The wind is just howling out there. Last night, I was kept up until the uncivilized hours by the noise of it just whipping around the building, slamming against the balcony that juts out, catching on the corner. Being on the 16th floor is loud. I had no idea before we moved here. I’d always been a first or second (or 5th, at most) kind of gal.
Anyway, it’s still noisy this morning and I’m tired and it’s Monday.
It’s also grey and grim and cold, as is to be expected here at this time of year. I really should get a stock photo for this, to put on every post between now and next April.
So I got it into my head that instead of hiding under the duvets and weeping inconsolably for the next 4 months, I ought to resume experimental cooking. If I keep my eyes on the prize (like, cake?), I won’t have to look out the window.
Our winter is shaping up to be quite similar to previous ones here, where we mostly just go to work, hibernate, and emerge only for treks out to the markets so we don’t starve to death, or to restaurants to soothe our SAD-deadened nerves with food that someone else cooked for us.
Or, as the case was this past weekend, where we still have to cook it ourselves. Hello, Sichuan hot pot!
Tofu skins are the best.
As I may have mentioned before, it’s turning into cabbage, gourd and sweet potato season here. If you head up into northern China, you’ll find giant, round cabbages stacked like firewood in residential areas. Shanghai is less extreme, with slightly more dainty stacks of frilly savoy cabbage perched alongside forty kinds of bok choy.
All the veggie sellers out on the street are flogging a combination of those three staples, with bundles of cilantro or skinny celery as bookends. I intend to make the most of this bounty, although I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of any of them.
I put a call out to all my friends, asking for suggestions for what to do with cabbage, aside from sauerkraut. The Polish contingent in my life voted overwhelmingly for a) bigos and b) cabbage rolls. Lacking the sauerkraut needed for the bigos, I went for the stuffed cabbage.
I ended up with a slightly muddled version, culled from the contents of the fridge. I realized too late that we were all out of onion, but that we did have chives. Practically the same, really.
What I threw in, randomly
- 1.5 heads of small, white Chinese cabbage
- olive oil for sautéing
- 1 head of garlic, minced
- 1 stalk of celery, finely minced
- 3 stalks each of chopped chives and cilantro
- 1 branch of chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cooked potato, mashed
- 500g of lean ground beef (way too much, it seems, as I had a lot left over- I’d recommend going for 250g)
- 1 egg
- Several shakes of that odd pre-grated parmesan in the green container
- Salt and pepper, a few shakes of hot paprika
- Oh, and some marinara sauce. We caved and bought a can from the import grocery store. Usually we simmer our own for hours, from scratch, but given the cabbage roll project ahead of me, I could be bothered. Hello DelMonte Traditional!
I put it in the oven on 180C for an hour, with about 40 minutes of that time covered in foil and the remaining 20 uncovered.
Look! It worked! I made nice things with cabbage!
If only I could just stay inside today and drink wine and eat cabbage rolls…
Hey, anyone want to swap my cooking services for full sponsorship? I’ll feed you if you take me to Mexico until winter passes…