Well, I’ve been slow about writing this, because I’ve been busy with reading and working on my novel — which is partly about a king, or rather an emperor, so I felt I was justified in alluding to Lewis Carroll. I’ve also been trying to deal with some weird and wonderful things in my CSA box.
Most of all there is an over-abundance of cabbage. Now, cabbage is not a spring vegetable except insofar as it is a storage crop, like potatoes, and in the hungry gap between the hearty pleasures of winter food (stews! uh — rich desserts!) and the glories of real spring’s new growth (rhubarb! asparagus!), it’s there. I understand this. I know that if ever I try to be more self-sufficient in my food production I will have to learn to like cabbages a lot more than I do at present, because they are easy to grow and easy to store.
The problem is, I don’t really like cabbage. I have never bought one for myself, not eight years of cooking for myself. (The other three years I’ve mostly lived on my own were spent in residence.) I’ve never bought sauerkraut. I don’t like coleslaw. (It involves my two least favourite vegetables: raw cabbage and raw carrots. I can handle about a teaspoonful.*) I gave one of them away to a friend who does like cabbage, used half of the second to make kimchi, Korean-style pickled cabbage (also a way of using up the turnip I also don’t like all that much), and made cabbage and bacon with a chunk of it, out of a sense of duty.
And you know what? That cabbage and bacon was delicious. So much so that I gobbled it up the next day for lunch. The cabbage came from the CSA, the bacon came from the CSA, the onions may or may not have, and the garlic came from somewhere like California, but that’s okay, the cabbage and the bacon between them were wonderful. I can’t think why I haven’t used any of the other cabbages I’ve received since in a similar way. I gave one away to my parents, but I still have one lurking in the bottom of my fridge for later.
This week I also received stinging nettles, which I made into a soup that would have been better if I’d used chicken stock instead of just nettle water and milk in it (I did add some cream and nutmeg, which helped); it tastes healthy more than delicious, but I’ll work on that. The rhubarb is also a genuine delight of spring, though as I’m away for the weekend I may cut it up and freeze it for later. The fiddleheads I’ll share.
The Jerusalem artichokes I haven’t tried yet.
*Note: My dislike of raw carrots stems back to when I was eleven and was violently ill after eating an entire raw carrot. I don’t believe there was any direct causation between the raw carrot (which is, let’s face it, a perfectly healthy and to-most-people delicious snack) and the being sick, but the correlation was very, very clear in the bowl of the toilet afterwards. I think I have eaten something like the equivalent of two whole mid-sized raw carrots, mostly in the form of single carrot sticks at parties, since then. Maybe two and a half because my dad grew carrots in the garden last year and I like them better in that form. I don’t object to cooked carrots, but I do prefer them very cooked, on the definitely soft side of al dente.