Cabbage Props

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By Heidi Lewis

“Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.” You may be  inspired to recite dialogue from Hamlet as you hold  in your hand a head of cabbage.  Perhaps you hold it at arm’s length—even bent on one knee—channeling  Laurence Olivier. But do be sure you say it correctly: “Alas, poor Yorick.  I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”  This famous line from Hamlet is one of the top 10 frequently misquoted  lines of Shakespeare.

Cabbage is also oft misinterpreted. Many people think it needs to be  cooked to death, when indeed it does well with a light hand and can also  be used raw. Cabbage is so versatile in the kitchen, hold a head in your  hands and contemplate: simmered, sautéed, rolled, stuffed, or shredded?  It has fed much of Europe and Asia for centuries, so no wonder there are  so many ways to prepare it. All cabbages are members of the Cruciferae  family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower,  kohlrabi, kale, collards, and the Asian leaf vegetables such as bok choy.

Cabbage is a fast-growing fall and winter crop, is nutrient rich, and  has many medicinal properties to boot. Researchers have learned that  foods in the cabbage family inhibit the growth of certain cancers due to  phytochemicals called indoles. Other research has shown that cabbage  juice is effective for curing peptic ulcers. With its overlapping layers,  cabbage may hold even more curative secrets.

Preparation: Overcooking cabbage releases sulfuric odors and reduces  its nutritional value. Celery, caraway seeds, apples, and pears are fine  compliments in cabbage recipes, such as slaws and salads. To use the  leaves for stuffing, hit the spine of each leaf with the flat edge of a heavy  knife and slip the leaf in salted, simmering water. Cook for a few minutes  till tender. Dry leaves on a towel and use them to roll up rice or leftovers.

Storage: Store cabbage in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge. Cabbage  is a good keeper and should last up to 10 days. Slice cabbage just before  using, as it loses nutritional value when exposed to air.



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