On Tuesdays in the few short summer months, specifically the only months we have locally grown fresh vegetables in North Dakota, the Hutterites come to our little town to sell vegetables from their gardens.
This is a rambling blog post but it is why one of the reasons I love our prairie life so please read on…
A few Tuesdays over the past months, I have headed over to 85 year old Miss Verna’s house to pick up some Hutterite produce. I only know her age because it was recently published in our local weekly newspaper when she had a birthday. Yes, I am the only person under the age of 65 that still reads our newspaper.
The key is to arrive early in the morning to get the goodies at Miss Verna’s. Except if you need pickling cucumbers you call ahead weeks in advance and then they hold a bushel for you, lesson learned from this rookie.
Ten days ago, I drove into town on a late Tuesday afternoon following a meeting 100 miles down the prairie highway.
I thought to stop at Miss Verna’s.
Most of the vegetables were sold out and the Hutterites (or Hoots as the locals refer to them) were packing up their trailer.
But Miss Verna got up from her behind her card table and walked over the box of cabbage, saying “don’t you want some cabbage?”
I really wish I could some how write her German accent into this blog.
I explained “Well, I don’t really cook with cabbage.”
Miss Verna said “Vell, you are married to a Cherman man, you must cook cabbage.”
I mumbled something “But I’m Norwegian…” and faded off as I was handed a cabbage larger than any baby I have ever birthed.
This photo doesn’t do the size of the cabbage justice.
As I picked up some new potatoes and a few other items, Miss Verna started writing on her notebook page where she normally writes out the total amount you owe her and instead started writing on how I should cook cabbage for my German husband.
First, if you are not from North Dakota, you might not know that I am not “technically” Norwegian nor my husband German. We are Americans but our ancestors came from the “home” countries. Neither of us have ever been to Norway or Germany…yet. Our little prairie community was settled around 100 years ago. Most people are 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation in America and still remain very close to their Germans from Russia heritage. There is an entire Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the North Dakota State Library.
Even though I am a fellow North Dakotan and have my dad’s “German” (not the same) blood in me, I am an “outsider” to this culture and so are you, unless you are a local blog stalker than never comments. Feel free to comment blog stalkers.
Rather than just go home and use the cabbage I most often buy to make the only cabbage item I ever make…coleslaw…
I obeyed Miss Verna, taking the $1 huge cabbage and recipe in hand to go home and cook cabbage for my German husband.
I live here. I might as well be a German from Russia cook.
The funniest part to me?
My “German” husband wrinkled his nose as I was telling him this story that evening and said “you didn’t buy it did you?” Yes, honey, I did. I bought it for you so I can be your good wife and cook German food for you in the middle of the desolate prairie.
He made another ugly face and I definitely got the rift that he was not thrilled about eating cooked cabbage. I put the cabbage away to save in our extra fridge and forgot about it.
Since then I researched the Germans From Russia Heritage Collection of Recipes and found creamed cabbage, cabbage slaw, potatoes and cabbage, sweet sour Kraut, baked cabbage, cabbage buns, cabbage and onion burgers, cabbage stew, cabbage casserole, cabbage filling for strudels (another German dish I have never cooked) and the list goes on like Bubba and his shrimp on the movie Forrest Gump. Suddenly, cooking with cabbage sounded intriguing to me.
This weekend, while my husband is taking a much needed vacation on his boat (or as Miss E says “Daddy has a meeting on his boat with Grandpa”, I am going to learn to cook cabbage.
Then on Tuesday, I am going to Miss Verna’s to tell her what a good German wife I am to my husband and how much I love cooking cabbage.
I have this prairie life. I can love it or leave it.
And the second isn’t an option since my husband will tell you moving here was my idea. Then it quickly became our idea. True. I am not going anywhere. I might as well love it, cabbage and all, thanks to Miss Verna.