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Grandma Crocker

Posted Jul 30 2010 12:00am

When my granddaughter, Rose, was small she loved to come cook with her grandma. Our signature recipe was cut-out sugar cookies that she  got to decorate…and eat. One day she came up with a new name for me…Grandma Crocker. We made silly plans about opening our own restaurant and what we would cook and fun aprons we would wear!

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Yesterday, she had the traumatic experience of having two of her teeth pulled, in preparation for braces. She was feeling a bit out of sorts, so I thought surely a cooking session with Grandma Crocker, would pull her out of the blues. She faithfully reads my blog, and I promised I would blog about our cooking class together.

I like to read either cookbooks or food blogs in the evening. A few days ago I came across this recipe, Russian Style Cabbage Rolls Made the Fast Way, that intrigued me. http://simpledailyrecipes.com/ A few years ago I attempted a time consuming recipe of cabbage rolls. They were good, but about every dish in my kitchen was involved in the process. This gal’s recipe looked so much easier, so Rosie and I got to work. (as you can tell, Rose is still recovering from her mouth being numbed!)

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Rose was in charge of browning a pound of lean ground beef. I realized after I read the recipe, it didn’t call for the beef to be cooked first. (whoops!) The recipe also did not call for red bell pepper, but I like color. When I realized that the beef wasn’t supposed to be cooked first, I didn’t add the eggs. As you can see, I have trouble following recipes.

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I chopped the half onion, and the entire bell pepper, and minced the garlic cloves and added it to the ground beef, after draining the beef. She continued to stir over medium heat until the veggies were softened. Meanwhile I cooked some brown rice.

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I used about 2/3 of a medium sized cabbage and cut it into half inch slices.(next time I will cut the pieces smaller)  I placed this in a large bowl, along with the ground beef mixture and rice. In a separate bowl I added the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. Then layer both mixtures, topping with the tomato sauce mixture. Seal with foil, poke a few holes in for steam to escape and bake at 350 for one hour. I made two small casseroles and sent one home with Rosie and her mom. I didn’t bake mine an hour since it was a smaller dish.

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I had some left over steamed veggies from last nights dinner that I heated and plated with this cabbage dish. It was very good, but would not add quite as much brown sugar next time. I had a nice amount to take to my parents and tonight mom called me and raved about it. (They are so easy to please!)

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Russian Cabbage Rolls

for the sauce

HEAT the oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, cooked rice, onion, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Mix it up using your hands to get it thoroughly blended.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, onion, apple cider, brown sugar, and ginger.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add more cider vinegar as needed for a sweet-sour sauce (artisanal cider vinegar is less sharp-tasting than supermarket cider vinegar and works better in this sauce).

In a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, lay down a layer of half the cabbage.  Then, divide the meat mixture in half and lay down a layer of meat over the cabbage.  Again, use your hands; it’s easier.  Pour half the tomato sauce all over the first layer.  Add another layer with the other half of the cabbage, again the meat.  Finish with pouring the remaining sauce all over the top.

Cover the casserole with foil, poke a few holes to allow steam to escape. BAKE 1-HOUR.

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