I was at the Loblaw’s PC Cooking School in Barrie a few nights ago. It was an incredible evening! Not because of my menu (although it was pretty good 🙂 ) but because of the people attending the event. The dinner, hosted by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Barrie chapter, was to thank their volunteers acting in various capacities – from drivers and administrators to fund raisers and vision mates – to name a few. The most amazing thing for me was that a lot of these volunteers were partially or permanently visually impaired. Yet, they were helping others who were either more visually impaired or becoming visually impaired – how inspiring! Wow!

My menu was called “A Warm Hug”. Sherri, the Coordinator of Volunteer Services for the CNIB chapter in Barrie, picked it because of the title. She opened the evening with some marvelous inspirational words: thanking the volunteers, validating why they are doing what they do, and applauding their kindness and generosity. They say your other senses are heightened when you are missing one.  So the pressure was on to make this even more special.  Some of the attendees were in the judges seats so to speak (just the way we set the room up). They must have enjoyed it because one of the attendees gave me a neat caricature (pictured below). 

It really was a marvelous experience and one that shows the compassion we have within us just waiting to be shared. They have no idea how honored I am for their kind words and gestures. I have a favorite quote by Sir Winston Churchill that I think sums up their acts of kindness – “You make a living by what you get, you make a life, by what you give”. Thank you CNIB Volunteers, you inspire me!  I also want to thank and acknowledge Taysha, Heather, Dodi and Stephanie from the PC Cooking School in Barrie for all their support and professionalism!

Here’s a recipe for an Indian style cabbage. Perfect for a side, or make it the main by serving it with some rice, naan or chapatti (recipe on my site). Make it as hot as you like or not, cabbage is very good for you and it’s good to go meatless once in a while! It was one of my favorite dishes my mum used to make. She’d always add extra hot chilies for me and served it with fresh chapattis. She would instruct my dad – then of course closely watch to ensure he didn’t take any shortcuts :), no matter how many times he made them. She was the keeper of quality, sadly her hands wouldn’t let her use a rolling pin anymore. She would always fry them though, to ensure they rose properly in the hot pan. If any didn’t rise, she would save them to have with her tea, but she always made sure the fluffy ones were there for us to enjoy. To me, that meal/memory is like “a warm hug” from her on a cold day – like being with those volunteers in Barrie. As always – enjoy!

½ head cabbage, shredded – like you are making coleslaw
10 – 12 fresh curry leaves – if you have never used fresh curry leaves before, do yourself a favor and find an Indian grocer or grocery store in an ethnic area and pick some up. They freeze incredibly well and make the world of difference in Indian foods
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 – 3 tbsp. ghee or olive oil or coconut oil
2 tbsp. curry powder – I use hot Madras Curry Powder, but you can use any type of curry powder you like, a milder one also works well
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 – 6 Thai chilies, chopped
Chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Using a knife or processor, shred the cabbage, put it in a colander and rinse in cold water, just lightly shake off the excess water – the water remaining on the cabbage will help cook it through
In a heavy bottom saucepan (that has a lid), heat the ghee or oil over medium high heat
When hot, add the mustard seeds and immediately cover – the seeds will start to pop
As the popping subsides, remove the lid, reduce the heat (or take off the fire) and add the curry leaves – stir this around for about 10 seconds
Add the curry powder and chilies– off the heat, as the curry powder will burn fast, and stir
Add the shredded cabbage and stir to coat with the curry powder
Return to the heat, add the cherry tomatoes – stir and cover (some tomatoes will burst and release goodness, others will ooze hot tomato juices into the cabbage dish, shrinking and concentrating the tomato flavor of what remains – pure heaven)
Cook for 15 – 20 minutes on low – check the cabbage it should still have a little bite to it but be tender enough that you know it’s cooked through
Season with salt and pepper
Add fresh cilantro just before serving and stir

Indian Cabbage 4c
Indian Cabbage 2b
CNIB photo - Dinner Demo 2016 - judges giving chef a 10 - 2 - 1