Monday, November 18, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage, If You Can

A couple of years ago, my mom asked my Grammie for a recipe. Cooking wasn't Gram's best thing, but she had a knack for those home-cooked comfort foods. The stick to your ribs, good old fashioned, midwestern style food that try as you might, you can never quite replicate, probably because you're not using enough butter.

So anyways, Mom was feeling nostalgic for Grammie's stuffed cabbage (also, Costco had a deal on cabbage), and she emailed, asking for her recipe. This bit of brilliance is what she got back:

the spice I used was the same spice you use for swedish meatballs    allspice     and the cabbage leaves were par boiled so you could drop  in your meat mixture kind of wrap it up and cook it slowly in in tomatoes     I used plain canned tomatoes but you can use stewed tomatoes also finely chopped onions     but not to many  one half of a small onion would do it in the meat mixture   you can put the all      spice in the meat mixture s well as the tpmatoes   season to taste with the allspice      sounds like spomething good to make     maybe I will do it also     made vegetable soup last night with top sirloin beef      browned the beef and simmered the heck out of it for 3 or so hours    almost every veggie you can think of except peas 
Of course, Mom sent this on to Kelle and me right away, because how can you not love it? I think she tried to decipher it, but it didn't quite work out, so she also wrote back, asking for clarification. You know, things like "So... Eggs in the meat mixture?" and  "Do you remember how much rice to beef?" and "Is the rice already cooked?" which, naturally, just got her more joyful confusion:

rice is allready cooked      meat is not      no eggs         not quite half   rice to beef       or less        you can allways serve extra rice on the side with the tomatoe gravy     let me know how it turns out

And this kind of thing is exactly what made her the brilliant matriarch she was. Funny, but without meaning to be; helpful, in the most unhelpful way possible; and loving, with full force and intention.

Grammie died last night around midnight, surrounded by her daughters and with her husband by her side. She leaves behind a legacy, and not just one of love and family, but one of laughter. There is nothing she loved more than making us laugh, except for making us food. Yogurt most especially. I'll miss her terribly, but I feel so blessed to know that she was my grandmother. As my dad would say, it's all Grammie's fault that we're around...and thank God for that.

I'm grateful today for so many things...for my cousins, who all called each other the instant we knew Gram had died. For my husband, who spent the day packing my bags for me so I wouldn't have to, and was good enough to remember my "Marge and Jack 50th Anniversary" tshirt. For my Great Aunt Dorothy, Sally's Grandma, my Grandma and Grandpa Schlax, and my Great Grandma Ohlberg, who all left me beautiful jewelry that are like talismans to me at times like this. For Alliya and Sally and Tiffany, who've all held up our NorCal branch of the family over the past few days with lots of calls and texts and love and food and offers of rides and other needed things, but mostly just for the reminders that they're really here for us when they say they are. For air travel...because as much as I hate airlines and the crappy way they treat their customers, it is allowing us to go home to be with family, and there's nothing in the world I'm more thankful for than that. My family is the best family. If you want in, you're totally welcome. 

PS - I just got a text from my sister with the most amazing thing ever in it. A voicemail from Gram, on Kelle's birthday. See, Grammie and Bapa always were the best at birthday phone calls. No one could beat them - there were jokes they'd practiced in advance, coordinated squabbles, uncoordinated squabbles, singing, insults, and the best love ever. And Kelle managed to save one from years now I'll be able to hear my lovely Gram's love and smile (because you can't hear this without hearing a smile) for always. 


  1. Beautifully written. I will think of her, and, you the next time I simmer the heck out of dinner. Love to you all,
    Susan G

    1. Thank you Susan, for so many things! Love right back at you.