Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sausages with Cabbage, Onion and New Potatoes

You have to understand this about the South where I live in the middle of North Carolina: We just don't have wind. It's usually blue skies (until chemtrails appear) and, at best, a light breeze. But wind? Forget it. It's blocked to the west by the Appalachian Mountains. Unless, of course, it sneaks in the backdoor--which means from the east/south via the Atlantic coast which means hurricane weather. And so that's what we had for several days courtesy of Hurricane Sandy. Along with overcast skies and unusually cold weather.

People complain. But I'm in heaven.

I refer to such weather as "Michigan weather"--my old home state. All that's missing is the Big Lake itself. Of course, I love it. I want to burrow between my new down comforter and sleep forever. Or eat hot, homey-kind of food. Food that fills you up and hugs you and warms you all at the same time.

Hello, sausages!

This is a one-skillet meal. If you do your chopping the night before, it's a snap to prepare. And since I don't get home from work until after 7 p.m., that is what I've been doing.

Any mild sausage will do. For this, I used Boar's Head kielbasa. I tried others, too. And, truth be told, my favorite was an inexpensive pork sausage from my local Food Lion. In the future, I will also use a good Knockwurst. Just don't use anything too spicy that will overpower the subtle taste of the cabbage.

Once, to brighten things up, I threw in a bit of purple cabbage with the green. Not a good idea. The potatoes tinged a bit on the pink side which I found unappetizing. I also tried it without the chicken stock but noticed the difference. A bit of chicken stock goes a long way. I used new potatoes out of the can (I love new potatoes out of the can (Del Monte brand) and fresh. Either will do. For this recipe, I used fresh.

My heart goes out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I wish could feed each and every displaced person this warm meal.

  • 1 pound sausage, cut into serving-sized portions
  • 12-16 ounces shredded Savoy cabbage*
  • 1, 14.5-ounce can new potatoes, drained and rinsed or about 10 small new potatoes, peeled**
  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (canned is fine)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • salt/pepper to taste

Melt one tablespoon butter in a 9 or 10-inch pan. Briefly brown sausages and remove. Wipe pan clean. Add two tablespoons butter over medium/low heat. When melted, add onion and caraway and sweat just until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and stir for about one minute. Add cabbage. It will fill the pan. Using tongs and a kind of swirling motion to combine cabbage with onion mixture. When you notice the volume shrinking, add the chicken stock and wine. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir/swirl a bit.

Add sausages and tuck in potatoes. Dot with remaining one tablespoon of butter. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

The cabbage will wilt and cook down to what almost looks like sauerkraut.

If using canned potatoes, 20 minutes is fine. If using fresh potatoes, you may need additional time to cook them through. When the tip of a sharp knife easily slides into the fresh potato, the dish is done. Allow to rest, partially covered, for about 10-15 minutes.

Don't omit the caraway. The amount specified is just enough to season
the dish without overpowering it.

If desired, serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh parsley and/or a dab of butter on the potatoes.

*Savoy cabbage is a bit sweeter than regular cabbage.
**If the canned new potatoes are large, cut in half. Or use a larger can and pick out the smaller ones.

I'm sure a good-tasting turkey sausage would do for the pork sausage. Replacing the liquid with unfiltered apple cider is something I plan to do in the future.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Witch Fingers

Fingers, perhaps, from the weird sisters of Macbeth?


Hello, my little pumpkins! Feeling a bit haunted? Chased by hobgoblins lately? Halloween is just around the corner . . . trick-or-treat . . . a night of fright!

I made up these witch fingers at work the other day. In the Produce Department we get in 50 lb. bags of bulk carrots that we trim and sell. But not all are worthy of salvage. As I trimmed away, one reminded me of a finger . . . My imagination kicked into overdrive and this is what I came up with: witch fingers!

They're simple to make. Search for the most gnarly, rubbery carrots you can find. Look for "knuckles" and joints. If they are sprouting "hair," all the better!

For nails, I used pistachio shells. I traced their outline onto the carrot using the tip of a sharp knife then gently removed a bit of pulp. I placed the shell, pointed side down and "stuck" it into the flesh of the carrot. Then I gently pushed down on it to embed it into the carrot to form a kind of cuticle at the base.

I wrapped the ends with rag strips that I first moistened with water. Using a Q-tip, I applied red food color for the blood. I placed them in the refrigerator overnight with a damp paper towel on top. In the morning, the pistachio shells absorbed the liquid and looked translucent and awesome.

I placed mine in a miniature plastic coffin:

A few of these sticking out from the sides of a green salad would be intriguing.

UPDATE: I've now had these for almost one week and the look even better and more shriveled. Sometimes I give them a sprinkle of water and place them back in the fridge to  "bring back to life." LOL.