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How to grow and prepare cabbage

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Bibba and I (Linda) were in the kitchen, and she motioned for me to come over toward the stove as she said, “Come here and let me show you what that girl from Japan taught me to cook," referring to the foreign exchange student visiting our house.

So I peeked into the pot as Bibba raised the lid, and there was a steamed cabbage with onion wedges, bell pepper wedges, and sticks of celery. At the bottom of the pot, I could see a small amount of water with the butter pooled on top of it.

While I was looking, I was thinking, "Hmmm, this is not our usual Southern cabbage," but it looked so good. So I said, "Bibba, let’s taste it," and that we did.

It was delicious. Tender yet crisp wedges of green cabbage, onions, peppers, and celery steamed with butter made a sweet mélange of vegetables with each of the other vegetables marrying into the cabbage.

I guess they don’t call it a mélange of vegetables in Japan. But that exchange student sure did teach Bibba the cook how to make really good steamed cabbage. Bibba taught me how to make the cabbage in 1964, and that cabbage recipe is still one that I make today.

It’s the simplest and easiest of my recipes for vegetables. Oh, it’s so good.

Cabbage With Bell Pepper, Celery, and Onion

1 medium cabbage (about 2 pounds)

2 stalks celery, cut in half

1 large green bell pepper, cut into 6 wedges

1 large (10-to-12-ounce) onion, cut into 6 wedges

2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons butter, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cabbage into quarters. Cut the quarters in half horizontally. Place the cabbage into the bottom of a Dutch oven large enough for all the cabbage to fit on the bottom. Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion. Salt and pepper the top. Add 2 tablespoons cold water and 2 tablespoons butter.

Cover tightly, place on medium high heat (on my gas stove, a 4), and cook until cabbage is tender, about 25 to 28 minutes. Check cabbage for desired tenderness before removing to a plate or platter.

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