Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hail to the hot plate!

I don't even know why I bother to tell this story. I mean, no one is going to believe me. And still, tell it, I must. So the appliance store called toward the end of last week and asked us when we wanted the new (new-new or second new!) stove delivered. They would prefer Tuesday, but as Cyd is off on Mondays, they kindly agreed to squeeze us in on Monday. But by 10am that morning, they had still not called to confirm a two-hour window of arrival. So as I was departing for work, I suggested that Cyd give them a call. As it turns out, though they called us to make the appointment, the range hadn't even arrived at their store yet. How did next week look for us for delivery, they asked. Well, I am not sure what possibly (highly likely) profane words were uttered by my roommate at that point, but the next thing I heard, they had decided to give us an upgraded stove that they had there at the store, and it would be delivered between 2-4pm! HALLELUJAH! Wouldn't that have been a fitting end to this never-ending tragic tale?

But it's never that easy for me. By the time I got home, eager to see the new appliance, dreaming that it might actually have a light and a clock/timer (ooh! deluxe!), there was a note taped to the garage door warning me first of wet paint inside and secondly, that now not only did the oven not work, neither did the stove/burners! Apparently, as they were installing the new range, the gas line was kinked and it broke. So they turned off the gas and directed us to call our gas company to schedule a repair. And of course, they can't come until next Tuesday! This news was so profoundly depressing to me, that I went directly to bed (at 9pm!) and did a fair amount of frustrated weeping before finally passing out from the emotional exhaustion. I mean, come on! How can this be happening? Most people I know around here only use their ovens to store pots and pans in. But even if they did use it, if it broke, they would just buy a new one, and within a week or so, they'd be back and and running, er, baking. But not me! This has now been going on for almost two months. TWO MONTHS! And not only are we lacking an oven, but now the stove as well! What have I done to so offend the gods that they continue to mock me thusly? Oh, the humanity!

So until next week, I am limited to what I can do with a microwave, a crockpot, an electric skillet, and a new single-burner hot plate that I picked up for less than nine bucks at the Wal-Mart. As it turns out, you can do quite a lot without a stove! In fact, Cyd had been bugging me to do something with the rest of the enormous cabbage that we bought at Windmill Point Farm a few weeks ago, so I decided to make Martha's mother's cabbage rolls. I don't even like cabbage as a general rule, and I love these. I first made them several years ago to welcome a new neighbor from the Ukraine, and she reviewed them quite favorably and said that they tasted authentic. This recipe from Mrs. Kostyra is Polish, of course. But I think it's like the plum dumplings--there aren't that many variations on the recipe, regardless of which Eastern European country the recipe originates from. Then again, I'm sure that none of those people ever had to cook their rice in the microwave (it takes longer, but surprisingly, turns out perfectly) or boil their cabbage on a nine-dollar hot plate, but one must do what one can do in times of suffering. ;-)

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Golabki)
(Source: adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
Serves 6 to 8

1 large green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons butter
1 large (or 2 small) onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
4 cups tomato purée (or a combo of crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce)
1 Granny Smith apple (or cooking apple of your choice), peeled, cored, and chopped
1 teaspoon (or 2!) granulated garlic
1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for garnish

1. Using a paring knife, remove center core of cabbage. In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add cabbage, and cook until outer leaves are bright green and tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Lift cabbage from water, and remove outer leaves. Return cabbage to boiling water, and repeat brief cooking and removal of leaves until all leaves are cooked. Reserve 2 cups cooking water. Trim thick center vein from bottom of each leaf. Reserve four large outer leaves to line bottom of pan. Set aside.

2. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook until golden and tender, about 8 minutes. In a large bowl, combine vegetable mixture, rice, beef, pork, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes. Stir to combine.

3. Add about 1/3 cup rice filling to one cabbage leaf. Fold sides of cabbage over filling, and starting with the stem end, roll the cabbage up. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.

4. Line a 5-quart Dutch oven or stock pot with reserved outside leaves. Transfer stuffed cabbage leaves to the pot.

5. In a large bowl, combine the tomato purée, apple, reserved cooking water, some additional salt and pepper (to taste) and the granulated garlic. Pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer for 1 hour or until cabbage is very tender. Remove cabbage rolls to a large, somewhat deep platter.

6. Add sour cream to the pot and whisk to combine with the tomato sauce. Ladle finished sauce over the cabbage rolls, and serve with additional sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley.

1 comment:

kitchenmage said...

Ha! I laugh at your pain. Well, actually I laugh at our pain.

When we moved we did not have a refrigerator. Nor did we have space for a decent refrigerator. We had to rearrange cabinets first. Took almost a month to get the fridge. A month in which we lived out aof a dorm fridge.

Then we floored, which entailed moving the entire kitchen into the living room for a couple of weeks. No fridge. No stove. Oh, and no microwave. We had a hotplate too. Some days the only place to perch it was in a bathroom (don't ask). Others it lived in the sewing room. The same sewing room that, two years after the move, is not set up YET.

The dishwasher died six months ago. I think we need to take the entire countertop off to replace it. Or tear out some of the mahogany flooring. Or wash dishes by hand for a while more. I want new countertops so I think the dishwasher waits til there's money for both. Sure. Like that'll happen any time soon.

But we had the heatpump fixed yesterday. Oh boy.

And in 16 days we'll be done with the book and I can bake bread for the first time in seven weeks. Not that I am counting or anything.