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braised cabbage and baked beans breaks all the rules

(post, Sarah Gilbert)

I have decided that those "healthy eating" rules about the color of your food -- you know, the exhortation to always have a plate full of a variety of colors -- are bunk, bogus, a local eating blasphemy! Because, really, if you eat with the seasons you'll often be left with more a range of similar shades than a vibrant rainbow of colors. Especially in the winter.

Tonight, I made braised cabbage from 'The Paley's Place Cookbook,' and paired it with baked beans that were almost, sort of, kind of a recipe from 'The Gourmet Slow Cooker.' My bowl is a panoply of neutral tones, ranging from the creamy white of the beans to the pale caramel of their onions and liquid to the mustard yellow of the cabbage from the middle of the crock and the deep, rich coffee color of the cabbage around the edges.

I have never been a cabbage eater, but upon flipping through Vitaly Paley's cookbook I took courage in his enthusiasm. At People's Co-op this week, there were only a few types of vegetables from Oregon, and one was savoy cabbage, I bought it and set forth into new territory. Paley's description of the cooking time -- "until it is meltingly sweet" -- had me hooked and tonight, I devoured four bowls.

I hope that the nutritionists will forgive my beiges. Because this cabbage-and-beans dish is all I want to eat.

Braised cabbage, slightly altered from Paley's cookbook based on the contents of my kitchen:

Heat a few spoonfuls of pork fat (drippings from cooking a ham -- Paley asks for bacon grease, which I'm sure would be wonderful). Slice one yellow onion and one peeled apple thinly and cook in an ovenproof pan (mine was a 9" stainless steel braiser) about five minutes, until softened. Add in about one cabbage, cored, quartered, and sliced. Toss to coat with grease. Mix in about a cup of cider vinegar and a quarter cup of honey and some salt (I didn't measure). Cover and cook in a 300 degree oven for a few hours "until meltingly sweet." Remove, check seasoning, eat.