Known as “Queen Molly” the woman who set the finest table in early 19th century Richmond, Mary Randolph and the unnamed enslaved cooks in her kitchens produced food that set the standard for excellence in Southern cookery. Cook and explore along with me through the wonderful recipes in her classic book The Virginia House-Wife, first published in 1826. – – An Indigo House Digital project

Cabbage A-La-Creme – The Virginia House-Wife, pg 105 / Mary Randolph

Cabbage A-La-Creme – The Virginia House-Wife, pg 105 / Mary Randolph

Take two good heads of cabbage, cut out the stalks, boil it tender with a little salt in the water, have ready one large spoonful of butter and a small one of flour rubbed into it, half a pint of milk, with pepper and salt, make it hot, put the cabbage in after pressing out the water, and stew it till quite tender.

1-cabbage sliced 2-cabbage in boiling  salted water 3-cabbage draining 4-flour and butter
5-flour and butter mixed 6-flour and butter and milk cooking 7-cabbage well cooked in sauce 8-ready to serve

Leni says -The milk MR calls for would have been much more like our modern half and half.  Randolph’s book has four recipes for cabbage.  It was a vegetable that could be harvested and stored for winter use and from the records of the Jefferson family food purchases must have been a favorite at the table at Monticello.  The whole head stored well and could be counted on to be unspoiled in the middle of the winter.  Today cabbage will last for many weeks in the fridge.

Cabbage is so easy to grow that it continued to be a garden favorite.  Seedlings are for sale in the earliest spring and again come fall.  Cabbages come in many shapes; round headed, cone headed, and deeply crinkled Savoy varieties.  Even Nappa Cabbage (actually a form of Chinese cabbage) can be prepared as are other cabbages, A La Creme, or as sauerkraut, or stuffed as rolls in a rich tomato sauce.  Yum!