I'm Serving Love

hearttable.jpgI could tell you that my Valentine's dinner for my sweetheart will be sensual, fragrant, relatively quick and most of all it should reflect my love with no ambiguous interpretation. But, I'm going in a different direction this year.

This dinner is about giving the gift of love on a plate. My love and the love of the women that have passed through his life. The strong woman that have made Larry the sweet, kind and loving person that are I am honored to be with. This menu will be a tribute to departed generations. On Valentine's evening they will join us with their recipes and love that they left behind.

I suppose we could have dinner at the same restaurant that we met for the first time years ago, sit at the same table but somehow that doesn't feel as intimate as this special dinner that I have planned. With many candles illuminating the dining room, the house smelling so wonderful, romance will be in the air.

The love of Larry's grandmother who lived with them in their large single family house when he was growing up in a Polish neighborhood of Chicago. She always baked something sweet for him to eat after school. She cooked traditional Polish dinners each night for her daughter's family and have them waiting when they got home from work. Three generations ate together. Her recipe for dried wild mushroom soup will be the starter. The intense scent of wild mushrooms and sour cream will fill the air when he walks into the kitchen. How will he react to the to same smells of his grandmother's kitchen? How could he not be touched tenderly with her love from many years ago.

stuffedcabbage.jpgNext, I'll make stuffed cabbage polish style. I'll make it exactly like his sweet mother Lorraine taught me when I met her for the first time when she was months away from death.

It was important for me to know how to make it her way. With cans of tomato soup and sauerkraut layered between the rolls that will simmer with brown sugar and just a hint of cider vinegar.

As the steam of her simmering recipe rises so will Dear Lorraine, even if it's only for the evening.

For dessert, I will make my mother's chocolate cake with the soft barely cooked center because if they had met she would have fallen in love with him just as I have.

My hands with their recipes to guide me will come to life, together for the evening. Feeling loved, isn't that truly what Valentine's day is all about?



Lorraine Grygiel's Polish Stuffed Cabbage

1 large head of green cabbage
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 cup cooked white rice
1 medium chopped onion
1 can sauerkraut, drained
2 can cream of tomato soup
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper

Place the whole cabbage in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. When the outer leaves of the cabbage look cooked and pliable remove, return the cabbage to the boiling water until the next layers looks cooked. Continue until all the leaf are cooked, let the leaves cool completely. Chop the small center leave for the bottom of the pot to keep the stuffed cabbage away from direct heat.

Combine the ground pork, ground beef, minced garlic and chopped onions with the cooked rice, combine well. Take a small handful of filling( 3 tablespoons) and place it in the center of each partially cooked cabbage leaf. Roll the cabbage leave over the stuffing, fold in the sides and place seam side done on top of the chopped cabbage leaves in a large pot. Continue folding the cabbage leaves until the bottom of the pot is covered. Sprinkle half the can of sauerkraut over the rolls and one can of tomato soup. Finnish rolling the cabbage for the top layer.

Cover with the remaining sauerkraut and the second can of tomato soup. Add the cider vinegar and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly. Pour water over the top, cover with foil, and then the lid. Bake for two hour at 350 degrees. Check after an hour to make sure there is enough liquid on the bottom, add more water if it looks dry. Remove from the oven and let it rest for a half hour. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.


Brenda Athanus runs a small gourmet food shop in Belgrade Lakes, Maine with her sister Tanya called the Green Spot.

The Green Spot
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