It’s a funny (but a beautiful) thing…being halfsies. Growing up, my grand mother who lived in Detroit, fed us flat bread, kalamata oilves, homemade cheese (that she molded herself under a light in the telephone room) and dolma made from the grape vines in her backyard…and the other grandfather, who lived in Ann Arbor, served us kielbasa and sauerkraut with bacon and green beans. (And drank cream sherry…if you can believe it.) The food of the two cultures wasn’t terribly compatible, but I loved them both, and this week decided to attempt to make a hybrid of two of my favorite recipes from both sides of my family: Gloumpki and Koosa.
First, I started with some CSA cabbage, because we got two this week….but I also prefer cabbage over zuchinni/squash…..(gloumpki uses cabbage, koosa uses squash).
Gloumpki uses beef, and Koosa uses lamb, I’m partial to lamb, so that’s what I used. My grandmother never mixed mint in with hers, but we had lamb prepared this way frequently while in Greece..it takes off any sort of “gamey” edge, as well as providing a refreshing profile to an otherwise heavy-ish meat.
Both recipes call for a tomato-based sauce, but I am partial to the Middle Eastern tradition of adding cinnamon to tomatoes. I used a “Syrian Mix” spice blend that I picked up at a grocery that a man from my church owns. It’s mostly cinnamon, but has some cloves, allspice, cumin and a few other ingredients as well.
I decided to serve green beans alongside it, as a shout out to another Middle Eastern fav, Lubee.
Dan and Rachel brought a phenomenal red rice blend-(CSA) greens-swiss gratin (they left bread off of part of it for me).
Jeff brought an piece of art, which happened to be edible…It was a compressed veggie (CSA summer squash, zuchinni, eggplant, potato, onion and tomato) dish, made in a spring-form pan. It was fresh and unassuming, and something I think should be on the menu at every B&B.
We talked, ate, caught up with one another, and committed to doing this more often….we get busy, and we forget that it’s important to take time to relax around a meal with each other. Then, something awesome happened: Dan and Rachel began talking about a new (to us) cheese shop in town…and moments later….they popped downstairs and brought six cheeses, a (CSA) white watermelon and Rachel-made strawberry jam back…I was hosting, so I rummaged through my things, and found some wine, beer, almonds and pistachios…and we had impromptu cheese plates for dessert. This, my friends, is the beauty of urban family. I may be part Syrian and part Polish, but I am wholly part of an urban family. I wish everyone could have one.