At my house, we're celebrating Christmas a few days early since Jo has to work on both Christmas Eve and Day. She's arriving this afternoon to bake some sugar cookies to take to the shelter where she works for the kids to decorate tomorrow.
I'll be making a huge pot of Choucroute Garni, our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. If you've never made it, please give it a try. People who say they hate sauerkraut find that they love this dish. It comes from the Alsace region of France so it's a little bit French and a little bit German, and a lot bit good! Here's a link to one of several terrific recipes you can try, http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/choucroute-garnie,
I found a recipe for Choucroute Garni in a cookbook I got over 30 years ago free from a sausage company--Hormel or Armour maybe. Quite a few years later, we were living in a very Scandinavian area of Minnesota and from Thanksgiving until Christmas, all the women at work talked about the Scandinavian foods they were making for the holidays. Don't get me wrong--I like Scandinavian foods as much as the rest of you, but I got a little (all right, a lot!) irritated when it was assumed that everyone was enjoying lefse and lutefisk (maybe "enjoy" isn't the right term to use in the same sentence with lutefisk!) and not considering that some of us are of different nationality, like German as I am. So, in protest, I began making Choucroute Garni for Christmas Eve dinner and have done so for the past 30 years. Sometimes, I try to beg out of it, but the kids always insist. So, even though it's only Jo with us this year, out comes the sauerkraut and the sausages!
Over the years, I've simplified my version of Choucroute Garni. I take a jar of my husband's homemade sauerkraut and add some chicken broth (although white wine would be good too), some chopped onions, juniper berries, coarsely ground black pepper, and some sliced carrots. I mix in a package of Little Smokies cocktail weiners (my kids' favorites) and a variety of sliced sausages--Polish, Kielbasa, bratwurst, etc.. Sometimes I may add some ham or smoked pork chops or spare ribs--whatever I feel like. Then the whole thing cooks on very low heat for several hours--2 to 4 depending on how much I'm making. When everyone's home, I use 2 to 3 quarts of kraut and it has to cook for 4 hours or more. Today, with just 3 of us, I'll make much less and cook it for only a couple of hours. Using a slow cooker would work fine too I think.
Along with the sauerkraut and meats, I serve boiled potatoes with lots of butter and a dark rye bread. Typically, I'll have an apple based dessert to finish this meal, but today, it'll be a freshly baked cookie. It's a basic, peasant-type meal that I love to make and my family loves to eat.
Other than some cooking today, I have everything ready for the holiday. We had a weekend visit with our son and his family last weekend, have visited with old friends, and gone to a holiday play at the Mabel Tainter theater here in Menomonie, one of the 15 most beautiful theaters in the world!
We were able to get tickets for the local production of "It's A Wonderful Life." And I must say, this beautiful theater must bring out the best in the amateur theater guild we have here because every show I've seen at the Mabel has been exceptional!
In between having holiday fun, I've been trying to finish the quilting on a Christmas quilt Jo asked me to make for her. I had made the top several years ago and all I had to do was quilt it up. It's nearly finished but I don't think I'll have it ready for her to take with when she leaves tomorrow. I guess I'll have to make a trip to her house after Christmas and personally deliver it! I like that idea! I don't have a pic of it but will try to remember to take one when it's finished.
I did get this huge quilt finished and delivered to my friend who made draperies for me in exchange.
Elaine had been with me at a quilt store and she fell in love with this quilt on display in the shop. She bought the pattern and fabrics and then it sat. When I moved house and needed draperies--her specialty--she offered to make them and I offered to make the quilt. The draperies are beautiful and she's very satisfied with the quilt, so all is well. The picture is the finished top laid out on the floor of the sewing room at retreat last October. It measured 96" by 106." Elaine had me add extra borders so it would fall over the side of the bed but that meant that it really was too big for my domestic sewing machine to quilt up as well as I wanted. So I took it to my neighbor who has a long arm and she did a beautiful job on it. And because it is so big and I wanted to deliver it to Elaine before Christmas, I machine stitched the binding, using a decorative stitch on the top side. I was quite pleased with this first attempt at machine stitching down the binding and I may do this again on large quilts.
What a large post! I've been way too busy since November to continue posting daily or even weekly and it likely will continue this way while I work this temp job until April. But I still read my blogs every day and will post when I have some extra time, like today.
I hope everyone who reads this has time to relax and enjoy the winter holidays and can spend good time with family and friends. If you are traveling, be safe and warm.