Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Counting My Blessings, One Cabbage Leaf at a Time

By K. Taylor, Aurora ON.  I made an impulse purchase the other day. A cabbage. A gorgeous, enormous green cabbage. Who impulse buys a cabbage you may ask? Well, apparently that would be me.

I just couldn’t help myself. The lovely pale apple green; the soft supple leaves; the freshness of the thing when everything else in that aisle looked weary and jet lagged. It seemed to scream Spring!at me.

Now of course I know that cabbage is a winter vegetable. I appreciate that the marketing minds at head office have strategically planned a whole host of temptations that scream Spring!far better than any cabbage. The vast array of cut tulips strategically located at the front of the store perhaps? Their heady scent sending the olfactory region of the brain into a perfumed tizzy would surely scream Spring! Or perhaps the mountains of Easter candy; the same old familiars repackaged in pink, purple and buttercup yellow packaging. Now those belt out Spring! But no, it was the cabbage that got me.

And so I hefted its bulk into my cart, unsure quite what I would do with it; only knowing that I had to have it. It was one of those days.

The cabbage has sat in the fridge for days now; as I said I had no actual plans for the thing. But this morning, armed with a butcher’s knife; cutting board and an adventurous spirit I lugged it from the fridge and pondered the possibilities.

“And yet, as that cabbage reminded me, we are so very rich. Richness, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”

In the end I decided on an old favourite, simple and delicious. And so I began to chop. And chop. And chop. Did I mention the thing was huge? The recipe calls for the beast to be chopped into pieces roughly the size and diameter of a sewing needle, which I know is a ridiculous exaggeration but chopping makes me grouchy so I don’t care. A good glass of wine makes this part far more enjoyable, although its best to stop at one, for obvious reasons. And when the monster is no more than a green haystack on the chopping block; I will toss it in a pan with a few fat dollops of butter, a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) sprinkling of salt, and saute until brown and sweet and lovely. Mmm, delish.

And so I chop. And chop. And chop.

Its amazing where the mind will wander when you let it …

As I chop, and curse the unplanned purchase, and curse the tiny little cabbage bits that end up on the floor, in my tea, and just about everywhere else; the thought finally occurs to me, that I am standing in my kitchen, surrounded by heaps of mounded of fresh produce with the very enviable problem of what to do with all this food?

How decadent! What a delicious dilemma! I know how lucky I am. I may even comment on it from time to time; and yet how rarely it actually sinks beneath the surface of my well fed skin. That the traditional gripe this time of year is too-snug jeans; how lucky are we?

Of course most of us do think of others, we want to help those in our community with less. If there is a Holiday Toy Drive or a Thanksgiving Food Drive at the school, the heaps of generous offerings rival only my piles of chopped cabbage in height and girth. But I noticed the other day that the large food bank bin at the front of the grocery store, the one that overflowed so nicely in December, is now empty; save for some old discarded flyers and a can of soup.

We are not a rich family. I shop the flyers and price match. I know how to stretch a cut of meat and if something isn’t in the budget it doesn’t go in the cart. And yet, as that cabbage reminded me, we are so very rich. Richness, as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

And so I’m going to add one or two extra things to my weekly shops. Sometimes I doubt I’ll be able to spare more than a toonie or two. But as I chop away, narrowly missing a thumb; I think of all the things a toonie can buy: cans of fruit in juice, diced tomatoes, beans, pasta sauce; boxes of crackers and pasta, jars of baby food and if you catch a sale even boxes of cereal, tea, juice. The options are endless. And surely I could squeeze one little two dollar item onto my list. If I were to do that once a week, if I were to take advantage of the sales and use my wily grocery skills; then that would be the equivalent of over a hundred dollar donation by the end of the year, only the people who need it would get the food now.

That one jar of baby food may not look like much when I drop it in the vast box at the front of the store, but to a family somewhere it means their baby may have strained carrots for dinner, and who doesn’t love strained carrots? And speaking of winter vegetables, now why has no one ever considered strained cabbage? I wonder.

K. Taylor
Aurora, ON


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