Cabbage in a Whole New Way


Posted by Miriam Rubin on March 18, 2013

What’s new about cabbage? Not too much, or is there?

That’s what I thought as I shredded half a head to make coleslaw to accompany our St. Paddy’s Day dinner of boiled corned beef, carrots and potatoes. Usually for slaw I make an oil-and-vinegar dressing or use a recipe adapted from Lolis Eric Elie’s wonderful book, “Smokestack Lightning.” His recipe dresses the slaw with a mixture of mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar.

This particular head of cabbage was very sweet and firm. New crop instead of the older heads that are “hot” when you take a bite. I started to think about how you go about making sauerkraut. First you rub the shredded cabbage with salt and then you bruise it. I decided to use that as a guide, to soften the cabbage a little and get more flavor into the shreds.

I took a couple teaspoons of kosher salt and rubbed the shredded cabbage — like massaging kale for a salad. Seasoning it before adding the dressing should work better and get it to start wilting earlier. I then added chopped sweet white onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, a milder white wine vinegar and tasted it. A little sharp. I knew that letting the slaw stand would help to mellow the vinegar bite which my husband dislikes. But I didn’t want it to be bland.

Balance, I thought, adding just a couple teaspoons of sugar. But still, it needed something else.

What goes well with cabbage?  Caraway! I’d read in Melissa Clark’s column in the Times something about caraway imparting sweetness to vegetables.  I put about 1/2 teaspoon into a mortar and bruised it with the pestle (or is it the other way around?) I can never remember. Caraway doesn’t really break up; it’s awfully hard and dense, but I think beating it up brings out something, or it tones my arms.

I added the caraway to the bowl of slaw.

A new favorite was born.

Incidentally, the other half of the cabbage went into the corned beef liquid to simmer with the carrots, potatoes and onions. My husband’s request. We’re having the rest of this wonderful meal tonight.




Is Spring Coming?


Posted by Miriam Rubin on March 14, 2013


Aren’t the crocus cold? 

IMG_1856Yesterday we had all the weather possible, except spring and of course, summer. It snowed, it showered, it iced and it pebbled styrofoam-type stuff. The wind blew hard at times and for only a very few minutes the sun shone. When is it going to be spring?


The birds believe it’s gonna happen and the buds, see the crocus and the snowdrops, above. The critters and the frogs believe it too.

Each year my husband and I have an unofficial contest: Who will be the first to hear the frogs croaking in our pond on their search for mates?

This year, he was the lucky one. I remember years back taking the portable phone outside to let him hear the joyous cacophony. Those frogs are noisy! He must have been visiting the museums of New York City.

And they’re not just noisy, they’re private. We can hear them clearly from the house, but if you try to walk over to the pond, even carefully, they hear or see you and the frogs scatter and  hide. So it’s neat that we got this shot.



In some years, after they have mated and the pond is full of egg sacks it freezes over. Even then some seem to survive, to go back into the woods and then find their way to the pond once again.

In a few weeks or less they’ll be gone and we’ll be listening to a new sound.

The tiller. Turning up the soil in the garden.

Soon it will look like this. Early spring with peas and potatoes planted. So much to do!