Cooking for sick folks

June 5, 2017

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Choucroute garnie. With kielbasa, smoked pork butt, and ham.

There are a huge number of reasons why I love living in the South, and wouldn’t really consider living anywhere else. And one of those reasons is that when folks have an illness or a death in the family, Southern cooks take to the kitchen.

My pastor is just out of the hospital after nine days’ worth of surgery, recovery and IV antibiotics resulting from a very angry brown recluse spider that munched on his arm a couple of weeks ago. Generalized systemic staph infection resulted. This is, you understand, not a Good Thing.

He’s home and doing well, but he’s quite tired, and his wife has gone back to work, leaving him in the care of his teenaged children. So I told her at church Sunday that I’d bring dinner over one night this week.

Now, I know Charlie, who has some German heritage, likes German food. I do too, and I don’t get a lot of opportunity to cook it. So I decided to cook him some choucroute garnie.

I got out a couple of pints of last summer’s sauerkraut, a kielbasa, chopped up some frozen ham, and chopped up some frozen smoked Boston butt. I contemplated cutting up and browning a couple of pork chops, but I figured it had about enough meat. I caramelized three onions, added the meat and the kraut, a half-bottle of Reisling, a sprinkle of caraway seeds and a healthy portion of good, grainy, homemade mustard.

Brought it all to a boil and cut it back to a simmer in a stock pot, and then moved it to a foil pan in the oven to braise slowly while I made some potatoes in cheese saue to go with it. Simple stuff; peel, cube and boil the potatoes, make a white sauce, add a bunch of grated cheese, some black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg, and throw the potatoes back in. Stir them up and stick them in another foil pan in the oven.

Still to come — some cornbread muffins, and a big ol’ garden salad, if it’s quit raining and I can get outside to get some lettuce out of the garden. I have radishes, carrots and tomatoes in here.

I’m even going to share my blackberry pie. If you know how much I love blackberry pie, you know that’s a BIG deal for me. But I’m the only one that’s eaten any of it so far, so… And I guess I’ll stop off by the store and get some ice cream to go on it for them.

Long as the teens will eat sauerkraut, we should be good to go. And if they won’t — well, I guess there’s always Mickey D’s.

Do you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have specific dishes you turn to when it’s your turn to provide a meal for someone? Pot roast is another one of my go-to’s, but I didn’t have one in the freezer this time around. And the choucroute garnie is just enough different that it’ll be something they haven’t had for a while. If ever.

Lord, but I hope they like sauerkraut. Else it may be Mickey D’s for everyone!



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