Thanks for the Memories

The aroma of red cabbage drifts over the partial wall separating my desk and yarn-storage space from the mess in the kitchen.

Yes, it’s the first of the two annual Dread Turkey celebrations. This year I’m trying a new method for rendering a head of red cabbage into the requisite tiny bits for Danish red cabbage: chopping finely instead of shredding. This year I’m also trying a new turkey-cooking method, thereby splitting the dread between the turkey itself and the new air-fryer appliance. A spread dread is a lesser dread, no?

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the aroma of red cabbage cooking in sugar and vinegar. This sweet/sour dish appeared only twice a year in my childhood home (a restriction due, I believe, to the shredding-work involved), but it was a must-have for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Over time, it was that very restriction that invested this aroma with special meaning. Lots of foods smell good while cooking: barbequed hamburgers and garlicky stir-frys, among others. Lots smell *very* good: brownies and homemade bread, among others. (Your results may vary.) But for me, nothing smells quite as good as red cabbage, because nothing carries the same weight of family memories.

What about the other infrequent treats: shortbread cookies and pumpkin pies? Close. Delightfully so. But only close.

So, on this Thanksgiving weekend I give thanks for the smell of red cabbage cooking on the stove. And for the memories.

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6 Responses to Thanks for the Memories

  1. Tom Watson says:

    You set my mouth to a-watering!
    The other day a friend sent a column to me. She was sharing thoughts about Thanksgivings-past. The column was entitled “Food is our love language.”
    Indeed, thanks for the memories!

  2. Alison Uhrbach says:

    Ahhh – I’m confused – I KNOW that I ate your mom’s red cabbage – and I also am pretty sure that I was NOT invited for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner?? Am I confusing it with another red cabbage dish she might have made? I can literally almost smell it as I sit here thinking of it. I’m curious to hear if Ralph, Mary or Lorna can remember any other time it was served.
    I did get your mom’s recipe, and I love it – and for many years we grew red cabbages, although I haven’t recently.
    Good luck with the air fryer! I’ve YET to find an easy turkey cooking method – but my 20lb bird is ready to hop in the electric roaster tomorrow.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – What?!! She gave you red cabbage on a non-festive day? Truly, I don’t know. It’s possible she cooked it another time – as far as I remember there was only the one, so you wouldn’t be confusing it with another. Anyway, I’m glad it jumped to your kitchen – my kids won’t touch it.

  3. Mary Gibson says:

    I changed from grating/shredding to fine chopping some years ago….and also (to our brother’s dismay) now make the red cabbage according to Lucy Waterman’s recipe. The number of appropriate celebrations has been reduced too, as Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Ireland (no pilgrims, few turkeys). I think 2 of my kids (2/3) actually enjoy it….and so too the German spouse, as they have similar dishes. Put I persist in making it every Christmas.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mary – Ah. Not sure I’ve tried the other recipe, but the fine chopping went, well, fine. It’s a whole whack easier. I had resisted based on red cabbage as seen in jars and restaurants (large pieces and almost syrupy sauces), but think I finally have my go-ahead here. Glad to know it’s got some continuity in your clan. A Mom used to say about family history, it only takes one in each generation to take an interest – but lacking that, it’s gone for good.

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