Hotdish and Sauerkraut

The weather is miserable, again, and since we still have to eat, exploring the back of the pantry seems like a better idea than layering up and putting on the coat and boots to truck to the store.  There’s always something in there, and waaay up on the top shelf, I found a jar of sauerkraut.  It has possibilities, but it’s not a meat day, so what can I do with sauerkraut. I found some frozen cauliflower in the freezer.   Now here in the upper midwest, white food is looked upon with a fair degree of reverence, and it usually involves something with potatoes.  Well, guess what, we don’t have any potatoes, but I’ve got onions and cheese, so cauliflower and sauerkraut it is.  Sounds like a hotdish is taking shape.  I’m not sure what reception this will get at dinner, but we established years ago, that if I put it on the table, it gets eaten.

Here it goes, sauerkraut-cauliflower hotdish.

Assemble the Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz jar of sauerkraut, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 15 oz. package of frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 minced garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, parmesan, pepperjack (even a little goat cheese is good) – Set aside about 1 cup of the cheese for topping
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Anaheim or Poblano pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons melted oil (olive, canola or coconut)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a casserole dish.

Steam the cauliflower until tender and drain all the liquid.



In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, mayonnaise and garlic and mash with a potato masher until you get the desired consistency (I like mine a little lumpy).  Add in the sauerkraut.

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Add salt, pepper, paprika, onion, and both kinds of pepper.

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Mix in about 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.

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 Pour into the greased casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and dot with butter if you like.

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Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the top is nicely melted and browned.

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Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*You could also use shredded cabbage if you have it, and you just really hate sauerkraut, but go ahead and take a chance and sample the joys of white food.



Tea and Lavender

I’ve been making jelly this week, successfully for the most part.  However, cooking is a creative art.  Jelly making on the other hand, is science, which was never my best subject and things happen.  Now everyone knows that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  But what do you do when life gives you lavender jelly that just doesn’t jell, can’t jell, won’t ever jell.  I have no idea what I did wrong, just lost my focus at some point and now I have to think of something to do with all that beautiful lavender liquid.  Luckily, I have a habit of saving glass containers, including bottles.  After rummaging in the cupboards for a few minutes, I came up with a “saved” maple syrup bottle, complete with screw top lid.  Out comes the funnel, and by some miracle, there was just enough bottle for my lavender disaster.  Once in the bottle, of course, it becomes lavender syrup, and it’s just crying out for some pancakes, or some English muffins, or maybe some scones.  Guess I’m baking this afternoon.  So a beautiful mess becomes a yummy by-product, and of course there’s still the jelly.


A Sweet Mess

A Sweet Mess

Lavender Jelly

  • 3 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup dried lavender buds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 (1 3/4 ounce) box dry pectin
  • 4 cups sugar


  1. In a large saucepan over high heat bring water just to a boil
  2. Remove from heat and stir in dried lavender flowers.  Cover and let steep for 20 minutes
  3. After 20 minutes, strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a deep kettle or pot, discarding the lavender flowers (your house smells wonderful at this point)
  4. Stir in lemon juice and pectin and continue stirring until the pectin is thoroughly dissolved
  5. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down
  6. Add in the sugar, and when the solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. To get a soft gel boil 2 minutes and for a medium gel boil for 4 minutes
  8. To test for “jell” (Keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a little of the mixture and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon.  If it thickens up to the consistency you’re looking for, the jelly is ready.  If not, you can mix in a another 1 teaspoon up to one half of another box of pectin and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute
  9. After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars.  Fill them to within ¼ inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them
  10. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove jars to wire rack and let cool before serving.
  11. Makes about a dozen ¼ pint jars.

Blueberry Scones


  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sifted barley flour
  • 1 ½ cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 ½ tablespoons sugar, plus some extra for sprinkling on top
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup almond milk, soy milk or regular 1% milk


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest)
  3. Mix the coconut oil into the dry ingredients (you can use a pastry blender or your hands)
  4. Add in the blueberries, vanilla, and slowly mix in the milk.  Don’t overwork the dough, just until it barely sticks together
  5. On a floured board knead the dough slightly.  It should be smooth and easy to handle when done.
  6. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 1 ½ inch thick rounds.
  7. Cut each round into six pieces
  8. Place on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet
  9. If you want lighter, fluffier scones, place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the scones with the extra sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  11. Let cool on the baking sheet

So now it’s time for a cup of tea and a nice warm scone drizzled in lavender syrup, or lavender jelly.  Ymmm.

The Magic of Meatloaf – A Mid-Winter Feast


by Lisa Broughton

by Lisa Broughton

A few years ago, during a particularly dreary January, I decided that we should create a personal family holiday, and after some thought, I picked Ground Hogs Day.  I didn’t realize at the time that lots of other people throughout history had the same thought: Embolc, St. Brigit’s Day, Candlemas and a lot of others I can’t pronounce.  But in our house, February 2 is the Mid-Winter Feast and it has some of it’s own very peculiar customs starting with the food. We also invented a game: Pin the Shadow on the Ground Hog.  And we enjoy best of winter dishes starting with the main course of meatloaf that has been shaped into a fairly recognizable groundhog, covered with pastry complete with little ears, eyes, a nose and tail.  I’ve enclosed a picture of the most recent example.

Ground Hogs Feast

My brother brings his famous mac-n-cheez.  The recipe is a jealously guarded secret that I haven’t been able to duplicate.  There’s winter sun cake (a rich yellow cake with coconut frosting), yummy spice bread from my daughter, crunchy cucumber-radish salad, deviled eggs, mulled white wine with pears, and this year wonderful ground-from-beans coffee from a new friend.

The Mid-Winter Feast is a statement of faith that spring really will come and it’s a chance to give thanks that we’re surviving the winter.  Believe me, a week or two of -20 to – 30 windchills can seriously shake your confidence in the power of down jackets, and you’re grateful for all your blessings.  So we get together, share our favorite wintertime dishes and talk about seed catalogs and gardening and what we’re going to do this summer.  It makes the Long Dark seem a little less endless, even if we do still have to get through the annual Tournament Blizzard.  I love you guys!