There is no doubt about it, winter is upon as. The calendar may still say it is Fall; however, we live in Calgary. Snow is on the ground and more often than not it is freezing outside. Below we share some of the recipes that we like to enjoy at this time of year including a different take on kettle corn, some super delicious roasted vegetables and a simple sauerkraut that tastes so good even your Baba/Ukrainian Grandmother would be proud.
Honey Sweet Kettle Corn
My mother received this recipe earlier this year from a fellow teacher when that teacher brought some honey sweetened kettle corn to share with the staff. This recipe was such a hit with the staff that my mother then bought the necessary supplies and made it for our family that night.
What you need:
- Unpopped corn
- Butter (margarine could be used however from making this I have found the flavor better with butter)
- Cooking Oil (i.e. an oil appropriate for cooking at relatively high temperatures such as Canola Oil)
Start by dumping approximately a tablespoon of your cooking oil in a pot and set on stove. Make sure that the pot is completely dry as residual water can cause the oil to splatter. (Note: you can also pop your corn using an air popper if you have one.) Add a couple of kernels of the unpopped corn to the pot and then turn up the heat on your stove to high. You will know that the oil is hot enough to dump the rest of the unpopped corn into once the first kernels in the oil begin to pop.
After you have your corn cooking start making your honey mixture. Use a smaller pot and put equal parts butter and honey into it and then turn the heat onto low. The first time I made this however I found the honey taste very strong and I reduced it to a ratio of about 1/4 cup of honey to a 1/3 cup of honey. I think the best ratio for your mixture will depend on the honey that you use. When your mixture has completely melted, and your corn is popped combine the two together and mix with a spoon. Once combined transfer the final product to a bowl and sprinkle it lightly with salt. Voila! Not only do you have a new type of popcorn to enjoy, but also a popcorn of a pleasing golden aesthetic that is great to share with friends.
This recipe for roasted vegetables does not come from anywhere in particular unless you count a desire to eat something warm, delicious and healthy as a legitimate recipe source. For my ingredients I basically just salvaged whatever vegetables were available in my fridge so feel free to do the same. I came up with the following
- Bell peppers of red, orange and yellow variety
- Some suspiciously limp asparagus
- Button brown mushrooms
- Fennel (not pictured and which I would not recommend adding as I will get to later)
Other additional ingredients that I needed included
- Cooking Oil
- Herbs/Seasoning (I used Oregano Leaves, Basil Leaves, Italian Seasoning and Rosemary Leaves. While this is redundant my goal in picking these herbs was to essentially put on anything I had in my spice drawer that I thought would go well with the vegetables.)
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F. Then wash and cut all the vegetables, being conscious of the size of pieces in relation to how quickly some vegetables cook. For instance, I cut the peppers in relatively large pieces while breaking up the cauliflower into smaller ones.
Combine all the vegetables together in a glass pan approximately 2 inches deep and sprinkle all the herbs/seasoning on the vegetables. Add approximately 2 tbsp. of cooking oil and stir everything until all vegetables are coated. Put the vegetables in the oven for 35 minutes, stirring the vegetables occasionally and checking to see how firm they are.
As I prefer cooked vegetables that are on the firmer side I took out the vegetables at the 35 minute mark; however if you like your cooked vegetables softer you may want to leave them in for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Overall, all the vegetables were delicious except for the fennel which cooked mushy in the center and remained hard and tough on the outside. In hindsight I would not include fennel this way in the recipe again. Based on responses from my family I would increase the cauliflower and mushrooms as that was by far everyone’s favorite vegetables that were roasted. This dish was simple to make and easy to do with whatever vegetables you have left in your fridge. Also because the vegetables are oiled they do not leave a huge mess in the pan, making clean-up easy as well.
This recipe came to me from my Baba who has been making Sauerkraut her whole life. She found it on the internet and sent it to me and my family along with the jar of sauerkraut pictured. Unsurprisingly, considering my Baba’s promise that it tasted like good Ukrainian Sauerkraut, it was delicious! Fermented foods are also good for you because they contain a lot of probiotics.
You can find the official recipe for this sauerkraut at http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-sauerkraut-in-a-mason-jar-193124; however below I still detailed a brief outline of my experience making it myself as a non-professional sauerkraut maker.
What you need:
- 1 medium head of green cabbage
- 1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (which are optional, but I did use these)
- ½ cup shredded carrot (this was not part of the recipe, but my Baba added it so I did as well)
- 2 quart wide mouth canning jar
Start by making sure that everything you are using is as clean as possible to ensure a good fermentation process. The recipe suggests washing the jars with soap in water is sufficient; however, whenever I canned things with my grandmother growing up we always boiled all our jars prior to canning so that is what I did.
Next chop up the cabbage thinly. The ribbons I ended up with were not as symmetrical as my Baba’s, but as far as I can tell it still seemed fine. Mix the salt and caraway seeds in with the cabbage. I admit I was skeptical (just as the recipe said) if the salt would be enough; however sure enough after working the salt through my cabbage for a few minutes the cabbage started to sweat and everything mixed well.
Pack jars full of the salted cabbage mix pushing it down as best as possible so there is some liquid on the top. Over the next few days more liquid came to the top as the cabbage continued to sweat. After I filled the jars I covered them with a cloth and then over the next few days I have just been pushing down the mixture with a fork to keep the liquid covering it. So far it seems to taste similar to my Baba’s although not quite as strong (since it has not been fermenting as long). Hopefully, this exercise in making mason jar sauerkraut is just the beginning of me turning into a good Ukrainian Baba.