By way of introduction, I grew up in a church headed by a charismatic Irish preacher. He told a great many stories, in the pulpit and out of it, even publishing a memoir dedicated to his mother and memories of growing up with her. One of the stories that has stayed with me through the years, because it's just so darn funny, went something like this:
When he was entering adolescence, Pastor initiated an interest in the ladies, like most "men" at that age. The day he decided to start wearing cologne happened to coincide with a flamboyant friend of his mother coming to visit for an afternoon. As he was walking out the door to spend time with a co-ed group of friends, his mother's friend embraced him and exclaimed, "Boy, you sure stink pretty!"
Mortified by her comment, he didn't really absorb it. All he heard was "you stink." What apparently took him years to learn was that when she said "you stink pretty," she was paying him a compliment on his newly pleasant scent.
So, my home stinks tasty. It stinks like I imagine Polish kitchens to stink, but not quite the way an Eastern European kitchen might stink - I feel like that would require garlic to enter the bouquet of food scents currently inhabiting my 4x6' kitchen (and spreading through the rest of our tiny home). Surprisingly, I was able to refrain from adding garlic, in the interest of remaining faithful to the recipe, created from Dynise's childhood memories of plentiful cabbage and Polish family.
In case you can't guess, tonight's dinner was Red Cabbage with Caraway Seeds from The Urban Vegan, served up with sauteed slices of Tofurky Kielbasa. Dinner was almost Chickpeas Romesco, but Mister intervened by enthusiastically requesting the cabbage dish.
I would say that I only select our dinner autocratically about 50% of the time. I like to get Mister's input (as well as feedback) and he is usually hesitant to provide either (which drives me a little crazy sometimes). When I haven't decided ahead of time exactly what I'm making, I'll usually show Mister the weekly menu and ask him if anything jumps out at him. At least 90% of the time, he just smiles or shrugs and says "Whatever you want, baby." Sometimes I try to at least narrow him into a cuisine (there's a pretty considerable distance between Italian and Polish influenced flavors!) and other times I just figure out what I'm most in the mood to make or eat.
On the rare occasions that he excitedly points at something and says, "Ooh, ooh! Make that!" I find it more or less impossible to refuse whatever he wants. So, while I was gearing up to make Chickpeas Romesco, he peeked over my shoulder and saw Red Cabbage with Caraway Seeds and made his fervent request, so I pulled the head of cabbage out of the crisper. I thought he was excited about the kielbasa, but he was actually more excited about the cabbage. I was most excited about the caraway seeds.
It came out really well. It yielded a huge amount of cabbage, even after it cooked down a little. I sliced four kielbasas on the diagonal and it seemed to be the perfect amount, but my need for larger pots was definitely reinforced by tonight's cooking experience. The cabbage almost did not fit into my 6-qt stock pot - fortunately, that's the next piece of cookware in line to be replaced!
The cabbage cooked up with a hint of sweetness that was enhanced dramatically by the savory nature of the sausage. Neither overwhelmed the other, rather they each provided the other with the perfect flavor foil, calming and complementing each ingredient's best features. Additionally, the cabbage maintained just enough crunch through 15 minutes of cooking to add a fun texture against the chewy tenderness of the kielbasa.
Well done, Mister. But now my kitchen reeks.
Time for the new menu! We still haven't gotten to Chickpeas Romesco with Garlic
1. Cajun Spice Baked Tofu on Cajun Red Beans and Rice, both from The Accidental Vegan. The Beans and Rice recipe is currently holding the title of Favorite for that category, but I've never made the baked tofu and I'm really looking forward to seeing how they work together.
2. Punjabi Peppers and Tofu from La Dolce Vegan, served with garlic naan. I'll admit, I went into this book specifically for this recipe. In addition to the two bottles of McCormick Garam Masala I picked up in California, my mother gave me a bottle she used for the one time she made this recipe, so I can't wait to make this again with my favorite Garam Masala! Fortunately, while I was in the book, I also came away with...
3. Curry Fennel Cauliflower Bake which sounds fabulous and combines a bunch of things Mister loves (cauliflower and curry) with a few of my favorite things (tofu and fennel seeds). With the help of the pre-cut cauliflower florets I picked up at Whole Foods, it should come together quickly as well.
4. Vegetable Biryani, also from La Dolce Vegan. I've been hesitant about this recipe in the past because I have a biryani recipe I love from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, but this one is stovetop and requires a lot less time, effort, and ingredients. Considering this week begins the busiest six weeks of my year, that's a good thing.