The Cabbagy Brassicas

This group includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and Chinese cabbage.

brussels Sprouts: You are probably going to plant your seed indoors and then transplant outside. You're aim ing to produce little cabbage-type heads. They can get as large as ping-pong balls, but don't let them, because bigger ones aren't as tasty. Brussels sprouts are a funny-looking, tall (2 to 4 feet) plant with a bunch of leaves at the top like a palm tree. The sprouts grow all around the sides of the stem. Planting. You can buy red or green varieties. Plant seed indoors V4 to '/2 inch deep, 3 inches apart, figuring that the plants will grow indoors for 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting. Plan about 1 to 5 plants per family member. It germinates in 6 to 9 days. When you move them outside after hardening off, thin to 14 to 18 inches apart, rows about 30 inches apart. Set out almost as soon as soil can be worked in the spring; 65-90 average days to harvest after setting out plants. Seed planted in early April won't produce until September. For your fall crop, plant directly into garden around June 1 or later. First frosts won't kill your sprout plants in the fall. If space is tight, plant quick-maturing plants like lettuce, radishes, and green onions between the slow-growing broccoli plants.

Lane Morgan says, "Brussels sprouts are right up there with kale as superhardies, if you order the right English or Dutch seed from Territorial. If you plant a few different varieties, you can harvest them clear into April in a maritime climate [e.g., Northwest coast], I've broken through the crusty snow to harvest them." Or move the plant to a cold frame or even your basement, and it will live and continue to produce a while.

Saving Seed. Saving seed probably isn't worth the trouble. The plant is a bee-pollinated biennial whose seeds are viable 5 years. It needs isolation to prevent problems with crossing. It's much like cabbage; see "Saving Seed" under "Cabbage" and "Broccoli."

Harvesting. Sprouts grow close-packed on the plant's main stem at the base of each leaf, starting from the bottom and working up. So you harvest the lowest sprouts first. Temperate-zone plants may produce to Thanksgiving. They're much better tasting after several frosts. You can pick once they're Vi inch wide on up to full-sized, 1 inch across, or even IV2 inch. Just grab the sprout with 2 fingers and give a little twist—or cut. In that case, don't cut too close to the stem because that can damage its ability to grow more sprouts. If harvested gently, 2 or 3 more sprouts may grow in where you picked that one. You should definitely harvest before they become tough or yellow. Once sprouts are growing, snap off all the leaves from the bottom half-foot of stem. After harvesting begins, snap off the leaves for the next few inches up. Doing that makes the plant grow taller and grow more sprouts (if the ground is fertile enough to support all that growth!). The plant will produce until it dies as long as you faithfully keep picking. You can get up to 100 sprouts per plant.

Root Cellar Storage. You can store sprouts in a porous bag for 3 to 5 weeks if they're in a very cold but also moist place. Or bring whole plants into your root cellar, and plant or merely hang them in there. But most folks leave them in the garden, because with luck you can keep picking sprouts there, even from under the snow, even as late as January. Freezing. Sprouts taste better frozen than canned. Cut off stems and remove wilted or tough leaves. Sort by size and debug. Blanch large heads 5 minutes, medium ones 4 minutes, and small ones 3 minutes. Cool, drain, and pack in freezer bags.

Drying. Cut sprouts in half. Blanch in boiling water 3 to 5 minutes. Drain. Spread with cut side up on trays. Turn them over once a day. Dry when brittle, and dry clear to the center. Takes 18 to 24 hours in dehydrator or oven, several days in sun (bring in at night). To rehydrate, pour boiling water over and simmer until tender. Canning. Canning Brussels sprouts is not recommended. But if you must: Boil sprouts in water at least 5 minutes. Save the water. Pack hot sprouts into clean, hot jars: pints only. Pour the cooking water over the sprouts. Leave 1 inch headspace. Optional: Add Vi t. salt to each jar. Process in a pressure canner for 95 minutes. If using a weighted-gauge canner, set at 10 lb. pressure at 0-1,000 feet above sea level; at higher altitudes, set at 15 lb. If using a dial-gauge canner, set at 11 lb. pressure at 0-2,000 feet above sea level; 12 lb. at 2,001-4,000 feet; 13 lb. at 4,001-6,000 feet; 14 lb. at 6,001-8,000 feet; or 15 lb. above 8,000 feet. Cooking. Soak in salt water as you would to debug broccoli or prepare it for canning. Remove all blemished leaves. Small sprouts will cook tender in 7 or 8 minutes. Don't cook them until soft; that's too long, and they'll lose texture, shape, and vitamins. After steaming or boiling until tender, drain and serve buttered, with a sauce, or with a drizzle of lemon juice, vinegar, or tamari.

W> SPROUTS AND CHESTNUTS For a delicacy, if you live in chestnut country, prepare about I lb. Brussels sprouts. Skin Vi lb. chestnuts and boil separately until tender. Drain and mix the two together. Add a dash of tamari or lemon juice. Or add butter, salt and pepper. Serve hot cabbage: Cabbage is a standard crop around here, along with corn, peas, carrots, beets, turnips, and potatoes. It smells when either stored or cooked and may not be as interesting as some other veggies, but it's relatively easy to grow, a heavy producer in your garden, and nutritious; and late types store easily and well through winter in pit, cellar, or your garden. And the American Cancer Society advises us to eat cabbage to protect against cancer. What more do you need? Yea, cabbage!

Varieties. There are cabbage varieties with all kinds of maturing dates and sizes—from Little League, which makes a head about the size of a football in 60 days, to giant kinds that make 50-lb. heads but take a long time doing it. Plant a combination of early-, midseason-, and late-maturing cabbages. The earlies give your first harvest. The mid-seasons keep it up. The lates are the easiest, though slowest, to grow and are the best winter keepers. Cabbage takes up a lot of space, but you get a lot of food for it. The lates take more room in the garden than the earlies, and they yield more harvest. (Space earliest 18 inches apart, lates 24 inches.) And you have color choices: pink, red, lavender, blue, purple, white, cream, or green. And a choice of tight or loose heads: Savoy, a looseleafed cabbage with a wonderful taste, is hardy enough for a winter garden. In fact, Savoy is probably the best cabbage variety of all for the home garden.

When to Plant. For early spring cabbage in the South, plant seeds in an outdoor bed and then transplant to the garden before January 1. In the North plant the seeds in a hotbed or indoors during February and set the plants in the open ground as early as the soil can be worked. For a late crop in the North, plant the seeds in a protected bed in the open ground in May or June, and then transplant to the garden in July. We start cabbages from seed in the house and then set them out in spring, but maybe I'm working harder than I need to. Cathy Tate, Coulee City, WA, wrote me that she seeds cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, cauliflower, etc., right into the ground as early as she can, along with the early peas. She says they can take the cold, even a snow, and that she's been doing this successfully for 4 years. If you are planning to store in a root cellar or a pit, plant a late cabbage crop, because early cabbage won't keep through the hot weather.

But when to plant also depends on whether you're planting an early, medium, or late cabbage variety. Plant earlies March to June. Plaiit middles from late May to early June. Plant lates from late May to late June for harvesting from August to April, depending on variety. How to Plant. Soil needs to be fertile and nonacidic. A little cabbage seed will go a long way. Just 1 oz. produces 1,500 to 3,000 plants. Plant in full sunshine. Plant seed V4-V2 inch deep and 3 inches apart. Transplant in your garden to a few feet apart, rows 3 feet apart. They transplant best if you wait for a rain before setting them out, or soak your holes with water overnight before transplanting and give them a good soaking afterward too. If you are going through a period of dry, hot weather, keep them generously watered or even give the plants some shade with boards or leaves. For early cabbages, you want well-manured ground to hasten its growth. If container-planting, figure 1 cabbage per 8-inch pot.

Bugs. For really beautiful heads of county-fair quality, grow some plants inside a special house made of a wooden frame with fine wire mesh nailed over the top and sides. Or just scatter dill seed so it rests right between the cabbage leaves. Bugs don't like a house with dill in it. (I found that out accidentally when I had dill growing in my cabbage row.) Or plant thyme alongside cabbage in a row about 6 inches away. Bugs hate thyme too—and onions and garlic! Or frequently spray with a mix of boiled onion and garlic. An organic prevention for root maggots is to spread wood ashes around each plant, digging some ashes into the ground around the roots and replacing the ash after heavy rains, until maggot season is over at the end of June. Saving Seed. Cabbage is an insect-pollinated biennial that will cross-pollinate with other cabbage varieties, unless you have them at least 100 yards distant. Choose the best plants, mark them, and carefully store them alive through winter in a container of soil or laid close together on a shelf in your root cellar. Some plants are self-sterile, so grow about 6 of them. Plants must be chilled enough to break dormancy before they'll grow the seed stalk. Set out the next spring. The branched, flowering seed stalk grows up through the middle of the head after it splits wide open. It speeds it up to cut a 1- to 2-inch-deep x on the top of the cabbage head to start the splitting. Support the seed stalks (they grow as tall as 5 feet). Cut stalk when pods are changing color. (They don't all get ripe at once, which makes it a tough call.) Dry on paper or cloth. Strip pods, put into bag, and beat. Winnow. Seed viable 5 years. See also "Broccoli."

Harvesting. You can pick the first or later cabbage heads at any size, as long as they haven't gotten big enough to split. Baby heads, boiled and buttered, are a real delicacy. When your early cabbage head is ready, cut it off, but leave the stem. The secret to getting a second crop of heads there is to cut close to the head, leaving most of the stem. And keep on watering. About 4 more heads will grow, each the size of a baseball. If a head is starting to crack open and you want to stall the harvest, giving the plant an 180° twist at ground level will break off some roots and slow its growth, because it's fertile soil and thriving health that causes growth. If the cracking continues, twist another 90°. Or give up and harvest it right away before it puts up its seed stalk through the crack. Cabbage heads can stand overnights down to 20°F, but if a serious freeze is approaching, it's time to finish the harvest. Late-planted, late varieties with firm, solid heads, picked just before the outside wrapping leaves lose their bright green color, store the best in pit or cellar. For that kind of storage, pull the plant out of the ground head, root, and all. Cut away the floppy outer leaves. Cabbage Pit. The old-timers preserved cabbage by making sauerkraut and by pit or root-cellar storage. Don't put any diseased cabbages into pit or cellar storage. G.E. Marley, Hale, MO, wrote me: "You dig a pit about 2 or 2Vi feet deep and line it with straw. Place cabbages, which have been pulled up roots and all, in the pit with the roots up, cover with straw, and shovel the dirt on top of the straw. Roll up a burlap sack or an old rug and leave it sticking out, so you can get into the pit after the snow covers it and the dirt is frozen. This keeps the cabbage nice and crisp all winter long." He keeps apples, turnips, and potatoes that way too.

An easier, though less dependable, version of Mr. Mar-ley's system is to dig a trench in the garden, set the cabbage heads in it exactly upside down with the roots pointing straight up, and completely cover with dirt. It'll be harder to find the cabbages again, though. If you have more cabbage heads, you can enlarge the pit in diameter, making it circular. You can also stack the cabbages so that the root of each is covered by the head of another. Then cover them with straw and dirt. Your pit will be safer if you dig a drainage ditch leading downhill and away from the circular trench to avoid the possibility of water settling in there, and if you put the cabbages on a mound of dirt piled in the center of the pit to give them some extra drainage and protection. You can remove a few heads from time to time and cover the rest back up, and they'll be fine. Slight freezing does not injure cabbage, so you don't have to cover it as deeply as other pit-stored vegetables. A succession of heavy freezings and thawings, though, would certainly do them no good.

Root Cellar. You also can lay heads of cabbage in rows on shelves in a root cellar-type storage area, several inches apart, or hang the cabbages head down by a string tied around the root, or put them in layers on the floor with hay under and between. But if your root cellar has access to the house, you'll smell cabbage all winter! Heads keep best at 32 to 40°F and 90 percent humidity Freezing. Use young small heads. Shred them as for slaw or cut into small wedges. Blanch wedges in boiling water for 3 minutes, leaves for 2 minutes. If you are using whole leaves, blanch shreds for IV2 minutes. Cool, drain, and pack. That's what the experts say, but I take all the blanching times of vegetables with more than a few grains of salt. I know from considerable experience that it really doesn't matter that much. Don't worry about a half minute, or even a minute or two.

Drying. Use well-developed heads. Remove loose, bad outside leaves. Split the cabbage and get rid of the bitter core. Slice up the rest with a kraut cutter or some such, and spread on drying trays. Dry at about 120°F until brittle. The best way to use dried cabbage is to grind it up (in a seed mill, for instance) and use the powder as an addition to any thing from soup to salad. The flavor will be good and it will be nutritious. You can powder lots of other dried vegetables that way, and a variety mixed together makes a great instant vegetable broth.

Canning. Canning cabbage is not recommended by the extension service. But if you must: Cut the cabbage as you would to cook it. Boil in water until you can pack it in jars easily—at least 5 minutes. Reserve cooking water. Pack hot cabbage into clean, hot jars: pints only. Pour cooking water over the packed cabbage. Leave 1 inch headspace. Optional: Add V21. salt to each jar. Process in a pressure canner for 95 minutes. If using a weighted-gauge canner, set at 10 lb. pressure at 0-1,000 feet above sea level; set at 15 lb. at higher altitudes. If using a dial-gauge canner, set at 11 lb. pressure at 0-2,000 feet above sea level; 12 lb. at 2,001-4,000 feet; 13 lb. at 4,001-6,000 feet; 14 lb. at 6,001-8,000 feet; or 15 lb. above 8,000 feet.

When you use the cabbage, pour off water and proceed with your recipe as you would if using fresh cabbage. Canning is a way to preserve early cabbage when it starts to burst. Use canned cabbage to make corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and cabbage, or fried cabbage. Recipe Ideas. To prepare fresh cabbage, pull off the outer leaves. Cut out the stem, including the central core, which is bitter. Soak in salt water, if need be, to get out bugs. (Store-bought cabbage is so lovely and pure because it is heavily sprayed with insecticides. I'd rather have the bugs.) It cooks up faster if you shred it first. Caraway seed is good with boiled cabbage. Cabbage is also good raw, made into a salad (coleslaw). Red cabbage is a different color, but you can use it to make anything you can make with regular cabbage, including sauerkraut.

<Í> FRIED CORN AND CABBAGE From Alyce Townsend, Rock Port MO: "Use any leftover boiled or roasted corn. Cut corn off cob. Put in skillet with some butter and/or bacon grease. Add whatever amount of fresh shredded cabbage. Put on lid and cook until cabbage is tender. Stir fairly often. Optional: Add I t sugar."

<i> BUBBLE AND SQUEAK From Judith D. Smith, New Berlin, NY: "This is a leftover dish made on Monday or Tuesday after the big Sunday lunch. There's usually not much meat but lots of potatoes (mashed) and cooked cabbage. If there are other vegetables left all the better. The potatoes, if not already mashed, should be mashed and all mixed up with the precooked, chopped cabbage. Chop any meat and onion really small and mix it in well. Now put it all in a frying pan and cook until brown. It will'complain' about the heat by 'bubbling and squeaking'!"

<i> GRAMMA'S HOLIDAY FEAST CABBAGE Judy Burley, Surrey, BC, Canada, sent a recipe her grandmother brought from Russia. Take I large or 2 small heads of cabbage (preferably the curly-leafed kind). Put in a pot with some boiling water to loosen leaves. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. In a large bowl put 2 lb. minced beef and I lb. minced pork Add salt pepper, garlic, onions (I or 2), a couple of eggs, and 2 or 3 handfuls of rice (not Minute Rice). Mix together well. Now carefully take the leaves off the cabbage. Put a small handful of meat mix in a large leaf and roll it up tightly. Put it in the bottom of a large roaster-sized container until you've used up all the meat mixture. You will have cabbage left over. Now put a layer of cabbage leaves over the rolls. Add 2 c. tomato juice and another layer of leaves. Cover this with spareribs, pork steak or some such. Over this, add another I 'A c. sauerkraut salt and pepper, and another 2 c. tomato juice. Now cover tightly and bake in a 350°F oven for 5 or 6 hours. By that time the smell will attract everybody for a long way around. We all love this. It is also great warmed up the next day."

<P> RUTH'S VEGAN CABBAGE FEAST Follow above recipe, except "Steam cabbage to loosen leaves. For filling, use cracked wheat (bulgur) softened in boiling water, mixed with tomato sauce, onions, grated celery, chopped parsley, garlic, tamari, and sage. Then cover the rolls with tomato juice, sauerkraut cabbage, and a dash of tamari. Bake it 30 minutes to an hour."

JEANIE'S CABBAGE ROLLS Cook I c. brown rice. Steam 6 large cabbage leaves until tender. Saute a chopped onion and a green pepper together in butter. When the onion is transparent add I lb. hamburger meat and c. water and fry. Combine cooked rice with hamburger. Stuff cabbage leaves with the mixture, fastening them together with toothpicks. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Serve with ketchup.

W> RUTH'S VEGAN CABBAGE ROLLS "For filling mix 3 c. cooked rice, I c. tomato sauce, A2 lb. chopped mushrooms plus a chopped onion sauteed in Ai c. water plus a dash tamari, t nutmeg, and some garlic. Stuff 14 leaves. Bake 30 minutes, covered with tomato sauce."

There are infinite variations on the theme of raw shredded cabbage served with a sweet-sour cream dressing. Vegan Ruth says: "For dressing, we use either a lemon juice mixture, soft tofu (like sour cream), or nut butter whipped with water." You can also use an oil-vinegar-mustard dressing.

VIOLA'S COLESLAW Take about 2 c. chopped cabbage. Dress with 2 heaping T. sour cream, I scant t vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar (substitute a drip of honey if you can).

W> RUTH'S CARROT COLESLAW "Use 3 parts shredded cabbage to I part shredded carrot Dressing: 2 T. tahini whipped with c. lemon juice. Good stuffed in tomatoes, rolled in lettuce leaves, or plain!"

W> RUTH'S PRETTY COLESLAW "For each person you're serving, use 2 c. shredded cabbage (red and green together is pretty), half a chopped bell pepper, and I chopped green onion. To make dressing, whip together (per person) A2 c. any fruit/vegetable juice (fresh!) and I Ai oz. nut butter. Serve on a platter atop a bed of fresh greens."

W> RUTH'S SAVOY CABBAGE ROLLS "I love these! Carefully separate Savoy cabbage leaves (or use lettuce leaves if you don't have that soft cabbage) and pile on a serving platter. In another bowl, shred about 6 c. raw vegetables and mix with a vegetable juice/avocado or a juice/nut butter dressing. To eat scoop vegetable mixture onto leaf roll up, and enjoy." Sauerkraut "Kraut" is a process, not just a one-vegetable thing. It's shredding and salting and naturally fermenting a food. So you could put down green beans, sliced apples, green tomatoes, or cucumbers with your cabbage kraut. Or you can make kraut out of shredded turnips, with no cabbage in there at all, or out of green beans alone. But most often, sauerkraut means cabbage and salt. You can add extra flavor with a few grains of coriander or juniper berries, but I don't because we like our kraut plain.

Here's the USDAs kraut-making procedure. Use firm heads of fresh cabbage. Shred the cabbage and start the kraut between 24 and 48 hours after harvesting the cabbage heads. You'll use 1 c. canning or pickling salt per 25 lb. cabbage. Work with about 5 lb. cabbage at a time. Discard the outer leaves. Rinse heads under cold running water and drain. Cut heads in quarters and remove cores. Shred or slice to the thickness of a quarter. Put cabbage in a suitable fermentation container. (See "Fermented ('Brined') Cucumber Pickles.") Add 3 T. salt. Mix thoroughly, using clean hands. Pack firmly until salt draws juices from cabbage. Repeat shredding, salting, and packing until all cabbage is in the container. Keep the cabbage level at least 4 or 5 inches below the upper rim of the container.

If juice doesn't cover the cabbage, add boiled and cooled brine (IV2 T. salt per 1 qt. water). Add plate and weights (see "Fermented Cucumber Pickles"). Cover container with a clean towel. Store at 70-75°F while fermenting. At temperatures between 70 and 75°F, kraut will be fully fermented in 3 to 4 weeks; at 60°F, fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At temperatures lower than 60°F, kraut may not ferment; above 75°, it may become soft. Do not disturb the crock until fermentation is completed. You'll know it's done when the bubbling ceases. Check the kraut 2 to 3 times each week, and remove scum if it forms. Fully fermented kraut may be kept in the refrigerator for several months, or it may be canned. To can, either hot-pack or raw-pack as follows.

To hot-pack, bring kraut and liquid slowly to a boil in a large kettle, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and fill pint or quart jars rather firmly with kraut and juices,

leaving lh inch headspace. Process quarts in boiling-water bath for 15 minutes at 0-1,000 feet, 20 minutes at 1,0016,000 feet, or 25 minutes above 6,000 feet. Process pints for 5 minutes less.

To raw-pack, fill pint or quart jars firmly with kraut and cover with juices, leaving lh inch headspace. Adjust lids and use conventional boiling-water canner processing or lower-temperature pasteurization (detailed in "Pickles" section under "Cucumbers"). In a boiling-water bath, process quarts for 25 minutes at 0-1,000 feet, 30 at 1,001-3,000 feet, 35 at 3,001-6,000 feet, 40 above 6,000 feet. Process pints for 5 minutes less.

Here's another kraut procedure. This one's for old-time salted kraut. If you have a cold place like a dugout cellar to keep your kraut in, and if you make it in the fall after the worst heat is over, you can keep it all winter. But don't wait too long to make it, because your cabbage will dry out some and the juice will be hard to get. If you are making sauerkraut in hot weather, you should can the sauerkraut after it has finished fermenting.

Hack away the buggy leaves from your cabbage until you get down to the nice solid center. Then cut the cabbage into quarters and discard the hard core. If you were to use the core, it would make your kraut very bitter. Finely shred the cabbage. I shred it using a butcher knife on a wooden cutting board, but someday I'm going to splurge on an old-time slaw cutter. The cabbage shreds should be about the thickness of a dime, long and thin.

If you aren't brave enough to guess at the amounts as Great-Grandmother always did, weigh 5 lb. of the shredded cabbage on a food scale, measure 3 T. salt, and sprinkle over the cabbage. Mix with your hands a bit and then tamp. If you are brave enough, put cabbage into your 5-gal. crock to make about a 2-inch layer in the bottom. Tamp it down. Add 1 or 2 T. salt (to taste), and tamp down again. To "tamp" means to stomp the heck out of it with a heavy, blunt object. Wood seems to work the best. I use a whit-tled-down cedar fence post. You are done tamping when you've stomped so much that the juice comes out of the cabbage and just about covers it. Pack each layer in, salt, and then tamp until enough juice has come out to cover the shredded cabbage.

It's important to use the right amount of salt and mix it in well. Too little or uneven distribution of the salt can result in a soft kraut. Too much or uneven distribution of salt can result in a pinkish kraut, caused by the growth of certain types of yeast.

When you've shredded, salted, and tamped your way through all your heads of cabbage or to the top of your crock, cover the cabbage. Everybody has their own system. Mine is to use a cloth over the sauerkraut, then a plate just a little smaller than the diameter of the container, and a jar filled with water (with a lid on) on top of that. If you do it right, the brine comes just to the cover but not over it. As with crock pickles, the cabbage needs to be thoroughly under the juice. And it needs to be covered sufficiently to shut out air from the surface. Even so, your top layer may turn brown, in which case just throw away the off-color part when you get ready to use the crock. (Animals can eat it.) The rest of the kraut will be fine.

Now let your kraut ferment. It will start making gas bubbles; that tells you it's fermenting. Fermenting takes from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on how warm your weather is. You know when the kraut is ready by taking a taste of it. Some people just leave it alone during this time. Others wash the cloth, the sides of the crock, and the lid every week. Home-fermented cabbage is fairly strong stuff. But I like it strong.

W> PICKLED RED CABBAGE Choose I hard red cabbage. Trim off the coarse outside leaves. Cut it in quarters. Core and remove the thickest stalks. Finely shred the cabbage. Put the shreds in layers on a dish, sprinkling each layer with salt and leave until the following day. Boil I T. mixed pickling spice in I qt vinegar for 5 minutes. Then leave until cold. Drain off all moisture from the cabbage and put into jars. Pour the cold, spiced vinegar over the cabbage. It should come to at least I inch above the cabbage. Weight the cabbage and cover the whole thing. It will be ready to use after 2 weeks. It won't keep well over 2 months, since it tends to soften. So use it in recipes like the ones that follow! Recipes Using Sauerkraut

W> GRANDPA SMITH'S MESS This is a complete meal-in-one sent to me by Eleanor Seberger of Cozad, NV. Boil potatoes with the skins on. Then make as many sausage cakes—with a few extras—as your family will need. Fry a batch of onions, chopped fine. Set aside the sausage and heat your sauerkraut in the sausage skillet Let each person take a serving of each ingredient—sausage cakes, potatoes, onions, and sauerkraut Cut with a knife, mix, and down with hot garlic bread or toast

<i> SAUERKRAUT ONION BISCUITS Sauerkraut doesn't have to be served with sausage, though. Here's a vegetarian sauerkraut recipe. Everybody in my family loves these! When you bake bread, while you are letting your dough have its first rising, drain the juice from a pint of sauerkraut and then fry the sauerkraut and an equal (or smaller) amount of onion in a greased pan. When the dough has risen, roll it out with a rolling pin to less than Vi inch—as thin as you can get it Cut the dough into 6- to 8-inch squares. Put a nice big heaping spoonful of the cooked mix in the middle of each one. Pinch together, let rise, and bake. If they come out just in time for supper—perfect! Imogene taught me how to make these. She and her family are vegetarians, but that doesn't mean they don't eat hearty meals!

Imogene's one of my favorite people. She's a lady who doesn't go to town very often. She's never used a recipe book. She hasn't bought any detergents for at least 50 years because she makes all her own soap. Once I took her with me to a cafeteria. She had a glass of ice water and asked what the ashtray was for. She's my ideal. I wish I didn't know what they were for—not that I smoke, because I don't, but just to be that truly innocent of worldliness! Imogene and her family are Seventh-Day Adventists. They believe in staying away from the "world" and worldliness as much as possible. I'm in real sympathy with that point of view. As the poet Wordsworth wrote a long time ago, "The world is too much with us; late and soon/Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers ..."

W> IMOGENE'S SAUERKRAUT DUMPUNGS Put water on in a kettle. Let it boil up. Get out a quart of sauerkraut drain the juice off and fry it in a little oil. Make a dough of flour, water, and salt that's the consistency of bread dough. With a sharp knife cut off pieces I inch long and about 'A inch thick. Put into the boiling water and let boil. When the dumplings are boiled down so that there is no or very little water left add the kraut Mix and serve.

<§> BAKED SAUERKRAUT, ONION, APPLE Combine sauerkraut cored apple slices, and sauteed onion in a greased ovenproof dish. Dribble I T. molasses over the top and scatter a fat pinch of dry mustard over it Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

<i> PORK BONES AND KRAUT Kraut goes well with any pork Boil the pork bones (such as the backbone or ribs) until done. Cool enough to separate the meat from the bones and discard them. Add kraut and cook until done.

<§> FANCY RIBS AND KRAUT Brown your ribs. Cook them until about half done in your Dutch oven. Add I qt kraut and potatoes; then add water to cover. Add drop dumplings. Cook until potatoes and dumplings are done.

STEAK STUFFED WITH KRAUT Salt and pepper a big round steak Add a layer of bacon and then lots of kraut. Roll it up and tie it with a string. Bake in your roaster in a moderate oven for an hour.

chinese Cabbage: "Chinese cabbage" is more closely related to mustard than to cabbage, although all are brassi-cas. They are more mild in taste, more delicate in texture, and more digestible than regular cabbages. Because Chinese cabbages do best planted for a late fall harvest, they are ideal for the winter garden, producing when most of your other greens are done. Chinese cabbages mature much faster than regular cabbage, as fast as 8 weeks. But they are grown, stored, and cooked much like cabbage. Chinese cabbages are especially well suited to stir-frying; most are mild in flavor and easy to cook.

Varieties. There are so many varieties of Asian cabbages, with so many different flavors, that if you don't know which you prefer, the best thing to do is to just start trying them out and seeing which grow best for you and which you like best. There are so many names for each plant—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and American names—that distinguishing them can be tough. "Flat cabbage" is said to be the wild ancestor of all other cabbages. It is strong in flavor, comes from North China, and is very cold-hardy. Other than that, you have 2 main groups to choose from: the heading and the nonheading types. The heading ones are Brassica rapa, Pekinensis group: Chinese celery cabbage, michihli, nappa, and wong bok. Nappa is shaped like Romaine lettuce and is self-blanching; the others are rounded heads. The nonheading ones are B. rapa, Chinensis group: bok choy, Chinese mustard cabbage, and pak choi. These look like Swiss chard, with loosely bunching green leaves and a thick midrib. Planting. Seed is available from any Asian-specialist seed house and from Burpee, Comstock, William Dam, DeGiorgi, Hudson, Johnny's, and Kitazawa. The seeds are very small; it doesn't take many to plant 100 feet. Plant 2 inches apart, 2Vi feet between rows, V4-V2 inch deep. Thin out the extras when plants are 3 inches high, 4 weeks old, or have 5 true leaves. Thin nonheading types to 9 inches, heading types to 12-15 inches apart. The thinnings make good salad or can be cooked. In a container, plan for 1 per 8-inch pot.

Secrets of Growing Chinese Cabbage

1. It needs a very rich soil, one with lots of manure/compost. If your soil is not ultra-rich, add more manure/ compost after thinning.

2. It needs a light, porous soil. If you have clay, add lots of compost.

3. Never let its roots get totally dry.

4. Mulch helps a spring crop stay moist in summer, but mulch shouldn't be put on a fall crop; it prevents the ground from getting the sun's warmth.

5. When you have a choice, water at ground level rather than from overhead. This discourages moisture-loving insects and diseases from living in the plants.

6. These photosensitive plants react to long days—if it's been a month or so since germination—by "bolting" (growing a flowering seed stalk), after which the crop will diminish. This is mainly a problem for spring-grown crops. Because of bug/worm problems, risk of bolting, and natural hardiness, many gardeners skip the spring crop and instead plant their Chinese cabbage in late July or early August (about 12 weeks before fall frost date) for a fall harvest. Or look for one of the new nonbolting varieties and use that for a spring crop.

7. It grows best when days are becoming shorter and temperatures are 60-65°F. It can grow right on into the winter, or at least stay alive, because it can endure frost down to 20°F without much damage.

8. To bear a spring/summer crop, it needs a cool-summer climate. To get that, in most areas, you start it indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Set out 4 to 6 weeks before that date. To discourage plants from bolting, cover them with something opaque in late afternoon to shorten their day and protect them from excess heat, because just 1 or 2 hot days can cause bolting, after which they become inedible.

9. If you start spring plants in seed flats, transplant before they get a month old, or you risk transplant shock (makes them bolt instead of heading). Since Chinese cabbage is set back (slowed) in growth by transplanting; for fall planting, seed directly if you can.

10. Transplanting is not a risk for fall planting. You can plant in a partly shaded site in late summer, and then transplant to full sun in September; you can even transplant again to a cold frame in November or so.

11. Thinning is important. Plants that don't have 6 inches between them won't get nearly as large and tender.

Saving Seed. Chinese cabbage is a bee-pollinated annual that bolts when the length of the day increases. The flowers of Brassica rapa, Pekinensis group, have both male and female parts and are self-sterile. The only other cabbages and brassicas they will cross with are other Chinese cabbages, turnips, radishes, rutabagas, and mustards (both wild and tame). But you can still manage to save seed if you grow the others for food but let only your Chinese cabbage flower. Seed viability is 5 years.

Harvesting. You can eat Chinese cabbage of any age. Some taste best after frost. To harvest heading types, pull out and cut off the head. To harvest nonheading ones, do the same, or just take off the outer leaves and come back to get new growth—as long as you leave at least 5 leaves at the center of the plant. Bugs and worms like to nibble on the spring crop, but the inside leaves should be fine. Just throw away messy outer leaves.

Root Cellar Storage. Heads for storage should be mature and solid. Get them into storage before your first severe frost. Store like regular cabbage but upright, because nappa cabbages get L-shaped if left lying on the side. If you keep

Chinese cabbages just above freezing in a very humid place, they will keep for 2 to 4 months.

Recipe Ideas. For strong-tasting cabbage: Use in kim chee; stir-fry with meat and strong spices (alcoholic beverage optional); use in cole slaw recipe; make miso and veggie soup; or boil and serve with garlic butter. For mild-tasting cabbage: Substitute it in any cabbage soup recipe. Or boil with tomatoes, onions, and a bone. Or finely chop and fry with tomatoes and thin-sliced, precooked meat. Or stir-fry Chinese-style, with small slices of tofu or pre-cooked meat, bamboo, onion, and lemon juice. Or serve raw, chopped like coleslaw, in a salad with shredded daikon radish, sliced cucumber, and strips of green pepper covered with a dressing of oil and vinegar or oil and soy sauce. Or combine sliced cabbage, radishes, and Jerusalem artichokes. Or roast meat on a bed of shredded nappa surrounded by onions and potatoes.

KIM CHEE From Lane Morgan's Winter Harvest Cookbook "Kim chee is a generic name for a hot fermented pickle that is ubiquitous in Korea—where it accompanies every meal—and common in Japan. It can be made with vegetables ranging from spinach to cucumber, but it most commonly contains nappa cabbage and daikon radish and serves as a way to preserve these vegetables in quantity through the winter. The taste and smell are unforgettable. I love it not only with Asian food but with grilled cheese sandwiches. There are a number of commercial brands with varying textures and firepower. It's also simple to make at home.

"Put I medium head nappa cabbage (or regular cabbage, or spinach, or whatever—about 2 lb. of it) in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 2 T. salt and mix. Cover and let stand at room temperature until cabbage wilts to about half its original volume. This will take about 3 hours. Rinse well, drain, and return to bowl. Optional: add I c. julienned daikon radish or kohlrabi. Not optional: Add 2 green onions or small leeks, chopped; 3 minced cloves garlic; I to 2 t chopped hot red pepper or cayenne; and I more t salt Mix well, pack into a quart jar, cover lightly, and let stand at room temperature until it is fermented to your taste. This will take from I to 4 days, depending on the temperature and your preference. Do not use a tight cover during fermentation. Strong forces are at work here, and you risk an eruption when the pressure is released. Some stores carry a bottled seasoning base for kim chee. Just prepare the vegetables as described above, omitting the garlic and red pepper, and pour on the bottled mixture before fermentation. Makes about 3'A cups."

Continue reading here: The Edible Flower Bud and Stem Brassicas

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