Ukrainian Christmas came and went. Every January 7th followers of the Eastern Orthodox faith gather to celebrate their own version of Christmas. My Great Grandmother, Grandmother and her siblings immigrated to the United States after World War II in 1951.
What a life they had. The stories. The memories. I couldn’t imagine experiencing that in the “real world.”
My Great Grandmother passed away a couple years ago just days before Ukrainian Christmas. She was the glue that kept faith, family and culture alive. Once she passed, it’s only through modernizing Old World recipes is how we keep it alive today.
I miss her dearly. We called her Baba. Her body was broken but her mind was as sharp as a door nail. She was poor and washed floors in this New World. No matter how rough life got, she knew the most important things in life were family.
She once told me that her life was not abundant in finances but abundant in love and family. I guess I understand her sense of loyalty since she never remarried or looked at another man when her husband passed in the 1960’s.
In celebration of my Ukrainian roots and the blossoming of the winter decorative cabbage. I decided to concoct a dairy-free version of stuffed cabbage, but in a “slop bucket” type of way.
As a kid, I thought stuffed cabbage was weird, but mainly it was because I didn’t like meat. Never have and probably never will. I’m so far removed from eating meat that I couldn’t envision a life of having to eat it for survival.
This is one of the simplest and most budget-friendly meals out there. It’s healthy. It’s hearty. And it’s satiating. A winter time favorite, I hope you enjoy your new year and Happy belated Ukrainian Christmas.
Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 medium head of cabbage, chopped
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups tomato soup (1 can)
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 12 oz. package vegan ground beef
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Cook the garlic and onion in oil for five minutes in a stock pot. Meanwhile, prep the cabbage. Next, pour everything into the pot, except for the vegan meat. Simmer on medium-low heat. Once the rice becomes edible (depends on what type you use), add the vegan ground beef the last five minutes of cooking. Do not eat the bay leaf!
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Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com