The cooking lesson.

My neighbor is convinced that I should learn to cook the way the Czechs cook.  I think she thinks that I don’t know how to cook because GF and I eat at the restaurant every day for lunch.  At two dollar a plate including a beer, it’s hardly worth heating up the kitchen to prepare lunch at home.  Any way she has invited me over to her house today to make potato dumplings and baked chicken stuffed with kraut.  We went shopping at 7:00 a.m. this morning for all the ingredients.  I came home with instructions to boil the potatoes and wait for her call.  She on the other hand is waiting for a call from the cabbage man who will be delivering fifty pounds of cabbage to her house for kraut.  She is also determined to make kraut today.  So we will have diner after we get finished with our kraut work.  She is really something.  Full of energy ( I wish I still had some) and always has something to do.  It looks like it is going to be a long day, but enjoyable.     

I had to get an official sour kraut jar.  Last week Zdena (my neighbor) took me to a special store to get just the right kind.  It was one of those old style mom and pop general stores that has a little of everything for the house and garden.  The jars here are quite interesting.  They are ceramic, in the shape of our strawberry jars without the wholes.  There is a saucer for the jar to sit in to catch the  juice that over flows from the kraut.  The lid is made to sit in a trench at the top of the jar.  When you make the kraut you fill the trench with water creating an air tight fit.  The gas bubbles up through the water to escape.  It’s like the air locks on a wine jug.  I think the jars are pretty ingenious.
Yesterday I went into town and bought a big plastic barrel to use for making apple cider.  I picked up another fifty pounds of apples from under our tree which fell since I cleaned it up two days ago.  There are still a multitude of apples hanging on the tree.  I hate to see anything go to waste so I decided to make apple wine.  So now I have another thing steeping in my kitchen.  I may have gotten carried away this year with all the wine making.  The wine is still much to young to drink, but I tasted it all before I put it away to age and what really surprised me is the Elderberry wine.  I think that has potential to be a great wine.  It is already pretty darn good.  I didn’t bring my large pots for jelly making and canning so the most simplest thing I can do with all the fruit here this year is make wine.  GF and I are talking about building a canning/wine making kitchen in the back near the garden and orchard.  We used to have one on the back porch in Tennessee.  It was so nice not to heat up the house and mess up the kitchen in the summer with canning and it saved heavy ware and tear on the stove in the kitchen too.  The canning kitchen doesn’t have to be fancy.  A second-hand stove and sink will do.  I have a shed in the back that would make a nice kitchen.  I’m thinking of putting a small fire-place for a smoker as well.  The Czechs have these little fire places built-in their kitchens with a door in the chimney where they hang sausages in the winter to smoke.  I would like that.