Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Eve traditions and yummy sauerkraut balls

My husband and I have never really been big on celebrating New Year's Eve. Once, in early days, possibly when we were dating, we made reservations at a local restaurant for dinner. When we got there we learned that the chef had created a very limited special menu for the evening, none of which we were really excited about. As my dad used to always say, the selections did not make our "socks go up and down". (with excitement, he meant.)

I don't really remember going anywhere else for the big night. Over the years we have seen our own tradition evolve. We now celebrate with a night at home, Chinese take out, board games and beer. This year we had to change up our traditional celebration due to my mother's illness. My sister was in town and staying at our home while visiting Mom in the hospital. We were very tired and a little shell shocked that evening, knowing that we were going to have to make the decision to either place Mom on a ventilator or remove the breathing tube all together and see what happened. Ultimately we removed the tube and let her go. But before we did that, we spent New Year's Eve eating pizza and playing board games, like normal. The addition of my sister made the evening much funnier, as she is a hoot when full of mojitos.

Our original plan for New Year's Eve had been for me to attempt sauerkraut balls. The last time I attempted to deep fry anything was years ago in our little apartment in Grove City. That attempt ended in a small stove fire and lots of smoke. That is how we learned that I am not at my best when faced with a stove fire. My husband sees a small flame that simply needs extinguished. I see a raging fire that calls for total panic and screaming. Lots of high pitched screaming.

So we celebrated the new year with my sister and then spent the whole next week planning for and preparing to bury my mother. We arrived back home late Friday evening, so I planned for the big sauerkraut ball experiment to be Saturday night. I spent the time while Matthew was in his Chinese language class looking up  recipes, trying to find the perfect one. These sauerkraut balls were important to me because my husband really likes them and I really wanted to do something special for him. Since my mother was admitted to the ICU on Christmas Eve my wonderful husband had truly taken over the household duties, complete with nearly total care of our little doodlebug. He put up with me during our trip to Akron for my mother's funeral and again spent most of the trip handling Matthew's needs. So there was a lot resting on this recipe!

True to my usual cooking habits I changed up the recipe slightly. They turned out great, my husband loved them, and no raging (or even tiny) fires were started. Success!

Many of you have requested the recipe so here it is:

16 ounces sauerkraut (I believe that fresh sauerkraut would be best, but this is not always easy to find unless you live near a farmer's market.)
1 lb sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp parsley (again, fresh is better!)
1 small garlic clove (if fresh, roast first then finely chop. if not fresh, then 1 tbs)
4 to 8 ounces cream cheese
2 tsp mustard (any kind, choosing a flavored mustard will enhance the taste)
bread crumbs
2 eggs

cook sausage and onion, drain and set aside to cool. Mix cooled sausage mixture with sauerkraut, parsley, garlic, mustard and cream cheese. You will most likely need to use your hands to mix. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Form into small balls. Beat eggs and add a few tablespoons of water. Place eggs in shallow dish, flour in another and bread crumbs in another. Roll balls in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Deep fry for at least 2 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in oven at 225 degrees.


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