Judging Cabbage: Fresh, Cooked, Fermented
It may not be the sexiest vegetable, but cabbage had its day in the sun (well, not exactly sun -- it was a grey day!).
On Saturday, March 31, the UCCE/LA County MFPs participated in "Good Food Day LA," as judges for the "Mayor's Day of Service" Cabbage Contest, "From Kim Chee to Coleslaw." Pictured above is Paula Daniels, who heads the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which had a big hand in organizing the day's activities -- and for getting the Mayor's Day of Service to focus on Good Food for All.
Categories were FRESH, COOKED and FERMENTED cabbage, and the entries engendered comments from some of our team of MFP preliminary judges (they selected the finalists from which the celebrity panel would later choose the winners). There were entries from both the general public and three MFPs (one taking the class now, the other two grads of the Spring 2011 class).
Rachael Narins' (MFP spring 2011) students entered kimchi (left, finalist) made with ingredients they grew themselves in the school garden she also oversees as a Master Gardener at Thomas Starr King Middle School in LA's Silverlake area. They were finalists (but didn't win the coin toss--see end of post below for recipe!)
MFP Susan Nickels (right, finalist), who submitted cole slaw and therefore did not judge: "So much fun! I did a take on traditional coleslaw -- yogurt and rice vinegar, minced red jalapenos and secret ingredient -- preserved meyer lemons!" Hers is the dish on top of photo on the right.
MFP Hae Jung Cho, fall 2011 grad and a professional cook by day: "I judged the fresh category. There were nine entries which were almost all really tasty! I really liked one dish that was not showy; it just looked like a bowl of sauerkraut (although with a nicer color). It turned out to be a Haitian dish, spicy and crunchy and kind of sour like sauerkraut but only let to sit four hours. There were also a couple of interesting takes on coleslaw, especially one that incorporated preserved meyer lemon (editor's note: Susan's, and it was a finalist!) -- so aromatic and unexpected. But the salad that won this particular category was a colorful mixture of kale, orange, cabbage, almonds and other things with a dressing that used walnut oil. There were so many different flavor profiles - savory, sweet, spicy, crunchy and chewy."
MFP Laurie Dill (spring 2011): "The cooked cabbage category was not hard to judge. It seemed easy to distinguish whether the foods were attractive, tasty, and creative, and we three did our own tasting and evaluating, and then we compared notes and came up with a collective vote, which we all were pretty close on. There were 2-3 cooked cabbage dishes that were clearly atop of all the others and we were able to choose the top 2 in agreement. The cabbage contest was a great idea and I think, very well received!!"
Jenn Su (fall 2011): "Our category was fermented cabbage, and it was really interesting to think about the foods we tasted in terms of fermented flavors (and other flavors as a byproduct of food preservation). The wonderful kim-chi chips in our category were one of my favorites -- they were first fermented and then dehydrated. The flavor was great, but I think the fermented/pickle (acidic) flavor of the kimchi was really subtle (maybe too subtle?) after dehydration; and rather the spices in the recipe were really concentrated -- super spicy and salty. Either way, delicious and cool idea for a snack!"
The kids of the Thomas Starr King Middle School Garden Club (built and funded by EnrichLA and LACER), where I volunteer as a Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver, entered a fermented kimchi.