October 20th 2013 The Day of the Cabbage

This was the day to work with mountain grown cabbage. I love it! I didn’t grow any this year. I got mine from Pete who has a seasonal stand on Rte 58 about halfway from the farm and Meadows of Dan proper. I get them by the bag which weighs in at 50 lbs. This year I went “halfsies”  with my WWoofer, Lyn.  She spent time teaching English on an Island in South Korea and learned many new ways to enjoy cabbage while she was there.

Today I worked on making two cabbage delicacies,  Chow Chow and sauerkraut.

 Chow Chow was something new for me when I moved here to the Blue Ridge. I’d never heard of it before coming here. What I discovered is that it is as varied in taste as as the person who makes it. It can be sweet , spicy, hot or super hot and beyond super hot!  Generally folks around here, I am told like, it mostly with pintos and corn bread. I’ve become a great fan of Chow Chow with pintos and also as a side accompaniment to things I cook that might be considered East Indian cuisine such as potato and pea curry and other types of curried dishes. It’s also great with various breads. I like to make flat breads such as Nan and pita and chow Chow is great to serve with the warm bread. My recipe follows but now I want to talk about my experience making sauerkraut.

My first sauerkraut adventure began with an odyssey wherein I searched for the right lid to put pressure on my newly purchased one gallon ceramic crock. That was easy enough to get at the Poor Farmer’s Market right here in Meadows of Dan. It’s a great place and anyone taking a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway ought really to get off at Meadows of Dan and check out the stores here. Say “hi” to the friendly ladies who can set you up with a delirious sandwich and all the  fixings to take on a picnic or a hike or stop and have a sit down at Jane’s Country Cafe.

But wait, I’m off topic. Back to the sauerkraut. So, I have my cabbage and I have my crock and I have my recipe, which also will follow, and I think I’m ready to go! Well, no. I need a lid, something to keep the cabbage submerged in the brine and a weight, Maybe the weight can be a big clean stone or a one gallon jug filled with water. this needs to be a glass jug so it will fit in the crock. So it’s another trip to Felicia’s. That’s the other name for the Poor Farmer’s Market and also the name of the lady who owns it.  This time I get a one gallon jug of apple cider. It was outstandingly fresh and crisp and sweet in it’s flavor. I still haven’t found the lid for  the gallon jug to sit upon, however. Now these can be purchase din wood online, but they can be pricey and I didn’t want to wait much longer to get stated on this project. as it was I had to drink a gallon of cider, and as you know, that can’t be done in a day, with any kind of good result.  I went on a quest to find a dish that would fit neatly into a one gallon crock without being so tight that it couldn’t be easily lifted out. This way no easy task. It took all afternoon and I went to every establishment that sells on consignment and such in the area. Finally i found a Blue Willow roll plate, not a dessert size plate, not a salad plate, but a bread and butter plate. I paid too much for it. But never mind, finally I had everything I needed. I was psyched! I wish I could say I had the best kraut I ever tasted. Not so. Being a novice, I caved at the first sign of scummy stuff floating on the top and tossed the whole thing out. Here is what I learned after the fact. Don’t do that! I have since learned this is a typical occurrence and does not affect the end product adversly. As I write I am now on my second journey on the way to becoming the creator of soon to be amazing sauerkraut. This time I am getting it right. I will let you all now how it turns out.

Now for my Chow Chow recipe. This will be included in my up and coming Spoon Mountain Farm cookbook which will be this, this winter’s   writing project . 

Spoon Mountain Farm Chow Chow

2 quarts finely shredded cabbage, about a medium head

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet  onion, more to taste

1 cup finely chopped  mixed red and green Bell pepper 

2 cups vinegar

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon mustard, what ever kind I have in the fridge, usually brown

1 teaspoon Tumeric 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons celery seed

2 teaspoons mustard seed.

Mix the first three ingredients, the veggies which you sprinkle with the salt and then place  them in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

After the 4-6 hours have passed, combine all the other ingredients , the vinegar, sugar and spice mixture and simmer them on the stove for bout ten minutes.

Next add the veggies and simmer another ten minutes and then bring to a boil. 

Next pack the boiling hot  mixture into clean heated canning jars. Leave only 1/8 inch head space. Place canning lids and rings on the jars and invert jars turning them upside down so the heat is on the lids. I do this on a dry dish cloth. Turn the jars back to upright when the jars are cool. They should have sealed nicely. Date the jars and enjoy your Chow Chow.


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