For the past 3 years, I’ve been a bit down in the dumps from January through til March. The realization of this pattern only hit me this week. For the last few days I totally felt incapacitated – everything became a chore. I’d stall until the last moment to finish work before a deadline. I’d stare at the mountain of things that needed to get done and couldn’t see the end, so instead of just digging in, I’d ignore it. I felt miserable. But then, yesterday came the light. I’m not talking about any metaphor, but actual sunlight beaming into our apartment. Suddenly, I was full of pep and vigour. I barrelled through the work that seemed an impossibility the day before, ran errands, had a friend over and got some exercise in. And when I looked at my iphone weather app and saw nothing but happy yellow circles for the next week, I couldn’t believe my luck. Time to stock up on vitamin D and learn to cope through those non-sunny days that Vancouver always has plenty of.
A few days ago, on one of those struggling days, I made dinner. Actually, I resisted making dinner until it was nearly 9pm. Cornelius thought we should just order something in, but to me, that didn’t seem right since we had just eaten out 2 days prior with friends. So, I looked in the fridge for what seemed like the millionth time that day and started to put something together. I loved the idea of cabbage rolls – something old fashioned, familiar and truly comforting. But the thing about cabbage rolls is that they’re a lot of work with the rolling and stuffing and all. So I decided to make a quick stew with all those familiar tastes and the resulting dish was hearty and warming, exactly what I needed. The sauerkraut was was really made this stew into something special. While my life of late might be lacking in zest, this stew most definitely is not.
elsewhere: Over at Poppytalk, I make a comforting winter salad. Butternut squash, tahini dressing and chickpeas. It may not look like much, but oh my!
unstuffed cabbage roll stew with sauerkraut
This is a recipe where the ingredients really do the talking. The spicy fennel sausages that I used added in plenty of heat so I didn’t need to add in any pepper, but if you’re sausages aren’t spicy, please add as much or as little pepper or heat as you’d like. My broth was salty enough & the sauerkraut quite tangy/zesty, so no additional salt was needed. Taste & adjust seasonings as you see fit.
4 spicy fennel italian sausages, casings removed (or use your favorite italian sausage)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup long-grained rice (white or brown)
1/2 head of green cabbage, core removed & leaves roughly chopped
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 c sauerkraut
mozzarella cheese, grated for topping
Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat and crumble in the sausage meat. I didn’t need to add any oil, but if you’re sausages aren’t fatty enough, add in a teaspoon or so. Lightly brown the sausage and add in the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Stir until the vegetables get wilty and then pour in the rice, stirring until it glistens. Add in the cabbage, diced tomatoes and chicken broth, along with the sauerkraut. Place lid on the pot, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender, adding more broth if needed. Serve in bowls, topped with grated mozzarella cheese. Or plop on some sour cream instead if you’ve got some!