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Ethnic Heritage Food

Joy Johnson, Master Gardener

With the onset of cold weather, embrace your comfort food roots. Joy Johnson shares two of her family’s comfort recipes. Try them and they may become your new comfort food recipes.

Ethnic Heritage Food

With the onset of cold weather, my thoughts and appetite go back to the “good old days” when I was a kid. The foods my mother, grandmother and aunts prepared always seemed to be just what I needed. Today we call that ‘comfort food’, going back to what made you feel good as a kid. Thinking back to those wonderful meals, I realize that I have a divided gastronomic family. Half of it is Hungarian and half of it is German. I have terrific recipes from both sides of the family. 

One year we grew over 30 cabbages. My young daughter and her friend were having such a fun time planting, that I just let them keep going and didn’t realize what I huge harvest we’d have. We fermented over 30 quarts of sauerkraut that year.

The soup recipe below is a delicious one to try if you have homemade sauerkraut. It works well with the store-bought kind too. I think it’s fun to try new recipes, especially if they are someone else’s ‘tried and true’ ones, because then you know they’ve been taste tested and honed to perfection over the years. Here are two family tested recipes, one from my Hungarian side and one from my German side. Hmmm, it’s kind of funny, but my mom started serving them both at the same meal, with additional Hungarian dishes on the side. That’s now our newish family tradition, a delicious mixture in one comforting and very satisfying meal.

Sauerkraut Soup (from the German side)

  • 1 quart sauerkraut; rinse, squeeze, chop

  • 1 pound Polska Kolbasi sausage

  • ½ cup rice (I use brown rice)

  • Brown flour for thickening (2/3 cup flour toasted in 3 tablespoons butter. Stir constantly until flour turns golden brown)

  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed

Cut sausage into bit size slices, cover with water and cook a few minutes to remove fat. Remove slices from water, save water, refrigerate so fat will harden. Remove hardened fat from water and discard. Add sauerkraut and caraway seeds to this water, cook about 15 minutes, add sausage slices, cook 10 minutes, whisk water into the browned flour in a separate bowl until smooth, add a little of this to the soup, add rice. Cook slowly until the rice is done.

DON’T add all the browned flour mix at once, see how it thickens, it varies depending on how much water you started with.

Bobyka (from the Hungarian side)

  • Take any white bread recipe (or frozen bread dough works).

  • Take a portion of the dough, place in palms of your hands, rubbing back and forth, make it like a rope about a half inch in diameter. 

  • Cut into 1-inch pieces and roll them into balls in the palm of your hand. 

  • Place on a greased cookie sheet (or cover it with parchment paper). 

  • Bake until golden brown at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. 

  • Immerse them in boiling water for just a few minutes ‘til softened, not too long or they will fall apart.

  • Melt ¼ cup butter, add dough balls (bobykas), add about 1 tablespoon ground poppyseed and about 1 tablespoon honey. Serve warm. They taste like little breadsticks.

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