Archive for July, 2016

KartoffelKl̦sse РAn Obenauf Family Recipe for Glazed Potato Dumplings

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Potato dumplings are a common dish in many traditional cuisines and go by a number of names.  In Germany and Austria they are often called kartoffelknödel, klösse or just knödel and can be filled with a “dressing” in the middle; in Hungary gomboc; Luxembourg kniddelen; in Italy canederi; in Canada/Acadia poutines rapees.  In Sweden, kroppkakor, and Norway, Komie (klub), they are often filled with a salty meat.

In my family we called them “kartoffelklöess” and it could be a complete meal with the meat included.  Interestingly, my ancestry is mainly Bavarian and Scandinavian hence I guess that is why the meats are included in my family recipe.  It can bring something a little different to your starch side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Medium potatoes
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Slices of lightly toasted white bread cut in cubes
  • Several slices of Summer bologna, bacon or smoked sausage cut in small pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour
  • If desired, chopped carrots and peas, cooked until soft

Instructions:

  • Boil the potatoes in their skins until soft, then cool them completely skin and grate the potatoes
  • Add all other ingredients except the flour and mix thoroughly
  • Sprinkle in enough flour so the mixture stays together when forming balls
  • Form the balls in your hands, about three inches in diameter
  • Heat a pot of water, do not form the balls until the water is simmering
  • Just before lowering the balls into the simmering water roll them in flour
  • Lower the balls into the water slowly with a large slotted spoon
  • Cook in simmering water for 9-10 minutes; they will sink then float
  • Do not lift the lid until the cooking time is up or the balls will fall apart
  • Serve with gravy, red cabbage and sauerbraten or schnitzel and stewed tomatoes if desired

RHO 6-26-16

Why Asparagus Causes Pungent Urine Odors

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Asparagus

OK I’ll admit it, I really like asparagus.  Have you ever eaten asparagus and noticed that it gives your urine a pungent odor?  Or perhaps you’ve heard about the phenomenon but wondered why it doesn’t seem to affect you.

Observations of how what we eat can affect urine can be traced back through history, from the ancient Greeks.  Asparagus’s potential to affect urine was described in 1735. This seems to coincide with when the British first started using fertilizers containing sulfur on crops, although this could be coincidental.  And as only the Brits could put it one British men’s club is rumored to have put up a sign: “During the asparagus season, members are requested not to relieve themselves in the hat stand.”

The asparagus odiferous urine link seems to all come down to one chemical, asparagusic acid.  Asparagusic acid, as it is cleverly named, seems to only be found in asparagus.

12D4CA

1,2-Dithiolane-4-carboxylic acid

S2(CH2)2CHCO2H

When our bodies digest the vegetable, this chemical is broken down into a group of related sulfur-containing compounds including methanethiol, dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl sulfone. As with many other substances that include sulfur such as rotten eggs, onions, garlic, and skunk spray these sulfur-containing molecules convey a powerful, typically unpleasant scent.  These molecules are volatile, meaning that they can easily vaporize into a gaseous state at room temperature and can be detected by the human nose at very low concentrations.

Asparagusic acid, on the other hand, isn’t volatile, so asparagus itself doesn’t have the same rotten smell (asparagus probably would not be a popular vegetable if it did). But once your body converts asparagusic acid into these volatile, sulfur-bearing compounds, the distinctive aroma can be generated, and quite quickly…..in some cases, it’s been detected in the urine of people who ate asparagus just 15-30 minutes earlier.

There have been different theories put forward over the years explaining why only some people notice a smell after eating asparagus.  Perhaps some people’s digestive systems don’t break down asparagusic acid into these pungent chemicals…….or perhaps not everyone can detect these smells at low levels.  Depending on which study you read, between 25% and 50% of people report having pungent urine after eating asparagus.

So the issue might not be whether or not your urine is smelly, it might be whether you’re able to smell it.

Anyway I’ve long wondered about this so I thought I would share it with you.  You are welcome.