A Beginning and an Ending-Goodbye to 2014, and Welcome to 2015

Today got to a balmy 51 degrees. I was so needing some vitamin D!  We went out there and cleaned up the 2014 garden (hence the ending part of the title). There was old vines, frozen plants as the last two weeks have just been crazy in terms of weather, and then there was the holidays before that. Anyway, it was a time for evaluation of what had made it, and what hadn’t.  Some herbs are perennial, and I hoped that we still had some of our fresh herbs. Of course, winter is not over yet, but the days are getting longer.  Eventually, there will be enough light to stave off the cold, and it will be mostly in the wee hours of the night.

The Ending part was that there were many dead broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard and peas that we never got.  We hauled the husks to the street, and then focused on what did make it.

The Beginning is that many of the herbs did make it.  There is a ton of fresh cilantro to pick, the oregano is prolific, sage, lavender and rosemary (although I think the rosemary won’t make it), horseradish and summer savory all looked pretty happy.  We cleared all the debris away, pruned the lemongrass, and cut all the raspberry canes down to the ground.  They were already green, and looked like they were already trying to bud.  The asparagus national forest has been trimmed down, and it all looks neat and clean.  We still have our Brussell sprouts and collards and leeks still to come.  We had sauteed Brussell sprouts tonight with garlic, butter and herbs.  Yummy:) I “think” the artichokes made it, although they are decidedly not happy. I will baby them, as they are wonderful.

It doesn’t look like much, but I did take a picture. It looks LOW, compared to the midsummer six foot tall plants.  However, it has begun.  Out of the wreckage comes a new garden season.–welcome 2015.

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Galumpkis (Stuffed Cabbage)

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There are a lot of components to this that all fit together nicely.  It is good to have all ingredients prepped before you build the cabbage rolls.

First off, make a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Sauté a rounded teaspoon of garlic in a small pan.  Add 6 cups of diced tomatoes.  Use fresh or canned tomatoes, depending on the time of year.  Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

I like barley in my stuffed cabbage, but rice can be used as well.  It does need to be cooked though. I use 2/3rd cup of barley, and cook it in 3 cups of water until it is done. Set aside.

Sauté a chopped Vidalia onion  along with a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Add a splash of red wine, ½ cup of the sweet and sour tomato sauce, at least 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme, and other fresh herbs such as marjoram, chervil in small quantity if you have them.

In large bowl, place 1 ½ pounds of hamburger, 1 egg, the cooked barley, and the above mixture of onions, garlic, tomato paste, wine, sauce and herbs. Mix together well.

In large pot, prepare the cabbage leaves. I use Savoy cabbage, as it rolls up SO well. Pull off the outer leaves.  If they don’t look good, toss them out, and go to the next layer.  I cut the middle tough stem out in a V shape with a sharp knife. In any of the cole crops (collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, etc) the inner stem can make the dish very tough and bitter. Anyway, heat a large pot of water to poach the leaves in.  I get them to a very bright green, and remove from heat.  Put into colander and cool down with cold water.  Let them cool.

Then the fun begins.  Assemble. Lay one leaf (with V cut out) and pull the leaf parts together.  Put ½ cup of meat mixture on leaf.  Lay this the opposite of the V, so it will roll up without having the meat fall out. I do the top, the roll the sides, and then the bottom.  It look rather like a little sleeping bag.  Place these in a casserole with the seam downwards.  Then sprinkle the sauce over them.  I cover mine so keep them moist.  They cook for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Bon appétit!