I do almost all of my shopping at Aldi. I really can't stand the store. It doesn't have a wide variety of things, so I have to make a separate trip to another store sometimes to buy a single item. Our local store is always filled with poorly behaved kids who run up and down the aisles smashing into things. And you have to bag your own groceries. I stink at bagging my own groceries. I always overload a bag and have the bottom rip out -- or don't bring enough bags -- or can't figure out how to get the cart back to the stand when I had to put the sleeping baby in his carseat in order to load the groceries into the car. The whole thing is a stressful experience, but I do it because it's cheap and we are very hungry people on a tight budget.
Anyway, I was in the store about two weeks ago. I was feeling very disorganized because I hadn't even brought a list, on the grounds that "I know what I buy, I'm here every two weeks and I always get the same things." Also because I was carrying a baby and trying to maneuver a cart at the same time. For a person who can't walk and chew gum, this is kind of a challenge.
I walked past the produce section and saw a sign that said "Iceberg lettuce" and the price per pound. I thought, "Hey, I think John would want that for sandwiches," so I reached into the box below the sign and grabbed one of the green spheres.
A day or two later, I was pottering around the kitchen and John was browsing in the fridge. "Why did you get a cabbage?" he asked.
"I didn't," I replied. "I got an iceberg lettuce; they look just the same."
"Even down to the label that says 'Cabbage'?"
Yeah, I had bought cabbage. I never buy cabbage. I generally buy carrots, peas, and corn for dinner vegetables, and lettuce, tomato, and green peppers for lunch vegetables. That's it. (I admit that I'm in a bit of a rut, but like I said, Aldi doesn't have a huge selection in the first place.)
"Do you like cabbage?" I asked.
"Um, I don't really know," John replied. "I guess it would depend on how you cooked it."
I looked at the cabbage and pondered a moment. The game was ON. I was going to cook this dang cabbage and John was going to like it, by golly!
I spent a couple of days on research first. I searched online for cabbage recipes that sounded good. I picked two, each requiring half a cabbage, and waited for a day that needed a side dish. The trouble was, I couldn't really picture what either of the dishes would taste like. Cabbage is an odd vegetable; it tastes radically different depending on how you cook it. The only way I was sure I liked it was alongside corned beef, but I was going to try something new.
The first recipe was sweet and sour cabbage. It appealed by its easiness, and had my requirement of not needing any ingredients I didn't have in the house. (I was not going to spend more money when I'd already wasted some buying this unwanted cabbage!) It was very simple: cut the half cabbage into wedges, each wedge having some core. Brown the wedges in a small amount of olive oil. Add a cup of water and a tablespoon each of sugar and apple cider vinegar, and cook till soft.
Before I cut into the cabbage, I peeled off the outmost leaf and tasted it. It was delicious! I'd forgotten that peppery bite that cabbage has. I remembered my mom's story of how she used to come home from school and sit reading The Joy of Cooking and munching on raw cabbage. I felt close to her as I ate my leaf.
The dish was as easy as it sounded, and I really enjoyed it. John, though, gave it an immediate thumbs down. I was so glad I hadn't cooked the whole cabbage that way! John ate his share like a trooper; I savored the rest.
The next dish was a cheesy cabbage casserole. I had to boil the cabbage in salted water (along with an onion, but I didn't have one) and pour a cheese sauce (just a bechamel with Colby cheese, but I used cheddar) over it. Then I put bread crumbs over the top and baked it.
This was more of a success. Anything with cheese is heaven to me, and John liked it too. It would have been better with the onions, though, and garlic would have been good too. I like things stronger!
Moral of the story? An accident at the grocery store might be a good thing after all! An unexpected vegetable might just be a bit of serendipity.
When John went to the store for me this past weekend (double husband points!), I had him pick up a cabbage.