Sauerkraut with Sausages; zero tolerance for picky eaters

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 that small amount.

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 my 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.

Mission accomplished.

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….

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 boiled potatoes, dumplings, or pasta.

Sauerkraut with Ssausages

Sauerkraut with Sausages

16oz (500gr) sauerkraut
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 rib celery
1 tbs olive oil
4 sausages
1/2 – 1 cup white wine
1/4 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
5 juniper berries

Rinse the sauerkraut and drain
well.  Chop the onion, celery, carrot and mince the garlic.  In large, deep skillet
sauté the vegetables until onions are tender 8 minutes.  Move to the
side and add the sausages.  Brown on both sides.  Remove the sausages
and add the sauerkraut, 1/2 cup wine, 1/4 cup stock, the herbs and
spices.  Stir to mix well.  Place the sausages on top, cover and simmer
for 30 – 60 minutes, the longer the better.  Depending on the kraut you
may have to add the remaining wine; raw
sauerkraut will absorb more liquid than cooked.

Note:  I first told this story a few years ago….  But I think of it, and my big brother, every time I make kraut.

It makes me smile – maybe it will make you smile, too.  ;-))

11 thoughts on “Sauerkraut with Sausages; zero tolerance for picky eaters”

  1. We all need heros like that Katie. I don’t imagine I would have eaten sauerkraut as a child but I can’t imagine my mom serving it to us either with her staunch British roots.

  2. Since my mother was a (chain)smoker, my brother and I would wait her out. Once she ran out of cigarettes, she’d try to hold out, but never could. She’d leave the kitchen, we’d dash to the garbage disposal, and she couldn’t prove anything. We all laugh about it now …
    But it wasn’t like we got an alternative dinner either. These people who cook four meals for four family members, I don’t get it …

  3. That story sounds suspiciously like my family dynamic, too. We are all steadfast and it often resulted in the kind of power struggles you described. Looking back, I have to wonder where the idea of an enjoyable family meal went awry. That wasn’t enjoyable for any of us.

  4. Hi Katie! This dish looks yummy! We have a market in town that makes the best gluten free sausages – so this recipe is giving me some great ideas! Thanks for sharing, Ina

  5. Val, my mother had German roots – that explains a lot ;-))
    Charlotte, like you we ate it or went hungry… we ate it.
    Zoomie, well, most of them were enjoyable… it’s just that the others were more, um, memoerable
    Ina, thanks for the comment… ;-)) Hope you like!

  6. I swear that we must be cousins!
    I can’t tell you how many times I was sent to the kitchen to finish eating my teaspoon of squash (or peas, or brussels sprouts, or yams) so the rest of the family could have dessert. I’d sit there miserably staring at the little mound that was growing colder and colder and every so often Mum would call from the dining room, “Have you finished yet?”. Usually, I did manage (eventually) to swallow the offensive vegetable of the evening without gagging very much. But once, I remember carefully hiding it in the garbage and being terrified for days that I’d be discovered.
    Alas, I had no heroic siblings to rescue me. They all loathed the vegetables as much as I. And we all had to eat at least some of everything that had been prepared.
    I eat just about all vegetables now with relish. (I still draw the line at mushy okra) But I’ve only very recently discovered that I quite like sauerkraut.
    Mmmm, buckwheat pancakes!! I adore buckwheat pancakes and always have! I would have happily rescued you on the buckwheat pancake night! (Buckwheat crepes are fabulous with creamed ham and spinach inside.)
    Recipe here if you’re interested:

    -E
    P.S. Did your mother ever make you eat cheese souffle? What a nightmare THAT particular lunch was when I was about 7 and my older sister was 10. I think it was only the several glasses of milk we drank that made it so we weren’t too hungry to go to school that afternoon. I STILL have difficulty with cheese souffles… and my sister won’t even be in the same room with them.

  7. Elizabeth, buckwheat crepes are the considered a staple in Brittany and most of France uses them for savory crepes – so I can buy very good ones, fresh, at the supermarket. But (now, don’t gag) I would put a poached egg in the middle of that creamed ham and spinach. I’ll check your recipe – thanks. I agree about the mushy okra (bleh) – and I would add any and all vegetables that come in a can (except kidney beans) My mother never did cheese soufles…..

  8. Too late!!! Just reading “poached egg” was enough to initiate the gag reflex. But my husband agrees with you and loves to add the egg to his (guh guh guh).
    You don’t make your own crepes? They’re dead easy.
    Hope you like our creamed spinach etc. with buckwheat crepes when you try it. (Hope you could find it! Just in case you had difficulty – I did, and it’s my site – here it is:
    Mercifully, my mother discovered fresh vegetables when I was around 14 and never again resorted to serving canned (except with kidney beans). But my introduction to broccoli was less than happy – it was in Chicken Divan. Why on earth would anyone want to pre-cook broccoli and then place it under chicken to bake for 30 minutes more in the oven? Brrrrr. Greygreen mush, anyone?

  9. Elizabeth, I used to make my own… But the buckwheat crepes I buy are so cheap and so good…. and so easy….
    My mother never moved away from the canned. Carrots were always fresh, and green beans, peas and sweet corn were fresh in summer but that was it. Oh, forgot, rutabaga was always fresh – and I loved it. Weird, huh?

  10. Yes, very strange. I suspect that my mother switched because she discovered how much better the fresh vegetables tasted (not to mention that suddenly people weren’t whining so much).
    Except corn. We still had canned corn (except in summer when it was on the cob.)

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