Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freda and Elaine's Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage and Tips for Gatherings

Sweet and Sour Cabbage is very simple, Eastern European peasant food. It brings back wonderful memories of my mother and grandmother, together, talking and laughing, for hours on end. They were best buds. So I'm making this in honor of them, and also for the holidays that are going on right now.

My mom says that she and my grandmother tested and tweaked this recipe together until they got it just right. Now it's my turn: eliminating the oil, subbing in maple syrup for brown sugar--but in essence, it's the same as it's always been for hundreds of years.

Freda and Elaine's Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage, Wendy Style
makes about 12 cups-serves a crowd

1 medium head red cabbage, cut into 4, core removed and sliced into ribbons
1 medium onion, chopped
3 small tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider or other vinegar
pinch of pepper
salt (or not)
optional: handful of dark raisins

Place a large heavy pot over medium heat. Dry saute onion, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp frozen apple juice concentrate and stir.

When onions are translucent and starting to brown, add cabbage to pot, stir and cover. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.

Place apples, bay leaf, maple syrup, vinegar, pepper and (optional) raisins into the pot. Stir well and cover. Simmer for at least another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is very soft. Season with salt (or not) to taste.

Freezes well.

Many of you expressed concern about how to deal with family/friend gatherings when deciding to commit to a plant-strong diet. Since last night was one of those family gatherings, I thought I would share with you some of my tips on eating at festive gatherings.
  •  Bring at least one dish that you can eat. In my case last night, it was the Sweet-n-Sour Cabbage.
  • Fill your plate with what you brought and any other vegetable/bean/whole grain dishes that are available. Last night I was lucky enough to find plain, steamed green beans and butternut squash (I was told that there was margarine or something in the squash but I ate it anyway).
  • You can indulge, it's a holiday after all, but not in everything. Choose what would be most satisfying to you. In the case of last night's dinner, I chose the Challah Bread (made with refined flour, egg, oil) and Mac-n-cheese. I passed up the Matzoh Ball Soup and Brisket, two things that I do love, but, hey, I know I can't indulge in everything.
  • High tail it outta there before dessert. When my 3 year old son said that he was tired and wanted to go in his bed, I took it as a sign from up above and we said our good-byes. I knew I couldn't have resisted dessert, and I had already done enough holiday indulging.
  • As hard as it is to do, try to remember that it is the family and friends and not the food that are the important part of holiday gatherings.
Was I Plant-perfect last night? No.

Vegan? Nope.

Was I Plant-strong last night? Pretty much.

I'll take it.

Got any tips of your own for how to handle holiday gatherings and living to tell about them?


Bonnie said...

I like how you handled your holiday meal. Our family will all gather for Thanksgiving. Guess I'll roast a turkey and try to make a lot of side dishes that are 100% plant strong. It's not as easy when you're not the host and menu planner.

Virtually Vegan Mama said...

That is my favorite way to make red's similar to french braised cabbage without all the butter, salt, refined sugar and fat! I can eat the whole head of red cabbage I love this so much. =)

I'm going to an Oktoberfest Party on Saturday and I have to bring something plant-based there will be a lot of beef there...

Amy said...

Wendy, I just made your quesadillas from yesterday and they were awesome!! Delicious! And I figured out that one whole one is only 9 WW pro-points (European points - might be different to US points). Thanks for sharing!

Healthy Hailey said...

My friend Robyn Openshaw says, "It's not what you do once that will kill you; it's what you do every day that will save you."

Natalie said...

So healthy! I love cabbage recipes. This looks great!

katshealthcorner said...

YAY for Plant-Strong! :D

Jessica said...

Last night dinner was at our home, but the menu was decidedly I made sure to have a couple of things I could eat without blowing it all. The menu included: apples and honey, challah(from Lucy's Sweet Surrender!), matzoh ball soup with home made kreplach (thanks mom!), warm millet salad with brussels sprouts and creamed (soy) mushrooms (go me, and it was good!), upside down sweet potato cake (care of Oprah...I will have to work on this one to make it less sugary,it did have rye flour, but the rest was WAY too refined), brisket and noondle/spinach kugel. Dessert was a rum cake and lemon butter cookies. SO, like Wendy, there were some choices to be made. Except for the brisket, I had a little bit of everything, and a lot of the millet. And drank a lot of water. But I already know to be kind to myself over the next month when there will be lots of meals with friends for the holidays...and to bring or make at least a couple of things I can eat with (sort of) abandon. Happy New Year to those who celebrate.

Anonymous said...

new to this - why no brown sugar?

Healthy Girl said...

Sugar is terrible for your health. Even maple syrup. But of all of the sources of that sweet taste that are concentrated, maple syrup at least comes with some nutritional value (no much). The only safe alternative I know of is pure Stevia (powdered or drops or the actual leaf of the herb) but it has such a strong taste that I wouldn't use it in a dish like this.

Caroline Miller said...

I invite everyone to my house for holiday gatherings. Unfortunately though, my parents have passed on and my family is scattered so I invite friends. Everyone knows I only serve vegan food and my guests even ask me whether they can bring guests. This year everything was oil free as well, except for the few things my 16 year old daughter made (including vegan baked goods). I bake my own eggless challah and use Israeli date syrup instead of the honey. Was I perfect? No. I had some of the baked goods my daughter made (all vegan though). Did it send me on a mini-binge? Yes but I vowed to get a grip once the holiday was over and I did.

Happy New Year to all who celebrate it!

Anonymous said...

brown sugar:
I find cooked red cabbage to be "sweet" enough on its own without sugar, agave, maple syrup, etc. just was confused why you left out something "bad" and replaced it with something in my opinion that's not much better. thanks

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