Friday, March 18, 2011

How many things can you do with a napa cabbage?


I know that you're supposed to eat your veggies, and that the cabbage family is supposed to be especially good for you, but the fact is that none of those things seem to grow in single-person sizes. Kale? Comes in a giant bunch. Cabbage of all sorts comes as a thing somewhere between a dwarfish bowling ball and a torpedo. Mustard can seemingly only be purchased by the forest, and if you want bok choi you must take an entire spinney of the stuff. Unless you want to buy plastic bags of pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-everything-ed veggies, you have to commit to making a whole series of dishes made out of the same thing. Since my hippie environmental principles revolt at the veggies in bags, in the winter I eat a lot less greens than I do in the summer, when I go to the farmer's markets. I do pay more for food at the farmer's market than at the grocery store, but I figure that if I buy something at fred meyer that is less than inspiring and end up throwing half of it away in the end, I've paid just as much for what I did eat, and got less value for my money.

So after I made the dumplings, I had a napa. Fortunately, I also had a great deal of soup stock, and these two things are the main ingredients to the dish that I remember most from being a kid. When I was in kindergarten, I was the only chinese kid in class, and probably the only one my little classmates had ever actually spoken to. I don't guess they would have had much opportunity to associate with my two older siblings. One day Ms. Ryan asked us all during show and tell what we ate at home. Of course everybody wanted to know if I ate a lot of chop suey. And egg foo young. I don't think I had ever heard of that. So I said no, we ate soup. And noodles. And sometimes we ate macaroni and cheese! I was given the strong impression that somehow my answers were not the correct ones. My chineseyness was inadequate to the task, evidently. I tried to redeem myself by demonstrating my ability to use chopsticks, but I don't think it did the trick.

In any case, we continued to eat soup. Dad usually put meatballs in it, or something like that. I am sick and tired of dealing with meat mess in my house, so I just put in tofu, cabbage and wide rice noodles. We used to have mung bean noodles in everything, but these were what was in my cupboard. Chop some napa leaves and tofu, simmer them in the stock with the noodles until the noodles are soft, then sprinkle on a few green onions and a little sesame oil. You can put in a szechuan peppercorn too, if you like, but I forgot.