Monday, February 16, 2015

Log Cabins in Springtime and Kielbasa with Kraut

Grandpa Charlie used to say we were British, Scotch, and a few other nationalities, with “a little bit of fighting German.”  Well, today that little bit of German is manifesting in my kitchen.  Yesterday afternoon, I made a modern version of Peach Kuchen.  Last night, I put some sourdough rye bread fixings in a bowl to “ferment” overnight, and this morning it has been fashioned into a round loaf that is raising in a casserole as I write.  There is a pot of Kielbasa Sausage with Sauerkraut simmering on the stovetop, sharing its aroma bountifully.  I put a few cut up potatoes in it to make a one-pot meal. 
The snow is falling softly still, as it has been all day.  I think we've got about 3” of light snow on the ground at this point, and the “winter storm” is forecast to continue until tomorrow morning.  The storm actually feels more like a lamb than a lion, but it is persistent, so the accumulation will be storm-worthy.  I’m happy to be snugly inside, enjoying the winter wonderland through the picture window. 

It’s a good day to be seated at my sewing machine, with visions of sugarplums dancing in my hands… soft and spring-tinted pastels marching across my design wall in a version of Fons and Porters “Cabin Rose”, a You-Tube video I came across that caught my eye.
Here’s the video, so I won’t give you a tutorial, other than to say I cut 2-1/2” pieces to form the bottom of the “cabin” block, and cut the strips for the “logs” into segments that measured for each round:  2-1/2” and 4-1/2”, 4-1/2” and 6-1/2”, and 6-1/2” and 8-1/2”.   Two logs make up each round of this half-cabin block, shown at right.

Here is the photo of my design wall, shown
below, with the first 32 blocks sewn.  I have not yet decided if I will make several baby quilts, a large throw, or a bed-sized quilt.  I love the soft pastels that combine to create a quilt very relaxing to look at.  It feels like springtime, even though the storm outside tells me it isn't! Recipes for the bread and kuchen follow.

Sourdough Rye Bread:
1 cup sourdough starter, 3 cups bread flour, 1-1/2 c water, 2 Tbsp. sugar (or honey or molasses)
Mix well, cover bowl and let stand overnight.  The dough should be doubled by morning.
In the morning, add: 
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rye flour plus additional rye flour to make
a soft but wet dough.  I used about 1-1/2 cups, but that varies depending on humidity and moisture in your flour. 
Put dough in a greased bowl, shown on left.  Raise until doubled, about 2 hours.  Scrape out onto a well- oiled board or countertop and fold over itself several times, as shown on right.  Round up, place on a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle with flour, and put in a casserole bowl to raise for about 2 more hours, until doubled again, pictured below. 
Heat another covered casserole or Dutch oven in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Slash top of dough with a very sharp knife. Transfer the dough, parchment paper and all, to the hot casserole.  Cover and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove cover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from parchment and cool bread on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting.  Notice I did not add any additional yeast to this recipe… my starter is so active I didn't need to.  It made a large loaf, with a crisp, chewy crust and an interior that is tasty and hearty.


My sister, Doreen, gave me this recipe for Apple Kuchen, but I changed it a bit and made it into my  own version, with peaches instead of apples.
Peach Kuchen:
1 c. sugar (may add ½ cup more if you like it sweeter)
1 teaspoon salt
1 c. butter
Cream sugar, salt and butter in a mixer until fluffy.  Add:
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Beat well.  Add:
2 c. flour
Spread 2/3 of batter in a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Top with:
1 can peach pie filling, spread over filling.  (May substitute any flavor pie filling you choose)
Spoon remainder of dough over peach filling.  Spread over filling as much as you can, with a butter knife or spatula.  Sprinkle topping over the top.

1 Tblsp. butter
1 Tblsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. brown sugar
Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 until golden brown.

Are you ready for an ethnic meal?  What are your favorites?  Years ago… MANY years ago... a couple of friends joined us and we wives made ethnic dinners, complete with menus we printed out.  We dressed up, and ate by candlelight… as close to a romantic evening as couples with little kids can get!  I will always remember our Chinese meal, and my first attempt at making fried rice.  I added the eggs to the rice and heated it, instead of scrambling them on the side… and I ended up with a dish my friend’s husband referred to as... please pass the Chinese Oatmeal.  Remember that, Paula?  We had some good times, although in hindsight we really didn't get very adventurous, but outside of the Chinese Oatmeal, most of what we made was delicious.   Every time I make Fried Rice now, I think of that dinner and smile.  


  1. Ahhhhh, yes, your one-pot wonder is Polish Soul food around here. We enjoy a few Mrs. T's frozen pierogi's boiled, drained and buttered, too!

  2. We had pierogis with the sarma at Christmas, Victoria! My friend, Paula, used to make them from scratch, but I have not ever tried that. My daughter discovered the frozen variety at our local grocery store. Delicious!

  3. That peach kuchen looks so yummy -- I'm pinning it! :-) Grandpa's parents were German, so I wonder if it's something he knows from his childhood. We'll make a batch and take it over as soon as we're not contagious anymore. Thanks for sharing!