Wednesday, February 15, 2012

channeling grandma

My grandmother is no longer with us, but her legacy lives on, and there are many things we find ourselves doing and go, “I was channeling Grandma!”

Beautifying the house with fresh flowers. Finding ourselves delighted by something and going, “Oh, for heaven’s sake!” Selecting the perfect place for a painting. Buying something without looking at the price tag (!). Being convinced that one’s recollection of a past event is more accurate than another family member’s, heh.

But most of all, disappearing into the kitchen and emerging with something amazing.


Could the woman make amaaaaaaaaaaazing bread.

This stuff is a little more hippie-dippie than her ethereal baguettes, but she’d approve. The same warm comforting smell emerges from the oven.


Whole Wheat Applesauce Bread

1 3/4 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup wheat germ
2 eggs
1 T brown sugar (optional)
2 T canola oil
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 1/4 cups applesauce

Whisk together flour through salt, then stir in wheat germ.

In a large bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to wet.

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 for 45 minutes.


Let me count the ways I love you, bread recipe. You are yeastless and incredibly quick and easy to make. You are incredibly moist and sweet merely from the addition of applesauce; the fat and sugar content in you is tiny. You are good with both pea soup and peanut butter.

My mom and I ate the first loaf in a day and a half.

So… I’d say it’s good, then.

Another of my grandmother’s specialties was lasagna.

I bizarrely dreamt (literally, dreamt in my bed at night) of lasagna.

And I mentioned it offhand to my mom and the next day there was lasagna :D


I feel like even people who don’t eat salad feel obliged to serve salad with lasagna, am I right?

Gosh lasagna is so good. And leftovers of lasagna just get better and better, too!

(Confession: the lasagna contained low-fat cottage cheese. Grandma would not approve.)

(While we’re being honest, that’s bottled salad dressing)


Another of my grandma’s creations: stuffed cabbage.

Oh man. It was a good day to arrive at my grandmother’s and be dished a steaming hot, oh-so-comforting, oh-so-hearty, oh-so-satisfying bowl of stuffed cabbage.

Filled with meat and rice, like so many versions, but sauced in the unmistakably Greek style in avgolemono; creamy and tangy egg and lemon sauce.

I had my grandmother’s recipe in the family cookbook made by my aunt Dena, but I tweaked it some. Hoping Grandma wouldn’t be horrified.

I steamed the cabbage instead of boiling it. Because I hate boiling things.


I used bulgur instead of white rice. Because it was handy, and I like whole grains.


And, most differently, I browned the meat (she put it raw in the filling and had it cook inside the cabbage. This made for mega moistness).

The thing is, though, when you buy organic beef, you sometimes have fewer choices about fat content, and this was 80/20 lean.

Which meant that I browned it…


… and was real happy to have this stuff left behind in the pan, rather than my arteries:


I wiped out the pan and then started cooking like Grandma. Like she did, I sauteed onions in olive oil (we Greek women loved our heart healthy olive oil before it was cool).


And like her, I filled my cabbage leaves and cooked them by gently simmering them in a Dutch oven.


And dressed them in avgolemono, mmm.


Plated up with (I didn’t really think about this… apparently I am a REALLY big fan of the cabbage family!) roasted brussels sprouts.


Also, my grandmother did not waste.

So the leftover filling and the itty bitty cabbage leaves too small for living combined with Sriracha and seasoned rice vinegar into SMASHING sweet and sour cabbage.


I know I’m not the only one who feels a connection to a loved one by making their signature dishes. Any family traditions? Anyone got family heirloom recipes to share?

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