I grew up watching women cook in the kitchen. I don't know if you all know or remember me sharing the story about my 82 year old great aunt raising me so that my mom could pursue her dreams of becoming a flight attendant? Most of my memories of her were her getting up and cooking me whatever my heart desired and then we’d plop down on the couch and watch the “stories” (soap operas), Jeopardy, or Wheel of Fortune. Back to my heart’s desires, I always felt so loved when she would randomly make me a hot toddy, brim (that’s a fish), bread pudding, or fried cabbage.
My Auntie began suffering from dementia before I was able to learn all of her ways around the kitchen and recipes. And when my mama was willing to teach me how to cook, I didn’t want to learn. My mama is an amazing cook, thanks to Auntie. While I can cook, I don’t feel like I can throw down on some good ole soul food kinda throw down. I have always heard that the key to someone’s heart is through their stomach. Honey, I want that key, do you hear me? Dishes like macaroni and cheese, fried pork chops, greens, and fried cabbage are what I want to be able to make and be remembered for. So I’m always on the hunt for recipes that taste like my Auntie’s.
I’ve been very intentional over the past year to hone in on curating my cookbook collection of black folks’ cuisine, in other words, soul food. I discovered I Heart Soul Food and within a couple of flips of the pages, I knew I had to cook a recipe right then and there.
The first recipe I tried was fried cabbage. It was pretty straightforward despite having to jump through hoops to find cabbage in Memphis. What in the world is going on with cabbage shortages? I went to two Kroger’s and two Aldi’s—both were out. So, I went to the Asian grocery in found cabbage in abundance. Chile, listen!
Fried cabbage is a very simple dish. Normally, it is prepared with a little butter or oil, bacon, onion, and crushed red pepper to add a little twang. Cousin Rosie, the author, adds red bell pepper, which is an ingredient that Auntie didn’t use so I was curious to see if there was a noticeable difference. The recipe didn’t call for too many more additional ingredients, seasoning that’s pretty much it.
Summoning Auntie’s spirit to guide me while cooking, I started by simply cutting the cabbage. Next, I added those thick strips of Wright’s bacon to the skillet and started letting it do its thing. Onions went in next, and then the shining star of the recipe, of course, the cabbage went into the skillet. Last but of course not least in a black southern recipe-seasoning. I mix everything in with the bacon renderings.
As the aroma of the cabbage started filling up the kitchen, I began to reminisce about how my Aunt and mom would do this little waltz in the kitchen. Gliding around the kitchen stirring the love in those pots, going back and forth between stirring and wiping the stove, because you know, honey you clean as you cook.
I know you are waiting to hear how I liked it. 10/10 highly recommend. The taste was so perfect!! I mean it was almost just like Auntie’s. I did notice that there was a slight difference in the taste, I think due to adding a garlic clove. Auntie didn’t add garlic but it really sort of elevated the dish a bit. Not that garlic is some sort of boujee ingredient but it made it more flavorful.
It goes without saying I will make it over and over again. And, I have already shopped for ingredients for the next recipe— shrimp and grits.