Monday, October 28, 2013

Braised red cabbage with pancetta, apples and balsamic vinegar, Jamie-style

Since I am on a roll about the kids these days (incidentally, since my post last week, my four-year old has been a sweetheart... maybe I should complain online more often) here is another thing I have noticed in my eight years of parenting.
A child's true development occurs in the bathroom.
First of all, it is uncanny how much time you spend sitting on bathroom tiles, on the toilet or on the rim of the tub as the parent of younger kids. You hear me, parents of the world, right?
Now, as a mother, you expect an in-depth analysis of all bodily-related matters in this scenario. You know you will find yourself discussing at length the size, differences, color, consistency of parts attached to, or recently detached from, your child's body. 
But that is not where it ends.
Children tend to be particularly loquacious whilst sitting on the porcelain throne.
Whether you like it or not, while they are taking a dump, you will get all the information about their day that they didn't volunteer earlier. When only a handful of hours before questions like "What did you do in school today?" or "What did you have for lunch today?" were met with silence or monosillabic answers like "Nothing/don't remember/know", in the bathroom they are suddenly all about communicating, sharing, extreme detail. 
What I however did not expect were the big questions, nonchalantly thrown in there between a gargle and a nail scrub.
A few recent examples:
"Mommy, what does I hate you mean?" (Your child has been having tantrums and telling you you are mean and that he hates you for the past two months and you have been trying not to take it too personally and then you suddenly realize that you do not have a clue about what really goes on in his head).
"Guess what so-and-so said yesterday? That he wants to go to whatshername's house and he wants to have sex with her". (SAY WHAAAAAAT??????? Sweetie, do you know what the word sex means? You do? HOW???? Can you tell me what you think it means? Yes, that is right to a degree. Honey, when your little brother goes to bed, you and I and Daddy will talk a little and you can ask us anything you don't understand or you are curious about).
Or the philosophical questions:
"Is there meat inside of us?"
"Can you touch darkness?"
(latest addition in Ikea bathroom over the week end)
"Are shadows boys or girls?"
"Shadows don't have eyes and a mouth, right? Just legs and arms...
Let's just say the bathroom has never been the same since I became a mom. 
But now, because I always tell my kids it is not ok to have bathroom-related talk at the table, let's change the subject.
You all know by now that I am not one of those super-organized bloggers who starts posting Thanksgiving menus in October and Christmas goodies throughout November and December.  I might throw in a recipe here and there, but usually, like today, it is just a happy coincidence.
So let's just say you got lucky today, because last week I happened to make a side dish I think would work wonderfully with turkey, ham, goose, duck or whatever it is you love to eat on the approaching holidays. You can keep it vegetarian by substituting the pancetta with toasted pinoli or by frying the onions until crispy (because it needs some crunch one way or another in my opinion). 
Recipe from Jamie Oliver

200gr smoked pancetta or bacon, in cubes
1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 or 2 apples, peeled and chopped (bite size)
1 average-sized red cabbage, core removed and cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
butter, a knob

Heat up a large pan and start frying the pancetta with the ground fennel seeds (the smell will be heavenly, I am warning you). Cook until the the bacon starts getting crunchy and golden. Add the onions and cover, allowing them soften and brown, and then add the apple, followed by the cabbage chunks. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then add the vinegar. I used a very good quality, aged balsamic vinegar that is quite thick, so I used less than instructed. Mix and cover, letting the cabbage cook for up to an hour. Stir every once in a while.
When it is soft and melty, it is ready to serve. Mix in a knob of butter and enjoy! 




  1. Oh wow. Yes, in the bathroom the other day, Roman told me how I am the person who does everything for him and Ethan (listed just about everything I do, which was nice of him to notice) and then said, "So, you can't leave us, OK?" And then I cried. No, I can't leave you, not for a very, very long time. Love. Hurts.

    1. It looks like Roman has been thinking about your childhood and your experience and is trying to process that information... those words would make any mother cry, but it must have really hit a sensitive nerve for you! On a lighter note, it is actually really sweet that he has a list in his head of all the amazing things you do every day for your family!

  2. LOL those questions made me giggle. I don't know how you'd even go about answering some of those! :o And the sex one? Wow!!

    1. Yeah, that one was quite a shocker!

  3. What about how once you're a mum you no longer have any privacy in the bathroom yourself! I love the look of this - it's so pretty and colourful. I can imagine this being very good with confit duck xx

  4. That would be material for a whole new post, wouldn't it? Braised red cabbage+confit duck= heaven

  5. Oh, how I miss those days and the totally out of left field conversations while sitting on the edge of the tub!

    And I love the dish! I have to give this one a try too!


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