Flexibility and Balance and Roasted Cabbage

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One of my favorite movie scenes is in the film Parenthood, when the elderly grandmother compares life to a roller coaster, with some people enjoying the exhilaration of the ride and others fearful of the surprises and unexpected turns. Well, if that analogy is true, we have been in the corkscrew turns for the last couple of months. Life has given us fun surprises, great adventures and some challenges, too.

Do you have weeks where you think, “Okay, this week was crazy, but NEXT week will be normal.”?

Only it never is?

Because it’s the new normal?

That’s where we are right now.

How to survive these complicated, extra busy times? Like a great yoga class, flexibility and balance are the keys. Flexibility to meet each new challenge and see it as an opportunity for personal growth and balance to keep what is most important at your core. I’m good with the flexibility, but working on the balance. It’s easy to get knocked off kilter by issues that seem important, but are actually just distractions.

So here we are, riding the roller coaster, hands up in the air, a little scared, but also excited. Our nutrition has fallen off the wagon a bit in the process, but we are making a committed effort to get back on track and keep a balanced weekly menu. It helps that all our regional farmer’s markets are opening this month, and farmers are bringing in more of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

And we will need all that good nutrition, because we have decided to go Goofy.

Not only are Tom and I training for a local marathon in the fall, but we will return to Disney World in January to run the Goofy Challenge. Two races in two days–a half marathon and a marathon. Two races, three medals, and a big ol’ check mark next to a bucket list item. Oh, and lots of fun. And costumes! In the meantime, we have a lot of training to do and that will require a lot of healthy fueling.

This recipe is awesome, easy, and it takes advantage of fresh, local cabbage. Roasting vegetables is simple and requires very few ingredients. It also takes advantage of all the wonderful sweetness in fresh vegetables. I saw this idea for oven roasted cabbage on Pinterest and gave it a try. You could serve this dish as a vegan entree or pair it with protein (we chose locally made kielbassa). We also added some caramelized onions to the roasted cabbage, which I think really amped up the flavor!

Roasted Cabbage Steaks (makes 2 servings)

  • 1/2 head of fresh cabbage (any type)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the cabbage head into 1 1/2″ steaks.
  3. Place the “steaks” on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Brush both sides of the cabbage with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes, flip and continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes or until the cabbage is soft and slightly charred on the edges.
  6. While the cabbage is roasting, saute the onion in about 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil. Saute until brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove cabbage from the baking sheet and put on plates. Top with onions.
  8. This can be served as a side dish or as an entrée!

Enjoy and stay on that roller coaster!

Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples

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This meal is like having your own little Octoberfest on a plate! Fresh, local cabbage, apples and smoked sausage braised together until you have fall deliciousness that is tart, sweet and a little floral. No more of that stinky cabbage of years past–this is fresh and flavorful. I made extra just so I could take some for lunch!

You can use any kind of smoked, link sausage in this dish. We actually used a combination of smoked jalapeño sausage and smoked Polish sausage from Mae Farm. Their sausage is so good I could just inhale it. We used three kinds of apples as well–one tart, one more floral and one sweet. Our favorite is the crisp and tart Dixie Red, a sassy heirloom variety apple found here in North Carolina. Mr. Godwin of Godwin Farms helped me pick out a blend of apples that would go well with both the cabbage and the sausage, howgreatisthat?

Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 1/2 pounds pasture raised smoked, link sausage, cut into 2-3″ lengths
  • 1 large organic onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 large apples, mixed variety, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1 medium head of fresh, green cabbage, washed, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • Kosher salt and ground, black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium heat, rendering some of the fat. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the sausage and set aside. Leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onions. Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the apple slices to the onions and stir well. Cook about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage, sausage, cider, salt, pepper and coriander to the pan or pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow everything to cook down, about 45 minutes. Stir often. If pan juices begin to dry, add some water to the pan.
  6. Serve hot.

Sautéed Cabbage and Apples

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We had our first day of actual, chilly weather today. Really, it was just morning chilliness, but still, it made a believer of me that fall is actually coming! Last year, we had a late freeze that took about 80% of our state’s apple crop. It was a sad fall. North Carolina apples were tricky to find and pricey, so we didn’t cook with them much and I definitely didn’t can any apple butter. Dishes like this one made the most of our apples, by using them as part of a larger dish.

Not only is this dish a delicious way to enjoy local cabbage and apples, but it also is very economical and deeply satisfying. Unlike some vegetable dishes, this seems to taste even better warmed up later, so make plenty! We are making it again this week with some local smoked sausage for an early Octoberfest supper. You could also serve this as a main course by itself with some crusty bread and have a terrific rustic winter meal! If you want a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and use 3 tbsp. of olive oil and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Sautéed Cabbage and Apples

  • 8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 3 large apples (granny smith or gala), peeled, cored and sliced thick
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon pieces over medium heat and stir often to keep them from sticking. Cook until browned, but not too crisp (about 6-7 minutes).
  2. Remove bacon from pot and set aside. Reduce drippings to about 3 tbsp.
  3. Add onion and carrots to the pot and cook over medium/high heat about 4 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add apple cider vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits.</li
  5. Add the cabbage and stir to combine. Cook about 10 minutes until cabbage softens. Add apples, stock and coriander. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Check frequently to make sure the cabbage is not sticking. Add a bit of water or more stock if needed.
  6. Add bacon back into the pot and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve!

Food Safety and the Fall Garden

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Many of us know how to put a plant in the ground and give it some basic TLC to get it growing. But how do we make sure that the gardens we plant yield safe food that will not unintentionally make us sick? And what can we do to make sure children working with us are safe? The North Carolina organization, Advocates for Health in Action have a new web-based resource to address those issues. While it is primarily designed for people starting community gardens, I found plenty of tips for my own home garden!

Here is the link to the booklet.

Are you planting a fall garden? Ours will go in this weekend and we are planting kale, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage and maybe some broccoli. Here in North Carolina, I can plant these greens and have fresh greens all winter long! As long as you don’t pull up the plant roots, you can cut the greens you need and the plant will continue to produce all winter. It was an incredibly successful yield for us!

What are you planting in your fall garden? Happy (and safe) fall gardening!

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