Red Cabbage and Christmas Memories: The PRESENT

Remember the bunny Sedi, the slayer killed awhile back?  When we were out wandering for our walk today Emma found it and, before I could stop her, she ate it.  Can someone, please, get that sight and sound out of my mind?  PLEASE????

After I finished taking photos of my ornaments earlier this week I glanced up and, totally without planning, posing or arranging, this is what I saw.

Obviously the angels are giving gifts to the caganer.

What will forever remain a mystery is: “Why?”

In the spirit of the holidays, my mind has been meandering down memory lane; chatting with the Ghosts of Christmas Past.


Santa always came to our house on Christmas Eve when I was a little girl.  None of this getting up at the crack of dawn to open presents for my practical mother!  My father was assigned the task of getting the children out of the house for the 15 minutes or so necessary for Santa to deliver the gifts.  The usual trick was to go and admire the Christmas lights in our little village.

We fell for this year after year because, of course, as everyone knows, if Santa ever catches a glimpse of a child on Christmas said child receives NO presents.  The best tactic, therefore, was to leave the house so he could get about his business.  My mother was devious smart as well as practical.

One of my earliest clear memories of Christmas is The PRESENT.

The PRESENT wasn’t from Santa or even from my parents.

It was from my older brother and sister.

There is a tradition in my family, and probably every other family in the entire universe, that older siblings pick on younger siblings.   Some would say tease, some torment; it’s only a matter of degree.

I  was too young to know this at the time.

All I knew was that there was a big, almost as big as I was, present for me from my elder siblings.

And it was heavy.  I could barely move it.

I was so excited.  I didn’t know what they could have gotten for me but it had to be wonderful.  I mean, they were bigger and older and everything, and they had done this for ME!

It truly had to be wonderful.

I admired that package every chance I had.  I nudged it, and rocked it and tried to shake it.   I sat by it, just basking in the wonder of it all.

I was soooo excited!  I was even more excited about the PRESENT than what Santa would bring.

Finally, finally, after eons of waiting, the big moment arrived!

Pause for pertinent facts here: my mother’s ‘nutcracker’ was not a cute doll that one would dance around the Christmas tree with.  It was a foot-long section of iron rail, you know, as in railroad.  I have no idea where it came from but that is what she used: place nut on rail, smash with hammer.  Worked like a charm.

Okay, back to small excited child opening large present under the Christmas tree.

It took me forever to get all of the ribbons off.    Elder sister had done a fantastic job  of wrapping!
Then there were miles and miles of tissue paper.  Elder brother had done a fantastic job of protecting whatever treasure was in this box.

I excitedly ripped off the last bit of tissue and there it was: my mother’s nutcracker; an old piece of iron rail.

I was about 5 at the time.

I was devastated.  I cried.  I cried some more.

Then I began to plot revenge.

It had to be perfect.
It had to bring them to their knees.
It had to be the most perfect, the sweetest, nastiest, most awful revenge ever perpetrated on another being, human or otherwise, anywhere, anytime.
They had to suffer, and then suffer some more.
They had to bow down, no, crawl to me, and beg my forgiveness.

It’s been damn near 50 years now…. Anyone have any ideas?  Of course, I’ll have to explain what my dastardly revenge is for as I’m sure they won’t remember.  But when I finally think of something fitting it’s going to be GOOD!  Boy are they going to regret it!  I’ll show them!

In the meantime, back to the kitchen.Redcabbage

I have, on 2 different occasions, discussed the Cabbage Commitment: the fact that when buying a cabbage and only feeding 1 or 2 or 3 people, one has to make serious plans to get it all used inside of 6 months.  In those discussions I only addressed the Green cabbage.

Now, as the holidays are upon us I will address the Red cabbage.

In my humble opinion nothing complements roast goose, duck, or venison better then a big bowl of brilliant, slightly sweet-sour, red cabbage.  Add to that the fact that it’s easy to make and can be done well in advance (better with age) and reheated; it becomes a perfect holiday food!

The list of health benefits of eating cabbage is so long I’m not even going to start, but you can read it yourself.  Suffice it to say it’s good for the heart, the gastrointestinal tract, promotes women’s health and protects against cancer and Alzheimer’s.

WhbtwoyeariconAnd red cabbage is pretty!

Weekend Herb Blogging, founded over 2 years ago by the brilliant and far-seeing Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen is being hosted by the lovely and talented Simona of briciole.  (I love adjectives!)

We managed 3 meals out of this head of cabbage, plus one more for the freezer (one can only eat so much and it freezes well).

Red Cabbage

1 medium head, red cabbage, 2 1/2 – 3lbs (1250 – 1500 gr)
1 apple – Golden Delicious or Granny Smith 
3 – 5 slices bacon, 4oz (150gr)
1 large onion
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar – or cider
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tbs brown sugar


Slice the bacon into thin strips.  Sauté bacon over medium-high heat in a large saucepan – big enough to easily hold the cabbage.  Chop the onion and add to the bacon.  Shred the cabbage by cutting a slice off of the side of the head, lay the slice cut side down and cut into 4ths, then, cutting across, slice 1/8 inch thick.  Do not use the core of the cabbage – you’ll recognize it when you see it.  When bacon is brown and onion tender add everything but the apple.  Stir well.  Cover, reduce heat to low after about 5 minutes and simmer for 30 minutes.  Peel and chop the apple and add to cabbage.  Simmer another 15 – 20 minutes or until cabbage is very tender.

What to do with it all?

The first time we had it with a pork roast.
The second time with pasta:

Pasta with Smoked Sausage and Red Cabbage  Redcabbagepasta

12 oz (350gr) smoked sausages
2 – 3 cups leftover red cabbage
1 1/4 cup pasta – penne, rigatoni, fusilli

Cook pasta.  While it cooks: heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausages and brown well.  Add cabbage, reduce heat, cover and simmer until sausages are done and cabbage is hot.  When done, remove sausages and slice into 1″ (2.5cm) pieces.  When pasta is done drain and put into a big bowl.  Add cabbage and sausage, toss to mix well and serve.

For the rest: how about served over buttered, boiled potatoes with a roasted chicken breast, or….

Be sure to visit briciole on Monday for the round-up of recipes from around the world.

SkeletonsFinally: Don’t forget to search your closet/pantry for skeletons.  Remember, confession is good for the soul.  It can, but doesn’t have to, be an actual recipe, or just the description of the, um, food or any food and holiday related debacle/story/mishap…. Really, any dirty little secret you feel like sharing!  You have until Christmas to post – the round-up will be just before Dec. 31.  The usual rules: post, link to me, send me an e-mail with permalink.  Click for details!

Come on, tell!  Share the pain…you’ll feel better!  And so will we!

27 thoughts on “Red Cabbage and Christmas Memories: The PRESENT”

  1. Katie, you have me so worried about Emma! I always heard that dogs could die from eating animals that have been dead for a while. Is she okay? Oh, and I’m not sure how to get that image out of your mind…but I think you have the right idea – cook up something delicious to distract you. 🙂

  2. Know what you mean about both Sedi and older siblings who tease. My two dogs, Tillie (Springer spaniel) and Chica (Irish Canhardly)ate whatever nasty thing they could find on the beach – or rolled in it – every time we went out. And it’s hard to imagine a revenge sweet enough for those older siblings – what a cruel joke to play on a five year old. But, not to worry, that bad karma will catch up with them one day, without your even having to do a thing!

  3. KAtie, I la-la-la-la-love red cabbage and it’s on my shopping list.
    Many recipes call for Juniper berries and here’s the tip of the day, you can sub. gin in you can’t find the berries.

  4. Jeni, I think (or hope) that dogs and cats know enough to not eat what will harm them. You should worry about her because I’m so mad I haven’t petted either of them all day!
    I’ll have a glass of wine, then forgive them… (they know I’m mad)
    Pam, dogs love to get their faces in slimy awful stuff! My siblings then went on to remind me and tease me about it every year… In all fairness they didn’t think they would make me cry)
    Peter, Juniper Berries! I always used to put juniper berries in and I forgot! (slaps head in frustration)

  5. Children can be so mean can’t they.. if I can think of some great revenge that wont cause bodily harm I’ll let you know.
    Hope your dogs okay.
    We grew some red cabbage this year. It was great, really peppery. We didn’t get many but we didn’t get much of anything so I’m grateful for any at all.

  6. I love red cabbage: it’s like you eat color, you feel the redness inside you. It’s cheerful. And I love your stories: they are so good for an afternoon read and re-energizing. And thanks for the kind words.

  7. I must share a story about another bunny who was slayed. We had rented a villa in Italy with five of our friends a few years ago and went out to dinner in our “bus” (another story . . . my husband didn’t believe the rental company when they said “autobus”) the last night. We were all giddy and yet somewhat melancholy at the thought of leaving, I was driving (the wheel was horizontal . . . like a REAL bus), it was getting dark, we were on a narrow road straddling two valleys. And suddenly. A wabbit. Staring at me. I swerved, but not too much, what with the bus and the narrow road and the dropoffs and such, and then BUBUMP . . . BUBUMP. Buy buy bunny. I started crying, everyone else laughed hysterically, and then the bunny wabbit jokes began. To this day, every now and then at a dinner party, someone will break out with “kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit . . .”

  8. my mom had an old piece of iron rail but we never used it to crack nuts we used it to hammer out pennies and other coins and metals for craft projects. I think nuts would have been a great use for it and as the oldest of 4 I wish I had though to give that to my little sister, it would have been great!

  9. Katie there really must be something you could play on that brother and sister. I just can’t think of it. I would so love to give you the perfect trick.
    Think I’d like the cabbage and sausage best.

  10. oh Katie, I know how you felt about Emma… maybe go brush her teeth? … an action to make “us” feel better as seemingly we have done something… Yes, back then we brushed our old dog teeth everytime he ate that… *sigh*

  11. Amanda, the girls are fine; I relented and gave them each a cuddle before bedtime last night. They assured me…they’d do it again in a heartbeat…sigh…. You’re cabbage sounds good! Our garden was not very productive either.
    Simona, I also like pretty food – especially red! I forgot to put this in the post but if you don’t add vinegar to it it turns blue when you cook it!
    swirlingnotions, I’m not sure whether to laugh with them or cry with you! I know that sound, it’s a horrible sound….Wabbit, whump, whump, whump…
    Shayne, it’s probably the same thing…You had a nutcracker and didn’t even recognize it. Right, great gift ideas…. (wish I would have thought of it first)
    Tanna, as you can tell, I’ve been working on it for awhile. I love cabbage and sausage…always.
    Colleen, you are so welcome. Pretty food for the holidays!
    Gattina, I don’t think I could do that…I’m still seeing the ripping and hearing the crunching…I’ll get over it. She’s happy as can be..very proud of herself!

  12. I love red cabbage. I eat it most often simply chopped up on a green salad, usually with Ranch Dressing (which is so prevalent here in Utah that some people just call it “salad dressing” as if there was no other kind. You’re very creative in your dishes to use it up, they all sound great.
    I’m the oldest child so I can’t help you with your revenge plans! It just would not be right.

  13. Now I’m glad I’m the oldest in my family! I do remember playing some pretty mean tricks on my little brother when I was younger….

  14. I’ve never eaten red cabbage!!! I always use the green one. I think we call it here col lombarda (that’s southwest France… Lombardia??????) Don’t know. I’ll pay more attention to the market now and try to cook it.

  15. Kalyn, and I hardly ever eat it raw, although I love it raw. It just wants to be cooked at our house and it’s so different from the green, cooked!
    Lydia, I have to admit that I had my turn with my younger brother….
    I didn’t see it often in Andorra, either. I think it’s more of a northern European dish… but I love it!

  16. I think for revenge I’d give the siblings plane tickets to a wonderful locale..expired plant tickets from a past trip 🙂 May take them a few minutes to notice the dates.
    I still have cabbage *attempting* to grow in the garden, may be trickier with the snow now. It’s just standard green cabbage..maybe red cabbage next year! I like cabbage with apples, caraway, and red onions, or in colcannon. Did see an interesting recipe recently mixing sausage with a spicy red sauce and grilling it inside a small head of cabbage. Something new to try.

  17. I loved red cabbage from the first moment I tried it. Never had it with bacon, though of course, everything goes better with bacon, even Heston Blumenthal’s icecream!

  18. I’m really sorry for the recent rabbit traumas, for bunny and you. Maybe if you stare at those scatty squatting ornaments long enough…! Katie, are you of German descent by any chance? We used to have these lovely little pink marzipan pigs with golden chocolate coins in their mouths. We also had those horrid old coots (also marzipan) with their pants down and coins in their “cleavage”. Yikes!

  19. Katie, I love the story about your Christmas present from elder siblings. That could easily have happened in my family. The cabbage and smoked salmon recipe sounds very intriguing — I love both ingredients, so will have to try it.

  20. OK, I must be completely insane. I read that cabbage and sausage recipe twice and both times read it as cabbage and smoked salmon. I can’t explain what happened. But now I can’t get the idea of cabbage and smoked salmon out of my mind…

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