Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Finally, La Belle Dame Sans Merci haz internet! (On a side-note, I just thought about how long the name "Belle Dame Sans Merci" is and thought, hmm, maybe abbreviate? Yeah, it comes out to BDSM, which, given that a Google search for "Land of Milk and Honey" already gives one about ten hits for porn sites, might not be the best thing ...)

So the problem with cooking at the moment is ... it's about 95 degrees on any given day in Philly, and I live on the third floor and my AC unit is only in the bedroom (where I am currently hiding). So, I've been living off of tomatoes and celery and bleu cheese dressing with the occasional plum for a good week or two until roughly four alcoholic drinks into a summer's night with friends, my body reminds me that I'm starving it with a strange combination of veggies and dairy and demands something fried and disgusting. The fact that my landlord runs a pizza shop downstairs ... is not helpful. So, my recipe for you today is designed for simplicity and disgusting, sweltering hot weather. (Sweltering is such a fine word, isn't it? It really truly encompasses how Philly has made me feel this summer: like a welter sweating in a sweater.)

cabbage! depending on how many people you wish to terrify with endless amounts of cabbage
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
2 tbsp mustard (spicy is good)
some sprinkles of dill weed
2 generous glugs of olive oil

optional: 1/3 of a package of goat cheese
optional: 1 bunch of red grapes

WARNING: a head of cabbage is a LOT of cabbage -- if you're making this for one or two people, use maybe a third of a head and reserve the rest, but not for too long because it will get a nasty grey film (stay tuned for further recipes in the next few days as I struggle to use up the monster that I just purchased). If you use the whole thing, pray you have like, 6 people to eat with you.

So the simplest thing to do is to chop the cabbage as finely as you can or grate it (personal texture preference, really: I like the chewiness of cabbage and I think it gets weird and slimy when you grate it, but my darling roommate of two years past who has since moved to SF and who, as she will be a presence on these pages, will be dubbed the Island Girl, is all about it). Next salt it pretty heavily as it sits in your bowl and scrunch it a few times with your hands: that gets its juices flowing and makes it softer (not unlike sugar on strawberries). Also, it is delightful to scrunch cabbage with your hands -- if you never have, you have missed on a vital delight in life.

The absolute simplest thing you can do is squirt some fresh lemon juice on your chopped cabage, add a tablespoon or two of mustard (the spicier the better), glug some olive oil in there and sprinkle with dill weed (or, chopped fresh dill if your local supermarket hasn't reduced it to a slimy wilted mess through their incessant and infuriating over-watering; NB: when purchasing dill -- which they always also insist on giving you in bunches that no human being can ever reasonably consume on one's own -- dry it out for half a day on your counter and blow some air into the bag you're storing it in so that the bag puffs up: that will help with the slimy wilting; same thing for cilantro). You may leave it at that, or you may start experimenting: for example, crumbled goat cheese and sliced red grapes are divine with cabbage! The bright juicy red grapes contrast nicely and the creaminess of the goat cheese brings out the cabbage flavor really well. Apples, I assume, would go wonderfully as well (stay tuned for tomorrow's post -- I have an interesting salad in the works). Strawberries?? Will report shortly.

Or ... erm, you can look into your fridge, remember that you're a strange combination of a foodie and supermarketphobe who thus always goes into a supermarket, panics from all the choices, skitters around in a frenzy and forgets the fact that she needs things like mustard (again! dammit!), look at the scorching 95 degrees of Philly summer (yes, it's so hot you can see those 95 degrees weighing down every leaf), decide you're too lazy to return to the site of your repeated trauma ... and just put mayonnaise on your cabbage, nothing else, being sure to remember with horror and instantly repress that you had mayonnaise with your soft-boiled eggs that morning and go on with your disgusting but delicious Slavic cholesterol-packed existence.

Music: Black Eyed Peas - "I Gotta Feeling" (on repeat, while dancing in kitchen like a crazy person, lulled into false sense of complacency by large and, we assume, impenetrable oak tree looming before kitchen window)

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