Bring on the….CABBAGE!
|An nice big cabbage plant starting to “head up”|
And here on Ebey’s Prairie we are pretty darn good at growing it. So good, as a matter of fact, that the central Whidbey/ Ebey’s Prairie area produces a large portion of the world’s supply of cabbage seed? You might have seen the fields, about this time of year the cabbage planted late last summer has now erupted into tall blooming fields of yellow usually fairly humming with the work of happy, happy bees. Those fields are allowed to set seed and then harvested, threshed and sent to seed companies that redistribute, package and ship it all the world. Here’s a great link to cabbage production on Ebey’s Prairie from a few years ago..http://todayonebeys.blogspot.com/2010/05/cabbage-seeds.html
About 7 years ago now I traveled to China (my brother was getting married to a lovely Chinese woman) and while there we toured some of their farms (I couldn’t help myself!). While looking at crazy amounts of eggplants and melons and strange cucumbers, our Chinese farmer host was very excited to show us the crop of “big headed” plant that they were packing and shipping for Japan. They thought it was quite a novel vegetable and said they had gotten the seeds from the U.S. I was fascinated wondering what this exciting vegetable might be. We went to see this “unusual” vegetable in the packing shed and discovered that it was, lo and behold, cabbage! (In China, while they eat just about every other vegetable possible and then some, they don’t have a tradition of eating headed cabbage. Just loose “Chinese/Napa cabbage.” But it is popular in Japan apparently). I found it ironic that I traveled half way around the world to see growing out a vegetable who’s seed was more than likely produced right in my backyard!
Cabbage is, simply put, a really awesome vegetable. It grows well, it is chock full of Vitamins C and E and great cancer-fighting properties, and you can store it forever either in a root cellar or made into something scrumptious like sauerkraut. It has been cultivated for over 4000 years, Captain Cook used it as a poultice to treat injured sailors and prevent gangrene and Egyptian pharaohs ate copious amounts before a night of drinking because they thought it let them hold their liquor better.
But like some of my most favorite vegetables, cabbage is, sadly enough, rarely the “star” at the farmer’s market booth. No…people want their precious tomatoes, their basil, their fancy-schmancy garlic and their colored potatoes. (okay…we do all that too! hahaha). And the poor cabbage gets sadly, overlooked.
Well today, today is CABBAGE day. (As in we harvested like 200 lbs of it so um, yeah, we need to sell it!). At market today we’ve got 3 kinds – this crazy Italian pointed one called “Couer di bue” which means “oxheart” (I find that Italians have named many of their vegetables “oxheart.” We grow a tomato with the exact same name. Apparently they are very found of bovine hearts in Italy.) We’ve also got a lovely round spring cabbage called “Charmant.” And a small purple/green Italian savoy cabbage called “Verona di Michelle.” (or something like that). A nice representation of the many forms in which cabbage can produce itself although all of these are the smaller “early summer” cabbages. For the big giant heads, well we will have those come September!
So come down to the Coupeville or Bayview market and pick yourself out a nice head or two (or three!) There are tons of recipes and uses for cabbage (just google a bit) I’m including one that I’m going to try tonite which is basically cabbage with fancy bacon (Pancetta). Yum!
- 6 slices pancetta, cut into small strips
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head cabbage, finely shredded
- 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
- 1 dash hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco®), or to taste (optional)
- Cook and stir pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper; cook until onions become translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Cook and stir cabbage with pancetta mixture until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add soy sauce and hot pepper sauce; cook until cabbage is tender, about 10 more minutes.
And of course, we have loads more veggies to go with your cabbage including…
* Red Spinach
* Head Lettuce
* Walla onions w/ greens
* New potatoes
* Fresh garlic (2 kinds this week!)
* Japanese Turnips
* Fava Beans
* Basil (first picking!)
* Shelling peas
* Italian parsley
Hope to see you at market!
Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie