Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gardening - Tomatoes

As the snow begins to melt in Cleveland, Ohio, I am looking forward to selecting plants to include in my garden. Per the information on the importance of cis-lycopene, I plan to include tomatoes that are tangerine in color, as the tangerine colored varieties are known to have cis-lycopene. I like to use plants that breed true and have always been interested in heirloom tomatoes and will continue to plant them. In the past I carried seed from a perfectly round, yellow heirloom from Cincinnati to Cleveland as it was given to me by dear friends who had a greenhouse in Maineville, Ohio.

We eat the yellow tomatoes raw, in sauces and freeze them. I wonder what a sauce made of all tangerine type tomatoes would taste like, assuming they were not all eaten raw when freshly picked from the garden.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vegetable - Purple Cabbage

Pictures of the raw and cooked purple cabbage by my dear friend, Gerhard Schlinke, of Merzhausen near Freiburg, Germany

One of my precious cooking memories involves the color purple when I was about three and a half years old. My maternal grandmother and my aunt, baby sat for me while my Mom took care of my father who was not feeling well. I looked out the window at my parents walking down the steep steps and through a courtyard of green plants and stonework.

As they left, I began to smell the most wonderful aroma and noticed the most brilliant purple colored vegetable, I had ever seen, in my grandmother's kitchen. My grandmother started with an object that looked like the ball (cabbage) above, cut it into the
tiniest of slices by hand and turned the purple cabbage into a product whose color and flavor I will never forget. The chopping seemed so effortless for her yet each slice looked perfect to me. My Aunt Lorle (Hannelore) stood beside my dear grandmother tasting each item and adjusting the spices for the most flavorful dish for her beloved nieces, my sister and me.

It was a wonderful afternoon in a cozy warm kitchen with lots of light coming in from the window above the kitchen table. The purple color was as intense as possible in the most comfortable of kitchens. I remember feeling so happy, warm, cuddled and safe in the presence of my grandmother and aunt whose eyes never left us while they prepared a wonderful Sunday dinner.

The final product of my grandmother's efforts was a side dish of sweet and sour purple cabbage whose intense color and flavor I have never again experienced. That Sunday afternoon in Karlsruhe, Germany, was the last meal I remember having with my grandmother and Aunt Lorle before my mother, father, sister, and I departed for D.P. Camp Vegesack, near the port city of Bremen, in anticipation of a trip to the U.S.A. Our parents told us the purpose of the trip was to meet our paternal uncle's kittens. We ate little on the voyage over the ocean in the Navy troop carrier, the General William C. Langfitt. I was seasick and perhaps a bit spoiled by my grandmother and aunt who made the art of cooking colorful and appealing.

The purple cabbage, kohlrabi, and meat was a heavenly meal made with the love of a devoted maternal grandmother and my dear Aunt Lorle. I remember the loving care of my grandmother and the meal she prepared with her youngest daughter, my aunt, as one of my most precious
memories. Whenever I see a purple cabbage, I think of that happy sunny day that I spent "cooking" with my grandmother and aunt. I longed for my grandmother, aunt, and their warm and cozy kitchen on the six week voyage to the U.S.A.

Fifty years later, when my grandmother's buffet and dish cabinet had no where to go, they too went on an incredible voyage by ship over the Atlantic Ocean. After serving as a small part of the cargo on a ship, my grandmother's furniture continued by truck to find a resting place in my home. At my house my mother enjoys her mother's furniture and it has taken me many years to truly understand how courageous and wonderful my mother was and continues to be at almost 91 years young on March 23, 2008.