Thursday, March 5, 2015

nine ways to eat your cabbage!

Seasonal eating . . . It's what I'm committed to.  It's what I stand for.  It's the right way to eat - the way our great-grandparents did it!  It . . .

Starts to suck really bad in February.  Seriously.  Here's what we get in the dregs of winter:  cabbage, hard squash, turnips, cabbage, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, broccoli, cabbage.

A lot of cabbage.  Those heads of cabbage are huge!  I currently have no fewer than five cabbages in my fridge.

I'm lucky that I like cabbage.  But there's only so much cabbage a gal can take.  I put together all my favorite cabbage recipes here, in case you are in a situation of cabbage richness similar to mine.

Here you go - nine ways to eat your cabbage!

Sauerkraut - the classic gateway drug to lactofermentation!  It really couldn't be simpler.  Slice your cabbage very thinly and then weigh it.  For every pound of cabbage, add two teaspoons of salt.  Put it all into a great big mixing bowl and start kneading it with your hands like bread.  Crunch the cabbage shreds between your fingers and press it all together.  Soon it will start to release liquid.  Once you can grab a handful and squeeze it and liquid trickles out of your fist, you are ready to jar it!  I usually do quart-size jars.  Pack the cabbage very tightly into jars.  Use a wooden spoon handle to tamp it down in layers before you add more.  You want the liquid to cover the top of the cabbage.  Once it's full, put a lid on loosely and leave it on your counter for a few days.  It will start to bubble.  Taste it after three days.  Is it nice and sour?  If so, cap it tightly and refrigerate (or cold storage).  If not, let it go longer.  Taste each day until it's ready.  Kraut will last basically indefinitely in the fridge.  It is an amazing natural source of probiotics.  I eat a tablespoon-full every night before bed to settle my stomach.

Pickled Cabbage Salad - I adapted this one from Smitten Kitchen.  Mix up a brine of 3/4 C white vinegar, 3/4 C water, 3 T sucanat or sugar, 1/4 t celery seeds, 2 t sea salt.  Heat the brine until everything is dissolved.  Meanwhile shred a pound of cabbage.  Add a julienned carrot.  Pour the brine over the shredded veggies and let it sit for several hours.  It will get better each day (refrigerated)!  This is awesome on Korean beef tacos or as a side to any rich meat.

Vinegar Slaw - This is the bare-bones version of cole slaw that I prefer!  No mayo.  It's perfect on BBQ pork or brisket sandwiches.  Shred 1/2 a head of green cabbage.  Mix 1/4 C sucanat or sugar, 1/4 C white vinegar, and 1 T salt.  Toss it with the cabbage and let it sit for several hours before serving.

Cabbage, Noodles & Bacon - This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  Something about the piquancy of the vinegar against the richness of the bacon, the texture of the cabbage with the noodles.  I just love it.

Braised Cabbage - With both apple cider and cider vinegar.  This is SO freaking good.  Cabbage + apple + bacon is such a natural flavor combination.  Plus Tom Colicchio can do no wrong.

Cabbage Rolls - Leave it Ina Garten, my personal favorite and the queen of Jewish soul food, to give the perfect recipe for this comforting dish.  It takes a little bit of preparation, but it's no harder than a lasagna!

Cabbage & Rice Soup - This is one I came up with on the fly to use up leftovers.  It was perfect.  I took a mix of homemade chicken and pork stock from the freezer - maybe 2 cups.  I added 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage and let that all come to a boil, cooking until the cabbage was tender.  Then I added a cup or so of leftover sesame-scallion rice.  After it heated through I added a half-teaspoon or so of Sambal Oelek.  It was rich and comforting from the stock, filling with the rice, and pleasantly spicy.  Such a good lunch.

Asian Slaw - This is a big favorite in the family for picnics and potlucks.  This deviates from my Real Food ways a bit, since it uses the noodles and spice packet from a package of instant Ramen noodles.  But hey - you only live once, right?  Have some Ramen noodles.  I basically use this recipe, but instead of bagged coleslaw mix, I do 1/2 a head of shredded cabbage and two shredded carrots.

Cabbage & Noodles - This is supreme comfort food that I learned from my days living with my old friends Stephanie and Julie.  Julie's parents brought up all their children as vegetarians, and they had four kids!  So they needed economical ways to feed the family.  You basically just take a head of cabbage, an onion, a one-pound bag of egg noodles (or a pound of fresh), a bunch of butter, and some salt.  Very thinly slice the onion and cabbage.  Take your biggest pan and saute them in 4 T butter and a few teaspoons of salt (I also added about a teaspoon of caraway seeds last time - very nice).  While that cooks, bring a big pot of water to a boil and add the egg noodles.  Cook until they are done, then drain.  Once the cabbage and onion are very soft and starting to caramelize (maybe 20-30 minutes), add the noodles to the pan and add another 4 T butter.  Taste and add more salt as needed.  Stir well so the noodles are totally coated in butter.  Feed an army and enjoy.

So - do you have favorite cabbage dishes!?  What have I forgotten?

[This post submitted to the HomeAcre Hop 3/5/15.]

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