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My sister had a ham. I had a spreadsheet of ideas for future posts: hearty main dishes, a handful of desserts, and a robust soup or two. But my sister had a ham. So I chose to make a side.

Usually, I am cooking these foods without witness. In its short existence, this project has spanned two kitchens, both of which I do my cooking in alone, with only a podcast to talk back to. I love this. It’s a use of my day that makes a home of my kitchen. I like the big mess that always comes, and the challenge to clean it all up before something’s done cooking. There is peacefulness in this solitary work. Autonomy.

This time, though, I have company. At my mom’s house for the weekend, I make this red cabbage in her big open kitchen, with two sisters, two kids, two spouses, and mom milling around. Everybody offers to help, but this dish is too easy. It’s a chop and wait; the dutch oven does all the work. In a few hours a deep purple confetti comes out, sweet and a little tangy. It’s cabbage disguised as dessert, maybe. Even my niece and nephew seem pleased.

We have it with my sister’s ham and the potatoes my mom cooks, chunky but still velvet-smooth. She also makes the sour cream banana cake from my earlier post (hers is better, I’m not surprised), and it finishes the meal with an exclamation point. Outside it’s snowing fat flakes that feather down in no particular rush, and someone puts a log on the fire every now and then. It’s slow and warm here. The snow is still going in the morning, but we manage to start back to Portland before it gets too dicey.

I forget my dutch oven on the counter, but we remember the night just as it was.  

The following is the recipe I used, as found here.


  • 1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, very thinly sliced

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced

  • 1 large Granny Smith or other semi-tart apple, peeled, cored and diced

  • 1/4 cup butter (paleo: use grass fed or oil, vegans: use oil)

  • 2 tablespoons red currant jam, or cherry preserves (optional)

  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

  • bay leaf

  • whole cloves

  • juniper berries

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten free and paleo: omit)

  • 2 tablespoons water

    Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the onions until lcaramelized and just beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes. Add the apple, broth, bay leaf, cloves, juniper berries, red currant jam, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more broth if needed. Combine the flour and water until dissolved and stir into the Rotkohl. Simmer for another minute. Add more salt, sugar and vinegar to taste.



Croatian Apple Cake

Croatian Apple Cake