Gardeners will routinely cheerfully eat produce that they would refuse to pay money for. Those undersized, lumpy, be-spotted potatoes that appeared after shoving a fork into a supposedly vacant row? Trim, steam and mash, or make cottage fries. The ragged cabbage sadly loved by slugs? Drown it in salt water to stun the critters and surreptitiously wash out mud, intense green caterpillar frass (bug poop), slime, earwigs, pill bugs and all four kinds of gastropods when the rest of the household isn't watching. Ask your local farmer about #2 potatoes. Sometimes they have a deal on spuds too sad looking for neat piles at the Farmer's Market.
Steamed Cabbage with Sausage and Onions
This can go central European style with caraway and dill or more Southwest with hot pepper seasoning. This is good with any cabbage, particularly the dense savoy ones that hold so nicely through the fall. For a red cabbage, add a splash of vinegar to the steaming stage to keep the color bright.
You need a large skillet with a cover to make this one pot meal. First, cook the sausage on medium-low heat, trying not to burn the bottom too much. Remove the sausages when done. Slice a fat onion and about a pound of cabbage. Saute onion in a little oil or schmaltz until it starts to turn translucent, add cabbage and a little water, stir and cover. Turn the heat to low. Season with caraway, dill seed, hot pepper flakes, or some coarsely ground black pepper and a dash of ground allspice. Check and stir often, adding a little more water if needed, to avoid burning the cabbage, which turns a nasty brown if over-cooked. It will take a while to break down the heavy cellulose in winter greens.
Serve the sausages on a bed of cabbage with your reclaimed potato masterpiece.
Home made sausages:
1 1/2 lbs. ground meat. It needs to be 1/3 fat. High fat hamburger works well. Ground turkey is too lean by itself, so add some finely minced animal fat. Ground lamb just kicks butt. Get the good stuff, it will be incomparably better than pallid CAFO meat smelling like wet dog.
1/2 onion and 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups bread crumbs, maybe more
1/2 teaspoon each oregano, basil, finely crumbled sage and coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
few red pepper flakes
Mash everything except the bread crumbs together in a large bowl. Add bread crumbs, a little at a time, until it sticks together. Form into short logs about an inch thick and three inches long, or patties, and cook. You will need a little oil in the pan to keep them from sticking.
Or you could just buy some good sausage. Hempler's makes a great variety at their factory in Ferndale. The farm stand on Railroad Avenue carries Skagit River Ranch sausage.
Look for local beef, bison, lamb and other animals at more and more retailers: Terra Organica, Farmer's Market (3591 Birch Bay Lynden Road), Co-op, Haggens, The Market supermarkets, Skagit River Produce at Exit 221 on I-5.