Stella’s Cabbage

My mother in law, a sweet, gracious and intelligent woman, died about 5 years ago. With her went the secret to “polish cabbage” which was something of a signature dish.  I think I’ve finally reverse engineered it.

  1. Clean, cut up and salt the cabbage. Discard the outer leaves if they’re damaged and remove the inner core. The cabbage should be cut into 5mm or so pieces (just a little too coarse for coleslaw). Put into a bowl, add salt and allow to sit for 1-2 hours or more.
  2. (1-2 hours later). Cut up an onion and fry in a little oil in a large covered frying pan. Stella undoubtedly used butter, but olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and butter work well. Don’t over cook, brown or burn the onion.
  3. While the onion is wilting. Rinse the salt off of the cabbage and set it to drain.
  4. Add the cabbage to the onion and fry in a covered pan for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Stir as necessary and add water if it begins to dry out, stick or brown.  The cabbage will decrease to about 1/4 the original volume. With green cabbage it will eventually turn a light brown and be very tender.

Enjoy.  This works equally well with both the red and green cabbages.

Written by Rob in: recipe |

Preparing Persimmons



The persimmons are getting ripe again, and we have a bumper crop. They slowly ripen as the weather gets cold and as long as you beat the deer and raccoons to them. In the picture the one at the top is almost ripe. They should be extremely soft and ready to fall off the tree.

One big headache is removing the seeds and other non-edible stuff from the fruit. In the past, I would push them through a strainer – which was a lot of work and tended to break the strainers. There must be an easier way!

There is. Put the persimmons directly in an electric mixer and pulp them (I use the egg whisk on a 30 year old kitchen aid mixer that was a wedding present). Add the milk, sugar and spices required for the recipe and then whip the mixture. This can then be strained to remove the seeds – no fuss and a lot less mess than trying to strain the pulp directly. The mixture gets quite thick – almost like a pudding or milkshake – so I think it can be turned into a persimmon pudding without too much work, but I don’t have a recipe for that (yet).

Persimmon muffins.

Approximately 10 ripe American persimmons.
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
tablespoon cinnamon
teaspoon ginger
teaspoon salt (I like the “Lite” salt that is 75% KCl)
2 cups milk
pulp the persimmons and then add the rest of the above. Filter out the seeds using a strainer.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
tablespoon baking powder.
Mix the above with the persimmon/milk mixture
2-3 cups plain flour (enough to make a stiff batter)

put into greased muffin tins and bake at 350F (180C) until done (about 15-20 minutes).

The muffins will be heavy, moist and delicious.

Written by Rob in: outdoors,recipe,Wildlife |

Tiger Bread

One of the peculiarly English things my family likes is Tesco’s “Tiger Bread” (I think Sainsbury makes something similar). Anyway I reverse engineered the recipe for those of us who only visit the UK.

300ml (1 cup) warm water
300ml (1 cup) milk (i used 2%)
1 tablespoon (30ml +-) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (5ml +-) salt – I prefer to use Morton’s “Lite Salt” which is 70% KCl as yeast seems to be potassium limited for growth and adding potassium makes it rise faster and harder.


Mix the above.  Add about 1.5 lbs bread flour (“strong wheat flour” in the UK).  This is done to get to a desired consistency.  The dough should be slightly sticky before and after kneading. You can add  more flour but the bread will be too heavy.  You are aiming for a light white bread with a touch of robustness in its bite.

Let it rise to double its volume. Don’t punch down and re-rise as that will give the bread a somewhat sour (or mature) flavor.  Form into loaves, and place on a greased pan (I use a pizza pan with holes in it).  Brush the loaves with a saturated solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and bake at 350F (180C) until done.


Written by Rob in: recipe |

Trash Can Turkey (and Ham)

My son’s scout troop had a campout last weekend where we invited the webelos 2, oops now “arrow of light” scouts and parents to visit.  We camped at Bert Adams and put on a bit of a show. One of the highlights was a thanksgiving feast.

Borrowing from a number of web sites and an experience with Troop 77, we did trash can turkey. It starts by using a 30 gallon or so steel trash can.  First, we burnt off all the zinc from the galvanizing – which would have given the bird a funny taste, to say nothing of the trace heavy metals in raw zinc.  Find a more or less flat patch of land which is more or less “sterile” (the gravel road would have been best but wasn’t an option).  Drive a sharpened pole about 6 inches (10-15cm)  into the ground (it should be about 40-45cm tall above ground).  Cover it in heavy duty aluminum foil and then lay overlapping sheets around it to insulate the ground from the coals. (this will be clear in the pictures).  Put the bird on the spike, coals on the top and the sides of the can and wait.  (it is probably a very good idea to truss the bird with cotton ‘butchers twine’ as it can fall apart when well done).  The bird was salted, peppered and had some butter put under the skin, but season it as you’d like.  A 15 lb (7-8 kilo) bird probably takes about 2 hours, but due to other things we left it about three and a half hours.  It was tender and moist (and the scouts scoffed the lot in 15 minutes).

We also did a ham.  After a coating of brown sugar it was set in a scout cook-kit frying pan (no handle – a dutch oven would do as well) with canned pineapple slices below and above.  This time we used a smaller 10-gallon can – again protecting the ground with layers of aluminum foil.  Also lovely and tender and scoffed down in 15 minutes.

You need a shovel to move the coals around – and keep them replenished (we used about 2 bags of charcoal – though weren’t thoroughly efficient).  It is also a good idea to have some heat resistant gloves to pick the cans up with.

You can wrap ears of corn and sweet potatoes in foil and cook them on top of the cans as a finishing treat.

This shows the basic setup

This shows the basic setup

This shows the basic setup

Ready to cook

This shows the basic setup

setting up the ham

This shows the basic setup

And it's done (bon appetit)

Written by Rob in: outdoors,recipe,scouting |

Pecan Pie

My wife (another professor) and I were invited to a Christmas party that (mostly) her students were hosting.  This was a real treat.  Anyway I’d made a pecan pie that was well appreciated, and by request here is the recipe.


  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1/2 tsp salt
  3. (optional but good with a sweet filling) 1 tsp sugar
  4. 1 stick margarine (about 1/4 lb)

Mix these together until well homogenized.  An electric mixer works great as does a pastry knife, but a fork will do the job as well.  (I’m faster with a pastry knife than a mixer, but a mixer is easier on the arms).  When done it will be about the consistency of corn meal.  Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (or longer – it will freeze well at this stage) to chill and harden the margarine.  (prepare the filling during this time).

The simple way to prepare the crust is then to add cold water in small increments, followed by mixing to form a ball that holds all of the mixture together and is not sticky (you can add a little flour to dry it out if need be).  Do the mixing by hand with a fork or a spoon as it is important to be gentle with pie crusts.  Then roll it out on  a floured board and put in the pie pan.

To make a flaky pastry,  reserve about 1/3 of the mixture and add water to the rest.  This time you want the wetted mixture to be slightly sticky.  Roll the mixture out and place some of the dry mix on it (use about a tablespoon of the dry mix).  Fold over twice (once lengthwise then once across).  Repeat rolling out, adding mixture and folding until all of the dry mix is used up.  Then roll out all the way needed for the pie and put it in the pan.  (this is a bit more complicated than the first way, and the first way works fine if you’ve never made a pie crust before).

To make the filling (for a 9 inch deep dish pie crust):

  1. 3 eggs
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup corn syrup (I used “golden eagle” brand which is mixture of corn syrup, molasses and honey )
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 2 tbs margarine (melt if you’re doing this by hand otherwise just blend it in)
  7. 1 cup (or slightly more) Pecans

Beat the eggs, sugar & margarine.  Add the vanilla, syrup and salt.  Beat some more.  It should be slightly opaque and foamy.   Put the pecans in the prepared (unbaked)  pie crust and pour the mixture over it.  Bake in a preheated 325 F oven for about 50-55 minutes.  Remove and cool.

Written by Rob in: recipe |

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