Crop circles

We were the recent beneficiaries of some neighborly largess.  Seems their weekly farm share delivery contained a couple of items that they just don’t eat and we were blessed with a gift of some sweet bell peppers and a couple of heads of cabbage.

Finding a use for sweet peppers is not a problem around here: diced up for pizza topping, sliced for salads, roasted for sandwiches are just a few possibilities that come quickly to mind. They are considered a staple in this house.

Cabbage, on the other hand, is not something we use a lot of at home. 

We seldom ate any cabbage when I was growing up.  Occasionally, coleslaw or sauerkraut would show up on the table, but never cooked cabbage (at least not that I can recall.)  It’s a pretty safe bet that Ann’s family never ate much cabbage either. I really didn’t have a specific use in mind for the cabbages and didn’t want them to go to waste.

Taking a cue from our benefactors, we passed the cabbages along.  One head went to my mother, who sautéed it up with some bacon for dinner one night.  The other went to our friends up the street, the Stradlings.

That, I thought, would be that.  Excess produce taken care of.

Then I got an email from Mark. It seems my gift had triggered a response in the Stradling household that could not be denied. 

Be prepared for an onslaught of galumpkis,” I was warned.  “Many will be made, and they will be shared.

If you are not familiar with the term, galumpkis are leaves of cabbage rolled around a rice and meat filling and slowly braised in a tomato based sauce.  Some folks know them as “pigs in the blanket” or simply “stuffed cabbage.”  Somehow, although aware of this Polish/Eastern European specialty, I managed to get through my formative years without ever trying one.  And, I continued to avoid consuming galumpkis into my adult years.

It was my father’s sister, Joyce, who got me over my resistance to eating stuffed cabbage.

We were at a family picnic about 15 years or so ago and she’d brought a huge pot filled with the stuffed leaves. 

Aren’t you going to have one of my stuffed cabbages?” she asked with just the slightest implication of hurt feelings should I not.  “I spent all day yesterday making these; someone has to eat them.

Not wishing to cause any hurt feelings, I cued up for a taste.

I placed one of the cabbage rolls on a paper plate and sat down to sample it.  Cutting into it with my plastic fork, I took a tentative taste.  “Hmmm. Not bad,” I thought.  I finished off that one and had a couple of more.  Bingo!  New item on the “I eat that” list!

Although I’ve never tried to make galumpkis myself, I almost never turn down an opportunity to eat some when available to me now.  This fact came as a surprise to my mother when, at a banquet we both attended a few years ago, I made sure to get some stuffed cabbage for my plate. 

Now, because of the generosity of two neighbors, I have a supply of galumpkis in the freezer.

And because of the gentle persistence of my late Aunt, I appreciate the bounty of the season and just how food, even a humble head of cabbage, connects us all.

Galumpkis recipe courtesy of Susan StradlingGalumpkis, roasted potatoes and a glass of pilsner.

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. bulk pork sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup catsup
  • 1 cup rice (NOT instant)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large cabbage, some of the core removed
  • 1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. sauerkraut, drained but not rinsed

Mix together the ground beef, sausage, egg, onion, catsup, rice, salt and pepper.

Rinse the cabbage and place in a large pot, core side down. Add water to cover cabbage about halfway and bring to a boil. Remove the leaves in layers as they start to soften. (You are NOT cooking the cabbage at this point, just softening the leaves enough that you can work with them.)

Let the leaves cool for a few moments after you remove them. If the outer leaves are large you can remove the thick part and cut the leaf in half lengthwise, giving you two leaves from what was one leaf. As you get down to the smaller leaves, just trim the thick part even with the bottom of the leaf.

Save all the trimmings and about three inches of the water in which the cabbage cooked. Chop the trimmed cabbage.

Roll cabbage by taking a leaf and putting a generous tablespoon of the filling in the center. Fold up bottom and fold over one side. Roll up and tuck in remaining side. Repeat for rest of leaves.

Place the cut-up trimmings in the pot (there should be about three inches of the cooking water in the pot) and add a layer of cabbage rolls, some sauerkraut and some tomato sauce. Repeat layers and add enough water to just cover.

Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for about 90 minutes.

Serves: Many

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2 Responses to “Crop circles”

  1. Mark Stradling Says:

    At the risk of incurring the wrath of She Who Must Be Obeyed, I still say the sausage should be replaced by plain ground pork and that at least a third of the tomato sauce should be replaced by crushed plum tomatoes.
    Some red pepper flakes wouldn’t hurt, either.

  2. Jim Carlucci Says:

    As was noted over on FB, this is one of those dishes with as many variations as they are people who make it. The recipe (and samples) provided so generously by SWMBO is a more delicate version than some I have had.

    Your suggestions for a heartier version would be interesting as well.

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