Monday, March 9, 2009

daffodils and cabbage

When I first came to Baton Rouge I read that you can grow bulb flowers here, but you need to dig them up and store them in your freezer every winter. No, thank you.

The woman at the Farmer's Market told me that the only thing is, if you leave them in the ground, they may bloom in January. This won't hurt them at all, but apparently it's enough of a disadvantage to make all the Louisiana gardening manuals discourage it. No daffodils in January. Might cheer people up.

Sometimes I think daffodils have an unpleasant smell. These are very very sweet. Mmmm.

Amy asked for some of my cabbage ideas. A little background first. Cabbage is a problem vegetable for us because I like it. If I didn't like it I would be better able to disguise its alleged foul qualities. Take turnips.
I have never learned to love them and I tried several ways of serving them (sacrificing some perfectly good apples and potatoes, I might add) before they became Cole's favorite vegetable.I think partly he likes the shock value, but he does eat a good number of them.

Cabbage also grows easily here. It's cheap, and the market has the pointy gourmet kind (don't tell them, but I think it tastes pretty much the same as the round kind--and I think the round ones are cuter). Plus, it's infinitely easier to prepare than collards, even if it does involve using the Knife.
(That's our cat, Blackie, shown for scale.)

One dish we eat that features cabbage is a pasta topping made from cooking cabbage and onions in a pan with a little oil for, well, a day or so. With some strong cheese (we like feta, but roquefort is also tasty) it becomes more of a pasta dish and less cabbagey. When serving cabbage, I am careful not to call it cabbage. It becomes "tasty sauce,' "clever wrapper," "shredded filling," or, that wonderful term, "garden vegetable."

My family will eat almost anything in an egg roll. They're best fried, but you can brush them with oil and bake them instead. And there's kofta. With the right sauce, no questions are asked. One good thing about kofta is that it can use cabbage and sweet potatoes, which are plentiful* at the same time here.

*plentiful: arrive at the Farmer's Market after 10 a.m. and that's all you'll see

Cabbage plays well with others, and I like to include it in stir fry, soup, and a wonderful King Arthur recipe called Monster Pie. For my fussy eaters, however, I need to be careful with not only the amount but the shape of the pieces, which varies for each recipe. Too much or the wrong shape renders the whole dish inedible. Big enough to pick out. Small enough not to notice. Not too mushy . . . or crunchy . . . or . . . white . . .

Soup is not a big hit in this family anyway. I like eating it but not making it. Everyone else likes the idea of it but not the actual live bowl of it. Therefore I make it less than I used to. But cabbage in soup (especially in a tomatoey base, with blobs of oil floating on top) is delicious.

I do, however, agree that the daffodils smell better.

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