Russian Sauerkraut


When ever my mother in law comes to visit us and it is cabbage harvest time, she will spend two days with shredding, cutting and kneeling large amounts of cabbage, carrots and salt. She will fill our nice large clay pot and after ten days we have the most wonderful квашеная капуста (Russian sauerkraut). It is so delicious and fresh and juicy! This Russian type of  sauerkraut is different from the typical German sauerkraut: it needs much less fermentation time and is therefore not as soft but much crunchier, and it contains carrots which makes it a bit sweeter. This sauerkraut we eat mostly raw. With a splash of olive oil and maybe some finely chopped parsley and dill it is a delicious side dish on its own. Or we add a handful sauerkraut into our standard green mixed salad, or into our beloved vinaigrette. So, for most part of the winter we have a small bowl of sauerkraut almost daily on the dinner table providing us with fresh deliciousness and much needed vitamins in the dark and cold time of the year. And because this type of sauerkraut is so easy to make, I want to give you the recipe and want to encourage to try to make it yourself!

You need:

  • white cabbage (this is the usual outside a bit greenish round head of cabbage)
  • carrots
  • large grained salt
  • a large pot made from clay or a pot which is enameled inside. I would not use a stainless steel or other type of metal pot to avoid any reaction between the the developing acid and the metal.
  • a plate that just fits into the pot
  • gloves to protect your hands when kneeling the cabbage (the usual gloves which are used in food preparation or other clean rubber gloves).

Preparing the sauerkraut

  1. Remove the outer layer of leaves from the cabbage and put them aside. Cut the cabbage head into quarters and remove the stem. Shred the cabbage into fine slices. You can use a food processor or cut it by hand with a knife as my mother in law usually does it.
  2. Prepare your pot: clean it thoroughly and cover the bottom with half of the cabbage leaves which you set aside.
  3. Clean the carrots and grate them using the large wholes on your grater.
  4. Measure the ingredients:  for reach kg of cabbage you need  2 hands full of shredded carrots and 1 teblespoon of salt.
  5. Now mix cabbage, carrots and salt and knead everything together. Wear rubber gloves to protect you hands! This process needs some strength but is very important. The point here is that the cabbage and carrots start to generate a bit of juice through the salt and your squeezing. This sounds harder that it is. If you put a small portion of the mix into a small bowl and squeeze it a bit with your hands, you will quickly notice the appearance to the juice. Then put the squeezed mixture with the juice into the big pot and continue that way until your pot is full or your cabbage mixture is used up.
  6.  Cover your mixture with the rest of the large outer leaves from your cabbage which you put aside earlier. Put the plate on top and press it down with some weight. This can be a smaller pot filled with water, a clean stone or any other non-metal heavy wight. Cover it with a clean dish towel.Now comes the fermentation time.
  7. Every day at least once you have to remove the weight and plates and leaves and, using the long end of a wooden cooking spoon make some wholes into the mixture to release the developing (smelly!) gases.
  8. If the cabbage generates too much juice that threatens to overflow, remove the juice. This is a very healthy and delicious beverage! Some of it you might want to keep stored in the fridge to add to the cabbage later when there is space in the pot again after you have started to eat it.
  9. After about ten days the cabbage should be ready. Transfer your pot to a cool location – you can transfer your sauerkraut into smaller containers and store it in the fridge or, as we do it, put it into a protected corner of the balcony (as long as it is not too cold outside).


I support Veggie-Thursday!

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Russian Zupfkuchen for Valentine


Of course, being married to a Russian man, I was very curious about a cake we call “Russian Zupfkuchen” (maybe one can translate it into “Russian Pull-Off Cake”). When I asked him about an original Russian recipe for this tasty chocolate and cheese cake, I was met with utter puzzlement: such a cake is not known in Russia. So, where does this cake come from and why is it called Russian?

A bit of research revealed  that Zupfkuchen is known in Germany for many decades. The name comes from the spots of chocolate dough, which are on top of the cake, and those spots are created by pulling off (in German zupfen) pieces of dough. Only in the 1990 the company Dr. Oetker brought a cake mix onto the market and – yes – just named it Russian Zupfkuchen, presumably because the dark dough pieces sometimes look before baking like Russian church towers….

So, and here is our Valentine edition of a Russian Zupfkuchen, where we did not pull off pieces of dough but instead cut out little hearts…


And, as is typical for Russian recipes, the measures are in glasses. Here, one glass = ca. 300 ml (which is a good sized mug).

You’ll need for the dough:

  • 200 g Butter, soft
  • 1/2 glass sugar (ca. 100 g)
  • 2 glasses flour (ca. 350 g)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (ca. 30 g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs

You’ll need for the filling:

  • 180 g Butter, melted and cooled down
  • 3/4 glass sugar (ca. 150 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 500 g curd (Quark), low fat
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Now you have to:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.
  3. Add flour, cacao and baking powder and mix well. Eventually combine well by kneading the dough by hand.
  4. Take 1/3 of the dough and cover bottom and rim of a round cake form (ca. 26 cm diameter).
  5. Mix well all ingredients for the filling.
  6. Fill into the covered cake form.
  7. Roll out the rest of the dough (not too thin – at least 2 cm thick), cut out hearts and place them onto the filling.
  8. Bake at 180 degrees for ca. 50-60 min or until beaked through. When the cake is getting dark too early (which usually happens to me…), cover it with some tin foil.

Guten Appetit and приятного аппетита!

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My older boys each got a loop-shawl. They are made from cotton jersey with 5% elastane. The sewing pattern is kind of free hand drafted with the help of the very nice woman at our local fabric store.

For the two-sided loop (orange stripes and green stripes)  I cut two pieces of 30 x 120 cm and for the one sided loop (light blue with little monsters) I cut one piece of 50 x 115 cm.


It took me quite some brain-gymnastics to figure out how to sew the loop together so that when turning it it comes out the right way. I finally figured that one had to first sew the long edges together which creates some sort of tube. The next step is to pull one short end through the tube meeting the other short end and sewing the two short ends together leaving a small (6-10cm) gap for turning.


My boys are now nicely bundled up in this still cold weather! What else is Made4Boys this month?

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Children Books About Sewing


I would like to tell you about three great children books which all have sewing as a central theme: How The Mole Got His Trousers by Zdeněk Miler (we have it also in board book edition), Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow and Bruno the Taylor by Lars Klinting.  In all three books the main character sets out to make himself some new clothes and the reader is taken through the process. My boys love all of them and they sparked quite a few discussions about making our own fabric and cloths. Last summer we even planted some flax seeds in our garden  – no, we didn’t make linen, but we thoroughly examined the plant.


How The Mole Got His Trousers by Zdeněk Miler: The little mole needs a pair of trousers with big pockets for all his precious possessions. He learns to take care of the flax plant and how to make linen from it. The animals around him are helping with harvesting, spinning, weaving, cutting and sewing. This story is originally a movie. It was Miler’s first movie about the little Mole and is very worth seeing.


Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow: This book is about the  little boy Pelle who outgrew his cloths. He owns a sheep and the book shows how Pelle cuts the sheep’s wool and how family members help him to comp, spin, color and weave the wool in exchange for him taking over some chores. And finally the tailor makes him a wonderful new suit.  The beautifully illustrated books by Elsa Beskow are a treat for all children (and parents)!


Bruno the Taylor by Lars Klinting: The beaver  Bruno (or Kasimir how he is called in German) needs a new apron. He selects fabric from his stash, washes it, makes himself a pattern and sews the apron. At each step it is explained what is needed, including some sewing tips and at the end instructions for how to make an apron oneself. The Swedish author created a series of books about the beaver creating or crafting different things (Bruno the Baker, Bruno the Carpenter, and others) and each time the reader is taken through the process and left with accessible do-it-your-self instructions.

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Singer Sewing Machine


We got a “new” sewing machine! This machine belonged to my husbands grandmother.  It is a manual Singer machine from around 1911-1917, manufactured in Podolsk, Russia.

The history of the production of this machine is actually quite interesting: According to singersewinginfo  Singer started in 1902 to produce sewing machines in Podolsk, Russia, to provide sewing machines for Russian and Asian market. The factory grew rapidly and by 1914 it produced 675,000 machines per year!! Isaac Singer had developed a reliable and affordable sewing machine and prepared the way for the wide use of sewing machines for home sewers (his implementation of installment payment allowed the affordability even for lower income families).


Dating this machine is not so easy. Each Machine has an imprinted serial number consisting of a letter and a number. The letter tells at which factory the machine was produces and the number is the serial number of that factory. So, theoretically, the production records can give exact place and date of fabrication. Only, the production records of the factory in Podolsk are lost. So we only know that the machine was made in Podolsk between 1911 and 1917, probably around 1915 – thus it is 100 years old! We don’t know when my husband’s family purchased the machine, but we know that it belonged to the family for at least 70 years, sewing many garments and accessories.


The machine still works great! It has a beautiful straight stitch of variable length using upper and lower thread. Of course it does not have any decorative stitches nor zickzack. Backwards stitching also hangs a bit. But it sews through almost anything, including leather. And its strait stitch and transport is better than that of my Brother. My eight year old son loves to use it and is now learning to sew costumes and decoration for his puppet theater plays.

Precious is a small series about some precious little things. They are precious to me because of who made them, how they are made and/or which story they tell.

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Brot und Butter – 2. Treffen


I am sorry – this post is again in German only. It is the second virtual meet-up of the sew-along “Bread and Butter” – the sewing of everyday attire for this time of the year when it is neither warm nor cold (or both). All finished pieces will be presented in English as well.

Heute geselle ich mich zum zweiten Treffen des Sew-Alongs “Brot und Butter” bei Frau Siebenhundertsachen. Es geht heute um die Vorstellung des Plans: welche Kleidungsstücke sollen genäht werden? Welche Stoffe und Schnitte wurden ausgewählt?

Meine Liste, die ich beim letzten Treffen vorgestellt habe, hat sich nur minimal verändert.

Zwei Jeans-Röcke: zwei paar alte Jeans sollen zu Röcken ge-up-cycled (es leben die Anglizismen!) werden. Mit dem ersten habe ich bereits angefangen und die inneren Nähte aufgetrennt.


Rock aus Babycord: der Stoff liegt bereit, der Schnitt ist der selbe wie hier, ein Download-Schnitt von Burda.

Unterrock aus Seide: Der Stoff liegt bereit und der Schnitt wird etwas selbst gebasteltes.

Rock aus Strickstoff: Letzte Woche stellte Zoe diesen Rock vor und ich war gleich begeistert – ja, so was brauche ich auch! Ein einfacher Rock aus Ponte de Roma (ist das das gleiche wie Romanit??). Geeigneten Stoff muss ich noch besorgen. Zoe verwendete dazu einen Schnitt aus Gretchen Hirschs Buch “Gertie Sews Vintage Casual”. Dieses Buch habe ich nicht, und bin nun auf der Suche nach einer Alternative.


Strickjacke:   Nachdem ich dieses tolle Exemplar beim letzten MeMadeMittwoch gesehen habe, ist meine Wahl klar:  Georgeous Gray! aus der Ottobre 5/2015! Und um so besser, ich habe dieses Heft sogar (das einzige Ottobre Women, das ich habe! Hurray!). Den Stoff muss ich noch besorgen. Nächste Woche besuchen wir Freunde, und dort gibt es einen ganz, ganz tollen Stoffladen in der Nähe. Wenn mich meine Familie lässt, bin ich dann mal für ein paar Stunden weg…..

Zwei Oberteile: a) ein Probeoberteil für das Knotenkleid Lavena von Schnittquelle. Der Schnitt liegt hier schon seit letztem Sommer und das will ich jetzt mal angehen. Mit Hilfe des Oberteils möchte ich den Schnitt anpassen (ich glaube ich habe den Schnitt um einiges zu groß gekauft – der Nachteil bei Schnittquelle ist, dass man nur einzelne Größen bekommt…. ).  b) Einfaches T-Shirt, vielleicht aus der selben Ottobre, aus Jersey aus meinem Fundus. Das lasse ich noch auf mich zukommen – wenn ich denn so weit komme….

Na, dann schauen wir mal, was die anderen TeilnehmerInnen so planen und freuen uns auf das nächste Treffen am 28.2.2016, wenn wir unsere bis dahin gefertigten Sachen vorstellen!

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