Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joy in, and from, the garden

A garden can be so inspiring, especially on a late summer morning.

I was picking beans earlier today, plucking some peppers, thinning the slightly leggy arugula, and as I pulled each item from its vine or stalk, the plant released a little zing of scent, redolent with the fresh good thing I'd just freed. Around me, birds were talking to each other, a squirrel was threatening some perceived intruder, cars swished past behind the fence, a neighbor directed the driver of a large truck of mulch to the desired spot in his yard. It was warm but not hot, slightly cloudy but not raining, and I was a small part of something so big and wonderful that I could scarcely receive all the stimuli around me.

These little veggies came from our garden. I couldn't resist painting them; the colors were so yummy. And I hadn't painted from real life in a long time—I'd forgotten how rich the shadows, how complex and delicate are the tiniest details in real life. (The veggies are for sale in my Etsy shop.)

And now, for everyone who's grown cabbage that's becoming ripe, here's a simple grilling recipe to use some of it. (We never intentionally grow cabbage because the plants are space hogs, but it seems that each year, we are gifted with a handful of them. I like cabbage, though, plus it's super-healthy...and I discovered that grilling it is fabulous.) You'll see from my recipe that I like to keep things "loose" so that everyone can make the recipe his own.

Grilled Cabbage Potato Kielbasa Stuff

NOTE: You'll need a grill cage/pan/something with small openings to fit over grill)
*red potatoes (4 larger ones)
*fresh cabbage (one small head or part of a big one)
*big hunk of kielbasa, any brand, any style (about 1 pound)
*some olive oil, salt, and pepper

First, pre-cook the potatoes in the microwave; stab them each with a fork several times, put them on a plate, and cook them using the potato setting. If no setting, then on high for 8 or 9 minutes will do it.

While the potatoes cook in the microwave, cut up a big hunk of kielbasa into large, bite-sized pieces. Then chop the cabbage into big pieces, not bothering to separate the layers. (Obviously, don't use the stem or nasty thick white parts.)

When potatoes are done, let them cool briefly and then chop them, skins and all, into big pieces. If they're undercooked, it's okay—they'll finish on the grill.

Now put all the big chunks and pieces into a big bowl and slosh a bit of olive oil into it. Add several bold dashes of salt and pepper and any other seasoning you'd like (no baking spices, though) and then put the whole mess on a pre-heated grill tray. Use a long-handled something-or-other to keep the stuff moving around periodically, turning it, making sure what's on top ends up on bottom and vice versa... About 8 minutes on low/medium heat should do it.

Scoop it all off the grill tray into a big bowl—the same one you used before, if you'd like. Eat it. It's great with corn on the cob, even better if you slice the corn off the cob and mix it into the grill.

The kicker may surprise you: Put a big scoop of full-fat, small-curd cottage cheese on top of the whole thing. WOW. It's fantastic. I can't tell you why it works, but I can assure you that it does.

(This recipe feeds 2 hungry adults with a tad left. Need more? Double it!)

Hey! Have a great rest of the week and weekend! I'll be removed from technology for a few days, but I'll be back next week! : )

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