Friday, 7 November 2008

Chinese Cabbage

At the beginning of this year - well the spring actually when the gardening year started and with it our plan to grow our own vegetables - I gave some thought to how we could grow enough vegetables to see us through the winter. The summer is easy, especially here in France where the extra bit of warmth helps everything to grow so well...except tomatoes yet again! I have sown a small row of chard which is already in leaf and I will start picking it probably next week when our very last courgettes and aubergines will be finished. At the same time as the chard I put in some Chinese Cabbage seeds and these grew beautifully. My mistake was only putting in one small row and not doing successive sowing. Still, we live and learn!

We are not great cabbage eaters here but Chinese Cabbage is different. It is almost a salad but not quite; it is almost a cabbage but not quite. It can be eaten raw and is delicious or it can be cooked like cabbage when it becomes a good addition to the vegetables. Stir fry is another method I believe but not something I do much of.

I tend to shred it and then cook it briefly and add it to the potatoes - either boiled or mashed. If you add a generous dash of sweet wine or sherry it becomes a more luxurious dish! We all love it. On Wednesday night we had it with Toulouse sausages (big fat bangers to you and me!) and it was delicious!

Oh, and one last advantage is that although the caterpillars are all over the brassicas and the red cabbage, they don't go for the Chinese variety. Slugs do and the outer leaves resemble some very intricate lace work; but once you discard these there is still plenty for four people. Given my experience with the caterpillars I could almost grow to like slugs...