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Posts Tagged ‘heritage’

Last week I posted on my blog about making butter at home. Alan and I had a chat about how our grandmother’s would have known how to do it without even thinking, not to mention measuring the temperature of the cream. They would have learned from a young age how to do a lot of the things that we are trying to learn now, the lost arts. My grandpa tells some great stories of his childhood, things like storing potatoes in a pit filled with straw outside and going out in the winter to retrieve dinner. I did grow up in a household that had a huge garden and canned all summer for winter. My dad is an avid hunter so our freezer was full of venison and my mom loves to bake, knit, and sew. I learned a lot of skills growing up, but there are things I had no idea how to do until recently. Today we’re sharing photos of things that we see as Lost Arts.

I’m sure our great grandmother’s were expert sourdough bakers. I have to read up on it and look at recipes when I make my sourdough. I’m starting to get the hang of it though, soon enough I’ll be doing it without the cookbook nearby.

Hunting was something my grandpa had to do to survive. He passed his skills down to his sons and my dad is currently teaching Mr Chiots about hunting. We have a freezer full of venison thanks to Mr Chiot’s hard work during deer season this past November.

My grandma, being of German descent, would have been an expert at fermentation. My mom made sauerkraut when I was growing up, so this art wasn’t necessarily lost. But I did have to read up on it when I decided to do it to make sure I was doing it right. Making butter would have been a quick chore as well. I make butter every week, so now I can do it without checking temperatures and it comes out great every time.

Butchering is definitely something that seems to have been lost along the way. I watched a You-tube video on how to portion this rabbit when I got it. It’s something that definitely fascinates me and I want to learn more about it. Perhaps someday I’ll butcher a deer Mr Chiots gets during hunting season.

The area I think I’m most sad about not having a lot of knowledge is in traditional medicine. Using herbs and foods for medicinal purposes. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading up on this to regain some of this knowledge. This was perhaps something my grandmother knew about as a girl but lost as she grew older and conventional medicine became more available.

Hi Kim here…When Susy suggested a post on lost arts I was excited… and then perplexed.  I figured I had covered all of those with my posts on bread baking, animal tending, vegetable canning, etc., posts.  But then I remembered that I do something that I haven’t shared here.  I sew most of Sweet Girl’s clothing! 

I learned to sew at my grandma’s side with an old black Singer sewing machine.  I learned to baste, tuck, pleat, and rip under the patient and watchful eye of a wonderful seamstress.  Now Sweet Girl and I go fabric shopping and planning together and at 6 she is beginning to learn to do the sewing too…but the wearing is still her favorite part!

Mostly we make simple little frocks with aprons or flowers…many times the garden is our inspiration…like this pumkin.

Or this sunflower…

Sometimes we even use a favorite book as inspriration…recognize this?

And sometimes…just sometimes I go all out and make something out of vintage fabric with hat, hand beaded flower and all, like this Easter dress!

Sewing for one’s children is not as easy as running to the local mall and grabbing something off the rack but it is rewarding and after 4 sons…sewing for a little girl is an old-fashioned pleasure I cherish!

What are some of the “Lost Arts” you want to find?

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In my family, you always eat sauerkraut on New Year’s day to ensure a prosperous New Year. This tradition has been passed down through generations of my dad’s family. When my grandmother died, my dad took over the reigns as the chef on New Year’s. He’s developed his own special recipe that’s quite tasty, even for non-sauerkraut lovers. If you’d like to see his recipe check out my New Year’s Day post.

Several years ago, when we started to eat more locally, I started making the kraut for our New Year’s meal. I typically start the kraut in October so it has 4-6 weeks to ferment. But you still have time to get a batch in before the holiday!

Sauerkraut that ferments at cooler temperatures – 65 or lower – has the best flavor, color and vitamin C content. The fermentation process takes longer at these temperatures, around 4-6 weeks. That’s probably why it’s traditionally made in the fall. Looks like I’m making mine at the right time, it should be ready in December and waiting in the fridge for New Years!

Making sauerkraut is quite easy all you need is cabbage (red or green), salt, and time (generally 3 T of salt for each 5 lbs of cabbage). Slice up the cabbage as thinly as you’d like, I usually do some really thin and some thick for variety. Transfer some sliced cabbage to a big glass bowl and sprinkle it with salt, then smash with a wooden spoon or potato masher and mix. Continue adding cabbage and salt and mixing and smashing until the bowl is half full. At this point I usually let the cabbage sit for 10-15 minutes to wilt because this makes it easier to pack into the jar I use as a fermenting crock. If I had a big crock I’d salt and smash right in the crock.

Transfer the cabbage to a jar or crock, smash it down and continue working until all the cabbage is salted, smashed and packed into the jar. Let the cabbage sit overnight, if the brine hasn’t covered the cabbage make some brine (1.5 T of salt to 1 quart of water) and pour over the cabbage. Weigh the cabbage down to keep it submerged below the brine. Some people use a Ziploc bag filled with brine, I use a canning jar to weigh down the cabbage because I’m not comfortable using plastic. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks until it stops bubbling and it tastes like sauerkraut. Make sure you check the kraut every couple days and add brine if the level goes down. I typically end up adding some several times during fermentation. After 4-6 weeks (or less if it’s warmer) you’ll have kraut (taste to see if it’s done). You really can’t get much simpler. When it’s finished store in the fridge and enjoy whenever you want. You can enjoy cold as is or cook it in recipes. You really can’t get much simpler.

When I was making this I thought about all the women in past generations of my family that spent time each fall making sauerkraut for New Year’s. Connecting with our food heritage is such a wonderful thing. Hopefully our nieces & nephew will grow up with fond memories of eating Grandpa’s Famous Sauerkraut on New Year’s and continue the tradition with their families.

Do you have a specific food or recipe that has been passed down through the generations of your family?

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