Let’s Cook: Our Cabbage Companion
Maybe you haven’t bought that green deluxe Viking stove yet, but why not start enjoying the many beautiful shades of green found in cabbage! I have always loved cabbage, especially cooked. Now Jan and Lydia do favor the delightful crunch of cabbage when eaten raw. After all, who doesn’t like to see red cabbage going out with lettuce? Speaking of a perfect pairing, how about the St. Patrick’s Day favorite of corned beef and cabbage surrounded by vivid carrots, small potatoes dressed out with parsley and onions of various sizes.
Do you call them cabbage rolls, pigs in the blanket or Halubzy? Steamed cabbage that is slightly cooked and served with butter in an unexpected delight at the table. How about cabbage soup flavored with little bits of ham? We must not forget coleslaw that can be served with a creamy or oil and vinegar dressing. Cabbage is one vegetable that cooks love for its versatility. Cabbage have been cultivated for over 6,000 years – perhaps holding the record when it comes to enjoyed vegetables.
During the past 6,000 years, cabbage has put forth much nutrition. Cabbage contains a high concentration of Vitamin C. If you really want to ramp on Vitamin C, go for the red cabbage as it contains twice the about of Vitamin C as the green. Cabbage can give oranges a run for their money when it comes to dishing out Vitamin C. Cabbage is low in fat and high in fiber. At 33 calories per cup, you can load up and not feel guilty. If cabbage had a key pad and could connect to a cell tower, mobile phones would be facing some fierce competition.
My mom repeatedly told us about the nutritional value of vegetables. She had learned this in nurses training. I can still hear her saying, “for nice hair, better skin and nails, eat some cabbage twice a week.” Studies have shown that cabbage’s high sulfur content translates to keratin production and that results not only in looking better but also feeling better on the inside. So, hanging out in the cabbage patch with our bald-headed friends has many perks.
Cabbage can easily be grown in your garden with some care and attention. Should you need some excellent advice, check out the gardening pamphlets available at your local county extension office; the staff is so helpful. I was surprised to learn that there are more than 400 varieties of cabbage and they can take root in USDA zones 1-9. While visiting in Alaska, I had the opportunity to see some huge cabbages in several varieties. One of the local cafes near Palmer served stuffed cabbage that featured pork sausage. When my fork and knife made the first cut and there was still crunch – not mush, I knew I was in for a delicious meal made from a locally grown gem.
Here are a few tips that you may find helpful when mingling with cabbage.
– A whole, unshelled walnut dropped into the cabbage pot cuts down on the cooking odor.
– Save the water from cooking cabbage as it contains valuable nutrients and can be added easily to soups or casseroles.
– Cook quickly with little water and salt to retain nutrients.
– When selecting cabbage, look for solid heads and leaves that are attached at the stem
– Whole cabbages can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks when placed in plastic bags.
– Celery seed, dill, mustard, caraway, basil, fennel and nutmeg all are very compatible with cabbage.
Did I mention Cabbage Patch Dolls? Oh, that will have to be another column!
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tablespoon butter
3 ounces creamed cheese
2 tablespoons dill
Salt and white pepper to taste
In a large saucepan blanch shredded cabbage in boiling salt water that covers cabbage for 3 minutes. Drain cabbage and rinse under cold water, and drain well. In a saucepan, saute minced onion in 2 tablespoons butter until soft. Add the cabbage and toss the mixture well. Add cream cheese in bits and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the cheese is melted. To finish add dill and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an addition 2 minutes. This serves 4.
Easy Creamy Coleslaw
1 large onion, thinly sliced or grated
6 ice cubes
2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups of finely shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white vinegar or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Combine onion in a small bowl with enough water to cover. Add ice cubes and sugar and mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes to crisp onions. Drain well. This procedure takes away the bitterness of the onion.
Mix onion with cabbage in large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients except paprika in a small bowl and blend well. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss with a fork to coat well. (It is during this time you should think of our dear friend, the late Julia Child, for she always tossed salads with a joyous flare. Serve your coleslaw in an attractive bowl. This will aid you well should the dinner conversation turn flat, you can then turn to the topic of lovely serving bowls.)
Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. Taste before serving to adjust seasonings as desired. Dust with paprika before serving.