Category Archives: Garden – 2015

Homemade Sauerkraut

I tried fermenting for the first time this summer by making sour pickles.  I used the starter kit from Fermentools and had excellent results making one quart batches at a time.  This inspired me to take my fermenting skills to the next level by planting lots of cabbage with the goal of making homemade sauerkraut.

I wanted to have a few batches going at one time, so I got some new fermenting equipment that Frank found that I’m pretty excited about.  fermenting kitWe bought a four piece set of glass fermentation weights called Pickle Pebbles.  We also purchased a box of the Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage caps and Frank drilled a hole in the middle of each one.  He placed a BPA-free food grade silicone grommet in each hole.  A reusable food grade silicone seal goes inside each cap and a plastic airlock goes on top.

It was time to make sauerkraut…the recipe I used can be found here.

Frank shredded the cabbage and then I salted it according to the recipe.  You squeeze the cabbage with your hands to release its liquid, so I wore food grade gloves for this step. pressed cabbage I added the caraway seeds and packed the mixture into a quart size jar once enough liquid had been released. I added one of my new glass weights to the jar and then put on the cap (with the seal installed) and attached the airlock.  cabbage day one I tasted it after three days, and decided it needed to ferment a little longer. It was crispy and delicious on day eight, so we went on a Reuben sandwich eating jag for a few days!

The entire jar was gone in no time, but I had planned ahead and more batches were in process, including one made with red cabbage. We have many meals to look forward to using our delicious homemade cabbage sauerkraut


Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of the reasons I preserve produce from the garden is so I have options available when the garden isn’t producing much. Right now, we’ re in between harvests…only peppers are left from the spring planting and most of the fall garden veggies aren’t quite ready. That’s why today was the perfect time to cook up a batch of chicken tortilla soup. This recipe uses fresh bell pepper, jalapeno, and kale that I can pick from the garden now, as well as tomatoes that I canned last summer and marjoram that I dried last fall.

First, I assembled my ingredients.  (Oops–I noticed later that I didn’t include ALL the ingredients in the picture).

chicken tortilla soup ingredients

I cubed the chicken and seared it in some oil.  While it was cooking, I seasoned it with cumin, dried marjoram, salt and pepper.  When the chicken was almost cooked through, I removed it from the pot so that it would not get overdone (it will finish cooking when you add it back to the pot later).

sauteed chicken

In the same pot, I added diced onion and garlic and sautéed it until translucent. I had to add a little bit of oil at this step.  There is lots of flavor in the little chicken bits that were stuck to the bottom of the pan, so I scraped these up and mixed into the onion and garlic as they cooked.

sauteed onion garlic

Then I added the diced bell pepper and jalapeno and cooked until softened.

bell pepper jalapeno

Next, I added the chili powder, diced tomatoes, crumbled tortillas, chicken stock, chopped kale and hominy and then stirred in the chicken.

diced tomato

I added about a teaspoon of salt and a few cranks of black pepper. I brought it to a boil, and then turned it down to simmer uncovered about thirty minutes. I stirred in some chopped cilantro once the soup was finished cooking.

chicken tortilla soup

Soup’s ready!  I serve this with grated cheese, sour cream and avocado slices.  This recipe makes a lot of soup; usually about 9 cups.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: approximately 9 cups
  • ½ lb. chicken breast, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1.5 cups onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos, diced (removing the seeds and membranes is optional)
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 4 cups diced, peeled tomato
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 can golden hominy, 14.5 oz. rinsed and drained
  • small bunch of kale, chopped
  • 2 corn tortillas, crumbled
  • kosher salt and fresh grated pepper
  • grated cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • sour cream
  • sliced avocado
  1. In a large pot, heat up a tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken, cumin, and dried marjoram. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  2. Sear the chicken until almost cooked through.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot and add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. (It will finish cooking later when you add it back to the soup).
  4. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook until the onion is translucent.
  5. Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and then cook until softened. Stir in the chili powder and salt.
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, hominy and kale and stir in the chicken.
  7. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Stir in the cilantro and then serve topped with grated cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado.


More fall garden

red cabbage broccolli green cabbage

It’s close to the end of October, and almost all of our fall garden has been planted. We staggered our planting so that the entire harvest isn’t ready all at once.

cauliflower broccoli cabbage

Current tally: 21 broccoli plants, 14 green cabbage, 6 ruby red cabbage, 8 snow crown cauliflower, 12 spinach, 12 lettuce, 6 dino kale, 7 celery, 1 parsley, 2 cilantro, and 1 swiss chard. (First spinach planting was eaten by a rabbit. Or something.)

Homegrown tomatoes

Plant ’em in the spring eat ’em in the summervolunteer tomato plant
All winter with out ’em’s a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin’ & diggin’
Everytime I go out & pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes


I noticed a tiny tomato plant coming up in our compost pile back in July.  I left it alone, thinking that there was no way it would survive July & August with little to no water.  Surprise! Here it is in October, and it is loaded with little tomatoes and blooms. Guess winter won’t be a culinary bummer after all!