• Last modified 2031 days ago (Oct. 2, 2013)


ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Who will make sauerkraut?

© Another Day in the Country

This year, I planted two rows of cabbage in my garden. “Some for me and some for nature,” I chanted as I planted. Well, the rabbits and the chickens had a feast, and what they didn’t devour, the bugs got! I did not get a single head of cabbage.

Since we do have grocery stores galore, I wasn’t devastated by my loss of a cabbage free-for-all; but in the back of my mind I kept watching for a “cabbage sale” as a clue that it was time for me to make sauerkraut. A sale didn’t materialize, so last week I just up and bought 10 big heads of cabbage at the market.

I brought down the old-fashioned kraut cutter stored on the top of the cupboards in the utility room, cleaned up the sink to perfection, and set about slicing. Those fine shreds of cabbage accumulating under the shredder are a work of art to behold and suddenly my sister appeared with the camera.

“We have to record this for posterity,” she said.

No one else makes sauerkraut in my family. It is another one of those oddities that I alone am prone to instigate — like making homemade root beer. It isn’t that you can’t get sauerkraut at the grocery store that spurs on my cabbage cutting — there’s all kinds of brands and some are pretty good. I just like the taste of my own kraut. It’s not too sour!

In a good year, that kraut is so yummy you can just eat it by the finger-full out of the jar. My mother always made her own kraut for the very same reason. It’s hereditary, but I wonder who will carry on this kraut-making skill in my family when I’m gone?

Jess and I were talking about this the other day — not the kraut making gene but the particular things that specific people in our circle do that no one else does. What will be gone, lost, not done, when you are no longer alive?

Grandma Schubert made crazy quilts out of velvet scraps. No one in our family does this anymore. One of her old quilts is spread over the arm of the couch, right now.

My mom was a great cook, a vegetarian innovator in a time period where folk just knew you couldn’t live without eating meat. One of the things she made was sour cream gravy. The naturally soured cream, cooked down to butterfat and browned bits, laced with flour, made from the liquid potato water, seasoned with salt and a little pepper is absolutely delicious.

This was one of her solutions for making gravy without meat drippings for flavor. It’s a little time consuming, you have to have the natural sour cream on hand, you must be patient as you cook it down, don’t burn it; but you will be rewarded. Who will do it when I’m gone? My sister, surely. My daughter, perhaps; but I doubt it.

My unique gifts are crazy stuff like plays, pageants, and parades that never would have happened except for my instigation. That includes moving to Kansas, trying to run a B&B, writing, painting, building fish ponds, etc. It also includes mundane things like growing tomatoes, planting cabbage, and eventually making sauerkraut.

Cousins from Colorado came to visit in Ramona this past week. We love company of any sort, but this was particularly delightful because we got to see Kristina’s new baby boy. We sat around the breakfast table chatting for a little while before they continued their trip. They were heading to Missouri to see their oldest daughter.

“Would Tara like some tomatoes from the garden?” I asked, searching for something to send to her from here.

“Oh, no,” said her mother, Carol. “Tara has a big garden, lots of tomatoes, she’s been canning them.”

What? This young Schubert, who I’ve watched grow up, is canning? Is this the same fashion-conscious girl who dreamed of being a teenage model and took eons to get ready every morning? She is canning tomatoes? Genetics are strong! Her great-grandma Schubert had a garden and her dad, Gary, always had a garden, and she now has a garden. Amazing!

Hope springs eternal on another day in the country. Maybe Tara would like to learn how to make sauerkraut!

Last modified Oct. 2, 2013