January Food

January is a month when the comfort of warming food is an important part of family life and it is a pleasure to be inside the kitchen looking out (click on the links to see previous posts on these subjects).

Butternut squash became a regular feature in my shopping basket this month.IMG_5940so that I could make tasty, filling soup.

I also bought red cabbage again. It’s perfect with winter meals like casserole and toad in the hole.IMG_6112There have been a lot of one pot meals. This one uses swede (turnip if you are from the North-East), a vegetable that is always cheap and cheerful and surprisingly sweet and fragrant when cooked Moroccan style with cumin, coriander and chick peas.

IMG_6089‘Tis the season for Seville oranges…IMG_1418IMG_1419to become…IMG_6023marmalade. This year with added sparkle.IMG_1500Little onions took a bath in vinegar and spices to become…IMG_6108pickled treats.

The oven was busy with plenty of baking…IMG_5996snowflake biscuits…IMG_6086cream sponge cake with home made jam topping…IMG_6115after school muffins…IMG_6052belated birthday treats for work colleagues (The Husband was responsible for this feast, not me)…IMG_6166more muffins, dairy free this time by substituting soya milk… IMG_6142and finally, four Christmas cakes. I said I was going to be organised, didn’t I?

What to do with Red Cabbage?

Wowsers, how about that for a bit of fabulous colour and texture.

I do love a nice bit of red cabbage, but it wasn’t always so. Oh no, until a few years ago I would never have contemplated buying one. When Son Number One was a baby, I did what a lot of new mothers do. I declared that we were going to ‘Go Organic’ and promptly placed an order for a weekly bag of fruit and veg to be delivered. It was a good service and I looked forward to finding out what was going to arrive each week. However, winter was a bit more of a challenge. We often got the same thing over and over again and often it was red cabbage.

The only thing I knew about red cabbage was that you could pickle it. Strangely, considering how much I like preserving, I’ve never made pickled red cabbage. We have got a bit of a liking for cooking red cabbage. It usually ends up being quite a sweet dish and somehow the colour of it seems to make winter dinners seem even more rich and indulgent. Here is how we do it:

First the cabbage gets chopped up quite finely and put into a pan with a little bit of water. You don’t want too much because otherwise the ultimate dish will be swimming in juice. The other cooking liquid is made up of oil and balsamic vinegar. I must confess, I haven’t measured this accurately. I imagine that it is in similar proportions to a vinaigrette dressing. If in doubt, only add a bit at a time, you can always add more but you can’t take it out again. I like to add a handful of some dried fruit like currants or raisins. Sometimes I also add a chopped up apple or pear. Finally, we add some sugar, probably a fairly generous amount, perhaps a tablespoon or more. In effect then, we are making a warm dressed salad of cabbage. It is done when the cabbage is tender. The great thing about this is that surprisingly, it freezes very well. Mmmmmm, I can imagine loads of people thinking “Yeuck, I don’t fancy eating that” but honestly, it is scrummy.

But, I nearly always have cabbage left over (I often forget to make extra for freezing). That’s when I think about making red cabbage coleslaw.

The basic ingredients are above: carrot (grated), cabbage (shredded) and spring onion (chopped). I can’t resist taking a closer look at the onions.

Love those colour combinations

As you can see, I like raisins in my coleslaw too. And walnuts or sunflower seeds.

I mix it all up with some basic salad cream.

I’m not too keen on creamy, shop bought coleslaw but I LOVE this. The colour is as much of a treat as anything. Nutritionally it’s probably better for you too.

Last week I served the coleslaw up with sweet potato falafels (recipe from Housewife Confidential, here) and some meatballs. The dip is just yoghurt mixed with mint sauce. We stuffed the pitta pockets full of salad, coleslaw, dip and the meatballs/falafel.

Yummy. One day, I’ll finally wean the children off the tomato sauce. Until then, I’ll just be grateful that they enjoy eating salad.