Sunday, April 3, 2011


Yesterday my pal, Donnie, and I went to the Kraut Kickoff in Henderson, Minnesota.  Henderson is a small town in the southern part of the state, and I'm not going to lie, it's not the easiest place to get to during flood season. Every main road going in to it was closed, so we were on back roads for a good hour before we finally found it. Thank god Donnie has a smart phone.  We finally arrive in Henderson for the kickoff and it's a lot smaller than I expected it to be.  It's pretty much like the town I grew up in where everything is on Main Street and that's the town. It was held in a small town hall sort of building that was connected to the bar and then a restaurant. They obviously don't like to go outside to get from one building to the next. This little gathering was just the kickoff to the giant Kraut Festival later this summer, therefore we were the only non-residents there. They had bingo, which I won, beer tastings, bean bag tournament and a sauerkraut recipe contest.  

The recipe contest was probably the biggest deal they had going on other than bingo.  Donnie made an older gentleman friend that we called, Bruce. When he found that we traveled from Minneapolis just to come to this kickoff, he wanted to make sure we had a good time. He brought us over so we could be apart of the special tasting of the food table before the rest of the crowd, but Gladys, a woman we had befriended earlier in the day, wasn't having it.  Gladys said we had to wait until all the important people were done judging  and then we would be first in line to try potato-kraut mush. I guess she said it much nicer, but that's what I heard in my head. 

The competition had about 15 or so different items to choose from and some of them tasted like feet.  A lot of these contestants used canned kraut in their recipes and I just don't think it's the same. I have to admit, the sauerkraut chocolate cookie was actually very tasty. I never would have imagined that it would be, but you can't really taste the kraut in there.  It just seemed to keep the cookie super moist and cake like.  But the sauerkraut empanada was a little much. There were raisins in it and some sort of meat and when I say some sort of meat, I mean I couldn't even tell what I was eating. When it's coming from a stranger that freaks me out.  Who knows how clean their kitchen is. That last statement makes me realize how much I really am like my mother. Crap. 

After we made sure to register to win a tractor and ate as many of those contest entries as we could stomach, we skipped town before it got dark.  I have a feeling the Kraut Kickoff gets pretty wild once the sun goes down.  

I think the reason I'm so picky with Sauerkraut is because my grandmother has canned it for as long as I can remember and probably before I even existed. It's the best kraut I've ever tasted. I can't believe I'm telling you this, but I can just sit in the kitchen and eat it out of the jar. As a snack. I know, I'm disgusting but you've got to try this stuff, I think she needs to market it.  These people at Kraut Fest have got nothing on Grandma Eva. 

Using grandma's canned kraut, I wanted to make my own sauerkraut dish after trying a lot of those interesting ones at the contest, and by interesting I mean nasty.  I found a recipe and it seems like a traditional Midwest casserole, because cream of mushroom soup is involved.  I've never cooked with cream of mushroom soup before, and my mother would be so disappointed in me for not having done so. It was a must have ingredient for so many different casseroles I had growing up.  I think the reason I've always avoided  is because you get a weeks worth of sodium out of one of those little cans of condensed soup. The recipe I found is so easy and it doesn't cost much at all for the ingredients. I now realize why we had to have it four nights out of the week growing up.


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2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
2 (16 oz.) cans sauerkraut, rinsed and drained (Grandma's!)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. uncooked medium noodles
1 1/2 lb. Polish sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Combine soup, milk, onion, and mustard in medium bowl; blend well. Spread sauerkraut in greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Top with uncooked noodles. Spoon soup mixture evenly over top. Top with sausage, then cheese. Combine crumbs and butter in small bowl; sprinkle over top. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until noodles are tender.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

This casserole was too much, it was so rich!! Maybe it's just because I'm not used to this sort of meal anymore and all the sodium and cheese. This is like a once every few years kind of casserole.  Trust me, I'm not complaining, how can you complain when it's sausage, cheese and sauerkraut all in one dish.


  1. donnie sounds like a real trooper...

  2. Haha this is a great post! First, I am totally jealous that you got to go to a Kraut festival! It all sounded delicious! And secondly, I think I like Kraut as much as you! LOL