Monday, February 25, 2008

Hurrah for Late Winter Sauerkraut!

There are so many old timey things that people just don't do anymore, and they're really terrific! Each fall, we harvest three or four big heavy solid heads of cabbage and cut them up into sauerkraut.
It's really easy, just slice it thin, and layer it in a sterilized heavy crock, or even a plastic bucket, with handfulls of kosher salt mixed in. We bought a clean plastic 5 gallon bucket and use it for nothing else but this project each year. When we've filled the bucket about 3/4 full of the cabbage and salt, we use our fist to pack it down solidly, put a clean china plate on top, and on top of that, a big flat rock, that we save and boil each year. The rock is to hold the plate down on the top of the cabbage.
Then we set it aside to work. After about two months, we lift out the rock, carefully lift off the mold and stuff that grows in the water above the plate, and only then, do we lift off the plate to see the clean white, wonderfully tart and crisp kraut underneath it.
We bag it up into 3 cup servings, and store those in the drawers in the bottom of the refrigerator for just the right day to savor that special treat. Today was one of those days, and we picked up a pound of the marvelous polish sausage that a local butcher makes and simmered it with some of our kraut for dinner.
With it, we boil some potatoes from our root cellars, and on the side, some crunchy fresh veggies. Cucumbers, radishes, and sausage were the only part we had to buy fresh, the rest we "laid by" during those productive warm days of summer and fall.
While enjoying this terrific meal, we took time to think about how many of the old timey things we enjoy doing that seem to be lost to most people these days. We really enjoy harvesting the food off of our own land and preserving it for later, storing it in our own buried root cellars, or otherwise preserving it to enjoy later.
Any day now, we'll head out into our woods to tap the maple trees for syrup. That's another thing that really isn't nearly as hard work as most people think, and sure does yield a delicious dividend. More about that later.
For now, it's cold and snowey outside, and I've got a full stomach of healthy food, and a good book. My only decision now is whether to recline on the comfy couch, or light a fire and sit in the rocker to read. What a life!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Winter Blues

Now, it's not that bad! These days, as usual for this time of year, I find myself wanting to slow down, stay inside where it's warm, and eat everything in sight! Happens every year, and I figure it's that prehistoric winter hibernator ancestor in me, fighting for dominance with the modern person who knows better.
So this morning, I dressed up warm, took the camera and went out to shake off the winter blues-and I found the blues! But a different kind than I expected. Even Jim's Owl's Haven totem pole, standing out in front of our garage was wearing a snowey cap this morning. It was a beautiful cold crisp, 21 degree, clean sunny winter morning out there, with the sun sparkling off that beautiful white snow, and blue shadows adding depth to everything. I tromped around out there for a while, feeding the cats, filling the birdfeeders, and making a start on pruning the blueberries-and there's another blue! Even the icicles hanging down from the eave of the house are blue with the siding behind them, and the smoke from the chimney looks blue against the sky.

So I filled my eyes and heart with the blues this morning, and came in, much cheered up.
Spring is on its way-and soon now. For the past two mornings, I've heard the owls in their mating calls. That fast, confused, hooting of two or three voices at once, in a flurry of noise. One of these days, we'll hear those wonderful baby owl tentive hoots. Wonderful music.