Return to menu

In 2002 my cousins and I created a family recipe booklet. Three generations, searched out their best recipes. They had been a family of good cooks and good food. We asked family members to share at least 5 recipes and also to share a short narrative about the recipe that made it memorable to them. We found my grandmother’s recipe cards when she was cooking for a family of 12. The result was a lot of fun and a great booklet of over 90 recipes, many of them the old fashioned foods. These are some recipes that I remember my grandmother making in the 1940s:
Cabbage Soup (Kapusta)

Some things get better with age and this is one of them. Cook up a big batch and freeze or refrigerate some for the next few days. This soup was a staple in Grandma Sirak’s kitchen.

1 lb pork spare ribs

1 can (14.5 oz) canned diced tomatoes

1 small can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

1 can kidney beans

1 small head cabbage, shredded

1 onion chopped

2 potatoes cooked and coarsely mashed in their water

1 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic salt or to taste

2 quarts water

  1. Place ribs in a large pot with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil and skim off frothy protein..

  2. Add salt, pepper (fresh ground best), tomatoes, garlic salt and onion. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1+1/2 to 2 hours

  3. Add potato mixture to soup mixture. Add sauerkraut and cabbage to soup and cook until cabbage is done.

  4. Make a thickening (zaprashka) of 1 TBL flour and 1 TBL oil. Brown and add to the cabbage soup.

Wax Bean Soup

Green beans can be used in this recipe but yellow wax beans make a more attractive soup. It makes a wonderfully creamy soup. The wax beans were always home grown in the backyard family garden.

½ lb fresh yellow wax beans cut into 1-inch pieces

1 TBL flour

1 small onion chopped

1 egg beaten

1 Cup whole milk or half+ half

salt and white pepper to taste

  1. Cook beans, salt and onion till tender in water to cover. Do not drain. Beans and water will be the base for the soup

  2. In another pot bring milk just to a boil (scalding). Turn heat off and cool while you are cooking beans.

  3. Beat into the milk, the flour and egg mixture.

  4. Carefully add milk mixture to the bean mixture off the heat so as not to curdle.. Soup will thicken.

  5. Correct seasonings

Holupki (Little Pigeons)

Every family has their own recipe for this dish. Most of them are not written down and are learned under the tutelage of the mother or grandmother. This recipe was written down as we watched the process. Perhaps it will be a help to someone. They can be frozen after cooking.

2 lb ground chuck

2 or 3 pork spare ribs

1 medium onion chopped

½ Cup uncooked rice

16 oz tomato sauce or V-8 juice

4 lb cabbage head or 2 x 2lb heads

1 lb canned sauerkraut

salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste

1 egg

  1. RICE: Parboil rice as follows: Mix ½ cup of rice with 2 cups water; bring to a boil then drain.

  2. CABBAGE: Remove torn or dirty outer leaves. Core the cabbage by making deep cuts (4 inches) into the base. Pull out the core and you will see that the leaves separate a little and are detached from the core.

  3. Fill a large cook pot with water to within two inches of the top. Bring to a boil. Float the head of cabbage. As the outer leaves turn green, you can separate the leaves using tongs. Set each leaf aside to drain and continue until all leaves have been separated.

  4. Trim the large central vein of each leaf with a sharp knife to the approximate thickness of the leaf. This will make the leaf easier to roll.

  5. MEAT FILLING: coarsely chop one onion, sauté until transparent; add to the ground chuck; add one egg, salt and pepper to taste; garlic salt to taste; the drained rice and 8 oz of tomato sauce. Mix well. Meat will feel moist.

  6. SAUERKRAUT: drain a 1 lb jar/can by squeezing in your hands. Set aside.

  7. Roll up meat in cabbage leaves. Place about 2 TBL meat mix at the base of the leaf-cup. Roll forward, fold over each side of the leaf and continue rolling forward to the end of the leaf. Place the bundle, seam side down in the pot.

  8. PRESSURE POT: Place a rack in the bottom of the 6 qt pressure pot; add ½ cup water to pot (or the required amount per pot instructions)

  9. Fill the pot with folded cabbage bundles; top with sauerkraut; place any remaining loose cabbage leaves on top. Place pork ribs on top. Cover with 4 oz tomato sauce(or V8 juice)

  10. Cover pressure pot and cook 12-14 minutes and let steam drop on its own.

  11. COOK POT METHOD: Place a wire or metal rack on the bottom of the pot to prevent burning.

  12. Add a layer of cabbage bundles; cover with 1/3 sauerkraut and continue layering

  13. Add 8 oz tomato sauce and 8 oz water; put 2-3 large cabbage leaves on top. Place the pork spare ribs on top.

  14. Place a dinner plate upside down on the leaves. Place a full 10-12 oz glass of water on the plate to weigh it down. Bring to a boil and cook 2 hours.

  15. Serve with additional tomato sauce.

Banana Nut Cake

Her family would eat this cake, warm, straight from the oven. Grandma would bake the cake in huge square baking tins. The grand-kids always wanted Grandma to cut them a piece because her pieces were bigger than those anyone else cut. Top with vanilla cream cheese frosting or make as a two-layer cake with whipped cream between the layers and top dusted with confectioners sugar for the modern touch.

½ Cup shortening (or butter)

1 ½ Cups sugar

1 egg and 1 egg yolk beaten

2 Cups sifted flour or 2 ¼ Cups sifted cake flour

¼ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

3/4 Cup buttermilk

1 Cup mashed bananas (about 3, the riper the better)

½ Cup chopped nuts (if desired)

1-tsp vanilla

  1. Grease and flour 9 inch square cake pan

  2. Cream together until fluffy the shortening and sugar

  3. Beat in thoroughly 2 large eggs (1/2 Cup)

  4. Add vanilla

  5. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

  6. mix together mashed bananas, buttermilk

  7. Alternately add flour mix and liquid mix to the sugar mix ending with the flour addition.

  8. Fold in nuts

  9. Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 minutes

Poor Man’s Cake

This was Grandma Sirak’s favorite cake recipe. Notice that it contains no eggs. She would make this cake every Saturday intending it for Sunday’s dessert. Her kids would invite their cousins over on Saturday afternoon, knowing that their mother would cut the cake for her guests.

½ Cup butter

1 Cup sugar

3 TBLS cocoa powder

1 Cup milk

1-tsp baking soda

2 Cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1-tsp vanilla.

  1. Cream butter and sugar; add cocoa and vanilla and mix well

  2. Combine flour, soda and baking soda

  3. Alternate addition of dry and liquid ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix well

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes in layer pans, 55 minutes in tube pan

Grandma’s Toll House Cookies

These are the cake type cookies that all of her grandchildren loved. She always had a tin container full of these for nibblers.

1 Cup brown sugar

½ Cup white sugar

1 Cup shortening

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

3 Cups sifted flour

2 Cups chocolate. bits

1 Cup chopped nuts

½ tsp baking soda (3/4 if at high alt.)

4 TBLS hot water

  1. Cream together white and brown sugar, shortening, salt and vanilla

  2. Beat in eggs one at a time

  3. Mix soda and water

  4. Alternate addition of flour and liquid. Start and end with dry.

  5. Mix in nuts and choc. Bits

  6. Bake on greased cookie sheet. Size about 1 TBL dough

Bake @ 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes

Kobasa [this is actually my modern day recipe, but the tradition goes back to my family’s early days]
Making kobasa was a Sirak tradition. Several members of the family would get their meat and seasonings together and then congregate at the Pulaski Street House to stuff the casings. This was a breath holding process and took some delicate handling. The assignment for the kids was to turn the casings inside out while washing them. After all the sausage rings were made, Uncle Mickie would take the lot and smoke it under a box in the side yard. This was a springtime tradition in preparation for the Easter holidays. Now a day, with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, its grinder and sausage stuffer attachments, the process is very easy to do. This is a recipe that my family has perfected to our taste. Beware; it has a lot of garlic in it.

5-tsp kosher salt

1 ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

3-tsp ground allspice

3-tsp garlic powder

½ oz ground rosemary

¾ TBL curing salt (optional)

4 lb pork butt, cut into large pieces

1 lb beef chuck, cut into large pieces

1 ¼ lb fresh pork fatback, cut into large pieces

½ Cup cold water

14 feet sausage casings, 1 inch in diameter (No need to turn them. Just rinse them out)

  1. Mix all of the spices in a small jar and shake to mix well.

  2. Grind the meats and the fatback coarsely in a meat grinder or food processor.

  3. Place the mixture in a bowl; add the seasonings and mix thoroughly through the meat.

  4. Mix in the cold water, which will make the meat easier to stuff.

Refrigerate overnight. If using curing salt, the refrigeration allows the meat to cure. If not using curing salt, the refrigeration makes the meat easier to work with.

  1. Makes about 5x 1-lb rings. Tie the ends of each ring with string [Hint: tie a knot in the casing, then using thin kitchen twine tie the string around the knot. Hang rings in a smoker. Most hardware stores sell them. Smoke for two hours.

  2. To prepare a ring of kobasa for serving, simmer about 20 minute in saucepan with a very small amount of water. Continue simmering until water evaporates; deglaze pan with red wine or beef stock or more water to make a sauce.

  3. Slice ring and serve with the sauce.

Comment: I know there are many ways to spell KOBASA. My Lemko friends advised me that this is their spelling for this wonderful sausage. It is also spelled the way I remember my grandmother pronouncing it.

Return to menu