In a dream just the other night, I was talking to someone I love but cannot trust. I was asking questions…being vulnerable…and the responses were ambiguous at best, and bullshit at worst.
Then, my mother (who died a few years ago) threw open the door to the room I was in. And she threw it open like…HelllllllllllllNawwwwwwww.
She spoke directly through me, “What are you doing here? This is not ok.”
I reacted like a child in trouble and rushed to the door where she stood, “Momma, we are just talking. And I know there is nothing for me here.”
Ancestors make it a point to keep you on the right track. Since my mother’s passing, she visits often in my dreams…and especially when I am going through it. She is vocal about all that she still sees that is right and wrong; she hugs me; she laughs…and when she speaks/warns me about those in my life, I pay attention. Before she passed, she always told me she would remain…visit. That she wasn’t going any where.
She ain’t never lied.
When her spirit is luxuriant in the house, I cook something she likes.
My mother was not a vegetarian. I recall hosting one Easter dinner and deciding to make it all plant-based. When she came, carrying a foil-covered casserole dish of fried chicken wings, I asked what was in the dish…knowing full well…and she giggled, shoulders raised, “Just in case people don’t get full.“
I just laughed…and still do at the memory. She was hilarious.
My mother made the best cabbage ever, and nobody craves cabbage. Nobody. And I devoured it every time. When I became a vegetarian, she started to leave out the meat…cause she loves me…note the present tense(!). And although I still don’t make my cabbage exactly like she made hers, whenever I do make it now, I make it for her.
This dish is my take on the Ethiopian favorite, Tikel Gomen…with a green bell pepper added to the mix in honor of momma. When my daughter came home today, she rushed right to the kitchen and said, “I can smell this from the sidewalk. It smells so good.”
That is what I’m talking about.
My daughter will learn to cook this dish…and she will make changes to make it her own. And when I pass on, she will whip up her version of this dish and put a little portion on a plate in my honor, as I do for my mother.
Every time I make this dish and put some on a plate for momma, I can hear her say, “Delicious! …but just add a little pork to it to make the flavor better. Just a little. Or turkey bacon cause that’s not really meat.”
And I laugh.
- 1 head of cabbage, cubed
- 2 cups of cubed red potatoes (about 1/2-inch cubes)
- 1 cup of carrots, coined (cut into circles)
- 1 yellow onions, sliced thin into half moons
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
- 1 jalapeno, minced (keep the seeds!)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated fine
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
- 1/4 tsp nigella seeds (look in your International market…looks like black sesame seeds…but aren’t!)
- 1/8 tsp mace
- 1/16 tsp (pinch) cloves, ground
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- In a large cast-iron skillet or pot, warm up your olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, add your onions, jalapeno, and fresh ginger. Saute for 3 minutes.
- Add your minced garlic and green bell pepper and all your spices and saute for 3 more minutes.
- Add your carrots and potatoes and saute for 5 minutes.
- Add your chopped cabbage and stir well. Add your water and stir again.
- Cover the entire dish and allow to cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Stir the dish and lower the heat and allow to cook, covered, for 10-13 more minutes.
- Test the tenderness of the potatoes…once they are tender the dish is complete. Enjoy!
Til next time, Reine.