I’ve been chipping away at my 30 before 30 goals, and today I got to cross one more thing off of the list! #23 was to make holubsti (Ukrainian cabbage rolls).
And I can think of no better way to try making holubsti for the first time than with a dear friend who also enjoys a good ole’ Ukrainian heritage! We set out today “to make our Baba’s proud”. However, somewhere along the way we realized it was probably more likely that they’d laugh, or shake their heads at us instead!
A while ago I e-mailed my great grandma to ask her for her mushroom sauce recipe. I have vague recollections from around the age of eleven of visiting my second cousins, and she made delicious cabbage rolls with a scrumptious mushroom sauce. They were unlike any other cabbage rolls I’ve had. They were petite, and yummy, and not as tomato-saucy as most I’ve eaten.
I was delighted and honoured when a few weeks later I received a package in the mail containing a true treasure:
Her old cookbook, a “Traditional Ukrainian Cookery”. The book was printed in 1959 and it is jam-packed with recipes and information about Ukrainian cooking and traditions.
The book is from such a different era, so the instructions were interesting. There were many options and variations - which in an time/place (mid century/ Canadian prairies) when little was wasted and supplies weren’t available on a whim, I’m sure this was a good thing.
And so, today my friend Amy and I donned our aprons, cracked open the cookbook, and started boiling cabbage!
We opted to do a filling with rice, ground beef, onions, bacon, and mushrooms. I mean really, how can you go wrong with that? We also opted to use our bacon fat rather than butter for different parts of the recipe - about which Amy exclaimed “I’m cooking with bacon fat! I feel so Ukrainian!”
The filling/rolling portion of the adventure was clearly our weakest point. The cookbook had no instructions about how to fold the little guys shut. We figured this would be an especially good time to have a Baba come teach us. But with no Babas around we turned to YouTube (the next best thing?).
YouTube did not teach us much more, however, so we faked our way through. After we’d wrapped at least a dozen each Amy proudly announced, “Look! This one actually looks like a cabbage roll!” Ha ha… technique will hopefully get better with experience!
But in the end we actually have some very yummy cabbage rolls! Even more importantly we now have the knowledge that we can/will do this again - just with a few little tweaks and changes next time.
And we may even have a new recipe to try next time…
“Here is an attractive way of serving brains.” Super!