Navigating the new
A couple weeks ago I made the mistake of asking my husband if there was something that he was hungry for that I could make for Christmas. He told me he was hungry for Koldormer.
Now, I knew what koldormer was, but I had never made it. He told me his first wife had a Swedish cookbook that she used. I had checked the shelf and did not see such a book. I guessed that her daughter, Melanie, had probably taken her mother’s book.
I had a Swedish cookbook, too. I went to mine but there was no recipe for koldormer. Next, I tried the Internet. I did better there. I found several recipes there with several different spellings.
I read through the recipes to find one that I thought I could tackle. I wrote down the instructions because they were quite complex. The filling was the easy part. The instructions to get the cabbage ready was more difficult but sounded reasonable. Oh, by the way, koldormer, is really cabbage rolls.
The Friday before Christmas we went to the store to get fresh cabbage. Sunday was the designated day to make the koldormer. Early Sunday morning I began. I followed the directions explicitely. I soaked the cabbage in water for 10 minutes as per the directions. Next, I tried to pry the leaves free. This did not go well. I was close to tears. The recipe was not going to turn out well. How could I resurrect the dish?
Whenever you are trying something that you have never done before it is scary. It was especially scary because I wanted them to turn out good so my husband would be happy. His sense of taste is not what it used to be, but I knew he would be able to tell by the texture of the cabbage rolls.
Don told me that he remembered Diedra using her microwave. It certainly could not hurt. I could not get it done at the rate I was going. I took out my eight-cup measuring cup and placed a head of cabbage into it. I added some water and set the microwave for five minutes.
Alas, the leaves were coming off of the cabbage as I expected. I now had full leaves to fill. I went back to my recipe. It said to soak the leaves in boiling water for ten minutes. That is what I did to wilt them.
I had the filling all made. I was braver with that since it was just a filling with ground beef and rice. I pretty much knew what the texture had to be. I remembered that I made porcupine meatballs in my pressure cooker when it was new.
Don told me that it was always his job to put in the toothpicks. I reviewed the recipe. It did not call for toothpicks, but oh well, they could not hurt. My recipe simply said to place the rolls in the baking dish with the open side down. I got out the toothpicks and let Don put them in to hold the rolls closed.
I was hoping that when I opened the pan everything would not be one big mess. Success, all of the rolls stayed intact. I secretly tried one the way my directions said. It, too, stayed together. We enjoyed our koldormer for dinner that day.
You better believe that I changed the recipe as I added it to my cookbook. That is my way. I first try a recipe the way it is written, then make changes to suit me and get the flavor that I am hoping for.
The flavor of the cabbage rolls was fine, but I would add a little more salt. Also, the secret ingredient, allspice, could stand to be a little stronger. Don told me there was a spice in there and I found out what it was from my recipe.
I will be able to make koldormer again. I would not say that I have mastered the technique, but I am not afraid to try it again. Please note: there is no tomato sauce with this recipe. I have a recipe for a stuffed cabbage casserole but that calls for tomato sauce over the top. I think I made that once for him but he was not impressed.
Maybe I will just stick with mincemeat pie. I know how to do that!
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.