Eureka! I have found a recipe that is brimming with health benefits for mere pocket change. Cabbage casserole, how did I never come across such a delicious AND nutritious casserole?? In one of my late night Pinterest “How to Install a Natural Water Feature” moments I made one more click to a recipe off on the sidelines. I saw a beautiful, colorful, 7 ingredient recipe of pure healthy genius; an I-have-all-the-ingredients-in-the-fridge-and-pantry meal serving up to six. Click! and my life changed.
I don’t remember the pin. I had to go to bed because the recipes can easily turn me into a wee-hour Pinterest zombie. This is what I remember and it worked out fine…so fine:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep heavy pot
- 1 onion diced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 head of large red cabbage sliced in thin strips (you will want to make it again with the other half at the end of the week)
- 1/2 bunch collard greens (about 5 leaves stemmed and sliced chiffonade style
- 1 Tsp Steak seasoning plus a couple of pinches
- 6 oz hand shredded pepper jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°. Dice your onion, slice the cabbage and chiffonade the greens and keep them in separate piles. Heat the oil until it shimmers on the bottom of the pot. Add your onion and cook on high heat until they are clear and beginning to brown. Brown the ground beef with a teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Add the piles of cabbage and greens and simmer until the mixture softens down to about a third its volume. Give it a good stir.
Empty the pot into a 9″x 9″ casserole dish and spread it evenly. Top with your pepper cheese and sprinkle a pinch or two of the steak seasoning around on top sprinkle a little Parmesan to brown the top nicely, then bake for 20 minutes.
It’s fast, it’s delicious, it’s easy, it’s delicious it’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s affordable, it’s delicious!
These days there is a much concern about healthy gut bacteria. It’s great when you can defend yourself against certain food born bacteria and a good defense is eating fermented food to help balance the good and bad bacteria floating around in you.
Even if it’s not bugs of the holidays, with all the over processed food conveniently available our guts don’t stand a chance taking on a chemical warfare of flavor enhancers, anti caking agents, and colorants as well. Time to hit the reset button! We need to turn to the things Grandma and Grandpa used to do; that is to say, get back to the basics in our everyday food preparation.
There are a lot of products available at the supermarket and the drug store to help bolster that healthy gut bacteria; things like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and probiotic pills. These things are expensive! Except for the pills, these things can be cultured at home but all one really needs to feed their gut the good stuff is a head of cabbage and some salt.
It is a week long process to culture these healthy bacteria already living on your head of cabbage: Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus brevis, Pediococcus pentosaceus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bavaricus. All of this can be had for about forty cents. You just have to like sour kraut. Even if you don’t, you might like the fresh stuff because the taste and texture is far superior to anything store bought.
First, you’ll need a good knife, a small mouthed quart Mason jar and a standard pickle jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Next, chop a head of cabbage into thin strips, cutting lengthwise then cutting one half at a time into 1/8th inch shreds. In a gallon size freezer bag sprinkle two teaspoons non-iodized salt over the shredded cabbage, seal it with as little air as possible and pound it with your fist or a can of soup or a heavy sauce pan..what ever you like to use. Take out a measure of frustration on this cabbage until you notice it rendering some juice.
It will take a bit of time to stuff as much cabbage as possible into the mason jar from the bag but do so until you see the level of juice rise. After releasing your frustration you will have the patience to persevere. Keep stuffing until the juice rises all the way to the top of the cabbage. Stuff, stuff, stuff! Take a rest if the juice isn’t there yet. After a few minutes the salt will help render enough to cover the cabbage. If it’s not happening after ten minutes or so, a splash of non chlorinated water is all it should take to cover the cabbage. Almost an entire average head of cabbage will fit in the jar.
Invert the clean pickle jar over the mason jar and you will have created the perfect fermenting vessel. It will keep out dust and other unwanted air born stuff yet let carbon dioxide gas escape without blowing up on your counter. That’s it! All you have to do now is wait about a week, maybe more if you like a mushier product. You can taste it along the way to check your progress.
From day two to about day four, if you keep your jar at around 72 °F, you will notice bubbles increasing on the surface each day then diminishing the rest of the week. Those first four days the fermentation is in high gear. It continues but the kraut becomes more mellow and a bit softer in the last four days. You don’t want it to go so far as to get it too mushy or the good bacteria will have languished, thus, the product is less beneficial.
It is important for the cabbage to be covered in liquid and press out all air bubbles. If air gets to the cabbage it may oxidize and turn brown. Having a little brown does not mean a total fail. Just remove the oxidized pieces, place a tight lid on and refrigerate after the 8 days. It will still be perfectly edible.
Our grandparents and ancestors from all countries did these things to preserve food to survive harsh winters. Want to be tough like them? It takes guts! So take care of yours with your own special recipe for sauerkraut.
I come from pioneer stock so eating game doesn’t bother me but it was a big step to actually purchase a rabbit at the farmer’s market with my husband a few months ago. The poor thing was forgotten about for months in the freezer but last night without anyone seeing it I thawed it and butchered it in pieces that looked similar to a cut-up chicken. My husband, who is always a bit squeamish about eating foods that aren’t normally purchased at the supermarket, took a huge stride when I convinced him to buy that rabbit. He said that he had heard that it was a lot like chicken from some reliable sources and would be willing to try it some time. Well the time had come! Now to cook it without a negative reaction…
I didn’t want to make an issue of the rabbit in front of my daughter either, because being an eleven year old who often falls in love with anything cute, furry, and having adorable little whiskers, there might have been a reaction akin to the one when Bambi’s mother died…it wasn’t good and there was quite a bit of howling as I recall but she was four years old then. There is hope in this venture.
I then had to set up a bit of a ruse making a bigger deal out of the new method of cooking cabbage on the grill that I had seen someone do on Facebook. Jeff was, to my relief, really interested in this process so I asked him to start up the grill for me…you know…doing the man stuff of which he is always pleased to avail himself (God, I love him! (my prayer of praise)).
I was starting to feel a bit guilty at this point being a deceptive diva, but by keeping him focused on the cabbage steaks I was able to covertly prepare the pieces of rabbit by soaking them in a bit of cream and rolling them in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. I seared them on all sides in a large skillet with the bottom covered in extra virgin olive oil. At this point Jeff came into the kitchen with a smile at the aroma of good food cooking. I smiled back as I poured a little cream over the meat in the pan, then about a cup of water and a bit more salt, knowing with a certain weight that he was completely unaware of what was going on.
I covered the pan, put it on a simmer, and let it go for about 25 minutes just bubbling away. We then went out to the grill to check on the cabbage which was coming along nicely. Some of the edges that loosened were getting a bit charred but for the most part the centers were getting nicely caramelized by the butter and seasonings that were spread on them prior to grilling. We couldn’t help tasting the pieces that unfurled and they were wonderful! I will do this again over the summer for sure. We removed the cabbage when it was beginning to get soft. It took about twenty minutes or so browning on a medium setting of flame and being gently turned a couple of times.
So back to the kitchen I had corn on the cob boiling away next to the rabbit. I turned off all the heat and uncovered the rabbit. It was simmering in a beautiful gravy that had thickened because of the flour that I rolled the meat in earlier. The moment of truth was near. I plated up a leg portion for both Jeff and Julia and I took the forelegs which resembled wings, my usual choice when eating “chicken”.
After saying grace we began eating. The cabbage was delicious and Jeff and Julia began eating their rabbit without even knowing that it wasn’t really chicken. It was so hard to hide my guilty smirk. I couldn’t do it anymore! I asked how they liked the “chicken” and they both said, “Mmm, really good!”
At that point the game was up (no pun intended). I told them the truth and they responded well. They examined the meat with some curiosity and nods of approval. Now my guilt was released and to my delight they kept on eating. The rabbit really was delicious and we went on enjoying it without further ado.
Jeff really does have a discerning taste and I’m surprised he didn’t catch on. He admitted that there was something different but he just figured it was how I cooked it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fool him with deer meat and I don’t even want to fool him at all but I admit, after this I’m tempted to try…he he.
I can’t always afford to eat a juicy steak, whether because of the fat and calories, or because of the price. The London Broil steak works because it is quite lean and ridiculously affordable. When it’s cooked right, the taste and texture are as flavorful and juicy as the fancier cuts. I like to slice it thinly and on the diagonal to give everyone a fair amount of nice wide slices, or they could make a lovely sandwich from the leftovers (if there are any).
To begin I make a marinate:
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 tsp steak seasoning/Greek seasoning
- a pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper
I put all that into a gallon size zip-lock bag and shake it all up. The mustard helps it emulsify. I place the whole steak in and press out all the air. I even suck out the remaining air and quickly zip the last inch of zipper shut before air gets back in…it’s a trick and I’m glad I don’t have a photo of me doing this…all I’ll say is, just stop before you suck up any marinate.
I let that stand for at least twenty minutes while I fire up the broiler. I don’t like to use my best baking pans for a job like this. I use my oldest crummiest rack and cookie sheet to catch the drippings. Once the broiler is going, I place the steak under the flame on the upper oven rack so that the meat is about 4 to 5 inches from the flame. Broil for 5 minutes on one side then 5 on the other, leaving the oven door cracked a bit as not to build up too much heat. When the time is up, I shut off the flame, close the door, and let it sit for another 10 minutes in the warm oven.
During this time, I make my side dish. I forego the starchy sides and opt for a skillet simmered dish of onions and cabbage. With just a teaspoon of olive oil, I saute about a half an onion then chop up half a head of cabbage into two-inch wedges then cut the wedges into halves or thirds depending on the size of cabbage. I just love the designs our Creator has given us in nature. He seems to like things that branch out or blossom. So when the cabbage is wilted and getting a golden brown I use the tongs to turn it over and let the top leaves get the heat treatment. I lower the heat to medium and put on a lid for a few more minutes.
Now It’s time to see about that steak! I take it out, let it rest another 5 minutes on the cutting board and begin slicing thin juicy slices for my people who will at this time be hovering in the kitchen ready to pounce on the first crunchy yummy end piece. Usually it’s Jeff, but Julia beat him to it this time.
I have to resist the bread but for everyone else I simply slice off a bit and slide it around in the drippings in that beat up old cookie sheet…better than butter I’m sure…I’ll just watch….I’m OK, I’d rather the bread was sopping with renderings than me. Now we plate up and tuck in!