02 March 2012

Farmers, CSA's, and Severine von Tscharner Fleming

 Photo Credit - Rich Pomerantz Photography

SvTF is the way I'm going to refer to her. I'm sure she must have a nickname that she goes by ... perhaps Madame Greenhorn ? She's worked very hard to bring organization and support to young farmers nation-wide through her efforts in forming The Greenhorns. The homesteading and CSA movements have blossomed while she has been recruiting the most enthusiastic of supporters in the fields of agriculture, film, art, technology, and marketing to jump on board the Greenhorns advocacy group and help promote its mission to recruit and support young farmers as they go up against the large agribusiness complex that threatens small scale farming. The organization's blog,  the irresistible fleet of bicycles , is a wealth of information on finding available farm land, farming issues, seminars for learning farming practices and business strategies, ways to advocate for the small farmer in the political arena, and celebrations of successes. This is grassroots organization in a 21st century world and technology is helping a lot! The Greenhorns organization, with SvTF as its director, has its hands in the worlds of on-line communication, independent film production, and radio.

SvTF is an eloquent advocate. Yes, she's on a mission. Sounds a little daunting, doesn't it?  Well, it is when you really think about it, but there are so many small farms struggling to grow good food and raise healthy animals to supply the American public with healthy local foodstuffs. CSA's are just the tip of the iceberg. Local farmer's markets are the place to really see what small farmers can provide. The networks that are formed through those markets and regional food festivals are the backbone of the locavore movement  ... and I'm sure SvTF is cheering the little explosions of enthusiastic support that are occurring all over this country (and the world!). Yup, she must be ... and giving small farmers a place to connect and collaborate ... and THAT's game changing. Period. Peace.

As an aside - For a really great look at SvTF and other young farmers who are jumping headlong into this resurging agricultural renaissance, see Rich Pomerantz's blog and, in particular, his Young Farmers series at Rich Pomerantz Photography . He's taken some amazing pictures and has given  great write-ups on all these young people.

So ... what to make in honor of Severine von Tscharner Fleming ? I chose a recipe that is a tiny delicious symbol of the Greenhorns movement ... it's a recipe that I found on Red Fire Farm's website ... a cabbage roll that is stuffed with seasonal goodness. I altered it a bit to suit my tastes and my dietary needs right now. Used pumpkin seeds, but walnuts would be good too. Used far less maple syrup than the recipe suggested. I used a tomato sauce that I canned last summer to form the base for the sauce that these little cabbage rolls are simmered in and added green pepper to the sauce to add more heft  ... it was a real treat. Kind of like dinner and dessert all rolled into one.

These cabbage rolls are a perfect nod to using seasonal vegetables, dried and preserved nuts and fruits from the previous Fall’s harvest, canned tomatoes from Summer’s motherlode, and our own local sweetener – maple syrup.

Lightly blanched cabbage leaves got wrapped around a healthy filling of wild rice, carrots, onion, garlic, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds that have been jazzed up with olive oil and dry white wine. Easy and nutritious!

Some folks cut the center rib right out of the cabbage leaves, but I just slit the rib and folded the lower section of the leaf up and over itself before folding in the sides “burrito fashion’ and continuing to roll the leaf into a small packet.

Some folks place their cabbage rolls all in one layer, but I didn’t. I put my cabbage rolls six over six with layers of sweet tomato pepper sauce in between. Don’t they look cozy and comfy? And look at the contrast between the inner and out leaves … so pretty.

I placed the last layer of sauce over all and let them sit that way for a couple hours before baking in a moderate oven. I think the cabbage absorbed some of that sweet tomato-y flavor. The last thing I did before baking the dish was to sprinkle on some chopped flat-leaf parsley … I love the green aroma.

Sorry. No photos of finished product … it was a dark and stormy night and we were famished … but they were good, people! We had them with green beans and buttery toasted almonds … and red wine. That’s it … so tasty and "a very different from the traditional cabbage roll experience".  So says Silent Bob.

A keeper recipe. Thanks, Red Fire Farm! And thank you, SvTF for the inspiration to go digging around the local farmers' websites for a good recipe! Here's my adapted recipe ...

  Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Pepper Sauce  
an adaptation of the Red Fire Farm recipe


 Cabbage Rolls:                                                                                                                       

1 small cabbage head
2 tbsp.  olive oil
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup minced carrots
2 cups cooked brown or wild rice
¼ cup walnuts or pumpkin seeds
¼ cup white wine
½ cup dried cranberries

Tomato Pepper Sauce:

1 c. homemade tomato sauce (you can use brand name spaghetti sauce)                                                                                 
1-15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes in their juices
2 tbsp. butter
¼ cup maple syrup or brown sugar
½ medium green pepper, small dice

Making the Dish:

1. Combine the tomato pepper sauce ingredients in a deep saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Cover and let the green peppers cook until they are soft. Remove from the heat and let the sauce sit to intensify in flavour.

2. Core the cabbage. Gently peel off 12 cabbage leaves being careful not to tear the leaves.

3.  Rinse the cabbage leaves and let them drain in a colander.

4.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the leaves into the water and cook, covered, 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

5. Heat olive oil in large, heavy skillet. Add onions, carrots, and garlic; saute until transparent about 7 minutes.

6.  Stir in nuts, rice, and wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes longer. Cover and set aside.

7. Place a layer of tomato pepper sauce in the bottom of an oven proof casserole.

8. Place each cabbage leaf on flat surface. Shape stuffing into meatball-sized balls. Place one ball on root end of each leaf; roll up to enclose filling like a burrito.

9.  Place rolls tightly into an over-proof casserole dish and pour tomato or pepper sauce over and around the cabbage roll.

10.  Place in a 350-degree oven and bake 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cabbage rolls are heated through completely.

Now comes more fun oogling  ... see all the links from Mary Bergfeld's One Perfect Bite. There is a crowd of us honoring Serverine von Tscharner Fleming - # 37 on Gourmet Live's List of 50 Woman Game Changers.  Next week, we honor Darina Allen. Come along for the ride! All you need do is contact Mary and let her know you're interested in joining us on this cooking adventure! Cheers!




  1. They just look so mouthwatering!!!

  2. Great choice for Severine! Haven't made them in years and now I'll have these soon. You did a lovely job and a nice write up about our game changer.

  3. I grew up on cabbage rolls and still occasionally make them, but mine are nothing like these... How beautiful. Thanks for great pictures.

  4. What a beautiful hearty dish that takes cabbage rolls to a whole other level! I'm sure Severine would approve.

  5. I have very fond memories of cabbage rolls from childhood. Yours look wonderful and you've put the bug in my bonnet. I'll have to give these a try. Have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  6. She's a fascinating woman for sure---and I'm craving stuffed cabbage now, I think it's the ultimate comfort food.

  7. Oh, these are so different- I love the sound of them!

  8. Gosh I havent had stuffed cabbage in for ever! My mom used to make them. Now with this recipe I can make my own. I will bet the filling is delicious in peppers. Thanks for sharing with us.

  9. Ooooh! Yes! i bet it goes well with peppers too!

  10. I'm swallowing hard right now and its not even eight in the morning. What a wonderful recipe, You always doctor it up so nicely when you add your own twist. The tomato sauce look delicious and so vibrant. I try to buy all my summer vegetables from local farms. You can't beat the freshness.

  11. What a lovely post, Susan - your story and recipe are delightful! Your pictures are gorgeous and I love how you captured how pretty this dish really is. Great recipe, it's very cool that you used seasonal ingredients from all four seasons :) Very creative!


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