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Braised red cabbage

Simply Food

November 13, 2012
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

]"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Age has been an issue in my life lately. Strangely, whenever anyone asks what age I am, I have to think about it. Am I really 41? When did that happen? In the amount of time it takes me to answer, I have to go through my life quickly in my head: grew up in Southern California, went to college in Santa Barbara, moved to the East Coast, returned to California to go to law school in Malibu, married, divorced, married again, now for 14 years, two kids, two step kids and the oldest is 18 years old Yep, I'm 41.

Since 1999, when my youngest son, Jack, was born, my life has been all about being a homemaker, wife, and mother. I remember so clearly that evening I came home from working at a law firm in Santa Monica. I was eight months pregnant with Jack. Daphne was at day care all day. I went to law school during the day and then went to work at a firm until late in the evening. Claud and I decided that evening that I would stay at home no matter what. Sometimes, money was really tight and it seemed crazy that I wasn't working, but I knew in my gut that being home was the right thing to do. I can't believe it has been 13 years.

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Braised Red Cabbage

I used to have four kids all summer long, for the entire Christmas break, and most Spring Breaks. Now, all of the kids are teenagers. Archie and Ella don't come out to see us as often as they used to. Daphne and Jack are in school all day long. Then, Jack swims with the swim team every night of the week and Daphne rehearses with her band most nights. When we are all together, I don't have very much to do. They wake themselves up in the morning with an alarm; they make their own snacks, and remember to brush their teeth and to shower regularly. Luckily, we still eat dinner together every night and I make their breakfast every morning. I still have that!

I find myself with a lot of free time to read, take yoga classes, and write. The house is clean, the laundry gets done regularly, and I have time to cook. During all of this free time, you know what I have been asking myself repeatedly, "What are you going to do now that you are a grown up?" I am finally feeling like a grown up at age 41. I realize that my kids still need me now. They don't think they do. It's weird how at age 13, people believe they know everything and then, later in life, we realize how little we know. I am really pleased to be around my daughter Daphne because she now has a 17-year-old boyfriend. I know, it sounds crazy but this boy is so sweet and age is just a number, right? Besides, they are only allowed to be with each other when I am there. I am very much in their business.

I like to pick the kids up from school every day and to be home while they do homework. I am happy that I am the one who shuttles them around all day long to wherever they need to go. I see whom they hang out with and know exactly what they are doing at all times. I'm sure they would rather I had a job. In fact, they tell me this every now and then. Daphne has said, "Mom, you need a hobby." Jack asked, "Mom, why don't you work? You should get a job." Thank you, Jack. I do want to think of something to do. I haven't figured out what I will do yet. I'm not feeling that 13 and 14 are the ages when I should be absent from their lives. I remember being that age. I remember what I was going through and what I was doing. I won't go into that here. Let's just say, I made it out of that awkward time unharmed and without harming others. Thank goodness.

Fact Box

Braised Red

Cabbage

Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Serves: 6

1/4 cup butter (or butter substitute)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 bay leaves

4 cloves

1/4 cup red wine

2 onions, sliced

2 large red apples, peeled and sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 red cabbage, shredded

In a Dutch oven or slow cooker, melt butter with bay leaves and cloves. Mix in wine. Mix in brown sugar. Add salt and pepper. Add onions, apples and cabbage. Turn heat down to low and cook for 3- hours.

This week, we had my cousin, Ernie, visiting. It's always so fun to have him around. We had a great time getting caught up. His birthday is tomorrow and he is turning 62. He told me this and I wasn't sure if he was kidding. Could he really be 62? I kind of thought we were closer in age. We are so similar and have such a good time together. Again, I guess it just doesn't matter. I hope I am having as much fun as he is and look as good as he does when I am 62.

For Ernie's last night here, I decided to make some braised cabbage. I am getting ready for Thanksgiving. Braising is a technique usually used when cooking meats. It's a combination of dry cooking and cooking things in liquid to get the desired tenderness. In this case, the liquid is wine, which is a favorite at any age (over 21, of course). It takes over three hours to cook. This reminds me of getting old, time, and a famous quote by Brigitte Bardot, "It's sad to grow old, but nice to ripen." Perhaps, we are all ripening into deliciousness and not "growing old" at all.

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