Cooking,  Other Writings

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

When I talk to people about food blogging, they always assume the cooking is the hardest part. How do you come up with new stuff to make all the time? How do you take a bag full of stuff from the farmers’ market a make it look like that?

Cabbage in the Crock Pot

For me, time in the kitchen has always been the easy part. And the writing comes better some days than others, but that’s more related to how many episodes of New Girl are available on Hulu than difficulty. No – it’s not the recipes and it’s not the words. It’s the photos that drag me down in the blogosphere.

I can’t tell you how many amazingly tasty meals I’ve made and photographed, only to wake up the next morning and realize every single image is slightly out of focus. Or how many times I’ve gone out for a farm-to-table dinner, snuck in my camera for a few discrete shots only to find they are blurry and underexposed when I get home. I bet I’ve had a few hundred blog fails since this site began.

Cabbage and Onion Wedges

I’m pretty hard on myself when I’m trying to come up with photos for posts. I like to think of Photoshop as a mini-wedding dress experience every time I plug my SD card into the computer. Images have to “sing” to me in that “this-is-totally-the-one” way every girl feels when the dress is absolutely perfect. It bugs me if the composition’s not great, if the lighting’s less than perfect. Sometimes everything will look put together, but the photo just doesn’t “feel” right.

Corned Beef Raw

It’s sad to say, but in our “like it – tweet it – share it” world, words mean a lot less than the images around it. What could be one of my favorite meals of the year is likely to get buried somewhere in the halls of the internet if I don’t have the right photos. Plus, when it comes to local food, there’s not always much to make into a flashy – wowza – photo. Seriously. There’s only so many ways you can pose a head of cabbage and an onion before you get that “been there – seen that” feeling.

Today’s post is a PERFECT example of my good post, bad photos problem. At the same time I planned a spot on how to make an easy, no-hassle corned beef for St. Paddy’s Day–I’ve been dreading it too. What was a tender, perfectly seasoned and slow-roasted brisket came out as a nasty, sloppy looking hunk of pink roast beast in the pictures. I’ll be honest, a piece of local grass-fed corned beef from Mississippi Market set us back a few bucks. Then to have it not appear appetizing enough to share with all of you was like rubbing all that salty corned beef, briny goodness in deep wounds.

I did my best to arrange it, slice it, plate it, prod it. I promise. As I snapped away I was certain all my shots looked like this:

Image by Lara Ferroni at

when in fact, everything I took looks more like this:

Corned Beef and Cabbage

It’s hard enough to convince people to turn away from a the supermarket and choose a local food lifestyle. A pile of once-green now turned slimy gray-yellow cabbage certainly is not helping. Where’s that extra $600 and 3 months of time to for pro-photography classes when I need it?

Corned Beef and Cabbage

For now, you’ll just have to trust me. Corned beef made in the crock pot with cabbage and served with a side of boiled potatoes and carrots is truly the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The prep and cooking is hassle-free. The smell is heavenly. The flavor is immense. None of which I effectively communicated in these pictures. Just take my word for it (not my images) and add this to your celebration!

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage 

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Bridal Edition Cookbook


3-4 pounds of corned beef brisket – trimmed
1 onion
1 small head of cabbage

1. Place brisket and seasoning packet into a 4-6 quart crock pot. (You can also use a Dutch oven for this, but cook times will vary). Pour enough cold water in the pot to cover the brisket by 1-2″.

2. Cut the onion and cabbage into halves and then each half into large wedges. Stack the onion and cabbage around the brisket until the beef is completely covered.

3. Cook on low 7-8 hours, or until beef reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Remove from crock pot and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve cabbage and onions with beef.

One Comment

  • Robin Pierce

    Hi, I’ve only just found your blog, its lovely…and surprising. I thought sure there couldn’t be a winter-locavore in Minnesota. Certainly I don’t class myself as one, its way too snowy here.
    As to your comment “Where’s that extra $600 and 3 months of time to for pro-photography classes when I need it?” I have a suggestion….you have cooking skills, perhaps you could barter those for photography lessons? I checked the local Craigslist under the heading of ‘Services’
    ( CL > minneapolis > services offered > lessons & tutoring ) I typed in ‘photography’ and five ads popped up for, not classes, but instead, wonderful keywords like ‘lessons’ ‘one-on-one tutoring’ ‘hands-on training’ and ‘tutoring/consulting’ not to mention “I specialize in beginners and novices.” (Not that you are, but I know I am, myself, total novice in cameras.) Now, I didn’t see any mention of bartering, but hey, it can’t hurt to ask right? Not everyone has access to wonderful cooking, maybe someone would be up for a trade. I really liked the sound of this one best, Paul, sounded competent, but yeah, its your choice, of course. I hope this is helpful to you, and I leave you with one last nudge….it can’t help to ASK about the barter thing, but FIRST mention your ‘Minnesota Locavore Cooking blog’…mention your recent meals, get his / her interest in why you need to learn photography, and then….mention the barter thing. Ok yeah I know, I am quite the one for giving unasked for advice, I do it all the time. Surely its annoying of me. 🙂 Have a good day!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.