Artful red at the kitchen table


Red Cabbage is winter or at the very least approaching winter. My red cabbage recipe is my mum’s which means it’s probably 90% of the world’s mums recipes. Nothing spectacular or novel just red cabbage gently cooked with onions, an apple, red wine vinegar and seasonings.

What makes it special is that I wrote it down on the back of a Christmas Card. You know what I mean don’t you – last year’s Christmas Cards torn in half and used for shopping lists, notepads, recipes and of course art.

Red Cabbage sliced (2)

Art in the kitchen starts with a sheet or two or newspaper over the kitchen table, if memory serves me right it was The Guardian or the Sunday Times – nice big sheets to make a mess on. Then out came the rounded scissors, a glue pot, sheets of paper, crayons, paints, glitter,  and well anything that I could possibly stick onto paper. And yes out came some of the Christmas Cards and snip, snip, snip with the rounded scissors and the images of robins or trees or picture perfect cottages in snow would be cut out and glued. And a picture-story would be told. All with plenty of splodged glue, wonky cutting and a sprinkling of glitter.

Checking my recipe for Steamy Spiced Winter Red Cabbage and looking at the Christmas Card it’s written on I can’t help but think of cold wet winter days, the windows steamed up and yours truly at the kitchen table doing ART. There’s a contentment to that mental image of the former me, the child me. And there’s contentment in reading my scrawl and abbreviations as I quickly jotted down the recipe as my mum read it out – an un-recipe if you will, just something that was made from memory. So here’s to Red Art and Artfulness at the kitchen table!

Red Cabbage trimmed

Simple Steamy Spiced Winter Red Cabbage

Ingredients –

  • I red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Approx 1 tablespoon of butter or oil
  • 1 Red Cabbage, halved, the thick stalk  and outer leaves removed. Thinly sliced, as thin as you can get with a knife.
  • An apple – either a Bramely (a cooker) or a tart dessert apple, cored, peeled and chopped
  • A bay leaf or two
  • Approx 1/4 pint of red wine vinegar
  • A tablespoon of light brown sugar
  • A splash or two of water
  • Salt and black pepper to season

Method –

  • Gently sauté the onion in the butte or oil until it is cooked and softened (not browned)
  • Add the red cabbage, the apple, the bay leaf, red wine vinegar and sugar and stir
  • Turn the heat to low, put a lid on the pan and simmer very gently for about an hour.
  • Keep checking the red cabbage mix to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, if it is getting a bit dry splash a little water into it.
  • Cook until the cabbage is soft and sweet and season to taste

Variations and notes

  • Cooked Red Cabbage freezes brilliantly, which is lucky as a little goes a long way!
  • There are countless ways to cook red cabbage, and countless seasonings to add, here’s a few suggestions –
    • Add a small stick of cinnamon to the cabbage while its cooking
    • If you like cloves add 1 or 2
    • Add a teaspoon of caraway seeds

I’m wondering what you add to red cabbage? there’s a whole winter ahead of me and spice is the, well it’s the spice of life isn’t it!

Red Cabbage sliced (3)


Red Cabbage Growing Notes –

For the first time ever I’ve managed to grow a mini crop of red cabbage – not one or two, not some stumps left by the pigeons or snail strafed leaves. But proper whole red cabbages. There is no rhyme or reason to this. Sown as normal, planted out as normal, neglected / forgotten about as normal. And hey presto a crop of red cabbage. So there are no sage words of gardening advice here except to keep on trying and one day, one day things will come good.

The cabbages will be left in the ground, netted from the pigeons and will last well throughout the cold and wet of a British winter.



  • Loved the pictures of the red cabbage. Too bad you didn’t have some documentation of the art made of Christmas cards etc. But these shots above are certainly art as well.

  • I remember similar wet winter days – we had a huge wooden board for our “art” projects. Well, perhaps it just seemed huge when I was little. 😉 Glad your cabbages did well – they are called “blue” cabbage in Bavaria, but I suppose if we’re precise they are actually purple!

  • I love cabbage in the winter. Yours look wonderful, good for you with them coming so well this year! My Mom did a similar with cabbage and vinegar, though the apple is a great idea and a nice touch. This was a sweet, nostalgic post, Claire, and made me feel nostalgic as well. Thanks!

  • Not EVERYONE”S Mum…Lord knows, not mine! I might have grown up liking cabbage if she’d cooked it like this 🙂 We’ll be trying out on the grands, who I’m sure will gobble it down!
    I have kale that grew this year – just like your cabbages. Nothing different on my end, but a lush stand of it for a change…go figure, eh?

    • Ok Marie, not everyones!!! I forget that my mum travelled a bit and at one time lived in the Netherlands, so maybe she picked up a few ideas. Who knows!
      anyway I hope the kids like it – it is red afterall! And if you have the oven on it can be cooked in the oven, on a lowish heat, covered and left to it’s own devices. Even less work!

  • Pickled red cabbage is one of my favorite treats for any time of year, but especially the winter. But with just two of us, I’m always afraid that planting it will result in large amounts of the globes and that it will be hard to give away. No more worries though: our food pantry will accept anything fresh. So I’ll report how next year’s harvest goes. Like you, I never know what will survive and what will disappear down the seed holes never to be seen again.

    • I know what you mean shenandoah as there are only two of us here too and a red cabbage can go a long way! But this freezes very well which makes it handy.

  • Irresistible photos of the humble cabbage! I make a similar recipe with cabbage, apples, onions and apple cider vinegar. The classics are classics for a reason. They are as great now are they were “back in the day’!

    • Hi Deb and thank you. It is a humble veg isn’t it – not particularly glamorous! But you are right, classics are classic and I just love this dish – the scent as it cooks is so warming and aromatic. A real pleasure

  • Another case of not my mum’s cabbage … other than making sauerkraut and cabbage rolls, I can’t think of any other uses that my mom had for cabbage and I never saw red cabbage in our house. In fact, until I was long grown I never saw red cabbage at all. 🙂 It’s always a treat seeing how other people use what seem to be pretty standard veggies even if they’re new to me.

    • Making sauerkraut – I love it! and one day I will get round to trying to make it myself. And isn’t it fun sharing what is the norm in our lives, I think that’s part of what makes blogging so special

  • I’ve never seen red cabbage looking so stylish before – all those hours at the kitchen table with glue and glitter as a child has set you in good stead for taking very arty photos!

  • Ah what lovely memories – I was always making cards and I especially loved Christmas because then I could use GLITTER! Of course, this was before the days of glitter pens and my grandmother (who was a frugal granny) always made me scoop up the glitter in the newspaper and put it back in the tubes. Happy memories. She also made pretty much the same red cabbage recipe (I think she also used sultanas or currants and sometimes orange zest at the end of cooking) but after starting it off on the stove top, she braised it slowly in the oven for hours. It smelt wonderful and didn’t stick – unlike me with my glue paste and glitter 😦

    • Three cheers to childhood glitter. I’d forgotten about clearing it back up! And don’t get me started about glue – many a time my mum made me make flour and water glue……..
      and I just love the idea of adding some orange zest at the end – perfect addition

  • You’ve given me such a good idea for what to do next year with my granddaughters and the Christmas cards! Of course I did the same kind of “art” at the kitchen table, but I must admit I’ve not thought of it in years. You brought it all back to me and I absolutely think we have a duty to continue to pass down some simple pleasures! They do have meaning! I have only rarely cooked red cabbage, Claire, but I enjoy it and I don’t know why I don’t think of it! I’m thrilled for you that nature provided a bounty this year. I shake my head at these garden mysteries, but it’s a gift for this year at least! And a beautiful one! 🙂

    • Simple pleasure definitely have meaning – they have skills and pleasure too.
      And yes I shake my head too – but I’ll celebrate the successes with you my friend!

  • Claire this is really beautiful. Red cabbage is sort of forgotten about isn’t it? I never cook with it, but now I shall using your Mom’s recipe. What a great fall recipe for share.

    • I hope you enjoy it Teresa, it’s very amenable to changes, and can be cooked in the oven too – with a lid on and at a lowish temperature. Simple, easy, satisfying and the thing I forgot to mention – the scent of it cooking is so aromatic and warming.

    • I love it – very warming and wonderful. I can’t wait to try my home grown cabbages in salads, I’m hoping they will give me a raw fresh tasty kick over winter

  • I’m a big fan of cabbage, too, Claire, but I’ve not tried red cabbage. I must admit I find it a bit unnerving to learn I’ve a cabbage bias at this stage of my life. I’ll have to do something about this at the farmers market tomorrow morning. If it’s a productive trip, I’ll be back for the recipe. It sounds delicious! 🙂

    • It’s a great one to go with winter stew type dishes John, and you can cook it in the oven too which makes it really handy for those times in the kitchen when you really just want to get something cooking and turn your back for a while.

  • Your pictures are stunning, they make red cabbage more beautiful then it already is. I make a similar recipe, but when I want to switch it up I use rice vinegar, garlic and ginger instead of the more traditional red wine vinegar, bay leaf, salt and pepper combo.

    • it’s a pleasure to share Kevin – to be honest I was pretty gobsmacked to see such a beauty – one that hadn’t been munched to oblivion by slugs and bugs I just HAD To photograph it 🙂

    • Thanks for the compliments – you know I hadn’t actually thought of the red cabbage as art prior to comments, but now I see what you see 🙂 Thank you x

  • I am impressed that you grew your own red cabbage–mine just come from my CSAs. It is one of my favorite vegetables (though my kids sneer at this) and I am so happy to see you doing it justice!

  • Your photos are lovely. Red cabbage is very high in indol3 which is great protection against breast cancer.

    • Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I hadn’t realised what a healthy veg the humble red cabbage is – I guess it’s even better raw in salads

  • Wonderful shots … of the cabbage – such intense colors. Not a big lover of red cabbage – but I like when I get on a very special Danish open sandwich. Do you know that you can stop red cabbage from “bleeding” – if you want to do a coleslaw or something with it. Just let it stand under running cold water for about 20 min. Your photos are just amazing, Claire. You have nearly converted me into red cabbage.
    I like it in coleslaw.

  • I have a red cabbage sitting in the fridge and red onion and apple in storage. Forgot to replenish my red wine vinegar must remember to buy when I go to the market. Glad to know this dish freezes well.

  • mmmmmm! again I say, mmmm! : ) You didn’t show us the finished product, but I just tasted it and I’ll be tasting it again this cold season! Wonderful little recipe for the “common” cabbage – and Claire, that top photo of yours, beautiful!!

    • I’m shockingly bad at showing the finished product – something I should work on more. The trouble is poor or low light levels, I keep meaning to look at buying some extra camera equipment – maybe this is the prompt I need!!

      • Hi there again. Here’s a thought Claire: How about just a tripod? I use mine all the time — just set the self-timer on my camera for 2 seconds so that by depressing the shutter and waiting 2 seconds, all sense of camera movement is gone by then. You could shoot in the Dark then! 🙂

        • Thank you! And the joke is that I do have a tripod – a good one too…… but I hadn’t thought of using a delay to capture …. I’ve used the timer for many a daft group shot on holiday etc, but not at home 🙂

  • I was pleasantly surprised with my green and red cabbage this year- most of which went to fermenting. I also ended up with far more brussel sprouts as the tags (as always) got mixed up. But this worked out too as a lot of my sprouts bolted.
    Anyhooo…. My mother was not one of the 90% so I’m glad to have a cabbage recipe. Thanks!

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