Monday, January 4, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 01-03-21: Cabbage Salad, ZOOM Time, Family Dinner

 1. A day or two ago, Carol asked me to bring a vinegar-based cabbage salad to today's late afternoon family dinner. I decided not to wing it. One Christmas, Zoe gave Debbie and me a cookbook entirely devoted to vinegar, called Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar. It had a lot of fascinating material, but no cabbage salad recipe. I struck out when I looked at my new Russian cookbook. But, then, when I consulted Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, I found a recipe and either I had its ingredients on hand or I could buy them with a quick trip to Yoke's. 

All I needed from Yoke's was a purple cabbage, a bunch of parsley, and a bunch of green onions. The recipe called for red onion, but we don't serve raw yellow/white/red onion at family dinner and the green onions were a most suitable substitute.

I halved the cabbage, cut slices, and then chopped up the slices. I put the cabbage in the colander. Samin Norsrat's instructions said to add two generous dashes of salt to the cabbage and then let it sit for about twenty minutes to draw any excess water out. I salted the cabbage generously. Momentary panic gripped me. How about if that was too much salt? I uttered a short cook's prayer, hoping I hadn't blown it.

I chopped up the bunch of green onions and then squeezed the juice out of a lemon and combined the two in a small bowl. I also learned a new cooking term: macerate. I macerated the green onion bits for about 20 minutes in the lemon juice. The bright lemon flavor became absorbed in the onion and macerating is a softening process. The green onion bits got soft. 

I chopped the bunch of parsley and, twenty minutes later, I combined the salted cabbage, parsley, and green onion bits in a bowl, but not the lemon juice. I then combined six tablespoons of olive oil with three tablespoons of red wine vinegar and stirred the salad. Lastly, I poured in almost all of the lemon juice into the salad, stirred it in, sealed the bowl, and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours before dinner.

I also texted Carol, Paul, and Christy with a warning that I might have over salted the cabbage salad, letting them know that it that was the case, I would understand if they couldn't eat it.

2. Bill, Diane, and I jumped on the ZOOM machine around 2:00 and leaped right into scintillating conversation, beginning with Western movies. Bill and Diane watched Westerns as a way to usher in 2021 and we spent a lot of time talking about Silverado (which I have never seen) and a little less time talking about Tombstone (which I have). Talking about these movies also led us to the book, Lonesome Dove (which I have not read) and how Diane read it voraciously while working at a law office soon after graduating from college and how much Bill loves this book and its sequels. I chimed in a little bit with the fact that I was reading a study of the history of the West, The Legacy of Conquest, but, I gotta tell ya, the movies and the novels sounded about five hundred times more fun!

Diane told us about a book she was starting to read, Allison Lurie's Don't Tell the Grownups.  It's a study of subversive children's literature. Well, this launched a terrific discussion about books we'd read as children, including my pre-school love of the World Book Encyclopedia, but our discussion was cut short. Kellogg experienced a short power outage, I lost my internet connection, and by the time I had service again, it was time for me to hop over to the Roberts' house for family dinner.

3. Our family dinner began with a lemon-y cocktail that Christy mixed. I think it was called something like a Limoncello Collins, combining limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, and sugar/simple syrup. It was refreshing a pleasant citrus bite.

Our dinner was superb. Carol and Paul roasted a dry rubbed pork roast; Christy made caramelized corn; I brought cabbage salad; Carol and Paul opened a bottle of red wine. Despite my anxiety, the cabbage salad was NOT too salty and the foods we each made complimented one another perfectly.

Christy fixed us a hot White Russian for dessert. It was a blend of coffee liqueur, vodka, cream (or milk?) white chocolate something (I think), and decaf coffee. It was a smooth, sweet, relaxing way to top off our superb dinner, especially then accompanied by almond biscotti and chocolate truffles. 

We talked about all sorts of things tonight, including how Carol, Christy, and I might manage a sibling outing for Christy's upcoming birthday and take proper pandemic precautions. A plan might be emerging. 

I arrived home to the news that a good friend is hospitalized with Covid-19 and other abdominal complications unrelated to the virus. The news fortified my resolve to live with an abundance of caution -- as if my resolve needed to be strengthened. I rarely go indoors anywhere outside of the house as it is.  Yoke's, rarely more than once a week. Carol and Paul's for family dinner. Rare visits to the post office. A quick trip once in a blue moon to the liquor store. Only Christy, Carol, or Paul come to my house these days.  Except as we are eating or drinking, we cover our faces when we are together. So, in case you wondered, this is what I mean by an abundance of caution. 

(Hmm, might there be a haircut in my future? We'll see!)

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