Cabbage Patch

When my husband and I first married 26 years ago we packed and left sunny California for the wilds of Montana. Together we worked various jobs and moved some before we came back to earth and decided to come back to California.

During those 11 months we had no garden except that shared with us by some friends who had a huge garden and more than 10 children to feed, not counting us. So, when we finally made it home it was to a ramshackle shack along the Eel River, off of Highway 101 in a community called Redcrest in northern Ca.

Our old house was so warped from wind, rain and floods that the back door wouldn't shut and if you left one speck of food on floor or counter-top swarms of small ants living in packed and dried mud within the walls would cover the floor, walls and anything with the scent of food on it in the kitchen. I only saw this once when the boys were small and left a trail of water-melon juice and seeds in there one night. That was enough to encourage me to be real, real clean.

The soil was rich and fertile bottom land, Tim dug our garden by hand and we planted everything we could think of. The garden grew from where you stepped off the back porch to the back gate way out there. Despite the difficulty in living there we loved it.

That was the first time I'd ever grown cabbage and they were large and lovely. In addition to the usual slaw I made my very first and scrumptious batch of suer kraut, packing shredded layers into an old crock we found in the back shed, weighting the top with a plate. It was wonderful. After eating our fill I even canned some. Later that year, or perhaps during the winter sometime it ate through the lids of a few of the jars.

Early this summer I drove past a pretty large farmer's garden on one of the rock roads on the way to Crescent, IA. From the road I could see the growing heads, bigger than mine, ready to pick. We grew no cabbage this year however.

Over the years I've collected a few cabbage recipes, the worst of which was stuffed cabbage leaves with a wine sauce, but we won't go there.

One of my sisters, who is a marvelous chef, sautÚs the leaves in a fine light oil, and serves it with melted butter and salt and pepper. Sometimes I add small bits of ham to this or even bacon. Several years ago I was given a recipe for cabbage salad from a gal who had no electricity. It tastes great and will last in a cooler for several days. It's been a yard party favorite for years.

CABBAGE SALAD

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. garlic salt (optional)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 6 cups shredded cabbage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine 1st 5 ingredients in a jar and refrigerate at least 2 hours before tossing with cabbage. Serves 7-8.