I love spending time with my mom, especially when she visits. I took the week off to do the things that we love to do together.
The week was filled with good food, of course, with my mom doing most of the cooking. It’s the only time I become the sous-chef in my own kitchen and gladly. I still learn so much from her.
She came up with bags full of veggies even though I warned her I didn’t have a lot of room in my fridge and reminded her I don’t have a cold storage space. Her bags included an extra large bag of rapini and one of equal size of broccoli and two 5-lb cabbages! I just looked at her and before I could say anything she asked me not to be upset with her. I can’t imagine what she would have brought up if I hadn’t issued the warning. I couldnt complain too much. She fed us for two weeks. It was nice.
She made all the classics: rapini and potatoes, broccoli and pasta, macaroni in pomodoro, breaded chanterelles, pizza, fennel, chickpeas and pasta, and crunchy cabbage. Yes, lots of carbs – it’s the only way she knows how to cook vegetarian for me. I’m a few pounds heavier, but it was well worth it.
I had forgotten how much I loved crunchy cabbage. That’s why this is the recipe I am featuring this week. My mom was quite pleased that I was sharing one of her recipes, non-recipe actually. She looked at me strangely when I pulled out my kitchen scale to weigh the cabbage and had to think about it when I asked how much of the white beans I had to pre-boil (you may use canned beans). It was cute when she asked, “even the oil you have to measure”? Such a foreign concept for her, but the measure of a true cook.
So, you have my mom to thank for this week’s recipe. It’s southern Italian cooking at its best. Five simple ingredients and a cooking method so versatile you can interchange most leafy vegetables. I think it’s my favourite way to enjoy cabbage, caramelized, sweet, and crunchy good.
A celebrity chef once said that Italian peasant food is fit for queens and kings. Like most other things, I think it’s food at its best because it is understated and unpretentious.
Over her two week stay, I got to do some cooking for her: squash couscous, minestrone, Spanish tortilla, winter salad, and probably the best pancake breakfast I have ever made. My mom loves pancakes and no visit is complete without a big pancake feast.
We also took her to our other favourite breakfast place, Baker Street, and to Pinelopi’s Greek Kitchen one night.
She noticed my current knitting project is practically complete and went out and bought some yarn for my next project, a scarf for her. I just smiled.
We visited a nursery with a friend out in Carleton Place, played in its Christmas store and then all enjoyed a piece of pumpkin pie at the Good Food Company.
We made gnocchi one afternoon, and lasagna sheets, as well as tagliatelle another afternoon, all by hand. I know how to make these things, but I wait for her visits, so we can make them together. These are the moments I love best with my mom. The stories that she recounts, the memories shared, the laughter, and the time spent together, so precious.
We watched “Gone with the Wind”, one of my all time favourite movies, and shopped of course.
I treasure these moments with my mom and look forward to her visits each year; they are extremely dear to me.
|Cabbage, green, ex-large, cut into 1- inch thick slices||5 lbs|
|Olive oil||1/2 cup|
|Bread, day-old, whole wheat, cut into small half-inch pieces||5 oz, approx. 1/3 of a baguette|
|Beans, white, pre-cooked||2 cups|
1. Slice cabbage into 1-inch strips.
2. Bring a medium pot of water to a medium boil, add salt and cabbage and cook cabbage for approximately 20 minutes, or until cabbage stems are cooked through.
3. Strain cabbage and set aside.
4. In a large and deep frying pan, add bread squares, boiled cabbage, and olive oil. Bring pan to medium heat and cook until the water from the cabbage begins to evaporate, approximately 10 minutes, until the bread soaks up cabbage juices and is soggy. Stir occasionally.
5. Add beans and raise the dial by one and continue to cook cabbage over medium-high heat until golden. Every 2-3 minutes , stir cabbage until most sides are golden and caramelized approximately 25-30 minutes.
6. Check seasoning. Remove from heat and serve on its own, as a side, or with sausages.