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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pork Roast, Knephla and Sauerkraut

When Kiddo2 and I returned from a very disappointing trip that was a whole week in length (the longest I'd ever been away from the Hubby and Kiddo1), I was in desperate need of some comfort food. And by comfort food, I mean boiled dough...I'm a German from Russia after all!!

I busted out this homeraised pork roast that was given to us by a friend. The very same friend who helped my husband shingle our roof the day before I gave birth to Kiddo2 last summer...bless him!

First, get out your favorite roasting pan and add a couple tablespoons of your favorite fat. We're going to sizzle and sear the roast. This pan was my Christmas present from my dad when I was in college. What college girl wants an awesome roasting pan?? But now, it's my favorite pan, hands down. Wait until you see the lid...

Wait until the fat is melted and/or heated up but not burning.

Here's our fabulous homeraised roast. The cut really doesn't matter, any old pork roast will do. This one was frozen and no, I didn't thaw it beforehand (chefs everywhere gasp in horror). Notice I haven't seasoned the meat in ANY way, pork is a delicately flavored meat and doesn't need marinades, rubs, or all that nonsense. We don't even add salt, the sauerkraut has salt in it.

I slapped the cover on immediately to prevent the spatter that comes from frozen meat and hot oil. The lid is also a shallow pan that can be used separately (like for a killer batch of Swiss Steaks).

While the meat is searing, run down to your basement and fetch a quart of your homemade sauerkraut. What?? You don't have homemade sauerkraut? Oh, you poor thing, we'll have to correct that soon...as soon as the cabbage comes on this summer.

Check out that awesome sear!

Dump in your sauerkraut.

What to do with those delicious fermented bits of cabbage??

For heaven's sake don't throw it away, rinse it out with water and back into the kettle.

Add a bit more water, we're going to cook this awhile.

Spread out the sauerkraut and check the water level again.

You want enough water to cover the sauerkraut, but not enough to boil the meat. It's a delicate balance, folks, a delicate balance.

But the cover on, this one is air tight, and slide the whole works into a 300 degree oven. (Check out my clean oven, courtesy of a chocolate cake that 'volcanoed' over and onto the bottom of my oven.)

I put this in about 11am and we're eating it for supper. Yes, we say supper. Dinner is at noon and lunch is in the afternoon, that is the farm code.

After hours and hours of delicious roasting and bubbling, this is the glorious sight that awaits you! Some people think that they can just throw the sauerkraut in at the end.....ummm, no. The long cooking of the sauerkraut makes it so tender and flavorful. And for heaven's sake, do not use canned sauerkraut...gross, ick, yuck, gag me on a spoon. If you must buy sauerkraut, I recommend Krispy Kraut. It's sold in bags in the meat case, by the bacon.

About 45 minutes before meal time, cut up some potatoes and get them boiling.

When the potatoes are just tender, not done just yet, it's time for knephla!

Friends of mine actually took a class to learn how to make knephla, even spent money on it! Good grief, it takes 4 minutes and a trained monkey could do it. Some people buy frozen knephla! That has to be the biggest scam on the face of the planet, that and pre-cooked bacon.

Start with 2 cups of flour.

Add an egg and 1 tsp of baking soda.

And a pinch of salt.

And some lukewarm water. 2-3 tablespoons.

Get out your fork for the start of the mixing process. Beat the egg first and then work it into the dough.

Keep going...

We're getting close...

Now, put down the fork and dig in with your hands.

Keep working it to incorporate all the flour, kneading and flipping and kneading and flipping. It's therapy really.

This looks good. If you can't incorporate all your flour sprinkle a bit more water and keep going. If it's too wet, sprinkle a bit more flour...knephla are very forgiving!

Take a palm sized amount

Roll it between your hands like you did as a child with playdough to get a snake about an inch (give or take) in diameter.

Grab your kitchen shears and snip the snake into 1/2 inch pieces directly into the boiling pot of water. The water much be boiling or they won't cook.

The pot will get foamy, give it a stir every so often to mix them around. The knephla will float on top when they are done.

They'll have this yummy golden color!

Ahhhh, hello girls!! I love boiled doughs.

Drain the potatoes and knephla and return to the kettle so the can dry off from the heat of the pot.

Don't look Dr. Atkins....it's a carb overload.

Here's the roast and sauerkraut. The roast has literally fallen apart, it is that tender. The sauerkraut has cooked up nicely with a beautiful golden color.

Yuuummmm, pile on the potatoes and knephla, lay some sauerkraut over the top and out some roast right next to it....and then feel your tastebuds do a happy dance! It is THAT good. Kiddo1 ate it all, she loves the knephla best.

Consider me comforted....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Surprise Granola

The hubby eats cereal by the boxful and I'm just not about to spend $4 per breakfast for the man to get his fill. Enter "Surprise Granola", a quick-to-make cereal that is awesome! Both the hubby and the 2 year old love it...she'd eat her body weight in granola if I'd let her.

Here we go!

2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups bran flake cereal
1 cup crushed nuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup honey (or more)
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Grab your antique stoneware shallow mixing bowl, or whatever bowl is clean at the moment! Add your oatmeal. You could even use old fashioned oats if that's all you have, the granola will just be chewier.

Add your bran cereal. Or any cereal really. Even stuff that's a little "past" if you know what I mean. The toasting and other flavors will give it new life! I've even thrown in some aged Rice Krispies just to get them out of the pantry!

If you are like me and are trying desperately to use up all the nuts we got for Christmas, just crack 'em, put 'em in a bag and smash 'em with a hammer. It's good therapy, really!

Add the nuts.

Add the sunflower seeds. Apparently, I was so excited about sunflower seeds, I couldn't keep the camera from shaking!

Ahhhh, dried fruit. In this version, I used half dates and half raisins. Simply because that is what I had on hand. I often use dried cranberries. But use your favorite (or handiest) dried fruit...I think pineapple might be divine!

Now the coconut, a healthy one cup and if more falls out, even better!

Stir gently to combine the large granola molecules.

Pour the mixture into an ungreased baking pan. And lest you think, "Oh my goodness, she doesn't even wash her pans!" This was the second batch of granola and I reused the baking pan. I was going green...

Smooth it evenly with your pasty white, chubby hand. If you don't have one of these, well, good for you. Give me even half a dose of vitamin D and I'll look better, I promise. (On a side note, check out the ring! I got it from a guy I used to date, when he asked me to marry him, in front of my refrigerator....ahhhhhh, I love this ring. And I love my husband.)

This was an experiment. I sprinkled on a bit of cinnamon. If you like cinnamon, give it a shot!

Combine the honey, butter and vanilla. I warmed this batch in the microwave, but you can also use a small saucepan on the stove over low heat.

Pour it gently over as much of the granola as you can.

As much as you are tempted to, DO NOT stir it now. Just put it in the oven. Put down the spoon and put it in the oven! Set your timer for 10 minutes. Why not stir? It puts all the gooey-ness of the honey/butter mixture at the bottom of the pan, not on the granola. I speak from gooey-pan and not-gooey-granola experience.

After 10 minutes, remove the pan and then give in to those stirring desires. Stir gently, just moving the granola from one side to the other, from top to bottom. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

After a mere 25 minutes you have more than a standard box of homemade cereal goodness!!

I call this surprise granola because I'm never sure exactly what will end up in it. Sometimes I run out of nuts or coconut, or use more fruit or oats. (I ALWAYS use more honey!) It's very forgiving and delicious!