In anthropology, there's plenty of talk about the tension between the real and the ideal. The ideal, outlined in myths, laws, and abstract social structures, is always colliding with the real, which is much less tidy. That's praxis for you.

Oh, um, cabbage. Right.

So, you get an idea in your head, and in making it work, it's dirtied up in interesting ways. When it sprang into my head (like Athene in Zeus's, but less painful), this recipe went kinda like this:

/ garlic onion fennel mushroom tofu /
cabbage / rice / brewers yeast gravy

But cooking can be a lot like improv. So it ended up like this:
  • Boil a lot of water and put a whole head of smooth green cabbage in it. Let that cook for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile,
  • chop a head of garlic and several handfuls of walnuts to about the same size. Brown them together in a little olive oil, in a medium-to-large skillet, while you
  • dice fennel. The stalks that is (look like celery, smell like licorice), not the seeds. When the garlic and the walnuts seem to have become one new creature,
  • add the fennel, and slice some mushrooms. You probably want to use a fleshy-type mushroom for this. Wait until the fennel is much less crunchy before stirring in the mushrooms.
  • Get an accomplice to cook some rice! (We used brown rice, because that was in the cupboard.) Drain the cabbage and peel 12 or so leaves from it: the rest of the cabbage can be used in something else.
  • Then the improv happened: you won't have all the same things, because they're odds and ends. But the point is, it doesn't matter. We added a pinch of curry powder, some of that mystery grain that got too salted, half a sweet potato, a marinated red bell pepper (last in the jar). Or you could just as well go with the original idea. Or
  • add a chopped apple, cumin and nutmeg. When you roll it, add grated gouda (if you're not cooking for vegans). Or
  • use celery instead of fennel, more strongly flavored mushrooms and add (cooked) couscous. Or
  • add onion, toasted and crumbled tempeh, salt, and copious paprika. Or improvise with whatever's in the fridge.
  • PHew. Now that that's over: put a chunk of the filling near the stem end of a cooked cabbage leaf. Roll it tightly, folding in the sides. Line up these babies in a baking-type pan, to heat them up.
This is the sauce i put on them, you can make up your own depending on how your real collides with your ideal.
tbsps of peanut butter (real peanut butter, i don't think the Jif or Skippy varieties will be quite the same, sorry)
tsps of really finely minced fresh ginger
soy sauce
cider vinegar
honey
cayenne (a lil' bit, or paprika if you can't stand it at all)
toasted chopped walnuts and pine nuts
warm water (to the desired consistency)
Pour it over the cabbage rolls, and put them in the oven until people insist that they must eat. Meredith and Paul had just come back from some fancy wine-and-hors d'ouevres party celebrating a new menu at the French restaurant (Meredith's review: old wine! and lots of tiny bites of critters!). They said this was way better than frogs, ducks, chicks, snails, wabbits, wittle bitty kitty-cats, or any other cute or haute food they'd had that night.

Just think. If everything had turned out the way i'd planned, you'd have only gotten one recipe out of this. And it would have been easier to read. Yay for the untidy real world!

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