Cardoon is a perennial celery-like looking vegetable that is closely related to globe artichoke, and is a member of the thistle family. It is prized by people from the Mediterranean countries for its unique flavor, which we think is similar to the taste of artichoke. We have found that cardoon is usually only available in the markets around Christmas time. Many people discard the tougher outer ribs, but we have found that they have excellent flavor, too, if you don't mind throwing away the stringy remains, as one does with artichoke bracts (leaves). All the ribs in this bunch are edible, as are the smaller leaves. The new growth center stalks have a frilly top which is too tough to eat and should be removed with the larger outer leaves. The inner tender stalks can be eaten raw. Cardoon is best prepared by boiling in soups and steaming. We have also stir-fried cardoon in water. See the nutritional chart by clicking on the photo or link.

Savoy cabbage has crinkly leaves and deep veining. We have used savoy cabbage mostly for its appearance. Be careful when selecting this variety of cabbage, as some of the heads can be quite tough. Select firm heads with flexible leaves. See the nutritional information for savoy cabbage by clicking on the photo or link..

We purchase our red cabbage in either supermarkets or farm stores (when in season), and we always look for firm heads without discoloration or imperfections. Red cabbage adds color to salads and cooked recipes. Red cabbage leaves are colored dark red/purple. However, the plant changes its color according to the pH value of the soil that it is growing in, due to a pigment called anthocyanin. In acidic soils, the leaves grow more reddish, while an alkaline soil they will produce rather greenish-yellow colored cabbages. This explains the fact that the very same plant is known by different colors in various regions. When we were children we used the juice of red cabbage as a home-made pH indicator, turning red in acid and light greenish-blue in basic solutions. On cooking, red cabbage will normally turn blue. To retain the red color it is necessary to add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot. See the nutritional charts for raw and cooked red cabbage.

We enjoy green cabbage either raw or cooked. It is a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. Select heads that are firm and free of harvesting damage (cuts, cracks, etc.) or worm holes. See the nutritional tables by clicking on the photo or link.

Chinese or celery cabbage is a fairly mild tasting cabbage that is great when eaten raw in a mixed green salad, or cooked in soup or Chinese recipes. Select a Chinese cabbage that is crisp and free of wilted or brownish leaf edges. Store Chinese cabbage in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, where it will stay crisp for several days.

Brussels sprouts are members of the cabbage family, which they resemble in miniature form. They are a good source of dietary fiber and protein, vitamins A and C, and potassium, iron and a small amount of calcium. Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts have been shown to have cancer prevention properties. When purchasing, select tightly compact, firm heads with good color and without a strong odor. See nutritional charts by clicking on photo or link.

There are several brands and combinations of frozen broccoli stir-fry mix sold in the markets. This particular one contains (in order of quantity): broccoli, carrots, onions, red peppers, celery, water chestnuts, and mushrooms, and was distributed by Aldi, Inc. in 1 pound bags (2006 cost $0.89). We purchase this stir-fry mix primarily for convenience in making "quickie" soups and stir-fry recipes.