The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Eating up the cabbage and Brussels sprouts

Frost-damaged brussels sprouts

Plump brussels sproutsA month ago, when I erected quick hoops two through four, one of our readers asked why I was devoting a quarter of that protected space to Brussels sprouts.  After all, the vegetable is supremely cold-hardy, right?  So wouldn't it be fine out in the open?

The photo at the top of this post shows what happens to unprotected Brussels sprouts when temperatures drop into the teens.  The leaves tend to be fine, but the sprouts themselves get nipped.  Frost-nipped sprouts are edible, but aren't quite as tasty, and if you don't eat them right away, they start to rot.

In contrast, the photo to the right shows one of the plants under the quick hoops.  Lots of tasty sprouts, undamaged by frost, and just waiting to be Christmas dinner!  We're eating the unprotected sprouts pretty hard right now, even plucking the not-quite-solid heads, because temperatures are forecast to droop back into the teens (or at least low twenties) this week.  Since Brussels sprouts are among Mark's top-ten favorite foods, I haven't heard any complaints, but maybe that's because my favorite Brussels-sprouts recipe starts with four slices of bacon....

Grating for slaw

In other Brassica-oleracea news, it's also time to finish eating up all of the cabbages that have been stored in the bottom of the fridge for the last month or so.  Our spring cabbages all go into soup base, but fall cabbages have more life choices, sometimes being eaten plain as a raw finger vegetable, sometimes being mixed with meat to make potstickers, sometimes getting roasted (although they never taste as good as roast Brussels sprouts), and sometimes going into experimental dishes like the non-mayonaisse-based cole slaw I'm making above.

I clearly need to step it up a notch, though, because we've got three heads left with outer leaves turning brown that need to get eaten soon.  What cabbage recipes would you recommend for people who don't like traditional cole slaw and don't enjoy sauerkraut?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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One of my favorite ways to eat cabbage is in a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut. But since you guys don't like sauerkraut... (something I suppose I'll forgive you for... j/k :) )

I love to take one of those pre-packaged 4-5 lb brisket halves (sold as corned beef) and season it and put it in the crock pot for eight hours or so. Put a small-med cabbage head, quartered, sitting right on top of the meat for the last two hours or so. You could also add carrots and potatoes in there at some point, depends how "done" you like 'em. You end up with fork-tender beef and veggies, and the cabbage tastes great. There are tons of recipes on places like allrecipes and food network.

Problem is, I can't find corned beef for less than $20, making this not such a cheap meal. I found a few on sale a couple years ago, and threw them in the freezer... But my mouth has been watering for this recipe for months now, but haven't buckled to the $4.50/lb price... good luck!

You can't go too wrong with your beautiful-looking veggies! Scott

Comment by Scott Mon Dec 9 08:41:10 2013
My husband and I really enjoy hot pepper & cabbage relish. You can find lots of old-timey recipes for it online, & they're all about the same. It's late for that this year, but it's a great alternative to eating tons of slaw. A winter cabbage recipe that my family loves is baked (or roasted, or grilled) cabbage - they're all basically the same recipe. Place cabbage on enough foil to eventually wrap the cabbage entirely (or cut cabbage into quarters & prepare & wrap separately, which requires less cook time). Slice the cabbage cross-way on top, going deep into the head but keeping the cabbage head held together at the bottom. Stuff fresh butter & sea salt into the cracks. We believe in lots of grass-fed butter, so we're liberal with this step. Top the cabbage with uncooked bacon if baking whole cabbage or precooked bacon if using a shorter cook time (minimum of four slices), then wrap everything together in the foil. Bake in a preheated oven, slowly for about 1.5 - 2 hours. Some people include onion & garlic. I don't generally like cabbage, but this recipe is too good to turn down. You can find more specific recipes online. Just search for baked or roasted cabbage in foil.
Comment by Erin Mon Dec 9 09:09:12 2013

I'm assuming you've made your own sauerkraut and still didn't like it? I always thought I just flat out hated kraut, but I made the sandor katz recipe (shred some cabbage, but in whatever other vegetables you want, and a little salt and let it sit, tasting it every couple of days till you like it), and it was pretty tasty when eaten with other things (still can't handle it on it's own). And by "other things" I mean spicy meat.

Coleslaw is also one of my least favs. This might be a more summery dish since the cilantro is really necessary, but for me, the peanuts make this a winner: (Also, I've never really had this one quite like this... there's always something missing and something extra thrown in). That blog is pretty spot on with a lot of good ideas. Not sure what other cabbage recipes they have...

Oh, or cabbage pancakes. This might sound ridiculous, but it's great. I can't remember the name in Japanese, but it's basically, cabbage, some other stuff (vegetables and spices of your choosing), mixed with some breadcrumbs and egg. Take a handful, push it flat and fry it on a hot skillet, top with a little soy sauce and siracha. yum yum yum.

OH, or potato and cabbage pierogies. Maybe I do like cabbage after all?

Comment by Stephen Mon Dec 9 09:09:32 2013

Here's the Japanese cabbage thing: okonomiyaki

I like this pizza idea. When I had it, we just made the "crust" like pancakes and ate it with soy sauce and siracha.

Comment by Stephen Mon Dec 9 09:12:30 2013

Here's a really good one I learned from little old Slovak ladies at the church I grew up in.

Halushki is cabbage, onion, and egg noodles sauted in butter (some add bacon as well, but I like it without).

Cook your noodles as directed until al dente, saute your cabbage and a sliced onion in butter until soft and just starting to turn brown. Add the noddles, more butter if necessary, and salt and pepper to taste. Yummm!

Comment by Stephanie Mon Dec 9 10:00:21 2013
Fried cabbage is the best way to eat cabbage! Cook up a few pieces of bacon, or add some reserved fat to a heavy cast iron pan. Remove the core, cut the head in half and then further into 1/2 strips. Cut an onion the same way (I use 2 onions, but we really love sautéed onions). Mince a clove of garlic, Salt and pepper it good and set it over a med heat, covered. Once the cabbage is over halfway done, take the lid off. Finish cooking until tender and caramelized. This dish is really easy to make over a fire as well. Hope you like it!
Comment by Robert Mon Dec 9 10:45:51 2013

You can use it in rösti with vegetables. Add some onions, leek and carrots too.

Another winter dish is cabbage stew. Peel and slice potatoes about 1/4" thick. Cut the same weight of cabbage in slices. Put the potatoes in a pan. Add about 200 ml of water per kg of potatoes. Put the cabbage on top. Bring it to a boil with a lid on the pan. Let it simmer for around 25 minutes. The cabbage and potatoes should be cooked and the water should be gone. If not boils off the remaining water. Add some butter and milk and mash everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you don't mind a little bit spicy, you can fry sliced cabbage with onion and a sliced chili pepper (without the seeds!) and some kecap manis. The sweetness of the kecap will negate much of the hot chili.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Dec 9 14:25:10 2013

Your next project should be a cook book! Arrange it seasonally! Also, it's not for cabbage, but I found this on and thought of your brussels sprouts pics this morning:

Easy Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe type: Side DishPrep time: 10 mins Cook time: 20 mins Total time: 30 mins Serves: 6-8
A hot cast iron skillet, a little cumin and lots of salt and olive oil turns Brussels sprouts into something deliciously snack-worthy. Ingredients •2 pounds Brussels sprouts •¼ cup good olive oil, divided •1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste •1 teaspoon ground cumin •½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste.

Instructions 1.Rinse and trim Brussels sprouts. Cut off the bottom end and halve sprouts. 2.Toss Brussels sprouts in a bowl with half (2 tablespoons) of the olive oil, salt, cumin and pepper. 3.Heat a large cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. When it shimmers, add Brussels sprouts to skillet and spread sprouts out in a single layer. 4.Allow sprouts to cook without stirring or shaking the pan for 3 to 5 minutes, until a nice caramelized sear has developed on the sprouts. 5.Toss the sprouts, trying to turn most of them brown-side up in the pan, and finish cooking on the other side, about another 8 to 10 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary and stir occasionally so sprouts cook without burning. 6.When done, the sprouts should be tender all the way through but not mushy, and richly brown in places. Add additional salt as desired and serve right away.

Comment by Emily from Bristol Mon Dec 9 17:14:00 2013
Love sweet and sour cabbage! Just peppers and cabbage dryer in oil then add sugar and vinegar to taste. Put over rice.
Comment by Michael Mon Dec 9 19:50:34 2013

Cabbage, carrot, green pepper, onion stir fried with your meat of choice. Season with salt and pepper or soy sauce.

If you want, you can mix corn starch and water, and make a thick sauce for the stir fry and serve it over fried noodles.

Or Okonomiyaki. (best to look up how to make it online though. It sure will use up the cabbages though.

Comment by Eric in Japan Mon Dec 9 19:52:08 2013
I am surprised no one said cabbage rolls or bier rocks. There are tons of great Slavic/Germanic recipes for cabbage. There is also a cabbage salad I love but I'll have to find the recipe... also cabbage sauteed with kielbasa and onions... yum
Comment by rondainks Tue Dec 10 02:54:44 2013

I have recently found this recipe for Grain-Free Cabbage Pizza Skillet. We have made it once already and I think that it will be for dinner tonight. Yum!

Comment by Rita Tue Dec 10 14:19:07 2013

I can't wait to try some of the suggestions from the other readers!

I would second Scott's recommendation of corned beef and cabbage. But I want to also point out that corned beef doesn't have to be expensive--you can make your own with some simple spices and a few weeks time. Heck, it doesn't even have to be beef! We make it with venison every year for St. Patrick's Day.

If you'll allow me a bit of shameless self-promotion, here is a link to a little blurb we wrote up back in March:

We've tried other recipes straight from the Internets and haven't had a bad batch yet, so if you don't have any whey handy, you can still make good corned beef.

Comment by Jake Thu Dec 12 03:29:46 2013

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