In Spring, you are born.  In Summer, you mature.  In Fall, you grow older.  And in Winter, you pass on.

-Luther Johnson (my great-grandfather and owner of the former Cowshed Trading Post in Isom, Kentucky)

It has turned off cold really fast this year.  I remember last year at Halloween I was more than comfortable in just a sweatshirt trick-or-treating with the girls.  This year, I’m thinking I’ll need a jacket unless something changes.  This and the fact that all the cool weather vegetables have started coming in at the fruit stand (the closest thing we have to local farmer’s market… the food isn’t organic and it is trucked in from North Carolina)  have made me start thinking about and cooking the foods we tend to love in the cold weather months.

The last trip we made to the fruit stand was made for getting apples, but I saw some big, beautiful, round cabbages that were just waiting to be picked up by me. :)  I immediately started thinking about cabbage dishes, kraut, stuffed cabbage, before deciding on cabbage and brats for this particular head.

My mother introduced me to this dish as an adult, but I remember her and my grandmother making it in my childhood, before I would touch cabbage. ;)  It is a traditional dish, and I have added some of my own flares for flavor.

Cabbages and Brats:

Before fully cooked, you can see a few brats sticking up...

Before fully cooked, you can see a few brats sticking up...

  1. Slice brats and chop cabbage.
  2. Heat skillet on medium heat with a little bacon grease in the bottom.
  3. Brown the slices of bratwurst.
  4. Add the chopped cabbage.  Add enough liquid (I use homemade chicken stock, you can also use beef stock or water.) to make the cabbage swim a bit, but don’t cover the cabbage.  It will wilt as it warms.  You may have to turn the fire up a bit at this stage.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When cabbage is tender the dish is finished.  Serve hot.

I served it last night with fried potatoes and onion and cornbread.  It really hit the spot and with that combination was a really budget friendly meal.

I have been making my own chicken stock for quite sometime, and it is much different than the flavored water you get in the store. ;)  I make it from left over bones, gristle, some skin and fat (if we haven’t eaten it all), and the usual organs and gizzards that are left within roasting birds.  To that I’ll add some bits of veggies that have been left over, or quickly chopped – onion, carrots, and celery.  I then add some salt, cover it completely with water (as much as will fit in the stock pot without spilling over while cooking), and bring it to a boil.  After it comes to a boil, I turn the heat down to a simmer and let it cook for around 12 hours.  I check it to make sure too much water hasn’t left the pot, and if it is getting low I add some.  When the time has passed, strain out all the bones, bits, and veggies, and put it in a container for refrigeration.

The final result after refrigeration, looks like this…

stock

Notice all the fat rises to the top.  Some will skim this fat off and use it for cooking, I like to leave it in to add flavor to whatever I’m using the stock for.  The stock is not a watery one.  It is thick and gelatinous.  This is how you know you used enough bone and have gotten the optimal amount of nutrients from them.

It is delicious and adds so much to any dish, especially soups.  It makes an excellent warmed drink as well, for those days when you feel under the weather.

Cooking like this is another reason I love the fall of the year.