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Category Archives: Cabbage

Festivals and Zesty Pierogi Galore

Pierogi with Warm and Zesty Slaw

You’ve gotta love it when there are multiple local opportunities to patronize beer tents, sample great food, listen to music, and experience the horror of what some people actually choose to wear out in public.  Yes, the Labor Day weekend festivals have arrived here in Michigan!  The people-watching will undoubtedly be most entertaining early in the weekend, with the steamy temperatures causing sweaty masses of inappropriately clothed folks to take to the streets in search of entertainment.

In our area, we have several events within a reasonable driving distance from our house to choose from, including:

  • Arts, Beats and Eats
  • The Michigan Renaissance Festival
  • The Michigan Peach Festival
  • The Hamtramck Labor Day Festival

Sadly, the Michigan State Fair–a tradition since 1849–no longer exists, having fallen victim to state budget cuts.  So, we will not be able experience the miracle of a piglet being born (or the joy of gazing upon the Butter Cow) and must choose an alternate venue in which to battle aggressive bees and guzzle warm beer/overpriced freshly squeezed lemonade.  This year, Bill and I are going to hang out at  Arts, Beats and Eats.  With over 70 food vendors to choose from, I hope that I am not paralyzed by indecision as to what to eat.  At the other events, the choice is simple:

  • The former State Fair:  Funnel cakes, elephant ears, Pepto Bismol
  • The Michigan Renaissance Festival:  A gigantic turkey/pterodactyl leg
  • The Michigan Peach Festival:  Duh, peach things
  • The Hamtramck Labor Day Festival:  Pierogi

I am partial toward pierogi booths at festivals, if I can find one.  To me, a nice little cardboard boat filled with beer-absorbing potato and cheese filled dumplings is a perfect street snack.  I had some yummy ones at the American Polish Festival in Sterling Heights earlier this summer, accompanied by a unique taste treat, “Polish Nachos.”  However, with so many other choices available at Arts, Beats, and Eats, I will try my best to spend my food tickets on something new and exciting this evening and maybe find an alternate favorite that will not cause too much GI upset.

In honor of my beloved festival pierogi, I shall now struggle into some too-small cutoffs, don a nasty tube top and a cougar cowboy hat, and share with you a magnificent recipe that we make when we harvest a head of cabbage from our garden and the tomatoes are bountiful.  It is called simply, “Pierogies and Cabbage,” but that does not do proper justice to the tangy and slighty sweet deliciousness of the warm slaw that is created here.  I would like to re-dub it “Pierogi with Warm and Zesty Slaw.” Bill made this a couple of weeks ago, and went all out to maximize the taste of both the pierogi and the slaw–he browned the pierogi in real butter, and cooked the cabbage mixture in bacon fat (as called for in the recipe).  By all means, feel free to substitute olive oil if your arteries are clogging just reading that.  We do not cook with full fat too often anymore, but made an exception here–and it was spectacular!  If you are going to be in Hamtramck this weekend, bring home some fresh pierogi and give this dish a try.

NOTES:

  • We increased the amount of white wine vinegar from 2 teaspoons to 3 to give it a bit more zip.
  • Pierogi is actually the plural of the Polish word pierog (I am missing an accent mark over the o, but do not know how to make one in this program). Saying “pierogies” is mis-pluralizing.  Like saying “feets” or “breasteses.”  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=breasteses
  • What is a cougar cowboy hat?  My definition is: a narrow, woven cowboy hat, curled up on the sides, occasionally seen on cute 19 year olds, but most often sported by cougars with hair extensions and George Hamilton tans who are sipping yard long margaritas with collagen induced trout lips.  Natural habitats include fairs, festivals, concerts and Muscamoot Bay.
  • Never fear: I do not actually own a nasty tube top or cougar cowboy hat, retired my butt-cheek length cut-offs in the same decade as my cheerleading uniform, and do plan to check my outfit from all angles in a mirror before heading out this evening.

PIEROGI WITH WARM AND ZESTY SLAW: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pierogies-and-cabbage/detail.aspx

Slug-Free Bleu Cheese Coleslaw

It was a balmy and calm December night. Hundreds of slugs covered the front porch, their slimy trails glistening in the moonlight.  We, the owners of the slug-infested porch, stood gaping in awe.  We knew that our garden beds played host to slugs in the summer, evidenced by chewed-up hostas and cabbage, and the shiny tell-tale tracks left on walkways.  Sometimes a particularly large slug would make an appearance by our back door or on the base of the porch. (Recon missions?)  But we had no idea that we had so many, or that they were capable of seemingly organized mass gatherings such as this.

Were the slugs only there to enjoy the unusually warm evening, coming out of hiding to bask in the above average temperatures one last time before winter settled in?  Or were their intentions more sinister?  I have read Animal Farm several times, and I couldn’t help but think that there was some kind of anarchy or overthrow being planned.

Now that I am aware of their organizational capabilities, I prefer to live with the slugs rather than make enemies of them.  I do not want them coming after me.  So, I no longer put down beer traps and have chosen not to use the highly recommended Sluggo to “control” them.  I announce when I am going to harvest cabbage so that they have a fair warning to retreat, and I am not too bothered by the holes that they create in some of our plants.

Bill and I even decided to honor them when we competed in the Great Urban Race in Toronto last summer.  This is a competition held in various cities in which teams of two race around the city on foot or using public transportation, figuring out clues, taking pictures and performing tasks along the way.  Knowing that our intellect far surpassed our speed, we named our team Super Slugs.  As expected, we finished the race toward the back of the pack, but I do believe that our garden slugs were impressed; they have not felt the need to intimidate us by holding any uprisings lately.

Still, although I do not actively wipe out the slugs, I do draw the line at ingesting them.  Therefore, all cabbage picked from our garden is carefully inspected; the chewed outer leaves are removed, and the cut-up cabbage is placed in salt water to soak out any remaining invaders.  Doing so has not seemed to invoke any retaliation on their part.  This year, our cabbage seems to be surprisingly slug-free.  Although they feasted on the exterior, there were far fewer baby slugs hiding inside than there usually are.  I only had to pluck off two babies on the first head that I picked last Tuesday.

Using my handy Salad Shooter, I shredded the soaked and slug-less cabbage to make one of our favorite summer salads:  Bleu Cheese Coleslaw.  If you are looking for coleslaw “with a twist,” give this recipe a try.  The bleu cheese gives it a bit of flair. We like it with (or on) steaks or burgers.  If you don’t grow cabbage, or are making it off-season, just use a bag of slaw mix as called for in the recipe.  But whatever you do, don’t anger the slugs.

BLEU CHEESE COLESLAW: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/bleu-cheese-coleslaw/detail.aspx

Ja Makin’ Coleslaw Tonight? Ya, Mon!

Jamaican Coleslaw

Beautiful turquoise seas, white sand, rest and relaxation…sounds good to me! A lucky and well-deserving friend of mine will be experiencing a slice of that tropical paradise on her upcoming honeymoon to Jamaica. So, in anticipation of the trip, we had to try out some Jamaican flavors. We sampled some baked sweet plantains (healthier and less likely to set my kitchen on fire than deep-fried), rum punch, Jamaican-inspired banana bread, and coleslaw with a kick–enhanced with Jamaican jerk seasoning. I saw multiple recipes for Jamaican coleslaw online and was intrigued by the idea, but I specifically chose to try one that did not use mayonnaise. I don’t have anything against mayonnaise, really, though you might have formed that opinion after seeing some of my other posts. It’s just that I’ve gone to, and hosted, a few cook-outs this year, and I prefer to make things that stand up for a bit longer without refrigeration.

So, I started with the basic recipe below and played with it a bit. Most noticeably, I cut some corners since I was doing a lot of cooking in one day; I used McCormick Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk seasoning instead of making my own, and a 16 oz bagged slaw mix (my garden cabbages are just starting to form heads).  After chilling the slaw for a few hours, it was a little dry, and the jerk flavor was pretty intense. Not wanting to kill my bride-to-be friend, who has a low tolerance for spice, I stirred up and poured on a bit more dressing to moisten the slaw and sweeten the taste: 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp of sugar.  If you are tempted to try this recipe, I would suggest initially using half the recommended amount of jerk seasoning, tasting it, and adding more to suit your tolerance for heat.    The spice is pleasant and secondary, creeping up as an afterthought, so be sure to have some Red Stripe beer or rum punch to wash it down!  When my cabbage is ready to pick, I will definitely make this again for its sweet, spicy and nutty taste.

NOTE:  Although the other recipes that we tested did not have  ingredients that grow in my Michigan garden, I put links to them below in case you want to check them out.  All were very good!

JAMAICAN COLESLAW

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry jerk seasoning

Combine cabbage, carrots and nuts in a large bowl. In another small container, mix sugar, cider vinegar and jerk seasoning.  Pour dressing over cabbage mixture; toss to coat. Cover and chill before serving. If  slaw is too dry or too spicy, mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Toss into salad.

OVEN-BAKED SWEET PLANTAINShttp://www.food.com/recipe/oven-baked-sweet-plantains-80130  This one was made exactly as the recipe directed.  A very interesting, yummy taste.

JAMAICAN BANANA BREADhttp://allrecipes.com/Recipe/we-be-jammin-jamaican-banana-bread/detail.aspx  I followed other reviewers’ suggestions and used a 350 degree oven, which was perfect.  I put all the nuts in the bread, and drizzled the glaze with coconut on top and let it seep into holes I poked with a skewer.  It made one 9″x5″ loaf and one baby 6″x4″ loaf.  The glaze really gave it some zip!

RUM PUNCHhttp://www.jamaica-no-problem.com/rum-punch.html  Here is my variation:  The “sour” was lime juice, the “sweet” was plain simple syrup, the “strong” was a combo of light rum, coconut rum, and beer, and the “weak” was fruit punch.  It was tasty, but quite sweet.  I poured more beer in mine, and it was perfect!