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garlicky grilled cabbage and goat cheese

May 9th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

I spent a precious 27 hours in my most favorite of places, my lake home in Western Wisconsin, taking just a short window of time to draw away from the battlements and the never-ending stream of life and gaze out instead over a body of water. The ebb and flow of the wind, the constantly changing surface of the lake seems to calm my ever-present rumination on life and ease the stress. I love the lake and the feel of this place, listening to the profound quiet of mid-week, early season lake life before the docks go in, the boats come out, where early mornings feel like a gift, sipping coffee on the screen porch while the birds sing and chatter.

rainy Loveless afternoon ~~ kate in the kitchen

rainy Loveless afternoon ~~ kate in the kitchen

These photos, as sodden as they are, represented most of my rainy and drowsy time on Loveless, but surprisingly, they were taken last May, during a long week I spent there after Memorial Day. How beautiful it is when the rains fall, the steady drumming on the roof, hissing as they spread out across the water, the constant drip from the eaves, the thick, humid air.

I’ve been coming here now for 13 years, since that first weekend in May after I met Mike, where he introduced me to the people who would become my family, to a place that would settle in my bones and become a part of our shared story. The weathered wood hasn’t changed much, but the tone and feel of the place, once full of chattering, laughing children, long weekends bobbing on the water, chasing each other over the grass and sleeping sound and still have all but vanished. The little ones became teenagers, now becoming adults, and this place has shifted from a regular occurrence to an occasional treat. Mike and I spend as much time here as we can each season, sometimes together, sometimes separate, and we still love so much about the place, even it’s emptiness. It’s a refuge for us, to walk the long road around the lake and see the seasons change, to sleep peacefully in the utter stillness of night and awaken to the mirror of water in front of us.

rainy Loveless afternoon ~~ kate in the kitchen

Most of my time here is spent in reflection, with pen and paper, with Page documents open, to edit, to change or simply delete if they’ve served their purpose. To pick up magazines long ignored, to sit by the open doors facing over the water while the rain falls silent, taking in the humid air, listening to my thoughts go silent.

rainy loveless afternoon ~~ kate in the kitchen
Coming here this time, I knew I would spend it with the rain coming down, and for now, that’s fine. The month of May is late once again this year, and around the lake, nature hasn’t even begun to open up yet. Last year on one of my hikes around Loveless, I took in endless patches of Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, wild Columbine and Prairie Smoke, and this year, there isn’t even a hint of green across the water. It feels forlorn and empty still, huddled under wraps waiting for the sunshine to bring everything forth. But I love it like this, the emptiness and still water; I bring my favorite foods to enjoy, craft beer to savor, warm clothes to snuggle in to and an extra blanket on the bed at night chases away the damp chill through the open window, where I awake to hear the owls, a softly stepping animal across the grass in the darkness outside.

garlicky grilled cabbage ~~ kate in the kitchen

crumbled goat cheese ~~ kate in the kitchen

Loveless is where I discovered the beauty of grilled cabbage. Last year, on a whim, I tossed shredded cabbage in a skillet with olive oil and placed it on the grill. The deliciously browned and smoky result was exquisite, tempered then with bits of blue cheese and lots of fresh ground black pepper. I’d make it repeatedly over the summer, astonished at it’s simplicity, loving how easy and yet how elegant it was. It felt like a necessary dish for my first night here this year, and this time, I added copious amounts of fresh minced garlic to the pan, it’s scent rising on the damp air as it cooked. Again, with plenty of cracked pepper, a few dashes of good salt and a couple of tablespoons of earthy goat cheese, my senses tuned once more to the rhythm of the water as I ate my dinner in the silence. Thursday morning, the sun did break through the clouds after a drenching sunrise rain, and I watched a pair of Mergansers navigate the lakeshore, the male a brilliant white against the gray. In my 13 years here, I’ve never seen this diving duck on our waters, their migratory route. Even among all the ancient memories of this place, something new still continues to occur, and I love how that changes the feel of it.

A long walk, an afternoon reading, more cooking and more rain filled the hours. In trying to stay ahead of imminent bad weather, I reluctantly packed everything up earlier than I wished {it’s always earlier than I wish} and pointed the car towards home. Rain came pelting down on me as I drove along the winding rise and fall of the two-lane roads, classical MPR keeping me company, musically orchestrating with the raindrops. Fields were shrouded in thick fog. The grass is lush, and so very green that it glowed in the late afternoon storm. My head felt clearer. And I’m already plotting my return.

Garlicky Grilled Cabbage with Goat Cheese

1 medium head green cabbage (or red, or both!)
Minced garlic (the amount you use is up to you)
Olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt
Goat cheese (feta or blue cheese are also delicious in this)

You’ll need an oven-safe pan, or cast iron skillet to make this. Shred the cabbage and toss it with the garlic, about two tablespoons of olive oil and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Place it in the skillet and put the skillet on a very hot grill. Cover, and allow to cook, tossing on occasion, until the cabbage in browned in spots and tender enough for your liking. Season with salt, more pepper if you like and toss it with the goat cheese. Serve hot, preferably right out of the skillet.

This can easily be done in a hot oven as well. And remember your hot mitt for the handle!!

2 responses to “garlicky grilled cabbage and goat cheese”

  1. AKM says:

    Thank you for including this simple recipe–I remember you mentioning it before, and it is good to have it here to “walk me through” the steps. Like we are in the same room, and just chatting about how it goes. Lovely. Also glad you have a quiet space for thought and reflection. So important.

  2. Mellissa says:

    I need a few days of that! A little quiet, time to reflect and delicious food.