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Fran’s Favorites: Cabbage Rolls


As we travel around the state we have a lot of fun at fairs and festivals, and we get to sample lots of unique and delicious foods. Sunday we were in Milan, Ohio, birthplace of Thomas Edison. Milan is home of the Melon Festival. After walking in the parade, Mike and I decided to share their famous delicacy — a scoop of muskmelon ice cream and a scoop of watermelon sherbet served in half a muskmelon. It really was delicious! The melon was sweet and ripe and the ice creams are specially made and only available this time of year.

Then we were off to St. Rocco’s Italian Festival in Cleveland. The smells were wonderful here. Italian sausages on the grill with lots of onions and peppers. And zeppoli — deep fried balls of dough sprinkled with confectioners sugar and served in a brown paper bag. We opted to eat in the lower level of the church and enjoy dinner — lasagna for me and spaghetti for Mike. We watched 93-year-old Connie fill cannolis with delicious cream, so we had to try one of them as well!

From there we traveled to Parma to the Hungarian Scout Festival. We enjoyed the beautiful Hungarian dancing in colorful traditional costumes. I was looking forward to tasting their famous chicken paprikas but because of their huge crowd they were sold out. I was fascinated to watch them make langos — Hungarian fried bread. The dough balls were allowed to rise and stretched out like a pizza, punctured a few times, then deep fried in giant vats of oil outside. When it came out of the fryer it was drained and sprinkled with garlic salt. We had a taste of the hot bread, then sampled the Hungarian dobosh torte and walnut cake.

One of our friends was taking home a chimney cake, a unique Romanian pastry often served at weddings. The sweet dough is cut in thin strips and wrapped around a foil covered rolling pin, then rolled in butter and the cinnamon walnut sugar. Then it is cooked on a grill, then rolled in more butter and sugar mixture, slipped off the rolling pin and cooled upright. It’s a very fun and traditional street food.

We ended our day at our son Mark’s house, and woke up to delicious pancakes with our little grandsons Theo and Desi. We loved playing with Theo and watching him open some of his birthday presents. After we left the boys, we stopped by a pancake breakfast in Barberton — featuring delicious pancakes topped with strawberry or blueberry sauce and whipped cream. We gave out my cookbooks, then walked in the Barberton parade and gave out hundreds more. When the parade was over we went to the Geauga County Fair — touted as the oldest continuous fair in Ohio. After shaking lots of hands and giving out more cookbooks we got in the longest line of the fair — the 4-H club milkshake booth! After enjoying our thick, rich shakes, we headed to the Canfield Fair near Youngstown, which is the largest fair in Ohio. We had lots of fun there too, but by this point we just enjoyed the sights and smells of the food and headed home!

After two days of the bombardment of all my senses with wonderful ethnic and carnival foods, I decided I was really hungry for something homemade and something from the garden — maybe a big pan of cabbage rolls. I will freeze these and we can enjoy them for the remainder of the campaign!

Cabbage Rolls

1 large head cabbage

1 15 oz. can sauerkraut

2 pounds raw hamburger

2 pounds raw sausage

1 cup uncooked rice

1 large onion, chopped

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 15 oz. can tomatoes or 1 quart homemade tomato juice

4 slices bacon, chopped (or ham hock)

Cut deep slices around core of cabbage. Place in a kettle of very hot water. This allows the leaves to separate and become pliable. After you take the leaves out of the water you can cut off part of the “rib” so they are easier to roll.

Mix hamburger, sausage, rice, onion, and salt in large bowl. Place a good handful (about one-half cup) of meat mixture on each leaf. Roll leaf around the meat mixture.

Place sauerkraut in bottom of large roaster pan or large aluminum pan. Layer the cabbage rolls. Dice leftover cabbage. Put cabbage, tomatoes and bacon on top of rolls. Cover with water (used to soften cabbage) or broth.

Cover with lid or foil. Bake in oven 3 hours at 300°.

Makes 18-20 rolls. Tastes even better the second day. Great to freeze!

A culinary Labor Day tour

By Fran DeWine

Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, wife of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and guest columnist. She recently released her newest cookbook, Fran DeWine and Tina Husted’s Family Favorites.