Monday, June 18, 2007

Nothin' Say's "Happy Father's Day" Like Comfort Food and Mud Muffins

We started the weekend off with a BANG! Friday was Anna and Grace's last day of school, Anna tested for her Green Belt in Tae Kwon Do and we finished the day with a pre-Father's Day BBQ Bash with my dad and uncle, my in-laws and my older brother and sister-in-law.

James was the King of the Grill, as usual, and we 'cued up some very yummy bleu cheese-filled burgers topped with smoked cheddar on potato or onion rolls followed by, you guessed it, STRAWBERRY SHORT CAKE with real whipped cream (of course)! I was stuffed but couldn't resist taking it to a new level of discomfort in the presence of those juicy beauties so unexpectedly late in the season. It was worth the pain.

Unfortunately, I was so busy cooking (and eating) I didn't manage to get any pics of this lovely meal, but don't worry, you won't get out of this posting without some food photos!

Which brings us to Saturday:
I had promised James that his Father's Day weekend would be filled with comfort food and, come Sunday, I would not even turn on my computer... really.

Bring on the chicken and dumplings!

Sadly, once again, I was so busy scarfing it down when it was fresh and loaded with gravy I forgot to get out the camera. This picture is from my lunch the next day so all the juicy goodness had soaked into the dumpling. Mmmmmm... still yummy!

Sunday was all about a very big treat in my family: Kraut Brook.

You're right. You've never heard of it.

It was generally accepted in my family that this was a traditional German dish... though no German teacher I ever had knew of such a thing. It's not Russian, either. Since my German Great Grandparents actually grew up in Russia, I searched high and low through Russian cook books to find the recipe to no avail.

What I have come to believe is that likely Great Grandma Rueck was actually saying "Kraut Brot" (translation: cabbage bread) to her English-speaking children and neighbors with her Russian accent and it came out sounding like "Krowt Bedook." I will never know for sure, but they are some of the most delicious little packages of peasant food you'll ever eat!

Having not made them for a couple of years, I had to re-teach myself how to put these little hummers together. Mostly, making the bread dough is the biggest challenge. Who can't fry up some hamburger, cabbage and onions! (though, my Grannee did have a specific way she did it: burger first, set it aside, then fry the onion and cabbage in the drippings. Mix 'em together and let it cool.)

For the bread dough, I followed Betty Crocker's recipe for white bread (the book I have was my Grannee's and I treasure it... though I have covered it's pages with my own notes, too.) I always have to change things up a bit, though, so instead of water for the liquid, I used cultured cream (basically, really heavy buttermilk).

Ohhhh, Mama! It made absolutely PERFECT dough! Not sticky and not dry, deliciously elastic!

So, the next question was, did Grannee brush them with butter like the recipe says, or do I remember that she used an egg wash? Hmmm.


Egg Wash

Yep! I remembered right. She used an egg wash, and you can see why! What gorgeous color!

My only regret is that I didn't add just a little whole wheat flour to round out the flavor and texture like she did. Sometimes she'd even add a little rye flour.

I miss her... though, I'm pretty sure she was right there with me when I was kneading that dough. That was her form of therapy. I can see why. It's a great time to think and get out frustrations.

I need to make more bread.

So, at this point, you might be asking, "Now what were your kids doing all this time that you could make so much time-consuming, nutritious and delicious food?

Well, when I was rolling out bread dough, they were right there with me, rolling their own and turning it into little doughy rocks with all the extra flour. (We ended up boiling their creations in some chicken stock and they had noodle soup of their own making for lunch!)

When it came time to fill the little bundles, they lost interest and headed outside.

They were gone for quite a while.

I heard giggling so I wasn't worried.

I should have been.

Especially after I heard the splashing.

It didn't register on me for a little bit as I was still blissfully wallowing in my perfect-bread-dough moment...

...then, Anna showed up at the back door... covered in mud.

"Is your sister still wearing a dress?" I asked, already knowing what the answer was.



"Go back under the deck. I'll be right there."

I got my camera.

Mud Muffins anyone?

Well, you know, you can't do THIS kind of thing in the city. Not this WELL, anyway! I was too busy laughing and appreciating how much fun they were having to be mad that they had pretty much ruined their clothes.

There will be another red velvet dress, or something like it, in the next round of hand-me-down boxes. You only get to be a muddy little kid for a little while. Then you have to grow up and trade the mud for bread dough.

Not an entirely bad trade, though, if one must leave the mud.


plaidshoes said...

That is such a great photo - that is what childhood is all about!

My husband would die to have that kraut broet. They look a lot like kolasch (the polish version?). I think there is almost nothing better then fresh baked bread.

Angelina said...

You two are making me want to get myself buried elbow deep in flour. maybe once the store move is made I'll have more time for this?

The mud picture is great!!