Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I wanted to use this post to just let you know how we going on the old baby-making front. Many of you have followed us through the last year, when I was ovulating during Sex Fest 2008, when I was making stupid sperm jokes, and when two people named "Pim" and "Ravid" had to have sex on the bathroom floor so their kids and the babysitter wouldn't walk in on them. You were also there when things didn't turn out as planned.

Some of you have e-mailed me asking how we were on this front and I figured you might be wondering. So, here's the skinny - we tried for baby number three for a year. I'm 44 years old. I just got my body back after three years of breast feeding. I want another kid, but I really don't want to be 45 and breastfeeding and 46 and just beginning to get my body back to being mine again. We gave it our best shot. It didn't happen. I am closing the shop. The uterus is getting a well-deserved rest.

As you can imagine, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we have two awesome girls. Just beautiful little creatures and every day I wonder how we could have made two such glorious little beings. But we did, so there isn't any sadness really.

I mean, look at them. How could there be?

But I still believe our family isn't finished. I'm not sure why. I just feel it. So, we are looking at adoption as an option. We are at the beginning. Not sure. Just figuring it out. But not a day goes by where the girls don't ask for a baby sister. David says they also ask to go to Disney World nearly as many times and to have a puppy, and he is totally not making that up, but I just have a feeling, just maybe...

Anyway, we are all good here at Camp Foster. No blues. No regrets. I just wanted you to know that and know you have wondered now and again as I talked about babies and my eggs and David's testacles less and less. David is quite happy his testicles have not been featured here in awhile, so amen to that.

Thanks for wondering about us occasionally and making space for me and my family in your busy lives and for writing me with your thoughts. It is all appreciated. All important to me.

And because I wanted something a little homey these days, I made stuffed cabbage. Warm, comforting, good for the soul. And it did the trick. I left you the recipe.

xo YM

PS: And yes, if you have adoption wisdom or experience, or friends, or friends of friends who do, I would love to hear from you and them. That would be appreciated, for sure.

Stuffed Cabbage
(Inspired by and adapted from a recipe by Sassy Radish)


2 quarts water
1 large green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup your favorite fresh mixed herbs (I used thyme, tarragon and sage), chopped
2 cups cooked rice
16 oz ground beef (Or you can also use 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork combination)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, whole tomatoes should be chopped
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup sour cream for garnish
Parsley for garnish


Steaming the cabbage...

In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Remove center core of cabbage. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and gently slide the cabbage into the pot of water and let it steam there with the cover on. Don't boil it, just steam. Take the cabbage out after 5 minutes or so. Cover the pot, turn the heat back on to re-heat the water and start peeling the outer leaves off your cabbage. You should get 4 or 5 leaves off the cabbage before the underlying leaves feel cool. Turn heat off the pot, pop the cabbage back in the water and let it steam, covered for 5 minutes. Repeat this process until you have removed all of the leaves and are left with a tiny little ball of cabbage with leaves too small to use. (I re-purposed these for slaw for David's lunch)

Reserve 2 cups cabbage cooking water. Trim the thick center vein from bottom of each leaf. This seems trivial, but you want to remove any hard stems that will keep you from rolling the filling up in the leaf. If the leaf is large, you can split the leaf at the stem and make two rolls from each, or if it is small, you can cut the vein out partially and when you are rolling, pull the sides over the filling before you roll it into a perfect little parcel.

Now, for the filling...

In a medium skillet, melt butter and a little olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and celery, and cook until golden and tender, about 8 minutes. Add herbs and cook another minute longer. Salt to taste. To this pan, add ground meat and let that cook for 7 minutes or so. The meat should be getting cooked, but not over-cooked. Add rice at this point and continue to cook, stirring rice into meat, until everything is piping hot and meat is cooked, about 3 minutes.

Using a tablespoon, spoon rice filling mixture into a leaf on the stem end. I used approximately about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling for each leaf, depending on the size of the leaf. You should eye ball it based on how plump and fat you want the little parcels to be. Fold sides of cabbage over filling and roll the cabbage into a little parcel, and arrange in a large, wide pot. Do that until you've used all the filling.

Now, here is where you can be a little foot loose and fancy free. The cabbage is going to cook on low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. (Bring the heat up first and then set it down to simmer.) You can use your favorite tomato sauce or combination of tomato puree and tomato paste, whatever floats your boat. I used a large can of San Marzano tomatoes which I chopped up and poured into the pot over the rolls, with just a little of the reserved cabbage water. Eyeball this. Just put in enough water to give the tomatoes some liquidity and so you don't burn the cabbage parcels on the bottom of the pan.

Then, I salted the tomatoes, added a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the sauce, stirred it around, put a lid on it and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with the kids. When David got home dinner was ready.

Serve with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkling of Parsley.

A couple notes: This dish is easy to put together right before dinner if the components are made in advance, for instance, I had rice left over from making fried rice in Lucy's class, I made the beef filling in the morning and stored it covered in the fridge. I also steamed off the cabbage leaves in the morning and stored them in tin foil in the fridge. They stored perfectly. When I got home, I rolled the filling in the leaves, plopped them in the pot, poured the tomatoes over, salted and that was it. So, if you make the components ahead, it's quick and easy at dinner.

Also, cabbage rolls freeze beautifully and make the perfect pack and go lunch the next day.



blissmamaof3 said...

I'm an adoptive mom! My three beautiful children are from Russia. Please let me know if you would like to chat. My email is I'd love to chat about adoption with you. It's a wonderful way to make a family.

The Yummy Mummy said...

Thanks, I will take you up on it. And I'd love to hear your children's stories. You have already made me excited!

Heather said...

we are becoming foster parents with the intent to adopt and are just finishing up our home far it has been an interesting ride and we look forward to where it takes us! And I totally understand not feeling like your family is done but you are :)

The Yummy Mummy said...

Heather -

Thanks for writing! We are going to our first meeting with the foster care/adoption people this month. it is all pretty low key at this point. I haven't even told family or friends.

Without sounding like I live in a compound in Waco, I am feeling weird about having the govt in our lives. I mean, do I want a social worker dictating when and where we go? Or is it even like that? See? I just don't know. We are just at the beginning of this whole process.

But I love the idea of adopting a child who needs a home and a family and wouldn't be a likely candidate for adoption elsewhere. That makes it seem worthwhile to jump hurdles.

Please let me know how the process is going. I'd love to know what the home study is like and also, if you live in New York.

Thx, Kim

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

Good luck.

My only experience is when my wife adopted my son, who I had long since had full custody of, so I've no real information.

And frankly I would put you mid 30s tops.

Good luck.

The Yummy Mummy said...

Mid 30's...And this my dear Warner, is why I love you so.

You made my day...

Cali said...

wow! that's a big step... good luck :)

p.s. i'm with warner, i guessed mid 30's as well.

auntjone said...

Now that you've stopped trying you'll get pregnant. You know that, right? :)

Good luck with whatever happens. The girls will be awesome big sisters, I'm sure.

Brande said...

I haven't adopted, but I am an enthusiastic supporter of it. I think it's important to remind ourselves that that there are thousands of children who don't have a family of their own. Kids who only know loneliness or foster care and have never experienced the love of parents and siblings. For me, I'd rather give one of these kids a home than make my own. But I've also never made a baby, so I'm no expert there either. =P

I look forward to seeing what happens. You have such a fun and beautiful family!

Carie said...

I am the proud mother of a beautiful American 2.5yr daughter (who happened to be born in Seoul Korea) and 15 months into waiting for our 2nd. It's a long, long road of meetings & paperwork & waiting. But soo worth it! Email me if your would like to talk about adoption in NYC.

Reading your blog makes our waiting go by faster!

Anonymous said...

We have two biological boys (weird label I know) who are now 14 and 11. We thought we were done with 2 but when they were about 6 and 9 we got a bigger apartment (isn't it weird how it is about how many kids you can fit in NYC--but it is a reality). Anyway, sort of out of the blue my husband and I decided to adopt from China. I always say it was the easiest big decision we ever made. I got right on it and from start to finish the process took 13 months and we have our wonderful beautiful daughter who is now 5 (she was 1 when we brought her home). Unfortunately the waiting time now with Chinese adoptions is 3 or 4 years. Giving birth to my boys was an experience beyond measure and I am not one to compare methods on how a child comes into a family but that being said, being handed our baby girl and all that lead up to that moment and has since sprung forth from our relationship with her was a moment beyond all words.
As far as the gov't being involved and the social worker, I just viewed it as part of the process to reach our goal. Hopefully you will like the social worker that works with you, we did but my advice is even if it feels a bit weird to have to open your family up to scrutiny, just go with it. My impression was that they wanted to make sure that you lead a grounded, stable life, that you are responsible with your kids and have their best interests at heart and that you have room in your hearts and lives for another child--that you are ready to deal with the issues a child that was given up for adoption may confront. We figured they are going to give me a kid, We'll answer their questions. In fact some of the questions about our relationship, our parenting style, our background etc... really helped me articulate how I felt about family life and it would probably be a good idea if we all addressed thsoe issues before having any children--bio or adopted.
And the wonderful thing about a big age difference is, my oldest now babysits--no more coming home from seeing amovie and having to dish out oodles of cash!
My advice is, if you no you are going to do it get right on the paperwork trail--original birthcertificates signed, sealed , notarized, fingerprints, etc.... It is easily accomplished but it can hang you up if you wait to get it done.
Good luck!
PS Sorry so long, I guess I love the story of our family!

The Yummy Mummy said...

Cali - That's it. I'm changing my age. I'm 34 1/2 now. Thanks to you and Warner!

Aunt Jone - Oh yeah, that would be a pisser, wouldn't it? Just don't laugh at me if it happens.

Thanks Carie, I will e-mail you. Hope you don't have to wait much longer. Keep me posted on how it's going, please!

Lisa - I love the story of your family, too. Thank you for sharing it with us. Thanks for your thoughts on the home study and your relationship with the social worker. It made me feel much better. I think you're right that re-framing the experience in my mind will help it feel less intrusive. Anyway, yours is a lovely story. Keep me posted on your family, too!

Christine said...

We have no babies, as you know, but I always thought adoption would be my first choice, but then there's the OH excitement of what would happen if we tried, so I'm mixed on the subject. Either way, and no matter what you choose, I'm excited for you. Any child, whether biological or adopted, would be lucky to call you and David parents.

I would never have placed you at your purported age. Cannot, will not believe it. Also, seriously, when did Lucy's hair get so dark? It's like she turned into a redhead in that one picture. They're getting so big. Crazy!