Oktoberfest 2011- Sauerkraut

The morning hour has gold in its mouth

Oktoberfest 2011 officially started yesterday in Munich, Germany and lasts until Sunday October 3rd, which is German renunification day. This German annual event was first celebrated when Crown Prince Ludwig threw a huge party to celebrate his wedding to Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. Everyone liked it so much they had the party every year.  But why does Oktoberfest start in September?  Better weather and the brewed beer is ready following the harvest.

The Fearless Cooking Club got started preparing our menu for this event. The preparation and waiting time for the foods we chose to tackle are lengthy so we broke out our cooking and celebrating over the months of September and October. 

Sauerkraut was our first challenge. My husband’s grandparents were German immigrants  who settled in Wisconsin. He grew up eating homemade sauerkraut. My mother-in-law told me that the family would go to the fields and glean the end of the harvested produce from the fields. Cabbage was bountiful. She would keep the fermented cabbage in a crock with a wooden lid and draw out sauerkraut when she needed it for dinner. A common practice I discovered when I went to an antique market. I bought a crock from a woman who told me her father-in-law, from the Ukraine, used to make sauerkraut in the very crock I purchased.

Eatingcleveland.com has a fabulous Homemade sauerkraut step-by-step blog with great pictures. Check out a German recipe if you want to spice it up.
 

Amazingly, there are only three ingredients to making sauerkraut:

Cabbage,salt and time.

 

The members of the cooking club made their own supply to take home with different containers. 

 

 

 

 

Key take home points:

1. Clean non-metallic container.

2. A lid and a weight. This is to keep the water that is drawn out from the cabbage to stay submerged because cabbage floats! My weight is a water filled quart-sized canning jar. Char used brick wrapped in plastic-wrap for her weight.

3. Fermentation takes time.  Ideally, fermentation takes four to six in a 75 F degree environment. My cabbage container is in a closet in the basement, out of smell range from the rest of the house. It has been submerged and fermenting for two weeks now. It smells like sauerkraut, tastes a little like sauerkraut, but still looks like shredded cabbage. I understand that “scum” can float to the top. I haven’t seen it yet but when I do, I will scrape it off and toss it.

4. When is it ready? Tasting it is the key. My husband is my official weekly taster. He said mine needs more time. I plan on canning mine when it is ready. It can also be refrigerated or frozen.

5. Flavor as you wish. It can be served “as is” or be spiced with juniper berries, caraway seed or mustard seed.  I may try several varieties when canning it.

 

Now you can’t get a group of women together without partying right? So we held our first of two Oktoberfest celebrations. Today we served, chicken sausages, homemade Bavarian red cabbage, sauteed onions, spaetzle, German Riesling wine and Paulaner beer

The next installment of The Fearless Cooking Club will be our making of homemade sausages and bratwurst to go with that sauerkraut. Stay tuned and Happy Oktoberfest!

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Pizza on the grill – The men take over

The end of the summer and the Labor Day holiday called for an impromtu meeting of The Fearless Cooking Club. This time the men wanted to perfect pizza on the grill, so my hubby showed the rest of the group how it is done.  The fire was all in the men’s corner and the women were prepping the toppings indoors. How else would it be?

Last year I saw a recipe in The Denver Post July 2010 on making a healthy version of pizza dough to grill and to use minimal toppings (i.e. minimal cheese). We loved it so much it became a big hit with our family.  One Fearless Cooking Club spouse had been attempting it this summer so we decided to have a party out of show how to put the pizza pieces together.

Pizza Dough

2 C all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 C all purpose with 1/2 C whole wheat)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp yeast (or 1 packet)

Process the above in a food processor 3-4 times to mix

Add 3/4 C warm water with 2 TBSP olive oil and drizzle into the flour mixture while pulsing the food processor until it forms a ball.

Turn the flour out onto a floured board, knead a few times then cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Cut the dough into four parts and roll out each onto floured board until it forms a round enough disk for a pizza dough base. Place plastic wrap in between each rolled out dough, keep refrigerated until ready to throw on the grill.

You need a pizza stone that is compatible with the high temps of the grill. My hubby is here brushing the stone with olive oil.

Place the dough on the oiled stone, cover and let it bake 5-6 minutes. Get those toppings ready to go because when you flip the dough it is time to top!

We made five pizzas for six people: 1)fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and fresh mozzerella, 2) cream cheese, anchovies, red onion and capers, 3)chicken, red onion, barbeque sauce and parmesan cheese, 4) roasted green chiles, sliced meatballs, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes and onion, and 5) fresh pesto, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

 

And for dessert fresh Colorado Peach Cobbler

 

It was a clear, beautiful night with a half moon shining down on us from above.  A perfect way to end the summer.

Fall is here! Oktoberfest right around the corner!

In honor of Oktoberfest, The Fearless Cooking Club is making sauerkraut and sausages. After some research, we discovered that sauerkraut takes some time, about 4 weeks to be exact. So September will be sauerkraut month and October will be sausage month.

My husband is of German descent and a Wisconsin native. He is excited about this challenge having the taste buds whetted in anticipation.

Thanks to all my subscribers for following us at https://thefearlesscookingclub.wordpress.com each month as we leap into the world of recipes we have never tried before. See you all soon!