This is basically the post where Mike the Gay Beer Guy shows us up because he makes everything — including the sauerkraut! — from scratch….Not gonna lie— kraut from scratch has me just a little annoyed. But go for it Mikey
Hi Janet, Hi Rachel -
Oktoberfest. Yes, that’s right…Oktoberfest. What better way to celebrate the tapping of the first kegs of fall than by a city-wide street festival?! This is my guide to a completely made-from-scratch menu so that you can enjoy Oktoberfest in your very own home, from beer to brat (with some sauerkraut in between). Maybe you don’t have the equipment to make the beer at home, but everything else is certainly something ANYONE can do!
There are a million fabulous things about having my parents visit our little house here in California. There are outings endeavored as a multigenerational unit and breaks given to John and me, along with lots of playing and giggling and book reading with M. I feel incredibly fortunate to be friends with my parents as an adult and to have entered into a partnership with a person who equally enjoys their company. One of the highlights of each of their visits for me are the leisurely dinners at our dining room table after M has gone to bed. My mom and dad and John and I eat delicious food, share some drinks and dessert and settle into interesting (and often hilarious) conversations. Every night, I brim with warmth and delight in getting to sit back with three of the most important people in my life at once. These evenings we’ve forged together over the past year are some of my favorite moments of my entire life.
One of the meals we made while my folks were in town was fish tacos. John and I love fish tacos and we used to make them all the time. For some reason, they slipped out of our repertoire for a while, though. They’re back, for sure, and better than ever.
We don’t have a super precise method for making fish tacos, so I’m just going to detail what we did in paragraph form instead of the traditional recipe format we feature here. We bought 1 1/2 pounds of tilapia to feed four adults. John grilled the tilapia and corn on the cob (which we ate separately). We warmed corn tortillas in the oven and these served as the base for the tacos. The fish was placed on top of the tortilla and then black beans were placed on top (due to a shortage of time these were canned black beans which we rinsed very well before simmering them in chicken stock with bay leaves, diced onion and chile powder) . On top of the beans we scooped cabbage that had marinated in lime juice, sugar, vinegar and salt (John prepped the cabbage first and by the time we were serving everything up it was tender and flavorful). Completing the taco was a bit of homemade guacamole that had chopped up peach, tomato, and white onion in it along with lime juice, salt, and a few dashes of hot sauce. A wedge of lime was placed on each plate along with an ear of corn and sour cream was offered at the table. DEEEE-LICIOUS!
Janet here: I grew up in a house where St. Patty’s Day was a big deal. My mother’s father, Michael Aloysius Martin, emigrated from Ireland to the States as a young man so she took the day seriously, requiring that we all wear something green. I also remember her drawing green freckles on my nose and that I actually went to school that way. Needless to say I not one of the cool kids.
Not surprisingly, we always had corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day. I remember liking it, although as I look back on it I wonder why. Everything was boiled for God’s sake.
As a vegetarian, I no longer think corned beef on St. Patty’s Day. I do, however, love cabbage, especially served in this tasty, meatless meal inspired by one of my go-to early vegetarian cookbooks, The Moosewood Cookbook. The sauteed cabbage with onions and caraway seeds adds a wonderful zip to the comforting mashed potatoes. Enjoy and Erin Ga Bragh!
4 medium potatoes, cut into pieces, skin on
2 tablespoons butter (this is not a time for olive oil my friends)
1 plus cups diced onion
about 3 cups of sliced cabbage
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
3/4 teaspoon dill
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups low fat cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream.
2 teaspoons sunflower seeds
paprika to taste
After cutting the potatoes into boiling pieces, add to water and boil until just done. Drain and put into a bowl with the cottage cheese, sour cream, dill and salt and pepper. Mash up into mashed potatoes.
While the potatoes are cooking, saute the onions for a couple of minutes. Add the caraway seeds and cabbage and saute until the cabbage and onions are just done. Add to the bowl of mashed potatoes with the cider vinegar. Mix well.
Place into a casserole. Sprinkle sunflower seeds and paprika to taste on top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot.
So, innovations in our kitchen are few and far between these days. We largely stick to tried and trues and, more often than not, these are pretty basic.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, one of the go-to dinners in our house is something along the fajita-taco-burrito-quesadilla lines. The other night I went the taco route, using chicken (as you might’ve guessed from the above photo). I diced tomatoes and sauteed onions and quartered a few limes. This was all par for the course.
The little innovation occurred, however, when I grated half a head of purple cabbage and tossed it into the skillet, adding a dash of oil and then salt and rice vinegar to taste.
It was so yummy! Like, seriously, I’m always going to do this from now on, I think. It added this nice different flavor to the whole meal and, a tartness and texture that we both really enjoyed.
Plus, the cabbage didn’t give M bad gas (as it did when she was teeny), so successes abounded.
Janet here: Much of my current cooking life involves cooking ahead because I work out of town part of the week and I want to make sure my husband and son don’t starve. I mean a duo can only eat so many hamburgers and fries, I don’t care how delicious Peter’s version is. So I assuage some of my traveling guilt by cooking ahead.
What I have realized in the two-plus years I’ve been doing this is that it’s actually a brilliant idea to cook ahead one day of the week and ensure you’ve got stuff to heat up easily when you come home from a trying day at work. I can remember my children asking me in the car on the way home from school/music lessons/sports/day care what was for dinner. My standard response, because I hadn’t really figured it out and was feeling kind of tired myself, was, “Arsenic” or “Ardvaark noses,” depending on my mood. Why didn’t I think of cooking ahead decades ago? Imagine the peaceful bliss of walking in the door, popping something in the oven and everyone happily playing together while the food warmed up … or something like that.
At any rate, this recipe I’ve adapted from the original Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen is great the first time and reheats beautifully. I hope you learn something from my story and cook at least one meal ahead. It’ll change your life.
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
worcestershire sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups macaroni
Boil the macaroni in water until al dente. Drain.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
While the macaroni is cooking, combine the sour cream, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and onion in a large bowl.
Saute in butter the cabbage, carrot and caraway seeds until the cabbage is wilted and just beginning to brown.
Add the sauteed ingredients and drained pasta to the large bowl. Stir until combined. Place in a casserole. Bake covered for 40 minutes. Easily microwaved for reheating.
Rachel here: Ah…reheating. I have three midterms this week, in addition to a paper due and 600 pages of reading. It’s one of those weeks that the mere anticipation of is enough to make my stomach churn a bit. It’s also one of those weeks that leaves me wanting to eat quick and easy comfort food. While I can’t say that pizza won’t be ordered in my house in the coming days, I can say that tonight it will be nice to sit down to a warm bowl of reheated homemade chili (for the recipe, see my post here). When I originally made it a few weeks back, I made a giant batch. John and I ate a bit of it, I gave a bit away to a friend of mine with two kids (oh, dinner is the best surprise), and I froze the rest in portions in microwavable containers that just need to be pulled from the freezer. Tonight, healthy heartiness (as opposed to the greasy deliciousness that is pizza) will fill our bellies and it will feel good. What do you stockpile in your freezer for these crazy weeks?