On a nutrition mission: P.E.I.'s most fervent cabbage fan plans cookbook

·3 min read

Some people casually say they "love" this food or that food. When it's Ann Thurlow and the food is cabbage, the verb is used repeatedly and passionately.

And now she is turning that love into a cookbook.

"I'm doing this, number one, because I love the cabbage, and number two to, I hope, raise some money for the Little Free Pantry," she said in an interview with CBC's Mitch Cormier for Island Morning.

(That's her other passion, a streetside box similar to a Little Free Library that provides free healthy snacks for people who need them in Charlottetown.)

I have just continued to be amazed about how excited people get about cabbage. — Ann Thurlow

"It's not a professional cookbook in the sense that I am going to test the recipes, and la la la," she said of her project.

"It's more of a collection about loving things about cabbage, things that people love about cabbage."

Thurlow has long adored the humble cole crop — so much so that she once received a five-pound specimen for Christmas, appropriately tied up with a bow.

"It's kind of like a comfort food to people, almost. It's just like your old familiar uncle."

Hundreds joined Facebook group

Thurlow is already leafing through the first flood of cabbage recipes that came fluttering in after a call-out last spring.

Back in May 2020, the retired journalist and food columnist was galvanized into action when she saw that a local grower had a 1.2-million-pound glut of cabbage, due to a combination of cold spring weather and the COVID-19 pandemic cutting into the restaurant and home coleslaw markets.

She issued a clarion call for Islanders to start buying and eating cabbage to help out the grower, and went on to launch a P.E.I. Cabbage Club movement on Facebook.

"I have just continued to be amazed about how excited people get about cabbage.… Hundreds of people responded," she marvelled.

All kidding aside, cabbage is considered a kind of superfood these days. It's high-fibre and low-calorie, and packed with antioxidants and Vitamins K and C, as well smaller amounts of B6, folate and manganese.

All categories covered

"There will be slaw. I could do a whole cookbook just on variations of slaw," said Thurlow, though that is not her own favourite use for the cole crop.

Carolyn Ryan/CBC
Carolyn Ryan/CBC

Former P.E.I. premier Wade MacLauchlan provided instructions for a coleslaw with red cabbage and cranberries, for example.

Cabbage rolls and soup will also likely make an appearance, as will fermented versions like sauerkraut and kimchi, and other recipes from cabbage-loving cultures around the world.

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Facebook

And yes, there will be dessert. Cabbage chocolate cake, anyone?

That one was found and forwarded by chef Robert Pendergast, whom Thurlow calls "my partner in loving cabbage." Neither of them has tried it yet but Thurlow says she will do a test run "because I am so curious."

You might also see a recipe for the cabbage, steak and black pepper stirfry Thurlow made this week: "It rocked it right out of the park," before apologizing for the mixed metaphor. "It was absolutely delicious."

Thurlow hopes the cookbook will be ready in time for cabbage harvest season this fall, and is seeking people's favourite recipes through an e-mail address she has set up (peicabbagerecipes@gmail.com).

In a post earlier this week, Thurlow promised: "Contributors and originators will be given lavish credit. I am going to use recipes from this group and I'll check with each contributor to make sure it [is] OK."

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