Glop Some Gołąbki on Your Plate!

Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage rolls are the epitome of Polish nourishment, and being of Polish heritage, this dish is truly one my family’s very favorites.  Poles call them gołąbki, which literally means “little pigeons”, but they are actually pork and beef, mixed with rice, nestled in a cabbage leaf and typically cooked in a tomato-based sauce until tender.  Even my husband, who is not Polish, considers cabbage rolls to be one of his favorite meals … so glop some gołąbki on a plate and enjoy!

Cabbage Rolls (Gołąbki)
Serves 12

Ingredients

2 large cabbages
32 oz. sauerkraut, drained

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
32 oz. tomato sauce
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/2 lbs. ground pork
2 cups cooked rice
2 white bread slices, crumbled
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon basil
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 can of tomato juice
1/2 lb. of raw bacon

Directions:

In a skillet over medium heat, in hot butter or margarine, cook onion 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the tomato juice and bacon) and roll (24-30) 1/4 cup portions into oblong segments, placing each of them on a sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

With a knife, carefully pierce the cabbage around the stem (2″ deep or so) and remove the center of the cabbage. Place in a bowl, stem side down, with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 10 – 12 minutes. Rinse in cold water and then remove the cabbage leaves (12 to 15 of them) by rolling each leaf from the top to the stem.

Center each of the oblong meat mixtures onto the wide edge of a cabbage leaf, roll the meat mixture up in the leaf, and then fold in the two ends. Replace them, seam side down, on the sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Repeat the process with the second cabbage.

Chop any remaining cabbage into bite sized pieces and spread along the bottom of a large roasting pan. Mix the drained sauerkraut into the cabbage.

Place each roll, seam side down, on top of the sauerkraut/chopped cabbage mixture in the base of the pan.

Pour the tomato juice over the top of the cabbage rolls. Lay strips of bacon over the rolls.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Cover and continue to bake for another hour. Then lower the heat to 300 degrees and continue to bake for 4 more hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and enjoy!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

I found it fascinating that gołąbki literally means “little pigeons”. I suppose the reason for this is the cabbage roll must look somewhat like a little pigeon, though I’ve never seen a little pigeon … and the idea of eating one is incredibly unappealing to me! If this meal truly consisted of pigeon meat, it most definitely would not be one of my favorites!

However, since we’re now on this topic … did you know pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet? The pigeon is able to recognize its reflection in a mirror and is one of only 6 species, and the only non-mammal, that has this ability. The pigeon can also recognize all 26 letters of the English language and is able to conceptualize, differentiating between photographs and even between different human beings in a photograph.

And, as you probably know, pigeons have often been used throughout history as messengers for delivering communications of great importance. The earliest, large-scale, communication network, using pigeons as messengers, was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC. Much later, in the 12th century AD, the city of Baghdad and all the main towns and cities in Syria and Egypt were linked by messages carried by pigeons, their sole source of communication. Further, their successful use as messengers in wartime resulted in many pigeons being awarded honors by both the British and French Governments.

But did you know a team of Navy researchers recently discovered pigeons can be trained to save human lives at sea with high success rates? Project Sea Hunt has trained a number of pigeons to identify red or yellow life jackets when floating in the water. The pigeons are not only more reliable than humans, but also many times quicker when it comes to spotting survivors from a capsized or sinking boat. The pigeon can see color in the same way that humans do, but they can also see ultra-violet, a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see, and this is one of the reasons they are so well adapted to lifesaving.

Finally, and most importantly, did you know pigeons are mentioned in the bible as one of the offerings required by God to be presented by Abram before the Lord (Genesis 15:9), that pigeons continued to be included among the sin-offerings in Leviticus 1:14; 12:6, and that the Old Testament law permitted those who could not afford to offer a lamb, to instead offer two young pigeons (Levitius 5:7; Luke 2:24)?

Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for their sin“.  So indulgent, kind, and merciful was God to every man, if unable to afford and purchase the better offering, the best he could get would be acceptable; so the poor man had as many offerings for his atonement and cleansing as the rich, and his reparation and forgiveness were as complete as theirs.

What an interesting correlation! In the Old Testament, God required the pigeon as a sin offering for impoverished man: a highly intelligent bird able to differentiate between human beings, the sole source of communication used to deliver a message of great importance, and one able to see and save drowning human beings from their sinking ships.

Doesn’t this sound very much like an Old Testament shadow of the One who was to come? The Only Wise One carrying a message of absolute Truth, the Savior, the Deliverer, and the final Sin Offering for an impoverished man … who even today sees us and is able to save us from drowning in our sins!

Who is this One? His name is JESUS! Hallelujah!

–Cheri Henderson

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Ham It Up!

Ham, Taters & Cheese Casserole

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a chilly, rainy day with no scheduled events or plans (other than to kick back on the couch and watch my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes take on Xichigan!) It was a couple hours before kick-off and, still dressed in my nightgown and robe, I opened the fridge to consider what might be a good lunch option. The entire second shelf was still filled to capacity with ham … ham, ham, ham! Ham on the shank that still needed to be removed and another container, two-thirds full of thick ham slices, left over from our family Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Friday’s lunch, of course, had consisted of a delicious ham sandwich, but the thought of ham sandwiches again on Saturday just wasn’t an appealing thought. And then I remembered a wonderful recipe that would fit the bill and be a perfect meal for a chilly, rainy day!

Ham, Taters & Cheese Casserole
(Serves: 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed peeled potatoes
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
  • 7 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, bring the potatoes, carrot, celery and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the ham, green pepper and onion in 3 tablespoons butter until tender. Add to the potato mixture. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Pour over the ham mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

My husband and I were able to fill our plates and enjoy this hearty, delicious meal as we watched Ohio State beat Xichigan! What a perfectly wonderful afternoon to “ham it up”!

Food for Thought
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The phrase “ham it up” evokes thoughts of funny silliness and laughter, doesn’t it? And this particular “ham it up” moment definitely brought a smile to our faces and joy to our tummies because it was centered around some great food! But there is a source of joy … a fullness of joy … that is available to us all day long, year after year and into eternity! The One Who created us wants us to laugh, to be joyful, and to have a merry heart! His Word says so!

“God has made laughter for me.” Genesis 21:6

“A joyful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face.” Proverbs 15:13

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7

And why?

“Our mouths are filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy … because the Lord has done great things for us.” Psalm 126:2

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

I pray today and the rest of your life are filled with the laughter and joy that can only come from Him!

–Cheri Henderson

 

Porkin’ It Up: A New Year’s Tradition!

Porkin' it upWhat a wonderful way to spend New Year’s Day … sitting in front of the television watching football and eating a hearty plate of pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes! And this recipe is one of the best because it includes bacon! It’s a Henderson tradition on New Year’s Day and one we really enjoy.  I hope you enjoy this delicious meal as much as we do!

Roasted Pork Loin and Sauerkraut with Bacon Onion Bundles

Ingredients:
5-6 Lb. pork loin
2 garlic cloves cut in half long-ways
2 teaspoons of seasoning salt
pepper
8 slices of bacon
2 medium onions
4 32-oz jars or bags of sauerkraut
16-32 ounces of chicken broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub the pork loin on all sides with the flat sides of the split garlic cloves, and then rub with seasoning salt and sprinkle with pepper. Place in a roasting pan. Cut the two onions into quarters and wrap each quarter with a piece of bacon. Place the bacon-onion bundles on the pork in various spots and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully move the bacon-onion bundles to the side of the pan, flip the pork loin, replace the bacon-bundles on top of the pork loin and bake another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, drain and rinse half of the sauerkraut (2 of the 32-oz jars). After the additional 30 minutes of baking, spread the drained and rinsed sauerkraut as well as the other 64 ounces of undrained sauerkraut beneath, around and on top of the pork loin. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and cover with an aluminum tent. Bake for 1-1/2 hours and then add enough chicken broth as necessary to moisten. Bake for another 1-1/2 hours. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

I don’t know if you’re like me, but often when a plate of my favorite food is placed before me like this one, it is usually followed by seconds, and sometimes even thirds!  It’s like “help me! I’ve started eating and I just can’t stop!” Sadly, this frequently happens during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays when surrounded by foods and desserts that I believe may be exquisitely satisfying! The end result? Indigestion and a bloated stomach, weight gain and water retention, clothes that no longer fit properly, poor body image and feelings of failure. Complete misery.

The sad thing is I know beforehand this will probably be the end result, but the temporary gratification of a satisfied palate seems to far outweigh any future ramifications. That is, until that future ramification arrives and all I can do is berate myself for being such a porker!

Similarly, in a spiritual sense, Christians do the same thing on occasion. We knowingly do things that are outside of God’s plan and purpose for us. We choose to be satisfied rather than crucified in Christ because we believe the gratification from the momentary fleshly pleasure will be worth the trade-off. It never is.The end result is we’re left with disappointment, regret, and sadness, knowing we were created for much more, that we could have and should have chosen that which would have glorified Jesus, but instead we chose to satisfy our flesh. And we’re filled with feelings of failure. Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit and that our hearts are not too hardened to feel His touch. Thank God for the mercy, grace, and forgiveness provided to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank God for second chances!

We will soon be entering a New Year! What a perfect time to step away from filling our lives with things that aren’t spiritually good for us and, instead, rededicate our days to the One Who Is! We can stuff ourselves with things of the world and become so accustomed to a diet of fleshly pleasure that it’s difficult to stop. Or we can revive our spiritual health and choose to continually “taste and see that He is good!”  A new day.  A new year.  A second chance to live spiritually healthy and in His perfect plan and purpose for our lives!

Another celebration
of another New Year,
a perfect time to ask again
just what am I doing here?
Is my life as completely surrendered
as Jesus intended it to be,
or am I gliding on grace, taking the easy road,
and manipulating His mercy?
For such a time as this, Lord,
I was created to bring you glory;
am I truly following your purpose and plan
or have I made this life about me?
My comforts, my desires,
feeding my flesh like a swine,
following an annual tradition
of me, myself and I.
Let me break the man-centered tradition,
and selfish longings be crucified!
I resolve now my days will be different;
in all I do, Lord, be glorified!

–Cheri Henderson

A Perfect Combination!

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A while ago, I came across a recipe for “Ethiopian Cabbage”, and since it sounded delicious, I thought I’d give it a try. But after preparing it and serving it up, I found it to be less than satisfying. Even though it was good, it just wasn’t great. It needed something more, and so I decided to introduce Ethiopia to Poland by adding some polska kielbasa, as well as some potatoes and chicken broth. The result: perfection!  This combination is now one of my family’s favorites!

Ingredients:

½ cup olive oil
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ head cabbage, shredded
5 potatoes, peeled and cut into1-inch cubes
2 – 1 lb rings of polska kielbasa cut into ½” slices
1 can chicken broth

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. On another burner, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the carrots and onion in the hot oil about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, and cabbage and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. At the same time, add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and then add them along with the kielbasa and chicken broth to the cabbage mixture. Cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until warmed through.

Boiled cabbage all by itself is a bland side dish with an unpleasant odor . . . a potato without water is just another hard spud . . . and chopped onion alone will often make you cry. And while some may think polish sausage is tasty all by itself, combine it with other flavorful ingredients, and you will have a delicious masterpiece that evokes a wonderful aroma!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
In a similar comparison, some may think a particular talent is not as important or valuable to the Body of Christ as another, but we’re all a part of the Body, and each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God. Each person’s gifts and talents are not meant to be in competition with one another, but they are to be complementary. Each part is needed to complete the whole. You may think you’re just a “cabbage head” or another “hard spud”,  but each of us has a unique function to perform in the Body of Christ that, when combined, will result in one beautiful, flavorful, fragrant composition.

So, be encouraged!  Don’t be hesitant or ashamed to share the talents God has given you! Use what you have been given to bless not only the Body of Christ, but the people around you. Use your talents, your time, your patience, your teaching, your organizing, your baking, your designing, your music, whatever talent the Lord has given you, and put it to good use. Glorify Him in all you do . . . and lend some Christ-like flavor to your world!

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Corinthians 12:4)  “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 2:15)

— Cheri Henderson

Great Marinade Recipes!

pork-chop-marinade-recipeI love to cook. And there’s nothing more gratifying than preparing a great recipe and then seeing the looks of appreciation as friends and family savor every bite!  But sometimes when I’m pressed for time, I need a recipe that I can prepare in a flash and still end up with an exquisite meal. Over the years, I’ve come across some really great marinade recipes that serve that purpose well. One, in particular, is flat-out fabulous!  Combine 1 teaspoon of onion power, ½ teaspoon oregano, 1/3 cup olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a sprinkling of black pepper.  Pour over 2 thick pork chops, place in a Ziploc bag, refrigerate overnight, and then grill or broil for about 10 minutes on each side.  Serve with a side salad and a baked potato and voila!  A meal equal to any you would find at a great restaurant!  Scrumptious!

If you’re interested in creating your own unique marinade, here’s some information that will help you.  A basic marinade consists of an acidic liquid, oil, and other flavorings, such as sweeteners, and herbs or spices. Most marinades use one of the following acidic liquids as a tenderizer: wine, vinegar, or lemon juice. You’ll want to use a monoglyceride type of oil because they penetrate deeper and faster, and I recommend extra-virgin olive oil which is one of the more healthy choices. Dairy products like Greek yogurt and buttermilk can also have a tenderizing effect, and there are also tenderizing enzymes in ginger, kiwi, papaya, and pineapple. So experiment a little bit and have some fun creating your own marinades. Tougher or low-fat cuts like flank steak, sirloin, skirt, flat iron, round, and hanger steaks are best for marinating, so you don’t have to worry about ruining an expensive cut of meat with your experimentation!  Just remember the two most important rules of the marinating process: soak directly in a combination of the right ingredients and the longer the soak, the more tender the result!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
And as you consider the “marinating” process for your next menu creation, keep in mind, this same process can be of great value to you in your spiritual walk. Are you facing a tough situation in your life?  Is there something coming up that you’re not particularly looking forward to . . . perhaps a doctor’s appointment, a performance review with your boss, a meeting with an unhappy customer, or a mid-term exam? Whatever uncomfortable assignment awaits you, take a little time and marinate yourself for a while beforehand.  Spend some time in the Word of God and soak yourself in His presence through prayer and worship, so that when you walk into that situation, you’ll be able to face the “heat”, endure the pressure, and be a soft, pliable reflection of Jesus Christ, seasoned in the Holy Spirit.  The old saying “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” doesn’t apply to a Christian whose life has been immersed, seasoned, and tenderized in the Lord!  Happy marinating!

–Cheri Henderson