“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” – Or so the old Parkay commercial told us. But this week Mother Nature pulled a fast one on us, and it isn’t very nice.
Just when we thought it was safe to turn off the pilot light and vacuum the residue of ashes out of our fireplace, our 80° weather changed to a cold snap! (I’m sure I’ll get grief from my friends and family in Eskimo Land of Michigan and Illinois and even Maryland and Virginia. They would consider our forty or fifty degrees a balmy spring day.)
We have two seasons of food in the Paladini house. In the summer we cook just about everything on the grill and add a salad. And in the winter we cook just about everything in a big dutch oven or soup pot, and add a loaf of bread. We never can decide what season of food we like best, so we’re always excited and ready for the change. We have just started enjoying summertime fare – grilled peppers and corn on the cob and salad. But last night as I was getting ready to start dinner, shivering even in a sweater, I watched John build a fire in the fireplace and decided to revisit my dinner plan for taco salad.
What else can you do on the spur of the moment with a pound of hamburger? Stuffed Cabbage of course! I got this basic recipe from my mom, and have enjoyed it all my life. It’s one of John’s favourite dinners too, so he was thrilled to have it one last time before our Grilling Salad Season arrives to stay.
1 head of cabbage
1 pound of extra lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
Salt and pepper (Cayenne too, if you like it spicy!)
8-10 scrubbed carrots
4 potatoes scrubbed and halved
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Peel off about 12 of the big outer leaves of the cabbage. (You can save the rest for cole slaw – salad season really will be here sooner or later)
Put the leaves in a dutch oven with a little water and steam them until they are just pliable. Don’t overcook them. When they are soft enough to bend without breaking, run cold water over them to stop the cooking and allow you to handle them.
Mix the ground beef with egg, bread crumbs, onion, garlic and seasonings. This recipe makes about 6 stuffed cabbages so mentally divide it into six portions.
Wrap each portion of ground beef mixture in several cabbage leaves so it is well-packaged. Place the stuffed cabbages back in the dutch oven with the open “flap” of the leaf facing down.
Arrange the carrots and potato halves on top of the stuffed cabbages and dump the can of chopped tomatoes on top. Add ¼ cup water.
Cook on the stove top for about 30- 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.