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Please sir, can I have some more?

My favorite thing in the world is when we’re sitting at the dining table, having whatever meal, and one of my kids asks for more vegetables. That’s what they say, “May I have some more vegetables?” Or greens. Or salad. Today, we had corned beef that I shredded and cooked in some tallow, with homemade sauerkraut as the vegetable. My oldest, 10, thought it was a joke, this big pile of kraut. I sometimes have to give some historical perspective before they really jump on, so after my story about how salted meat and fermented vegetables have been around for millenia, and that it’s what people ate all the time before refrigeration was invented (and they didn’t have a nice, cool ice cave to stash their goods in), he decided to eat it. It’s not that he doesn’t like kraut, but he had had a mess of hot kraut yesterday, on his 2 fried eggs, and this was just plain cabbage kraut.

Corned beef is OK. I had one terrible, very memorable experience with canned corned beef in the Philippines. I had stayed overnight in a friend’s house, and the evening before, had tried balut for the first time. It’s kinda weird and tough, like a tire. And salty. Anyway, the next morning, we got up and someone made corned beef hash with canned meat, potatoes, carrots, maybe some onions, probably cooked in coconut oil. Sounds OK, but I had never had corned beef before, and was put off by it being from a can. I ate it. Then we went on a 2 1/2 hour ride on the semi-paved and dirt roads of central Luzon in a jeepney.

Jeepneys are awesome. I wish I had one. But you have to sit sideways, unless you’re next to the driver or on top. We (the girls) weren’t allowed on top. So I had to ride in there, crammed with 20 other people, sideways for 2 1/2 hours. I was feeling pretty crappy by the time we arrived, and ran into the bathroom and booted my breakfast. It was still little pieces of carrot and potato and meat. Plus, the bonus was that the toilets didn’t actually have water, just a bucket you fill and dump into the pot to make it drain. So my corned beef hash went in, and sprayed right back out, thanks to the nice round bowl. All over the floor, my dress, into my shoes, all of it. I used the handy bucket to dump water on the floor towards the drain, cleaned myself up, and went out to my meeting. It was awful, yes indeed.

I got over my aversion to corned beef just in the last couple of years. Our local market corns their own brisket and sells it for St. Patrick’s day, and it’s pretty good. This year, I got a Trader Joe’s corned beef, and it was not nearly as good as the other one, but it was so much cheaper. Next year, I’ll know better.

But back to today. My kids, all 3, ate their corned beef and sauerkraut. When the middle one, 7, asked for more sauerkraut even before he was done with the meat, I was a little surprised. My little girl, 5, loves sauerkraut, so it’s not such a big deal when she wants more, but the 7 year old usually only wants a bite or two of kraut. He’s been eating it therapeutically for his digestion, but I guess he has progressed to genuinely liking it. This is cause for rejoicing, even though it means I have to step up the production.

I made a gallon of hot kraut (cabbage, jalapeños, red onion, cilantro, chipotle powder) last week, and it’s a beast to chop that much cabbage. This will be a Dad-only kraut, since I used 2 pints of jalapeños to 3 medium cabbages, so I guess I’ll have to get on a new batch of regular. My husband eats about a pint of kraut every two weeks, because I make such awesome kraut.


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