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On the Cookstove Today

February 1, 2014

Wood’s not just for heat you know.  And warming ovens aren’t just for raising bread.  It was a busy day for the cookstove.  Crystallized honey warming to liquify, cream to warm to churning temperature, and squash seeds to dry.

Multitasking with wood

Multitasking with wood

Beans to soak, winter squash to steam, and skim milk to heat for chicken, dog and cat cheese.

Sauerkraut soup on the way

Sauerkraut soup on the way

If I finish this blog post, I’ll go cook dinner… Sauerkraut soup of some sort tonight.  No recipe, because when you have good ingredients on hand, a recipe is just a guideline anyway.

Counter constant - alliums of some sort

Mother’s little helper – a platter of alliums on the counter

I keep a small platter of garlic and onions or shallots on the counter.  We store the bulk of the crop in the basement, which is great until you need some onion or garlic for a meal.  I just may not go down to the basement if I’m in a hurry and skip the best part of seasoning for many dishes.  So an array on the counter, ensures I will add these important components.

Soup lends itself to method cooking which is a lot of what cooks do, once you know the basics, soup is pretty easy and pretty hard to spoil.

My plan is to cook a couple of slices of bacon for flavor, and because nothing flavors a dish like bacon.  With only one pig in the freezer until we raise another pig – read months away – bacon gets metered out here like gold.  Keeps us honest.  Just like steak.  There’s not much of either on an animal.

I’ll set the bacon aside on a plate in the warming oven, and cook the shallots or onion, and garlic in the rendered bacon fat.  Once the onions and garlic are translucent and starting to brown, I’ll remove them from the pan and add ghee or butter.  Once the fat has melted I’ll add flour to make a roux for thickening.  You can skip this step if you want a thin soup, or if you’re gluten-free you can use another thickener.

Once the roux is cooked (this depends on how long you want to go, I just go a few minutes so the flour taste is gone) I’ll add a quart of chicken broth and a quart of milk or cream, whisking to thoroughly mix the roux with the broth and milk.  At this point I add some salt and pepper too while still whisking.  Cook the broth until the mixture begins to thicken and then lower the heat, or in my case move the pan to a cooler part of the cookstove, away from the firebox.   Add the reserved bacon, onions and garlic, and it’s time to taste and adjust seasonings, I’ll add the sauerkraut just before serving to reserve it’s probiotic properties, so I need to remember to go light on the salt.  Maybe a dash of Worcestershire?

Time to add more wood and get cooking!

26 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2014 5:25 pm

    My mom always added caraway seeds to the sauerkraut soup……. So good 🙂

  2. February 1, 2014 5:41 pm

    Churning temperature? Maybe that’s what I have been doing wrong. What temperature? This is for butter, I presume?

  3. February 1, 2014 6:08 pm

    I wouldn’t part with my cook stove for anything – not sure I remember or would want to cook on an electric stove 🙂
    Odd as it sounds – food just tastes better cooked with a wood cook stove – probably because you get to take the time, and I find it enjoyable to have several things on the go at once. Tomorrow – bread, wraps, home made pasta, maybe a pea soup with a smoked hock towards the back for lunches next week 😊

    • February 1, 2014 8:20 pm

      Val, I like how it cooks too, faster if you want without burning. Hard to explain unless you’ve experienced but you know what I mean.

      • February 1, 2014 8:29 pm

        Good point – I think it’s the ‘all over even heat’ Mind you, if you’re not familiar with the drill in using the oven it’s pretty easy to cremate bread…..😀

        • February 1, 2014 8:52 pm

          Val, I hear ya! Or how about blackening the top of a pumpkin pie when company is coming 😦 Of course the rest is still liquid! No setting a timer and walking off…

  4. Jenny permalink
    February 1, 2014 9:30 pm

    One way to conserve bacon, is to chop up small pieces of ham and fry them in bacon grease. They make a pretty good substitute in something like your soup. Then you can use the reserved bacon in another dish where you don’t need the grease.

  5. February 2, 2014 4:41 am

    Thanks for sharing. I would be concerned that adding the sauerkraut to the soup would kill the probiotics even if at the end. But it sounds like a lovely soup. I have some bacon and plenty of sauerkraut so maybe I’ll give that a whirl.

    • February 2, 2014 6:53 am

      Jennifer, it may, usually I just have a serving bowl of kraut set aside in addition too if we want to add more. I suppose if sauerkraut was the only raw food we ate, I would be worried. Considering most recipes you see for using sauerkraut called for the canned stuff and then cook it for hours under some sausage or baking it in a cake (:p), I think just stirring it in at the end is a good compromise.

      • mom24boys permalink
        February 6, 2014 1:24 pm

        I agree, there might be a loss of some of the desired “friendlies” but probably not all. I just try to incorporate ferments as much as possible to keep them a normal part of our food choices. Beside that, no everything is about optimal health, sometimes good eating is a good enough reason.

        • February 6, 2014 2:27 pm

          M24Bs, exactly, people tend to get a little fanatic. I have friend like that, always going with the latest food fad, making lots of plant medicines, etc., needless to say she’s sick a lot, and her anxiety about not “eating right” can’t be helping. A little of a lot of things is probably a good way to go.

  6. Chris permalink
    February 2, 2014 8:33 am

    Sauerkraut soup…yum! You’ve inspired me to have a go of it…do you just plunk in a couple cups to that amount of liquid…not sure if it’s supposed to be thick or thin…but I’m sure that’s all just personal preference….having the extra bowl out to add more is good. Have you ever added anything else to it like potatoes? Of course, then it would be sauerkraut-potatoe soup! 🙂

    • February 2, 2014 9:34 am

      Chris, it all just depends on how much sauerkraut you like, we first ate this as Reuben Soup at Multnomah Falls. Yummy! Hubby can’t eat potatoes, but they would be delicious!

  7. Bee permalink
    February 2, 2014 8:57 am

    Nita, what’s dog cheese? Sounds like a useful recipe…

    • February 2, 2014 9:39 am

      Bee, dog cheese is whatever doesn’t go to the chickens or cats. Not too much though, maybe a 1/2 cup per day. Basically I have too much skim (don’t want pigs this time of year), and anybody with their mouth open gets some ricotta stuffed in.

  8. Carol permalink
    February 2, 2014 10:40 am

    It seems wasteful to me that you feed your pets cheese that you make. Can you make enough for your own needs that you have extra for your dogs?

    • February 2, 2014 10:51 am

      Carol, I look at this a little differently…in home food production you need to plan for abundance to have enough, and to you need a plan B for the extra. It makes more sense for me to keep my labors here, if I can produce some of the feed for my pets that just saves me money and keeps me from buying foodstuffs for them. Our dogs basically eat what we eat, or the scraps of what we eat. I can’t sell my milk or have no interest in doing that because of the ebb and flow of the supply. We have enough, the pets get first dibs after we have enough.

      • Bee permalink
        February 2, 2014 1:03 pm

        I’m with you, Nita, I’m looking to eliminate commercial cat and dog food. When I was growing up, the dogs always got leftovers of human food plus their kibble, although cats got canned food. I have some sense of what you feed your critters from previous posts and comments, but how about a post of the specifics of what they eat? I know dogs are nearly omnivorous, but don’t cats need a slightly different diet? Thanks!

        • February 2, 2014 2:33 pm

          Bee, ugh 😦 Dogs are pretty easy and they can glean lots of things by themselves…plus great for freezer cleanout 😉 For the cats we keep a bag of “Kitty Crack” on hand – they love it – but that’s only if they don’t get milk or on real cold nights. So they get milk for breakfast, and cheese for dinner, and they hunt like the dickens. They are slick as seals.

  9. Barb in CA permalink
    February 2, 2014 2:50 pm

    It’s interesting that so many are asking about the dogs’ food because I’ve been noticing your remarks recently too. About feeding them cheese, chicken (scraps?) and the fact that they eat veggies (like carrots) from the garden. It’s made me wonder if there’s a plan or is it “play it by ear” each day? And do you feed them dog food as well, or is their diet entirely home grown?

    • February 2, 2014 4:51 pm

      Barb, it’s by ear and I do keep some kibble on hand just for those days that there isn’t much leftover…like pizza 😉 Just sayin’

      But in all seriousness, they get eggs, milk, soft cheese, veggies, and trimmings of whatever were eating that day. It adds up too when you’re cooking by scratch. Sometimes a cup of leftover soup after the second day, a tablespoon of gravy etc, it’s just easier to feed it to the dogs, than to find something to put it in just so you can have your pan back. I tend to be the kind of person that if I commit that little drab of something to a jar and it gets put in the fridge, it’s pretty sure bet that I find it when its too far gone and I’ve wasted it anyway.

      Besides dog food I buy oatmeal for them, cooks quick and fills in the gaps. Winter feeding is hard, summer time is much easier, more rodents to hunt, fruit to glean and extra trimmings from the garden. They love brassicas, corn, raw carrots, & dried parsnips for the hunger gap. A dash of kelp doesn’t hurt either. So it’s a mix, some raw, some cooked, and some purchased. I’ll have to step up my game now with 3 dogs, I really missed all the organs from the chickens, since I purchased them last year. I won’t have to do that this year though.

  10. February 2, 2014 7:08 pm

    We feed our pets alike. Our dogs, hefty Newfoundlands, get bones for breakfast or a snack (always raw) and a meal of raw meat/bones/organs mixed with veggies and sometimes leftovers. We’re not milking right now and boy do we ever miss it for the extra it affords us with our pets and the chickens and pigs. Our cats get only meat and fish, whole prey, and raw milk and cheese like yours do.

    Everyone comments on how our dogs, with their jumbo, heavy coats don’t smell at all. Their ears never have infections (common in the breed). In fact, none of our pets have any ailments at all. We’ve been feeding our dogs and cats this way for 15 years although growing up on our old farm, I never even saw a bag of kibble. Everyone just fed scraps (from the real, nourishing food they were eating, not the processed foods of today).

    Our one lament is that we get low on protein in the later winter. We’re thinking of getting some meat rabbits to fill in the gaps. Any experience raising meat rabbits?

    • February 3, 2014 6:53 am

      I haven’t raised rabbits seriously since I was about 20 which was still a hold over from 4-H. It’s been my experience that they don’t really multiply like rabbits when you want them too. But rabbit is delicious and if you get a good doe and buck you’ve got some great meat and an easy animal to process. I think I would eat the rabbit and feed chicken to the dogs 🙂

      Your dogs sound gorgeous!

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