By Katie Martin
Issue #131 • September/October, 2011
Last fall we decided to take a nice Sunday drive through the mountains, an activity we like to do all year long — it doesn’t even have to be Sunday.
I love to stop at produce stands, no matter how big or small. They always have things I can’t grow. I could spend hours asking questions and looking over the different produce and farm products. I always wonder if their way of growing or making something is better than my way.
Inevitably, I end up buying more than I need. I always have lots of work to do when we return home.
On this particular trip, I was admiring someone’s large, green cabbages. They were so pretty, and so perfect. Before I realized it, we had purchased a 9lb. 7oz. cabbage. The lady had a hard time getting the cabbage in a large, brown paper grocery bag. It took four tries before it would fit. Laughing, we placed the cabbage in the car, then drove home.
Now, here I sit with a 9lb. 7oz. cabbage, wondering what I can do with it. So, I started asking friends and family, “What would you do with a 9lb. 7oz. cabbage?”
The first answers were humorous. “Tell it to take a hike,” one said. “Plant it,” another suggested.
Of course, there are the traditional answers like slaw and boiled cabbage. Still, there are only two of us, and we have a lot of cabbage.
— Day 1 —
It is breakfast time. I decide to fix cabbage in our wood stove. To do this, I usually cut a normal size head of cabbage into four pieces, allowing one piece of cabbage per person. I cut 4-6 holes in each of the pieces, filled the holes with butter, and salted and peppered each piece.
I wrapped each of the pieces in two layers of foil, then placed the foil-wrapped pieces on medium coals for 10-15 minutes, checking once. Cabbage is good this way. It is one of our favorite things to cook in the wood stove.
Unfortunately, that only took a small sliver of cabbage off the side. So, here I sit with family recipes and cookbooks, dating back a century. Who would think a 9lb. 7oz. cabbage could create such a dilemma?
My friends are laughing. This cabbage is providing more than just food, it is a moment to remember that funny cabbage story or that unusual cabbage recipe.
The three favorite suggestions I hear are boiled cabbage, cabbage soup, and cabbage rolls. The latest silly solution — “Buy a rabbit!” Everyone seems to agree that cabbage doesn’t freeze well. Cabbage soup seems to do the worst. Cabbage rolls seem to freeze the best.
— Day 2 —
I decide to make cabbage rolls next. I make enough to freeze for another night. It is a nice change from our usual meals.
Simple cabbage rolls:
Take 9-12 leaves off the cabbage and boil them in a large pot of water until soft enough to be rolled or folded. Allow two or three cabbage rolls per person.
For the filling, you will need the following:
1 lb. ground beef
grated onion and pepper if desired
½ cup rice
1 cup water
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 can tomato soup
1 small can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes with chilies
2 tsp. sugar
Brown ground beef with peppers and onions. Cook rice in 1 cup water. Add bouillon cube while rice is cooking. When rice and ground beef mixture are done, mix together.
Place a small amount of ground beef and rice mixture on each leaf. Roll or fold. Keep together with toothpicks. Place in 13x9x2-inch pan (we used a glass one because of the tomatoes).
Mix remaining ingredients, and pour over cabbage rolls. Make sure cabbage rolls are all covered in sauce. Cover pan with foil.
Cook in 350° F oven for 1 hour or more. Check every 30 minutes. When cabbage has reached desired doneness and sauce is bubbling, it’s done.
Looking in the paper bag, we realize there is still a lot of cabbage left. So, it is back to the drawing board. We still haven’t been to the store. All we are doing is using what we have on hand. It makes it a little harder but also a challenge — a little more fun.
— Day 3 —
We decide to make pineapple salad. It was one of my favorites as a child, and it’s very simple.
Chop cabbage into small pieces. Mix with one large can of drained crushed pineapple. Add a handful of raisins. Mix with mayonnaise until desired consistency is reached. Sprinkle with black pepper (optional).
You can add chopped purple onions for a variation, or to spruce up the salad on the second night. This salad pairs nicely with a bowl of homemade soup or baked chicken.
The cabbage head still seems full; there is a lot of cabbage to go. We had to wrap the cabbage, and move it to the refrigerator.
— Day 4 —
We are going to cook cabbage with a ham bone. Any leftovers, we will use for soup.
We fixed the cabbage and decided it needed to have a little more flavor. So, the next time we cook cabbage and ham, we will add an apple or two and a couple of browned onions. It may give the dish just the right touch.
While doing research, I was told small hunks of cabbage can be frozen. These would only be used in soup or in baked dishes in the future.
To do this, we were told to blanch the small hunks of cabbage for 1½ minutes. Then, throw in a freezer bag. Freeze until needed. It will be interesting to see how this will taste.
— Day 5 —
Today we’ll fix a cabbage and noodle casserole. The cabbage itself is finally beginning to look like a normal large cabbage. A few more days and it will be gone! It is almost like the cabbage has taken on a life of its own. I am going to miss our daily adventures when it is gone.
Cabbage noodle casserole:
¼ cup melted butter
½ of a 16 oz. kielbasa-type beef sausage
1 pkg. egg noodles
enough cabbage for 3 or 4 people
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Brown sausage in butter. Cook noodles and cabbage separately. Drain the noodles and the cabbage. Combine sausage, noodles, and cabbage together. Be sure to scrape all the butter and the little bits of sausage from the pan into the noodle and cabbage combination. Mix the eggs and Parmesan cheese together.
Place the cabbage, noodles, and sausage combination in a large baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan egg mixture. Cook at 350° F until bubbly.
After tasting, we decided it needed something more, so we added tomatoes when we ate the leftovers. If our cupboard had included sun-dried tomatoes, this dish would have gone from dinner to a festive occasion.
— Day 6 —
We fixed another good recipe. We call this recipe apples and cabbage. It can be made meatless as well if you don’t want the sausage.
Apples and cabbage:
cabbage for 2 people
½ of a 16 oz. kielbasa-type sausage or more
grilled onions and peppers
Boil cabbage and drain. Brown apples in butter. Brown sausage. Grill onions and peppers.
Mix all together. Add small amounts of cinnamon, sugar, and pepper until desired taste is reached. If dish seems too dry, a little melted butter can be added.
— Day 7 —
The cabbage continues to shrink. Remarkably, we aren’t sick of cabbage yet. We decide to experiment with two kinds of slaw.
Thousand Island slaw:
Grate cabbage. Sprinkle with black pepper. Add Thousand Island dressing until desired taste and consistency is reached.
Simple sweet slaw:
Grate onion, cabbage, celery, green pepper, and carrot. Mix together. Add salt and pepper. Add 1½ tsp. sugar and enough mayonnaise to make it creamy but not sloppy.
Slaw is basically a “taste until right” proposition. You just keep trying it until it meets your desired taste.
We liked both of these. The Thousand Island slaw would be great with seafood. I served it with ham sandwiches.
— Day 8 —
Today will be cabbage leftovers. I fix barbecued chicken, cooked apples (cooked in the crock pot), and we finish off dabs of cabbage dishes, like slaw and boiled cabbage. It is a good combination.
We have eaten cabbage for a week. Now, we have finished off the leftovers. We estimate the cabbage is still 3½ or 4 pounds. The amazing thing is that neither of us is bored with cabbage yet. It is strange but true. We are having a lot of fun.
— Day 9 —
Yesterday, a friend’s son told us about fried cabbage. It sounded good, so we tried it this morning.
We liked it, but thought it might be better with a hot sausage patty or two. Our revised recipe is below. The meat could be left out and could substitute butter with oil.
Fried cabbage with hot sausage:
¼ head of cabbage, shredded in small pieces
¼ cup of butter
1-2 hot sausage patties
salt and pepper to taste
Melt ¼ cup of butter in frying pan, using low heat. Crumble one or two hot sausage patties in butter. Shred ¼ head of cabbage into small pieces. Add to butter and sausage. Cook slowly over low to medium heat until sausage is done and cabbage is lightly brown. Salt and pepper to taste.
The taste is good, even without the sausage. Both of us liked the sausage cabbage better than the plain. We had the second version for dinner.
— Day 10 —
So, it is back to the drawing board for day ten. Each day that we do this, we learn more about cabbage. It has a lot of vitamins and dietary fiber. Believe it or not, it seems to help with stomach problems. What a bonus!
As we talk about our next cabbage meal, we drive to the general store. A friend who works there suggests hobo cabbage for dinner.
¼ cup butter
2 strips of bacon
1 pkg. brown and serve sausage
1 onion, chopped
¼ head of a normal cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes
Melt butter. Add sausage and bacon. Cook with onion until all is lightly brown. Add cabbage and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat or lower for 10 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes. Cook 30 minutes on low heat until cabbage reaches desired consistency. Make sure that you watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.
We both thought this was a nice, simple dish. It could be used as a fancy vegetable dish or a main dish.
— Day 11 —
There is still lots of cabbage left so we mixed leftover peas from lunch, with the last of the hobo cabbage from last night.
— Day 12 —
There is still a little over two pounds of cabbage left. Who would think we would still have more than two pounds on the 12th day? After much thought, we decided on cabbage and eggs. Frying bacon separately, we begin making our breakfast for dinner. Mmmm!
We scrambled four eggs together, with enough milk and butter to mix. In a separate pan, we sautéed onion, green pepper, and cabbage. When it was barely brown, we added it to the scrambled eggs. Then, we mixed it thoroughly and put it back in the pan we had sautéed the vegetables in. We cooked the eggs to our desired consistency, and served them with bacon. You could add toast or biscuits.
— Day 13 —
The cabbage has kept well in the refrigerator. We are amazed that we have been able to create so many dishes with cabbage. The part we really have a hard time believing is that we are not sick of cabbage yet.
I decided to try a simple recipe for apple slaw. I grated a small amount of cabbage, then I diced half of an apple, leaving the skin on. Last, I added mayonnaise until it was right. I prefer a drier slaw, so I only added a very small amount of mayonnaise. You can add ½ tsp. of lime juice or black pepper if you want a little more flavor.
— Day 14 —
We decided to try something simple and hot. I baked the cabbage with onions and butter in water, fried three slices of bacon, and boiled three eggs.
I drained the cabbage and onions, then chopped the hard-boiled eggs, tossed them together, and served it all with Parmesan cheese.
— Day 15 —
At the beginning of our cabbage adventure, we froze some cabbage rolls to see how they would hold up. We thawed them overnight in the refrigerator, then microwaved them.
The taste was good, but next time I will reheat them in the oven. I may also sprinkle them with cheese when I reheat them.
— Day 16 —
I am back to those old cookbooks. A lot of modern cookbooks do not include as many cabbage recipes as the older ones.
We are having baked pork chops with rice and gravy, and I thought some blue cheese slaw would go well with them.
I grated enough cabbage for the two of us and added just enough blue cheese dressing to moisten the cabbage, then chilled it until dinner.
— Day 17 —
Our cabbage is getting smaller. I am debating between cabbage soup and boiled cabbage with sausage. The cabbage for the soup is already in the freezer, so it would be better to use all the fresh cabbage first.
Boiled cabbage with sausage:
I cut up the cabbage into smaller pieces and put it in a small amount of water. I don’t want the cabbage to be waterlogged, but I don’t want it to burn either.
As soon as the cabbage came to a boil, I turned it down to simmer.
While the cabbage was simmering, I chopped onions, peppers, and sausage (a kielbasa-type sausage). If you have excess squash, it could be added. I browned this in butter, on low, being careful not to let it burn.
When the cabbage was done and the onions, peppers, and sausage golden brown, I combined them and served immediately with cottage cheese and fruit.
— Day 18 —
We know there are people who only cook dishes that can be made in the microwave. For them, I decided to make microwave cabbage.
In a glass microwaveable dish, I placed shredded cabbage and ¼ stick of butter. Then I salted and peppered the cabbage. If you use other fresh herbs, they could be added at this point.
I put the covered cabbage in the microwave on high for four minutes, stirred it, and cooked for four more minutes. You may need a little more or less time depending on the amount of cabbage you are cooking and how soft or hard you would like it to be.
This cabbage is simple and easy. It is great for a large group or just one person. So, no one has an excuse for not cooking cabbage anymore.
— Day 19 —
We still have lots of cabbage left. My spouse says it is growing each time we place it back in the refrigerator. It certainly seems that way. I can’t say that our $3 cabbage was not a good food value. I keep thinking we will run out of ideas before we run out of cabbage. So far that hasn’t happened but maybe my spouse is right, the cabbage does grow at night while we are sleeping.
I have never had creamed cabbage, so I thought I’d like to try it.
Cut cabbage into small pieces. Cook in salted water until done. Drain cabbage. Add ¼ cup butter, salt, pepper, and about a cup of cream. Cook over low heat until liquid thickens. Serve very hot.
Though the cabbage supply is dwindling, we still have cabbage left. Luckily, the ideas continue. I guess we still have a few more days of cabbage to go. We really haven’t found any recipes we didn’t like.
— Day 20 —
We are eating the last of the cabbage. We still think plain boiled cabbage with onions and green peppers is the best, we are eating that one more time before the cabbage is gone.
I know that cabbage has become a staple in our diet. It is a good food stretcher and a tasty addition to any meal.
— Day 21 —
We froze plain cabbage in the beginning of this adventure. We really wanted to see how the cabbage would hold up. Would cabbage that has been frozen make the soup taste different?
Cabbage noodle soup:
½ lb. kielbasa-type sausage
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage
Brown ½ pound of sausage. Let it cool. Cut into 1-inch slices.
In a big soup pan, add chicken broth, chopped onion, chopped green pepper, and the sausage. Scrape the drippings from the sausage into the soup, if desired.
While base is cooking, add shredded cabbage and salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Cook one cup of egg noodles in water, separately. When done, add the noodles to the soup. Cook, covered, 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with one cup of Swiss cheese before serving.
If this is too thick for you, cream, milk, water, broth, or evaporated milk can be added to make it the desired consistency. You can add any type of vegetable, whatever you have on hand.
We did not thaw the cabbage ahead of time. I just threw it straight into the soup.
We both loved the soup. I put the leftover soup in the freezer. I wanted to see how the frozen soup would do.
By the time we eat the leftover cabbage soup, our 9lb. 7oz. cabbage will have provided us with 22 days of food and laughter. Whether you buy it like we did, or grow it yourself, cabbage seems like a good investment.
Hopefully, you have gotten some new ideas and recipes. We hope you are now beginning your own cabbage adventures!