Sweet and Sour Cabbage – Mmmm.

Sorry for the long break between my posts; I have been adjusting to a new job, and it’s taken a lot out of me… especially in terms of the energy it takes to sit down and compose thoughts. But I have been cooking and I have been taking pictures, so there are a few posts kickin’ around waiting to be made a reality.

So the lovely picture to the left is what happened when I decided to use the two small heads of cabbage my mother foisted off on my from her CSA to make sweet and sour cabbage.  I used this recipe mostly, except I threw out the beans and added italian turkey sausage.  The italian seasonings in the sausage messed a little with the eastern european nature of the dish (polish/german), but it was still grand.

Usually when I come home from work all I want to do is eat.  And in Chicago, there are restaurants pretty much in every other doorway.  I’ve had Italian, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican all in the last week.  However, I do like to cook, so if I can stave off my hunger, I try to find a recipe that fits what I have in the pantry (I don’t actually have a pantry, I have a galley kitchen.  I am forced to keep some number of my dry and canned goods on the bookshelf in my bedroom.  I don’t complain about this, at least I know where the stuff is when I need it.)  So, sweet and sour cabbage sounded perfect at this juncture, and the left-overs lasted me the rest of the week.  I made green rice to go with it.  Green rice is a lot like sushi rice in form but it’s not nearly as sticky in function.  I used it once for sushi and the result was tasty but not quite cohesive.

When ever I cook with shredded cabbage,  I think that it’s not going to make enough and then I keep shredding and and shredding and eventually I realize that I might have 8 cups instead of the 4 that were called for.  In this case, I had two small heads of standard organic green cabbage.  I thought I was going to be dreadfully short on cabbage, but it turns out that I still probably had more than the six cups called for.  Luckily, it cooks down.  The recipe itself was lovely, it gave me the stuffed cabbage flavor I was looking for.  It made me feel full and warm on an early fall day.  I should try it again with beans and see if the flavor still works for me.  One of the reasons I’m not a vegetarian is that I do like the flavor of meat. I like the taste and smell that pork fat adds to dishes; I love that ground turkey has a distinctly different flavor from ground chicken.  I do my best to make sustainable choices when it comes to mean (read: I buy meat at Whole Foods) and when I go out, especially to Asian restaurants, I lean more towards veggie choices.  The reason is this: unless I choose a restaurant that I know uses humanely produced meat, I have no idea where that meat came from and usually, especially in thai and chinese, the flavor that I would usually enjoy with meat added to the meal is overshadowed by the sauce/curry that is the true star of the dish.  Plus it usually costs less to get tom yum soup with tofu or get the curry without meat.  I didn’t intend for this post to be an explanation of my food choices, but there it is.  I love all kinds of food and rather than restrict myself from an entire food group, I choose to make as many of my food choices sustainable as I can, no matter what I end up eating.

I’ve met a  crazy number of vegetarians since moving to Chicago, and really every one of them has a good reason for their food choices.  But just being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you are going to be healthier or lose weight or avoid heart disease or spite the food system.  The corporate approach to food distribution is not limited to meat, it affects grains and vegetables as well.  I’m not going to tell anyone to stop eating what they are eating (except maybe my roommate who scorns as vegetables except corn), but whatever your diet consider the implications of your individual food choices.

Beer pairing for fallBEER PAIRING BONUS!  The alcohol served with dinner is not always something you have the time or convenience to custom taylor to the meal you are making, but if you do have the ambition, let me suggest for the sweet and sour cabbage Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest.  It’s full on the tongue, with a touch of bitterness, but not as much as other fall beers.  It’s warm, spicy and a lovely companion to a bowl full of stewed cabbage, beans/turkey, and spices.

If beer is too banal for your tastes, a crisp tempranillo red would also pair nicely with this dish.  A good tempranillo is fruity on the top, and buttery on the bottom.  It’s good for pretty much any tomato based full-flavored dish, at least in my experience.

Well, that’s all for me this time.  As I teaser, I have some pictures of me caressing the most beautiful eggplant of all time floating around and yesterday I tried to make something called Chapati bread. Have a fabulous weekend and happy cooking!

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