Monday Meal Review: Romania


Pleasure is spread throughout the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find. (William Wordsworth)

I spend hours daydreaming about other countries – about how beautiful they are, about the incredible food they eat. Every week I take my family to one of these countries via stovetop travel and we imagine the joy we’d have living life in those countries. But I’m increasingly uneasy with this set up.

I’ve had trouble pinpointing my discomfort, until the other day when my issue hit me like a ton of bricks.

Part of loving the world we are in… well… it’s loving the world right where we are, right now. To quote a lobster I know:

The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake.
You dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake.
Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor.
Such wonderful things surround you, what more are you looking for?

(“The Little Mermaid”)

Truth is, I’m a lot like Ariel, more focused on what’s outside of my neighborhood and family – eyeing what everyone else has instead of celebrating what I have. The more time I spend studying and eating the world, the sadder I am that I don’t know my neighbors very well. Or even parts of our family who we are so disconnected from, that we feel like strangers whenever we do get together.

As you know, the last couple of months I’ve made an effort to get out there and enjoy our little corner of the world more – but because of my shy nature, change doesn’t happen quickly. Sure, we’ve taken our Global Table out to the park and the fair and the Frisbee golf course… and we’ve had the joy of sharing it with family like baby Kaiden and his mama this week.

These experiences have opened my eyes to the fun of Tulsa and those we are fortunate enough to spend time with, but it still seems like we’re swimming in circles, just barely scratching the surface. I feel like we need to love what we have more… especially in the face of Hurricane Sandy… yeesh. Talk about a reality check (my heart is with all those in the path of this storm, including my family and friends, as well as you and yours).

So, friends, I could use your help. What advice do you have – what things have you’ve done to get to know your neighbors, to enjoy your city, to love where you are … right now? How do you deepen the relationships you already have? The awkward, geeky girl inside of me thanks you in advance.

P.S. I will say this: I’m up to the ears with Romanian bread. The guys next door, and the nice couple a few houses down benefited. But it was scary. And I’m shy.


Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Sarmale) [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to love these stuffed cabbages. It just sounded so meaty and threatened to be a whole lot of work. Friends, this was fantastic  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The work went really quickly once I got the hang of how to make the little belly button to hold the roll together.

Also, I really loved how it cooked for 4 hours (creating the most melt-in-my-mouth experience of late), leaving me to tidy the house and be completely relaxed come dinner time. As a bonus, Keith and Ava  gobbled this one up, too…. as did grandbaby Kaiden and his Mama. Cheers to that!

What I loved least about this dish:

I struggled rolling the cabbage at first, but I quickly realized this was becuase I was using a very small cabbage. I should have bought the largest I could find. Once you get into the interior, the leaves are not as supple or big – making them hard to stuff.

Transylvanian Cauliflower Casserole with Cheese [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

This casserole was warm, comforting, and full of cheese and bacon. I loved everything about it, especially the fact that it was made healthy with cauliflower. It’s a favorite!

What I loved least about this dish:

The casserole does not really reheat well, as the egg that binds the sour cream gets a little too tough. When I served it for dinner it was reheated which caused the rest of the family to be neutral to negative about it. I’m definitely making it again to try and win them back over.

Romanian Easter Bread | Pasca [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

If you have to make something eight times, it better be good. This was better than good. It was fantastic! I’m so glad I learned how to make pasca and hope that all my tweaks will make it easy for you to have great results every time. I got Ava to try this bread by calling it “pudding bread” and this might be the first dish with cream cheese that Keith has ever enjoyed.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing now, although last week I had a lot of trouble getting the bread to bake at the right temperature so the filling wouldn’t go crazy and crack. Even if it does, no worries. It’s delicious!


Congratulations to Melissa, who says:

I would use them to send fan mail to Elizabeth Kostova, the author of the book “The Historian.” it’s in my top 5 fave books of all time and some of the (swashbuckling!) action takes place in Romania. I’m quite taken with Central and Eastern European food, so I’m super excited about your Romanian recipes.

Please email me by November 5, 2012 to claim your prizes. 🙂

Hello postcards on Bavarian beer paper - set of 12



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