hold the cabbage under the liquid.  Put lids on the jars.  Either you will need to release the gasses each day or use lids with a gas escape of some sort.

Start tasting the kraut after the third day.  When it is to your liking, refrigerate and enjoy, usually in 3-10 days.

Winter Salads

I love summer salads, especially if I have freshly picked tomatoes and other garden goodies.  But what’s an old girl to do in winter when tomatoes have all the flavor of just-washed socks?

Well, create winter salads, of course.

Start with fall veggies, especially those that store well.  Chopped red cabbage is my favorite salad base.

Sprouts are a good fresh addition in winter.  Broccoli and radish sprouts add a flavor kick.  Bean or alfalfa sprouts have a milder flavor.

Beets are always on the menu here.  I canned several dozen pints of honey and spice pickled beets over the summer. I also like just plain canned or frozen beets, especially dressed with spice and a flavorful olive oil.

It might seem redundant, but homemade sauerkraut makes a good addition, too.

Starting with the chopped greens (or red) base, there are a lot of options.  This is one of my favorites: chopped red cabbage, homemade sauerkraut, chopped canned beets, and sharp cheddar.  I add seasonings and some small sardines on the side.

Before you judge, consider that this salad has everything—fresh veggies, an acid (it can be vinegar, tomato, or kraut), a sweet (beets, apples, grapes, cranberries), protein (cheese, sardines, ham, leftover roasted chicken), and a savory.

My favorite seasonings are Loaded Bagel from Spices Etc. and Fox Point from Penzey’s.  Chopped onion and flaked salt work well, too.  Onions, like beets and cabbage and potatoes, are a winter staple.

It may be cold outside, but with a little thought and spice, you don’t have to do without flavor or salad.

PS: A new planting of onions are growing in the garage.  I’ll keep you posted.