Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | October 16, 2013

Music to Cook to + Side Dish: Cabbage Wedges w/ Bacon Dressing

cooking, music,

By Ernest Barteldes

As anyone who knows me well can attest, music plays a gigantic part in my life – I include it in pretty much everything I do. If I am not listening to something on my earphones, I will certainly be humming a tune or another that might be in my mind – a habit that seems to surprise some. I don’t even notice that I am humming, and then I see people turning around when they notice me. At work, co-workers often comment that I sound “happy,” and Renata says she knows that I am approaching the front door because she can hear my humming.

Music is of course part of my cooking process – I have one of those battery-operated loudspeakers that connect with my iPhone (I also dock it to my stereo in the living room, but sometimes you don’t want the music to be too loud), and in turn I either put the music I have stored in the phone on shuffle or connect with one of the radio apps I have installed on my phone – the latter being the most frequent.

When I first got a Smartphone a few years back, I immediately downloaded Pandora, the internet radio app in which you ‘create’ your own radio ‘ stations’ based on musical preferences such as specific artists, genres or the like. Though I did initially enjoy it, I found it to be a bit limited. You choose one kind of music and they generate playlists based on that, but unfortunately they were horribly limited and the same songs would play over and over. Later, I found TuneIn Radio and its better-known competitor IHeartRadio was amazed at the possibilities. With those apps I had the ability to listen to regular broadcast radio stations from pretty much anywhere around the world.

The first time I actually used the TuneIn Radio app was when I was in a hotel in Jericoacoara, Brazil that provided free Wi-Fi within its grounds – so as I relaxed in a hammock with a drink, I listen to jazz WBGO, an independent station from New York. Upon returning, I started looking for other stations in France, Brazil, Poland and other places whenever I got tired of the music I had stored on my phone.


So it became sort of a habit to listen to these stations while cooking. I don’t tune into anything that would demand too much attention – as I recently mentioned to a friend on Facebook, I could not cook to Miles Davis, because I might get distracted and then end up hurting myself – I actually sliced through a finger once while A Kind of Blue played on the stereo, and it is something I do not want to experience again. The same goes with records I am supposed to review – there’s no way I can focus on slicing and dicing that way.

My personal favorites are Fortaleza’s Atlantico Sul (they play a blend of light jazz/alternative), Poland’s RMF (they have a bunch of channels dedicated to specific genres), Paris’s NRJ (alternative pop) and Hawaii’s Hawaiian 105, which plays a mix of locally produced music going from very traditional to more pop-oriented stuff. I do browse around a lot, and often find myself listening to music I might never have been exposed to otherwise. It is a load of fun, and I am sure that makes the food even more delicious.

Tangy Cabbage Wedges
Source: Grandma’s Kitchen
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 small green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small red or green cabbage (about 1 pound), cut into 4 wedges

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel; set aside. Reserve drippings in skillet. Dissolve cornstarch in apple juice in small bowl. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar and caraway seeds; set aside. Add green onion to hot drippings in skillet. Cook and stir until green onion is soft but not brown. Place cabbage wedges, cut side down, in drippings mixture. Pour cornstarch mixture over cabbage wedges. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. Carefully turn over cabbage wedges with spatula. Cook until cabbage is tender and dressing is thickened, 6 minutes. Remove cabbage wedges to cutting board. Carefully cut away core and discard. Transfer cabbage wedges to warm serving plates. Pour hot dressing over cabbage wedges. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon pieces.

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