Unveiling the Sauerkraut

March 5, 2011

Two  years ago, I attempted making  sauerkraut  (see April 27, 2010 entry).  The real stuff, not poured out of the jar I bought at the grocery store. I had a book called Putting Foods By,

Putting Foods By

 that had a brief and easy looking recipe to make your own. It seemed  a very scientific, no-nonsense approach to working in your kitchen preserving food. Everything happening in those canning jars could be traced to a step you took along the way. If you follow the instructions, you are going to be happy (and not sick) come the next year when you open those food containers.  My original sauerkraut results were  okay for a first attempt.  Even though the texture was very similar it didn’t taste like what I imagined it would  taste like.  There really was no bite. No tang. No Sauer likeness.

 Researching for any improvements I could make, I found out there was a  woman in Ohio, who is famous for her sauerkraut. Known as The Sauerkraut Lady,  she was appearing at  Lehman’s.  For those of you who don’t know, Lehman’s is a great store serving the Amish Community, who mainly rely on handmade, homemade way of life. I wanted a fresh  approach to what I was going to put in the jar.  So I recruited my Mom, my sister Fran and we went to Kidron, Ohio. I met the Sauerkraut Lady and learned plenty and tasted even more of her demo’s she had brought. I was too ashamed to show her what I made after tasting hers. I went home with a better understanding of what sauerkraut could taste like.  That’s when I switched recipe books to a new one I had found on Amazon, called Wild Fermentation.

Wild Fermentation

Very encouraging, even inspirational in his approach, I read his instructions over and over.   After reading Wild Fermentation I tucked it up under my arm, channeled the Sauerkraut Lady and made a second batch.

First batch.

neatly finished and stacked up


 Second batch.

Weighted top of sauerkraut

Ugh, are you sure this is right, my first batch never looked like this.

Under the weighted bag


Or smelled like this. Or made my house smell like this.

But the cucumbers I embedded in the cabbage before it was fermented did turn out firm, tangy, (really tangy).

pickles are the dark green in the middle of the kraut

So as long as I don’t get  sick tonight ( I only ate a mouth full) I may have been successful.

Thank you Sauerkraut Lady and Wild Fermentation guy. And Lehman’s, in Kidron Ohio.


I almost missed this one on a recent walk.

November 3, 2010

She makes her way across the land.

Turtles are my favorite animals.

 Last week  Bill and I were at Micheal’s land looking for signs of deer. Bill has next week off and is planning on hunting most of the time.  Going with him to scope out the land, aside from the pure pleasure of just walking in wooded land. It also  helps me feel better about know where he is going to be just in case he calls for help.  (Deer are heavy you know). As Bill was wandering far, I wandered slowly just looking around observing the details of nature. Then I spotted the box turtle.

Ted Andrews wrote a book Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small. In this book he talks about turtles being symbolic of motherhood, longevity and awakening to opportunity. They are a reminder to pay attention or you will miss opportunities.

Which is what I believe this moment was symbolic of, in that, had I been in a hurry to cover lots of territory,  I would have kept on,  speedily, having missed this box turtle. Instead  going slowly,  taking in the atmosphere, allowed a heightening of awareness, giving me the opportunity to notice a turtle making her trek too. The benefit was to contemplate on  what this box turtle might be showing me.

Sticking her neck out a little further

 What the message is, I am not clear just yet. But  by going slowly, taking in my immediate environment, I will be alert to opportunities.  Good opportunities to be immersed in healthy, natural habitats.

There was a Local Deal advertisement

October 24, 2010

last week for a Japanese restaurant in St Louis. It’s name was Ichigo and it reminded me I have a blog named Ichigo that I have forgotten to take care of.
I am so sorry. I guess I better start begging forgiveness. I don’t even know what derailed posting on it.
But in the mean time our farm is going well. The work of the garden done. Only a few damaged crops, namely the tomatoes were not especially good. A dried bunch of green beans went moldy, not sure why. A gallon jar of pickles were invaded by flys, their babies and even though the pickles smelled good cause of all the garlic. The idea of even putting one close to my face was absolutely disgusting to me. I felt grossed out from seeing the fly babies squirming around~even though they were in a salt brine~apparently it didn’t harm them, the babies did well.Not the pickles. Ick.

Finally the hens started laying after almost 6 months. Seems like it was forever before they laid eggs. But they are very good now. We are finally getting to eat eggs for breakfast.
The biggest thrill has been seeing a fox. Especially a fox running. Which I have never witnessed in real life. Its amazing how fast they move.  Bill looked it up on the internet and said they can move as fast as 45 miles a hour (or was it 35 miles). I think it slowed the fox down because there was a chicken in its mouth. But not for long, because my hen managed to get away.Now the fox run was about a month ago and since this event there has been another attempted abduction. The only evidence was the hen who refused to come out of the barn all day along with the scattered red feathers by the grape vines. Glad she got away. But I imagine the fox has disappointment for dinner.
Well, I think its a good day for outside since there has been none of the promised rain. Its dry and breezy.
Gotta get the hens some scratch grain at Rural King.

Biscuit bliss

May 2, 2010

Mmmm, I love biscuits.

Plain, buttered, honeyed, jellied, sausaged, egged, etc.

All good.

Thanks to a great new cookbook of mine called Biscuit Bliss, I can make more biscuit styles and textures than I ever believed possible.

In the six days since I bought the book, I have made biscuits everyday. My pants are tighter, my smile is brighter and there are only 98 more receipes to go before I have made my way completely through all 101 receipes.

Biscuit Bliss

Just in case you wanted to see the book. But to see inside you will have to get your own copy.

Mine is busy.

The sauerkraut lady

April 27, 2010
Deborah Geiser, Lehman’s Kidron, Ohio

was at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio when Mom, my sister Fran and I made our  memorable trip. The trip that promises to change the face of my newest love, sauerkraut. 

 How could  I improve my first attempt to make  sauerkraut? 

 The answers came from  Deborah Geiser who is one of three co-owners of  Pioneer Farm in Apple Creek Ohio. She made a special appearance on Saturday to describe the makings of and benefits from eating sauerkraut.  The visit was  much more than I had hoped for. Deborah  was funny, very approachable, warm and  a Chef to boot.  The best part,  she knew what I needed to do differently to make my sauerkraut better.  She gave away samples of her sauerkraut. Which I compared to mine, hers ~ Yummy, tangy, full of flavor, toothsome  strands of homemade honest to goodness sauerkraut, mine~ limp, mild, no tang, bland but salty.  In a word, lame.

The two things I picked up from our visit were;

1.  Beat it down more.  When you think it’s enough, it’s not,  beat  it down more.  She means beating it until all the juices were out of the cabbage and into the  container. Enough  to produce enough liquid to cover its self all the cabbage by about an inch.  My mistake was expecting the brine of salty water to do the work of the cabbage juices.  I sorta lightly squashing it to make a little room, just a pat compared to her instructions.

2.  Ferment longer.  Turns out, I didn’t let my kraut ferment long enough. Her family put it into the pot to sit (and work) in August, not touching it until New Years. I put mine in the pot, let it sit a few weeks, then canned it.  Whoops,  I clearly was taking it out too soon.

I am looking forward to August this year when I will attempt another round of kraut making.

But until New Years of 2011, we will be eating the lame stuff.

For more information about Sauerkraut making or to contact Deborah you can  visit Http://www.pioneerfarm.net

Mary Jane’s Farm

April 23, 2010

My favorite person, place and magazine.

She provides a virtual  land where I connect with other women who have rural hearts. Women who share a kinship with country life, organic food and  other strong enduring Americans. These women will include you in their lives through Mary Janes Farm Blog, by sharing  their loves, their interests, and with a make it yourself kind of  living. They read the Mary Janes Farm magazine with zest. They post on her website with tremendous  eagerness about  bringing  more  farming life into their lives. 

They  post stories, endless stories about chickens, about  feeding the neighbor’s horse. Or getting a treadle machine to work. They will cheer me on when they hear I found the treadle sewing machine belts at Lehman’s. Which reminds me, another treasure found at Lehman’s was this~

posted on their wall of fame.

A copy of an article in Mary Janes Farm, about the pleasures of grinding your own wheat.  Billed  as a country woman’s aerobic workout. 

Truly one more of lifes greater pleasures. Mary Janes Farm and Lehman’s.

Farmgirl #1360

My chicks are in the barn

April 22, 2010

My peeps   

Yesterday I went to Rural King in Wentzville for chicken feed.

 Forgot the chicken feed.   

 Came back with 20 very young chicks.   

Remembered the chick starter though.   

And the chicks. Lucky for me,  there was a young girl who looked like she worked there. Maybe she was really a  middle school student, but she was  standing right there at the chicks. Holding one, while the rest were in the coop. I am sure she was  there to help me. Especially to  put the chicks into the box to carry home. Good thing, other wise I would still be there trying to decide which ones to take home.  They all looked the same and were all the same breed.  Exactly what I wanted. Pullets. In other words all young  females~ translation~ egg making machines.      

Honestly, I am happy watching baby chicks. 

Or watching them do this  


Going to Frannie’s

April 12, 2010

The plan is Friday is soap making day and Saturday is going to Lehman’s day. At Lehman’s store, Saturday is one of four big days filled with events.  They are focusing on a broad variety of events to celebrate “Learn the Lehman’s Lifestyle”. One example would be something I’m excited about  is the Sauerkraut Lady. She  is going to present information about fermenting foods for storage. Specifically sauerkraut.

This is perfect timing for me, since last year was the first time I had ever made sauerkraut. I don’t even know other people who make sauerkraut. I don’t even understand the forces impelling me to make sauerkraut. I just wanted to…  Plus, I confess, I don’t  know what the  homemade stuff is like. Never had  anything but commercially prepared sauerkraut. So I don’t know if what I have done is great, the best we can  expected, or so-so. But holding it up to the scrutiny of someone who does will give me a bit more confidence.  To me and my husband Bill, my homemade stuff was good, but he could have been just very kind. Long time husbands, do this quite frequently. I love long time husbands. They are the best.

Homemade sauerkraut is  tasty, and different from the commercial stuff. Softer, a bit saltier.

But the Sauerkraut lady is not all we are going for. They have a huge store geared toward the Amish who live with a high need for the  non-electrical equipment. The store is open to the public and welcomes anyone who might be interested in living a bit less technically oriented. 

 They have wood burning stoves,  cast iron skillets, (I could use a small one) and who knows what else.  Fran, Mom and I will be  worn out from gawking at everything. We will be pointing  at everything we cross paths with, speculating what things are, what they are used for and scheming how to get it back home.  Where we would put things in our respective houses.  Better take a notebook along with the camera.

The president of Lehman’s is Galen Lehman, who turned 50 today.  Maybe we will get to meet him Saturday too. The cherry on the sundaes.

 Plenty of new ideas to bring home and test out on people .

Going to Frannie’s for soapmaking.

March 25, 2010

My youngest sister lives in Ohio.  Since I haven’t been to her new house, in Tipp City, I think a trip is in order. So, in mid April I am going to drive up for the weekend with a truck full of stuff and a plan.  The Plan is to spend the night at  Mom’s on  Thursday, where she and I  will sit down talk, drink too much tea, eat some cookies and get caught up.

Then get up early Friday morning, go to Frannie and Brian’s (he will be at work I heard) house to spend the day. Of course we will eat, talk, giggle, cry and generally have a gathering of feminine souls. And make  homemade soap.  I will teach and everyone else is for the learning.  Mom likes  homemade soap. She is bringing her friend Jenny( who likes homemade soap ,too)  and  goes with Mom to do all the fun stuff they can. They are long time  friends.  I think my long-lost  Aunt  Terri might come over. My sister Fran is going to bring her friend along. Sorry I can’t remember her name now. This lack of skill on my part goes with the age I suppose.  ( Brian, if you are reading this, be warned)

 The general order of the day will be to make  homemade soap, with lye.  We can  use the soap for all kinds of things. One kind will be a household soap to be turned into dishwashing soap,  laundry detergent and general cleaning soap. All made with old-fashioned ingredients. The other will be milk and olive oil for using on the body. Guess you have the picture of what it can be.

  There are many reasons this is happening. One reason is the passage of time, we aren’t getting any younger. I could forget how to do it. Another reason is to see my sisters home .  She loves living a little more rural.  Spending time with my family is something I am missing right now. Another reason it is how satisfying  homemaking and farming  skills to me and being able to pass them on  to the next generation. Who will teach the next generation of  farming women and girls.  This idea was inspired by a magazine I love to read called  Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine. Mary Jane Butters talk about rural living along with  other things and encourages intergenerational skill building.  Her  theme of  farm girl sisterhoods is so our arts are not lost.  She has badges we can earn similar to the  girl scout badges I earned when I was younger.  Membership in the club can earn badges depicting Henrietta ( an aproned Hen)  embroidered on hexagon swatches of material.  This is so we pass on our skills in farming and community. If you would like to know more follow the link to Mary Janes Farm.    http://www.maryjanesfarm.org.

The other high point of the trip other than seeing my family is Mom, Fran and I are going on Saturday to Lehman’s  in Kidron, to attend their Spring Farm Days. Who knows what we will find there.  But we are excited. This place is so interesting to me. More on this part later on, but if you can’t wait here is the link to see for your self.  http://www.lehmans.com

Procrastination be gone

March 24, 2010

It might not look like much to you, but this is clear evidence I am procrastinating less.  Last weekend, I did something different when I started embroidering the hens and chicks that I have had the pattern for since 2006. Pulling out the red thread was easy, copying the pattern on to material, fun and the first couple of hours pretty good. But somewhere momentum started slowing,  and those last few chicks were a chore.  Normally I would have stopped then, set it aside and told myself, I was enjoying the process.  Five years later, I would wonder why I never finished it, as I admired the homeyness of it. Then wrapped it back up, put it away leaving it for my child to deal sometime in the future.

But instead of all that,  I kept saying to myself –just keep going until it is done– and found the frame, covered it, backed it and here she is.  My hen sitting on her chicks, embroidered in red thread and framed in recycled denim material is the result of just keeping at it until it is done. 
 Procrastination continues to be my bad habit.  Overcoming it through reminding myself to do the next small thing keeps me moving forward.