Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cooking with Mammy

Or if you aren't my toddler, you'd say Grammy or Mama Q.

My mom and I have very different cooking styles. Of course I love her down home, Midwestern style, but as I became a cook myself, I majorly strayed, explored, and ventured into the unknown (to me) ethnic foods. She calls my cooking exotic, even if I'm using something very mainstream. This is not to say that I don't fully love and enjoy her food, because I do, and there is definitely a place for it! And sometimes her cooking is exactly what I crave.

My mom holds a few recipes up in her brain (pierogies, ladylocks and her labor intensive cake icing) that I'm determined to get down before they are lost forever. You know, those recipes that are are all about the look and feel of the ingredients and less about what's written on the index card. For some reason, I was really craving cabbage rolls-or stuffed cabbage, halupki, whatever you want to call it. Definitely not something I'd ever order in a restaurant and certainly not even an attractive food by any means, but it's what I wanted.

I never learned to make them because well, I'm not sure why. I was too busy cooking with "exotic" ingredients. So when my mom lamented about some of the things she doesn't make much anymore because 1) she lives with my vegetarian brother and 2) the sheer volume of food she makes is silly for just two people (especially when one is my vegetarian brother), cabbage rolls came up. I said "come over, we'll make them." And so we did.

I kept telling The Boss we were going to cook with Grammy. So she chanted "cook Mammy" over and over until my mom came through the door. The Boss helped. By help I mean she was strapped in and out of the way!
I managed to actually write down the recipe once it came out of the oven tasting of my childhood. As I wrote it down, my mom said "Oh, and there's no place for cilantro in this."

Here's our family recipe. There are certainly other versions, I'm sure. No wonder why my mom always has enough to feed an army. You'll see why when you read the quantities we used. Scale back accordingly if you aren't feeding the entire U.S. population. My mom even brought her 56 year old roasting pan to bake these in and I still had to use overflow baking dishes. Needless to say, we fed a few families with this batch and a few for the freezer.

Mammy's Cabbage Rolls
3 heads of cabbage
6 pounds of lean ground beef
5 eggs
2 cups white rice, uncooked
1 enormo can of tomato juice (I can't remember how many oz)
1-2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce, just plain tomato sauce)-we used 1.5 cans
1 15 oz can sauerkraut

Prepare white rice.

Boil water in three large stock pots. Remove core from each head of cabbage and submerge whole head of cabbage in boiling water. Cook cabbage under leaves are tender and fall away from the head easily (you may have to remove the head, peel off the tender leaves and return the head back to the water a few times). Cool leaves slightly on a large baking tray.

While cabbage is cooking/cooling, mix ground beef, rice, eggs, salt, and pepper until thoroughly mixed.

In a large roasting pan or deep multiple baking dishes, pour a mix of tomato juice and sauce on the bottom.

Take a single cabbage leaf and place a small handful of meat mixture and place at the bottom of the leaf (you may have to cut out a wedge of spine/thick vein). Fold bottom up over the meat, then fold the sides in and roll until you have a firm cabbage roll. Place in the baking dish. Place a thin layer of sauerkraut (I made some without it, but it just wasn't the same) over top and then pour more tomato juice and sauce over top of the rolls. If you are using a large roasting pan, you can do multiple layers). Cover tightly with foil or the roasting pan lid and bake at 350 for two hours.



cara said...

{As I wrote it down, my mom said "Oh, and there's no place for cilantro in this."} this cracked me up!

Anna said...

My sister has somehow managed to recreate our grandmother's recipe, but I don't think that generation would approve of her substitution of ground turkey!

Amanda said...

What?!? No pictures?!? Too busy eating I bet...
I ditto Cara. The cilantro comment cracked me up!

DrDrama said...

Too funny. I love your mom's cooking though. I love the foods that my mom makes without a recipe in sight.

Blogless Erin said...

LOL at the cilantro. I am printing this one out - yum!