Jean’s in the Kitchen

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A Grandmother’s Cabbage Soup Starts with Vegetable Scraps

Apparently, the internet wants more content from grandmothers

Photo was taken by the author

One of my granddaughters remarked she had been reading recently that the internet needs more content from grandmothers. She heard this comment regarding Tiktok but felt it generally applied to the internet. She said that people in her generation would benefit from mature, grounded, wholesome grandmother — wisdom. Especially grandmothers’ cooking. After that discussion, I found several articles in the New York Times about it, too. So, I said to myself, I can fill that need.

I’m not sure what it means, though. For my grandchildren, it would have to be something vanilla, definitely without mention of my sex life or any kinky habits. They probably don’t want me spouting poetry, either. So, what to do? For starters, I will talk about cabbage soup—a nice, warm, good-for-you thing to talk about. Kind of like grandmothers, right?

And I suppose that a picture of vegetable scraps is appropriate, as well. Grandmothers can be scrappy and diverse and maybe fragmented, but they make good stock? I might be reaching here.

So I want to tell you about the cabbage soup I made this morning because I was feeling a bit miserable with a sore throat and after-effects of Covid (‘under the weather’ is one grandmotherly phrase). When I think about making cabbage soup these days, I think about making some vegetable broth first. The vegetable broth has just the right flavor to highlight the other ingredients. When craving cabbage soup, I am looking for vegetables — the colors, flavors, and nutrients in a whole bunch of vegetables. Right away, I head for the freezer and the big container where I keep my stash of veggie scraps. My husband asks, did my mother do that? Well, I don’t know that she did, but she saved scraps of gravy and leftover vegetable juices to make her unrivaled gravy, which is the same idea. Grandmothers do this kind of thing, saving little bits and pieces instead of throwing them out. We try to make something from nearly nothing.

I collect carrot peels, celery scraps, mushroom stems, parsley stems, and bits of trimmings from tomatoes or anything that would go into a vegetable broth. Not cabbage family scraps, as they would be too overpowering. I am creative and find all sorts of useful things when I clean my refrigerator. I collect these scraps and, once they are frozen, press them down with my hand to compact them and repeat until I fill my container. Then it’s time to make broth. First, check the refrigerator, the onion bin, and the garden for fresh things that need using up. Half an onion, some wilted celery, or mushrooms. I saute them in the big soup pot in a little olive oil until they wilt a bit. Then add the whole container of frozen scraps, some peppercorns, a bay leaf, and some dried thyme or rosemary. Sometimes I add dried mushrooms, whole garlic cloves, and a little salt. Fill the pan with water to cover the vegetables. Bring this to a boil, cover, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 mins. At this point, I might add a half cup of white wine and cook another fifteen minutes. Then cool and strain. With all the different ingredients, this broth has a rich complex flavor that is hard to describe. But it is delicious. Most importantly, only add enough water to cover the vegetables available, or the broth will not be flavorful enough.

Now to make the soup. First, I chop a large onion and saute it in olive oil. Then add a chopped carrot or two, a few stalks of celery chopped, and several chopped garlic cloves, and cook for a few minutes. I do most of this chopping in the processor, so it is easy. Now, cut a small cabbage into rough cubes with a large knife(I find the texture better if it is chopped instead of shredded — fits on your spoon neatly). Add to the pot and stir for a few minutes to wilt. Then add 8 cups of vegetable broth, some celery salt, ground black pepper, and a sprinkle of thyme or other herbs you like or have on hand. Bring all this to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to keep it simmering for about 40 mins or until the vegetables are soft. It will be delicious this way. Taste it to correct the seasoning.

Yesterday I also added a can of chopped tomatoes and some small white beans I had cooked separately. If you have a family that needs meat, add some cooked sausage, pieces of ham, or small meatballs. And I recommend serving it with toasted baguette slices and grated Parmesan cheese. This soup is a good choice when you need something hot and full of nourishing ingredients and savory flavors. I must have been craving vegetables while I was cooking. Over and over again, I filled a small cup with a sample and slurped it down. (Another thing some grandmothers do — we flaunt proper table manners.) I hope you will make yourself some cabbage soup this week. If you want to start small, buy some vegetable or chicken broth and use that. Just doing a little something good for yourself will improve the day.

So, that’s it for today, folks. Tune in here for more mature, wholesome grandmotherly wisdom. I will do my best to keep it clean.

As a Seventyish Woman Who Loves a Seventyish Man, I Am Determined to Cook Real Food That is Beautiful, Delicious, and Healthful

In dealing with his chronic kidney disease I’m not sure if my idea of healthy is what he needs

The problem is that nobody really knows what’s going on with nutrition. There is so much misinformation about eating available to each of us. And it’s mixed in with accurate and scientifically reasonable information.

There is “scientific” evidence about things (ie. vitamin supplementation) that used to be correct but is now known to be incorrect. There is word-of-mouth information passed down from mother to child both orally and genetically. Some of it is scientifically verified, some is not.

This Seventyish Woman Wants to Advertise Cooking Real Foods That Are Beautiful, Delicious, and Healthful

Today we are using a gorgeous red cabbage

One of the problems with trying to eat a good-for-you diet is all the hype about diets that the dieting industry has inserted into our language. Good food and bad food and fattening food and diet food. Low carb, high fat, low salt, gluten-free, lactose-free, low salt, low sugar. The whole language of eating needs a good house cleaning. With it can go all the sugar, salt, and odd colorings, preservatives, and additives that the big food industry has made us think are necessary to food.

When it’s Time to Start Taking Care of Ourselves It Might be Wise to Have a Piece of Earth With Access to Growing Things

Plants can help us survive in this changing environment

Now Comes the Time of Year Dieters Love to Hate —Festive Food and Plenty of Physical, Social, and Emotional Reasons to Binge

My plan is to duplicate the picture at the end

December Looks to be an Exciting Month and This Seventyish Woman is Stuck in Baker’s Purgatory

I’m just looking for the right thing to do.

I personally have a lot going on this month — selling my mother’s house, our granddaughter visiting from Ireland, writing and parties and workshops. But regardless of this year’s unusual goings-on, in December I usually find that I am too busy. I hear myself saying with others — How did the holidays just creep up on me? Why am I so busy right now? I suppose that some of it are the result of self-imposed tasks that create the feeling of being overwhelmed. Deadlines for doing things that I’ve created, expectations of gifts for so many people that I’ve decided to give, so many events I’ve agreed to attend or participate in. All my own doing.

Eating After Thanksgiving is a Challenge — Your Innards Can Only Take So Much

Thanks a lot, 70s

Time was we could eat anything we wanted, whenever we wanted, and not notice any problem. My husband Don had a very active job, and in his 20s was known to eat two whole barbecued chickens (four halves) without a hitch. In our 70s, things are different. We begin to feel piggy after a simple celebration feast.

We keep pigs. In fact, there are two grown pigs in the orchard and two little ones in the barn. So, I am speaking from experience when I say they deserve the description, “eat like pigs.” 

A Sandpile Bakery Got me Started

Milly’s Walnut Cake

I have spent much of my adult life baking. I grew up baking and enjoyed it myself. Then I married a man whose mother baked a lot. Then I found lots of people who wanted homemade baked things so I started selling food. (I have always had one business or another up my sleeve since childhood when I sold things to my younger sister, Gail).

Want to Follow Jean’s in the Kitchen?

Here is THE List of my Stories, Adventures With Food, Cooking, and Life, Dating Back to 2019

There are some recipes, some menus, lots of silliness. I hope to make this all into a book this year. But meanwhile, at least they are all in one place. There are stories about my wedding. my almost- restaurant, catering my daughter’s wedding, adventure with friends and my personal war against margarine.

A place for my stories about cooking and eating, it is part memoir, part cookbook, part advice column. Cooking is an adventure and is most fun when shared with family, friends, and even strangers. Eating good food lovingly prepared can go a long ways toward building communities. 

Getting Tired of the Same Old Breakfast? Try Sauteed Vegetables to Increase Your Options

5 reasons to adopt this idea for yourself

What shall we have for breakfast? I’m tired of eggs. We had pancakes yesterday, how about yogurt? No, it’s too cold for that. Oatmeal? Nah, too boring.” My husband and I frequently have this or a similar conversation in the morning. American breakfasts can be pretty limiting.

There’s a solution I often go for, a saute of vegetables. In fact, most weeks I set aside little bits of things —

Five Common Habits That Lower Your Chance of Satisfaction in Your Senior Years

Jean Anne FeldeisenOct 15 · 10 min read

Photo by Paris Lopez on Unsplash

My mother, Milly, died a few months ago. Granted, things were none too satisfactory in the last two of the 95 years that she lived. But, overall, for a good part of her older life, Milly was satisfied with her life. When I would ask her if she was happy she would say, Yes, I am. After all, I’m not really in any serious pain. I hardly ever have any problems sleeping, I have a nice house my husband built for me. I have a wonderful family and I get to eat fried eggs every morning for breakfast if I want to. I’m content.

This Seventyish Couple Eats Their Way Through an Anti-Inflammatory Menu for Three Days

With excellent results and we’re glad it’s over

Last week my husband and I decided to try giving our aging bodies a decent chance at feeling better by feeding ourselves some better food. We agreed that for three days, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week we would eat only certain kinds of anti-inflammatory foods. I was to plan and cook them, and he agreed to eat whatever I served.

What Does a Seventyish Woman Who Has Been Married Fiftyish Years to a Man Who Adores Her Cooking Do When She’s Sick to Death of Cooking?

When running away is not an option

I suppose I could don a disguise and run off to the nearest wine-bar and sip cocktails while my husband tried to find me to make dinner. But then I’d likely overdo it and end up being driven home by a well-meaning stranger who would need to be fed, too. Such is the life of a cook.

How to Cook Like an Artist

Making your own meals unique

2/3 of page is white space. the other third is filled with artfully arranged fruits: stalks of rhubarb, cut halves of grapefruit, a bowl of red and blue berries, etc

I really enjoy cooking, especially the truly creative parts where I take things I read about and things I know and things I’ve imagined and combine them with the foods I have on hand and create something new. That is the fun part, for me.

I have been an avid cook for 68 of my 71 years and have tons of experience. My mother wasn’t much of a cook but she taught me basic cooking skills and how to enjoy baking. My mother is a lover of life, still enjoying little things at 94. That itself is helpful to an artist: looking at the world in wonder and not being afraid to try things. She gave me that, too.

Sometimes a Seventyish Woman Revels in Slow Living

I was spending an enjoyable few minutes in my kitchen this morning, blanching almonds and peeling them. It was a pleasure to sit on my kitchen stool with a pan full of blanched nuts, and remove the skin from each one, letting it sit on the red-checked kitchen towel to dry before adding them to my nut mix. I got to thinking about why this activity, and other similar activities, like shelling peas, or chopping vegetables for a stir-fry seemed so pleasant to me.

I have had other women say to me, why do you bother making your own bread? Why would you make your socks? Don’t you feel you’re wasting your time making chicken broth? They sell it at the store. And similar judgmental or maybe just curious queries.

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