Savoring the Seasons: Recipe journals a good way to remember, recreate an experience

For The Recorder
Published: 10/24/2017 4:24:55 PM

Last week’s column about Russian food sparked a conversation with my friend, Nova Wehman-Brown from Ostara Luna Farm in Ashfield. Nova lived in St. Petersburg, Russia for three years and kept a recipe journal the whole time she was there.

Of course, I asked Nova to share a recipe. She shared this tasty, fool-proof recipe that uses many seasonal, locally grown foods. And, I love her story about how she learned the recipe was mistake-proof.

“One of my favorite memories is walking in on my Russian host matriarchs (Zhenya and Babushka) giggling in the kitchen because they had just somehow mutilated their cabbage rolls after they had gotten stuck to the pan. That is when they taught me about ‘Lyenivi Galupsti,’ which is a totally legitimate dish that translates as ‘lazy stuffed cabbage,’ and can simply be the result of a botched attempt at stuffed cabbage leaves (see recipe below). It’s helpful to know that if I mess the whole thing up, I will still be making a delicious traditional dish!” said Nova.

When she told me about her recipe journal, I thought, “What a great idea!” I have friends who keep art journals when they travel, but I’d never heard of a recipe journal. I wish I’d kept one on my long sea kayaking trips. Three weeks kayaking/camping in New Zealand and five weeks in Alaska with “pantry-style” food bags made for creative meals. We combined ingredients into sometimes successful and sometimes “we don’t ever need to do this again, but we must manage to choke it all down now” dishes. I’d love to recreate some of the successes.

I haven’t kept a formal recipe journal, but I’ve “studied” a dish in a restaurant, taken notes and attempted to recreate the dish at home. My friend Yvonne Crevier and I did that with a yummy bread pudding at Bottle of Bread many years ago.

Has anyone else spent time in Russia and come home with favorite recipes for Russian food? Have you kept a journal of your recipe adventures? I hope you’ll share.

This week we’re eating ...

Stuffed cabbage leaves: Nova Wehman-Brown, Ostara Luna Farm, Ashfield


16 cabbage leaves

1 C. cooked rice

¾ pound ground beef

¾ pound ground pork

1 small onion, chopped

1 small clove of garlic chopped

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

3 T. fresh dill (or more)

1 can of pureed tomatoes OR 3 T. of tomato paste and 2 C. beef broth, blended

1 T. olive oil (or sunflower oil to be more authentically Russian)


Bring large, wide saucepan of lightly salted water to boil. Add cabbage leaves and cook until soft (about 3 min.), then pull them out and set aside until cool enough to handle.

In mixing bowl, combine ground pork, ground beef, cooked rice, dill, onion, egg, salt and pepper. Cut thick spine out of the cabbage leaves so that you are left with a flexible leaf to work with. Divide meat and rice mixture evenly among the cabbage leaves, in roughly the shape of a roll of dimes, toward the base of the leaf. To make a roll, fold the sides in and start to roll from the base ending with the tip of the cabbage leaf tucked under so that the roll stays in place.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, and place each cabbage roll in pan and brown both sides slightly. Cover rolls with your liquid (pureed tomatoes or blended tomato paste and beef broth), reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes, basting with the liquid often.

Nova’s Note: Technically, I never saw any of my Russian family or friends using tomato paste. Instead, they would use ketchup, but never Heinz. The ketchup in Russia often had stronger flavors of clove and all spice, so you might consider that, if that sounds delicious.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to:


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