Flashback to a year ago, last summer. I was laying on the floor of a Brooklyn loft eagerly awaiting a Skype call from Laura Wright of The First Mess. Based on the encouragement of a mutual acquaintance, I had written her an email earlier that week outlining a few questions I had. Writing emails isn't really my forte you see. For a shy person like myself, it often takes literal hours of self encouragement and psyching up to reach out to people I don't really know. Yet, I managed to gather my wits and compose a semi coherent email. Seconds after I hit 'send' I was shocked to get a reply - "let me call you" - it read. Slightly surprised by the ernest jester, I agreed upon a call time and I eagerly waited on that hot August afternoon in Vanessa's studio, anxiously sipping a gin and soda water, for Laura's call. My nerves were eased as soon as she began to speak. She was calm, and funny, and had this carefree yet can-do attitude that made me feel like I had known her for years.
The warmth and friendship I felt from Laura that day is mirrored in every post she shares on her blog, The First Mess. From the moment I came across her site as part of Sarah's and Elenore's Fermentation Week all the way back in '13, I knew I found a goldmine of plant based recipes, high vibe dishes, and stunning photography. It became a site I'd visit weekly, so when Laura mentioned to me nineteen months ago about the cookbook she was working on, I seriously could not wait to get my hands on it. The First Mess cookbook is everything you could dream a cookbook to be - drool worthy dishes, photos that pop off the page, and meals you can actually make with the ingredients on hand (and it's out today!!!). The day the book came in the mail, Adam offered to make something from it for supper. For fun I flipped the pages and blindly pointed to a dish - Burrito Stuffed Sweet Potatoes it was. Looking at the ingredients list I was shocked to see we had everything already in the house. No need to go to the grocery store, which was great for me because that just happened to be my end of the deal.
This approachability to plant based food is what makes Laura's site and book so great. Every recipe in the book looks fun and flavourful, and welcoming (re: no long list of weird ingredients, crazy multiple steps, or hours spent over the stove). I can already tell that this book will become one of those well used, tattered and food encrusted reference books, much like my copy of Heidi Swanson's Super Natural, or Amy Chaplin's At Home. The food is as down to earth and genuine as the lady behind it, and I seriously can not wait to try it all. Here's a taste of some of the dishes you'll find inside.
- Mega Clump Granola
- Easy Gluten Free Waffles
- French Onion Lentil Pots
- Miso Millet Polenta with Eggplant Bacon
- Cider and Sunflower Dressing
- Creamy Quinoa + White Bean Risotto
- Lentil Crunch Salad with Pepperoncini
This Sweet and Sour Cabbage Stew is super simple to make, and besides the dill, it used things I have in my pantry and fridge on a weekly basis. The cumin and caraway seeds give the dish a borsch-ish feel, which I love and could totally use one more time before Winter is over. If caraway is something you object to, try subbing more cumin, but seriously the caraway is worth it. Sweet apples and ac vinegar help bring the sweet/sour tang that is so iconic of amazing cabbage dishes, and has me coming back for more. We served our soup with rye bread, dill and parsley, and Adam got a scoop of sour cream on his, but cashew cream would be amazing as well.
SWEET & SOUR CABBAGE STEW WITH ROSEMARY
Serves 4-6. Print Recipe Here
Reprinted The First Mess by Laura Wright. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Small Dice
1 Medium Carrot, Small Dice
1 Medium Sweet Apple, Peeled and Small Dice
1 1/2 tsp. Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 tsp. Caraway Seeds
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1 Small Red Cabbage, Finely Shredded (4-5 Cups)
3 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
4 Cups Veggie Stock
5 Whole Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste
Chopped Dill or Parsley (or both!) to Garnish
Tea Strainer or Cheesecloth
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot to medium and add the onions, carrot, and apple. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, or about four minutes.
- Add the rosemary, cumin, caraway, smoked paprika, and ground nutmeg, stirring until they become fragrant - about 30 seconds or so. Next add the cabbage.
- Add the maple syrup and apple cider vinegar along with the stock, and stir well to remove any bits that have stuck to the pot.
- Combine the cloves and bay leaf in a tea strainer or a little sachet of cheesecloth and add to the pot along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower it to simmer and cooked covered for about 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.
- Serve hot with the chopped fresh herbs.