It’s been extremely cold here in Winnipeg over the past 4 days. Like, seriously cold. I’m talking -40 degrees celsius cold! We had our car not start and require boosting twice in two days. We might now be on a first name basis with Dr. Hook Towing (thanks guys!). I completely admire people who can continue to eat healthy when it’s freezing outside. I totally crave comfort food, such as soups, chilli and this amazing casserole. Okay, so I not only crave comfort food when the weather is terrible. I also crave it when I am sick – like last week when I hurt my back and managed to eat my body weight in chicken fingers and fries. Don’t judge me – you’ve totally done this too.
I completely fell in love with this casserole a couple years ago when my fiancé made it for me on one random weekend. It’s the best casserole in the entire world. At least, in my humble opinion it is. I convinced him to make it again, only this time for the purposes of teaching me (and my loyal blog followers) the secret to its deliciousness. Needless to say, I soon realized this recipe is extremely simple, which is perfect on days when all you want to do is hide under the covers and hibernate.
We had our first official sign of winter today – snow. The dip in temperatures and the cold, wet morning reminded me of my favourite things in life: family, warmth, and comfort foods! This recipe encompasses all three and is a childhood favourite of mine. I don’t know why my brother and I started calling this dish “Mush”, but we did. And it stuck. To this day, with both of us in our 30′s, we continue to call it “Mush”. Actually, so does everybody in my family! This dish is traditionally called Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole by others because it incorporates pretty much everything in a traditional cabbage roll, without the pain of rolling it into a nice, neat package. This dish is hearty and warm – perfect for the season’s first snowfall. It’s also super easy to make.
You don’t get any more Ukrainian than Cabbage Rolls. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was fed these as my first experience with “real food” as a baby. Not one special dinner has gone by in our family without cabbage rolls being served. There are many variations. But I can tell you now that nobody’s cabbage rolls compare to the ones that Claudia makes. They are simple the best. Not too tomato soupy, not too cabbagey. They are perfect little delights. However, I learned in this blog process that I apparently haven’t inherited the Ukrainian cabbage rolling gene, as I found the process extremely frustrating. My 1/4 Slovakian genes took over my hands and rendered me incapable of “tucking and rolling” the rice and cabbage. But do not fret kids….if you weren’t blessed with the Ukrainian cooking gene like me, it just takes a bit of practise and patience. …and Claudia laughing at you when you curse the rice that fell from your hands and onto your clean floor.