Easy Braised Cabbage with Bacon and Mushrooms

I can't find words for how much I want to bake RIGHT NOW.  I really can't find them.  'Itching' doesn't come close.  'Desperate' - nope, that's not it.  'Obsessing'... now that's getting closer.  I was seriously contemplating calling in sick just so that I could stay home and bake for the day.  The thought of kids being at school and having the house to myself, to play loud music, drink red wine and get flour all over me was hard to resist.  But I did resist.  Doesn't mean that I'm not still obsessing.  I've got visions of dark, dark, dark chocolate cake, s'mores cookies, ginger-carrot cupcakes and lemon loaf with sugar crackle topping going through my head almost all of the time.
Unfortunately, there is no time this week to get into any baking projects.  This is probably a good thing at the end of the day but its not helping my mood.  We now have a houseful of candy as well.  From Hallowe'en.  Ugh - crappy candy right.  To make the pile even bigger, the weather was so disagreeable here in Toronto that there weren't many kids out trick or treating and so almost many places were handing out larger quantities of candy in order to get rid of it all.  The kids appreciated it.

For Hallowe'en we always leave something simmering slowly and quietly on the stove while we trick or treat and then come back and eat it later.  Usually this quiet, simmering thing is usually chili.  I did in fact make a kickin' chili but I was hankering for something else as well... and as I've already mentioned, I didn't have time for the baking 'hanker'.

So, in honour of my first cabbage of the season, I pulled out the bacon and things just came together from there.  This is so easy I feel kind of lame putting it out here.  It tastes so good though that you'll understand exactly why I did.  I should add that this is my first parsnip haul of the season as well and it should be noted that here, at the end of October, marks me finally and fully embracing a new season.  Braised until it melts in your mouth, caramelised onion and chewy bacon.  Makes you want to curl up on the couch with a blanket, a glass of wine, a magazine and a good movie... and a snuggler.  In fact, once the kids were in bed, that's exactly what I did.  Baking be damned.

Braised Cabbage with Bacon and Mushrooms
serves 4

5 cups cabbage cut into 2 inch slices (i.e. thick)
1/2 cup onion, diced
4 - 5 slices of bacon, diced
2 small parsnips, thinly sliced
2 - 3 cups mushrooms (I used button for this), halved
3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp honey

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
Add in 2 tbsp of oil and the bacon.  Cook for just a minute then add in the onion.  Cook for about 3 - 4 minutes.  Turn the heat down to med/low and add in the cabbage and the parsnips.  Cook together for another 5 - 7 minutes or until the cabbage begins to soften.
Add the mushrooms and soy sauce or tamari.  Stir well.
Turn the heat down a little again and let things simmer quietly for about 15 minutes.
Add in the honey and check the taste.  Adjust if necessary.

Red Fife, Honey and Oats Bread

There are about 5 things that I want to talk about in depth today.  I can't talk about all five.  They're just rolling around in my head - please tell me that I'm not the only one who has all kinds of crazy thoughts rolling around in their heads... please.  Sometimes it almost hurts.  Sometimes it's just easier to tune it out because I have too much that has to get done and not enough time to do it all and the stuff rolling around in there just makes the 'getting through' of it all the harder.
I've been reading this crazy-ass, awesome, terrifying book.  It's intense.  So intense that there have been times when I don't realize it until I turn the page but I've been holding my breath whilst reading.  Intense.  The mix of emotions runs from fear to frustration, despair to anger.  It's the kind of book that already by page two I knew I would have to read again.  Just the first chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
Then there is work.  I've been ramping up my game.  Getting myself out there more.  Getting my opinions out there more.  Throwing myself into the ring essentially.  What I've realised is that all of this good stuff that's going on means I have to work harder.  I have more responsibilities which require more time.  There are weeks when that is bearable and there are other weeks when it's a complete avalanche.  This week was an avalanche.
Then there is me still pining for summer.  Wishing that the temperatures were just a little warmer, wishing that I could still go out and pick tomatoes.  I'm trying to adjust my expectations but it's hard to motivate myself to get out there for a run or hop on my bike to work when it's cold and rainy.  I'm working on it.  I'm managing to wrap my head around fall and winter veggies again so I'm choosing to look at this as a positive start.
Then, while attempting to post my latest cookie endeavour I discovered that the photo host that google uses couldn't support any more pictures - it was full.  There had not been a notification or anything - it just stopped working.  Although I was totally bummed I set out to fix the problem.  Not being a super-techie it took me a couple of days and set me back with my posts last week.  I was totally bummed about that however, I've figured it out.

And finally, one of my best friends is moving away this week.  Not like another continent far but Toronto to Ottawa far.  Far enough.  Too far for me and I'm bummed about it but I'm trying to stay positive for him.  My other BFF KT has just gotten another beautiful baby to nurture for the next while.   So our plans to do a belated birthday celebration for the two of us (we didn't have a chance to celebrate either one of our birthdays when they really happened) - a day of just us - is going on hold.  Sure it's a bit of a drag but I'm determined to be happy for her because it's clear that giving these little babies a loving start is what is keeping her going these days.

So with these things 'rolling around' I made bread.  I've been using red fife for everything lately and I promise that in a near future post I will explain why I've fallen in love with using red fife so much.  This bread has combined my fave red fife, my love of honey and KT's favourite - Oats.  I was so sure that she would love it that I gave her the better part of one of my loaves.  She told me that this was by far the best bread I've given her yet.  That's cool.

Red Fife, Honey and Oats Bread adapted from epicurious
makes 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups Red Fife or Whole Wheat flour
2 1/2 - 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
2 cups milk
1 cup oats (not the 'quick cooking' stuff)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp dry yeast (2 packages)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup honey

Butter a bowl for rising and set aside.
Warm the milk just enough to feel warm but not simmering.  Remove from the heat and add in the oats.  Stir to combine.  Cool for about 7 - 10 minutes.  Once cooled slightly then add in the melted butter and 1/2 cup of honey.  Stir to combine.
Warm the water just a little warmer than luke-warm (no where near 'tea' water) and combine with 1 tsp of honey and the yeast.  Stir just to combine and set aside for about 5 minutes to get foamy and yeasty smelling (if it doesn't get foamy then it's no good - start the water thing over).
Combine the Red Fife flour and 2 cups of the all purpose together with the salt.
Once the yeast is all foamy and perfect add it to the milk and honey mixture.
Add all of the liquid to the flour and mix well to form into a wet dough ball.  Add a little more all purpose flour here if necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6 - 10 minutes.  I ended up using about 3 cups of all purpose at the end of the day just to give you a ball-park for what you might find you need to add.  Add all purpose flour a little at a time and keep the surface lightly floured.  Once the dough ball  is firm but still a bit tacky to the touch place the dough into the buttered bowl.  Turn it over so that the whole ball has been greased.  Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft free spot (my oven with the oven light on) for anywhere from 1 - 1 1/2 hrs or until doubled in size.
Butter 2 med/sm loaf pans.
Punch it down and knead just enough to divide it into 2 balls.  Form each into a loaf shape and place into a buttered loaf pan.  Cover each and let rise for another hour - or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
(Optional: Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with oats)
Bake the bread for about 35 - 40 minutes or until nicely golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
Let it cool for 15 - 20 minutes before slicing.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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