Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut is amazingly easy to make at home. No canning, crocks or maintenance required!

Ingredients
Cabbage (one head makes about three quart jars of kraut)
Pickling salt (sometimes called canning salt)

Method

Chop the cabbage very thinly. If you have a mandolin, you may find it useful for this step.

Pack the kraut tightly into clean quart-sized canning jars. Wide-mouth jars make this easier but are not essential. As you can see from the picture above, I ran out of cabbage as I was finishing the jar on the right and, thus, it did not get packed tightly enough.

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Pour 1 tsp. pickling salt into each jar. Fill each jar with enough water to cover the cabbage.

Screw the two-piece lids onto each jar and tighten. Place the jars on a pie plate or pan with a bit of a lip in case they ooze as they ferment. Cover the jars with a dishtowel to let them ferment in the dark.

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Let the jars sit for three weeks and enjoy! We like ours cooked down on the stovetop with a bit of Bavarian seasoning added.

Once the kraut is ready at the three-week point, unused jars can be stored in the fridge for a few months.

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Delicious Edamame Hummus

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I love edamame (soybeans). In fact, I am specifically attracted to restaurant dishes that feature edamame. But other than tossing them into Chinese dishes and salads, I don’t use them much at home. Fortunately, the soybean promotion folks sent an entire booklet full of soybean recipes to the newspaper where I work sometimes and my publisher passed them onto me.

This hummus recipe was one of those in the booklet, and it is delicious! I know, it sounds weird and it looks a little weird (green mush anyone?). But it has a great, fresh flavor with just a hint of Mexican spice.

The best part of the dish is its fancy flavor without the fancy cost. The main ingredient, edamame, can be found relatively easily in the frozen veggie section of most grocery stores for just a couple of bucks. I found the particular bag I used for this batch on clearance for just $1.49!

Ingredients

  • 2 c. edamame, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. olive, soybean or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic

Method

Blend it all together until it is mostly pureed but still has a little bit of texture. How’s that for easy?

Serve chilled with crackers or other crunchy, scoopy things. With the fiber and protein the edamame provides, the hummus makes a great lunch or hearty snack.

Oh, and the little fingers in that picture above? Those belong to my kiddo who is quite the fan of Ritz crackers but refuses to try the hummus 🙂

Canning Myths Video Available

canning myths

The folks at Ball (you know, the people who make jars and other canning goodies) held a webcast today addressing common canning myths. I missed the live broadcast, but they have the recording posted on their website to watch anytime. Free and convenient!

If you’re just getting started in canning or thinking about getting started, this may help answer some of your curiosity. If you learned to can from someone who was full of advice that was likely based on decades-old science, you might find some of their tips useful, too. And, hey, if you just love canning things, it’ll be interesting for you, too!

 

 

Rhubarb Cake

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If you think this photo looks a little odd, you might be right. I cut a small hole in the middle to test for doneness and we started cutting slices from there…which should go to show you how yummy this cake is!

This is the first year I’ve had a rhubarb harvest, incidentally, and I discovered something about rhubarb from a local veggie farmer who also has several rhubarb plants. Not all rhubarb plants turn red when they’re ripe. Mine appears to be one of those that stays green even when it’s ready, I guess.

Anyway…on to the recipe, which I adapted from one published by Penzey’s Spices. (Although I disagree with some of the company’s stands on social issues, I find that Penzey’s is one of the best places to get low-cost, high-quality spices.)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. melted butter, cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
  • For Topping: 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugar, butter, egg, yogurt and vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir in baking soda and flour, mix well. Fold in the rhubarb.

Spread the batter in a greased 9×13 pan.

Combine the topping sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake batter. It will probably seem like there is too much topping for the size of the cake, but trust me, it’s right. The sugary topping forms a crust of sorts that is very yummy.

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Bake 30-35 minutes. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.

Pitting cherries can be the pits!

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Just look at all those beautiful red pie cherries! But those buckets of cherries are full of pits and the pie filling recipe I wanted to try this year called for 10 pounds of these little jewels. That translated to a lot of pitting, so I thought I’d share our opinions on the various pitting methods.

Method #1: Slice and Dig

It’s possible to slice each cherry in half and dig the pit out with your fingernail. I don’t have any pictures of this method because, well, I don’t recommend it.

This would probably work just fine if you only need a couple of cups of cherries, but it’s quite messy and time consuming if you need much more than that. Not to mention leaving lots of cherry gook under your fingernails.

Method #2: Bobby Pin

This works great if you don’t have a cherry pitter on hand, and it’s still my hubby’s favorite method. Start by holding a cherry between the fingers of one hand with the stem end facing out. Position the loop of the bobby pin at the stem opening.

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Press down with the bobby pin, sweeping the pit out of the cherry as you pull the pin out.

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Ta-da! The pit should come out smoothly and land somewhere nearby.

This method leaves a slightly bigger hole in the cherry than Method #3 but otherwise is very effective. And it takes no time at all to clean the pin when you’re done. With a large number of cherries to pit, though, my hand tends to cramp and my fingers get a little sore from holding the pin.

Method #3: Cherry Pitter

This is my preferred method, since I find it a bit faster, cleaner and easier than the other methods.

A cherry pitter is a simple contraption with a long, specially shaped bit that shoves the pit out of the cherry as it goes through from one side to the other. Place the cherry on the platform and squeeze the handle.

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You should end up with a pit-less cherry and a pit in the catching tray below.

I couldn’t find a cherry pitter at local stores, so if you live in a small town, you might have a bit of trouble tracking one down, too. Fortunately, a friend let me borrow hers. I suspect every pitter is slightly different and may have its own quirks. For example, this one tended to leave the pit in the cherry if I didn’t squeeze it quickly.

I like that this method doesn’t require me to line up the cherry precisely and it isn’t as messy as the other methods. I found this faster after I got into a rhythm with it, too.

Do you have any favorite methods or machines to pit your cherries?

Farm to Fork Summit Coming to Colby

Registration is still open for the Kansas Rural Center’s Farm to Fork Summit, coming to the Colby community building from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Wednesday.

Chris Sramek, co-founder of the High Plains Food Co-op, an online food purchasing cooperative that sources from Kansas farms, will speak at the meeting. Sramek will share his experience and insight into the development of the cooperative, including challenges and future opportunities.

A panel of Kansas farmers, health professionals, extension workers, food retail businesses and other community experts will share their experiences, too, telling the story of the regional food system and community health and setting the stage for discussions about region-specific challenges.

Afternoon sessions will encourage discussion and feedback of specific policy items. The Kansas Rural Center will incorporate these items into a statewide plan to provide information to citizens and policymakers about the status of the state’s farming and food system, along with a discussion of problems the food system experiences.

The meeting is part of the center’s Community Food Solutions Initiative, made possible by a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The center works to develop policy priorities to shape the future of Kansas food and farming designed to expand access to healthy, fresh Kansas-raised food. For more information, contact Natalie Fullerton at (402) 310-0177.

 

Discount Travel in Omaha

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The travel bug has bitten our family hard this summer! But instead of planning far away trips, we are focusing on all the fun things there are to do in our area.

It might not seem like there are many fun things to do around northwest Kansas, but I’ve been surprised by the options available in within a half-day’s drive. A long weekend can feel like a mini-vacation and doesn’t have to cost much.

One of the best ways I’ve found to experience local attractions is to take advantage of discounts available. The folks at the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau reached out to me to help get the word out about their free savings card. Anyone can request one at their website: http://www.visitomaha.com/omaha-adventure/savings-card/#.U5kGXtEg_IU. And while you’re there, you can also request a free travel guide and get all kinds of visitor info.

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The card has good discounts at several family-friendly attractions, including the zoo and children’s museum. We plan to visit the zoo later this summer when we visit Omaha, and I’ll be sure to post a review of that, too.

In the meantime, if you live anywhere near Omaha, check out their website…you might be surprised what the city has to offer.

And if you aren’t planning to visit Omaha, take a few minutes to check out the visitor’s bureau websites of the towns near you. You might find discount programs you didn’t even know were out there!