We had a lot of snow last week, three feet deep. With no place to go, it seemed an opportune time to try my hand at something I’d wanted to do for the last nine years; attempt to make my mom’s stuffed cabbage recipe.
My mom called herself a short order cook and one of her favorite ways to comfort was something homemade from her kitchen. I was a lucky recipient and every time we visited, she prepared three of my favorite recipes. Why would I bother to cook them myself when she was so willing? Much to my regret, I neither learned her techniques nor recorded exact ingredients or oven temperatures. So trying to duplicate them became a challenge.
In the months following my mom’s death, I decided to bake her date and nut bread. My kitchen island resembled a test kitchen as I measured, weighed, and recorded numerous attempts. After weeks, I finally mastered it. But the stuffed cabbage recipe was missing the oven temperature, cooking times, and exact ingredients and I just didn’t want to tarnish such a delicious memory. And so I put it off.
Last week, I had plenty of time. I searched online to find a recipe with similar ingredients but clearer instructions and amazingly, I found one. I put both of the recipes together and cleared the kitchen island. To my advantage, I actually have the roaster my mom used for the recipe; so confident was she that I would take the mantle that she mailed it to me just three months before her death.
The toughest job was the cabbage; no matter how much hot water, the leaves were hard to separate, and I struggled. I remembered her thinning out the membrane and despite my best efforts, the leaves were still hard to roll. I spent the entire morning and when the cabbage rolls were finally nestled in the roaster, it looked just like I remembered. And when they started to bake, the house filled with a wonderful aroma. And much to my surprise, with thanks to the online recipe, it looked and tasted just like my mom’s.
In the years since my mom’s death, I have seen so many of her qualities in myself. And it always gives me such warmth to know that she lives on in me. And now I can add stuffed cabbage to my list of accomplishments. Will I make them again? Maybe; when I find myself snowed in with a few feet of snow!
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.