Thursday, May 21, 2009

Meatless Cabbage Rolls (the Baba kind) By: Nan

Meatless Cabbage Rolls (the Baba kind) By : Nan

My Mom's side of the family is Ukrainian-Canadian. Her Grandparents, my Greats left the Ukraine and moved to Canada when they were young. My Great Grandparents which we all called Baba and Geidi have both passed now, but for how young I was when they passed I do remember quite a bit.

Geidi didn't speak a large amount of English but definitely enough to communicate with us kids. He was always full of fun and energy. He was always busy making us doll cradles, repairing our dolls, and wood working. He was quite the handy man.

Baba spoke great English and her hands were that of a working women. Large and rough skinned, those seasoned hands gave great hugs, and made beautiful quilts, and delicious Ukrainian cuisine.

One Ukrainian food I grew up with that was one of my favorites was that of cabbage rolls. There are many kinds of cabbage rolls but the kind I remember most and to this day like best are the Meatless Sour Cabbage Rolls.

My Grandmother, Nan, is the daughter of Baba and Geidi. She knows my love for these cabbage rolls and spent a lot of time, money, and effort on making hundreds of these little buggers for part of my rehearsal dinner BBQ. I was curious to see how non-Ukrainians would react to them. They were a HIT! I was hoping for leftovers and there were not any. Haha.

I am so lucky that the art of Ukrainian cooking has been passed down in my family, and that different holiday traditions have been kept alive. I look forward to the day that Nan and I can make these together.

I have simply cut and pasted Nan's words from my email when she sent me the recipe:)-Kaela

My Mother Laurel and Grandmother Tess (Nan) at Dan and my wedding.

Meatless Cabbage Rolls (the Baba kind) By : Nan

Look in the Ethnic section of your supermarket, or any stores that carry ethnic foods. Look for soured cabbage. Usually, its in a sealed lump with a brine around it.

Steam some rice till it is 3/4 done, saute some onions in cooking oil till transparent. If you like, add a dash of garlic, but just a bit, mix this into the rice, salt and pepper to meet your taste.

Take a few of the leaves of the head of cabbage, rinse them well. Take each leaf, and tear them on the veins into triangles. Cut of the core end. Now comes the fun part, and I don't know if you will ever get as good as Geidi in rolling up those little suckers. He made the tiniest little ice cream shaped rolls that you ever saw, and you could throw them against the wall and they would not fall apart. He also had a very neat way of placing them in the baking pot or dish, he laid them all in a neat circle, all side by each, and it was really something to see. You can drizzle a bit of oil between the layers of your rolls, and a few tbsp's of water , just to keep them nice and moist, just a touch. Keep layering till you think you have enough. Any left over cabbage can be frozen. Now bake them slowly, probably at about 300 degrees for 2-2 1/2 hrs. Same old story, Ukrainian cooks don't mark down the time.

If you want to change your menu, add raw ground meat to the rice, same everything else, pour tomato soup over the rolls and bake. I think the meat ones are tastier with sweet cabbage.

And that is how its done!! Our next lesson will be in making Paska (Easter bread) or Kolach which is the Christmas bread. I would love to show you how to make these. My mother always said that I made the prettiest paska of any of us girls. Hell, at least I did something right!!

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