How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Getting A Head in the Cabbage Game

When I arrived at Colchester Neighborhood Farm yesterday, the farm manager noticed my skeptical look at the huge red cabbages that were first in line for the weekly produce pickup.

Fortunately, CSA is not just about getting a good deal on local, organic vegetables. It is about being part of a community committed to good food. As regular readers of this blog know, sometimes enjoying what is local and good takes a little effort. Most of us have gotten so accustomed to foods that are easy, comfortable, and tasty in a very generic way. A subscription to a CSA puts us in touch with the rhythms of the land around us, and connects us to the foods that are best suited to each season. And it takes a little help to enjoy that sometimes.
Unfortunately, I did not slice across our cabbage to see if it had a spiral like this. It was, incidentally, a deeper purple than any red cabbage I had seen before.
In this case, manager Maryann was ready: she handed me a sheet of paper with three recipes, one of which was Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage. She was so confident that I would love it that we simply put it on the menu for tonight's dinner. It is now among our two favorite cabbage recipes (the overall list is quite short), the other being our famous lime slaw.

The recipe is simple -- simple enough that we were able to pull it off in a kitchen other than our own. Herewith, the details:

Heat 2 T oil, then add 1/2 diced onion and 1/2 diced apple (peeled and cored), sauteing until golden brown. (In reality, I used a whole onion and a whole apple -- we had cabbage to cover I mean enhance.)

Add four cups thinly sliced cabbage. Of course, I did not measure this; I was going to use all of this except the tough outer layers, and I was certainly not going to go buy more if I was a 1/2 cup short! I think slicing the cabbage thin was key, as was reducing the heat so that it did not cook too fast. I added 1/4 cup (or so) apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar. I actually added all the sugar we had in a little dish, and it was actually brown sugar. This was another key to the success of this dish, I'm sure.

I could not find any celery seed, so in place of 1/4 t of this, I added a liberal sprinkle of dried basil. I simmered for 10 minutes, mixing frequently and thoroughly. I then added 1/4 cup diced Canadian bacon. (Again, the measurement was imperfect -- it was one small package, minus a thick slice for the dog's dinner.)

I sauteed for just another couple minutes, until the bacon was heated through and the whole thing was nice and glazy. I have been careful not to overcook cabbage ever since I heard one of those food-chemistry discussions of how it can go quite quickly from raw to crisp to tender to sulfurous nasty mush.

Fortunately, this reached desired sweet-and-sourness as well as desired tender-crispness in less than a half hour start-to-finish, earning its honored place in our cabbage repertoire!

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