Most everyone knows that Kenora, nestled in Lake of the Woods is a tourism paradise. But — did you know that Kenora is also the Sauerkraut Perogy Capital of Northwest Ontario?
Sauerkraut, Oh sauerkraut, You really get around, From B. C. to Ontario,
Friends of sauerkraut abound.
IT ALL BEGAN WITH AN EMAIL
“We are new to Grainews and we love it. We make sauerkraut by the gallons. We read your recipe and saw that you didn’t include our ingredient which is a rounded tablespoon of sugar to the salt and cabbage mixture. We have been adding it to our ’kraut for 35 years. It makes the ’kraut work faster and takes away any sharpness that might develop. Our recipe is almost the same as you printed:
“3-1/2 lbs. cabbage to 2-1/2 tbsp. pickling salt. I do not think you can go wrong anytime making ’kraut. Thank you for your nice page in Grainews. Keep it up.”
—Sincerely Shirley Carbert
(Note: See Ted’s sauerkraut recipe Grainews, January 12, 2009, page 26.)
MEET THE CARBERTS
Shirley and Don Carbert live on the northern outskirts of Keewatin, Ont. Both are active vendors each week at the Kenora Farmers’ Market located at Kenora Harbourfront on Bernier Drive. Shirley can hardly wait for opening day. “People are just so nice,” she said. “It’s like going out every week to visit somebody who you really care about. It’s wonderful.”
The 2010 season begins on June 23 and continues every Wednesday between 9:30 a. m. to 2:30 p. m., right through until September 22. The co-ordinator who keeps Kenora Farmers’ Market running smoothly is Buck Matiowski. “He’s the everything there; a real little sweetheart,” according to Shirley. She says “it can really get rushed, especially before noon. Hundreds of locals, tourists and lots of Manitobans who have camps out on the lakes visit the market weekly.” Their logo is: Come for the freshness… Stay for the summer fun.
SHIRLEY AND DON MAKE SAUERKRAUT
“The ratio we use is 1 rounded tablespoon sugar to 3-1/2 lbs. of ‘kraut and 2-1/2 tablespoons pickling salt. As Don slices, I throw the cabbage into a big basin and then toss in the salt and sugar. I mix it and then put it into crocks and smash it down with a wooden mallet. We have a pellet stove, so the ‘kraut goes in that room and is ready in two weeks.”
Pellet stoves look similar to wood stoves but the similarities end there. They burn small pellets typically made from recycled wood shavings, sawdust or corn. Indoors, a pellet stove is a very sophisticated combustion appliance that offers low-cost heating. Shirley said: “constant heat is blown out of the front” of their pellet stove. “It has a thermostat and we love it.”
Shirley describes their sauerkraut as “absolutely to die for.” She researched the effect of sugar in sauerkraut for those on a sugar-restricted diet and learned that a single serving is OK for diabetics.
They make a huge batch of sauerkraut over winter in preparation for the Kenora Farmers’ Market where they sell sauerkraut perogies, potato perogies, cabbage rolls and frozen soups, along with fast meal items. Shirley tucks a bit of sauerkraut away, as she stated, “for ourselves to use in Mom’s old recipes of ‘smoked pork hocks and ‘kraut, and ‘rice, meat and ‘kraut casserole.
TWO RECIPES FOLLOW
The first is for Shirley’s sauerkraut perogy filling and she laughingly told me her perogy dough recipe is special, “but I’d love to share my sauerkraut perogy filling recipe and I will make it as easy as I can.”
(Verbatim) “Put sauerkraut into a pot and boil it for 15 to 20 minutes. I add some water so it doesn’t burn. I do not rinse it as it is not salty.
“Drain it for how long it takes to fry bacon (crisp) and onion. You can chop up the onion coarsely. Boil 2 medium potatoes and mash.
“I chop my sauerkraut up in a food processor along with the onions. Then everything goes into a large mixing bowl. Roll up your sleeves and mix well. The potato holds the sauerkraut together. I add some bacon fat to the mixture along with pepper.”
OLD-TIME SAUERKRAUT SOUP
“Brown pieces of pork in a skillet. Put sauerkraut in a pot with 1 chopped onion and approx. 2 cups tomato juice.
“Pour in water till sauerkraut is covered. Put in pork pieces and let cook for approx. one hour. If ‘kraut is too salty, then you may add chopped cabbage.
“If not salty enough add a bit of vinegar.
“Brown flour in a skillet and add water to thicken it. Strain into your sauerkraut mixture to thicken your soup. Enjoy.
“Variation: You can add fried sausage; a bit of chopped carrot or use your imagination and change as desired.”
Shirley pointed out that she seldom uses measurements as it is “some of this and more of that.” She concludes by saying: “I make up my recipes as I go along and everything goes by taste.”
I don’t know about you, but by now; all of this has made me, Ted, hungry.
“I would have entered your Singing Gardener contest but we are overrun here by deer so badly. They’d love you; ‘cause you would be feeding them.”
—Sincerely Don and Shirley Carbert
I, Ted, recall being told that deer are so crazy for salt that they’ll do almost anything to get it. Makes me ask: Would they eat sauerkraut?
THE FOLLOWING POEM
… appeared in my April 19, 2010 Grainews column:
If the oak is out before the ash, We will only get a splash; If the ash is out before the oak, We will surely get a soak.
The last two lines of this tree-leafing spring weather poem appear to have merited a good measure of accuracy. Many of us throughout Western Canada experienced a deluge, (or a soaking) of rain and/or snow during late April and into May. Which begs me to ask: What tree leafed out first where you live?… The oak or the ash?
This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. Thank you gardeners and farmers for growing food for the benefit of humankind. We can feel more optimistic about a successful growing season and an abundant harvest by not trying to outwit nature. Instead, let’s devote more time tasting her sweetness and respecting nature’s seniority. My email address is [email protected]