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mermaidcamp

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Cooking with Kraut

January 22, 2016 1 Comment

potato, fake sausage, kraut

potato, fake sausage, kraut

The first rule of cooking with kraut is like Fight Club, never cook the kraut. The living probiotic culture that gives your homemade sauerkraut all the extra health benefits would be killed if heated above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The zesty flavors as well as the cool temperature are used to create contrast in dishes.  Most people think of the Reuben sandwich when they think of this very useful condiment.  Indeed, the use of cool crunchy fermented vegetables as part of a well stacked sandwich takes the creation to a new level.  I encountered red cabbage kraut in use at my favorite food truck in East Austin a couple of years ago.  The Juice Well hooked me on their vegetarian Kraftwork sandwich at first bite because the condiments were spectacular and made in house (or in Airstream to be precise).  I never forgot how much bang for the buck one gets out of specialty first rate condiments.

Another obvious use we all know is the hot dog on a bun served with kraut.  This time honored combination works well by itself, or with a fermented beverage like beer.  I will soon be entertaining real live Europeans in my home.  Real live krauts will be eating krauts at my house, so I am gearing up to treat them to some special culinary delights.  My friend Steffi will visit with her friend from Zurich for a way-out-west vacation. I have some local places in mind to dine with the visitors, but it will be gem show time in Tucson, not the best season to go to restaurants here.  We like eating at home the best anyhow.  This is a vegetarian home, with no meat, but I am not adverse to fake wurst.  In fact, fake meat is one of the only processed foods I still consume…my biggest guilty pleasure.

Today’s experimental dish, which I just devoured for my breakfast, is a baked potato with Tofurkey Italian Sausage chopped into pieces on top of the spud. I topped it with spicy and cool Cowboy Kraut from Garden Goddess. I am very full and happy with the way this tasted. I added some cheese between the potato and the slaw, which is cool for all of us lacto-ovo vegetarians.  Vegans might add something else.  The flavors worked well, and the contrast of warm and cool made it all the more satisfying.  I know not everyone wants sauerkraut for breakfast, but my craving for the stuff  has reached an advanced stage.  I have become officially crazy for kraut.  Do you have any ideas or recipes to share with me on my new favorite food?

Time for Thyme

June 25, 2014 1 Comment

secret garden

secret garden

lemon thyme

lemon thyme

lemon thyme

lemon thyme

lemon thyme

lemon thyme

My garden is full of lemon thyme, a culinary herb I love to use for seasoning food and drinks. It is potent as a flavoring agent, and has medicinal qualities as well. It is one of the earliest recorded plants used in Western medicine. It can be helpful in treating respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and infections.  It strengthens the immune system and can ease headaches and insomnia.  Those with high blood pressure need to take caution when using it because thymol, the active ingredient, can prove to be too stimulating for those individuals. Lemon thyme generally contains less thymol and more linalol than red thyme, which may cause less irritation and sensitivity.  To take thyme as a remedy you can brew an infusion and drink it three times a day, or make a tincture by soaking the herb in alcohol to extract the active agents and take a few drops of the tincture three times a day.  Commercially thyme is used in mouthwashes, toothpastes, and cough lozenges.  It is used to flavor foods and drinks as well as in the fragrance industry.

This herb was highly praised in ancient Greece and Rome.  The magical significance of the plant is to strengthen the will and promote confidence.  Egyptians used it in mummification, and it was used in funeral rites in other parts of the world.  The ancient belief that the dead take up residence in the flowers of the thyme plant gives some extra meaning to the psychic dimension.  Making a bath sachet to use as both a confidence builder and an anti bacterial boost is a pleasant and effective way to use thyme externally.  Skin absorbs the active ingredients quickly during a bath, allowing a low dose to create the maximum healing.  Wrap dried herbs in a cloth and brew the tea in your bath for 10 minutes or so before bathing to enjoy the benefits of this method.  You keep the sachet in the tub with you so you can scrub with it and enjoy smelling it while you soak. Since I like to include the medicinal ingredients in cocktails here are some ideas:

Bountiful Basil

June 24, 2014 2 Comments

Basil is a culinary herb that has magical qualities. The different varieties add distinct flavors to dishes and drinks.  You can purchase seeds for many varieties, but the most commonly used and grown is the Genovese.  This very hardy herb does well in pots or in the ground.  It is very tolerant of sun and thrives with minimal care.  It is important to keep the flowers trimmed so the plant does not go to seed.  The flowers have delicate flavor that can be used to flavor anything for which you would use the leaves.  The blooms look good in cut flower arrangements, and will scent the room where they are displayed.  A few common ways we see basil used are:

  • pesto sauce
  • caprese salad with tomato and mozzarella
  • in tomato sauce

I love using basil in all of these traditional ways.  When I find a really excellent tomato I always want to eat it with basil and fresh mozzarella. Pesto is used on everything in our house, not just for pasta.  We put it on eggs, roasted veggies, potato dishes, rice, and sandwiches of all kinds.  The bright green color and the bright flavor wake up any meal.  I find that making a large batch with really good olive oil, roasted pine nuts, garlic and basil stores very well.  I add the parmesan cheese at the time I am using it.  This also allows a different proportion for each kind of use.  The pesto is delicious without any cheese for those who prefer that.  I have tried some really tasty cocktails that contain muddled basil for flavor.  Here are some of my favorites:

That will give you some ideas to get started on your own basil concoctions to drink this summer.  It is good with citrus, cucumber, and other herbs.  Try a plain basil mojito to get yourself started. Basil is a prosperity herb, so you really can’t have too much of it in your food and drinks.  Enjoy!

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