Joni Woolf: Bountiful harvest coming in stages

Published 11:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2016

I just checked the Internet for the opening date of Chase Corn Market, which we mentioned last week: it opened yesterday, the 27th, so plan to check it out or check at Rudy’s Happy Patch in Americus. Silver King will be the first corn offered — always good.
Coming home two days ago, I met a large truck overflowing with fresh green beans, just picked and headed to market. So another late springtime vegetable will be available, along with a new supply of cabbages that I just heard about. As most readers know, vegetables do not ripen all at one time; thankfully they are scattered over the spring and summer — and even fall — months, so that we can enjoy each in its season. Soon it will be peas and beans and tomatoes and cucumbers for pickling, and peaches! But those are a few weeks away. So today we pay tribute to the green bean and the lowly cabbage, and consider ways we might render them delectable.
In my childhood home, my mother rarely cooked green beans or cabbage. My father wanted black-eyed peas, butterbeans, cream-style corn and tomatoes year-round, and thanks to freezers, that is what we had. But eating often with relatives, I learned about green beans cooked with new potatoes (floating in bacon grease) and cabbage cooked till it was almost gray. I reached middle age before I learned that cabbage could be cooked in a small amount of water in a skillet; after the water cooks down in about 20 minutes, a tablespoon of butter or bacon grease can be added, cooked another five minutes and you have a perfectly good cabbage dish — one that is still green. I created my own cole slaw, and play with these ingredients a bit, trying to keep it low-fat (few recipes are “original”; we all got our ideas from somebody, somewhere, and tweaked them to our satisfaction).I also got a cabbage recipe from my friend Jeff Logan that dresses up the homely cabbage a bit. Called Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, it is low-fat, healthy and tasty.
I never learned to cook green beans the way they were cooked in the country, so instead I got a recipe from a good friend in Macon for a green bean salad that has served me well over the years. It has eye-appeal, is low-fat (no bacon grease) and we enjoy it at our family feast days. So try these for a new taste experience and see if they work for you.

Green Bean Salad
2 lbs. fresh string beans, cooked 7 to 9 minutes, with pinch of soda
2 pkgs. frozen artichoke hearts, cooked 8 to 10 minutes (or 2 cans artichokes)
Cool above ingredients.
Mix together:
1 purple onion, sliced in circles
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
Dash of tabasco
1 teaspoon basil or oregano (or 1/2 cup fresh basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Pour mixed dressing over cold green beans. Marinate overnight. Before serving, sprinkle and toss with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground turkey (beef optional)
2 tablespoons cooking oil (such as canola)
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce (can be flavored if desired, such as garlic, etc.)
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 large head cabbage, chopped to bite size

On the stove top, brown turkey and onions in large skillet. Add garlic and cook one minute. Add cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer. Cook 25 to 30 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Serves 6 to 8. Freezes well. Note: Add equal amounts of stock/water for more broth if desired.

Cole Slaw
1 medium-size head of cabbage, grated (by hand or in food processor)
1 purple onion, sliced in circles, then cut in half
1 large carrot, grated
1 tablespoon dill salad cubes
Make a dressing of:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
Stir dressing ingredients with a whisk until thoroughly mixed. Pour over cabbage and mix by hand, working the dressing into the cabbage. (I do this with rubber gloves — it just works better.) When mixed this way, there is usually no need for additional mayonnaise, though occasionally I will add another tablespoon. Wonderful on hot dogs. That’s another story.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at