Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freda and Elaine's Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage and Tips for Gatherings

Sweet and Sour Cabbage is very simple, Eastern European peasant food. It brings back wonderful memories of my mother and grandmother, together, talking and laughing, for hours on end. They were best buds. So I'm making this in honor of them, and also for the holidays that are going on right now.

My mom says that she and my grandmother tested and tweaked this recipe together until they got it just right. Now it's my turn: eliminating the oil, subbing in maple syrup for brown sugar--but in essence, it's the same as it's always been for hundreds of years.

Freda and Elaine's Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage, Wendy Style
makes about 12 cups-serves a crowd

1 medium head red cabbage, cut into 4, core removed and sliced into ribbons
1 medium onion, chopped
3 small tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider or other vinegar
pinch of pepper
salt (or not)
optional: handful of dark raisins

Place a large heavy pot over medium heat. Dry saute onion, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp frozen apple juice concentrate and stir.

When onions are translucent and starting to brown, add cabbage to pot, stir and cover. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.

Place apples, bay leaf, maple syrup, vinegar, pepper and (optional) raisins into the pot. Stir well and cover. Simmer for at least another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is very soft. Season with salt (or not) to taste.

Freezes well.

Many of you expressed concern about how to deal with family/friend gatherings when deciding to commit to a plant-strong diet. Since last night was one of those family gatherings, I thought I would share with you some of my tips on eating at festive gatherings.
  •  Bring at least one dish that you can eat. In my case last night, it was the Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage.
  • Fill your plate with what you brought and any other vegetable/bean/whole grain dishes that are available. Last night I was lucky enough to find plain, steamed green beans and butternut squash (I was told that there was margarine or something in the squash but I ate it anyway).
  • You can indulge, it's a holiday after all, but not in everything. Choose what would be most satisfying to you. In the case of last night's dinner, I chose the Challah Bread (made with refined flour, egg, oil) and Mac-n-cheese. I passed up the Matzoh Ball Soup and Brisket, two things that I do love, but, hey, I know I can't indulge in everything.
  • High tail it outta there before dessert. When my 3 year old son said that he was tired and wanted to go in his bed, I took it as a sign from up above and we said our good-byes. I knew I couldn't have resisted dessert, and I had already done enough holiday indulging.
  • As hard as it is to do, try to remember that it is the family and friends and not the food that are the important part of holiday gatherings.
Was I Plant-perfect last night? No.

Vegan? Nope.

Was I Plant-strong last night? Pretty much.

I'll take it.

Got any tips of your own for how to handle holiday gatherings and living to tell about them?

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