Cookbook author Mindy Toomay's blog about eating for health, cooking with spirit, and celebrating life in northern California. Here she dishes up food rants and raves, recipes, and plenty of kitchen wisdom.

By your own efforts, waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.
-- The Dhammapada

Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity?
-- Peter Mayle


Cabbage chronicles

In the northern climes, every cook knows that the best local produce during the winter months is likely to be a relative of the cabbage. What would we do without the so-called crucifers -- broccoli, chard, cauliflower, turnips, mustard greens, etc. -- when we're putting together a satisfying winter stew?

I've probably invented hundreds of recipes over the years that make delicious use of cruciferous vegatables. Even if they didn't contain indoles, super-nutritious sulphuric compounds that have a wide range of health-protective benefits, I would still enjoy their taste and texture. Besides, they're just plain beautiful. Here are broccoli and red cabbage, snuggling up with just a few of their compatible food friends.

Think what a soup these would make, all mixed up together with veggie stock, curry spices, and canned tomatoes. Something like this cauliflower version I made a few nights ago.
Now, just in case you're inspired to do a little cabbage cooking in your own kitchen, here's a recipe from my book-in-progress, Longevity Cuisine: Vegetarian Cooking for Vibrant Health at any Age.

Blessings and bon appetit!

Yield: 6 main-dish servings

This soup is borscht-like, but not at all traditional. I added the beans to boost the fiber and portein content. Handling raw beets will dye your skin a lovely shade of pink for a few hours. To avoid this, wear surgical gloves, which I consider to be essential kitchen tools, especially for handling fresh hot chiles. They're available in hardware stores and well-stocked cookware shops. For a vegan version of this soup, just omit the creamy topping. Rye toast or crackers make the perfect accompaniment.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
4 cups diced green or red cabbage
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
2 large red beets, peeled and diced
1.5 cups diced fresh or canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon dried dill or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons mild paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of black pepper
1.5 cups cooked kidney beans, drained
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
6 tablespoons lowfat sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature (optional)

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat and saute the onion, carrot, and caraway seeds for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 6 cups of water and the cabbage, potato, beets, tomatoes, dried dill (if using), paprika, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a strong simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the beans and cook until the beets are quite tender, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Stir in the vinegar and honey, along with the fresh dill (if using). Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a tablespoon of sour cream or yogurt. Serve hot and enjoy.


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