Everybody has their favorite online time waster, am I right?
Luckily, mine isn’t Facebook. Or Instagram or any other social media platform. Those things will drag you down a rabbit hole and 2 hours later, you emerge knowing everyone’s pretend-business but haven’t done anything productive whatsoever!
What I do waste a lot of time on – this is so random, sit tight: I read reviews. Like a crazy person. I read reviews of books, movies, TV shows or anything purchasable online. The worst part is that more often than not, I am not even interested in whatever is being reviewed. I just happen to come across it and keep scrolling through until I have read every single opinion on the subject.
Amazon is the worst. I usually start with 1-star reviews and work my way up to 5 stars (on the upside, you can easily spot fake reviews if you have a bit of practice like myself).
The latest thing I found myself researching: Sauerkraut. In this instance, though, I had a purpose.
Since my mom, who is my only source for homemade kraut lives some, ummm, 5000 miles east of where I am I was looking for good, authentic, organic Sauerkraut. I found several good options from different sellers online along with a very bizarre recipe. Ready? Here it comes: Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake. Yep. I’m not making it up! It was on a German recipe website and while my first instinct was to click right out of it, because, gross!! I found myself reading through the reviews and I’ll be damned, this recipe had nothing but 4 and 5 star reviews and people swearing that this odd combination of flavors is a total winner.
Granted, I remember thinking that zucchini muffins were a practical joke, too, but it turned out that there are some very tasty zucchini dessert recipes out there. Either way, I’m skipping the Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake for now (saving it for later when I feel a tad more adventurous) and I am sticking with a much more traditional but incredibly wholesome recipe: German Sauerkraut Stew with Juniper Berries.
I picked the perfect weather for my Sauerkraut Stew, too. It just snowed a little in the Carolinas, temperature are low – cold hands, warm heart, hot stew! We have ideal conditions for a bowl full of spicy, fermented veggies!
What makes this stew so special to me is the addition of juniper berries. Perhaps it’s a regional Southern thing but I haven’t come across many (any?) recipes with juniper berries since I have moved to the US of A about 6 years ago. Juniper berries are definitely a taste of home to me; their flavor brings back fond memories of my mom’s cooking… oh, bitter-sweet nostalgia!
What you may not know about juniper berries: They are the main flavoring ingredient in gin, my least favorite spirit! To recap, I love juniper in meals but can’t stand it in alcohol. Unless it’s mixed in with other ingredients; I do enjoy cocktails containing gin, as long as the flavor is not overpowering.
Juniper berries have interesting health benefits, too: Juniper berries are highly anti-septic in the urinary tract (as well as diuretic) and are supposed to work wonders for urinary infections once infused; they are a great tonic, warming and settling in the digestive system.
As for this Sauerkraut Stew, you may want to pick out the juniper berries after cooking; I love crunching down on them but the flavor is a bit intense and not everybody enjoys a burst of juniper berries – similar to how most people would pick out cloves from a meal. Your call, though 🙂
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 red pepper, cored and diced
- 2 cups diced tomatoes (from a box or jar)
- 2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup Sauerkraut
- Heat oil, add onions and potatoes and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 additional minute, then pour in vegetable broth. Add pepper, tomatoes, Hungarian paprika, juniper berries and salt, cover and bring to a boil.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, then add Sauerkraut and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve with fresh parsley, black pepper and a dab of sour cream (or dairy-free equivalent).