Braised Lamb Shanks

 

If you take the bible, especially its older testament, as literal truth — if you believe that there are credible historical figures contained within its pages — then you already know that woman and man, but mainly man, as they were the priests, have been eating meat, especially lamb, at least since Abrahamic times. That’s going back to the second millennium BCE, maybe more. Continue reading “Braised Lamb Shanks”

Another winter salad

 

winter roots and leaves…

With weirdly warm weather for December in Denver you might be fooled into fixing yourself a light summer salad.

and grilled cauliflower…

But tomatoes are a sorry season now. Trucked in hard as a golfer’s balls and green as limes, held sub rosa in holding facilities on the edge of town, gassed repeatedly with ethylene, they emerge vacant and shadowless, they taste of nothing, or next to it, but at least they are red. Continue reading “Another winter salad”

Spaghetti with broccoli

I love simple, inexpensive, delicious food, and much of that comes from the resourceful kitchens of southern Italy. Ionah’s mother Euza, who’s from Brazil, but whose veins pulse with vibrant Italian blood, is an excellent cook and tango dancer extraordinaire. She has a talented weakness for all things Italian and one of those things is a simple family dish that we call spaghetti with broccoli.She used to make it for the family when they were kids growing up in Rhode Island. Ionah continues the tradition, and whenever the pasta pot comes rolling to a boil around here, it’s often spaghetti with broccoli that fills it up. Continue reading “Spaghetti with broccoli”

The Lemon Cure

Brother Dez skyped me from his London kitchen the other day. He said to tune in to the Iggy Pop radio hour on BBC Radio 6. It was an all Bowie show. As I was pulling it up I got to thinking about David Bowie and Iggy Pop, who arguable wrote the greatist lyric in the history of rock and roll, “I wanna be your dog.” Still relevant today in these friendliest of dog times. Then, a long buried Bowie lyric from his album, Life on Mars, came into my head, “ ’cause Lennon’s on sale again,” but which I first misheard as “There’s lemons on sale again.” Got me thinking.

Iggy went through some fast times in his youth. Take at look at his face. Those wizened lines tell a tale, like lizard tracks in the sand. He lived hard, he got sick — but he cured and got the gig with Radio 6. I believe he sticks to one glass of Bordeaux Supérieor a day these days. He recently posed for a life drawing class at the Brooklyn Museum. Does laps in his pool most mornings in his house. Calls in the show from there. Continue reading “The Lemon Cure”

Brussels Sprouts

                          No to Glucosinolite Sinigrin!

 

Couple of years back, Ionah and I were returning from a Christmas visit to Ireland. We landed in Dallas Forth worth to catch our connecting flight home to Denver. It was a blustery landing and just as we cleared customs and were trying to figure out how to get to our terminal, a medium-sized tornado touched down on the landing strip.

Alarms went off, uniformed guards shouted at us to stay calm and a group of us, a hundred or so were herded by security over to the toilets, where we remained for an hour until the danger had passed. We later found out 160 planes were damaged. Hundreds of flights, including ours, were cancelled. Continue reading “Brussels Sprouts”

Sweet and Sour German Red Cabbage

“Rotkohl”

 

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When I was a kid, for three or four summers in a row, my parents took us on holiday for the month of August to a giant old country house outside of Cobh, in County Cork. It belonged to a friend of my father’s. The ground floor was a giant stone slab polished with age. There was no bedding, kitchen equipment or electricity provided. Still for my parents, it was a free holiday away from the bustle of Dublin and for us kids it was like heaven beside a stony shore.

The amount of stuff we took— it was like getting ready for a siege — the roof-rack piled high with roped down blankets, sheets and pillows; the car stuffed to the gills with jams and jellies, butter and cheese, pots and pans, candles, cutlery, sardines and lots of cabbage.

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For we were off for a month and the old house had little to offer in the way of kitchen equipment except for a propane stove, a sink with cold running water and a white enamel table which looked like it was salvaged from an army hospital.

And we were a mere throwing distance from the sea; a beautifully protected cove perfect for kids wanting to hone their stone skipping and periwinkle gathering skills. The month passed and it felt like a week.

Most afternoons I veered towards the kitchen where my mother was busy with supper. It was a plain whitewashed affair with the table stationed up against the wall. The light was provided by the window, which was adequate in August as it’s still light in Ireland at 9pm. She of course did all the cooking. I helped with peeling potatoes, always potatoes, but I also learned how to prepare her red cabbage, German style.

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Before I was born, you see, my parents lived in Glasgow for a while after the war, and their little flat had a shared kitchen. It was shared with Herr and Frau Kulak, a German couple. What they were doing in Scotland I’ve no idea — I seem to remember he might have been an engineer — but anyway, on a Skype call to my dad I asked if he remembered her.
“I’ll never forget her,” he said. “She was a cross between a demon and a dynamo. She scoured the kitchen every day until it glistened and shined, and she insisted your mother did the same. And she insisted your mother learn how to make her red cabbage of which she was very proud.
And so it happened that I learned from Frau Kulak through the medium of my mother how to prepare German red cabbage. I think I was 13. It think it was 1966. I think she called it, Rotkohl.

Frau Kulak and my mother used grated apple, some kind of vinegar and brown sugar. I like dried cranberries, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. By all means, try it with grated apple, or use currants, raisins or dried cherries. Red wine vinegar works well instead of apple cider. You can add a few cloves or coriander seeds instead of juniper berries. Some folks add a sprinkle of flour; I don’t think it’s necessary.

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It’s a simple dish, but, it can take a little time depending on how you cut the cabbage and of course, it needs to cook a while. A lot of recipes call for two hours, but I like the fresh flavor and brightness that one hour yields. Experiment. Go easy on the sweet and the sour. Too much of either and you will not succeed. Add these in small amounts and please, taste as you go.

Olive, coconut oil, butter or bacon fat.
1 medium onion finely diced
A medium red cabbage quartered, cored, and sliced or minced either by hand or shredded in a food processor.
A scant handful of dried Cranberries.
A decent splash of apple cider vinegar.
A smaller splash of maple syrup.
1/4-1/2 cup of water.
5 or 6 juniper berries.
Salt and black pepper to taste.

Cover the bottom of a heavy skillet with fat.
Add the onion and sauté gently without browning until soft.

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Add the cabbage and everything else.

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Cover with tight-fitting lid and cook at a low simmer for an hour or more. Check along the way and add water if necessary. It should be moist, a little bit crunchy and a little bit soft and it should glisten and shine like Frau Kulak’s floor.

Throw on a couple of Brats if you like.

Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) with Brats and Potatoes
Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) with Brats and Potatoes.

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