As many of you know, but some don’t, we have 2 biological daughters… and one “adopted”…. I say “adopted” because she’s technically not legally adopted, but will forever be apart of our family. Her family, will be always be apart of ours and this year will always hold a special place in our hearts.
(L and I below at thanksgiving)
Last year around March, Ryan and I decided to take a leap and host an exchange student. It was something I had wanted to do for many years, but the timing just wasn’t right. He was a teacher and coach, I was either pregnant, just had a baby or was in the process of starting up my career… again. There seemed like no good time. But last year things were different. Ryan resigned from coaching for a year, and while the girls were still little (both under the age of 5) we decided that now was the time to “try it out”. I’m so glad that this was the year we did- not only would we have missed out on an amazing opportunity if we hadn’t, we would’ve missed out on “our girl” if we wouldn’t have jumped in when we did.
I don’t know how many conversations L and I’ve had about how one decision, whether it be big or little, can change your life so much. Like the decision we made- if we had chosen not to host this year- what we would’ve missed.
The things we’ve learned have been amazing, and the relationships not only between Ryan, L and I, but also between L and the girls. The day she flies away is going to be one of the hardest days of all of our lives, but we remember that we’re only a flight away… and we’ll start planning our trip to visit soon!!
L’s hometown is huge Berlin Germany! So she came from 3.5 million to little rural Missouri… it’s quite a difference! Learning about all the differences has been a lot of fun, I’m sure I wouldn’t survive on the Berlin street for long- and I think they would pick me out right away on the subway… but it’s been so much fun showing her the “Missouri way” as well.
One thing that’s been so much fun has been getting to know L’s family back home. Corresponding with her mom and receiving recipes that she makes has been some of the highlights of my days! I feel like I’ve known her mom for years, yet it’s not even been a year since we’ve been visiting- and we’ve never even spoke besides through message. She has sent me recipes for German Fruit cake and Coconut Macaroons which I will be trying as soon as I can. They sent us some of both for Christmas, and let me tell you- it’s like something you’ve never had. They were both so delicious.
L brought me a German cookbook when she arrived here several months ago- I decided to try something in it recently. The Cabbage Roulade I chose turned out absolutely delicious!
The cabbage leaves were extremely easy to remove by blanching in hot boiling water, after rinsing and cutting out the core. The leaves just simply pulled off one by one. If they’re a little hard to remove let it sit in the boiling water a little longer. They’ll float right off when ready!
While the cabbage is blanching I mixed up the stuffing for the Cabbage Roulade. I had some day old gluten free homemade bread which I soaked in cold water. This will be used with your egg for a binder. Once the bread is completely soaked (you can use a roll too) I squeezed the water out and put it in a bowl with the onion, mustard, egg and ground beef. Mixed it together and let it sit 🙂
After removing the leaves (I removed as many as I could until it got to the small discolored leaves in the middle) you’ll want to shave the cabbage vein. This causes the leaf to lay flat which causes the rolling process to go easy. It’s very easy to shave the vein, just lay the leaf flat and where the vein sticks up, take your knife and shave it as close to the leaf as possible. There are very short YouTube videos you can watch if you’re a visual learner 🙂
I layered 2 leaves criss-crossed and put a dollop of the meat mixture in the middle. You don’t want to put to much or you’ll have trouble rolling it up. I secured mine with a toothpick but I wish I had some kind of cooking string to tie it off with. I think it would’ve held together better.
Place your oil in a skillet and heat it on medium heat until it’s hot. Place your cabbage rolls in the hot oil and brown on each side. Be sure you carefully turn them, you don’t want to move them too much and have the stuffing come out or them come loose.
Once they’re brown you pour in your beef broth and turn down your heat, letting them simmer for 45 minutes. Watching them and turning them every so often.
After they’ve cooked, removed them and start the broth boiling. You’ll mix your cold water and cornstarch or flour together and slowly pour it in your broth to thicken it to gravy. I put it on the side so everyone could pour as much or as little as they wanted, however when I stored them for left overs I poured the gravy over the top and I think the left overs were even better! They had time to soak up all that goodness for 24 hours!! These would make a great freezer meal too! I’m getting so hungry just thinking about them….
If you’ve ever considered opening up your home or your heart to a student, let me tell you- you should. If you have questions or would like more information comment below or send me a message. I would love to see more families have life changing experiences, for the better, because they decided to try something new!
We couldn’t be more grateful for this experience, L’s family, and most importantly for L. The fun and learning she’s brought to our family- filling the place in our hearts we didn’t even know we had. ❤️❤️
1 head savory cabbage or white cabbage (I didn’t have that so used green cabbage)
For the filling
1 dat old bread roll
1 medium egg
1 teaspoon strong mustard
13 oz ground beef
4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 1/4 cup vegetable stock (I used beef broth)
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch (or gluten free flour)
2 tablespoons cold water
Cooking string or Roulade needles (I used toothpicks, they worked decent- however next time I’d rather have cooking string!)
1. Bring plenty of water to a boil in a large pan, add salt. Remove any yellow or wilted leaves on the cabbage, rinse and remove the base of the stalk/core by cutting a cone shaped piece. Place the cabbage in the boiling water until the outer leave become detached repeat this process until you remove most of the large leaves which are sufficiently soft. Pat the leaves dry and shave off the thick leaf vein in the middle to make it lay flat.
2. To make the stuffing, soak the roll in cold water. Peek and chop the onion. Squeeze the roll to remove as much water as possible and then mix with the cooled onion, egg, mustard and ground meat. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place a 1-2 leaves on top of each other and put a quarter of the stuffing on top then roll them up. Secure the Roulades by tying cooking string around each one or secure with Roulade needles.
4. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the roulades and brown on a sides. Add the vegetable stock. Cover and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes stirring and turning occasionally.
5 take the cooked Roulade out of the pan, remove the cooking string or Roulade needles. Arrange the roulades on a previously warmed dish and keep in a warm place.
6 stir together the cornstarch and water. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and stir in the mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil again and simmer gently for 5 minutes while it thickens. Season with salt and pepper- serve with the Roulades.