Sauerkraut, Asian Comfort Food, and Bobby Bare

Winter dog walk at Shelby Bottoms.

Winter dog walk at Shelby Bottoms.

Oh winter doldrums… It gets dark so early now and it seems harder to cram so much into one evening suddenly. Cooking dinner seems more of a chore lately. This will pass. Even harder than cooking is posting all these ideas and recipes of what we have cooked but here goes quite a variety of ideas and a few recipes. No real theme to this, just trying to find inspiration for winter vegetables and keep it all interesting. Grant has found great joy in making sauerkraut. It is so easy! I had one simple class with the king of fermentation, Sandor Katz, bought Grant a little book, and voila! Our favorite way to eat it has been on top of salads and on top of cheese toast!


And in an effort to curb my grocery buying addiction, I have made a concerted effort to figure out random things to make with whatever I find in our kitchen. This first one was created out of that. With lots of help from googling ingredients to see what I could come up with, I came upon this blog called, One Perfect Bite, which had a recipe for Spanish Meatballs. I changed it a bit to fit what I had and here is what I came up with.

Spanish Meatballs-1

Spanish Meatballs
1 pound Ground Turkey
4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 small Pimento
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
1/2 tsp Salt + Salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly cracked Black Pepper + Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp Red Wine
2 tsp fresh chopped Rosemary
2 tsp fresh chopped Parsley
Pinch of sugar

Place ground turkey, green onions, garlic, pimento, cheese, egg yolk, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Shape into 12 equal sized meatballs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute meatballs, turning several times, until brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, sugar, rosemary, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes until tomatoes are thicker and meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot.

Spanish Meatballs-2

Again out of necessity in using what we had, I made this salad to accompany the Spanish Meatballs.

Mushroom Salad-1

Sauteed Mushroom Salad
2 Tbsp extra-virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 Shallot, chopped
1 pound White Mushrooms, quartered or sliced thick
1 tsp chopped fresh Thyme
¼ cup Red Wine
¼ cup Tamari
1 tsp Lemon Juice or Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp fresh Parsley
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Big Bowl of Salad Greens
thinly sliced Red Onion
optional shaved or grated Parmesan Reggiano or Manchego cheese to top

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices. Add thyme and stir and then add the wine and tamari and cook until mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and let cool in a bowl. Pour the liquid and shallots from the pan in a small bowl and mix with another Tbsp olive oil, lemon juice (or vinegar), parsley, salt and pepper to make the dressing for the salad. Mix the greens, red onion, and mushrooms together and pour dressing over. Top with cheese, if using.

Mushroom Salad

Winter weather makes me crave Asian dishes, too. Our buddy Chris, who is Australian, told us about his favorite Malaysian soup that he always eats in Australia whenever he is sick. Grant went and found all the ingredients and we all cooked together. It was a vegetarian curry soup called Laksa with Bean Curd.


No recipes just yet as we combined a few and it seems to be similar to a Thai curry soup in that you can always make it slightly different and incorporate whatever vegetables you have but I thought I should post this pretty picture to remind me. We also got to hear a sneak peak of Chris’ forthcoming album due out next year. Let’s just say that we’re all in for a real treat!


And speaking of Thai Curry, that was on the menu at our house recently. We made  a delicious red curry with salmon, three kinds of little potatoes (purple, gold, and white), tons of veggies, and coconut milk.



I’ll end this post on a comforting note. This Chinese dish, Red Cooked Pork, has become one of our favorite comforts on cold rainy days. Grant has made this a few times now and each time, it gets better! Once you have all the ingredients, it is quite easy.

Red Cooked Pork 1

Red Cooked Pork      
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
4 Scallions
2 Cloves Garlic
1” piece of Fresh Ginger
2 cups stock
½ cup Tamari
½ cup Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Star Anise
1 (3 inch) Cinnamon Stick
1 3-4 lb Pork Tenderloin

Heat the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the scallions, garlic, and ginger and toss together in the oil until heated through, about 1 minute. Add the stock, tamari, rice wine, brown sugar, anise, and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, then add the pork. Flip the meat to cover it with liquid. Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer, turning the meat every hour and basting it, until it’s fork tender, 3 to 4 hours. Remove the meat from the pan and spoon off the fat from the pan juices. The meat will sort of fall apart. Serve with the pan juices, over rice. Sprinkle the top with the remaining scallions.

Red Cooked Pork 2

Red Cooked Pork over rice with braised cabbage, served on a Dolan Geiman hand printed table cloth! Get your very own here.

And speaking of comfort, I have been listening over and over to the new Bobby Bare album, Darker Than Light. It isn’t even because of Grant having to learn the songs, although HE DOES! I am thrilled and so proud that Grant is getting the opportunity to play guitar for Bare. It’s the music he truly loves and he is honored to get to play them with such a legend.

Left- Grant with Bobby Bare This is a phone photo taken by Jared Manzo taken after they recorded a Daytrotter session with him, and the only photo on my blog that I did not take. Right is Bare at Music City Roots October 2012.

Left- Grant with Bobby Bare. This is a phone photo taken by Jared Manzo after they recorded a Daytrotter session with him last week, and the only photo on my blog that I did not take. On the right is Bare at Music City Roots at the Loveless Barn in October 2012.

I had heard of Bobby Bare but didn’t know many of his hits until about eight years ago when we were still living in Seattle. I had become a huge fan of Bare, Jr. who manages to play out in Seattle a few times a year it seems. I must have seen his show about a dozen times. Well, one time through, he was backing his Dad in support of his last album, The Moon Was Blue (which is also great!). My friend Sue and I went together and we were right up front at the Showbox that night. I instantly became an even bigger fan of Bare Senior! His voice is so strong and he’s just the coolest man. This new album is an album of folk songs- his interpretations of songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, Lead Belly, Alejandro Escovedo, and a couple of Bare originals. I highly recommend it. It will make a great holiday gift but be sure to get one for yourself, too.

Don’t let the stress of the holidays bring you down. Stay strong and enjoy visits with family and friends over good food and music!


5 thoughts on “Sauerkraut, Asian Comfort Food, and Bobby Bare

    • Yes, for the cabbage… just saute in a little oil with oil, tamari, garlic powder, & white pepper. We also enjoyed it one night with sauteed green beans. Happy cooking Ali Marie!

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