German Style Sauerkraut – ‘Schmeckt Wunderbar’!

A zesty serving of German Style Sauerkraut is a healthy side dish to liven up your meal. We love it with sausages, ham, and roasted or barbecued meats of any kind.

German Style Sauerkraut with Bacon, Apples and Onions

I’ve just come back from a week at the coast – the ‘Lower Mainland’ as it’s commonly called. This is the area of British Columbia comprised of Vancouver and it’s surrounding cities and communities. What a great place to be when we’re socked deep into winter here in northern Alberta.

German Style Sauerkraut, rain at the Vancouver Airport

it rains a lot in the winter at the coast

Going to the coast is always bittersweet for me – it stirs up pangs of yearning and a touch of nostalgia for my childhood. I was born in New Westminster, and spent much of my childhood there, living in Aldergrove and Chilliwack until I was 10 years old. Even though I consider myself an Albertan, since I’ve spent most of my life here, my roots are in B.C. I have lots of uncles, aunts, and cousins at the coast, so visiting there is always a fun-filled family time. Several of my relatives are chicken farmers, and they have beautiful rural properties – storybook farms.

My uncle Adolf and Aunt Alice have an ancient cedar forest on their property, and walking amidst the ferns and moss covered logs, with the creek rustling in the background, is a little taste of paradise.

German Style Sauerkraut, mossy BC forest

I kept thinking of the snowy fields back home in Alberta and felt a teeny bit sorry for everyone there – but I got over it quickly.  :)

German Style Sauerkraut, BC rain at dusk

the mist and fog rolling in at dusk, view from my uncle’s kitchen window

German Style Sauerkraut, washing parsnips from the garden in January

my mom and my Uncle Adolf washing off parsnips they’ve just picked from the winter garden

It rained most of the whole week that I was there (I saw the sun once for about 10 minutes), but the beautiful green everywhere was worth it. My aunt and uncle were still eating kale and parsnips from their garden, and I saw crocuses and snow drops blooming already.

German Style Sauerkraut, raindrops on the tree

rain, rain, rain

I got to go into Vancouver to watch the spectacular Shen Yun performance at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. What a magical extravaganza of Chinese song and dance! But I spent most of my time in the countryside, visiting family, and it was wonderful. My mom flew down from Prince George to meet me there. My relatives are all fun-loving and full of life – we had lots of laughs, good food, good wine, and made great memories.

German Style Sauerkraut, my uncle feeding the calves

my Uncle Albert feeding his calves

Whenever I get together with my relatives, I feel grounded and connected to my past – it gives me a better sense of who I am. We share the same history. These aunts, uncles, and cousins have known me since I said my first words, was running around shirtless as a toddler, and when I was a gawky, pimply teenager. They love me anyways. That is a good feeling.

a bowlful of German Style Sauerkraut,

As all good German families do, we love to eat when we get together.

Laden tables full of lip-smacking dishes and laughing relatives were the entertainment and nourishment every evening during my visit. At one of them, my Auntie Irma made her famous sauerkraut and smoked turkey legs.

Mom and aunt making German Style Sauerkraut

my mom, Annette (left), and her sister, Irma, having fun cooking together

Cooking together and sharing food is what unites us. My mom and her sister were taught to cook by their mother, but over the years their paths separated and they picked up influences from different sources. My aunt makes her sauerkraut a little differently than my mom does – she adds apple and grates in a potato. They both like to put in caraway seeds, but sometimes they leave them out. If they have them, they add juniper berries. My mom occasionally likes to add a bit of chili pepper to hers. Sometimes they cook the sauerkraut with sausages, sometimes with a smoked pork hock. However they make it, their sauerkraut is always good. Every German woman has her own way to make this tasty dish. I’m lucky to have learned to cook from my mom and all these great women.

And of course, when the cooking is finished, there’s always time to celebrate with a drop of good German beer!

Cheers, the German Style Sauerkraut is done

Prosit! Cooking’s done!

For me, sauerkraut is like a comfort food – I crave its tangy zip. Although, when I was pregnant with our first child, that craving got a little out of hand once, and I did eat a whole quart of sauerkraut in one sitting, forking it right out of the jar. I won’t ever do that again!

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Kitchen Frau Notes: My family uses either homemade sauerkraut (that my mom makes for all her siblings and children) or the mild German wine sauerkraut usually found in European import shops or delicatessens. If you can’t get that, use regular jarred or canned sauerkraut, which is more sour, and drain it well, then add a splash of water for liquid while cooking.

Ingredients for German Style Sauerkraut

Instead of the bacon, you can use a handful of chopped ham plus a tablespoon of oil to saute it in. Or make the sauerkraut without meat, just use a bit of oil to saute the onions and apples. It’s still delicious that way, too!

My Auntie Irma grates in a potato – this helps to thicken and absorb some of the extra juice and you don’t even taste the potato. That’s a new trick I learned on this visit.

Some people like to rinse their sauerkraut, but I think that rinses away too much flavour. The point of sauerkraut is that it is sour. However, if you are new to eating sauerkraut, or are feeding people that aren’t sure if they like it, then rinsing it before using it is a good way to make it milder and get used to its flavour.

my Aunt Irma's German Style Sauerkraut

Auntie Irma uses lean, thick-sliced Black Forest bacon in her sauerkraut

German Style Sauerkraut

  • 2 to 3 slices lean bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small apple (or ½ of a large one)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • 3 to 4 juniper berries (optional)
  • 400 – 500 grams (1 lb) mild sauerkraut [1 can (396 ml/28 oz.) or bag (500gm) of mild sauerkraut, or 3 to 4 cups]
  • 1 medium potato (optional)

Cut the bacon slices crosswise into ½ inch (1cm) pieces. Finely dice the onion, and peel, core, and dice the apple (about ½ inch pieces). Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or small Dutch oven over medium heat.

Sauté the bacon until the pieces are almost crisp, then add the diced onion and apple. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the bay leaf. Sprinkle on the caraway seeds and juniper berries, if using either one or both of them

Stirring Ingredients for German Style Sauerkraut

Dump the sauerkraut with its juices into the pan (unless you have strong sauerkraut, then drain it, and add about ¼ cup water to it). Grate in the potato and stir to combine everything.

Grating the potato into German Style Sauerkraut

There should be enough liquid in the sauerkraut to cover the bottom of the pot by about ¼ inch. If not, add a bit of water. Bring the sauerkraut to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Remove the bay leaf and juniper berries before serving.

Serves 4 to 6. (Makes about 4 cups)

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

German Potato Salad

Sauerkraut Potato Salad

German Style Sweet & Sour Lentil Eintopf (One Pot)

Seed Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Posted in German Cooking, Sauerkraut | 8 Comments

The Best Ever Light and Flaky Biscuits & Building an Igloo

Nothing beats a plateful of warm, flaky biscuits slathered with melting butter. You’d never guess that these ones can be made gluten free, too.

Flaky biscuits slathered with butter

We’re well into January now and ‘New Year, New You’ is going strong. I’ve been going to hot yoga, and eating lots of salads, and drinking lots of refreshing Wonder Water – doing all the right things.

But every now and then I feel like that scowling little pig-tailed girl who folds my arms and wants to kick the desk in front of me. I just want some comfort food, and I want it now. Like a big bowl of stew and a couple flaky biscuits slathered in melting butter that pools in little puddles of molten gold between the flakes and divots.

Mmmm, butter melting into flaky gluten free biscuits

Yeah, that’s exactly what I need on these freezing winter days when the world is white outside the window. I’ll have a salad again tomorrow.

Flaky Biscuits, winter white world

This was the wintery world at Christmas time at my mom’s. It still looks like that now.

Flaky Biscuits, Winter Blue Sky Flaky Biscuits, Winter Birdhouse

Flaky Biscuits, Sauna Cabin in Snow

mom’s little sauna cabin is tucked between her two greenhouses. In the spring she heats her greenhouses with hot air piped in from the sauna stove. We had steaming saunas every day during our Christmas visit with her

Flaky Biscuits, Shoveling Snow with Sugar

Andreas and his cousins shoveling snow. They throw up the snow and Sugar, the dog, loves to catch mouthfuls of it as it’s coming down

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Making Gluten Free Biscuits Cutting out the biscuits

Kitchen Frau Notes: This is the biscuit dough recipe I’ve used for years. It’s from my old ‘Fanny Farmer’ Cookbook, and it produces the lightest, flakiest biscuits ever. Just make sure to barely work the dough, so you still have chunks of butter the size of peas. When they melt as the biscuits bake, they make the little pockets in the dough that cause it to flake.

Use regular all-purpose white flour, part whole wheat, or for gluten free biscuits, use my favourite gluten-free flour mix as a cup-for-cup substitute.

If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can use another ½ teaspoon baking powder.

Look at those flaky gluten free biscuits

these are the biscuits made with the gluten-free flour mix – don’t they look inviting?

The Best Ever Flaky Biscuits

adapted from ‘The Fanny Farmer Cookbook’

gluten-free and dairy-free option

  • 2 cups (280 gms) flour (or this gluten-free flour mix)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup (115 gms) chilled butter (or vegetable shortening),
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) milk (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease one 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar. Cut the butter or shortening into chunks, then cut it into the flour with two knives or a pastry blender until the chunks are pea-sized.

Add the milk, and stir with a fork until most of the flour is moistened. Dump the dough onto the counter and scrape any remaining  flour from the bowl onto it. With your hands, very quickly knead the ball just until all the flour is incorporated. You should still see small clumps of butter in the dough.

Pat the ball of dough down into a circle that is 1-inch (2.5cm) high. Cut out rounds with a 2-inch (5cm) biscuit cutter or cookie cutter. Keep pressing together the scraps to use all the dough to make 9 biscuits. Place them into the greased pan touching each other.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden at the edges. (If using the gluten-free flour mix, bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer – it seems to take longer for the gluten free flours to brown.)

Serve warm with soups and stews, or just slather with butter – dollop of jam is optional.

Makes 9 regular or gluten free biscuits.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Buckwheat and Blue Cheese Biscuits

Goulash and Biscuits

Bannock Biscuits

Thick Fluffy Pancakes

Igloo Building - throwing the snow into a high pile first

every winter the boys like to build an igloo. they start by piling up a lot of snow

Piling the snow to build the igloo

Andreas, Zachary, & friend, Erik, shovel a big pile full. they let it settle for a day, then hollow out the inside

Starting to dig out the Igloo

I’m going in first!

Biscuits & Igloos, digging it out

the boys stick bamboo skewers all over into the pile of snow, then they dig out the inside until they hit the skewers

Biscuits & Igloss, Half Buried

help! the igloo’s got me!

Lots of shoveling

lots of scraping and shoveling

Biscuits & Igloos

all done. wanna come in for a visit?

*last 5 igloo photos courtesy of Erik Wendelboe

Posted in Breads, Biscuits & Other Baking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Favourite Gluten Free Flour Mix

This basic all-purpose gluten free flour mix works great in baking!

favourite gluten free flour

Gluten free baking sucks.

Well, that’s what I used to say. But in the five years since I first had to start baking without wheat flour, I’ve learned a lot and come a long way, baby! I’m slowly learning what makes gluten free baking work, and I’m quite enjoying the science of it – the fiddling with ratios and flours and liquids. I feel a bit like a mad scientist in my kitchen sometimes, complete with muttering and crazy hair and flour-streaked face as I tweak and adjust recipes over and over til they turn out right.

Finding the right gluten free flour mix to be able to substitute for regular wheat flour is like standing in front of the colour sample rack at the paint store – an overwhelming array of choices. If you search the internet, you’ll find enough different recipes for GF flour mixes to make your head spin – and each one is touted as the best.

a snowy mountain of gluten free flours

I think I’ve tried them all. Many work quite well and some absolutely don’t. Some blends produce lovely light baked goods, and some produce hockey pucks. When I develop recipes for the blog, I usually like to use combinations of flours that work for that particular recipe, so I can get consistent results, rather than asking for a gluten free flour mix and knowing that the recipe could turn out completely different for different readers depending on the gluten free flour mix they use.

a heaping cupful of gluten free flour

But sometimes it’s tiring and annoying to pull out so many different packages and bags of flours when I bake, and I want to just dip my measuring cup into my flour tin and scoop out the amount I need – no muss, no fuss. It makes life easier to have a good, reliable gluten free all-purpose flour mix in your gluten free kitchen.

I keep coming back to this simple gluten free flour mix from Jeanne at the ‘art of gluten-free BAKING ‘ blog. It works well in most types of baking (yeast breads are a different type of beast, and need different types of flours). I’ve adapted it slightly, as I find the original recipe a little rice-heavy, and the rice flavour can dominate in simple recipes that don’t have a lot of other flavours, like spätzle, dumplings, or biscuits. Subbing out some of the brown rice flour with sorghum helps make it taste more like wheat flour to me.

I also like to use superfine white rice flour instead of regular white rice flour – it makes a much lighter texture, and avoids the grittiness that can come with regular white rice flour, although you’ll need to use more by volume, since it’s lighter and fluffier.

Asian superfine rice flour

*I buy the Asian white rice flour available in Asian markets, and also in our Superstore in the international aisle. It’s milled super finely, and is very inexpensive – usually less than a dollar for a 400 gram bag. They often sell glutinous rice flour right next to it (which is sweet rice flour) in similar bags, so make sure you look carefully at which one you are buying – though you do need both for this recipe.

The weights of different flours can be very inconsistent each time you measure. Different measuring cups can vary quite a lot in size, also. And it makes a difference how you scoop, or shake, or level your cups of flours, too. So, if you do a lot of gluten-free baking, I recommend buying an inexpensive kitchen scale. You can reset the scale to zero between each addition of flour and weigh all the flours into one bowl without using any measuring cups. It’s a worthwhile investment – usually under $20.

on the scale - favourite gluten free flour mix

With a jar of this gluten free all-purpose flour mix ready to use in my cupboard, I don’t think gluten free baking sucks anymore. It’s actually kinda fun!

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Kitchen Frau Notes: You can find sweet rice flour (different than white rice flour) at health food stores, Asian import stores, and sometimes in the gluten-free section of supermarkets. It is often labelled ‘mochiko’ sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour in Asian markets. Even though it is ground from glutinous, or sticky, rice, it has no gluten in it.

Ready to use - gluten free flour mix

My Favourite Gluten Free Flour Mix

slightly adapted from the art of gluten-free BAKING

  • 1¾ cups (205 grams) superfine white rice flour* or 1¼ cups (205 grams) regular white rice flour (like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup (165 grams) sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup (120 grams) tapioca flour/starch
  • ¾ cup (100 grams) sorghum flour (also called sweet white sorghum flour)
  • ½ cup (70 grams) brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Measure all the ingredients into a big bowl and whisk well to combine, or measure into a large tub with a tight seal and shake, shake, shake!

Store in a sealed container at room temperature. Will keep as long as the flours are recommended for freshness (until the shortest expiry date of one of the flours is reached), longer if refrigerated or frozen.

Use this gluten free flour mix cup-for-cup to substitute for regular flour in recipes. If you’ve used the superfine Asian flour, use a slightly heaping cupful (or 140 grams) for each cup of flour used in the recipe.

Makes 4½ to 5 cups (650 grams).

Happy Baking!

 

You might also like:

High Protein Pancakes

Waffles with Chicken

Make Ahead Breakfast Cookies

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread

Posted in How-to-Basics, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Headache Tea – Herbal Relief for Headaches and Migraines

Brew a pot of soothing Headache Tea and feel your throbbing pain melt away as you sip.

a cup of headache tea

There come those familiar signs again . . . a throbbing in my forehead, it hurts to blink my eyes, my neck feels like it’s done a 360° rotation, a medicine ball is expanding inside my brain, and a dull ripple of nausea lolls in my stomach.

The headache has landed. Again.

I heave myself up and quickly boil a pot of water to simmer my concoction of dried herbs. I pour the golden liquid through a tea strainer into my mug, then sip, sip, sip. I can head off that unwelcome visitor before it takes off its coat and settles into my noggin for a long, painful visit.

I’ve been brewing this concoction to handle my headaches for years, and if I catch the headache early enough, I have good success in keeping it from becoming a full-fledged migraine.

pouring a cup of headache tea

Each of the herbs I use in my Headache Tea mix do their part to help reduce the throbbing pain.

Catnip is a herb from the mint family. It helps to relax your muscles and its soothing action aids in relieving a headache.

Feverfew‘s flowers resemble small daisies and it’s a member of the sunflower family. It’s been a known headache remedy since ancient times, and can help in preventing migraines.

Valerian root is a traditional medicinal plant used for pain relief and as a relaxant.

Willow bark contains salicin, which produces similar effects to the active ingredient found in aspirin and has long been known as a headache and pain relieving remedy,  but without the stomach upsets that come with aspirin.

herbs for headache tea

This tea may not work for everyone, or for every type of headache, but for me – it really works, and even though it has bitter overtones from the herbs, I quite like the taste. I guess my mind knows the teas’s helping my headache, so it tells my taste buds to shut up and drink it.

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Kitchen Frau Notes: It’s not always easy to find these herbs, but is worth searching out different health food stores and natural foods stores to track them down. Once you’ve got them, you can keep the herbs in a cool dry place for several years, and mix up a batch of this healing Headache Tea whenever you run out.

headache tea

Headache Tea

  • dried catnip
  • dried feverfew
  • dried valerian root
  • dried white willow bark (chopped, not powdered)

Mix together equal parts, by volume, of the four dried  herbs. (I like to use ¼ cup of each.) Store in a glass container with an airtight lid. Keep in a dark place, for up to a year or longer.

To brew Headache Tea: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine 4 cups (1 litre) filtered water with 1 tablespoon of the Headache Tea herb mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pot with a lid, and simmer the tea for 10 minutes. Strain through a tea strainer into a mug. Add honey to taste, if desired.

Keep the remaining tea, covered, on the lowest heat – just low enough to keep it hot until you drink the last of it. You can also pour it into a thermos or thermal carafe to keep hot until you finish it. Leave the herbs in the tea to continue steeping and strain them out for each cupful as you pour it.

Sip all the tea over the course of several hours, starting as soon as you feel the first symptoms of a headache coming on.

*Do not use Headache Tea when pregnant or nursing, or if using blood thinners, and do not give it to children. As with all herbal and natural remedies, use with caution and seek the advice of a medical expert if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, are on any prescription drugs, or develop symptoms from using the herbal remedies. 

Good Health!

You might also like:

Homemade Cough Syrup

Hot Lemon Ginger Tea for a Cold or Flu

Homemade Earache Drops that Really Work

Homemade Natural Deodorant

Posted in Drinks, Health & Body Care, Herbs | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Happy New Year with a Jam-Smashing Cocktail

Shake up a spoonful of jam with splash of gin and a dash of lemon for the ultimate Jam Smash Cocktail.

3 kinds of Jam Smash Cocktail

HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!

I hope you all had a warm and wonderful Christmas, and made lots of cherished new memories.

Ours was very special, and it’s not over yet. We’re heading off to my mom’s at Prince George to spend New Years. I am looking forward to it.

We will be celebrating with these tart and tangy Jam Smash Cocktails, ringing in the upcoming year in style.

Gettin' ready to jam smash

Raspberry Smash, Blackcurrant Smash, and Apricot Smash

The name sounds like some kind of funky dance, doesn’t it? Well, it’s kind of like a party in your mouth. Lemony and fruity and with a fresh little kick. Just the thing for a celebration.

Have you got a stash of delicious homemade jam in your pantry? How about making it the star of the show in these Jam-Smashin’ Cocktails? Celebrate a little bit of last summer in your glass, as you toast the winter we’re having and the summer coming up.

 

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Kitchen Frau Notes: Use any good quality jam you have, either homemade or purchased. Make sure it is a very flavourful jam, made without additives or preservatives.

Jam Smash - black currant

Jam Smash (a delicious Jam Cocktail)

  • 1 tablespoon good quality fruit jam
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) gin
  • ice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the jam, lemon juice, and gin. Shake vigourously to break up the jam and mix the ingredients well. Pour through a fine meshed tea strainer into a cocktail glass, to strain out the chunky bits. Stir the solids in the strainer to get all the last bits of flavour into the glass.

shakin it up

Add ice and serve.

Makes 1 cocktail. Smashing good!

Prosit! And Happy New Year!

three jam smash cocktails

You might also like:

Poinsettia Cocktail

Cranberry Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

Posted in Drinks | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments