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My mother had zero tolerance for picky eaters.
Hers was a simple philosophy: She made it; we ate it. Food was not wasted. I'm sure it stems from the Depression, but we didn't waste. (Funny, how so many people are learning that again….)
There were no alternative meals offered; no peanut butter sandwiches for the kids; no mac & cheese.
To be fair she rarely made anything unusual, and, if it was something new, there were normally familiar foods in the same meal. We only had to try a small amount to satisfy her.
But we had to eat it.
That is how my older brother became my hero.
We didn't have a dog, you see.
On two occasions, as a child, I was left sitting at the table well into the evening. The rest of the family was in the living room, watching T.V. I was in the dining room at the table.
My mother was stubborn.
So was I.
The first time the uneaten food was a buckwheat pancake. If I didn't like it hot with melted butter and warm maple syrup you can imagine how it was tasting 4 hours later: a cold, soggy mass in the middle of my plate.
My big brother took pity on me. When our mother went outside for a minute he came over and ate it.
She was suspicious, but she couldn't prove anything so I was allowed to leave the table.
The second time it was sauerkraut
It was on a Friday night. My father was popping popcorn for a treat. My mother was watching my brother and I was sitting at the table with ONE forkful of cold sauerkraut on my plate.
Did I mention that I was stubborn?
Did I mention my big brother is a hero?
He laid on the floor to watch T.V. Slowly, over the course of, say, 30 minutes, he edged into the dining room, close to my chair. Finally the moment came: he ducked under the table and I lowered the fork with the kraut.
Unfortunately my mother saw us. I was allowed to leave the table but I didn't get any popcorn. Neither did my brother.
She never made the buckwheat pancakes again.
The next time she made sauerkraut I ate it, hot, and loved it.
When I started cooking on my own I had an epiphany the first time I tried to make sauerkraut: One has to do more than just open a can and heat if one wants edible sauerkraut.
I learned another thing after moving here: In France, sauerkraut doesn't come in a can, or a bag. It's made at the shop and you buy it either raw or cooked.
Either way, when prepared properly, with herbs and spices, a bit of meat or not, it's delicious. And incredibly good for us.
Packed with vitamins and minerals, Sauerkraut, and it's relatives, such as Kim chi, have been eaten for centuries as a food to help stave off illness, particularly in winter and on long sea voyages. Some recent studies have shown that fermented cabbage actually provides more benefits than either raw or cooked cabbage. According to this Sauerkraut site "A recent study by the American Center for Cancer Research has found that sauerkraut has a profound effect in preventing and healing breast cancer." They also say that sauerkraut is one of a very few foods that contains a particular healthy bacterium that the gut uses to fight off the bad guys like E.coli.
Sounds like the perfect candidate for Weekend Herb Blogging, this week being hosted by Rinku of Cooking in Westchester. Weekend Herb Blogging is the very successful brainchild of Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage.
That doesn't mean that the finished dish has to be overly salty or sour. If you are using sauerkraut from a bag or a can (like Frank's) rinse it with cold water before using. Then taste it. It should have a light fermented taste to it. If it's still too salty/sour, rinse it again.
Raw sauerkraut may even have to be soaked in cool water for 5 minutes if it is quite salty.
My mother always used pork ribs in her sauerkraut. I like to use sausage. A traditional Alsatian Choucroute Garni would have both, plus some bacon. Use what you like. Serve with potatoes, or dumplings, or, my preference, Pasta with Browned Butter Sauce. on Monday for the recap of all the recipes!