Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer's End:



This morning I finally managed to paint. The image came into focus when I took my coffee out to the edge of the late garden and took a little time to admire the beauty of things going to seed, the hyper-transient wild morning glories, and the amazing variety of insects stalking about, whirring from one stalk to another, grooming their elegant antennae, etc. I'm not sure the title for this is Summer's End, but that will do for now. Secret Commonwealth fans will recognize the connection to a scene in The Changeling & the Bear.

This painting was preceded by some odd drawings...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Pattern:

It's possible to feel perfection
even when you're scared.

We have a pattern again, new
though nothing seems new about it
and we know it is temporary...
today is another day when
time is elusive - we can't figure
things out again, just like it was yesterday.
But it is also funny; the world is absurd,
hilarious and vivid in sudden flashes
that aren't connected to each other.
Not like we are, the two who must
connect them in some way to what
we need and be
not only meaningful, but beautiful too,

like a bowl of tomatoes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Favorite Food of Lightning






















I’ve had a terrible time with static electricity. Someone told me that my ions are reversed. In the fall, when I return so reluctantly to being shod, the shocking starts. As the winter deepens the jolts get stronger, until I never touch anything metal, like a car door, without pulling my sweater down to insulate against what will otherwise be an experience just short of grabbing an electric fence. It causes cussing. My brother-in-law, who knows his physics, suggested that I might affix a little ground wire to drag behind me, but didn’t say to what.

My Yeye, on the other hand, said that I should consider the shocks as kisses from Shango, the Yoruba Orisa of lightning, justice, drums, and dancing. That sounds better, as I understand he’s good-looking, when he’s a fellow.






















I’ve read that his favorite food is okra, and I’m very fond of that too. When picking okra, amongst the sticky prickling and gorgeous pale yellow flowers, it seems to me that a very erotic scent lingers on the fingers that pick it.

In Cebah’s kitchen okra is usually sliced in half-inch wheels, tossed in seasoned cornmeal and fried, and that can’t be beaten, but this is an unusual and delicious variation:

Dan's Kiss of Shango:

Slice tender pods of okra into half-inch cross sections. In a suribachi, or with a mortar and pestle, grind a large clove of garlic in a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then mix with juice of a lemon. Pour this mixture over the okra and toss it to coat. In a bowl, combine a half cup of stoneground cornmeal, 1/2 tsp of powdered tumeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Toss the okra in the seasoned meal and fry it in a 1/2 inch of hot oil until crisp and brown.

Or try this traditional African recipe for fried okra:

Make a paste of 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 cloves of minced or crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of tumeric, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, (much better to make this from scratch…but for now… just make sure it’s fresh at least), 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, (powdered) and one teaspoon of salt. Split twelve young okra pods to the cap, and spread the paste inside, then press the pods back together and fry in hot oil till browned.

These recipes will feed at least one person, maybe two. Its unlikely you could grow enough to make more than a taste for Shango. Be sure to smell your fingers when you pick the okra.



(On this historic evening, I dedicate my post to our next president, Barack Obama; a real leader - who embodies the justice of Shango in our time, and whose beauty will prevail.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another mystical Dan/WFS creation

Bluebell Mouse



Finally the first of the autumn rains arrived. When I arrived home last night, Sarah and Cebah had captured a young white-footed mouse and were detaining it in a bluebell ice cream carton for me to see. I put a crumpled up paper napkin in for a semblance of comfort and the mouse most likely used it to escape. This morning we saw it twinkle-toeing along under the piesafe, but I didn't really make an effort to recapture it. Its cuteness qualifies it for temporary visitor status.

White-footed mice are a different species from house mice. They are native to North America, whereas the house mouse is a European immigrant. White-footed mice typically live in woods and fields, not in houses, but in the fall they move into our house because our boundaries are easily permeable and there's not a whole lot of difference between our house and a hollow tree anyway. It's dry, warm, and there are nice nooks to sleep in.

This little fellow may actually have been born in-house. A few weeks ago I bought a sack of pinhead oatmeal - a couple of days ago I noticed that someone had chewed a hole in the bag. That someone was probably one of this mouse's parents.
I set a trap. But the secretive gnawer was a clever one who managed to lick the peanut butter off without being throttled.

I don't mind it SO much when a house mouse is caught in the trap, but I do, somewhat, when it's a white-footed mouse. (as long as they leave no turds in my pinhead oatmeal...) I kept them for pets when I was a kid, and I know that they are smart, affectionate, and comical. Their eyes are larger and that makes them seem cuter than the beady little eyes of the house mouse. So there's a prejudice there - the cute ones get away with more.

Sarah took this picture and it so happened that the composition is just the way I would do it myself, if I were painting it - so it required no cropping to satisfy my aesthetic sensibilities. The arc dividing the bluebell carton into a plane of white and a plane of greyish offwhite, intersecting with the darker, tighter curve of the tail, is perfectly situated as far as I'm concerned. I did use photoshop to remove the pieces of potato chip that Cebah served him for supper.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Seen in the late garden... primary stars



Flora



This morning has a packed agenda - Cebah wants to make more apple jelly, so there's apples to pick up & jelly bags to squeeze. And it's time, past time really, to make bread for the coming week. I cheated and bought some conchos at the Mexican grocery for this morning's toast.

As a result, this will have to be a brief post, of a small rug. Nancy sent me this photo, of another of my grandmother's rugs, this time with a floral design. Perhaps I should say "possibly" of my grandmother's design - I'm not yet familiar enough with her drawing to say for sure that this rug was made by her. Posthumous attributions of unsigned art work. especially in a medium like a hooked rug, are just guesswork. The handling of the material is much less precise on this rug than on the pair of geometric pieces, but there are a number of reasons that could explain that. It could be a very early work, or a very late one, when the manual skills were not as high. It could be that it was made by one of her daughters. All I know for certain is that it was in The Old House. Close examination and comparison may eventually provide more reasons to believe that she made it, or didn't.

One thing that, in my mind at least, argues for this being one of her designs is the unusual sense of design and color harmony. Whoever designed it counted, correctly, on small reds being powerful enough to counterbalance large blacks.
The red fins or spurs on the black arabesques, with lighter outlines, manage to hold the (very heavy) mirrored forms stable around the central empty space. The outer frame of multiple thin lines of color seems like one of her devices to me too.
It could be that she drew this design, and made it very simple, for one of her daughter's trial efforts at rug-hooking - the idea is strong, the workmanship not quite what I've come to expect from her. But not every piece that an artist makes turns out to be all that was imagined in its conception. And sometimes things are made just for fun or funcion. The story behind this little rug will probably remain a mystery.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

White on White

I have the dubious distinction of having worn two of my grandmother's masterpieces to shreds. During my childhood and teens I slept under the "Double Wedding Ring" that she most likely gave to my parents as a wedding present. That quilt is now in tatters from all the lucid dreaming I did under it. In my twenties & thirties I slept under this "Irish Chain", (an intricate variation of "Nine Patch") which I think is perhaps her most elegant quilt, nearly all white, with dainty (or very light-faded) colors in the chains. Her version has quilted medalions or feather-wheels, white on white texture, in the spaces between the blocks. The small patterns echo the larger one.





















































































































This white on white assemblage, inspired by the Orisa Obatala (father of whiteness - the maker orisa) is also in my bedroom.























And my grandmother's magnifying glass.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Postage Stamps

My grandmother made a lot of quilts. This one, a pattern called "Postage Stamp" (because the squares are the size of a postage stamp) - is one of her late ones, and one of the most complex. I think the most amazing thing about it isn't the thousands of fabric pieces, (nearly 10,000!) but the wondrous color harmonies. No two blocks use the same color combinations, yet the overall effect is harmonious.




Friday, August 22, 2008

A Pair of Rugs

The only time I met my grandmother on my dad's side was in a dream. She was a painter, at least once - my sister Sarah has the only surviving painting I know of - a beautiful sheaf of wild roses. My aunt, who was a hack painter, tried to brighten up the lovely faded colors & covered the brushwork on the blossoms - but she couldn't handle a brush skillfully enough to attempt the stems, leaves, & briars (leaves are always harder to do than flowers) - so the exquisite testimony of those is still visible. An accurate reconstruction of those wild roses is one of the little projects huddling under the umbrella of the as-yet-un-titiled opus to be.

But back to the dream; I was in my grandmother's otherworld studio. She had a couple of assistants, young, male, who were working in the background. (Here I should insert that she did not have a studio in this world - she probably painted the wild roses on the east porch.) When I realized what I was dreaming, I asked her a question - ( I learned to do this after many years of work at lucid dreaming - ask them what you want to know. ) - which was; "What is the size of the largest painting that you've done?" She indicated with her hands a rectangle about 12" x 24". (This concern with scale and dimension, determined by outer frame, is something that we have in common. ((have? does one have something in common with the dead?)) Then, as though she was aware of the ephemeral conditions of our meeting, she spoke to me. What she said, voiced in the imperative, I took as gentle council; "Keep the wild honeysuckle growing."

Cryptic, naturally, considering the source, this sentence is at the heart of my new work. It puzzled me when I heard it - a glance at this dinosaur that my nephew Olin made, standing just west of my studio, will show you the vigor of wild honeysuckle on this place. An observer with less affection for the plant might call it rampant bane. Considering the perfume, in the velvet dark of June night, I'd say you can hardly have too much of it. In any event it hardly needs encouragement, but it might need protection.
























Then she showed me three vigourous sprouts of honeysuckle growing out of the dark loam held in a cylindrical planter. The plants had so much vitality that their tiny leaves were thicker than normal honeysuckle - almost as thick as those of a desert sedum. My grandmother caught ahold of one the plants and pulled it up out of the loam for me to see. The root was not what I expected. It was more like the haunch of an animal than a tuber - it was covered with coarse short fur like a deer's - and it had a pulse. Once I'd gotten a look at it, she put it back, and I woke up.

Her aesthetic sensibility is visible in this pair of hooked rugs. She must have saved up quite a bit of gray cloth to make the predominant color. The grid work, intersecting black and red lines in one rug, red lines containing black lines in the other, is a bold bit of subtilty. It is tempting to see the pair of patterns as "basic and elaborate" or "simple and complex" or "theme and variation" or "norm and deviation" or "strict and playful" or "symmetry and asymmetry"... even "Europe and Africa"... ambiguity, they say, is the soul of art.









My sister Phyllis suspects that these were made in the 1930s, when rag-rugging was a rage. I don't think Modrian's "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" has anything on this pair of rugs. And technically they've held up better. Paul Zolbrod, in the introduction to his translation and assemblage of the fabulous, sprawling and intricate Navajo creation story wrote this, concerning poetry, but it applies to art in general; "To begin with, no oral tradition should be diminished by referring to it as folk art." The term "folk" is always condescending, even when it idealizes a "golden age' and there is, in my opinion, no accurate or polite usage of it in our language. The word signals a misunderstanding, and it is high time to be rid of it.

That's all the time I have to write this morning ~ company is coming.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ghostlines























The material center of the new work in progress is a limestone hill - Dutton Hill - site of my grandparent's now vanished home. Pete's Spring is on the side of this hill, where water flows out of a crevice in the limestone.
My dad grew corn here, weaving his plow around the bones of the hill that emerge out of the soil.
The stones have circular depressions and topographic-style lines - as though you were high above another world, looking down at the contours of pale gray landscapes.



There is an obelisk, with a flowery inscription, on the southern side, marking the death site of 28 southern soldiers, or eighteen - some number with 8 in it. The text of the inscription is quoted on an earlier blog called "You'll Always Come Back." In family stories they were in the yard, "a soldier for every blade of grass" - (poetic hyperbole) - come to take what they wanted; corn, supplies - and if Pete hadn't hid the horses, mules and cattle in a cave on Pitman Creek they would have taken them too. They called him nigger - unable, probably, to conceive that he'd sworn to my great grandmother he'd die before he told them where the livestock was hidden. Their numbers don't matter anyway, to anyone but a military historian. If anyone knows their names I don't know.
They were participants in a war.























This is one of the first texts that I memorized - but I learned it from hearing my dad recite it.




















One night Terry and I were night walking on top of the hill and I felt something, like a wall of moving electricity, pass through my body, from front to back, just as though I'd walked through an invisible pane of electric glass, or it walked through me. I assumed that it was from the powerlines that cross the hill. My aunt Gladys had fought the power company long and hard, but she lost, and the lines are there. As soon as it happened I felt paranoid and awful. We went back to the studio and I curled up into a fetal ball and spent the rest of the night in discomfort.

Some years later I was driving home in a dense fog and felt the same sensation - as though I'd driven through an electric membrane. It started at my feet, hit my thighs and hands on the steering wheel at the same time, then went on through the rest of my body. It had sides; a before and after. The next day I heard on the radio that the spot was the site of a fatal wreck that happened earlier on that very same evening...

"I wouldn't want to scare anybody." (Alexander, in Bergman's "Fanny & Alexander")

I have trouble with electromagnetism anyway - so maybe it wasn't ghosts. But even if it was the residual ex-human electromagnetic fields lingering on the site of uneasy death, they probably are now trapped in the plasmic fields of the powerlines.
And everything's gone to hell up there anyway - the hill, is over-run with invasive alien weeds and bushes, which the subdivision inhabitants use to hide their dump piles of old furniture and drink cans.

I wouldn't want to scare anybody.

But I have used photoshop to enhance the kirilian auras on the powerlines, so that the patterns of the southern soldiers, in numbers who were slain in this county in the war of the secession, may not be unnoticed.



They are skirted in the digital plaids of doom.

A Material Voice

























Last night I got the key to a new work - it doesn't have a title just yet. It has to do with the intersections between now & the (imagined) time frame extending from 1832 & 1934. My (imaginary - I never met them) grandparents & two other voices, Pete & Charles - who enter the story in slavery - are the 4 quarters of storytelling that I'm going to zone in on.

For now, just to celebrate making a (big) commitment, I'm posting a photo of the document that sealed the deal - and the existence of which is a total mystery of me (HOW could I NOT have remembered seeing this?) - a family copy of a ballad, "The Broken Token" - dated 1923. The "thing" I'm imagining is tethered to certain objects - and this is one of those. Another is my grandfather's tool box - with the tools he used in lathe work and finish carpentry - like this plane.

His name was Daniel Dutton too! And he is (was?) something of a mystery....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Destruction!

We're tearing down the old studio! It is so exciting! Like archaeology, only more destructive. Some of the layers go back to the late 70s!

Back in the early 90s, after the new studio became active, the old one went from being a guest house to a storage bin - that was the beginning of the end. In no time it looked like the upstairs in The Old House. (My dad's homeplace - which began to reappear in The Secret Commonwealth at about that time.)

Amidst the flotsam and jetsom of my past life I found the essential clue I need to begin creating something new. Thrilled - that would be my mood.







Thursday, August 14, 2008

I got an invitation to blog on this absolutely pristine blog, dandyland muse.
My first entry will be this:

For more years than my fragile memory can count Cebah made me an angel food cake for my birthday.  Each year, just for me.
I called it cotton cake when I was a wee one.  It fascinated me ...possibly my first food revelation.
Cebah would get out the worn red handled egg beater, then break and separate the eggs...dipping out little flecks of yellow with the egg shell.  (She rarely had a speck in her egg whites.)  She could turn the 
beaters so fast my eyes could not follow~~~~~ a sleight of hand.
Suddenly, there was a velvety, thick, white cotton cloud~~~~~~
I always believed Cebah was magic, what more proof did I need?
She would carefully add the sugar, beating and stirring....and then the sifted flour.  More little billows of cottony clouds.  Slowly, she would have the perfect batter and pour it in the angel food cake pan. At last, I could touch it, she would let me smooth the top just before it went into the woodstove oven.  The cake, coveted by all in our county, was a revelation.  The taste, as fine as any cloud, never matched the wonder and amazement of seeing her make that magic cotton cloud.

Weep for Adonis, or Wilted Lettuce






















Yesterday Cebah and I inspected our lettuce bed, home now to six rabbit-ravaged radiccio. The bed is enclosed in a rectangle of granite blocks, trimmings from a friend’s mortuary monument works. It was a sunny, breezy day, promising spring without quite delivering, too early to sow lettuce, but time to plan for it. The bed needs moving. Last year it had an infestation of dodder, yellow parasitic strings twining and strangling the lettuce, not killing it - but picking through the tangles was a nuisance. I don’t know where the dodder came from, but paranoia suggests that once a parasite has located a host it frequents the neighborhood. We had another name for dodder, “lover’s knot”, and a saying that if you could tie a knot in one of the very breakable yellow strings that true love would come to you, or something like that. “Just make it up, said Cebah, when I asked her, - they can’t dispute you.”

She and her friend Goldie Shaun used lettuce picking as a ruse in an ambush she set up for my dad. She had seen him once, he came in and stood at the back of a church revival meeting. In her words she saw the black curl hanging down his forehead and “that was it.” Their home-places were hardly a half-mile apart, hers just above the springs that fed Dry Branch, his on the side of “Dutton Hill”, above where the branch runs into Pitman Creek. Somehow the conspirators found out that he was riding a horse up Campground Road on a certain day, to be bred at a farm near Science Hill. The Shaun’s had a tobacco bed situated near his route, and the two young ladies contrived to pick lettuce there continually until he passed by. Whether out of manners or interest, he did pause to speak - “He just sat there on that old horse - I’m sure he knew what we were up to - he wasn’t that big a fool.”

Lettuce was always grown in tobacco beds in those days. The variety was a pale yellow-green one, still popular, “Black-seeded Simpson”. I was always served wilted, with bacon grease and green onions. The lettuce went in the salad bowl, the new spring onions were chopped over it, bacon was diced and fried crisp – at the last moment the sputtering hot grease was poured over the lettuce, followed by a shower of salt. This is very good.

There’s a story that Venus, the goddess of Love, fell herself for Adonis, the handsomest of mortal men. He however, like my dad, loved hunting more than women (Cebah, laughing, confirmed this.) and could not be dissuaded from going after a wild boar. The boar, in synchrony with his lover’s jealous fears, charged him and gored Adonis mortally, in his thigh. The blood that dripped from his wound dyed the petals of the wild white anemone, or windflower, to their present pink. This pretty conceit was transferred to the rose, an easier to locate emblem of true love. “Since in his prime death doth my love destroy, they that love best their love shall not enjoy.” wrote the bard. My dad claimed owned four hundred foxhounds, a sign of status higher to his thinking than literary acclaim. And it was he who taught me the name Anemone for the little trembling flower that blooms, sheltered between rocks and roots, on the steep bluffs above the branch.

The women of ancient Greece were said to have marked the passing of Adonis with roof-top parties. For this occasion they grew pots of lettuce, and cried, “Weep for Adonis – he is dead!” The parties, which men were not invited to, were the suspected source of an infamous plot, carried out in dark of night, to knock all the erect phalli from the door-guarding Hermes of Athens. On the morning after this ceremonial mourning, the pots of lettuce were tossed into the sea.

Of course my dad wasn’t entirely bereft of romantic sensibilities. Every spring he would ceremoniously present Cebah with a little bouquet of the delicately perfumed wild phlox we call sweet William. “That was just something he did. He would be off down there in the bottoms, checking on the cows, and here he’d come and just hand them to me, never saying a word.”
“I knowed what was in his head, said Cebah, he didn’t have to tell me any more.”


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bigfoot























(photo collage images from the Quinalt Rain Forest on the Olympic Penn.)

In my studio today, reviewing some of the music made for Nimbus, I decided to also listen to an older recording, a mix of song from The Approach, called Bigfoot. It took me back to the forest on the Olympic Penn. where I almost thought I met Bigfoot. Here's that story from Cebah's Kitchen:

Cabbage:

One of my nephews decided to get married in the Olympic Peninsula, and a bunch of family and friends flew out there and stayed in park
cabins for the event. There was a trail not far from the lodge, just a
half-mile loop, and since we were a variety of ages and walking
abilities that distance seemed about right for a group walk. That walk was just a
taste of the rain forest, but not nearly enough of a taste for me.
On the loop the different speeds of walking split the group up, and
some, when they arrived back at the parking lot where the trail began,
went back to their cabins, while others were still on the trail. The result was uncertainty whether everyone was back out of the woods or not, and fancying myself a herd and guide, I volunteered to retrace the trail and make sure that everyone had made it out safe and sound.
I wanted to see it all again anyway, and see it alone, so I set off at a easy run, planning to slow and enjoy once I was deeper in the forest.
It was late afternoon - the time that photographers call "the golden
hour." The gilding sunlight streamed down in slants through acres of what looked like green lace hanging from the towering conifers. flaring green-gold in a phantasmagoria of giant ostrich-feather fern fronds, illuminating great hummocks of cushion-deep moss sprouting finger-shaped fungi, nurse-logs with perched on baby hemlocks, hanging beard tendrils of jade-algaed lichen, bejeweled with mist drops, all of it draped with roots and tangles inching over and through every available surface, emblazoned with sunset lime fire. What a beautiful forest!
Half-way around the loop I slowed to take in as much as I could,
letting myself miniaturize beneath the impossibly huge trees, the vast
quiet suddenly stark in contrast to my breath, but muted, everything
softened by so much moss.
Peering into the patterns of spaces between plants I became aware of how thick the growth actually was. Off the trail it looked as if it would actually be impossible to walk through. The forest appeared impenetrable, filled with trunks and stalks and logs and tangles of cloudberry so dense that only a very small creature could wriggle through it.
The only creatures I had seen were giant adorable slugs, as big as small bananas, cruising the moss in olive drab, khaki, glow-in-the-dark chartreuse, translucent white, and burnt umber - with every possible combination of those shades in pintos, easing their way through the densest vegetation on slides of iridescent slime.

As I marveled at the dizzying kaleidoscope of illuminated greenery, a sudden realization jolted me - this is exactly the sort of place in which people see Bigfoot.
The novelty of the thought, corresponding to the eerie charm of my surroundings, gave me pause. Had I had just seen, heard or smelt something out of the ordinary? In the midst of so much sensual information, the leading edge of awareness is as hard to pin down as a green hair in a haystack. The possibility that I might be sensing a presence subliminally gave me a thrill, a rush that rooted me to the spot.
What, I wondered, if Bigfoot is actually very attractive? Hairiness and bulk are not automatic disqualifiers in my book. Contraire; a positive attraction. What if he isn't even a male of our narrow ways, but something more wonderfully refined, able to slip in and out of trans-dimensional forest passageways as easily as a slug over a leaf. What if I were to wind up in snug cave with a nest of this moss, night wind rushing over the boughs of this enchanted forest, content in an interspecies dream.
Then I began to wonder if such thoughts were themselves an extension out into the green psychedelic brocade, advertising my availability with the randy abandon of some crazed orchid pouring forth a skanky perfume to lure a giant elusive moth - one with a long uncoiling proboscis capable of getting in deep and sucking out the nectar. Was I responding to some smell? There was definitely an unusual scent in the air. A flush of heat shot through my body and I poised for a moment on the edge of taking off all my clothes. Then I panicked.
As I began to flee, first walking quickly, then a lope, then running hard,
I noticed that I was in a low depression in the forest, the black duff
moistening into puddles, a soak at the edge of a little branch. Out of
the inky loam poked the strange flower spikes of skunk cabbage, erotic prongs
jutting up into the twilight, spewing scent. The air was filled with
funk.
I ran.
Back home I googled my way to a crypto-zoology site with visitor
Testimonies - tales submitted of a hulking shape crossing a late night road, footprints plaster-cast by a stream, weird howls, etc. Then an odd one - a woman jogger who heard strange sounds, then saw something like a box of "quivering air" tremble on the trail ahead of her. Out of it stepped a Bigfoot, who looked around, saw her, stepped back in and zipped the air closed again.
I wrote to the site, saying that I had had an unusual experience.
Was there any connection between Bigfoot and skunk cabbage?
An answer shot back through cyber-space, fishing for a story which might be evidence, the skunk cabbage info proffered as bait. So I wrote, something not quite as frank as the story I've recounted here. The answer returned; skunk cabbage is Bigfoot's favorite food.


Skunk Cabbage is an Arum, related to other odd plants like Jack-in-the-pulpit. It has strange powers of heat production. Not only does the plant cause a burning sensation when tasted (perhaps it's the Bigfoot capsicum) but the emerging flower buds produce enough heat to melt snow. It does this with its electrons somehow, so maybe it's not so much of a stretch for me to wonder if those quivering particles of funk are at once a favorite food, body and home.
Garden Cabbage is a Brassica, along with a bunch of other delicious green things to eat - kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.


I do love cabbage. Perhaps what I like best is the
core, left-over from cutting coleslaw, like a faceted prong, dipped bite
by bite in salt.
Chisato showed me her recipe, magic to me, for a salad of
Chinese cabbage. The cabbage is cut up into bite-size pieces, stems and
all, and put in a zip-lock bag with as much ginger and salt as you like,
maybe some carrot shavings, and sealed, then left overnight in the
fridge. The next day it is a crunchy mild pickle, delicious as is, or
with a quick faux ponzu; a sparse shot of soy sauce and a squirt of
lemon. Or if you're going for baroque, a dash of sesame oil, some
cayenne and toasted black sesame seeds. Its so good that sometimes I
just eat it right out of the bag.

Since I mentioned coleslaw, here's Cebah's method; Get a good tender
head of green cabbage (by this, ideally, she means go get one out of
your garden. and chop it up. She chops it finely, but not as fine as
grated. Hence, our proportions will be for a smallish head, say seven
inches across.
Put it into your bowl, salt and pepper it, as only you can know the
amount of, exactly, because you taste it till you're certain. Stir in,
not alot of stirring now, a half cup, more or less, of mayonnaise, which
you could make yourself, no? To this you may add a big pinch of sugar
(a scant teaspoon) and a dash of balsamic vinegar (a couple of
teaspoons, as you wish.)...these complications can well be left out of
slaw made with new green cabbage from the garden. The elder giants from
a grocery may benefit from it.
Fresh dill is good chopped in, as are the tender shoots of spring
onions.

Cebah cooks cabbage, just until tender, by slicing it roughly, adding water just to cover, a slab of bacon, salt, and some cayenne pepper - a half inch cylinder of a fresh one in summer. This, with mashed potatoes and fried pork tenderloin, is very good.
I handle that combination thusly:

Mashed Potatoes:

Peel 3 or 4 potatoes, cut them into 1 or 2 inch chunks and simmer them, along with 3 or 4 cloves of chopped garlic, in salted water until they are tender. Drain them, add 2 tabs of butter and a half cup of heavy cream while they are hot, and mash them. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pork Tenderloin with mustard cream:

Salt 2 to 4 slices of half inch thick pork tenderloin (enough for 2 ) and dust them with flour, also seasoned with salt and pepper. Saute the slices in 2 tabs of lard, or a tab each of butter and olive oil, on medium heat, just until they firm, a couple of minutes on each side. Overcooking pork is to be avoided, unless you enjoy it dry and tough… if need be, cut a slice in two; when the pink has almost disappeared, remove the slices from the heat and reserve on a plate. Pour off all but a tablespoon of the fat, retaining the browned bits in your skillet, and deglaze it with a half cup of chicken stock or dry white wine with a tab. of good French mustard. Add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue the reduction until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Pour over the tenderloin and mashed potatoes and serve.





















Sour Kraut:

Gluts of cabbage can be kept through the winter as kraut. Cebah
grates her cabbage on an ancient wooden cabbage cutter with an
adjustable blade. What you want are long slivers. Put a teaspoon of
salt in the bottom of a quart canning jar. Pack in as much cabbage as
you can, and pour boiling water in to cover. Tighten on the lid and
keep it in a dark place, otherwise the kraut will turn dark to
compensate. In two or three weeks it will be kraut. During this time
the kraut will work, and you will want to sit your jars on a tray to
catch some overflow from the fermentation, which will ooze out no matter
how tight you have the lid.
This needs only heating to be delicious, but of course link sausages are welcome additions, as is bacon.