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Braised Red Cabbage and Snow in the Mountains

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:20pm

Last weekend, as we were discussing just how much homework was facing us, Zach laughed and said: "Let's go to Florida!"

I'm not sure what possessed me, but instead of laughing too, I grinned and replied "Let's go!"

"What about homework?" Zach asked, certain I was still joking along.

"It'll still be there when we get back..."

(For the record, this is not my usual MO - I'm usually the student who types her notes twice, highlights and underlines every page in the textbook, and writes down every single syllable the professor utters. And this is just to study for a quiz.)

Zach stared at me for a moment to ascertain that I was truly serious... "Well, um, Florida's a bit far... How about the casino in the mountains?"

(We currently live in Georgia, so mountains are a bit more accessible than if we were still living in Louisiana)

So, we went! We drove for 3 hours, the road slowly climbing towards the snow-dusted mountains of Western North Carolina, until we reached our destination. Along the way we left behind first towns with shopping centers and gas stations, then towns with only a lone gas station, and then towns altogether, until we arrived at a sort of crossroads, dangling on the side of a mountainside, consisting of a casino, a lovely little hotel, and a roadside diner.

We promptly lost a few rounds of blackjack, but, being broke students and thus having not bet any sum of significance, instead of being alarmed we felt incredibly fortunate to be able to afford such an occasional luxury. Besides, the point of the trip was the journey, the simple delights of being someplace new, someplace unexpected... We quickly reconfigured our ideas of having salads for dinner, as the diner did not seem to possess anything containing greenery. Although it might not be our usual fare, when one is at a roadside diner, one, well, does as roadside diners do, and one has scrambled eggs and hash-browns for supper! Which is exactly what we did, along with steaming mugs of coffee and a shared pecan waffle.

Nearly a week later, the cozy, relaxed feeling of a weekend in the mountains still lingers... Although, now that we're back home again, we've returned to cabbages for comfort food... and, lest you feel that we might be pining for those incredibly delicious and very deep fried hash-browns, I would argue that the deep flavors of red wine and brown sugar are equally comforting indeed...

Braised Red Cabbage

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large tart or semi-tart apple, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar or date sugar

~ In a large pot or wok, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
~ Stir in the cabbage, apple, bay leaf, red wine, vinegar, and raw sugar or date sugar. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for around 20 minutes, depending on how tender or crisp-tender you like your cabbage.
~ Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm! Ta da! Easy!

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