Monday, November 22, 2010

HIBERNATION, PORSCHES AND CABBAGE ROLLS

This old biddy has been spending a bit more time around the homestead the last week or so. I’m learning that Fibro has it’s own set of rules that allows only so much activity before the body needs complete rest. After nearly a non-stop two weeks, last week found me getting home from work, grabbing a quick cup of soup and snoozing soundly in my snug chair in front of the tele until time to head to bed.

The plus side of this is that it is chilling down outside and with daylight savings blacking out our evenings, it’s easy to hunker down into hibernate mode with some DVD’s from the local library. Although my cable company gives me nearly 1000 channels to choose from, the actual viewing selection seems to get narrower and narrower each month. Reruns and crummy movies are the staples of the cable world (with a few stellar exceptions such as Turner Classic Movies and some new programming on USA) and even my old standby PBS is offering a plethora of reruns (again with the notable exception of the new Sherlock Holmes series that is quite excellent).

So the library has been my haven for “new” programming. A little research into BBC series of the last 10 years or so allowed me to create a list of shows I’ve not encountered before. One such series is the BBC’s “Monarch of the Glen”  that aired between 2000 and 2005. Loosely based on Compton Mackenzie's “Highland Novels”, which are set in the same location but in the 1930s and 1940s, the first book in the series was called The Monarch of the Glen, hence the series title. The well done series tells the story of young restaurateur, Archie MacDonald, trying to restore his childhood home in the Scottish Highlands.

Aside from an interesting look into the life of a family that’s held their lands and titles for hundreds of years and trying to come to terms with economic realities of our modern way of life, these programs have breathtaking scenery that have instilled the desire to visit Scotland to see if it really is this beautiful.  The shows were filmed at an actual castle that is both stately and proud while showing signs of long neglect and decay. And yes, the men wear kilts and a few tote around bagpipes. This is a charming series and if you have an opportunity to get this from your local public library it’s well worth watching.

Too bad this doesn't enititle
me to use someones Porsche!
PORSCHES ON DISPLAY FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Saturday evening my friend Cathy and I headed up to Independence to assist in an auction hosted by the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Porsche Club of America. It was their 50th anniversary party and in order to do a little something nice for their community they included an auction benefiting the Cleveland Ronald McDonald House.

Normally as volunteers we are relegated to eating cold pizza, or many times nothing at all, but the Covingtons (Marie was the event Chair) were kind enough to include us in their dinner and program.  There were 6 Porsches on display in the lobby of the Embassy Suites Independence as well as a few scattered in the banquet room itself.  And me there without my camera for a change!  Missed opportunity for sure.

These guys (and gals) clearly are devoted to their cars. They give a new meaning to the term "Car Guys".  The gentleman I sat next to at dinner has 6 Porsches and races them at Mid-Ohio on a regular basis. This is no winning enterprise; he says it costs him a half a million dollars a year to support his ‘hobby’, which no doubt included the salary of his mechanic that was sitting next to him at table.   He spoke to me at length about the purpose behind the NEOPCA, which is mainly to educate drivers in car handling, both for sport and daily driving of automobiles and motorcycles.  They were even auctioning off a defensive driving class to be held at Mid Ohio Raceway. 

The evenings program included race car drivers David Donahoe  who won the “24 Hours at Daytona” race in 2009 - 40 years to the date that his father won the same race, and Darren Law, one of his teammates at that race. They spoke at great length about their racing careers and for the enthusiasts in the crowd, I’m sure it was quite entertaining.

Kudos to this group for raising several thousand dollars for the Ronald McDonald House!

The smallest of my 3 slow cookers-
perfect for meals for one!
GETTING THE CROCK POT DOWN OFF THE SHELF
Somehow it feels like slow cooker weather, don’t you think? The outside BBQ has been stored away for the winter (or more to the point, the charcoal has been lost behind all the other crap in the garage), the pizza oven will have to wait until spring for a good burn and the house is chilly, all of which mean it’s time to start thinking of soups on the stovetop, baked goods emerging from a warm oven and the slow cooker doing it’s thing all day so that I’m greeted by wonderful aromas when I come home from work. Ahhhhh…….

2 minute par boil (after cutting
out the tough stem)

Browsing the market yesterday produced a small head of Napa cabbage for a dollar that was so pretty I just had to bring it home (how is it I can bypass a pair of shoes but cannot leave a pretty head of cabbage behind in the market?)  While contemplating its future I recalled a pound of meatloaf mixture I discovered in the depths of my overloaded freezer last week and set in the fridge to thaw.  Although I love meatloaf as meatloaf, the meat mixture can be used for any number of other things and I figured it would work just as well as a cabbage roll. 


set meat on cabbage

My meatloaf mixture:  A few weeks ago I stumbled over some ground veal (which is not usually available in the market I use) so took some time to purchase equal amounts of ground pork, beef and the veal, then added shredded carrots, onions, celery, bread crumbs, an egg and seasonings.  This mixture I divided into 1 pound loaves, double wrapped in plastic and froze for future use.


then roll and tuck the ends

So, last night I rescued the little slow cooker from the top shelf of the pantry, grabbed half of the meatloaf mixture from the refrigerator and parboiled a couple of choice outer leaves of the Napa cabbage. With the assistance of a bottle of store bought pasta sauce pining away in the back of the fridge, I put together a little stuffed cabbage for my dinner tonight.


8 ounces of meatloaf mix made
two servings of cabbage rolls

Since the meatloaf mixture was already done, it was a simple task to make 4 ounce ovals out of half of the mixture and wrap each carefully in the parboiled cabbage leaves.  I cut out the stems of the leaves since they are tough and then put about 12 oz of water in a small skillet just large enough to hold the leaves, heated to a boil and then submerged each leaf for about 2 minutes - just enough to make the leaves pliable so they didn't spring back when rolled.  Remove these from the boiling water (carefully, they are HOT), blot dry with a clean towel and set them out to assemble.

I then shredded up enough cabbage to cover the bottom of the small slow cooker and put everything in the fridge overnight (not in the cooker crock, the manufacturer says to never refrigerate food in these prior to cooking).

In the morning before I left for work, I layered in the ingredients in the following manner:

All tucked in for the slow cook
to cabbage roll heaven!

 - 3 tablespoons marinara sauce in the bottom of the crock
 - scant 1/2-3/4 cup shredded cabbage

 - 2 cabbage rolls (tucking the ends under to keep them closed)

 - 2-3 tablespoons marinara sauce over each roll

 With everything tucked in, turn the cooker to ‘slow’ and go away for the day.

Cabbage rolls, green beans
& roasted potatoes
While this is a Cooking for One recipe, I cannot usually resist making enough of a comfort dish like this for two meals.  The half pound of meatloaf mix I used makes two rolls and since nutrition guidelines tell us that 4 ounces of meat is a serving, you can do the math. These days while I'm trying to watch what I eat (as well as how much of it I eat), one cabbage roll will be my meal tonight complimented by some potatoes and green beans. 
In order to hurry my meal along (since the rolls were ready when I walked in the door), I simply microwaved two very small pototes and then rubbed them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven for 5 minutes to crisp up the skins and while pan roasting a few green beans.  All told, my cooking and prep time was less than 20 minutes since the meatloaf mix was already done. 




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