Pennsylvania Red Cabbage and Apples

I have delayed a new food posting as I thought about how my meal planning has changed recently. In late August, a storm approached the Texas Gulf Coast that would turn life upside down for millions of people. Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented rainfall and aftermath flooding left our home and neighborhood mostly dry, with only some minor inconveniences like needing to boil water, rebelling septic systems, brief power outage, and nearby roads, businesses, even a hospital shut down. As we watched rising water very close to us, another storm hit, one of much less magnitude but yet still impacting my life and that of my family.  Even as we gathered supplies and learned more about the Category 4 Hurricane that was spinning nearer, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 renal disease. The time spent being confined to the house during the storm was spent in a number of ways but one of them needed to be planning for the diet restrictions I would now have. I need to be on a low salt diet, and began to research new tools and recipes, trying out a few new things.  One of the biggest things I have learned is that although I can and will add new recipes to my collection of favorites, and can use vinegars, lime and lemon juice, and some available salt substitutes, I need to look at old recipes in a new way and adjust the amount of salt. I am also trying to use more of the list of fruit and vegetables that are the best ones for me to eat.  Here is a good example.
When I got married in 1963, my mother gave me a new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. As years went on I added many cookbooks to my collection, but I still go back to this one as I remember some of the first recipes I tried as a new wife, many of which became favorites. Cabbage is one of the top 15 in my preferred fruit and vegetable list. I use it often in salads, cabbage rolls, and soups, but this is the prettiest and tastiest cabbage dish  you will ever add to your table.  It is particularly nice served with pork tenderloin or pork chops.

Pennsylvania Red Cabbage and Apples

1 strip bacon, cooked until crisp, lifted to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. (The original version called for 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings. In those years, we always saved bacon drippings for later use!

1 Tablespoon olive oil

6 cups shredded red cabbage

2 cups chopped unpared apple

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash salt substitute

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)

Heat drippings and oil in iron skillet; add remaining ingredients. Stir and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook 15 minutes of longer if you want the cabbage to be more tender. Makes 6 servings.




ColcannonSt. Patrick’s Day 2016!  No green beer here, just some good hearty Irish food, combining 3 favorites – cabbage, potatoes, and leeks!  We cut a small head of cabbage growing in our garden, peeled some potatoes and cleaned 3 leeks and before long, this tasty lunch was on the table.  I diced some bits of ham and bacon to pass in a bowl separately for topping, and baked some 2 ingredient yogurt bread to serve with it – what a feast!


1 small head of cabbage, outer leaves included if they are not too tough

4 medium potatoes, or about a pound, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 leeks (use a bunch of green onions if you do not have leeks)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

diced ham and/or bacon, optional, for topping

Wash and cut cabbage into pieces.  Bring to simmer in salted water over medium heat and cook until tender. Remove from water and set aside, keeping water to add potatoes.  Cook potatoes until fork tender.  While potatoes are cooking, carefully wash and slice leeks, both white and green parts, and drop into bowl of water, separating rings and letting any additional sandy bits fall to the bottom.  Lift leeks out with fingertips (pouring just gets the sand back on) and place in a sauce pan with 1 cup milk.  Simmer in milk until leeks are tender,

Cut cabbage into smaller pieces.  I do this by placing the cabbage in the large bowl I intend to serve in, and cutting them with kitchen shears.  Drain and rough mash the potatoes (there will be some chunks) and add to the cabbage along with the leeks and the milk they have cooked in.  Blend well, make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour melted butter into this. Pass a small bowl of diced bacon and ham cooked crisp for topping. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread.


Spiced Pork Chops with Red Cabbage and Apple


Since we bought both green and red cabbage at the Farmers Market last week, I wanted to make red cabbage and apples.  This skillet dinner with pork chops was a hearty and delicious meal. The list of ingredients is long, but the layers of flavor produced are worth it!

Spiced Pork Chops with Red Cabbage and Apples

Step 1. Thyme and Dijon Butter (optional)

2 TBSP Dijon mustard

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried French Thyme

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp lemon juice

4 TBSP softened butter

Blend all ingredients together  and refrigerate until pork and cabbage is ready to serve!


Step 2.  Pork and Cabbage Skillet

4 center cut pork chops, 1-inch thick

2  TBSP olive oil1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup  diced onion

1/3 cup diced carr0t

1/3 cup finely diced celery

1 small head red cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick

2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 clove garlic

6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried

1 small bay leaf

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 TSBP balsamic vinegar

 Trim excess fat from outside edge of the chops, leaving a small rim.. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and brown chops well on both sides. Remove and season with some of the salt, thyme, and pepper. Saute onion, carrot and celery in the pork drippings for 5 minutes. Add cabbage, apples, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and saute for another 5 minutes or until the cabbage has begun to wilt. Season with the remaining salt and pepper; add wine, broth and vinegar. Arrange chops in the pan, basting with the cabbage and juices. Reduce heat, cover and cook slowly for about 45 minutes, turning and basting once or twice, until chops are tender and cooked through. Arrange cabbage on hot serving plates, removing the bay leaf and garlic clove. Place a pork chop on each plate and top with the mustard-thyme butter.
Note: The butter can be omitted




Roasted Cabbage Steaks

20160101_110951This cabbage was one of the few we have growing in our garden this winter.  I also planted some in the community garden where we help some along with others from our church. The ones growing there have been harvested and sent along to the chef at the local women’s shelter, where I am told they were enjoyed.  Cabbage is one of the vegetables I gained a new appreciation for when I began roasting them. I usually save the outermost leaves to add to a hearty vegetable soup later, but I found that vertically slicing the head of cabbage makes several thick slabs which can be laid down flat on a baking sheet and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted. When I tried this the first time, my family asked “When can we have this again?”  Add some crumbled bacon and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you like.\



Roasted Cabbage Steaks

1 head of cabbage, loose outer leaves removed and saved

olive oil

coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4-5 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and crumbled  -optional

balsamic vinegar-optional

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place cabbage on cutting board with stem end down and slice vertically with a sharp knife to make 4 (more if the cabbage is very large) 1 inch slices.  Place each slice down on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, brushing with pastry brush to evenly coat. Sprinkle with   salt and a few grinds of pepper. Turn slices over and repeat. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes or until edges are turning brown and crisp.  Serve while hot sprinkled with crumbled bacon and a splash of balsamic vinegar if desired.


Cabbage and Smoked Sausage Soup

On damp, wintry days, a pot of hearty soup bubbling on the stove sends out an invitation – “come to the table and warm your heart as well as your tummy!”   When I ladled this fragrant, brothy German style cabbage soup into our red pottery bowls, I smiled in anticipation today. Along with Joe’s contribution of a skillet of cornbread, it was perfect for the middle of a day that had not been an easy one, so it was indeed comfort food.  There are variations of this recipe in many cookbooks and online, proving this combination of foods invites variation and is very forgiving. One recipe I found included the addition of one can of condensed cream of celery soup which I found interesting and wanted to try, but true to form, I changed the soup to cream of chicken because that was in the pantry.  Here is my version.  It is delicious and makes enough for alot of people or several meals!

Cabbage and Smoked Sausage Soup

3 -4 strips thick sliced bacon, cut into small pieces

1 onion, chopped

4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

5 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 smoked sausage ring or up to 1 pound links ( I used HEB’s Cranberry Pork link sausages)

6 cups chicken broth

1 can or carton cream of chicken soup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper (or less if you prefer, we like pepper!)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

In large soup pot, cook bacon pieces until they begin to brown and release fat.  Add onion, saute 2-3 minutes, then add carrots, celery, sausage, and potaotes.  Add salt, pepper, and thyme, then stir in chicken broth. Bring to simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add cream of chicken soup and stir. Continue heating 2 minutes, then turn off heat.  Stir, and ladle into bowls.

Winter Green


The green things that grow in my Winter garden are stars in my kitchen as well as popping in the browns of the outside landscape. Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli grow so well through the ups an downs in our South Texas “cold” season that it is well worth planting only a few of each just to watch them thrive. These are one of the few vegetables which intensify in color as you cook them (when done properly) and some of the best nutrition we can put on our tables.  The simplest cooking techniques produce flavor and color on the plate.  Above, small broccoli bunches broken into flowerets and sautéed with garlic in olive oil taste best when cooked only until stalks are tender crisp. I finished this skillet of broccoli with the last of our Meyer lemons. A squeeze of fresh orange is delicious, too.

IMG_0045Swiss Chard is one of my favorite leafy greens, although it vies with kale for first place.  It is a garden champion for persistence  I have cut leaves from this large plant over and over, and it responds with new ones quickly.  It is immensely satisfying to just go out and get the amount I need for a quick side or ingredient.  I rinse it, pat it dry, remove the tougher part of the stem end, then either rough chop or roll up the leaves and slice them into strips.

IMG_0046Then I swirl a bit of olive oil into my big copper bottom pan, sizzle 4 or 5 garlic pods briefly, and add the chard. All this uncooked chard barely fits into the big pan, but after sautéing with the garlic, it really is dinner portions for two people.

IMG_0049Drizzle some balsamic or sherry vinegar over the top, and it is ready to serve. Mustard greens, kale, and spinach can be prepared in exactly the same way, although I like to toast a few whole mustard seeds to add to mustard greens

Leftover bits of greens are a great addition to omelets or as a bed for fish or chicken.  Last night I used sautéed chard to make some stuffed pasta shells in a recipe which called for spinach.  Hardy in the garden, hearty on the table – Winter Greens are lovely.

Stuffed Cabbage

Now is the time for homegrown cabbages with large dark green outer leaves to appear in farmstands.  Most often, grocery store cabbage has had all these lovely outer leaves trimmed, so when I find heads with lots of loose outer leaves, I am delighted.  I always separate 12 or 14 leaves as soon as I get the head of cabbage home, and put them into a Ziploc bag, saving the rest of the cabbage for other uses.  With these leaves that many people think are tough and throw away, I make one of our family’s long time favorite dishes, stuffed cabbage.  Other recipes may call them cabbage rolls. Mine is adapted from an old copy of Good Housekeeping Cookbook I have had for many years.

Cooking this one pot meal requires a few steps, and definitely more cooking time than most of my best loved dishes, but it is so worth it.  Just pick a time when you can do the preparation ahead of time, and plan on about 3 hours of baking.

Stuffed Cabbage

 Large head of fresh cabbage with loose outer leaves

1 pound extra lean ground beef

½ cup uncooked rice

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large onion, sliced

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes

juice of 2 fresh lemons

1 teaspoon salt

 ¼ teaspoon pepper

½ to 1 cup brown sugar, packed.

Ingredients that are listed twice are used at different times in the recipe.

 Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove 12 large outer leaves from cabbage head.  Bring a pot of water to boil and let leaves stand a few seconds to soften and make them easy to fold.  Remove, drain, and cool enough to handle.  On a cutting board, trim off thick part of each leaf.

Mix meat, rice, onion, eggs, salt and pepper.  Place a heaping tablespoon of mixture in the center of each leaf, fold up bottom, sides and top to make a small package.  Spray a large pot or dutch oven with cooking spray and place a few unused cabbage leaves on the bottom.  Place stuffed cabbage into pot, making layers with sliced onion.

On top, pour crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and lemon juice.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, and brown sugar on top.  Bring to a boil on top of the stove.  Bake covered for 1 hour.  Uncover, and bake 2 hours longer.  Makes 8 servings.



Trust me, it is worth all the trouble!  The little packages of meat and rice wrapped in cabbage are even good cold!  Children like to help wrap them up.

Cabbage Noodles

One lovely head of green cabbage in my CSA vegetable pickup will be part of three meals here this week.  I separated 10 of the large outer leaves to store in a ziplock bag for making cabbage rolls later.  I cut the remaining head in half.  The bottom half will go into a pot of vegetable soup next weekend.  The top half I shredded and caramelized along with some sliced onion and egg noodles in this delicious dish.  I served it with baked chicken but it would be a lovely side for roast pork.  I adapted this recipe from one called Polish Cabbage Noodles.

                             Cabbage Noodles

  • medium head shredded cabbage
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 12 – 16 ounces wide egg noodles
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. Cook noodles in a in a large pot of boiling salted water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat butter or margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Saute cabbage and onions until golden,  tender, and caramelized.
  3. Drain pasta and add to cabbage and onion mixture. Toss and serve piping hot.