May 15, 2008

Spicy Bolivian cabbage and potatoes

It's gotten to the point that I feel a little crazy on airplanes. I'm still able to appear normal, but deep down inside I really can't stand to be strapped into that tiny space, squished next to who knows who, knowing I can't leave if I want to. I can't concentrate, so I can't read books, and even listening to music makes me edgy. There are only three things I can do to keep myself calm — sleep, read magazines and munch snacks. And "reading" the magazines puts me to sleep. Remember, I said I can't concentrate, so the magazines have to be the kind with lots of pictures and very short text. Good design is important, too, because I'm not really reading for information, just looking at pages, and I need them to look good.

The first thing I do when I get to the airport is hit the biggest magazine stand. I used to head for the gardening mags but even they have gotten too detailed for my airplane-malfunction, and now I grab the cooking magazines. Cooking mags work well because there are so many pictures, and I can think about cooking and blogging, and it keeps me distracted. (Sometimes I even get a copy of Real Simple because it's so pretty and—so simple. Ugh.)

Before I read the magazines I've just purchased, I look at the free airline ones in the seat pocket. There are usually some interesting photos (with captions that aren't too long!) and I skim the articles. Then I read the juicy SkyMall catalog for cheap thrills. I mean, who doesn't need a Pachelbell's Canon wind chime, color-changing gazing ball, windchill misting fan, inflatable movie screen or a motorized grill brush. Woohoo.

Anyway, all of this is leading up to an excellent recipe, which I found in a copy of Vegetarian Times brought back from a trip. VT has become my favorite airplane distraction, and as a bonus, I always find good stuff to cook. I'd consider subscribing, but then what would I do on those stupid airplanes?

Bolivian cabbage and potatoes
• 8 cups shredded cabbage (1 small head)
• 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon organic sugar
• 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, chopped
• 5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
• 1-2 jalapeños, finely diced (or hotter peppers if you prefer)
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley
• sliced vegan sausage, if you have some

1. Cook potatoes in boiling water 5-7 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Dissolve tomato paste and sugar in cooking water and set aside.
2. Heat oil in large pan, dutch oven or wok. Add onion, bell pepper and sauté 5 minutes. (We added some sliced, homemade vegan sausage.) Stir in tomatoes, jalapeño and tomato paste mixture. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cabbage and potatoes. Cook 5-6 minutes or until cabbage is wilted and potatoes are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro and serve.


  1. Not sure why this is Bolivian, but it sounds amazing nonetheless! And I have to agree about Real Simple. . . ;0

  2. That sounds, and looks, wonderful. Another one of those hearty, filling, and utterly delicious dishes that an omnivore wouldn't even wonder about. I like that--just plain great food that doesn't try to be vegan, but just happens to be.

    As for your 'airplane affliction,' I don't know what to say. I've only flown a few times and loved every minute of it, especially in the small 9- and 12-seaters.

  3. Mmm... this looks really good, I think I'll try it next week.

    I love flying, but I do get a little jittery sometimes too! It helps to be in the middle of a good book, I think.

  4. Thanks, Ricki, Abram and Maureen for your comments. I appreciate hearing from you!

    Don't worry too much about my airplane issues — I'm not fearful, just hate to be confined in that small space for so long. And all the regulations ...last time it took me three tries to get through security because I forgot that I had a cell phone in my pocket. Trust me, the security folks don't appreciate mistakes, and they make that clear.


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