Slices of bread that live in a freezer too long dry out, get funny white blotches and taste like, well, like they’ve been left in the freezer too long. I can attest to this because I ate two such slices this morning. Spread with cottage cheese that did nothing to conceal their flavor.
After my freeze dried breakfast I spent the morning running from meeting to meeting. All the coffee I had time for was a machine cappuccino I left so long it got cold and a sachet of instant cappuccino I didn’t stir properly, so had lumps in it.
Lunch was three measly bites from a portion of roasted rutabaga with cucumber and yogurt-caraway dressing. No great loss, because that sounds a lot better than it tasted. I’m guessing I didn’t quite get the roasting right, because the outside of the rutabaga cubes was leathery while the inside was starchy and mushy. Even if I hadn’t had to run to my next meeting, I wouldn’t have eaten much more.
I arrived a few minutes late for that meeting and grabbed the first seat I could, miles away from the coffee pot. I was too embarrassed about being late to ask people to move cup, saucer and coffee pot my way, thereby missing my chance at a half-decent cup of coffee. Naturally. Yet another meeting, some frantic e-mailing while chomping on a piece of stale apple cake and a rain-soaked trip home later, I didn’t have high hopes for dinner. Judging by the rest of the day, my red cabbage experiment was bound to be a disappointment. In fact, I was so sure it would be a disaster that I bought a bag of crisps as a back-up dinner.
This was the first time I tried red cabbage, ever. My parents both loathe it and it never occurred to me to make it when I started taking care of my food myself. So even if this had been a delicacy-filled day, I would have been a little apprehensive. But I was and would have been wrong, because the quick red cabbage I made was delicious. With apple, orange zest and brown sugar, it was a little like having dessert for dinner. But in a good way. The cabbage was soft but with a bite, it had tang from vinegar and was infused with a pleasant orange flavor. Paired with some bread and cheese, it was the perfect supper to end a not-so-perfect day.
The recipe for the cabbage came from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook. Again. I know, I know, and I am sorry. But it was just so good. I’ll tell you what I did, to make it a little less like plagiarism, but credit is fairly and squarely due to Sarah Raven.
Quick Braised Red Cabbage
Adapted in practice, but copied in spirit from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook
Serves 1 (easily multiplied)
splash of olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
½ small red cabbage, sliced thinly
zest from half a small orange
1 fairly sour apple, peeled and cut into large chunks
50 ml red wine vinegar (or more as necessary)
½ tbsp soft brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter and the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan until the butter has melted. Add the onion and cook until soft (but not browned). Add the cabbage and toss so all cabbage has a slippery butter-oil film. Add the vinegar, the apple, orange zest and brown sugar. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 45 min- 1 hour, until the cabbage is a deep, vibrant magenta and is mostly soft with a little bite. Check regularly if the cabbage isn’t sticking to pan. If it needs more liquid, add vinegar or water. Adjust sweet-sour balance by adding more vinegar or sugar as necessary. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.