“If God had intended for us to follow recipes”……….

“He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers”………..Linda Henley

In one of my very early blogs I wrote that I come from a family of extremely good cooks, great grandmothers, grandmothers, my mom, my sister, aunts, even Dziadzia was a good cook.  And even though recipes have been handed down generation to generation, for some recipes each one of us has added our own little touch to make it our own.

As a child I was very fortunate, I had great great-grandparents and grandparents who lived close by, who were part of our every day lives.  I had a great-grandma who we called “Two Car Busia” because she owned two cars.  I had a Busia (my mom’s mom) and a “Granny” (dad’s mom).  I can remember being with them in the kitchen while they cooked, no recipe cards or recipe books lying about.  They just moved effortless in their kitchens creating great things for us to eat.

Two Car Busia was Busia’s mother……their cooking style very similar, the taste very close.  Two Car Busia loved to bake, I remember when I lived in the upper flat above Two Car Busia for a few weeks while waiting for our apartment to be ready, I would come home from work to find fresh-baked breads and coffee cakes waiting for me on the stairs.  My Busia (or Boo as I always called her, even as an adult) was a great baker as well, however Boo was just a little more modern……it wasn’t a surprise to find an Awrey Coffee Cake box on the kitchen table.

Both of my grandmothers made delicious Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage).  They made them in two types of sauces…..one was a red tomato type sauce, the other was a very thinned out Cream of Mushroom sauce but my Two Car Busia would do something for me that to this day does not taste the same when I try to do it myself.  She would keep a few out of the sauce and fry them for me in butter.  When they were done, I would cut them up and put ketchup on top.  As I write this…..I can clearly remember the taste.  I don’t know why, but when I try to do that now, it just does not taste the same.

My mom and sister Lee……..(Lee, you really didn’t think you wouldn’t show up her sooner or later did you?  Love ya) also make delicious Golabki (stuffed cabbage).

Mom and Lee

Mom and Lee

Lee, like me, will usually serve her Golabki with potato salad.  I believe this tradition started when there was a family gathering and one of the side dishes was potato salad and we discovered it was an awesome combination.  I could be mistaken, but I think it was my aunt Pat (my mom’s sister) who first did this when she was having a birthday party or First Communion party for one of my cousins.  Anyway, Lee and I adopted the potato salad style and our mom serves them with mashed potatoes (cause dad is a meat and mashed potato guy).

Like I said, they both make great Golabki, when my mom makes them she will stop by with a few for Walt and I swear he foams at the mouth, (he doesn’t think I make them often enough, I probably don’t).  I am not joking when I say Walt will not share when mom brings them for him, but that’s ok

I think the three of us follow a basic recipe path of my grandmother’s, with some minor variations.  Our sauces though are different and so is our ability to make them.  Mom and Lee have a knack for making golabki, they can throw them together effortlessly.  My biggest struggle is boiling the head of cabbage and getting the leaves as they fall off, it’s this part I don’t like the most.  I have tried several suggested methods, someone wrote somewhere that you should take the leaves off and drop them in a pot of boiling water….I discovered that the leaves break and crack before I can remove them…..another person suggested that you boil a large pot of water and pour it over the head of cabbage and when the leaves are hot and wilted they will come apart easy….ummm yea, not so much.

Since yesterday was Walt’s birthday, and golabki are his favorite, I decided to make a big roaster of them just for him.  I love the smell of the house as they are baking in the oven (Josh says “What’s that smell?…..NOT a Golabki fan at all).  I would like to say that I used my mom’s method of getting the cabbage leaves off the head and have to say that this time it was effortless and I was pleased.

Keep in mind that there are variables…..I only made 13 Golabki out of 2.5 lbs of hamburger but my cabbage leaves were pretty big.  You may get more or less depending on the size of the cabbage head you buy.

Baking time on this is 3 hours….preparation time depends on your skill level.

So…..here is my recipe for Golabki aka….Stuffed Cabbage.

GOLABKI  aka…..Stuffed Cabbage

1                          Large head of cabbage

2.5 lbs.              Ground beef (I used Ground Round)

2 cups               Cooked regular rice (NOT INSTANT RICE)

1                          Small onion

2                         Cloves Garlic

2                         Large Eggs

1 tsp.                 Salt

1/4 tsp.            Pepper

3                        29 oz cans Hunts tomato sauce

3 tsp.               Lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

9 tbsp              Brown sugar


Pre-heat  oven to 350 degrees

Remove cabbage core and place in a large pot of water.

Bring to a boil and when leaves are soft and start to pull away from the head, remove them and place on cookie sheet lined with paper towel.

Remove about 15 leaves for your cabbage rolls, make sure you have enough extra to line the bottom of your roasting pan and to cover the cabbage rolls.

Remove the very thick part of the leaf where it was attached to the head of cabbage.

Combine meat with cooked rice


 Grate onion and garlic into meat and rice mixture

Add eggs, salt and pepper – mix well

Place a mound of meat mixture in cupped part of each softened cabbage leaf

Roll the cabbage over the meat until closed…..push sides of cabbage into the meat mixture with your index finger

Continue making your cabbage rolls

Line roaster or baking pan with extra cooked cabbage leaves

Place cabbage rolls on top of cabbage leaves

In a large bowl, mix tomato sauce with brown sugar and lemon juice – pour over cabbage rolls

  Cover completely with cabbage leaves

Bake 1 hour – Covered

Remove Cover bake and additional 2 hours

These freeze really well.

4 thoughts on ““If God had intended for us to follow recipes”……….

    • Hi, thanks for stopping by! If you try them please let me know how they turn out!! It’s hard isn’t it to try to recreate something without a recipe. Our grandmother’s just knew what they were doing and even my own mom will say things like…. “add a pinch of this”, “you’ll know the dough is ready by how it feels”, “just taste it, you’ll know if you need to add more spice.” That’s what makes their cooking unique.

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