August 26th, a sunny Monday morning. I stepped outside and immediately felt it; Fall is coming. Summer was relatively short this year on the coast. We got a few days of heat-wave like weather then days of rain and sunshine. Today though, it’s evident. The winds have switched, there’s a bite in the air and I put a light sweater on for my walk for the first time in months.
The blackberry bushes are full and getting closer to harvest ( yet another hint at the coming of Fall). Soon they’ll be ripe and ready to be picked. I’ll make Blackberry cordial for the Mabon Feast this year and a blackberry cobbler. We walked under the sunshine yesterday morning, along the seawall for 9 kms; the boats bobbing in the wind on the harbour and children in the park getting the last of their Summer Vacation playtime before the new school year starts next week.
We saw Iron & Wine with Calexico in concert on Saturday night. I’ve listened to both for years. What a great collaboration. The show was at the old Vogue Theatre downtown. Built in 1941 the theatre still keeps it’s original art deco feel. We sat up on one of the balconies and throughout the show I was reminded of other bands and musicians I haven’t listened to in a while: The Deep Dark Woods, Ben Harper, Bon Iver, Ray Lamontagne, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. I’ll have to download these albums again. They make great soundtracks for long Autumn drives.
This weekend is Labour Day. We’re heading up to Gun Lake to my brother in law’s cabin. We’ll spend 4 days up there, far from the city in the Chilcotin Mountains. Swimming in the clearest lake in North America, family and s’mores around the campfire at sun down. We’ll bid farewell to the busy summer and welcome the quieter months ahead.
I’ve been planning a few projects to do around the house in the Fall. I’ll frame some of our favourite travel photos and create an entire wall behind our bed to exhibit them. I’m a nostalgic person by nature and going back to photos is a way to re-live and remember moments in our lives. We went to Banff one year for New Years Eve. We hiked the Jonhston Canyon in -27 degree weather, the waterfalls frozen solid, the forest a winter wonderland.
I made cabbage rolls for dinner this week. Most of the recipes I’ve seen for cabbage rolls consist of them smothered in tomato sauce which seems unappealing to me so I created my own version with a yam mash and light gravy made with the meat drippings. This is my recipe for Cabbage Rolls.
You Will Need:
1 large cabbage – you will need about 6-8 leaves and reserve a bit to chop and add to the filling.
Ground meat of your preference (turkey, pork or beef)
1 red pepper
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 onion diced
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 cup quinoa cooked in chicken broth
Spices (I use garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper and a dash of Old Bay seasoning)
1 Tblsp cornstarch or flour
2-3 yams (depending on how many people you’re serving. You might need more) diced
Core and separate cabbage leaves without breaking them and wash
Bring water to a boil in a deep pan ( I used my wok) and blanch the cabbage leaves until soft and bright green in colour.
Remove leaves from water,strain and let cool
Save some extra cabbage to chop up for the filling
Heat oil in a large pan (you will be adding the rolls back into this pan after so they should all fit)
Sautee onions until fragrant followed by the garlic, red pepper and celery.
Add the meat to the pan and brown then add all spices.
Add chopped cabbage
Once your mixture is cooked, pass the filling through a strainer and reserve the drippings in a bowl or pot.
Place the dry filling into a bowl and add the cooked quinoa and mix together.
Now it’s time to assemble the cabbage rolls: Place 2-3 Tblsp of the filling into the centre of a cabbage leaf. Roll the bottom 1/2 over and tuck the sides in like an envelope than continue to roll until sealed. Repeat until all leaves have been stuffed.
Lower the stove to medium heat and place the drippings back into the pan you used to make the filling. Add the cornstarch or flour to create a gravy. If you don’t have enough dripping , you can add a bit of beef, veggie or chicken stock to create more gravy. I added some additional spices here to adjust the flavour to my liking.
Once your gravy is starting to thicken you want to transfer the cabbage rolls to the pan.
Place the rolls onto the gravy, cover with a lid and let them cook in the gravy for about 10 minutes or until the cabbage is well done.
I serve my cabbage rolls with mashed yams. You can prepare them before or while you’re cooking the rolls.
Bring water to a boil in a pot, place diced yams and cook until soft.
Strain yams, mash and add butter, salt and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.
Serve mashed yams on a plate with 1-2 cabbage rolls and drizzle with gravy.
I hope you’ll try these out and enjoy them as much as we do at home.