Cabbage and Comfort Food

Well, it looks like I’ve been forgiven for making everyone eat sauerkraut last week.  They keep telling me they don’t like it and I keep trying to find a way to make it not taste like sauerkraut and it never works.  So this week I guess I’ll try a different approach to cabbage that’s more like comfort food.  Savory stuffed cabbage always feels homey and satisfying and it’s simple and inexpensive to make.  Here’s my most recent take on this really flexible dish.

Cabbage Stuffed with Quinoa and Brown Rice


Photo by E. Broughton
Photo by E. Broughton






Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced anaheim or poblano pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 8-oz package of microwavable quinoa and brown rice
  • 1 small head of green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)


In a saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth or a

Cabbage rolls 010

tablespoon of olive oil and the onion, celery, red pepper and poblano pepper and simmer just until tender.

Add the quinoa and rice and a little more vegetable broth and return to a simmer.  Let simmer until the mixture is well heated, about 5-6 minutes and then remove from the heat and set aside.

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Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, cut out and remove the cabbage core and remove any damaged outside leaves.  Add the cabbage and let it simmer, rolling it around so it cooks evenly.  After about 10-12 minutes the outer leaves will loosen and begin to peel away from the head.  Carefully remove them with tongs and place in an ice water bath.

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You’ll only need 12 leaves, so you can save the rest of the cabbage for another meal (I chop it up and freeze it to use in soup).

Drain the leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.   Lay out the leaves and place about a heaping tablespoon of stuffing near the base of the leaf. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the filling, folding in the sides like a burrito.  Stick a toothpick through each roll and place in a baking dish.  (Spread a couple of teaspoons of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan to keep the rolls from sticking).  Cabbage rolls 015Arrange the rolls in a single layer and top with the rest of the marinara sauce.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

Serve with a dab of plain greek yogurt or sour cream and some fresh dill or chives.


Tea and Lavender

I’ve been making jelly this week, successfully for the most part.  However, cooking is a creative art.  Jelly making on the other hand, is science, which was never my best subject and things happen.  Now everyone knows that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  But what do you do when life gives you lavender jelly that just doesn’t jell, can’t jell, won’t ever jell.  I have no idea what I did wrong, just lost my focus at some point and now I have to think of something to do with all that beautiful lavender liquid.  Luckily, I have a habit of saving glass containers, including bottles.  After rummaging in the cupboards for a few minutes, I came up with a “saved” maple syrup bottle, complete with screw top lid.  Out comes the funnel, and by some miracle, there was just enough bottle for my lavender disaster.  Once in the bottle, of course, it becomes lavender syrup, and it’s just crying out for some pancakes, or some English muffins, or maybe some scones.  Guess I’m baking this afternoon.  So a beautiful mess becomes a yummy by-product, and of course there’s still the jelly.


A Sweet Mess

A Sweet Mess

Lavender Jelly

  • 3 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup dried lavender buds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 (1 3/4 ounce) box dry pectin
  • 4 cups sugar


  1. In a large saucepan over high heat bring water just to a boil
  2. Remove from heat and stir in dried lavender flowers.  Cover and let steep for 20 minutes
  3. After 20 minutes, strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a deep kettle or pot, discarding the lavender flowers (your house smells wonderful at this point)
  4. Stir in lemon juice and pectin and continue stirring until the pectin is thoroughly dissolved
  5. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down
  6. Add in the sugar, and when the solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. To get a soft gel boil 2 minutes and for a medium gel boil for 4 minutes
  8. To test for “jell” (Keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a little of the mixture and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon.  If it thickens up to the consistency you’re looking for, the jelly is ready.  If not, you can mix in a another 1 teaspoon up to one half of another box of pectin and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute
  9. After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars.  Fill them to within ¼ inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them
  10. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove jars to wire rack and let cool before serving.
  11. Makes about a dozen ¼ pint jars.

Blueberry Scones


  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sifted barley flour
  • 1 ½ cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 ½ tablespoons sugar, plus some extra for sprinkling on top
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup almond milk, soy milk or regular 1% milk


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest)
  3. Mix the coconut oil into the dry ingredients (you can use a pastry blender or your hands)
  4. Add in the blueberries, vanilla, and slowly mix in the milk.  Don’t overwork the dough, just until it barely sticks together
  5. On a floured board knead the dough slightly.  It should be smooth and easy to handle when done.
  6. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 1 ½ inch thick rounds.
  7. Cut each round into six pieces
  8. Place on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet
  9. If you want lighter, fluffier scones, place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the scones with the extra sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  11. Let cool on the baking sheet

So now it’s time for a cup of tea and a nice warm scone drizzled in lavender syrup, or lavender jelly.  Ymmm.

The Magic of Meatloaf – A Mid-Winter Feast


by Lisa Broughton

by Lisa Broughton

A few years ago, during a particularly dreary January, I decided that we should create a personal family holiday, and after some thought, I picked Ground Hogs Day.  I didn’t realize at the time that lots of other people throughout history had the same thought: Embolc, St. Brigit’s Day, Candlemas and a lot of others I can’t pronounce.  But in our house, February 2 is the Mid-Winter Feast and it has some of it’s own very peculiar customs starting with the food. We also invented a game: Pin the Shadow on the Ground Hog.  And we enjoy best of winter dishes starting with the main course of meatloaf that has been shaped into a fairly recognizable groundhog, covered with pastry complete with little ears, eyes, a nose and tail.  I’ve enclosed a picture of the most recent example.

Ground Hogs Feast

My brother brings his famous mac-n-cheez.  The recipe is a jealously guarded secret that I haven’t been able to duplicate.  There’s winter sun cake (a rich yellow cake with coconut frosting), yummy spice bread from my daughter, crunchy cucumber-radish salad, deviled eggs, mulled white wine with pears, and this year wonderful ground-from-beans coffee from a new friend.

The Mid-Winter Feast is a statement of faith that spring really will come and it’s a chance to give thanks that we’re surviving the winter.  Believe me, a week or two of -20 to – 30 windchills can seriously shake your confidence in the power of down jackets, and you’re grateful for all your blessings.  So we get together, share our favorite wintertime dishes and talk about seed catalogs and gardening and what we’re going to do this summer.  It makes the Long Dark seem a little less endless, even if we do still have to get through the annual Tournament Blizzard.  I love you guys!

Easy Black Bean Chili

Now that the holidays are over I’m craving something simple, light but nourishing and that won’t be too much of a strain on the budget.  After all that rich food, I’m opting for vegetarian.

Easy Black Bean Chili with Brown Basmati Rice

Black Bean Chili







  • 2 16-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 14-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro


In large nonstick fry pan or sauce pan, heat onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic in the oil or vegetable broth.  Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to
soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add spices, tomatoes, beans and water, and simmer 15
minutes. Stir in corn and cook 1 minute. Stir in cilantro and serve with Brown Rice and  Loaded Corn Muffins (see below).

Loaded Corn Muffins

  Vegetable Corn Muffins

This is a really delicious way to pack in some more vegetables and the kids will love them, and since I’m taking the easy way out here, I’m using up that box of corn muffin mix I had sitting around.  Prepare the mix as directed.  Stir in 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables, and spoon into a muffin pan.  This recipe makes about six giant muffins.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It just doesn’t get much easier.