Make Cabbage After Play

When I lived with roomies at 256, I’d often get (lovingly) teased for my habit of making mush at mealtime.  No matter what I set out to create, it generally ended up getting plopped on my plate like a pile-up. I like to think I’ve gotten a little better at incorporating form into my recipes, but occasionally, I still love a good mush.

It’s always a struggle to get the structuring logic of the theater-practitioner’s schedule to jive with my preferred rhythms. I’m an early bird, and late nights soaking in the sights and sounds and crowds of Murder in the Cathedral were wonderful and exhausting and finite. Theatrical or otherwise, in the postmortem of a consuming project, I always feel like immersing myself in things I’ve been missing. In this case, that was cabbage.

I had bought a red cabbage. Simple enough. My mother had donated a green cabbage to me– a hefty guy– that she’d gotten from her CSA during a period of overwhelming cabbage accumulation. I had no time to cook either one. So, on one of the first nights after the show closed, I took out a big pot and resolved to do away with at least one of them. (This was after a long day at work, and I still hadn’t caught up on enough sleep to imagine using more than one pot.)  Thankfully, there was a happy ending– I liked its mix of soup and stew. It was surprisingly hearty– here was a mush that could work for lunch or for dinner, fall or winter. There are no exact measurements in my meal time, so feel free to innovate along with me:

1 green cabbage, chopped so you won’t choke

1 package of tofu (I used the already-marinated, baked kind) – you could probably swipe in chicken sausage, instead

1 tomato or more, sliced or chopped

a healthy handful of small potatoes cut into cubes, or a couple of large potatoes cut into cubes

half an onion or so, chopped to a size of your liking

2 garlic cloves, mashed

the same amount of olive oil you always use– or, if you have it, sesame oil

a hefty splash of rice cooking wine

a hefty splash of red wine– whatever’s already open

a hefty splash of soy sauce

1 cup of vegetable broth(er)

a little water

lotsa dried herbs (especially tarragon)

salt and pepper, since those are in every recipe

Directions: Feed your cat, so she leaves you alone. Heat the big pot on medium, with some oil– I’ll trust you’ve been in the game long enough to know how much you like. Two tablespoons should do the trick. Add the onions and garlic till mushy and kinda translucent– unless your olfactories have been wiped out, you should know when you’re cookin’. Add the potaters, ignore the squeals. When those are kind & soft, add all your green cabbage, the veggie broth, and some water. Cover, and let heat up. Once the cabbage starts really getting wilted and diminishing in size, add your tomato, plus the other liquids (various wines, soy sauce, a little H20). IF you’re using the pre-baked kinda tofu, throw it in right after you mix all of this together. (If not, you should have ideally done it when you added your potato, to get it flavored.) Cook it more, long enough for everything to be kind of mushed together, and for the broth to become a nice, deep brown. Taste it. Like? Add your dried herbs– choose the ones you enjoy most. I found that tarragon worked well here.

Dash in the salt n’ pepp. And you’re good to go.